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Strength in Numbers

A team effort helps Miguel win at losing.

Client: Miguel

Fitness Director: Ryan Vogt, Tri-City Court Club

Personal Trainer: Sarah Barkley

Location: Kennewick, Washington

Reaching the Breaking Point. Like many Americans, Miguel struggled with his weight. A former high-school athlete, he settled into an inactive lifestyle that contributed to his gaining 150 pounds of excess weight. And, like so many Americans, he made repeated attempts to drop those pounds; each time he became discouraged and lost the motivation to continue.

Eventually, Miguel’s determination gained momentum. “After carrying the weight around for 9 years and watching his health slowly deteriorate, he hit a breaking point,” says Ryan Vogt, fitness director for the Tri-City Court Club. On January 15, 2009, Miguel rose to the challenge once again, stronger and more motivated than ever.

Seeking Support. To kick-start the weight loss process, Miguel focused his
attention on a calorie-restrictive diet. However, the toll of such a drastic diet change began to erode his motivation.

Recognizing the potential for yet another failed attempt, he sought external support. “I realized that I was on this journey alone, with no help from anyone, and that had to change,” recalls Miguel. “I decided to start my own support group, enlisting people who would encourage me, motivate me to stay on track, check in with me weekly and be available to me if I ever needed help or was having trouble on any part of my journey.” This
tactic proved beneficial, and Miguel continued to forge ahead, dropping weight with every step.

Getting Active. As he continuted to lose weight, Miguel became more comfortable with his body. He was aware that he needed to supplement his nutrition program with some form of exercise regimen. “I wasn’t too open about [going to] the gym,” he recalls. “I had a fear that I would burn out, and it might cause me to quit. So I started out just walking around my neighborhood each day.”

Those walks became jogs, and those jogs eventually inspired him to join a local running club. “They have local events that [I’m] motivated to train for each month.” According to Vogt, Miguel completed his first marathon only a few months into his training.

Taking the Next Step. Miguel’s strict diet and regular running program proved successful. He dropped the 150 pounds he had gained since high school; however, he knew that his fitness journey was far from over. Miguel was aware that something was missing from his weekly routine, so he finally decided to join a gym.

He began working with Vogt and personal trainer Sarah Barkley to gain assistance in building a strong body and maintaining his weight loss. “I came into this training with an open mind and learned from the ground up,” he says. “I am now learning that there is a big difference between just losing weight and getting in shape.”

Balancing Mind and Body. At the outset of Miguel’s training, Barkley noticed
a disconnect between mind and body. “With Miguel, there were a lot of things to be aware of while designing his program,” she states. “His only real strength and endurance came from running, so any movement that was not linear needed to be taken slowly. Another major factor was the significant muscular imbalances, which have become more pronounced since losing 150 pounds.”

To address the mind-body deficiency, Barkley insists that Miguel begin each session with simple body weight exercises such as squats and push-ups. “Once muscle memory is established, we work on coordination, balance and strengthening the hips, abdominals and back,” says Barkley.

Forging Ahead. Still relatively new to training, Miguel feels as though he’s made considerable improvement. “I am in better shape now than I have ever been in my life,” he enthuses.

He credits his successes to the way in which Vogt and Barkley “educate” him
instead of simply “training” him. “I feel that my trainer is not only asking me to do the exercises correctly but is also teaching me how to do them correctly. I believe this has been one of the most valuable parts of my post–weight loss experience and muscle-building journey.” n

Calling All Trainers

Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to [email protected] and you and your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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