He is the for­mer foot­baller turned fit­ness-em­pire builder. She is the for­mer tele­vi­sion news­reader who has bat­tled al­co­holism. As Ben Lu­cas and Talitha Cum­mins tell Stel­lar, they found their in­spi­ra­tion in each other

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

ot­ted along the walls of Syd­ney’s Flow Ath­letic stu­dio are the kind of mantras you’d ex­pect to hear per­sonal train­ers shout out. There’s one, in par­tic­u­lar, that res­onates with the busi­ness’s co-owner and CEO: “Life be­gins at the end of your com­fort zone.”

Ben Lu­cas’s new life as a fit­ness en­tre­pre­neur be­gan af­ter a bone-crush­ing, brain-numb­ing tackle dur­ing his last game of pro­fes­sional rugby league in 2007, play­ing for the Cronulla Sharks. “I went to make a reg­u­la­tion tackle that I would make 100 times out of 100 and I was out snor­ing,” the 39-year-old tells Stel­lar.

“I just had too many con­cus­sions. From the neck down, I’m all good,” he adds, and then pauses. “I don’t have any is­sues now, but the prospect of de­men­tia [or] Alzheimer’s scares the life out of me.” Both con­di­tions have been linked to re­peated head knocks.

Mak­ing the de­ci­sion to re­tire from the game in his mid-20s was made eas­ier for Lu­cas by hav­ing his side-hus­tle as a per­sonal trainer. It was a job that proved to be his pas­sion, pur­pose and prof­it­maker. He and co-founder Kate Ken­dall em­ploy 35 staff, boast a thou­sand clients, and have their third premises open­ing in Fe­bru­ary. “I’ve pretty much worked seven days a week for the last 20 years, but I love it,” Lu­cas says. “I was up at 3.30am to­day so I could train be­fore I had a few clients. Then I took Oli to swim­ming… and that time to me is the re­ward.”

Oli, aka Oliver, is the two-year-old son Lu­cas shares with his wife of five years, for­mer TV news­reader Talitha Cum­mins, 38. The cou­ple is also plan­ning to wel­come a daugh­ter – due on Christ­mas Day – into the fold. Yet their cur­rent bliss be­lies a rocky start to their re­la­tion­ship. Af­ter be­ing in­tro­duced by Cum­mins’s for­mer Week­end Sun­rise co-star Monique Wright, Cum­mins was two-and-a-half hours late to their first date af­ter get­ting stuck on a re­port­ing job.

“I thought I’d been stood up,” re­calls Lu­cas. “I’d eaten 12 buck­ets of edamame, but I stuck around.” Their next at­tempt wasn’t much bet­ter. Cum­mins says they were “both just off our game” and she ad­mit­ted to him that night she was

be­ing treated for al­co­holism and bipo­lar dis­or­der. “I was only three months into not drink­ing and I re­ally didn’t know who I was or what was go­ing on, re­ally,” she says.

Lu­cas re­mains in awe of his wife’s strength and hon­esty. “She is one of the most to­gether peo­ple I know be­cause she knows what her chal­lenges are,” he says.

Cum­mins sued the Seven Net­work for un­fair dis­missal in 2017 af­ter be­ing told nine weeks into her ma­ter­nity leave that she would not be wel­comed back to her for­mer Week­end Sun­rise job, and was in­stead of­fered an­other po­si­tion as a 5am news­reader. They later reached a con­fi­den­tial set­tle­ment. She now works in me­dia train­ing and holds an ad­di­tional ad­vi­sory role for men­tal health or­gan­i­sa­tion Mind­frame.

Even with the birth of her se­cond child fast ap­proach­ing and ren­o­va­tions to the cou­ple’s Padding­ton home due for com­ple­tion this month, Cum­mins’s pro­fes­sional goals are still front and cen­tre. “I feel like I want to have more in­flu­ence in the area I’m in, whether it’s shap­ing pol­icy around al­co­hol or men­tal health. I see lots of dif­fer­ent prob­lems, speak­ing at con­fer­ences,” she says.

As for Lu­cas, he couldn’t be prouder. “To see what she’s achieved and how hard she’s worked and the per­son she is and the great mother that she is… she’s a big part of my in­spi­ra­tion. The good thing is I can do it all with­out fear. I can build these busi­nesses up and they could all go to sh*t to­mor­row, and that’s still not the most im­por­tant thing to her. As long as I’m a good hus­band and a good fa­ther, we’ll go and sleep in a car­a­van un­til we get back on our feet. That’s a great feel­ing, to know that I can’t fail as I’ll al­ways have the love and sup­port of my fam­ily to go home to.”

Not that it’s with­out its lim­its. “He was talk­ing about open­ing up an­other busi­ness to­day,” Cum­mins says with a laugh, “and I said, ‘Do that and I will divorce you.’”

Wella Pro­fes­sion­als has given the perm a modern makeover with Wella Wave. The for­mula con­di­tions dur­ing pro­cess­ing so hair main­tains its strength and elas­tic­ity, and min­imises dam­age and break­age on fine hair. The process takes about three hours, and there’s no wash­ing for two days post-treat­ment (you can tie it back). Some old-school el­e­ments re­main: the so­lu­tion emits a faintly un­pleas­ant odour, and the process still utilises rollers, but the re­sults are cus­tomis­able – from tight curls to loose bends – and should last any­where from four to 12 weeks. At home, it was sug­gested we avoid us­ing a towel on damp hair and in­stead hand-wring and let it air-dry, us­ing a dif­fuser only if nec­es­sary. It made our nat­u­ral waves more uni­form, smooth and wash-and-go – ex­actly what we crave at this time of year.

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