The Story of Ben

You guys have seen him ride my instructor bike at Soul Cycle when I’m on my 3rd class and too pooped to do it. You’ve seen him kill it in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd row on any other given day- pushing seriously hard on the sprints and hills, inspiring all those around him to do the same.
This is Ben Turshen. He started as a student in my class and now he’s graduated to the instructor apprentice program at Soul Cycle. Now that he’s into outdoor riding, he’s been nudging me out of retirement to race again. We did this past weekend- an alleycat in Brooklyn. Ben and I came in 1st and 2nd respectively!
While I was applying for BIGGEST LOSER, Ben wrote this awesome testimonial for me. And while BL’s newest trainer Anna Kournikova may not inspire many —- Ben’s story sure will:
A year ago, I walked into Soul Cycle with my sister to take my first spin class with Kym. Entering the studio, among other things, I thought to myself this chick [Kym] is hard core–a tattooed rock star with abs that would make even Calvin Klein drool. This was different from any other spin class I had ever heard of–”Soul Bands”, created and designed by Kym herself, featured resistance bands hanging from the ceiling that riders use to do abdominal and upper body exercises, all while continue to pedal against resistance on a spin bike.

After three years of law school and over a year working as a junior associate at a big law firm, I had let myself go. My weight fluctuated between 205 and 210 lbs. My problem wasn’t that I didn’t know how to exercise–far from it–I had a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and masters degree in exercise physiology and before law school I worked in fitness for almost seven years as personal trainer and a strength and conditioning coach, training elite level athletes–and my old workouts were right up there with the athletes I trained, powerlifting, anaerobic conditioning, speed training, plyometrics, you name it…I wouldn’t put my athletes through anything I couldn’t do myself. My problem was I didn’t enjoy exercise any more. My schedule was overwhelming and my motivation was low–it wasn’t worth my time to drag myself into a commercial gym just to do a boring half-ass workout. My friends would joke and say “you remember when Ben was jacked”–referring to my pre-law fitness days. But that all changed in that first class with Kym. I was hooked.

Kym created an atmosphere that made working out much more than just a physical experience–everything about Kym’s class resonated with me. Her music was SICK (by sick, I mean really really good) and her instruction was clear and precise, which made me feel like I knew what I was doing, even as a novice rider. But more than that, Kym was inspirational–she challenged me and other riders to look within ourselves to find what motivates us–and it worked, we rode harder.

After that first class, I became a regular in Kym’s Wednesday night class and Saturday morning bands class. In only a few short weeks, I was down below 200 lbs. The fitter I got in the more I wanted to ride. I went from taking 3 classes a week to 5. And one Saturday I decided to go to Kym’s earlier class, after which Kym said I should stay for her second class. I told her that “I was spent” but she insisted–and something amazing happened–all the fatigue I felt in the class before was gone and I rode harder and felt better in the second class. On my way out the door Kym told me “See, I knew you could do it”. “Doubles” became my new routine on Saturdays and Sundays and I went from 5 classes a week to 7 to 8, to…well, you get the idea….and of course, the weight kept coming off. I was below 180 lbs for the first time since high school–I had never looked or felt better.

Kym’s lifestyle outside of the studio has also inspired me to become a healthier person. Kym shares her playlists, workouts and recipes on her blog–and for someone who barely ate any vegetables, I’m now eating kale by the pound. But Kym definitely has a “bike life”–she practically never takes public transportation and pretty much only gets in a car if she’s going out of state. She rides her bike everywhere and in any weather–and that rubbed off too. I had bought a fixed gear track bike three years ago that pretty much collected dust in my apartment. Now, I’m on my bike almost everyday.

When I left that first class, I said to my sister, “I wish I could be half as ripped as her [Kym]“…check out my “after” pictures. Wish granted. Thank you Kym!

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