Doers and Dreamers – Austin Benjamin

Our area is very fortunate to have an abundance of businesses that help to promote wellness and fitness from yoga and Tai Chi to speed training and power lifting.  For those that want to improve their level of fitness, it’s really important to find qualified, experienced, practitioners that are dedicated to their craft. From his own physique and the numerous autographed posters of professional athletes that he has trained, it’s clear that this week’s Doer and Dreamer, Austin Benjamin, really knows his stuff.

Your name: Austin Benjamin

Business or organization: Essential Fitness

Occupation: Owner/Trainer

What is your approach to your business or occupation that makes you unique?
Specialized individualized training, approachable fitness, friendly environment and family atmosphere.

I have been a trainer now for 16 years and I have seen all the “newest fads” come and go. Everyone’s body is different and so should their workout. About 90% of gyms or trainers do similar workouts for their clients. For 2-3 times a week they have their clients come in and do 15-20 minutes on cardio machines, do some free weights, some abs workouts, stretch and say “I’ll see you in 2 days.” What about the other 23 hours in the day? What about the old sports injury that is re-surfacing and causing them neck and low back pain? What about your 50-60 year old client who doesn’t want to train like she’s going to be on the cover of muscle and fitness magazine but just wants to be able to pick up her grandchildren? At Essential Fitness we don’t just train you 30 minutes to an hour 2-3 times a week. We give you meal menus that are based on foods you like to eat and that will become a part of your lifestyle not a quick fix or fad diet. We give you at home workouts and stretches that don’t require any equipment just 15 minutes a day and a bath towel. We make you part of our family here and introduce you to people just like you who have been or are now in your shoes. We share recipes, group discussions, Facebook page chats. Our slogan is come join our family because we are just that, a family. To change your lifestyle, lose weight and feel better. We know it cannot be done in 2-3 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week and losing weight in just 2-3 of them cannot happen.

Where are you from originally?
I am a Kingston native.

What brought you to the Kingston area and keeps you in this area?
I graduated from KHS in 1998 and immediately knew that coaching and fitness would be my path in life, all thanks to coach Tom Loughlin. I went to UCCC and transferred to Manhattan College for physical education and exercise science. I worked in Manhattan for a couple years at a sports club before returning in 2002. I worked as a director of training at a local gym for 6 years before enlisting in the National Guard to fulfill a promise to a fellow student at Manhattan College who lost his parents due to 9-11. After returning from basic training and tech school I had decided to go for my goal and open my own personal training studio and cater to beginners. While working at other facilities I noticed many people were intimidated to work out and take classes so I knew goal was to reach out to these individuals, the ones who needed me the most.

What is your favorite hangout in this area and why?
My favorite hangout is in my home with my 8 year old son Charlie and 8 week old daughter Ava Grace. When I’m not at the gym I love being home with them and my beautiful wife Jessie. Working 4am-7pm Monday through Friday and Saturday morning can be stressful but my family makes all of this possible. I can’t wait to get home to be surprised by Charlie who has been hiding behind the door plotting and waiting for just the right time to jump out and scare me, he still gets me every time. Spending quality time with my family is what is most important to me. The main reason I am doing what I love day in and day out is because of my wife Jessie. She told me 3 years ago to follow my dream and leave the small studio behind and go for it. We found a location that hadn’t been used in many years, up the road from our house. We knew it would take a lot of hard work but with her help and the help of my brother Andrew Benjamin we made it possible. Expanding the size every year, it is now the dream I once envisioned. We now have something for everyone. We have a group fitness room, 30 yards of indoor turf for our athletic training, rehab center, nutritional consultation room, weight room, and private personal training areas.

Tell us something that we never would have guessed about you.
Something people don’t know about me is my passion for Broadway shows and acting.
When I was living in Manhattan I had always wanted to be an actor. I never persued it because I knew there was a lot of down time and maybes involved. I had the opportunity to be an extra in “Sex and the City” and some other small films as well. Recently my wife sent me a audition opportunity and I sent in the necessary info with no expectations of receiving a call back, ok maybe a little part of me was expecting one but with my busy schedule I didn’t think it would happen or be possible. Last night my hopes became reality and I will be playing a role in a film that shoots next week.

I am truly blessed with my kids who I adore, a beautiful wife who makes me laugh and is my best friend, a job I look forward to waking up to even at 4am, friends and family who have supported me along my journey and absolutely wonderful clients whom I now call close friends.