Lift Off

Bodybuilder Chad Sheets helps stoke Chrysler’s resurgence

Chad Sheets | Chrysler Academy Instructor & Natural Bodybuilder

In September 2010, Chrysler sold 100,077 vehicles, a 61 percent jump from the previous year, a number that bested every other automaker. As of October 2010, Chrysler brand sales had nearly doubled—a 92 percent increase over 2009.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, spelled out the automaker’s near future at the 2010 Chrysler Dealer Show in Orlando, Fla. “By 2014, Fiat and Chrysler will be capable of producing six million vehicles a year, which is a critical threshold to be a competitive global player in the auto sector.”

Chad Sheets, 40, a technical training instructor at the Chrysler Academy School of Technical Training at DCTC, is front and center in the Big Three automaker’s comeback. After 16 years as a technician, Sheets switched to teaching because he wanted to be immersed in the latest and greatest technology.

“I don’t want to be working on ten-year-old product,” he said. “I want to be on the cutting edge and teaching puts you there.”

Serving some 1,800 technicians from Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota, Chrysler Academy trains the best of the best. Sheets covers fuel management, driveability, electrical systems and braking systems. Co-instructor Paul Jensen handles transmissions, axels, drivelines and diesel.

“I get excited when something new comes out,” Sheets said, “because as an instructor you’re breaking that news to everybody.”

“I don’t want to be working on 10-year-old product. I want to be on the cutting edge and teaching puts you there.”

In January 2010, he took on another new challenge—natural bodybuilding. “I was turning forty,” related Sheets, who wrestled and played football and baseball at Osseo High School, “and I looked at bodybuilding and said, ‘I want to try this. I want to see if I can do it.’”

With his wife, Denise, a total fitness aficionada, helping him train, Sheets hit the gym for real to start modifying is body and is currently in the bulking phase, which involves heavy eating and heavy lifting. He lifts for an hour and a half five days a week and consumes about 4,500 calories daily. In January 2011, he will transition to the cutting phase, which involves a lot less food and a lot more cardio work.

“If it was just about lifting weights, it would be easy because I love to do that,” he said. “But it’s the diet. It’s the cardio—and I hate cardio.”

“Training with Chad is my favorite time of the day,” she said. “He really is an animal in the gym and I can push him as hard as I want. I can’t wait to see him up on that stage in May.

Sheets is training to compete in the Masters Class (age 40–49) at the Mr./Ms. Natural Minnesota Bodybuilding, Figure & X-Treme Fit Invitational at the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium in Bloomington, Minn., May 21 & 22, 2011. The event is sponsored by the North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation, which outlaws banned substances, aka performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids and human growth hormones. The NANBF enforces the rules through urinalysis and polygraph exams.

Timing is a critical part of the training process. As of September 2010, Sheets was at about 15 percent body fat. When he enters the posing round at the Bloomington competition, he needs to be peaking at 6 to 8 percent body fat. Denise works out with her husband and tests his limits continually to help him meet his goals, offering guidance on nutrition and outside-the-box training techniques.

“Training with Chad is my favorite time of the day. He really is an animal in the gym and I can push him as hard as I want. I can’t wait to see him up on that stage in May. I truly believe that someday he is going to do so much more with his love of bodybuilding and training.”

Sheets and his wife reside in Brooklyn Park, Minn., with their four children, Ben, 10, Rachel, 9, Alexandra, 6, and Gabe, 4. On top of his family life, instructing and bodybuilding, Sheets is also pursuing an A.A.S. degree in Management for Technical Professionals at the DCTC Apple Valley site with the goal of earning his Bachelor of Science in a field related to management or engineering.

Dodge Challenger

Chrysler is into bodybuilding, too, and the proof is found in the 2011 Dodge Challenger, whose 6.4L Hemi generates a crackling 475 horsepower. No pony, but true muscle car, the modern Challenger snares its retro look from the original model introduced in 1970.

2011 Dodge Challenger