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Entries in Personal Training (5)


Renee T. - Canton Township, MI

I was nervous to give up eating so many sweets, to eat healthier, to weigh in in front of someone, and to have pictures taken of me. I was fearful of people judging my before pictures while looking at my once obese body. I put off signing up for the 90-Day Challenge until the end of August because I wanted to eat as much ice cream and s’mores as I could. It was time for me to switch my mindset - in a healthy way!

Right before joining Life Time Fitness, I had an overwhelming need to face my addiction with food and needing to exercise. I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I would eat on all occasions. I felt shameful about how I lived and embarrassed about the inability to do physical activities well. I needed to start caring about what God wanted for me and caring for myself more.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to do something like “The Biggest Loser,” but I couldn’t leave my kids for that long. Right after I re-joined Life Time Fitness, I was told about the 90-Day Challenge. At first I was just happy and relieved I could join Life Time again and my husband understood that it took a gym for me to be healthy. I kept saying I would work out, but with 2 kids and one on the way, I couldn’t even get myself to work out for an hour straight. Now with 3 kids and homeschooling, I am so thankful I can work out regularly.

It is such a blessing to me and my family in having a gym that provides a trusted child center. My kids get their social gym time and Mommy gets to enjoy her fun workouts - and even sometimes relaxing time in the steam room, jacuzzi, and pool.

I have checked out other gyms, but none have compared to Life Time! It offers many luxuries, including classes for my children and adult classes for me, staff who are informative and care about how I am doing, and many personal trainers to choose from.

I have learned a lot from my personal trainer, Greg Pedersen. It is very valuable to have someone show me how to stretch correctly. He stops and shows me the way to do certain exercises and muscle toning in order to not hurt myself while I strengthen my body, including how to eat healthy.

The adult classes are phenomenal! I have enjoyed all different kinds of group fitness classes. I favor the Core Blast Class taught by Kevin G. and Kickboxing Classes. Rico C., Joey P., and Suzy A. are outstanding Instructors who teach Kickboxing. And with a great ZUMBA workout, taught by Shyam T., I can have fun dancing while learning some moves.

In addition to all those benefits, it was blissful to hear of a weight loss challenge that I could do while staying at home and having my family involved. Winning $10,000 was the extra push I needed - an incentive to get healthy, lose weight, and exercise. I wanted to do it for way too long. I even insisted that my own children eat healthy, but I didn’t personally live that way. I’ve struggled with food since at least third grade. Baking and cooking run in the family, coming from a Mom whose baking is extraordinaire!

My Personal Trainer, Greg, told me about the Paleo Diet that he was going to do for 30 days. He challenged me to do it as well. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I learned how to bake yummy healthy food, and found out raw vegetables by themselves or cooked with olive oil tasted delish! Salads with lemon juice and fresh fruit - yum!

Then, for the last 2 weeks I did the D.TOX SM Life Time detoxification program. It includes fiber, protein, and the vitamins that I need. Using dairy-free milk, a cup of veggies and fruit together tasted even better.

I was working out for at least an hour a day 6 days a week. If I missed a day I felt crummy. My friends, new friends I had made, and strangers noticed my changes. They told me how I was an inspiration to them. The encouraging words and advice from them and my family helped me strive to be a healthy example all the more. I want to continue this healthy lifestyle for myself and God, and to be an example to everyone - to give people who struggle with food and exercise hope.

I had a personal goal of wanting to lose at least 40 lbs. during this Life Time 90-Day Challenge. I am overjoyed at accomplishing that goal, plus 3.7 additional lbs. and 12.6% body fat.

I don’t cry easily, although the day after I weighed in, I was at church and tears of joy came to me as I heard and sang “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave. Thanks for taking the time to care about my story.



Jay H. – Palm Valley, AZ 

It's crazy what a difference losing weight can make in your life. I am a 45-year-old husband, father of 2 girls, and I really couldn't do much with my family before this challenge. But's on!

Whatever my girls want to do, we can do it! Swimming, hiking, wrestling, playing at the park, I've got energy for it all!

I've struggled with my weight off and on for most of my life. I had done the 90-Day Challenge before, but I just saw it as a contest. Once it was over, I went back to old habits.

After the last challenge I thought I had learned and was ready to make that life change, but then my wife lost her job, and I had to put my Life Time membership on a freeze. We could not afford the full monthly fee. With me having to put in overtime at work to keep up with the bills, I had no time to work out. As the weight came back, my energy went away and my family could tell.

As this 90-Day Challenge came closer, Angie the Nutritionist asked me if I was going to enter the challenge. Up until that point, I was not sure if I would or not. However, hearing her say those words I felt as if she could see that I had gained all my weight back. I felt like a failure and had to enter now.

It wasn't until this time, this challenge, when I decided to fully commit to this with my wife (who also entered) and kids on board that it finally worked, and I think it will stick! We cut out the junk and are supporting each other towards success in every way! The sky's the limit, and we're so excited to be doing this thing together. (Sort of reignited the spark!)

We're going to keep going, working with Angie the Nutritionist and putting in work so we can just be healthy and live as long as we can for each other and our kids! We are a true success story, regardless of the outcome of the contest. Thanks Life Time Fitness! We'll see you in August for the next challenge....




Tia W. - Colorado Springs, CO 

My journey with my Life Time personal trainer, Alison Coffey, began when at 22-years-old, I would walk up a flight of stairs and be out of breath and light-headed. My wedding was a year away, and I looked at pictures of myself trying on my wedding dress. I was not impressed with what I saw. I decided something had to change. I had tried many times to come up with workout plans and to eat healthily, but after a few days, I was back into my old ways. Being the people pleaser I am, I realized that a personal trainer was what I needed to succeed. I made initial contact with Alison at the Personal Training Desk and, after only one meeting with her, decided she would be a great fit for me. Alison set me up with a small group training program where I was able to gain confidence in what my body was capable of and started to understand the basics of physical fitness and what it truly means to be healthy. 

After several months of small group, Alison and I switched over to 1-on-1 training. During my many months of training, I not only gained muscle, knowledge, and coordination but a wonderful friend. Alison is such a relatable person who is 100% dedicated to her work, her clients, and to gaining knowledge. She consistently communicated the science behind the workout programs we created, collaborated with me to create and set goals, and listened to my wants and needs. I am proud to say that in my year of personal training, I lost over 15 pounds, and dropped over 10 % body fat. There is no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t have done it without Alison.


Jonathan S. – Alpharetta, GA

In a word, the last two years have been life-changing for me.  As most of the team in Life Time Alpharetta knows, I am an extremely dedicated member who has, for the last two years, been involved in nearly every aspect of participation available to me at my club.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • 2011 & 2012 Alpha Showdown Competitor
  • Top-echelon finisher in Local Alpha Showdown
  • Competitor at Regional Showdown
  • 2 years of consistent personal training sessions
  • 6+ Months of MyCoach (Strength Training)
  • 6+ Months of MyCoach (Nutrition)
  • Multiple months of TEAM Fitness classes
  • Multiple months of 1-on-1 Pilates Sessions
  • Participant in TEAM Bootcamp
  • Indoor Tri (Highly-ranked Finisher in 2011)
  • Regular participant in Group Fitness Classes (Spin, Yoga, Pilates)

When I signed up for personal training, Larren Epps asked me very specifically, “What’s your motivation level?  How bad do you want this?” My answer was clear, and my actions henceforth have ensured that facta non verba has been the order of the day. 

Less Quit More Fit – Correcting a Lifelong Failure

To say I had a huge chip on my shoulder would be an understatement.  For my entire life I’ve been fortunate insofar as I’ve been successful in all of my pursuits except for one:  taking care of myself and managing my weight.  Facing your demons is never easy, and facing mine took 683 days from May 1st 2011, until the morning of March 14th, 2013.

During those days it required:

  • 585 workouts
  • 2,194 miles put on my running shoes
  • 292 hours on a spin bike pushing until i almost puked
  • 1,170 Hours of Strength Training
  • 29,250 pushups
  • 409,800 times of telling myself "one more rep"

And yeah... I counted.

  1. It took telling my boss, "I'll do the work. Just don't get in the way of gym time. I need this, and you need to accept that."
  2. It took taking no flak from people in my life (who sure aren't in it now) who thought I was crazy or obsessed and kept distracting me from my goals.
  3. It took taking the highs with the lows and absolutely refusing to ever give up.
  4. It took badass playlists and constantly pumping myself up when I felt I had nothing left.
  5. It took amazing people coming into my life and providing unending amounts of support, encouragement and accountability and constantly helping me push limits even further.

After all of that, as of March 14th, I was no longer over weight. That big chip on shoulder was gone forever, and I continued to feel bent on moving forward.  I was not going to be one of those statistics—people who change their life yet rescind back into old habits. To me that would be an unforgiveable failure, and there was no way I was going to let that happen.

Continuing the Progress

March 14th was a life-changing day for all the right reasons, but I still had more chips on my shoulders from all the people who told me I couldn’t do something or I shouldn’t do something to change myself because I was fine the way I was.  The fact is, I wasn’t fine the way I was back then, and I’m not done with the work I set out to do now.  I’ve got a hunger that isn’t going to end just because of one weigh-in or one milestone being complete.

I continued to push myself forward, and week after week I continued to lean down and put on muscle while shedding fat.  It’s an odd feeling when complete strangers with whom you’ve never spoken come up to you and ask you what you’ve been doing to lose so much weight. It’s becoming a regular occurrence both in the office and at the gym. It’s humbling, motivating, and confusing all at the same time.

 I made a promise to myself that I would answer the call when life demanded that I make a lifelong commitment to pursue my dreams and pay the full fare to achieve my goals.  A vow to myself that I would earn my results with effort, with sweat, with blood, and with tears, such that—come hell or high water—I would reinvent myself and push myself to find and surpass my limits. I’m happy to say that through the help of numerous people at Life Time Fitness and the support of my friends and family, I’ve been able to make this dream a reality, but I know I’m not finished yet.  I got through the first few hurdles, but I recognize that there are many more hurdles yet to overcome.  I am thankful for the support of those who have trained me physically and mentally to this point and will continue to rely on them as I move forward.

This year in the 2013 Alpha Showdown, I’m proud to say that I gave it everything I had.  I can look my friends in the eye and know that I didn’t let them down, and that I did everything I could, that there wasn’t one more thing I could have done.  The words fail to do it justice. I don’t even remember the event other than the endorphin rush I rode the rest of the day, the tsunami of emotions, and the immensely satisfying feeling that I had when I woke up the next day as my body cried in protest while I smiled ear to ear.

You want a motivational quote?  Here’s a good one:

“I firmly believe that a man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle…victorious.” – Vince Lombardi

I’ll take this victory to my grave with a smile. For now, it’s on to the next obstacle.

Specifically I’d like to thank:

  • Larren Epps – For starting me on this journey
  • Shelby Pratt – For pushing me past my limits and breaking through plateaus while ensuring continued success at setting and achieving specific and measurable goals
  • Mateus Santos – For being a constant motivational factor and training partner
  • Jason Barry – Helping to finally achieve a lifelong goal of not being overweight (lost over 23% body fat and 70lbs over the last two years, and a total of 135lbs now over the last 5 years)
  • Luke Brito – For providing me from day one an environment of constant high energy and creative workouts to push me in ways I never thought possible
  • Miguel Ortiz – For talking me into Alpha in the first place

Ken K. - Deerfield Township, OH

One sit-up a day—half when I woke up and the other half when I went to bed. That was my exercise routine 10 months ago. It should come as no surprise to anybody reading this that one sit-up a day is not an exercise routine. It should also be no surprise that I was overweight—and not just a few extra pounds but morbidly overweight.

After college, I got a desk job, and the weight gain continued faster because I was no longer even walking around that much. While I wasn’t ecstatic about my weight, I had resolved myself to the feeling that I’ll always be that way and there was nothing I could do about it.

There were a few things that finally got me thinking about my weight—one being the amusement park. I was not able to go on many of the rides because I couldn’t fit. It was the worst feeling in the world to wait in line, try and get buckled in, but then have to leave and wait for my friends and family to ride because the seat would not close.

I finally resolved to do something about my weight. I stepped onto a scale, and it read 312 pounds. Seeing that ‘3’ as the first digit was a definite shock. My cholesterol had also risen to around the 220s. I was in bad shape. I decided to join Life Time Fitness right then. My goal at the time was that I wanted to weigh less than 250 pounds, as that seemed like an obtainable goal. Mike Chabot set me up with Kelly Smerekanich, personal trainer, twice a week.

At my first weigh-in with Kelly the first week of September 2011, I weighed 299 pounds. I made the decision that I would do whatever Kelly said so that I would lose weight. That first month and a half was difficult. It was hard enough getting out of bed to make it to the gym by 7am for our training session. Knowing that I’d be exhausted from the workout when it was over made it even harder. I only lost about 5 pounds those weeks, but I was making progress. The last half of October, I took a vacation to Hawaii, which meant a little break from the gym. Before I left, Kelly told me that when I got back, I should do the CaloriePoint (Resting Metabolic Rate and meet with the new dietitian, Chelsea Caito.

Surprisingly, I had managed to lose 5 pounds while on vacation. My only guess is that I wasn’t eating as much food. Up until I met with Chelsea, my diet was mostly the same as my high school diet—fried food, soda, and other junk food. During my first meeting with Chelsea, she had asked what a typically day of eating looked like. I was skipping breakfast and eating out for lunch and dinner every day—often at fast food places. My first homework assignment from Chelsea was to try and eat 2- 3 meals at home during the following week.

After that week at our next meeting, I surprised Chelsea because not only did I eat meals at home, but I only ate a few meals out instead of the usual 12-14. Chelsea began to go through different meal ideas that I could cook at home. This was probably the hardest part for both of us. I’m a very picky eater. She was trying to come up with various foods, and I’d veto most of them because I didn’t like them. As the weeks went by, we set several small goals each week (e.g. drink more water, take a multi-vitamin). They were all small changes and that added up big. The weight really started to come off once I started eating better. The first week I started following the homework assignments I lost 5 lbs. I won’t lie: it’s tough. Even some of the restaurant staff questioned my order because they were so used to my “normal” order. It has become easier now that I’ve been doing it for a while. I feel full after eating a lot less, and I’ve even started eating salads.

I’m down to 210 pounds and have gone from a size 48/50 pant waist to a 36 as well as from a 3x shirt size to a large. My cholesterol has dropped almost 60 points. I’ve cut over 10 minutes off my 5k time and can make it to the top of the rock wall multiple times. Recently, people have been noticing the weight loss, and they often ask what my goal is. Since I’ve managed to go past my original goal, I’ve decided that my goal is no longer a number, but a look: I want a six-pack. With Kelly and Chelsea’s help, I believe I’ll be able to make that goal.