Fitadelphia: Inspirational Stories From Philadelphians Who Got Fit
Keith Adams 32, Phoenixville
In June 2009, an admittedly unhappy Adams, a former high-school wrestler and Navy man, stepped on the scale: 313 pounds. “That was it,” he says. “I just grabbed my bike and started mountain biking.” He started with five miles and quickly worked his way up to a daily 25. Now he runs and swims, too; he’s completed six triathlons. “I didn’t need a trainer,” he says. “I motivated myself.”
Pounds lost to date: 113.
Favorite workout: Bikes 25 miles a day, six days a week (up to 80 miles some Saturdays), plus running, swimming, and weight- training.
Wisdom: “If it’s 24 degrees, my ass is still out there.”
Rachel Rosenberg 27, University City
Rosenberg calls the car accident she had during her junior year at Penn State a “life-changing moment”: Because she was so heavy, the broken hip she’d suffered kept her utterly immobilized for three months. Once finally healed, she immediately joined Weight Watchers and agreed to be a “practice student” for a friend training to be a Pilates teacher. In a year, Rosenberg lost 100 pounds and fell in love with Pilates: Today, she’s an instructor herself.
Pounds lost to date: 110.
Favorite workout: Twice-weekly Pilates classes, yoga once a week, and walking. (“I’m a city girl; it’s how I get around.”)
Wisdom: “Pilates is about transformation, not competition. You can feel accomplishment in these classes even if you’re overweight.”
Clare Coleman 48, Swarthmore
It took a diagnosis of pre-diabetes to prompt Coleman, an on-again- off-again dieter and devout chocolate lover, to finally shape up for good. She cut out sugar and refined grains, and set her sights on running last November’s half marathon. Her secret weapon? Team Philly, a local group that provides runners with a 16-week training plan and three-times-a-week group runs. By race day, her sugars were under control naturally, and she crossed the finish line 25 pounds lighter. Her next goal: 26.2.
Pounds lost to date: 27. (“My biggest problem now is budgeting for new clothes!”)
Favorite workout: Running along the Schuylkill River Trail.
Wisdom: “I often dread the idea of running and struggle through the run itself, but I feel great afterwards. Hard work isn’t supposed to be easy.”
Kathleen Keane, 60, Philadelphia
Until last May, Kathleen Keane had avoided any form of exercise for 15 years. After being badgered by her doctor to lose weight, and dealing with stress issues in her body, Keane began talking to a coworker who swore that Pilates had done wonders for her bad back. Kathleen followed her advice, and her life changed. “I just feel so much better now," she says. "I’m relaxed. My whole body has changed. I hate to use the word ’emotional’, but the changes haven’t just been physical.” She still hates working out, she says, but Pilates keeps her coming back because "it’s different every time. I just love it.”
Pounds lost to date: 13 (She’s a size and a half smaller.)
Favorite workout: 1-hour training session every Monday, the Pilates Reformer machine on Tuesday, Tower machine on Wednesday, and Mat or Extends class on Thursday. ("I try to find time to work out 4 days a week.")
Wisdom: “You have to find something you really like doing. It’s hard to make the time, but when you feel so much better, it’s really a good investment. If I can do it, anyone can!”
Joe Lopez, 37, Philadelphia
It was a broken heart that led Joe Lopez to create a healthier life for himself: At age 17 “I was an angry young man…I started lifting weights to take my mind off of things, and to get it out of my system.” After noticing a small amount of progress, Lopez was hooked on weight-training, and bulked up to about 185 pounds by college, where he played rugby. As he got older, he grew his hobby into a career in personal training, but didn’t take up Spinning until a torn ACL made it impossible for him to continue playing rugby. By getting his Spinning certification, he has been able to help others who are rehabbing from knee injuries. Staying fit through weight-training and cardio “has helped keep me sane, and fit, and lean for the last 20 years.”
Pounds Lost to Date: “I am pretty lean to begin with,” but after teaching Spinning, he went from a snug 34 waist to a loose 32 waist.
Favorite Workout: Warms up with cardio (on the elliptical, stairmaster, or upright bike), stretching, and core exercises. Weight trains 3-4 days a week, does (preferably) outdoor cardio 3 days a week, and wraps up with some more stretching and a bit of abs work.
Wisdom: “Stick with it. Fitness is a lifetime habit…just like brushing your teeth in that it should be a part of your daily routine. Repetition builds habit, and good repetition builds great habits.”
Hilarie Surrena, 33, Philadelphia
In 2009, Hilarie Surrena underwent a spinal fusion, a surgery that left her in a back brace for over a month. Her post-surgery goal? To start running, and eventually compete in local marathons. After spending 6 weeks in a back brace, she started physical therapy with this goal in mind, taking small steps to progress from 1-2 minutes of running per session to an 11 minute mile by the end of her 7 weeks of therapy. Since then, she has run multiple 5ks, the Broad Street Run, The Philadelphia Half Marathon, The Bridge run, and Y12k; she plans on running the Philadelphia Marathon this November. “When you can’t do something because of pain or another reason, and then you are able to," she says, "you just want to keep going. I do not take exercise for granted. I worked hard to get to this point.”
Pounds Lost To Date: She doesn’t weigh herself. "But I’ve dropped a size."
Favorite Workout: A four-to-nine-mile run three to five days a week (always outside, “even in the cold!”), and 1 hour Lithe band classes, 3 days a week.
Wisdom: “A run along Kelly Drive in the spring and fall is beyond words, in terms of beauty. If exercise is a chore, you will not do it."