Robyn Benincasa
Robyn Benincasa

Speaker Series: Robyn Benincasa

By Massage Today , Editorial Staff
2019-6-5

Speaker Series: Robyn Benincasa

By Massage Today , Editorial Staff
2019-6-5

Everyone has had challenges. Whether it’s losing someone we care about or not being offered the job we wanted or being diagnosed with a health condition that fundamentally changes our lives, there isn’t a single person today that hasn’t faced something that made them question if they had both the grit and determination to get back up.

But most everyone, in their own time and at their own pace, does rise again—and most agree that it’s in the rising, not the falling, where many of life’s lessons can be found.

These stories can be hugely inspirational, and attendees of the AMTA 2019 National Convention, October 24–27 in Indianapolis, Indiana, are sure to be inspired by Robyn Benincasa, world champion adventure racer and CNN Hero, as she talks about why it’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback.

Massage Today sat down with Benincasa to learn more about where she finds her inspiration, how her Project Athena Foundation helps people face their own life-altering setbacks, and the importance of having goals.

Massage Today: What are some of your sources of inspiration for you when you’re facing some of life’s challenges?

Benincasa: I think depression and feeling stuck often comes from a lack of action or a lack of making a decision one needs to make. So, I like to create action, especially things I have to train for, save for or focus on.

I also find inspiration from helping others who are going through tough times. Since founding the Project Athena Foundation in 2009, I realize every day that I do not really have a single real problem in my life. Compared to people who have real struggles every day, like our survivors do, I have zero complaints. Perspective like that brings incredible gratitude for how lucky I am. Also, watching someone cross a crazy challenging finish line on our Project Athena Foundation adventures after their years of setbacks is the most motivating and inspiring thing in the world!

Massage Today: What is your fundamental approach to helping people facing life altering setbacks map out their own comeback?

Benincasa: Our approach is all action, baby! You have to put something on your calendar and make it happen. Less mapping, more doing. For us its simple, apply for a Project Athena adventure grant, then you have an online coach and a very detailed training and nutrition plan for four or five months leading up to an adventure. Then all someone needs to do is show up, make friends, rely on each other, accept help, offer help, share the love, enjoy the journey and kick ass!

That said, whether it’s with Project Athena or not, it’s important to surround yourself with people who can guide and teach you based on their own experience. Our adventures are really, really hard for a reason. We want people to experience the power of the team at both the best times and the toughest times . If you want to go fast, you can go alone, but if we want to go far, we have to go together.  

Massage Today: How does having a goal help people who have survived a medical setback?

Benincasa: People who have been sick or injured for a long time are usually very tired of being the weak one, the sick one, the one that their family and friends are constantly worried about or fawning over. Our Project Athena Adventures provide all of the training, tools and inspiration to help people shed that label of “sick person” and add a brand new label to their life resume, mainly “badass endurance athlete”. It’s a huge mental shift for survivors and their families when they accomplish something that their perfectly healthy friends would never even dream of, like hiking across the Grand Canyon in one day. They leave the south rim as nervous recovering souls and they finish as superheroes in their own eyes (and in all of ours!). It’s truly been the most gratifying experience in the world to share in that transformation for the past 10 years. 

Massage Today: During your journey so far, what have been some of your keys to success?

Benincasa: 1. Surrounding myself with the best people. We become the people we surround ourselves with, so choose wisely. 2. Leaving my ego at the starting line. You can’t bring your ego on the race course with you because it’s the heaviest thing in your pack—and that same philosophy holds true in life. 3.Don’t just believe in yourself. Believe in yourself only if you have a track record of success and the experience to back up your decisions. If you don’t have those things, find the right guides, coaches, gurus and mentors to help you meet your goals. A goal without a plan (and a team to make it happen) is just a wish.