Dave Buzanko was 40 years old and weighed 220 pounds. While supporting a family of four by working late factory shifts and running his own side business, the only exercise he could seem to fit in was chauffeuring his kids to their hockey games. But while guzzling beer and eating bar food to pass the time between games, Buzanko started to feel some pains in his chest. As the night wore on, they became longer and sharper. And while he was taking his son home, the pains became too much to bear. Instead of going home that night, he drove straight to the emergency room.
Thankfully, Buzanko did not suffer a heart attack. But after realizing that his chest pains were not something to be ignored, his doctor had presented him with two choices to fix his heart: take cholesterol medication for the rest of his life, or diet and exercise. Instead of killing time between hockey games, he decided to make exercise a daily activity, starting with running 5-7 kilometers every day. He stayed committed to this exercise for three straight years, never taking a day off, and cut out fatty, processed food from his diet. “There is no magic pill that will ever replace the process of making good choices every day that result in the outcome you desire,” he says.
But one chance encounter would change his life even more. While out for his daily exercise, Buzanko ran into a man wearing a ratty old tee-shirt from a triathlon. Intrigued, he asked the stranger “Have you really done that triathlon thing?” It turned out this man had a similar experience to Dave; he too had heart problems at age forty and started running, cycling, and swimming. He felt that if he was ever injured in one sport, he had two others that he could fall back on. Now motivated more than ever by this man’s similar experience, Buzanko signed up for his first triathlon. He bought every book and reached out to every friend and coach he could to develop a training schedule and attack his goal head on.
“You have to embrace the process,” Buzanko says. “You don’t have to be a triathlete to train like one, you just have to train with purpose.” For Buzanko, it was his mental training he relied on. “I tell myself every day, ‘today I win,'” Buzanko says. From his first run to his next ride to his next swim, Buzanko developed his “Can-Do” attitude and continued to build this mindset every day to go further, become stronger and find what works for his body to protect his newfound heart health. At age forty-eight, he is fifty pounds lighter than he was at forty.
Buzanko was drawn into the Spinning® program since heart rate training tools are the main guiding principle that nearly any adult can use to build a solid foundation of fitness since it is an easy starting point. Dave then decided to utilize heart rate training in all forms: running, cycling and swimming.
Buzanko was not only able improve his performance, but he now spreads the Can-Do attitude as a Certified Spinning Instructor at Tri Cycling Studios in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. For Buzanko, one of the best moments of teaching Spinning classes is watching riders embrace the process. “When we review the amount of calories burned,” Buzanko explained, “it’s where they see their hard work and what they’ve earned for themselves.”
I get a lot more satisfaction in coaching someone who is brave enough to walk through my studio doors and say ‘I can do this’ and create a fun, encouraging and supportive atmosphere for them. For many adults, the movement and choices in your thirties can help you reinvent yourself in your forties.
Buzanko now promotes heart health for most adults in their 40s, as well as teaching high school students the benefits and discipline of training for triathlons. His memoir, Heartfit365, recounts his transformation from an overweight hockey dad to a competitive triathlete. The book also details his current role as a Certified Spinning Instructor. Filled with helpful tips for triathletes, cyclists and mental training techniques, Heartfit365 will inspire you sign up for the next triathlon and get you into a Spinning class to start your training!
At Tri Cycling Studios, several charts, how-to posters and guidelines on set up, form and heart rate training line the walls of the indoor cycling studio. Next to these posters are quotes in big bold letters. Buzanko’s favorite quote sits behind the Spinning instructor’s stage in the room; “Who will you inspire today?”
So who will you inspire today? Who have you inspired in the past? Tell us your story! Contact [email protected] and write “Spinning Community” in the subject line. Your story could be in one of our newsletters or on our community page!