Losing Weight, Gaining Wisdom
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
“Ms. Mohler?” a teenage boy inquires hesitantly. A radiant smile lights up Stacey Mohler’s face as she leaps up from her chair to embrace the youth, a student of hers from four years ago. “I wasn’t sure if that was you,” he continues shyly, “You look amazing!”
This refrain has become familiar for the popular Folsom Middle School teacher these days, who does a quick scan of the gym, pointing out four more former students. Voted a “Local Hero” in Style Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, Mohler, 37, began her weight-loss journey over two years ago, on December 15 of 2010. She remembers the date specifically, remembers sitting on the couch as the holidays approached, watching NBC’s hit reality series The Biggest Loser. She listened as Marci Crozier, a contestant on the 11th season of the show, vocalized her determination to cross through the rabbit hole that led to Onederland—a fantasized world where her scale reflected a weight that began with the number one. Mohler recognized Marci’s narrative; her inner White Rabbit pulled out his pocket watch and a voice in her head confirmed, “It’s about time.”
She started out on her own, bouncing around local gyms until she felt she felt she’d found a home within the high-ceilinged walls of Folsom’s California Family Fitness. Stacey dedicated herself to her workouts, telling herself that saying no was simply not an option. She soon became familiar with the staff, yet she hesitated when gym manager Christy Sullivan suggested utilizing the benefits of one of the fitness center’s personal trainers; Sullivan even had a specific trainer that she thought would be a perfect teacher for the teacher. Mohler balked at the suggestion, hesitant about the added expense. She continued on with her usual routine. Then one day at the gym, Suzanne Cardenas—a certified personal trainer, Pilates instructor and group exercise leader—walked up and introduced herself. “She was so nice, so personable,” Mohler smiles at the memory. She had received two free personal training sessions with her gym membership, and so she agreed to give it a try. The decision, she readily professes, changed her life. Before Cardenas, Mohler was like Alice—holding the key to a beautiful garden in her hand, and yet the door seemed too small to fit through without some help.
Enter Cardenas, a statuesque blonde and mother of two who is all too familiar with Mohler’s story. She too has metamorphosed; both women in fact have gone from a size 20 to a size 10 in their respective journeys. So she gets it. She gets working with medical restrictions (Mohler’s doctor predicted she would never run again after undergoing a knee surgery); she herself has had debilitating asthma scares. Cardenas’ asthma, in fact, was the catalyst for her career. She started taking classes at her gym to mitigate the asthma’s effects, loved it, and decided to make fitness her job apart from being a full-time mom. She began by teaching group classes, and in fact still teaches Pilates, but wanted more of the connection that one-on-one training provides. Now her clientele ranges from moms, teenage athletes and men—all looking for the extra assistance Cardenas is able to offer.
FIT TO BE A TRAINER
As of 2008, the United States Department of Labor counted a total of 261,100 active personal trainers in the U.S. They have typically passed a personal training competency certificate exam, and a good trainer will be certified in several genres, as well as do constant research and complete ongoing education courses. Costs vary depending on the trainer, anywhere from $25 per hour to hundreds. Most offer package deals, however, which usually drops the price per session. While the general perception that the clientele of those seeking individualized training consists mostly of middle-aged women, that attitude is rapidly becoming enlightened with help from the varied the demographic shown on The Biggest Loser; although most trainers are nothing like Loser’s Gillian Michaels, whose boot camp personality provides a dramatic backdrop to the show’s shock factor. As well, many seeking a personal trainer are not singularly obese.
Much like Cardenas, Maureen Evanoff—a personal trainer at Folsom’s Broadstone Racquet Club, as well as a nutritional and wellness consultant, master coach for FreeMotion and YogaFit certified—stresses that she has no such thing as a typical client. To date, they range in ages from 12-75 years old, whose goals vary from rehab, weight loss, increasing fitness or just breaking out of a rut in their routine.
Brian Tucker sought out Evanoff after witnessing her working with clients from afar in 2009 and telling himself, “I need to do that.” Evanoff notes that many of her clients come to her in such a manner, through observation and appreciation. An endurance athlete, Tucker, 42, has turned his passion for biking, running and swimming into a lifestyle, competing in events on almost a monthly basis. Like Mohler, Tucker has dealt with his share of injuries; a clean scar from a blown-out ACL/meniscus is visible on his left leg, shaved to reduce friction from water, wind and skin. An Intel employee in the product marketing division, Tucker is clearly a seasoned competitor; he speaks of personal records and kinetics with a steadied alacrity that comes from an impassioned dedication. He recognized, however, that left to his own accord his routine would only include biking, running, swimming and some minimal weights. “I’m very good at going in a straight line.” Evanoff, he quickly found, was able to push him, catering to specific events, taking his inventory, and giving him weekly homework and nutritional challenges. A father of three, Tucker’s events have become a family affair: He lovingly calls his wife Team Tucker’s CFO, or chief family officer. For him, investing in Evanoff was a simple equation of maximizing the quality of his output and time so that he can attend to his daily obligations while still fulfilling his personal ambitions.
LET’S GET PERSONAL
Besides stressing the lack of typicality in clients, both Cardenas and Evanoff insist that that characteristic lends itself to clients’ commitments—from once a week to once a month. “I don’t chase anyone,” Evanoff states. “I’m not a good salesman.” The key here is recognizing the personal aspect of personal training; it’s completely catered to the clients’ desires and ability. The whole goal as a personal trainer, Evanoff notes, is to get people to be able to train without you.
Cardenas agrees. “Personal trainers all have different personalities and methods. Pick one that suits you. If you give yourself excuses, then find a trainer who won't tolerate it. If you have an injury you are concerned about, find someone with experience who is knowledgeable and will listen to you. It’s a personal choice so meet with the trainer to see if you’re compatible. Whoever you choose, they should motivate you to stay on track and move toward your goals.”
In fact, both Mohler and Tucker were able to do just that. Tucker has set personal records in every major event he’s entered since he partnered with Evanoff, including meeting his goal of completing the granddaddy of endurance events, the Ironman, in less than 11 hours. Mohler has lost over 60 pounds in the two years she’s been working with Cardenas, dropping half her original size. The doctor that predicted she’d never run again was flabbergasted at her body’s ability to run regularly now as a direct result of her weekly 1/2 hour sessions. She was even able to complete the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon last October. And her success is now motivating others (her students, her family) to change their own lives. “It’s changed my perspective on how to work out, how to train, how to bring it all into my daily life. I inspire others in my daily job and I needed to do that in my daily life. I can put my running shoes on anywhere in the world and workout. It’s given me a strength I didn’t know I had.”
STACEY MOHLER’S SAMPLE WORKOUT
1. Bosu squats
- Both legs 20 reps; single leg squats 20 reps
2. Smash ball throws
- 20-50 reps
3. Bosu squats
- Both legs 20 reps; single leg balancing 1 minute
4. Smash ball throws
- 20-50 reps
5. TRX abs
- Plank hold 30 seconds
- Pushups 10 reps
- Plank to pike 10 reps
6. Smash ball
- 20-50 reps
7. Resistance band
- Forward run 10 reps
8. TRX arms
- Chest press 20 reps
- Triceps 10-20 reps
9. Resistance Band
- Forward run 10 reps
10. Smash Ball
- 20-50 reps
BRIAN TUCKER’S SAMPLE WORKOUT
1. Five-Minute Warm-Up (increase body temperature by two degrees)
2. Squats with a biceps curl
3. Suspended body row on RIP60
4. Suspended pushups on RIP60
5. Back lunge with triceps kickbacks
6. Knee pikes on the RIP60
7. Medicine ball or cable chops
9. Full body stretch