Every day, we meet countless members of the FLY Fam who define what it means to Never Coast. But some go above and beyond to leave us jaw-droppingly inspired.
Meet Center City rider Steve ‘Elvis’ Sweitzer. His story is more than a tale of weight loss—it’s a true boundary-breaking transformation that deserved the top spot in our latest FLY Hall of Change. Here, he shares why the stadium is his ‘secret sauce’ for fitness, and why taking the dare is always worth it.
1. Congrats, Elvis! Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m a single dad with an 11-year-old daughter. I’m also legally blind, which means that I can see a little bit, but simple tasks like reading books and recognizing faces is very difficult for me. When I take an eye test, I cannot read the top line of the eye chart, though I can tell you where the eye chart is in the room. Sadly, this condition is not correctable, and is degenerative in nature.
I spent 12 years in Washington, DC as a DoD civilian employee, but moved to Philadelphia in August of 2017 in order to be closer to family and live in Center City, Philadelphia. Currently, I’m a stay-at-home parent.
2. What was your overall lifestyle like before Flywheel?
Overall, I’d been relatively healthy for your average 40-year old single parent. I worked out with a trainer twice a week (and still do) and had lost some weight since moving to Center City. My doctor kept warning me about losing weight and told me that if I didn’t, we’d probably have to start medication.
3. What first brought you to Flywheel? How did you learn about it?
Oddly enough, I found out about Flywheel on a second date. I had gone out with a lovely lady right before Christmas, and — I suppose as a way to see if I had any chutzpah — she suggested taking Flywheel together. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and looked cool doing it, so I took my first class bright and early on Sunday morning before our date on Tuesday. Unfortunately, my date and I didn’t click — at least not as well as I did with Flywheel.
4. We’re so happy you and Flywheel hit it off. What made you say yes to that first class?
As a general rule, I will always take the dare. Bet me I can’t do something, and I will always work to prove you wrong. I’m just wired that way. And, I wanted to look suave and Rule 1 compliant for my date. (Rule #1 = Always Look Cool)
But there’s more to it than that. I haven’t driven a car in over 20 years, but rode a bicycle (a custom-made Merlin cyclocross bike) extensively for over 12 years. I had to give that up a few years ago as my eyesight diminished, so it was nice to get “back in the saddle.”
Flywheel resonated with me on quite a few levels. For starters, it’s hard for me to find an intense enough workout that doesn’t involve me worrying about what I can’t see. Treadmills and running are terrifying, and it’s hard to see the panels and controls on other exercise machines. When I’m at Flywheel, all I have to do is clip in, turn a knob and keep up with the music and listen for simple instructions. It’s tailor-made for me.
I also love the community and the work ethic of the FLY Fam. From the moment I first walked into the stadium, each and every person did an excellent job of making me feel welcome and helped me get acclimated and adjusted (I can’t see the TechPack or TorqBoard). The staff helps me set up my bike, always remembers me (It doesn’t hurt I go by Elvis), and makes me feel welcome. For the 45 minutes I’m in the stadium, I’m just another rider looking to find their best, not a man with a handicap. Sounds subtle, but it’s really an amazing feeling.
Steve with Center City’s Ellie & Shannon, along with his daughter, Tess.
5. Incredible. How often do you take class?
I try to ride at least 3 or 4 times a week. It’s not always easy to carve out the time, but always worth it. I’m trying to get myself into a routine where I get up at 5:20am to take a 6am class daily.
6. Have you done any of the Flywheel Challenges?
I did the F*Resolutions Challenge. I love the name. It was a great way to plug into the Flywheel community, and I can’t wait to do another one. I have to admit, I really enjoy the Never Coast mentality of Flywheel. It’s something I deeply miss from my time in the Army, and it’s nice to find the same spirit once again.
7. What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve gained from Flywheel?
The biggest benefit is what I’ve lost. Which is fat. Lots of it. Short of dating Jessica Alba and Angelina Jolie, there’s no better feeling than having to buy new suits. Slimmer suits. Hervey Specter kind of suits. Same holds true for pants, though sometimes it is hard to find fashionable jeans than can accommodate those “quads of steel”. My doctor is amazed at how much better I look, and how much it reflects in my blood chemistry, which is the real litmus test of being healthy and fit.
On a more serious note, Flywheel has substantially accelerated my progress toward my goals.
It’s my “secret sauce” for fitness. I still work with a trainer twice a week and we can now do more intense and aggressive workouts and target different muscle groups, now that I’ve lost (and will hopefully continue to lose) a substantial deal of fat. Abs and glutes are now on the workout menu, and I’m really looking forward to hitting the beach all svelte-looking. After all, someone’s got to put the T and A back into PTA…
Lastly, I’ve gained a little freedom from my disability. As I mentioned before, it’s cathartic to have 45 minutes in which I don’t have to stress or compensate for my vision loss. While I’m in class, I just follow along like everyone else, which gives me perspective and makes dealing with things considerably easier.
And, yes, when I get home and can put up my TorqBoard scores up on my computer, I’m just as competitive as the rest of you.
8. Anything else you’d like to add?
I can barely see what I’m doing. What’s your excuse for not crushing it?
A letter from our previous Hall of Change winner, Red Williams:
Reading your story really brought back the moments I had in the studio where I realized that I had found the path I had been searching for to better myself. It’s where we can go to let go of all our insecurities, clip in, get lost in the workout, and enjoy the incredible burn we get for those 45 minutes. Magic happens inside those walls. The beauty about the Flywheel community is they want everyone that walks inside their doors to succeed. They make you aware of why you are there for every workout. Regardless of what the outside world throws at us in life…those are our 45 minutes to be exactly who we are!
You have a truly inspiring story and I’m excited you are able to share it on a large scale. It could be the story someone needs to hear to get their own fire going inside if them. Keep rocking it out and thank you for your service to our country!