Meet Spencer Mahoney: Bowflex Ambassador
We’re excited to introduce Spencer Mahoney as one of our new Bowflex Ambassadors!
“Spartan Spencer” is one of the most popular athletes in the world of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) and joins the team as a contributor to the Bowflex Insider as well as our other social communities. As someone who’s overcome addiction and committed his life to fitness, Spencer is a big advocate in the racing community for inspiring and motivating others.
To help you get to know a little more about Spencer, we asked him some questions about his life, his passion for helping others, and his role in the world of obstacle course racing:
Let’s talk about where you were in life prior to your first race.
“I started excessive smoking of both weed and cigarettes when I was 14, heading into high school. I smoked for six years, although there was a time where I never thought it was something that I could live without. When I was in college I started to look at my life and realized I wasn’t doing anything productive – I was passing classes, but that’s pretty much where my productivity ended. I was smoking all day, every day, and it controlled my life. It dictated when I would eat, what I would do, and what I would schedule throughout my day. I lived on the third floor and would be winded by the time I got to my room. At the time I laughed about it, but knew in the back of my head it wasn’t a good thing.
My transition to make a change actually started before my first race. I did a year and a half of college away from my hometown and then transferred to a state school a few towns away from my house. I was able to get into more of a routine, working when I wasn’t in school. The outgoing nature of the job forced me to not smoke prior to work. When I started to try cutting smoking I was very obsessive about it. I knew exactly how much I was smoking and was trying to control the number. I was at a point where I smoked weed before I went to bed every night and 3 cigarettes per day and I thought they were absolute necessities.
I hadn’t exercised at all prior to that point and gradually started some workouts in my house basement. It was nice because I didn’t have to drive to the gym, it was convenient and I didn’t have to pay for a membership. I started seeing promotions about the Spartan Race and was immediately obsessed about the prospect of completing all of the various distances. It seemed ridiculous at the time, since I could hardly run a mile, but I knew this was a new thing I could alter my obsessions towards.”
Then you experienced a Spartan Race…
“I signed up for a Sprint (shortest distance race) with my friend, brother, and Dad. I was so pumped about the obstacles. I’ve always been an adrenaline sports junkie and skateboarded a ton as a kid. Those feelings came back to me while doing the obstacles. I thought to myself, ‘if only I could actually run from obstacle to obstacle and do this as a sport.’ I realized this was the new obsession that I needed to kick the old obsession. Being on the obstacle course reminded me of the freedom I felt while skateboarding. I was the kid with a camera in my hand, always taping everything. Funny how that’s led to what I do now on social media.”
Once you made the decision to focus on racing it must have been easy to become this fit, right?
“It was challenging. I didn’t play sports growing up. I was never taught how to workout, so I basically had to teach myself everything. The hardest part was the motivation aspect of it – it’s so easy to say, ‘I’m going to not do anything, smoke and watch TV all day’ vs. actually get myself up and do something productive. Two opposite ends of the spectrum. Everything was a learning experience for me. Learning workout routines was one thing, but I also realized I had to learn how to run after experiencing the race. It meant hitting local trails and figuring out what running is all about. Both combined were pretty challenging, but I thrive on a routine. Having a routine and staying away from the distractions of my past was a big deal. For a while I didn’t hang out with my friends – I needed to take a step back and figure out what was going on with myself. I knew eventually I would gain friends again and because of this I have some of the best friends I have ever had.”
You got active on social media – why?
“I started my blog and various social media pages for self-accountability and also to help others. I knew if I had to post something once per day about fitness and diet I’d have to commit. There’d be no excuses. The other side of me also hoped that people would follow me along the way. I felt like if I could take great pictures, build a following and help people, it would be worth it. I went with the flow and that showed how real I was to people.”
How do you think you’ve inspired others to change like you did?
“The first big break was when Spartan Race posted my transformation story — they posted a picture of me blowing out a cloud of smoke and a picture of me racing. When I first started on social media I didn’t fully express myself a lot because I didn’t feel like I knew much of anything. As I started posting, I learned more and more from the community and became more engaged with my fans. Having my story shared was the first time I came out and really told my background story. People started reaching out to me once they read my story and said they were in similar situations looking for advice. I’ve been able to inspire people battling addiction, as well as those not knowing how to start training for OCR. I try to make myself pretty available whenever I can and fully engage with my followers on a daily basis.”
What do you tell people who are struggling with addiction like you did and come to you for advice?
“My number one answer is to tell people to always take things day by day. I remember when I was toning down smoking that there was times I’d smoke, take a day off, then smoke again, then set future goals about when I’d smoke. When I’d try to look too far into the future with a goal it would scare me. Focusing day by day was manageable, but thinking in terms of “forever” would never work for me. The second most important thing is routine. Without establishing a new, healthy routine for myself I wouldn’t have been able to stick to my changes.”
Now what does a typical day look like?
“I’m definitely eating cleaner and always looking to constantly improve upon what I’m including in my diet. I’m into eating organic and locally grown food where possible. My big weaknesses are dairy and bread. I stay away from soda and too much sugar. Three to four days per week I try to get out and run trail intervals – I’ve always been a fan of running on the trails instead of the road. Throughout the week I’m working-out with weights, usually three to four days per week. I’m always looking to get outside when the weather permits. Nowadays, I try to always be staying active, including activities like mountain biking and slacklining.”
What’s next on your “goals” roadmap?
“I’m looking to continue enhancing each of the different pursuits I’m doing. I want to do well in races – at least to the point where I feel like I’ve left it all out there on the course and it wasn’t an injury or my head that told myself to slow it down. I’ve completed races where I didn’t have a top finish, but felt I ran my best race possible. I’d love to be back in the shape I know I can be in to race that way – I want to earn a coveted Spartan coin and qualify for the Spartan World Championships. I’d like to keep building from what I’ve already established with my social communities – I want to continue looking for new platforms to help others through my story and experiences. The more people I can touch, the more people I can help become a better version of themselves. Professionally, I’d like to become a personal trainer to help others on a day-to-day basis.”
Why are you excited about your partnership with Bowflex?
“Working with Bowflex goes back to the roots of where my story started – training in my basement to get going when I had no idea what I was doing. Lots of people I talk to daily are in similar situations as me – they don’t have a gym membership, can’t afford it, or are intimidated by the gym atmosphere — they’d benefit from working out at home. Ask anyone, and Bowflex is a known for being high quality and creating unique products that all deliver results. If you’re going to stand by a brand and have equipment in your house to use, it might as well be Bowflex.
In addition to the people who are just starting out, everyone that’s involved in OCR needs some type of equipment to use at home. I can’t think of a single person training for OCR who doesn’t need a set of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells. They are ideal for their versatility, accessibility, and compact space. I’d recommend doing an obstacle course race to anyone regardless of your fitness level – and the traditional ways of working out at the gym and working individual muscle groups each day isn’t the way people are training for these. People are looking for a more efficient way to prep their entire body for an obstacle course race, and I’ll be bringing out-of-the-box ideas to the Bowflex community on how to do just that.”
Have a question or comment for Spencer? Use the comments section below to ask him your question, or cheer him on!