How I Lifted 50 Million Pounds with Tonal Even as a Busy Dad and Doctor
Ryan Heath has lifted more weight than any other Tonal member—and the milestones keep racking up.
By Ryan Heath as told to Karen Iorio Adelson
Fitness has always been important to me, but I wasn’t always consistent.
I’m a gastroenterologist and I work long, odd hours. On-call nights and weekends can be especially unpredictable and it really eats into my available time. As a physician, if I’m pushing the idea of living a healthy lifestyle to my patients, I should model that. I also want to prioritize spending time with my children—who are 1, 3, and 5—and make sure they all get their unique needs met.
Tonal makes meeting all those personal and professional obligations a lot easier. I can commit to my own mental and physical health without sacrificing the time I spend with my family or my patients.
When I bought my Tonal in 2019, my goal was simply to stay consistent and keep going. I never thought about reaching a specific number of pounds lifted. But then, it happened: Hitting the 50 million pound milestone on Tonal felt a lot like crossing the finish line in my first half-marathon. I felt joy, disbelief, pride, exhaustion, and a desire to see what else I could do and how much further I could go.
How I Lifted 50 Million Pounds
I typically do two coach-led HIIT workouts (with resistance), two coach-led strength workouts, and one or two custom strength workouts per week, along with a few yoga or Pilates sessions. My workouts are usually 45 to 75 minutes long depending on my schedule.
Back when I used to work out with free weights, I didn’t keep track of anything and I had no idea how much I was lifting. Now, I’m lifting anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 pounds in a single workout. I remember feeling really cool when I first hit 1 million pounds on Tonal. It was fun to keep hitting those milestones, all the way up to 50—and recently 51—million pounds. That inspires me to keep going.
There were definitely days when I didn’t feel like working out, but I still showed up. I’ve learned the importance of getting out of my comfort zone and taking a workout one rep at a time, one set at a time. Challenging workouts have taught me that it’s alright to struggle and feel uncomfortable in the moment as long as you’re keeping the why of what you’re doing in mind. That’s definitely translated to other areas of my life and prepared me for moments that require focus and calm amid a sea of chaos.
It’s very rewarding to look back and see my growth and perseverance reflected in the numbers.
I used to have to go to the gym before 4 a.m. or after 10 p.m. and that would leave me feeling drained. With Tonal at home, I don’t have to wake up as early to get in a workout and still get to work on time. Also, personal trainers didn’t work those hours so I was on my own. There was no one giving me any form feedback or telling me how to do an exercise. I’d read old fitness magazines or scour the internet to find out what I should do. It’s been great having a variety of coaches on Tonal showing me how to do each move better and engage different muscle groups to become more functional.
Before getting Tonal, my mentality was just to lift heavier because that’s the only goal I thought to achieve, but the way I work out on Tonal has evolved a lot since then. I’ve learned that it’s okay to back off on the weight and focus on form. Now I balance my lifting with yoga, barre, and core workouts that don’t involve resistance. I incorporate a lot more of those in my routine to give my joints and muscles a break in between lifting days.
These other modalities get my muscles working in a different way than in traditional resistance workouts. They also help me assess my strength and see where I need to improve. For example, when I first started doing yoga, I realized that I had no problem holding up my body using my arms but I needed to build up my core stability. As an added benefit, I found that by increasing my core strength, I was able to bench press the same amount of weight with less effort and was ultimately able to bench even more.
The Benefits of Getting Stronger
Getting stronger on Tonal helps me keep up with my kids when they’re climbing on the playground or running around on the beach. My oldest son has autism and he responds best when he’s moving around, such as running, swimming, or climbing. He’s really blossomed and it’s been life-changing to see him grow as a person now that we’ve found that’s how he expresses himself. That’s when he starts making eye contact, listening, learning, and interacting more, so I want to be able to do that with him. The strength and endurance I’ve gained on Tonal have enabled me to maximize that time with him without worrying about slowing down. It’s helped both his growth and my growth.
Growing up, I wasn’t athletic at all. I had a lot of anxiety about participating in any activity where people would see me struggle. Getting into fitness allowed me to take control of that anxiety and change my narrative. Hitting 50 million pounds feels extremely rewarding. It’s proof that the anxious, awkward kid inside of me has come a long way in this journey.
When I look back at the millions of pounds I’ve lifted on Tonal, I know I can put that grit and determination toward my next goals: running my first marathon next year, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro one day, and reaching the 100 million-pound milestone.
Try one of Ryan’s Custom Workouts: Chest & Back Blast