client: Paul | personal trainer: Boualem Aggoune, owner of Personal Trainer 4 You Inc. | location: Muskegon, Michigan
Skipping the surgery. Paul had struggled with weight most of his life, at one point weighing 630 pounds. Concerned about his health, he consulted a doctor regarding the possibility of weight loss surgery. “The doctor (and many others) said it was impossible for Paul to lose that much weight without bariatric surgery,” explains Boualem Aggoune, owner of Personal Trainer 4 You Inc. “Paul was shocked that no one gave him any advice other than surgery, and he refused to believe it was the end-all solution.”
Paul admits that one of the reasons he shunned surgery was due to his appetite. “I love food! [Some] people who have had this surgery cannot eat certain foods and are quite often sick and end up going in and out of the hospital,” he says. He was also not satisfied with success rates. “All people lose weight with this surgery, but quite a few regain their lost weight, plus more. I set out to prove [the doctor] wrong and to show everyone what could be done.”
Going it alone. Paul intially decided to go solo on his weight loss journey. He enjoyed swimming and had an active job, which provided motivation. “After noticing some weight loss, I started researching nutrition and began to eat healthier,” he recalls.
Paul also cared for a large garden, and working there resulted in a 90-pound weight loss from April to August. In addition, he cut out high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sugar and other artificial ingredients from his diet.
Paul’s success eventually stalled around the 230-pound mark. “My weight plateaued, and I came to the realization that I had gone as far as I could by myself and that I was going to need help to continue my weight loss.”
It was time to call Boualem Aggoune.
Getting into the group. At the start of the program, Aggoune—who trains clients out of various fitness facilities—focused on 1-hour sessions that consisted of full-body workouts using free weights and a few machines. “We started with two sessions a week, but a couple of weeks later Paul told me he wanted to leave and go to a [dedicated] personal training studio,” Aggoune says. “I discouraged him. I know that people with insecurities—especially being obese—hide themselves from others.”
Aggoune believed that “a club environment and a group fitness format could provide more than just exercise—and at a smaller cost. The social element of fitness is often overlooked.”
Making a connection. Aggoune encouraged Paul to try for free some of his group training classes that were held at a local boxing facility. He also asked Paul to participate in a small transformation challenge with six clients. “I knew that for a man who is almost 30, single and obese, it is better for him to be surrounded by people as much as possible.”
Paul excelled at the boxing—at times doing a little too well, causing Aggoune to advise caution in order to keep his client safe and prevent burnout. Often, Aggoune asked Paul to assist him by holding punching bags for others, which gave Paul time to take a break and enjoy some social interaction.
Aggoune’s hunch paid off. Paul became more invested in the facility and the people around him, which inspired consistency. “What worked for Paul—the group setting—wouldn’t have worked if he weren’t such a natural people-person. I saw that in him. He likes to make people laugh even when he’s not feeling good.”
At press time, Paul had lost about 340 pounds, with another 10–15 pounds to go before reaching his goal.
Being the change. Aggoune and Paul now meet once a week for weight training. Paul continues to be active in the group setting by participating in boxing workouts, and he has recently added Zumba® to his schedule.
Paul hopes his success will inspire others. “I want people to know that diets fail, but a healthy lifestyle will last a lifetime,” Paul says. “You will always face different obstacles, but you can learn to get around them or overcome them. Study, research and define what you want. I will be turning 30 and am healthier and in better shape than ever!”