Jeff Norton goes for the burn to get most from life

Subject: Jeff Norton

Age: 51

Residence: Poway

Norton runs, lifts weights and puts himself through high-intensity workouts. He works up a good sweat five to six times each week.

He’s committed to staying fit for several reasons. First, he has three kids and wants to be a role model for living a healthy life.

“You can’t just preach it. You have to practice it,” he says.

Second, he wants to stay as fit as he can for as long as he can to get the most out of life. And third, as the franchise owner of a Complete Nutrition store, Norton knows his appearance matters.

“With the business here, it doesn’t make sense to do anything other than that,” he says of his workout schedule. “Someone comes in, and I think customers, friends, they start kind of looking at you and figuring out, is he toeing the line, practicing what they preach? Are they doing what they say we should do?”

Fortunately for Norton, that’s not hard, and it’s certainly nothing new. He was active in high school here, running cross country and playing basketball, then did a variety of intramural sports at UC Santa Barbara. By 30 he was a dedicated runner.

After starting with 5Ks and 10Ks, he moved up to half-marathons and eventually completed nine marathons, with a personal best of just over 3 hours and 30 minutes.

He’s always set aside time for exercise. Even while traveling when working 18 years for Hewlett Packard (in sales and marketing), Norton packed his shoes and shorts.

“It was put on the running shoes and go explore,” he says.

After his time at HP, he opened his own marketing-services company four years ago. His Complete Nutrition store opened recently in Poway near his home.

Carving out time to exercise can be hard, he says, especially with two children still at home (and needing rides) and while opening a store. Yet he says it’s worth it.

“I feel like I have more energy now than ever before,” he says.

Workout regimen

He runs once or twice a week, lifts weights twice a week and gets together with a group two to three times per week at 6 a.m. for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a high school football field. The HIIT “boot camp” sessions are just 50 minutes but consist of constant movement and variety: running, jumping, burpees, modified sit-ups and core work.

“You’re constantly up and down, up and down, and then moving out across the field. It’s continuous, not a lot of rest,” he says. “You get that muscle confusion. The body doesn’t know what’s coming next.”

No more marathons

He still runs but doesn’t do marathons anymore. As he’s moved from his 40s into his 50s, he finds his body responds more to the higher-intensity training than the “steady-state cardio” of long-distance running.

Diet

He doesn’t follow any strict regimen but focuses on getting enough protein and fresh food. “I try to eat nutrient-dense foods,” he says. “Fruits and veggies now more than ever before. When I have a choice between reaching into the pantry and reaching into the fridge, always go for the fridge because that’s where you’re going to have the freshest food, typically, that has the most nutrients.”

Advice for others

Norton suggests beginning exercisers should start slow and to talk to a doctor and a fitness expert for ideas. Walking is a great starting point. Then add other things. “Honestly, get down on the ground and start doing sit-ups and push-ups,” he says. “There are some people in great shape who run, do push-ups and sit-ups. They don’t go to the gym and they don’t need fancy things. ... There are some fabulous athletes that just keep it simple and diligent. That’s a great place to start.”

Williams is a San Diego freelance writer.

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