“I used to be resistant to technology, because I felt that it’s not what humans are really about,” Ben Curtis tells me. “I felt like it was really keeping us from interacting with each other.”
Dude, we feel you, but how ironical is that! At the turn of this century, you helped sell millions of Dell computers as Steve, the Dell Dude, in a series of wildly popular and now iconic television commercials (26 in all).
Yet, here you are being all anti.
No worries, though; resolution of conflict accomplished. Ben is still connected, both to the World Wide Web and the universe. These days, the Tennesee native and longtime New Yorker, along with his fiancee, Cassie Fireman, runs SoulFitNYC. It’s a mobile wellness company (they come to you!) that hooks you up with your broken self, through yoga, meditation, massage, wellness coaching, personal training, workshops and more.
“Anyone can do yoga,” Ben says to the millions of naysayers reading this right now. “There is a misperception that you have to be flexible, or strong, or a woman. It was created by men but it’s for everyone. I’ve been practicing for 15 years. It’s not about being real flexible. It’s about using your body, it’s a real old concept about being right here, right now, wherever you are, in the moment. That’s where living life to the fullest comes in.”
Ben practices what he preaches. His life is intensely full as of late, ripe with acting projects, voiceover work and gigs with his band, Danny Fingers and the Thumbs.
No, he doesn’t do coffee; it’s being in The City That Never Sleeps that keeps him caffeinated.
“New York makes a lot of sense to me,” he says. “The arts are so alive here. And everything is accessible. And people are everywhere.”
His contentment was not always so, despite his surfer dude on-air persona. At the height of his Dell fame, when the future looked bright, he was experiencing some serious shade.
“Drugs and alcohol damaged my career,” Ben recalls. “I was cut from the Dell commercials. I was caught buying weed and it made headlines. It was bigger than my commercials. Listen, I was young, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I shouldn’t have been buying anything on the street.”
The scandal caused his career to CTRL/ALT/DELETE, but in a good way, as he sees it.
“It was a blessing in disguise, because it ended my Dell campaign right away,” he says. “I didn’t know how to handle the fame and the velocity in which my career was going. I felt totally out of control, mentally and physically. I was too ill to appreciate it. Drugs didn’t work. Alcohol didn’t work. The only thing that worked was yoga.”
Luckily, Cassie came along, and they proceeded on their spiritual journey together. Ben found his footing, and now he’s leading the lost.
“When I got connected, I met a woman who was on the same path,” Ben says of his fianceé and business partner. “She was in Thai massage school and I was in yoga school. We fell in love. We wound up joining forces while pursuing the same goals. We named our company SoulFit because I’m pretty spiritual. I got that from my dad [an Episcopalian minister]. Everyone is seeking happiness and love and validation and some type of serenity.”
So, just to be absolutely sure and so there is no trace of doubt: Even regular people can do yoga?
“It’s not about being smart enough or fit enough,” he says. “Yoga is just about being where you are. It’s simple and empowering. You feel really good and strong and you’re detoxifying. It helps digestion, circulation, brain patterns, and stress. As you train your body, you start listening to your body. The only requirement for yoga is that you breathe.”
Now that Ben is breathing again, his mind is clear and his path is straight and narrow, how does he feel about the technology that, for a few years, made his TV character a household name?
“I’ve since opened up my mind and can see that it’s giving us interactions with people around the world,” he says, “and access to knowledge and opinion. Everyone has a voice right now, but unfortunately it’s really saturated, so you have to siphon through the voices, but I can stay in touch with people all over the world.”
Meanwhile, he invites all doubters and haters to become believers.“Once your body becomes fit, your soul becomes fit and your life becomes fuller so that you can create anything,” Ben says. “I think that’s why people are so drawn to yoga. You don’t just get a workout with us. You get an experience. It’s the greatest thing you can do for yourself.”
Find out more about Ben Curtis and SoulFitNYC.
Devour and internalize Ben’s classic Dell joint: