How Strength Training Changed My Life

Growing up, the person I am today seemed unimaginable. I was overweight, riddled with insecurities, and trapped in a “poor me” mindset. Bullying was a constant, and I sought refuge in food, which only perpetuated my weight issues—a relentless cycle.

At 16, I left school to start a cabinetmaking apprenticeship, not out of interest but as an escape from academic struggles and relentless bullying, so I thought!

The Reality

My situation hit hard when I stepped on the scales: 110 kg at just 172 cm tall, without an ounce of muscle, as strength training was a foreign concept to me. This revelation was shocking, but, stubbornly, I wasn’t ready to change.… not yet!

collage of ben wright when he was younger

My apprenticeship started, the bullying continued—albeit in a different setting—and my insecurities were even more glaring. In my mind, I harboured ambitions to change my circumstances, but lacked the confidence and understanding to initiate change.

The seductive ease of comfort eating and losing myself in video games presented a too convenient escape from reality.

Looking back, I really thought why me? Why is the world so mean… Little did I know then that it all stemmed from a lack of self-respect, which showed, and from not respecting myself, others also didn’t respect me.

This wasn’t from everyone. Of course, I had people who did treat me well, though if you don’t respect yourself, you will find it’s easier for a large portion of people to also not respect you.

The cycle of self-neglect continued unabated until a singular, life-altering event, when my life flashed before my eyes with a large stroke of fear of what I was going to be like.

What Happened?

It was a hot summer day, delivering office furniture alongside a middle-aged, obese colleague to a city building. Tasked with navigating flights of stairs in a building with a broken lift, the majority of the physical burden fell on me.

We eventually completed the delivery, but my colleague’s severe physical distress, gasping for breath and barely able to stand, was a sight I couldn’t unsee.

As we started to drive home, he was still breathing heavily and said he needed to stop for a drink. He came back to the car from the service station with a 2L bottle of Mountain Dew and started gulping it down!

About 30 seconds later on the drive—he projectile vomited all over the windshield! This is when my life flashed before my eyes, as I did not want to be like this guy. Something had to change…

Embracing Change

This epiphany lingered, propelling me to action. I reached out to a local gym with some fear and determination, hiring a personal trainer to make a change.

I had never done anything like this before, and whilst it was very daunting, it was the best decision I ever made!

I started strength training two days a week with the trainer, and using the knowledge gained from the sessions, I added a third day on my own.

This was also a huge investment for me at the time, as I was on second-year apprentice wages. $10/hr at the time, and I remember working 50-hour weeks, netting roughly $400/week, having to pay for my food, $100/week rent, and the rest went to my personal trainer.

Initial Results

After 12 months of consistently strength training, I had lost 30 kg and was down to 80 kg. I had more confidence, strength, newfound energy, and zest for life.

Whilst still immature and a bit neurotic, this was the start that set me on a path of continuous improvement, always looking to better myself. It was the start of something special!

That sea change is what gave me the confidence that I truly can do anything I put my mind to, and I have proved that to myself in a multitude of things to this date.

You just need to be willing to do the hard thing, endure through tough times, and simply sacrifice what’s easy now, to have it easier later on. It taught me delayed gratification, and I can confidently say that was the catalyst that’s shaped me into the person I am today.

Compounded Results

It’s been over 10 years since the journey started, and what a ride it has been. After the weight loss, I applied that same effort to getting stronger and competing in powerlifting. I became obsessed and ended up ranking top 10 in Australia, competing at an elite level, squatting 320 kg in front of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

ben wright squatting 320kg at Pro Raw Powerlifting with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I later left the construction industry and became a personal trainer, as I had so much conviction that personal training changed my life; I wanted to be able to help start the positive change for others.

I started to slow down my powerlifting endeavours and focus more on applying my knowledge to help others and build my reputation as a trainer, rather than as an athlete.

The same focus and energy went into being a great personal trainer, as it did for my initial weight loss and competitive powerlifting endeavour.

This quickly grew into me having a full book of clients, and ideating on new ways to be able to help more people outside of my time constraints.

Plexus

In November 2019, I opened Plexus Personal Training and fast forward to 2024, we have grown into a team of 6 trainers and a dietitian with my focus now being on the growth of the business and being there to support the team.

I am truly grateful for the good and the bad that’s happened in my life. You learn something from every situation, and together, it all shapes us into who we are. You just need to be open to seeing that and looking to extract positives from a negative.

A Final Thought

I’ll end this with a little snippet that’s ringing in my head: If you take the easy option now, life will be harder later. If you are willing to do what’s hard now, life will be easier later. I choose the latter!

If you want to make a change and start your strength training journey, we have a tonne of experience at Plexus and would love to help! Contact us today and we’ll organise a training schedule that’s tailored to you!