Big losses turn into bigger win

Grand Junction man tops field in nationwide fitness competition

Clifton Gold’s Gym trainer Mark Chism, right, points to his client Warren Austin, center, who had just won the national overall award for the fitness company’s 12-week challenge during the awards ceremony Tuesday at the Grand Junction gym.

Shock and disbelief washed over Warren Austin at the announcement. Seconds later, a grin splashed across his face.

“I was blown away. It was amazing,” the 44-year-old said after it was announced Tuesday night that he was the Gold’s Gym 12-week Fitness Challenge overall national winner. Austin also won his age group at both the local and national levels.

Austin, who lost nearly 55 pounds and 21 inches from his waistline during the challenge, beat out more than 300,000 people nationwide to win the competition. More than $20,000 in prize money accompanied his victory.

Participants were judged on percentage of weight lost, circumference, and before-and-after pictures.

Austin saw posters for the event at the gym and decided to join the challenge.

“My wife and I decided it was enough and we needed to get healthy,” Austin said. “I want to be around for my kids.”

The victory was sweet for Austin, who had back surgery two years ago and still experiences some numbness in his legs. Before the challenge began, he often would take prescription Vicodin for the pain. Now that he has shed the weight, he rarely uses the painkillers.

Austin set lofty goals for himself from the beginning. “I’m going to win this,” he told his personal trainer, Mark Chism, during their first meeting. In order to achieve his goals, Austin exercised six days a week for a minimum of two hours a day. Chism also put him on a strict diet, which included drinking a gallon-and-a-half of water each day.

Now that the competition has ended, Austin said he hopes to launch a body-building show with Chism’s help. He also had some words of advice for those who hope to follow in his footsteps: “It’s not about how much you lift. Half the battle is just showing up.”

Tammy Johnson, 38, also was announced as the winner of her age group at both the local and national levels. She lost 40 pounds and 24 inches in the competition.


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