Athlete Spotlight Series 004

Austen Hughes >> Nomad, Web Developer, Early Adopter (and just PRed!!)

I don't know about you, but when I dislike something or find something difficult, my initial reaction is not: "I should spend more time doing this". But that's exactly where Austen's story starts. Austen was roped into a local 5k in 8th grade and absolutely hated it. Running was the worst. It was hard. Why do people do this sport? But if you've ever spent time with Austen, you can tell immediately that he is hard wired with an incredible amount of determination. He looks at difficult things as obstacles that he should be able to overcome. To illustrate this point, a couple years ago, Austen applied for a web developer job with no experience in coding, but since he wanted the job, he taught himself to code while going through the interviewing process (and got the job!). Determination is a mindset. Fast forward from middle school a few years, Austen graduates from UNC Chapel Hill. Instead of continuing down his PhD path, he decides to live the van life by buying a 1977 green VW bus by traveling the US, planting 2500 trees, and running 2500 miles (check out more of his story on IG: leavegreenfootprints).

From 2017 to 2019, Austen missed every starting line he signed up for due to injury. That's a lot of races to DNS. And a lot of time being injured. He was doing the right things; eating well, sleeping well, and recovering well, but he could not crack the code (web developer joke?) to staying healthy. That's when Austen found a body weight support device built in Boulder, Colorado. Since he was still living the van life, he loved that LEVER's device was less than 10 lbs and easily mobile, but that it was still strong and durable to help him reduce up to 45 lbs of body weight.

In summer of 2019, Austen started using his LEVER device at least once a week at the gym. Within 6 months of using bodyweight support, Austen finished within a minute of his half marathon PR, and a couple months later, he ran his first marathon in 2:39. But the improvements don't stop there.

In mid January 2021, Austen PR'd by 90 seconds in the Naples half marathon! The last 18 months using bodyweight support have been his healthiest months as a runner. He's now confident in his training again and that's allowing him to set even bigger goals to knock down. Over the last 12 months, Austen has put on close to 1500 miles on his LEVER device and has seen continual improvement in his running. He attributes his ability to stay healthy while getting fitter and faster to running 3 times per week with his LEVER device (30 miles per week).

We say it to people often, but it's stories like these that keep us incredibly motivated to deliver you the absolute best product possible. We learn something from each of these stories too. And from Austen, he reinforced to us that determination is a mindset. There will be obstacles to overcome in life, but you can overcome them. And when you do, there isn't anything that can stop you.

If you want to share your story with us and others, please email