“Fitness Makes Me Beam With Love”: Ryan Logsdon’s Onnit Story

December 15, 2021

For many people, self-care means self-indulgence—eating and drinking whatever you want, being lazy, and otherwise giving in to temptations that can be unhealthy. But when you set out to get fitter, you find that self-care becomes just the opposite. You start craving good sleep and healthy food over pizza and beer, and, no matter how much your last workout pushed you to the edge, you can’t wait to hit the next one.

Ryan Logsdon found this for himself when he joined Onnit Gym nearly four years ago. He hadn’t worked out since high school, and now he’s in the shape of his life at age 43. And while the physical changes have been exciting, he can’t wait to tell you how his journey with Onnit has made him a better man overall, capable of taking care of others as well as himself like he never thought possible.

Logsdon spoke with Onnit Director of Fitness Education Shane Heins for this Onnit Story, part of a live video interview series that features people who have made inspiring life changes with Onnit’s help. See below for the video, as well as an edited transcript of the highlights. You can stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears every other week. 

Shane Heins: Technically, you are the first member of Onnit Gym to sit for this interview. We’ve dedicated a lot of these Onnit Stories to folks who found Onnit through the supplements, or as members of the Onnit Tribe. We’ve talked to employees at Onnit and Onnit-certified trainers, but you’re the first person to integrate with Onnit through the gym. So please tell us how you first intersected with Onnit there?

Ryan Logsdon: Before I moved to Austin in 2016, I’d listened to the Joe Rogan podcast, and that’s how I heard about Onnit the very first time. I had no idea about the gym, or even where it was. I just knew it existed in Austin. I took a job in 2017 on the south side of Austin, and realized then that the gym was half a mile from me. Honestly, I actually got signed up by my ex-wife without my even knowing. Your gym staff reached out to me via text and asked me what day I wanted to come in, and I looked at my phone and I was like, “Huh?”

But I went in and took a class and was very humbled to say the least. I joined the gym in February 2018. Back then, it was everything I could do to get to the gym one day a week. Slowly but surely, I was able to do two days, then three. At first, the gym was something I didn’t want to do, but I knew I needed to do it.

Can you describe for everyone watching this video what it’s like to walk into the Onnit Gym? What was your experience when you first came in through the doors, and what were all the feelings and the thoughts that came with that?

Well, not having worked out since I was probably 18 years old, and then joining the gym when I was 38, I was a little intimidated at first. But the fact that you go in there and you see all fitness levels, all shapes and sizes, as well as welcoming coaches, made it easier for me. There’s a spot there for everybody. So it was overwhelming at first, but once you get into the classes and you see how they run and how the focus and the attention is on everybody—not just one person—it really made me feel at home. That first workout was one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever been through. Now, when I’m not at the gym, I miss it.

For anyone who’s not familiar with Onnit Gym, when you walk in, you come into a cafe. There’s a bit of a storefront up front, and a welcome desk. And then you go through this big door to get to the gym itself. You walk in and you see this high ceiling and a sprawling space—it was originally a warehouse space. Over the years, we’ve had people walk in and they go, “Holy crap. I really want to come here, but I’ll be back in six months after I get in shape.” They don’t realize early enough that the gym is designed to help people where they’re currently at, and to build progressively from there.

Can you share more about what your life was like, what your headspace was, before you walked through those doors?

I played football, baseball—all the sports you play in high school. But once I got out of school, fitness really never entered my mind. You’re busy, you’re working, you’re chasing a career, and over the years I put on weight. I had a 40-inch waist when I joined Onnit, and even then, my pants were getting snug. I knew I had to make a change when I was tying my shoes and I had to come up for breath from one shoe to the next, sitting on the bed. Even then, I still needed a nudge to go to the gym from my wife. 

I joined Onnit to get my body in shape. Everybody wants the summer bod and all that, and if you join in December, you think, “I’ll have it all worked out by summer,” but it just doesn’t work that way. You realize it’s not about short-term goals but a journey to discover yourself. I found out through this journey that I never really loved myself. I didn’t like what I looked like in the mirror, and I didn’t like how I felt. I was tired, angry, and not capable of giving love. I didn’t know all that stuff was tied in to my health. Once I started working out, I started to understand the connection.

At first, I would work out one day a week, and then reward myself. When I got up to two days, I’d reward myself even more. So you’re taking two steps forward, but three back. But as I got more consistent, I started to see the changes. Once I started seeing my clothes fit better, it was amazing how my mind and my heart followed. My temper started to go away. I stopped being angry at other people because I was no longer angry with myself.

It’s been a crazy journey, and the best part about it is I’m just getting started. The weight loss is only half the battle. Fitness makes you want to move through life with love and with a heart. I want to show people where I was and where I am now. I want them to see that if I did it, anybody can do it. That’s what Onnit Gym does for people, and I’m not the only one. 

That gym is full of people who are on their way to a transformation, or have already transformed. I know several members that have lost 100, 200 pounds. I mean, we’re talking real life changes that only happen through dedication and hard work, and with the support of a great community that you guys have established there. So, like I said, I went in it for a summer body. I had no idea it was going to completely change my life. It’s changed my circle of friends. It’s changed my finances.

You can go through life chasing relationships, money, or careers. But if you just make yourself better, all that other stuff comes. The universe just brings it and you don’t have to focus on it.

I like how you said that getting fit is about loving yourself, because it’s like telling yourself that you’re worthy. The minute we plant that seed, all our relationships in life improve. Do you have a memory of a defining moment where you realized something had really changed?

I think it was as soon as my clothes started fitting better. That’s when small things stopped bothering me. My marriage was a very toxic environment. I found that I was not ready to give love yet because I didn’t love myself, and my ex-partner knew she could get a reaction out of me by pushing my buttons. Getting fit taught me to take deep breaths. When I was upset, I would go work out instead of reacting. Those moments are when I started to say, “Oh, wait a minute. There is something here.”

Looking at myself for more than just a glance in the mirror, I could see my body changing. I wasn’t out of breath tying my shoes anymore. Shane, I didn’t know how to pick stuff up safely until I started working out at Onnit. Lifting from your legs, exhaling the breath while you lift—just small things like that made a big difference. I’ve got a 32-inch waist now. It’s like I’m in high school again. It’s amazing.

We’ve all heard of the body being a temple, but I always refer to the body as like a vehicle. We are these beings that are going through this life, and we have these mental and emotional and spiritual components, and a physical one as well. Connecting to that physical part means taking care of the vehicle that carries us through this life. It creates a stronger platform for the emotional and mental and spiritual work to build from.

I couldn’t agree more. I’ll be 43 this year and I honestly feel like I’m going backwards in age. I literally wake up every day surprised. Not surprised by the work, but just surprised at the product. And again, not just the results in my body, but the way it makes me beam with love. It’s like there’s no other option.

Did you have any interactions, or receive any comments that stood out to you as you were going through this journey initially? Were people noticing the change in you?

Yeah, from the people that I didn’t see every day. I never posted my workouts or videoed myself up until about a year ago. I thought it was a little bit vain. Then, once I started posting, people from my hometown were reaching out telling me that I was motivating them. That’s when I was like, “Oh, I see what this is.” This is not about Ryan saying, “Hey, look at me.” It’s about looking at what I did and showing people that they can do it as well. And of course, my mom is my biggest fan. She likes my pictures, and she comments on all of them, God bless her.

My mom is an angel, and she’s the main reason I wanted to do get in shape, because I was a handful growing up. I was overweight, about 275 pounds at my heaviest, and I know that caused my mom to be sad. Now she tells me I’m a different person. I like knowing I’m making her life easier. Same for the rest of my family and my friends.

I know for myself as a parent, the greatest gift I could ever get from my kids is to see them really invested in their lives and being able to contribute to the world through their unique lens. Them feeling good about themselves is the greatest gift. 

As kids, we’re raised to not be selfish, to share and to put other people first. But being a little selfish goes hand in hand with self-care, because you do have to put things to the side in order to go to the gym. You have to put money to the side in order to get the supplements and the gym membership. All that stuff takes away from other things. So it might seem selfish to you and others at first, but when you start seeing results, you realize it’s not really selfishness but self-care, and it allows you to give the best version of yourself to everybody else.

Can you share some of the resistance and struggle you felt to making it to the gym even once a week in the beginning? What were some of the things that were going through your head? Were you talking yourself out of it or having to talk yourself into it?

I think, as humans, we respond to rewards or treats. We do a little work and we think we deserve something for it. For me, working in a heavily skilled trade industry, working with my hands most of the time in the heat, there’s nothing better than a good cold beer after a hard day’s work. And then that cold beer leads to sitting down and not moving. That leads to another cold beer, and then eating dinner and having another cold beer with it. I had planned to work out in the afternoons, but if I was having a stressful day, I’d find ways to get out of it. I’d rather just go home, take the shoes off, drink a beer, watch some football, whatever the case may be. That was my treat.

What I found was that if I would go to the gym one time, it was like seeing a crack in the door. You saw just a little bit of light, but it was enough to help me. If I drank beer the next day, I would feel bad about it, and tell myself I could have gone to the gym. So I argued with myself, saying I could either drink and erase the progress I made the day before, or I could put two days together, three days together in the gym, and then maybe have a beer or two on the weekend.

These days I don’t drink beer at all. I also switched from working out in the afternoons to working out in the mornings, which is a better time for me. You haven’t had your teeth kicked in by corporate America yet. You can go in and get the demons out early in the morning and be a better performer the rest of the day.

For 20 years, I just worked and ended the day with drinking a beer and having fun with friends. And as good as it tastes in the short term, it doesn’t do anything for you long term. It actually handicapped me. I couldn’t even do a pushup when I joined Onnit. But, pretty soon, I was doing switch squats with the steel mace, and kick-throughs, and feeling like I literally was about to throw up—but I never quit. And as I started putting weeks of training together, I thought, “Man, if I could just have a year at this gym, it would be amazing.” Now, three years later, I’m down 80 pounds and I’m like, “Holy crap. If I could just put four years together,” and so on and so forth.

I realized early on that I had to change my eating habits too, because I couldn’t eat the way I was and still perform at class like I wanted to. When I first joined, I’d be in the back corner, where I could hide. After about eight months, I decided to move myself up to the front of the class, so that the people behind me could see me and hold me accountable. The members at Onnit will hold you accountable in the best way. Nobody ever says anything demeaning or derogatory. I’ve never heard an ill word in that gym from anyone.

The culture of Onnit Gym is really what sets it apart. I had a garage gym, and I’ve worked out in apartment gyms, and I’ve gone to Gold’s Gym. It’s always just, “Come in. Here’s a weight bench, and good luck. Showers are over there.” But when you walk into Onnit Gym, they’re asking you what your goals are. What do you want to do? How do you want to get there? What can we do to help? And once you meet all the people there, it’s like you joined a family.

We like to end these interviews with two elements—what’s your favorite of Onnit’s different offerings, and then we take questions from the audience. Let’s start with supplements. What’s your favorite?

I take Alpha BRAIN® pretty much daily. I like the Instant powder form of it just because it tastes good. There’s not a workout I do without Shroom Tech® SPORT. Total Nitric Oxide® is also awesome. What was once cheat days are now just cheat meals, but when I have a cheat meal, I take Total GUT HEALTH. I also like Plant-Based Protein and New MOOD®. There’s not a bad product that you guys make, to be honest. 

What’s your favorite fitness tool?

For my first two to three years at Onnit, it was the steel mace, but now I’m really into the kettlebell. I don’t think there is a better tool on the planet for full-body fitness. That thing is so versatile. I want to get certified so I can share it with people. The kettlebell travels well, and it humbles you.

Do you have a favorite workout in Onnit Gym?

I like leg day. I’ve seen the biggest gains in my legs, and that’s what I get the most compliments on. I really love the stretching before and after, the mobility. I think that’s the biggest key to success. It’s not just about going in there and crushing it in the gym, but can you move?

Here’s a question from a viewer. “I used to work out all the time, but now I don’t do anything because I’m fighting a disease. How would you fill the time?”

I think as long as your illness doesn’t inhibit your power to move, don’t stop moving. There should always be some place you can go to get some sun on your face. Some sunlight, movement, breath work, and good nutrition—I feel like that would be the best route to go.

What advice do you have for someone just getting started on their fitness journey?

Don’t stop. Just keep going. You’re not going to feel like going to the gym every day. You’re definitely not going to be motivated every day, but just put one foot in front of the other. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s the only way to do it. I mean, I’m four and a half years into this and I’m just reaching where I wanted to be four years ago. You’re going to have to change your habits and that in turn will change your lifestyle.

How’s your overall health?

Like I said, I’m not tired, I get plenty of sleep now, and I’m not out of breath tying my shoes. I see people that may or may not have started their fitness journey yet and I just want to help them. Fitness just makes you want to be a better person. I’m telling you, once you change your life, you just want to share it with everybody.

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