This is the young Belfast man overcoming a genetic disease to achieve magazine fame as a fitness model – thanks to his abs of steel.
Cystic fibrosis sufferer Ben Mudge is in demand as a model and hopes to follow Jamie Dornan by becoming a Calvin Klein underwear pin-up.
Muscle bound Ben admits he’s “addicted to working out” but not for reasons you might expect.
Having been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just seven hours old, training isn’t just a hobby for Ben. It’s his life line – quite literally.
“I never want to give up on my fitness because I live in fear that my cystic fibrosis will pop its head up again,” said the 25-year-old who works at PureGym in Newtownabbey.
He earns a living as a personal trainer and fitness model but being an expert in his diet and training helps Ben fight off potentially fatal illnesses – even something as simple as a mild chest infection.
He says exercising has been one of the only things keeping him healthy and strong in his adult life.
“I work as hard as I can to be better tomorrow,” he says.
Cystic Fibrosis or CF for short is an illness that halves the life expectancy of its sufferers. CF effects all the major organs within the body. The main cause of the loss of life within the CF community is lung disease.
Battler Ben was diagnosed with the incurable life-threatening condition shortly after birth but he refuses to let this illness control his life.
“You only have a short time on this earth! My goal is to help as many people as I can while I am here.”
He trains five times per week and maintains a diet high in healthy fats and lean proteins.
“I never felt any different growing up. When I was very young, my dad used to make me do press-ups to give me good posture so my breathing would be clearer and I always found exercise made me feel better.
“I was determined to prove doctors wrong after they said I would never recover, so when I got tests results this year showing it was back up to 99 per cent, I cried.”
His hard work has paid off. His lung function remains at 98 per cent, a figure unheard of for long-time sufferers of the disease, and his healthy diet “made an unbelievable difference” in his digestion problems.
After a brief stint working on the set of TV show Game of Thrones, Ben decided to pursue a career in personal training, though he hasn’t ruled out a future in the entertainment industry.
He has modelled for several fitness campaigns in the UK and America and was recently scouted by a huge athletics brand and modelling agency to be the face of their company.
“I feel embarrassed about all the attention, keeping fit is normal to me, I’ve been doing this all of my life,” he admits.
He adds: “Even if just one boy or girl with Cystic Fibrosis looks at me on the cover of the biggest fitness magazine in the world and says, ‘If he can do it, so can I’, then I’ll be absolutely delighted.”
For now though, exercise is the only thing on his mind – well, almost.
Although he’s landed his dream career his ultimate goal is to “inspire other CF sufferers to sustain a healthy lifestyle and take each day as it comes”.
After all, you only live once.