Last summer, XSport Fitness member Harold N. took a hard look at himself. The stressors of life had taken their toll on his weight, energy and mood. He decided he needed a change.
So Harold entered our Get Fit competition — but a major loss made his experience unlike any of the other finalists. Six months later, he’s a trainer at our Crestwood, IL, club where he trained last year to reclaim the body and lifestyle he once knew. And in the process, he also reframed his life on his journey to a new job, new outlook and new future.
We had a chance to talk with Harold and learn more about the (sometimes rocky) road to his success. Here’s the story of his transformation.
Harold, who is now 31 years old and in the best shape of his life, describes his background as pretty standard. His family supported his active youth, which included football, soccer and wrestling in High School. He was close with his parents, who raised him to work hard and put his best foot forward. And mostly, he did.
After school he worked his way up in the cable industry, and also with his dad’s company in healthcare. He had a new job with the railroad at the time his Get Fit story began. But Harold points out, “I didn’t always make good decisions. Sometimes I was just young and dumb.”
Over time, Harold’s decisions left him living a less-than-healthy lifestyle, something he wasn’t used to, and didn’t enjoy. “I had a lot of stress and I got dragged down by it. My usual 170 lb. body ballooned up to 215. I felt like I needed to rediscover my lifelong love of being active. So I joined the Get Fit competition to try to light a fire under myself.”
At the start of the competition, a family trip to Atlanta ended up in an unexpected health crisis for Harold’s mother. The family stayed by her side, they watched her slip away from what they would later learn was a stroke and heart attack. Harold recognizes there were two major influences during this most difficult month that helped change the trajectory of his life.
“Technically, I was still in the competition, I was supposed to be working hard taking care of myself. So my trainer, Johnny Esparza, kept reaching out to me. He didn’t know what was going on, but he didn’t lose sight of me. He would text, ‘Where are you at?’ ‘Are you okay?’”
Harold’s mom wanted to make sure he was okay, too. In her last words to him she reminded him of his faith and strength. “She told me I was loved, so I should never stop trying.” Those words helped him push through what was now the second half of the Get Fit contest.
“I was still about 200 lbs. and suffering with fresh grief over losing my mom. Johnny was there for me, and I decided to go all in to finish what I started, and to actually listen to my mom. So I put everything into my fitness and nutrition. I didn’t stop trying.”
Harold spent the last weeks of the Get Fit contest doing all his trainer suggested and more. He burned 1000 calories a day, added weight or reps every workout, and changed the way he ate, including supplementing with protein, amino acids and Hydroxycut® to get as lean as he could. And he did.
But still, he was not named the winner of the competition.
After Get Fit
Despite his amazing accomplishments, Harold felt defeated when he learned he wasn’t Grand Prize winner. “I had put a lot of my pain from my emotions into my workouts, pushing my body to its limits. But still, I wasn’t good enough. I started to fall back into a depressed feeling.”
Harold had left his job at the railroad and talked about a new career in fitness, but hadn’t followed through. “This time it was my dad’s words. He asked me, ‘What are you afraid of?’ And I realized I wanted this. It might be hard, but now I had something to prove… to myself.”
Using all he had learned personally and at the gym, he worked his way up from no clients at all to booked solid in month. He credits the simple act of caring as the foundation for his personal training success. “I thought about the texts from Johnny, my dad encouraging me, and my mom’s words. I’ve realized how important that feeling of caring is. We shouldn’t take it for granted.”
Now as a trainer, Harold is concerned about individuals—their habits, their worries and what drives them. “I help people go for their personal bests. So when I believe in something that will help someone, I want to find a way to help that person use it.” If he thinks a fitness watch will make a difference, they can try his and compare. Or, he may recommend Isopure® protein because he’s used it himself. But of course, it’s not about him—he recommends the supplements that are appropriate for each of his clients.
Ultimately, Harold says his own transformation can be traced back to one important concept: feeling good enough. It’s one reason why he spends a lot of time each day texting to check in on his friends from the gym. He wants them to know they’re good enough, too.