24 Hour Fitness member Reggie Turner was that kid who discovered he could shoot—and he became a Boys & Girls Club Association basketball champ. Because he tended to play on the rough side and foul out, Turner decided to move on to a sport that allowed contact, and football became his game.
Then, as a Division 1 prospect, Turner was sidelined by an injury. But his comeback story is about more than physical healing. Turner was featured in the 24Life story “Love the Work and the Results Will Follow,” but we wanted to find out the “more” to his story.
24Life: Was the transition from basketball to football an easy one?
Reggie Turner: It was a really tough switch because I was going from wearing shorts to being in pads and a helmet for two hours in 90-degree weather outside [in Atlanta, Georgia]. It took me about two years to get the fundamentals down. I’m a military kid and because my mom was worried about head injuries, I stopped playing in the seventh and eighth grades. When I was in ninth grade, my daddy came back from overseas and [because] he was big into football, he convinced her to let me go out and play again.
The first year [back on the team] was the hardest year. I didn’t really see as much playing time because I was still getting back into it. My second year was when my dad really wanted me to learn the game, and since I was so far behind, he sent me to the World Performance Institute … and that gave me the footwork and everything that I needed.
24Life: You went through a pretty rigorous performance evaluation in high school for the transition from junior varsity to varsity, and stayed an extra year in JV. What happened next?
RT: My senior year I made varsity and I only had one year to impress scouts over guys who were impressing them from their sophomore or their junior year. The first five games, I was dominant. I led my team in sacks. And everybody was surprised at how fit and athletic I was compared to ninth grade. Unfortunately, one rainy game, I tackled a guy and he went down. And somebody stepped on my hand with their cleats and broke my hand. I went from being at the top of the newspaper to basically going down. I had to learn how to use this [hand in a cast]. I was making plays, but not as much as I was at the beginning of the season. My offers started sliding away from me. What was left were junior college scholarships, and I decided to go to Kilgore College in Texas.
24Life: Did you play football?
RT: Well, I got there and they saw [me as] this big guy and put me in the middle of the line instead of in a defensive end position. I had to learn a new position and was told to play on offense, work hard, and I would have a spot on the team. So instead of going to summer school, I went back to Georgia, and I trained with the same people that trained me for football in high school. I came back [to Texas] ready to focus and passed every test. I was one of the fastest linesmen they had. But they brought in a new coach from a different school and he didn’t really like using me. He brought in [another player] about a week before the season started, and basically gave him my spot.
I finished the year practicing with the team [but] I was really depressed because I didn’t feel like the team wanted me at all.
24Life: Your life was focused on football—so how did you handle this disappointment?
RT: At that moment, I started to realize how football wasn’t everything, because I saw all of my friends who were not on the team excelling at other things. I started thinking, “Well, if football doesn’t work out, what am I going to do?” I started to do research, and I noticed how short a football career really is. So, I focused on my studies. It took me an extra two years because I’d focused on football, but I got my associate degree and transferred to University of Texas in Tyler, Texas and graduated with a degree in finance in 2016.
24Life: You recently moved to Dallas and started a new job, too. With such big changes in your life, did physical fitness remain part of your routine?
RT: When I moved to Dallas, I put on weight. I looked in the mirror and just said, “This is not me and I need to change.” I wanted to be a newer version of myself, but I also wanted to be something similar to the good times when I was very confident and very outgoing. So that’s when I started looking into gyms. I did a three-day trial at 24 Hour Fitness and asked about the classes that they had there. They told me about [Les Mills] BODYCOMBAT, how you do a lot movement, a lot of up-downs. And when I heard up-downs, I thought, “Okay! That’s similar to football!”
I walked into the class and saw Carolle (Liu) setting up, and she said “Hi, you must be new. I’m Carolle, the instructor.”
24Life: Carolle said, “If you see us stand side-by-side, you would find it very interesting; Reggie is the size of an NFL football player.” Did the class meet your expectations?
RT: Carolle is tiny [compared to me] but she has so much energy, it’s ridiculous! After the first class, I was out of breath, but I felt accomplished.
24Life: Carolle says she’s noticed in the months since you started taking her class, you’ve lost weight. Is there anything else that’s different about your routine, now?
RT: A normal day for me a year ago was waking up without enough energy to get out and go do anything. Go to work. Come back. Go find some fast food, which was probably bad for me. Sit on the couch all day. Go hang out with the guys if they wanted to do something. Now, I cook healthy stuff. I love staying gone—like instead of sitting on the couch now, I will either go hang out with my friends or go country dancing. It’s the most fun in the world and when you move to Texas, you can’t avoid it—someone will take you there.
24Life: What keeps you going now?
RT: The thing that keeps me going [now] is that I want to look how I’m feeling every day. I used to be really overweight, and it was really, really depressing. When I lost all the weight, I got really confident and my personality showed [more]. Everyone keeps telling me that I brighten up the room a little bit with my personality, but I always downplay it and I say, “No. No, I don’t.” I don’t want people to feel like I did when I was I was overweight, and I feel that because I know what that road is like, I can help prevent it for other people.
24Life: Any advice you’d give your younger self, or your future self?
RT: Don’t forget where you came from.