How 3 Formerly Overweight Trainers Started Careers in Fitness

By , Sara Lindberg
Fitness trainers are superhumans, able to simultaneously sweat and talk and work at the same time while challenging you to push yourself to be your best. They can be your biggest motivator, but they're on another level, nothing like you. Right? In fact, many people feel so inspired by their own weight-loss journeys that they feel compelled to give back and become trainers themselves.
No matter how much weight you’re trying to lose or how drastically you’re looking to change your relationship with food and exercise, getting fit is a journey unique to each of us. Success stories can be the motivation you need to push you closer toward that finish line, and when those stories come from people who now make their living being fit, those stories are even more inspirational.
Through consistent exercise, portion control and perseverance, these three people lost weight and changed their entire perspective on life. Now, they spend their lives motivating and encouraging others to do the same.
Jesse Alexander, Master Instructor at CycleBar
When I was my heaviest, I did everything in excess. I was aware of it, but not ready to deal with it. The turning point happened when I was out to dinner with my dad. In the most innocent of ways, he said: "You got a little bit puffy." I said, "I got heavy?" That was the tipping point. My "why" was a combination of my dad's wake-up call, signaling that it was time to finally get a handle on all of the excess in my life.
The immediate plan of attack was portion control, with an emphasis on limiting my excessive carb and sugar intake since my diet up to this point had been bread on bread sandwiches with a side of bread and a glass of a sugary drink.
I started going to the gym more frequently. The weight came off fairly quickly, which was a very motivating factor. Emotionally and spiritually, though, I didn't connect with fitness until my first class at SoulCycle. Even as a beginner, I had never felt a connection to something that made me feel so good in a fitness setting.
Throughout the process, I struggled with portion control and willpower. I had to remind myself to take the journey one day at a time without beating myself up for minor slip-ups and missteps. The most motivating part of my weight loss came when my size 36 pants needed to be thrown out. While I felt more confident emotionally, spiritually, I also felt physically stronger but "lighter."
Becoming a cycling instructor was the last step in the process. Nothing that I'd ever experienced made me feel like a better version of myself than a really good indoor cycling class. It never felt like a workout. Instead, it felt truly like an out-of-body experience and I always felt better when I left. I realized that I wanted to provide that feeling and experience to other people.
I know what it's like to realize that you need to make a change. I know what it's like to see and feel the initial changes. I know what it's like to feel frustrated when it's not happening fast enough, and I know what it's like to look back and feel like I'm a more complete and better version of myself. I work to inspire people by tying these feelings and revelations into the message of every class.
Jessie Hudson, TEAM Athlete
My motivation to take action to improve my health and lose weight occurred after I gained a large amount of weight during my pregnancy. My poor eating habits had resulted in prediabetes. It was the first time in my life that I felt threatened by weight gain, not only by the way it was making me look and feel, but I feared for the quality of my life. I knew I had to change the way I was living to have a life that I valued and dreamed for myself 
I realized early on that my diet and eating habits were the main culprit and the most important aspect of my health that needed to be addressed. I had very little knowledge about how to eat in a healthful, smart manner, so I began to research everything I could about nutrition and eating to become more insulin sensitive.
I started looking at food labels and became more conscious of what I was consuming. The number of calories and amount of sugar I was eating every day came as a shock. My diet was full of overly processed, calorie-dense foods and no fruits and vegetables. I didn't have a healthy relationship with sugar. After examining my nutrition choices, I become highly motivated to fix the parts of my diet that were not adding value. 
It was only after I had success with my diet and weight loss that I came to appreciate how fitness could enhance my wellbeing and physique while getting me closer to my ultimate goals.
The most difficult part of this process has been not returning to old habits. Nothing will ever change long-term if you don't adapt to the new habits. My diet has completely changed; I eat whole foods and restrict my carb intake. Since I've improved my cooking skills, I now enjoy every meal rather than wishing I was eating junk food.
Becoming a fitness professional has allowed me to give back to the community. While every single person won't relate to my story, no matter which path we're on, the destination is the same.
Jordan Grahm, Body Transformation Specialist and Personal Trainer
It took a near-fatal car collision, in which I was hit head-on, to signal my wake-up call to get my health and life together.
I started by walking with my dog, Blackberry, on the street where I lived—which was on a hill. At first, it would take me one hour to complete the one-mile round trip down and back home. Slowly but surely, we upped the pace and were able to do it two times, three times and then eventually four times in that same hour.
After losing more than 100 pounds through walking and jogging, I joined a gym. I had zero strength and was in poor shape, but knew that I could push myself. Eventually, I was achieving feats I never dreamed possible, such as pull-ups.
I also changed the way I was using food. Before it had been a drug to me that was everywhere, easy to obtain and quick to temporarily numb my feelings of pain. I stopped drinking soda, cut out all fast food and started focusing on eating nutritious foods that would align with my goals.
In total, I lost over 200 pounds in a little over two years.
The hardest part of the process was making it through the points when I thought I had reached a plateau. I remember getting "stuck" at a weight for about six months, feeling frustrated because I wanted the scale to keep moving down but it wasn't budging.
In those times, I reminded myself that when we get frustrated and want to give up or do something entirely new, we have to dig deep and have faith in ourselves and the work we are doing.
I felt such an incredible sense of joy and fulfillment from taking control of my life and transforming my body and health and was overcome with a feeling that I needed to share this feeling and work with people as they aspire to reach their own goals. I left my career as a commercial/industrial real estate agent and I went back to school to study nutrition and became a NASM-certified as a fitness nutrition specialist and weight loss specialist. It is truly the greatest job on earth.

How do fitness or personal trainers motivate you to be your best?