How Ben Mudge Is Tackling Cystic Fibrosis and Using His Online Platform To Help Others To Do The Same

Today (May 31) may mark the end of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month but fitness influencer Ben Mudge is determined to do all he can to highlight the illness and give hope to fellow sufferers all year round.

After being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and finding out his health was being affected by lack of activity,  Ben  decided to step things up a notch. Going from the kid who never got picked for sports teams, he has gone on to become a personal trainer and develop an online coaching programme specifically to help those suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. Along the way, Ben has built an impressively loyal and engaged following and accidentally become a superhero in the process. 

Here, Ben chats to The Style Edit founder, Jennifer Taggart about where his fitness journey began, dealing with down days and being compared to one of the world’s most famous superheroes. 

How old were you when your fitness journey began?

I have always been a very active person. I loved playing sports (even though I never got picked for the teams) and athletics in school. I started using weights when I was 16 when my parents..I mean Santa… got me and my brother a multi-gym for the garage. I would use it nearly every day but I really started to get into fitness seriously when I was 21 after finding out that my health was being affected by lack of activity. 

How did training affect your cystic fibrosis?

I cannot speak enough to how much training has helped me deal with my Cystic Fibrosis. I was always very underweight growing up and this lead to me never getting included in any sports as I was too small to be picked. Training has helped me so much physically as I was able to put on weight, which is very difficult with CF. The largest impact it has had on me is my mental health. This illness is like a stalker that is always trying to get a little closer to you every day. Being strong, fit and being happy with how I look helps me to keep the distance between me and CF. 

“This illness is like a stalker that is always trying to get a little closer to you every day. Being strong, fit and being happy with how I look helps me to keep the distance between me and CF.”

Tell us about the Thor comparisons and Thorsday?

I was told that I looked like Chris Hemsworth’s Thor from the Marvel franchise. This was back in 2011 when the first film came out. I didn’t take much notice of it back then other than it being kind of cool that I was being told I looked like a superhero. It was when I researched where we get the names for the words of the week that I found out that Thursday comes from Thorsday. This sparked a thought in my head that I could use this fact and the hashtag to educate people and hopefully inspire people. After posting my first Thorsday photo it went viral and got reposted by a lot of accounts. I started to receive photos from parents of CF children dressing up like Thor pretending to impersonate me. This is where it really blew up and I realised the power of what I was doing. 

“After posting my first Thorsday photo it went viral and got reposted by a lot of accounts. I started to receive photos from parents of CF children dressing up like Thor pretending to impersonate me. This is where it really blew up and I realised the power of what I was doing.”

You work as a personal trainer and have an online coaching business, how does your own background and experience help you to motivate people?

I actually went into online coaching to ensure that my income would be secure if I ever had to go into hospital with my CF. I found that a lot of people were asking me to coach them due to my lifestyle and positive approach to my illness. My illness isn’t something I shove down people’s throats as a motivation tool. Everyone has something that they believe is holding them back. It just comes down to how much power you give that ‘thing’. 

What has the reaction been to your online coaching programme?

The response to my CF coaching plans has been honestly incredible. Some of the people who are on it currently have said how much it has changed their lives already and how grateful they are that I finally decided to create it. The responses and comments have brought me to tears on a few occasions. 

How does it feel to know you have inspired so many people?

It’s honestly not something I will ever be able to express using words. The English language has yet to create a phrase that would sum up how it feels. To know that I have helped even one person by just doing what I need to do is an amazing feeling. I would like to leave this earth feeling like I helped it become even 0.000000001% better.

“Everyone has something that they believe is holding them back. It just comes down to how much power you give that ‘thing’.”

Prior to working as a personal trainer, you were working in television as a trainee assistant director on Game of Thrones; have you any regrets about the change of career course?

I do think about it sometimes but honestly, I feel like this is exactly what I was supposed to be doing. 

You seem like a very positive person, do you ever have down days? And if so how do you deal with them?

I do get down days, probably more often than I let on. There is a large amount of pressure that comes from what I am doing. I always feel like I could/should be doing more. This is only made worse by social media and comparing myself to others. I just remind myself that these people I compare myself to are not me and I am not them. My bad days are usually when I see someone pass away from CF. I focus on all that I have control over and make sure I do what I can. I am not the type of person that will be in a ‘bad mood’ for very long. Life is a gift, the fact that I am alive is a gift. I just take time to take stock and appreciate everything I have. 

“There is a large amount of pressure that comes from what I am doing. I always feel like I could/should be doing more. This is only made worse by social media and comparing myself to others. I just remind myself that these people I compare myself to are not me and I am not them.”

“Life is a gift, the fact that I am alive is a gift. I just take time to take stock and appreciate everything I have.”

You have a massive following on social media, were you surprised when people first started to follow you?

Honestly, it still blows my mind. I don’t think I will ever get used to it when someone comes over to me and tells me they know me or follow me. I am just a normal person. I always appreciate when someone takes time out of their day to comment or like anything I put out there. I may not be able to get back to all of the messages but I do try to read them all. 

You have a massive following on social media, were you surprised when people first started to follow you?

Honestly, it still blows my mind. I don’t think I will ever get used to it when someone comes over to me and tells me they know me or follow me. I am just a normal person. I always appreciate when someone takes time out of their day to comment or like anything I put out there. I may not be able to get back to all of the messages but I do try to read them all. 

Tell us about your own training schedule?

I train so I can enjoy life. I am not obsessed with the gym. I like to get in and get out. My training is very time efficient and effective for what I want to be able to do. I either use a full body split or upper lower split. If I am on full body I will be training every other day in the gym. If I am on upper lower I will be in 2 days and off 1 day. This style of training is so effective for building muscle and staying strong. Combined with the correct nutrition plan it can also be an amazing way to lose body fat. 

What advice would you give to anyone hoping to start their own fitness journey?

Do what you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you will stick to it for the long term. Get a good coach to help you. Treat it as an investment in yourself.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Money isn’t everything.

What would you tell your younger self?

I would tell him that he isn’t stupid. I grew up always believing I wasn’t smart because I wasn’t great in school. The truth is that I didn’t have any interest in what I was learning about in school. Do what you’re passionate about!

What’s your perfect cheat day meal?

Sushi. I love sushi so much. I would eat it for every meal if my wallet allowed me.

Describe an ideal day off.

Playing American football in the sun (preferably in Florida).

Location: Drenagh House Estate

Clothing: Rio Brazil

Stylist: Jennifer Taggart – @jennifertaggart

Hair: Charles McCormach – @styledby_charles

Makeup: Amy Savage – @cosmetics.junkiee

Photographer: Bruno Tamiozzo

Follow Ben’s journey @benmudge_ for further updates.

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