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Featuring You - Meet Forbes Riley

Updated: Dec 8, 2019

(Originally published 2-8-10)

Every once in a while you just meet someone who dramatically changes your life. I met Forbes through a mutual Los Angeles acquaintance and we began to know each other a little better from Facebook and phone conversations. It was the phone call that I had with her a few weeks ago to interview her for this article, where the little fat food and bad exercise switch went off and the healthy habit switch went on. I called Forbes today to tell her that I was having trouble writing the article about her because I needed to go back and get quotes because about ½ way through the interview I stopped writing and just started listening to her intensely. After a two hour conversation, I realized I had like 2 pages of notes and was in trouble.

I called today and she said, “I just got off the phone with someone telling me I changed their life forever.”

I said, “Well, Forbes, it’s gonna be an even better day because I’m calling to tell you that too. First I need to tell you that I need better quotes from you from our conversation. But before I do that I need to tell you that since our conversation, it is like a light switch of healthy habits finally kicked into gear. I’ve stopped eating chocolate, pizza, chips, soda and I’ve lost 5 pounds AND your SpinGym has already taken one inch off each of my arms.”

She said, “Write our story of how I changed your life because that’s what’s important to me and that is what makes me happy. Hearing that I changed your life is what it is all about.”

I said, “Well, I’m that girl, just like you who was always a size 12 or a 14 or a 10, but never a 6 or 8 and sadly, never in a bikini. Forbes, because of you, I’m going to change my life.” And I added, “Everyone should get to spend 15 minutes in person or on the phone with Forbes!”

She chuckled and said she was running into a business meeting, so we hung up with her saying, “Just write….”

So here I am writing. Please meet Forbes Riley, the actress formerly known as Francine Forbes, co-star of the early 80’s cult classic “Spatter University”,and Broadway dancer who was always hearing about her weight daily, as she was in the acting business as a size 12-14. Now, she’s sold over 2 billion in health products in over 80 countries and is on a roll, I mean a spin….

Her latest craze (and mine too) is the Forbes Riley SpinGym! This little handy dandy device is something so small you might underestimate the real power of it. It can fit in your purse, you could even stand in the grocery line and use it if you wanted. “It is such an amazing product, Forbes says, “As the former host of Fit-TV, co-host of ESPN’s Xtreme Games and 2 decades as a fitness and wellness expert on QVC, then HSN - I’ve seen practically every fitness product in my time. When you add my years as a dancer, licensed massage therapist and almost 30 years studying martial arts from TaeKwoDo to Wing Chun – I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. SpinGym is based on an award winning German Design and while it may look like a toy, it functions like a serious piece of fitness equipment – you just have to put it in your hands and you’ll get it!

Forbes wasn’t always a fitness guru though. In fact, as a child her nose was severely broken by an accident with a baseball bat. Her parents didn’t have the money to get it fixed and she had terrible breathing problems as a youngster. To add to the trouble, she also received her dose of headgear and braces, speech therapy and wild frizzy hair – couple that with being very smart (she skipped a year of high school AND college) and you have a shy, bookworm with no social life. At a young age her dad was also injured severely in a printing press accident. It rendered the family with no money and struggling. A doctor voluntarily fixed Forbes nose. The braces came off, the headgear (I imagine was flung out the window as far she she could throw it.) and a desire for a college scholarship lead to her winning the title of Miss Teenage New York and her tv debut in the pageant with Bob Hope as the MC. The story grows from there.

‘I just wanted to be an actress at first,” Forbes says, “but then in 1993 I met Jake from Body by Jake and my life was changed forever. The old me used to just crave sweet, muffins, cake and more all of the time. I lived in fear and anxiety about my weight and my appearance my whole life. I’m just not that person anymore. Today at 49 ¾, I’m living my dream. I have 2 healthy children and I’ve risked my career and all my money on products I really believe in. My goal is to inspire and infectiously motivate others, because transformation IS possible. Dream It, See It, Achieve It!”

Forbes believes food and nutrition is the key, then exercise. “I went to the Optimum Health Institute to study food and the effects of going “raw”. A bit extreme but the education was invaluable. I’ve gone on to read every health book out there with one of my favorites being “Skinny Bitch” and David Wolfe’s “Superfood”. Recently I co-star in a documentary food film titled “Super Charge Me” and I live my life blending and juicing (with the Jack Lalanne Juicer, of course!”

Forbes is on a mission and if food is the foundation then the house is build on the way you communicate – in a new book, title Redefination: Redefining Your Life One Word at a Time”, she redefines commons words as a means to inspire change. My favorite is “DIET – Decisions I Eat Today” another is “FOOD-Fuel only on Demand and my most treasured is “NO - Neverending Opportunity.” So what is next for Forbes Riley? Balancing it all and redefining “MOM as “Moments of Memories”, she says, “My twins are such a huge focus in my life and between work and travel its challenging. One secrets is I love to scrapbook with my kids and we are inspired to always do more and create lasting memories. I am reminded that life goes by quickly – I lost both my mom and dad to cancer at age 70 – she was a diabetic and they both smoked. Can a healthy lifestyle affect change? – I determined to find out!

Talking about the twins brings up more great stories from Forbes. “I was 42 years old and my waist was 65 inches around,weighing in at 206 lbs when I was pregnant. I also had to go from that to an infomercial and a live home shopping appearance in London within 9 weeks time. I told them that I just couldn’t do it. The woman in charge got on the phone with me and said “Look, I gave birth to my twins in the middle of the Bosnian War. Just do it, “ she says , “and something snapped. I detoxed, juiced and within 2 and a half months, not only was I back in pretty good shape with portion control, exercise and a different outlook, but we taped the Jack Lalanne Juicer infomercial and 7 years later – its still running!

Forbes can also be seen regularly on HSN promoting not only SpinGym and Urban Rebounder but keeping an eye on the hottest trends and innovations in health and fitness. In Chicago, on March 14th, 2010 Forbes is getting inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame alongside such luminaries as Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Jack Lalanne, Tony Little, and Joe Weider.

Well, that something has snapped for me too Forbes. All of us in the Fitness Challenge look forward to working with you to reach our healthy lifestyle goals, well and spinning our new tales of great fitness and healthy eating too 

Quote from Andi Matheny – actress/writer Forbes and I co-hosted the talk show "Essentials" on TLC a few years back. That show was heavily weighted towards beauty and fashion - fun and frothy topics for the most part and we had fun hosting the show. After the show was cancelled and we were both struggling with "What's next" I remember saying to her I wished she could find something inspirational that could help people and potentially change their lives - because when Forbes gets behind something and believes in it - you start believing it too. It's so gratifying for me to see that coming together now - Forbes is using her talents to inspire and motivate. Right now SpinGym is a perfect vehicle for that - I can't wait to see what's next.

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