Imagine that you join a gym and sign up for sessions with a personal trainer. You’re overweight, inactive and a little insecure about working out in front of someone who is in tip-top shape. Would it help to know that your trainer was once in your shoes and completely understands what you’re going through?
Trainer Drew Manning thought so. He gained 70 pounds on purpose – just so he could empathize with his clients that were trying to lose weight. Yoga teacher Trina Hall did the same, gaining 40 pounds to better understand her heavier clientele. As Manning took the weight off, he learned that it wasn’t so easy to do all of the same exercises on his larger frame; and Hall confessed her self-esteem plummeted as a result. The whole process made them both learn the struggles of weight loss and just how challenging it can be.
When I first joined a gym ten years ago, I was about 40 pounds overweight with zero athletic ability. I felt a little uncomfortable working out in the gym (where I felt like everyone was in better shape than me). I managed to get over that pretty quickly and realized that I was there to get fit! Even though I got to a point where I felt comfortable running on the treadmill or riding a stationary bike, there was one thing that continued to intimidate me more than anything else: group cycling.
I could hear the classes going on while I was pounding away on a cardio machine and I’d see the people come out at the end covered in sweat. I was convinced that group cycling classes were for super fit, super thin folks only and that I had no place there. And then one day, I got the courage to take a class – and I loved it! It was definitely challenging and tough, but I made it. Taking group cycling classes not only helped me lose weight and get in shape, but it also made me realize how much I love group fitness. I loved it so much that I went on to get my Spinning certification and eventually became a personal trainer.
As a trainer, I firmly believe that my history with being overweight, losing weight, and changing my attitude about exercise gives me an advantage. The majority of the clients who I’ve trained have come to me overweight. For those with whom I’ve shared my own weight loss history, it’s given them a sense of camaraderie because I know where they’re coming from. I get it.
Sione Fa is a trainer at the Biggest Loser Resort. He was also a contestant on The Biggest Loser, Season 7 where he lost 145 pounds. Like many of us, Sione wanted to lose weight for years but didn’t know where to start. Being selected for The Biggest Loser gave Sione the tools he needed to finally lose the weight and change his life for the better. Since the show’s end, Sione has managed to stay at a healthy weight and adopt an active lifestyle. It hasn’t always been easy and it’s taken a lot of work and dedication.
The greatest lesson that Sione learned from being on the show was learning that he had the power to change his own life. Sione became a personal trainer so that he wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to structure his workouts; he would have the knowledge to do it himself! He loves being able to educate others about fitness, weight loss and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Sione admits that he’s had a few setbacks since leaving the ranch, but keeping a positive attitude and moving forward has been his greatest tool for continued success. His greatest piece of advice for anyone trying to lose weight is that everyone has slip-ups and makes mistakes, but the key is to learn from it, move on. “I realized that I had the power the entire time to change my life,” he told us.
I’m certainly not saying that a formerly fat personal trainer is any better than one who has been fit his or her entire life. Some of the most talented trainers I know grew up playing sports and have always had a passion for fitness. As with anything, it only helps to have people in the industry who come from different backgrounds and can offer different perspectives.
images via cnn.com and reviewonline.com