Personal Trainer Goes from Fit to Fat to Help Clients

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When celebrity personal trainer Chris Powell spoke to Club Industry prior to his appearance at the CI 2011 show in Chicago last month, he told us that diet and workout plans aren't enough when it comes to helping overweight clients.

“In order for us to really find a solution for our obese clients, it needs to be a trifecta of obesity solutions,” Powell said. “Nutrition, the foundation, exercise, yes, but then we also really need to assign an individual who can work with them on an emotional level and help them work through their own obstacles.”

Recently, one personal trainer based in Salt Lake City has been making the news for the extreme effort he has gone through to understand the emotional issues that accompany obesity. Drew Manning, an NASM-certified trainer, says he packed on more than 75 pounds of fat on purpose in order to empathize with his overweight clients' struggles.

To gain the weight, Manning adopted a super-sized diet plan in May. He's been chronicling his experience in blog posts that reveal the physical and emotional toll that months of extreme eating have taken on him. Now, six months later, Manning is moving on to the next stage of his experiment: losing the weight.

For most of Manning's overweight and obese clients, this would be the difficult part—but for someone who admits that he is “addicted” to his personal health and fitness, cutting out exercise in favor of sitting on the coach to eat an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast cereal is more of a challenge.

Although he employed extreme tactics to pile on pounds, Manning is planning to lose the weight gradually through healthy eating and a regular—but realistic—workout schedule. He wll post his diet and workout plan on his Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit website for others to follow.

Manning says he is aware that his lifelong love of fitness makes his experience different from his clients', but that he still has gained a lot of insight through the experiment. In his blog, he talks about developing cravings for sweet and fatty foods that he never craved before, the physical discomforts caused by the added weight, and feeling self-conscious and unconfident. In one blog post, he describes what he says was his lowest emotional point: finding himself too tired and unfit to play with his 2-year-old daughter.

“Now I know this is different for me than it is for others. I will have to get back in shape and this is all part of a journey that I'm documenting through this website, but the emotion is still real,” Manning says. “I think others that are overweight must have similar ‘moments.' While I've personally experienced those individuals saying ‘enough is enough' and shedding the pounds, what makes me most sad is knowing there are people that feel they can't/won't change, and accept what they may lose due to their current lifestyle.”

Would you do the same thing or encourage your trainers to do something similar to better connect to your members?

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