Steve Gruner | The Fitness Asylum

Steve Gruner

Thanks to the persistence of my lovely wife Dianna, I agreed to join the Fall 2018 Body Challenge. When the Saturday Kick-Off event arrived, I dutifully donned my workout gear and with all the enthusiasm of a death row inmate taking the “long walk” loaded my fat ass into the truck.

Having viewed the Fitness Asylum website, my fear was being cast adrift in a sea of estrogen for 12 weeks of body reshaping. Would I sprout boobs? Truthfully, due to my own poor choices with food and fitness, I’d already traveled a bit in that unsightly direction. At 5’3″ and 190+ pounds, I presented a fairly spherical silhouette. Photos were not an enjoyable activity as they evidenced in exacting detail how much work I needed. My blood pressure was 140+ over 100+ even though taking 100mg of Losartin, and at age 59 my hopes of a long and healthy retirement were beginning to dim. Improving my health required significant change so I headed into the Kick-Off bolstered by the support of my wife.

Once through the door, I was shocked. Everyone was so cordial, and it was almost impossible to distinguish staff from participants. The folks behind the tables looked just like those who were signing up. No judging eyes, just friendly smiles and easy conversation. We met our team Captain Jess who without hesitation revealed her own struggles with weight. Her confidence and commitment to the program were undeniable. It was apparent that “inmates” were running the Asylum, and I mean that in the most positive way.

After photos, we listened to a few testimonials leading up to FA founder Bonnie Lefrak’s speech. About 30 seconds into her talk, Bonnie starts dropping F-bombs which immediately put me at ease and Dianna in stitches. Again, I got the sense that these are real people who feel passionately about what they’re doing and have some of the same struggles as me. It was right then and there that I decided to go all in and follow the program.

At our first Boot Camp I thought they’d have to break out the paddles to jump start me. Afterward, even my eyelashes were sore. It was high comedy at our house as we watched each other struggle to get up from chairs or negotiate the stairs. But the soreness faded in a couple of days, and was replaced by a sense of triumph at our first weigh-in. Down 5+ pounds. We’d stayed on the plan, and it worked. Not only that, but people were actually cheering for our success. Not paid staff members, but our teammates… people with their own struggles reaching out to support our success. That support and sense of community is incredibly motivating. As to the food, we were rarely hungry but did have almost daily cravings for the bad stuff. We found it best to purge temptation from our home lest we binge away our success on Lindt truffles and Cheeze-Its. Learning to prep all the food required each day was the most challenging part for us, but that too became part of our weekly routine.

Fast forward 12 weeks… I’ve gone from 191 to 163 pounds and my blood pressure is down to 100ish/70ish. My doctor, much to the chagrin of big pharma, took me off all my blood pressure and cholesterol meds. I’ve gone from squeezing into tourniquet tight 34 waist pants to comfortably fitting into 32’s. I’d been wearing large shirts just to fit around my gut, but now medium is my size. I don’t seek sanctuary in the back row of photos anymore. I celebrated my birthday last week as a med free, very fit 60 year old who’s got a lot more life left and the energy to live it full bore. If you’re sincere in your desire to improve your health, take the Challenge. You will not regret it.

Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as typical. This training is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before undertaking rigorous physical training.