This Guy Fought Cystic Fibrosis Through Exercise—and Now He Looks Identical to ‘Thor’

cysitc fibrosis tho lookalike
Photograph by instagram/benmudge_

Ben Mudge used exercise as medicine, and now he’s inspiring others living with the condition to do the same

You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him, but Ben Mudge hasn’t always found exercising easy. It wasn’t for lack of motivation; he was born with cystic fibrosis, which can not only make exercising difficult, it can make the simple task of breathing a challenge all on its own. But Mudge has defied the odds — not just in getting ripped as hell dude, but in transforming himself into a real-life version of one of the most jacked superheroes of all time, Thor.

It’s pretty easy to see the resemblance. The washboard abs, the long, blonde hair, the hammer — Mudge looks like a walking clone of Chris Hemsworth‘s superhero character. But it’s not just his weekly “Thorsday” posts that the 27-year-old’s 55,000 Instagram followers love about him. Mudge is living with cystic fibrosis, and his story of overcoming the associated challenges to get to where he is today is inspiring others with the genetic condition to get fit, as well.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes damage to the multiple organs in the body, especially the lungs and digestive system. It affects the cells that produce secreted fluids in the body — namely sweat, mucus and digestive juices. These fluids are supposed to act as lubricants in the body, but in people with cystic fibrosis, these fluids become thick and sticky. Besides making it difficult to breathe, this can cause problems with digestion and make it difficult to gain weight and properly grow.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising regularly can help those with cystic fibrosis by loosening up mucus and improving heart and lung function. Though it can be hard for people with cystic fibrosis to start an exercise regimen, Mudge has proven the hard work is worth it.

Mudge was always a fairly active kid, according to the Independent. But when he was 18, he developed a lung infection from his cystic fibrosis that landed him in the hospital. Doctors told him his lung capacity was just 66 percent — a scary-low number for such a young person.

“That was scary,” he told the Independent. “I’d never had any issues with breathing at all before that. But then after that it felt like someone was squeezing the bottom of my lungs shut. That’s when I knew I had to get exercising.”

Mudge, who was self-admittedly a scrawny kid, turned to fitness as a way to improve his lung capacity and overall health. And that it did — today, nearly 10 years after his hospitalization, his lung capacity is at 95 percent, and he attributes most of that improvement to the gym.

Mudge said that in the beginning, just lifting up a barbell was challenging. Today, his Instagram is full of his amazing gym feats, like this very impressive set of glute bridges.

The Thor persona came about when friends at the gym started commenting he looked like the comic book hero. He decided to go all-out and grow out his hair, and hasn’t looked back. “Thor is not just a name, it’s a mantle,” he said. “Growing my hair long to look more like Thor is definitely a big part of what keeps me motivated, and encourages me to keep training.”

Mudge’s story is especially inspiring to those living with cystic fibrosis. He said that he receives hundreds of messages from people saying he inspired them to take control of their health. “It’s amazing when people tell me that, just by me putting up photos of dealing with cystic fibrosis, showing the scar on my stomach, even taking my nebulisers, has made them more proud of having cystic fibrosis,” he said.

Mudge, who is also a personal trainer, wants to encourage people with cystic fibrosis that they, too, can live healthier lives. He trains clients both with and without the genetic condition, the only difference being that those with cystic fibrosis have to receive online coaching because of risk of cross-infection.

“The way I see it, everybody has something wrong with them — whether it be a bad knee or a gluten intolerance,” he said. “Nobody is 100 percent healthy. So I just treat all my clients the same.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Ben Mudge’s last name. 

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