Whether you're watching one of Brook Benten's best-selling workout videos, reading her blog or speaking with her on the phone, it's difficult to not be inspired by her infectious personality and innate ability to captivate. Brook lives Austin, Texas and oozes enthusiasm, ambition, focus, resiliency and determination.

Brook always had aspirations to be in front of people, and her journey to success as a fitness professional is evidence that she was meant to do something big. She entertained crowds in Taylor, Texas as a high school baton twirler and after high school, she didn't quite know what would give her that same "euphoria," as she calls it. Brook knew that she wanted to do something else, something big. As she embarked on a college career, she found Step Aerobics at her local gym and was immediately hooked. With fitness, she found the same excitement as she did as a twirler. Shortly after, she became an aerobics instructor; and so began her journey in the fitness industry. Here is her story in her own words ...

LV: When you started teaching those first fitness classes just before college, did you ever think that fitness would end up being your career?

BB: Initially, I became a group fitness instructor as a part-time job. My true career aspirations were to be entertaining on television. Teaching aerobics at the campus recreation center was just a part-time job to raise a little mad money. Within my first few months of teaching, I realized just how much my classes were helping people. I noticed that not only were women losing weight when they attended my classes, but they seemed to be standing taller with better posture... and exuding confidence they didn't have before. My workouts weren't just changing figures, they were changing lives! I declared my undergraduate major as "Exercise and Sport Science," and began a pursuit to become a fitness professional. As I neared the end of my undergraduate tenure, the Fitness Director at the Texas State University campus recreation center suggested that I further my education on to graduate school and get a master's degree in the field.

LV: Tell me about your first jobs in fitness that played a role in propelling your career.

BB: In 2001, Fitness Connection approached me about managing their group fitness program. I began serving as the Group Fitness and Instructional Programs Interim Coordinator at the University of Houston. I then worked as the Fitness Director at Southern Methodist University for five years. I played an integral part in a $54,000,000 renovation project. With a budget of $380,000, I bought all of the new equipment for the 15,000 square foot weight room. I increased the number of group fitness classes from six per week to 85 per week when I left. I launched a personal training program, a nutritional counseling program and a massage therapy program. In 2008, I took a second full-time job teaching fitness classes for a Dallas group of apartment complexes.

Then one random weeknight, I asked my husband, "What do you think of me making a workout video?" He asked why. I responded, "Well, one, because I have the money for production, and, two, I can only reach so many people in my live classes- 20, 50, maybe 60. With video medium, I could reach millions!" If there's one great thing I can say about my husband, it's that he's practical. He knew there would be an approximately $15,000 price tag to make a workout video, and was that really 'worth it?' Luckily, he took the leap with me and we made it happen. 

LV: So you ended up making your first workout DVD. How did that turn out and what did you learn in the process?

BB: I'd like to tell you that my first video was a huge success. Unfortunately, my first workout DVD was a learning experience. I used a novice production company, the lighting was poor, the set was ugly and my cheesy one-liners are not funny when you hear them 20 times.

Were it not for Petra Kolber, I would have given up on my video aspirations right then and there. Petra, my dear friend and mentor, watched my first video then called me with these words: "This is not great, but you have so much potential. You cannot give up. Please let me help you!" With Petra as my artistic director, my sophomore attempt was a hit! GoFit, LLC, the world's largest distributor of packaged kettlebells, saw that video and approached me about being their new kettlebell expert. Since then, I've recorded seven DVDs for GoFit.

GoFit also paid for me to make a revisited edition of my first DVD. The second attempt was a winner. “Kettlebell: Butts & Guts, revisited” became GoFit’s #1 video seller at Best Buy stores. The opportunity to reshoot that title and fix what I felt like I had failed at my first go-round was a victory, in and of itself; but the new version being such a hit was incredibly gratifying. I reflected on the original version, how bad it was… how it nearly convinced me that I was not cut out for video presentation. [In] hindsight, I’m glad I have that story to tell. I am glad that I can tell other aspiring fitness video stars that I made just about every mistake that possibly could have been made with my first DVD. Laugh about it, shrug it off and let them know even if their first attempt is not their greatest work, if they find the courage to pick themselves up and try again, the next one may be a Best Buy top-seller!

LV: As a fitness entrepreneur, what are some of the projects you’re currently working on?

BB: Patrick Goudeau and I recently released the first widely distributed Hyperwear SandBell DVDs. SandBells have recently been placed in NFL, Major League Baseball, university athletic facilities, elementary ISDs and commercial fitness centers. They have also been featured on Dr. Oz, local news and other television mediums. In the next year, as popularity of SandBells continues to grow, I hope to have more opportunities to present additional interviews and workouts on this product. I also look forward to presenting additional workout videos for the home consumer, using GoFit products. I will be presenting at several 2012 Sara's City Workout conventions including Dallas, Midwest and Boston Manias. I have written a strenuous 20-minute SandBell Tabata workout that will be featured in a fall 2012 issue of Prevention Magazine.

LV: You’re now balancing not just being a fitness professional, but the challenges as an entrepreneur. What have you learned and how would you like to inspire other fitness professionals with similar aspirations?

BB: In 2010, I left my jobs in Dallas to move to Austin, TX, and focus exclusively on my career as an entrepreneur: President of Cardiopump Fitness, LLC, personal trainer, video choreographer and fitness personality. It has been a wild ride! A quote by Michael Port has inspired me: "Successful entrepreneurs are comfortable with being uncomfortable."

When clients cancel, companies don't need your contract labor, or conferences decline your presentations, you start to question everything. Bills still have to get paid, but how? As fitness professionals, we post blogs, answer emails, return Facebook messages, and give free advice to people we meet on the streets. We lay ourselves down as bridges, because we desperately want to help people lead healthier lives. But in order for us to buy fresh organic produce, live in safe neighborhoods, drive fuel-efficient cars and live healthy lives ourselves, we have to make money! When you cannot afford the mortgage, no joy of helping people assuages the situation.

Learning to balance my personal time, eating right and splurging, family, faith, clients, classes and continuing education is a work in progress. After 13 years as a fitness professional, though, I can say I'm more balanced than I used to be, and less than I hope to be next time we visit.


As fitness professionals, many of us dream of changing the lives of hundreds, thousands, if not millions. Brook Benten's dream of doing "something big" has become a reality for her; and not by luck or happenstance. Brook has dictated her success by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, learning from her mistakes and mishaps, and being true to herself and those she serves. Brook is an inspiration for those of us who want to do something big. In whatever way "big" means to you, dream it, live it and make it happen.


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