Chandler man sheds nearly 200 pounds - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler man sheds nearly 200 pounds

May 23rd, 2021 development
Chandler man sheds nearly 200 pounds

By Casey Flanagan
A Chandler sports marketing executive has transformed his lifestyle by attending Orangetheory Fitness and losing over nearly 200 pounds in the process.
Neal Bendesky, 63, said he promoted national sports teams like the Florida Marlins and Miami Heat before moving to Arizona in July 2015 to become vice president of corporate partnerships for the Arizona Rattlers football team.
Working in high-level sports marketing positions “was fun,” Bendesky said, but “the stress of my job led to me not being healthy. Even though I was promoting healthy sports, I wasn’t necessarily helping myself.”
The stress of the job “added up to a point where I was at one point 450 pounds,” Bendesky said.
Bendesky said he found Orangetheory while searching for sponsorships for the Arizona Rattlers.
When Bendesky started going to Orangetheory in August 2015, he had already lost some weight and was at that point around 415 pounds, “but I wasn’t necessarily in the lifestyle zone,” he said.
He said he “initially was unsuccessful in my weight loss, but the coaches and concept motivated me.”
A turning point came in October 2015, Bendesky said, when he was wearing a red 5XL jacket after an Orangetheory workout.
He said a 3-year-old in the gym, whom he now calls his “guardian angel,” asked, “‘Are you Santa Claus?’”
Bendesky said he was initially discouraged, but when he talked to an Orangetheory trainer, they explained “if you want to really do this right, 80 percent of your success was in nutrition, 20 percent was in exercise.”
Bendesky said he began closely tracking his nutrition in addition to his Orangetheory workouts.
In doing so, Bendesky said he lost a pound or two a week for about 16 months, and “I ended up losing over 199 pounds,” which he credits to Orangetheory.
Bendesky said Orangetheory “taught me a sustainable lifestyle.”
“I now have goals,” he added, citing various annual programs Orangetheory offers to motivate members.
“There’s a different template every day,” he said. “You’re on a treadmill a certain time, you’re on the floor for a certain time, you may do some core exercises, you may do dumbbells, you may do something on a TRX, you may do pushups on a bench – all variety of things.”
Bendesky explained that Orangetheory workouts are “backed by science,” because they implement devices that monitor heart rate and calories burned, and set goals for each workout based on those statistics.
“This may sound like, ‘Okay, I have to be a great athlete to do this,’” Bendesky said. “Think about me: I was over 400 pounds; I was intimidated; most of the people, in my case, were younger than me. But at the end of the day, the program made sense.”
Bendesky praised the “boutique gym” style of training at Orangetheory.
“It was trainers and staff that had a focus that was developed by somebody that really knew what they were talking about,” he said.
Bendesky said a setback for his fitness goals came when “I had a hereditary issue that was ticking, I didn’t know it. I had a heart attack on Aug. 2, 2016.”
Bendesky said if he hadn’t started his fitness journey with Orangetheory, “we would not be talking.”
Once Bendesky recovered from his heart attack, “I decided that for the first time in my life, I was going to let go of the treadmill, and I was going to start running,” he said.
“I’ve run 14 half marathons in 13 states,” Bendesky said. “In 2014, I couldn’t walk around the block.”
According to Bendesky, “attitude’s like a flat tire. If you don’t fix it, you don’t go very far. I had something along the way that gave me a pretty big flat tire, and thank god I had fixed my life to the point that it saved my life.”
Bendesky praised Orangetheory’s measures put in place to ensure safety during the COVID 19 pandemic.
He said he attended “99 straight Orangetheory workout days” to start 2021, “because I wanted people in the world to know that Orangetheory was going the extra yards for safety and keeping things clean.”
According to Orangetheory spokeswoman Erica Peressin, “Health and safety is still a big priority of our company and the safety of our members and our staff is number one, so we take care to provide a clean and safe studio for everybody.”
Peressin said Orangetheory “added outdoor classes and online classes called ‘Orangetheory Live’ to give our members some more safe options.”
Bendesky said since achieving his transformation, he has “spoken at over 50 Orangetheory studios around the United States” to share his experience.
He said he talks about how “when I would go to a restaurant with my wife and they say ‘do you want a booth or table,’ I would cringe because I didn’t fit in a booth. I didn’t fit in airline seats, I didn’t fit in a public restroom stall, I didn’t fit in my clothes.”
“But what has Orangetheory done? It’s helped me fit into a lifestyle,” Bendesky said.