BOB HARPER & STACEY GRIFFITH
Photo by Debby Hymowitz
Super trainers Bob Harper and Stacey Griffith have been friends for over 20 years with a lot of history between them. Two of the most recognized faces in the fitness industry, they first met at Crunch Fitness in West Hollywood in 1996. Stacey was there to take Bob’s spinning class as part of the audition process to be an instructor. Crunch was looking for a new star, Stacey told the audience in a conversation between the two at the 92nd Street Y, someone to be the next “Bob Harper”. Bob jumped in aghast, “Isn’t that awful? I would have said, I don’t want to be him. I want to be me!” Stacey would get the gig, and go on to be that fitness star by being her. Bob and Stacey were recently on the 92Y stage together to talk about their new books. Stacey’s first book, Two Turns from Zero: Pushing to Higher Fitness Goals — Converting Them to Life Strength is now out in paperback; and Bob’s newest book, his fifth, The Super Carb Diet: Shed Pounds, Build Strength, Eat Real Food was published in December.
Stacey Griffith is one of the founding Senior Master Instructors at SoulCycle whose popularity helped create the boutique fitness behemoth the brand is today. With a cult-like following whose classes are sold out within moments of sign-up, she is an expert motivator and self-empowerment guru. Stacey was a featured trainer on one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Live Your Best Life” tours, teaching to audiences of more than 15,000, and now a motivational speaker as well, regularly invited to lecture at various universities and corporations. Not bad for one who admits she didn’t even go to college.
Bob Harper is one of the most famous fitness personalities, having starred as host and trainer on “The Biggest Loser” for 17 seasons. However, he is probably most well known at present for having suffered a near fatal heart attack just over a year ago in the middle of a workout. Weirdly, I had trained with him just a week prior for a W.O.W! Working Out With feature. Bob credits the defibrillator at the gym with saving his life, and his good fortune that a physician happened to be working out there as well that morning. His new book, The Super Carb Diet, is a reflection of the lifestyle changes he has had to make as a result. It is a very personal story. He relays the details of his heart attack from what happened that day, to waking up from a coma in the hospital two days later, to the depression that followed.
Stacey’s book, Two Turns From Zero, is also a personal story of the some of the hardships she has faced, such as drug and alcohol addiction, which she first spoke about in an interview on STYLE of SPORT. Growing up in a broken home, she moved around quite a bit as a kid, living with different family members and family friends. A natural and gifted athlete, sports brought her the solace and confidence her upbringing didn’t… but so did partying. She would ultimately overcome her addictions, and dedicate her life to fitness — a journey of discovery she now uses to motivate others.
I am sharing an extremely private photo with all of you today. This was me 1 year and 10 days ago, in a coma. TODAY I just did 18.1 (a CrossFit workout for for those of you that don’t know) @bricknewyork in the same room where I went into cardiac arrest. To say I am grateful for my life is a MAJOR understatement. The whole time I did that workout I just kept saying to myself “I’m still here”. I am doing the #crossfitopen2018 because I AM STILL HERE!! Thank you to my #crossfitfamily and non CrossFit family for all of your encouragement. I’ll talk more about this today in my #twocupsin post. I am so LUCKY and SO GRATEFUL!!
Two Turns From Zero is an action-oriented manual, that is both inspiring and instructional, created to empower those willing to change not just the physical, but their emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well. Stacey offers conditioning advice, nutrition counseling, and visualizations for achieving your goals. She provides the tools to achieve success and your highest levels of performance despite life’s inevitable challenges. Both books offer incredibly revealing accounts of the struggles Stacey and Bob have faced in their own lives, which makes them more relatable as motivators. You want to take advice from people that have actually overcome adversity, even if it’s very different from your own.
At their 92Y conversation, Bob described his heart attack and the year that followed as extremely challenging: “I had a major identity crisis. If I’m not the workout fitness guy, who am I? What was taken away from me what was what defined me and what made me feel good. I had to redefine all that.” Like so many starting a fitness program, he had to go back at the beginning, and Stacey’s was his first class back during his recovery. Admitting he was terrified, she willingly and calmly accepted the responsibility. Bob recently shared an incredible image of himself on Instagram in a coma at the hospital to mark a year since his heart attack. It was his first day back at that gym, doing the same workout he did that day. To see what he has had to overcome, only gives his guidance to others that much more validity.
Though it is titled The Super Carb Diet, don’t be fooled. Bob’s book offers a practical approach to diet and those carbs which have become so verboten. It is about moderation, rather than elimination, and the nutritional importance of eating a well-rounded diet. Being in the business for so long he’s seen and tried every diet out there. Those that are completely restrictive and cut out an entire food group or macronutrient to lose weight are simply not sustainable. Says Bob, “I wanted to press the reset button. You can eat all the food groups as long as you know what you’re doing. It’s about balance!
Says Stacey, “The books complement each other. The more tools in the shed, the better your life will be. You should have my book on your nightstand, and Bob’s in your kitchen. We’ll tag team your life! As she told the audience, “There’s a reason we all have our own thumbprint. No one else has it. We all have our own expression and our own chance to become whoever we want to be.” To that Bob replied, “You gotta be okay with who you are because everyone else is taken. You can only focus on you and what you can do to take care of yourself.” These two trainers and friends really do practice what they preach.