Frederick, MD — Initially, it was Tom Watkins who called the Gold's Gym in Frederick, MD, to inquire about working out there. After Watkins had second thoughts — six months' worth of second thoughts — owner Chris Maddox finally convinced Watkins to train at the club.
There was a time when Watkins was self-conscious about how he looked, and it had nothing to do with his being overweight. Watkins, a Vietnam War veteran who earned two Purple Hearts, lost his left leg after being shot as a Miami, FL, police officer. Today, Watkins has no more inhibitions. He has been training with Maddox since 2006 and has lost 65 pounds.
Both Watkins and Maddox were honored in July at the Gold's Gym convention in Las Vegas. Watkins was the winner of the Change Your Body, Change Your Life competition. Maddox, who also serves as a Washington, DC, firefighter, won the Gold's Gym President's Award.
Watkins works with Maddox, who was a trainer before he owned the club, for about one hour a day, three days a week, and they see each other at the club six days a week. The 60-year-old Watkins says he's in better shape now than he was 15 years ago.
"I owe it all to Chris because he encouraged me to come in and pushed me, pushed me, pushed me," Watkins says. "I don't want to think of where I'd be right now if I hadn't [come to the club]. I've gotten to the point where I don't even realize I don't have a leg. I don't consider myself handicapped at all. You can't put a price on feeling good."
Maddox says: "Tom never gives himself any credit. He motivates pretty much everybody in this gym. He can do everything that anyone else can do, and probably even better."