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Prep for Game Day: Get to know Flywheel Instructor and Former NFL Player, Steve Justice

By January 30, 2015 No Comments

steve-justice-06-main580 Flywheel instructor Steve Justice was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2008, where he started alongside five-time league MVP Peyton Manning. He also played for the Carolina Panthers during his NFL career. Now retired, Steve is 100 pounds lighter and continues to inspire people to achieve the impossible in his new stadium at Flywheel. Steve has a passion for fitness that is contagious. Read about his journey through the NFL and the career move that led him to his role as “Superman” on the bike at Flywheel Charlotte.

Football has always been a huge part of my life. I started playing at a young age, following in the footsteps of my father and two older brothers. In high school, I was bigger than most and ended up having a pretty successful four years. I then went on to play in college at Wake Forest, largely due to the fact that it was in the same conference as UNC where my brother was playing.

In college, I was pressed to gain weight because I was playing at a much higher level than high school. Being 6’4’’ and 275 pounds as an offensive lineman was considered “too small,” so I would sometimes put weights in my pants at team weigh-ins so that I could play in the upcoming game. I tried my best to eat as much as possible, but even at 6,500 calories a day, it was a struggle. After my redshirt freshman year (where a student athlete may “redshirt” to increase size and strength toward the completion of overall physical maturity), I had gained about 10 pounds and earned a starting spot as center. In 2006, our team enjoyed the most successful season in the program’s history by winning the ACC championship and playing in the BCS Orange Bowl. I garnered some accolades both on and off the field during my junior and senior seasons, including being named the best offensive lineman in the ACC and a consensus All-American with other great players like Ray Rice, Matt Ryan, and Tim Tebow.  Most NFL draft analysts considered me to be the number one center in the country. It was also foreseen that I would be drafted in the second to fourth rounds of the draft. I trained hard at a facility called D1 in Nashville, owned by Peyton Manning, to get ready for the draft and I participated in the senior bowl and NFL Combine.

As luck would have it, I received a call from former NFL player and coach Tony Dungy on the second day of the draft, and went to the Indianapolis Colts with the 201st pick in the 6th round. I spent a year and a half in Indy and even got to start and snap to Peyton Manning during my rookie season.After that initial season, things were looking good until I unexpectedly ruptured my L5-S1 disc and had to have emergency surgery because I had numbness and weakness down my left leg. I think I incurred the injury because I was constantly trying to put on weight. At 6’4’’ and 295 pounds, I was still not “big enough” for an offensive lineman in the NFL. So, I had gained 15 more pounds (30 total from college) – a weight my body was not designed to carry. I kept trucking, recovered as fast as I could, but ended up being released by the Colts after my second training camp with them. I spent some time in the UFL trying to stay fit while I waited to be picked up by another team. I was eventually signed by the Carolina Panthers, and moved my wife (who was 9-months pregnant at the time), and myself back to North Carolina. I ended up incurring the same disc injury and decided, after much deliberation, to retire because I wanted to be alive and present for my family. Life in the NFL is a hard one, and I am so blessed to have made it and play for as long as I did.

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After retiring from the NFL, I knocked on a lot of doors for career options. I was told I “had jobs” with the Charlotte Fire Department and later in medical sales, both of which ended up falling through due to bizarre circumstances. My wife and I knew God had a plan and nothing was going to thwart it. That plan ended up having me join my wife in her personal training business, which she started in Indianapolis when I was playing for the Colts. As time passed and we had our second child, I picked up most of the work and found I had a knack and love for training.

Then, we were introduced to Flywheel through our neighbor whose son was the commercial real estate broker for the new studio location in Charlotte. From there,  both my wife and I were trained as instructors by Ruth Zukerman and Kate Hickl in New York and we were hired as regional managers to open Flywheel’s 9th studio. Scouting out the best talent in the city was a blast and I’m proud to say these instructors are still with us today.

At the time, Flywheel was relatively new in its expansion, and it’s been amazing to watch it grow. NYC instructor Chris Tracey and I were the only instructors present at our opening back in March 2012. I’ll never forget how fun that was – or how much of an impact it’s had on my life.

I retired from the NFL at roughly 310 pounds and now I weigh about 210 pounds. I lost the weight pretty quickly because it was so hard for me to keep it on in the first place! I just stopped eating 7,000 calories a day and jogged with my baby while I had more time on my hands in between careers. Teaching 12-15 Flywheel classes a week definitely helped me shed the last 20 pounds!  I still eat a LOT of food. I train clients when I am not at Fly, so my career is still pretty physically demanding. To fuel my day, I always have the same breakfast; something my wife created called the “egg and oatmeal pancake.”  I will never go a morning without it!

Being a former athlete totally influences my instructing style. To make it to the highest levels in football, you always have to leave your very best effort on the field. I try to motivate my riders to treat every ride like it may be their last. Exercising is a gift, not a right, so I remind my riders to have fun and give it their all. You get out of anything what you put into it. So, I use that mentality in my classes. Why not leave everything in the studio?

Its been a huge blessing to have some of the “original riders” from the day we opened our studio still come to class on the same days at the same times. One day after opening, my wife randomly bought me a pair Superman socks as a gift. I love gifts. I am like a little kid. Of course, I brought the socks to class right away, on a Monday, because I was so excited to wear them! Now, my “mommy” classes, as I like to call them, on Mondays at 8:30 and 9:45 am, are deemed “Superman Sock Monday” classes. A lot of the loyal riders now wear Superman gear to class. I can’t tell you how many Superman gifts I have received from riders. It’s just hilarious. I guess I kind of look like Clark Kent, or so some say … I’ll take it as a compliment! Now, other instructors have taken on superhero personas like Captain America, Mighty Mouse, and Flash. It’s awesome.

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I am so thankful to have been a part of this studio since its inception and I don’t take for granted the amazing job I have at Fly. Some people tilt their head when I tell them I am a cycle instructor. Well, I say … it’s a lot more than just that.


MORE FROM THE FLY BLOG

Steve’s Pancake Recipe:  Old-fashioned oats, eggs, egg whites, and cinnamon. It’s the perfect ratio of good fat, complex carbs, and lean protein that keeps me going for at least the first four hours of my day!

“Today, I feel healthier and stronger than I have ever felt in my life, and I continue to give all that I have to my Flywheel classes. Because I can.” Read Melissa Kaiser’s unique story here.

Carolina Panthers’ starting nose tackle Colin Cole is in the midst of an exciting football season. How does he stay on top of his game? Regular rides at Flywheel. Read his interview here.

After asking Flywheel instructors what they prefer on game day, we realized we’ve been seriously missing out (bacon wrapped dates and pineapple, anyone?). Make this Sunday more fun with these instructor-approved snacks. Get the recipes here.


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