Healthy Habits For A World Traveler, Meet Manny Flores

From a skinny 155lbs to a fuller 190lbs and to a healthy and happy 170lbs! Manny shares his story with you..

I have a very stressful job that requires a significant amount of travel.  In the last 10 years I have traveled more than 1.5 million miles, traveled to more than 20 countries, have more than 1,000 nights in hotels and have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world.  When you spend so much time away from home, it is so easy to develop unhealthy habits when it comes to what you eat, how much you drink, when you sleep and how you manage stress.  When I started this job I was a scrawny 6’0, 155lbs.  When I decided I needed to find a better balance to how I live my life, I had gained 35lbs and hit a peak weight of 190lbs.  I was way too skinny at 155lbs, and had
started to look and feel chubby at 190lbs.

In the spring of 2014, I visited my primary care physician for my annual physical, and when he took my weight he very frankly told me that my face looked swollen and unhealthy.  That was the kind of honesty that I needed, because I felt unhealthy and knew that I needed to make some kind of change.  At the same time, my company was really promoting wellness and healthy living, and incentivizing employees (e.g. paying for annual health insurance deductible with tax free $) if you are able achieve certain biometric results by the end of the summer.

The first change I made was to stop drinking alcohol as frequently.  I was drinking wine every night, which wasn’t contributing to better health.  Within a month I had dropped about 10lbs, so I decided to pretty much stop drinking alcohol all together.

The second change I made was to exercise more regularly than I had before, trying to make time to work out 3 or 4 times a week.  While I made some progress with muscle tone, I was having trouble in areas around my neck and waist (which is still a struggle), and realized that I needed to change my diet as well.  I had met some sports nutrition specialists that explained to me that a healthy physique is 80% diet and 20% how you workout.  Those sports nutrition specialists ultimately started a nutrition company called Fit Fuel.  I immediately became a customer and developed a meal plan with them that focused on eating moderate calorie meals more frequently (4 or 5 x’s per day), which increases metabolism, while limiting how many calories I consume from fat to no more than 15% to 20% of your daily calorie intake.

The third change was to hire a professional to help with designing my workouts and keeping me motivated with new, innovative exercises.  This is when I met a personal trainer at the NAC, who just happened to be sitting at the trainer station.  I gave him a bit of background on some of the changes I have made and what some of my short and long term fitness goals were.  He invited me to an orientation workout, and after a good experience, I decided to sign up for 12 training sessions a month.  I have been working out with him regularly for the last 7-months, who has kept the workouts fresh, and has helped me to produce results that I am happy with.  I am very happy to be a NAC member and to have access to such a great facility, with a great staff that is focused on results.  I feel so much happier, and have gotten down to 168lb to 170lbs.
I think the biggest difference about my life is with how I choose to spend my time.  While I still consider myself a foodie, and love to dine at nice restaurants, I am much more selective about what I put into my body.  My lifestyle has also become much more active (swimming, hiking, training, scuba diving).  When I visit a city on a business trip, I spend less time in the hotel bar and more time at the gym, or jogging around the city, etc.

Ryan Miller has been able to adapt our training to accommodate my travel schedule and provide me with an outline for how I need to workout when I am traveling, so when I am away from 7 days, I cam come back and jump right into my splits without much of a transition.

My advice to anyone dealing with a similar set of circumstances to my own is not to procrastinate.  If you feel unhealthy and are trying to decide what to do about it, don’t wait for your doctor to call you fat.  Evaluate your lifestyle, change your eating habits, change your drinking habits (if you are drinking too much) and develop a good workout routine that mixes cardio with weight training.

  • Biggest fitness lesson you’ve learned:  Walking on a treadmill or lifting a few weights is not sufficient.  If you want to make real progress, you need to also change how and what you put into your body.
  • If you could have only one food/meal for the rest of your life what would it be?  It would be Indian food, most likely Lamb Vindaloo.  Its so spicy and good.
  • Favorite song to workout to:  “0 to 100” by Drake
  • Favorite exercise:  This is going to sound stupid, but I love stretching.

Interested in personal training at the NAC?


“Lift like a girl. It’s life changing.”

NAC member, Kara McWilliams tells us about her fitness journey thus far.. and about when she realized while on a business trip that her suit no longer fit, who’s goal is no longer to be as skinny as possible, and who proudly lifts like a girl.

Prior to beginning my fitness journey I felt like I did not have enough, or the right, energy in any aspect of my life. Something was missing in my relationship, my friendships, and in my career. I realized that I did not have enough energy to appropriate to all of these areas of my life and because of this I was becoming an increasingly negative person. I was constantly sluggish and as a result I was tired and had a negative attitude. Additionally, I had struggled with body image issues since I was a young woman. I made the decisions to take control of both my lack of energy and my body image issues by focusing on my health.

IMG_0121My initial goal was to stay committed to the gym for longer than three months (the typical length of time my “gym phases” would last). This all changed after member services suggested I meet with Katie. When I first met with Katie to discuss my goals, I shared my goal of trying to stay committed and beyond that I guess I wanted to lose weight. I assumed that if I lost weight I would feel better about myself and that would naturally impact other areas of life. Katie helped me realize that our time together would not be all about losing weight. Rather, we would focus on increases. We were going to increase my stamina, my strength, my energy, and most importantly we were going to work on my self-confidence. By the end of my initial meeting with Katie the goals/results I was looking for were three fold (1) to feel better about myself, (2) to be able to live a fuller, happier life, and (3) to be able to lift heavy shit.

The first steps I took were (1) joining the gym and (2) working with the amazing member experience team to partner me with Katie. I was never able to commit to a gym for any length of time – typically because I was overwhelmed. The member experience team curbed any of those concerns. My real first steps though began when I started working with Katie. One of the things that I appreciate the most about Katie is her ability to truly understand the people she is working with; who they are, and what they need to succeed. Katie quickly learned that I am very analytical and she approached our work together in that way. To that end, we started my journey by thinking through a plan. Though I was working with Katie weekly, she ensured that we developed a holistic approach to my health. She set me up with Kelly, the NAC’s amazing nutritionist to discuss how I can approach my diet more healthfully.  Katie also helped me think through appropriate group exercise class that would complement my training, and she set me up with an application for my iPhone where she could send me training plans during the times I was not with her and communicate with me throughout the week to see how things were going and offer advice and encouragement.

I have definitely had a lot of help along the way. Certainly my husband’s support has been integral to my commitment to my health and wellbeing. Beyond his support everyone I have encountered at the NAC has helped me in some way. From Meagan’s huge smile greeting me at the front door, to Christina’s constant words of encouragement, to Amy’s positive reinforcement in her crazy Friday morning NACfit class, everyone has been a core component to any progress I have made. Though, of course, no one deserves my gratitude more than Katie. She is not only helping me turn my body into something I never thought it could be, but more importantly she is altering my mindset and giving me a sense of confidence and self-empowerment that I didn’t even know I could have.

The turning point in my journey (thus far) was about three weeks ago when I was on a business trip and I had to give a presentation in front of a large group of people. I had packed my “special suit” that I only wear for these types of meetings. The morning of my meeting I put my suit pants on and they fell right off of me. After I got over the initial concern of having to give my presentation pants-less, I realized how far I had come in my journey. You see, when I first started working with Katie, I stopped obsessing over my waist line, and I even stopped weighing myself. My goal was no longer to be as skinny as possible; it has shifted to being as strong as possible. It was at the very moment that my pants were falling off of me that I realized losing all that weight was an awesome byproduct of deadlifts, pull-ups, and sled pushes and I didn’t even have to obsess over it. Though I didn’t have time to go shopping before my presentation that day, as I was poking a new hole in my belt to hold those pants up it reinvigorated my commitment to my health.

There have certainly been road barriers on this journey. There have been plenty of Friday mornings when I wanted to skip Amy Marino’s NACfit class because I had had one (or five) too many glasses of wine at Thursday happy hour. There have been days where I thought – eh, 20 pound weights are heavy enough today, even though I knew I could do 25.

I sincerely feel like both, the members and the staff at the NAC are all one huge support system. I know if I sleep through NACfit Megan will give me a side eye when I come in the door later that day, or if Krista sees me using 15 pound weights I know I am going to hear “everything in this class is heavier than 15 pound weights for you”. If Katie hears me complain about the four plates she has on the sled, instead of taking one off she sits on top of the stack and tells me to push! While, at the time, this seems exhausting – it really is because all of these people know I can do it and are helping me be the best me I can.

Unfortunately I can’t identify one thing that is most different about my life right now because in almost all aspects of my life I feel like a completely different person than I did six months ago. The amount of energy I have now doesn’t even compare to before I began this journey. My relationships are more positive, my performance at work has improved, and I am generally a more positive, happier person. Going to the gym has become the highlight of my day rather than something I try to avoid. I guess most significantly is that I have never felt so strong, so powerful, and like I can do anything.

Katie is the best because of her ability to read her clients and understand their goals, even if her clients aren’t so sure of what they are at the time. From there, her holistic approach to training, which extends far beyond the time that I am working with her, is key to a successful journey. Ultimately though, the primary reason that I am succeeding on my journey with Katie is because of her sincere attitude and genuine concern for the health and wellness of her clients, both when it comes to their bodies and their self-confidence.


Anything you would like to share with others or those thinking about beginning a fitness journey themselves?

Lift like a girl. It’s life changing.

As the member experience team worked with Kara to set her up with a plan and the tools she needed to meet her goals, they’re ready to meet with you and get you there too!


Chris Szagola, “But there you go, doing things you thought you couldn’t”

Meet Chris Szagola! Chris highlights his fitness journey thus far, but if you ask him.. his story is far from over! 


Chris’ transformation isn’t over yet!

A little over a decade ago and back when the scale would beg “No Mas”, I realized I needed to get my health and fitness under control. Else, I would end up being a picture on the wall to my friends and family. This journey has not been without its highs and lows.

The latest chapter in this journey started when my last trainer and I parted away and I started to see stalling/falling back in my progress. That is when I knew I had to find a new trainer. Someone that would push me past what I would find as acceptable. For all my time working out with and without a trainer, I find that having someone outside your own mind helps you go past your comfort zone. For even when you feel you are pushing yourself hard, someone guiding you can push you that one step further.

Chris & Katie, notice their shirts say "Yay fun"

Chris & Katie, notice their shirts say “Yay fun”

I have been fortunate to have Katie Mitchell as my trainer. Katie does a wonderful job of switching up the route when we train, so it doesn’t become stagnate, routine and boring. One of the best things about her is that she doesn’t give in when you think you have had it. She pushes you that one step further. Katie knows what she can get out of you, even if you feel you don’t have it. But there you go, doing what you thought you couldn’t. That is what makes her one of the best I have ever worked with.

With the first month down, 48% of the whole competition, I am currently in first place with over 1000 Meps lead. I couldn't have gotten this far without Katie pushing me. Heck I wouldn't have reached 11K for the month if it wasn't for her. "YAY FUN"

With the first month down, 48% of the whole competition, I am currently in first place with over 1000 Meps lead. I couldn’t have gotten this far without Katie pushing me. Heck I wouldn’t have reached 11K for the month if it wasn’t for her. “YAY FUN”

She has introduced me to the MyZone system. With this system, I have pushed myself harder to earn the MEPS. Being someone who likes numbers, I have set a yearly goal, which I then broke done to monthly and weekly goals. For if you set something crazy like 100,000 MEPS in a year, unless you have a plan, it will look too far away. Separating it to more manageable goals has helped keep me on that track. Though Katie says, I might be a little obsessed.

Now pushing her on the sled with an extra 360lbs might seem like a little much. Well, she wouldn’t let you do it, unless she didn’t feel you could. As always “YAY FUN!” (Click here to see a video of Chris pushing Katie on the sled)

Chris Pushing Katie on a sled



Now this story is far from over, goals haven’t been reached. Many more “YAY FUN” sessions, time in the Six Zone Training and many more miles and strange music on the Cardio machines to go.

For those just starting out, just remember it is a process. Muscle weights as much as fat, but has less volume. Best is to find someone or an activity to keep you moving. For when you stop, you just fall backwards. And just have some “YAY FUN!!!”



Interested in learning which NAC personal trainer may be best for you?

Ruth Green, “Grandma, you inspired me. I’ll run a triathlon with you”

Meet Ruth Green, NAC Inspiration and long time member who has inspired so many with her amazing accomplishments. Ruth competed in her first triathlon and has no plan on stopping now- in fact, she’s running another next week!

Ruth shares with us what she does behind the scenes with NAC trainer, Kelly Poinsette, and how she became a triathlon competitor!

I started this journey shortly after I moved here from Chicago. My son and I bought an old farmhouse and we (my daughter-in-law and grand children too) are in the process of renovating it. Well, my son goes to work every day, my daughter-in-law has her own business and my grandchildren have their schools. I’m a retired teacher and I was at home by myself. I needed something to do and some place to go where I could be active and talk to people. So, I joined the NAC. I started with the TechnoGym and then took advantage of the free Live Fit session with a personal trainer. Melissa thought that Kelly would be the right one. Wow, was she right!


Ruth jumped in and out of the agility latter with her body lowered in a squat position.

Kelly is the BEST because she understood where I was at the beginning and had me do a lot of different exercises and activities to get me started and feeling good about it. She has pushed and encouraged me for about two years now. She’s always saying something like: “Good job!”, “I like the way you did that” and “I’m proud of you.” Kelly has pushed me to do things I never thought I’d do with weights, TRX and, best of all, my own boxing gloves! She calls me “Boxing Grandma!”

Another important thing Kelly had me do was keep a food journal. When you know someone else is reading what you eat, you certainly think twice about what you eat! She always explains and demonstrates as we go along. She’s also considerate and funny. We’ve done things outside the NAC too – a couple of outdoor walks, lunch and dinner. It meant a lot to me that Kelly was there when I finished the triathlon. She is the BEST and I certainly recommend her.

In addition to my twice-a-week training with Kelly, I’ve been doing 2-3 Forever Fit classes every week with Leyla Ghazzouli. On Monday, there is the step class; on Wednesday, the cardio/strength class; and on Friday, the Zumba class or the water aerobics class. Leyla has always been very supportive, enthusiastic, and considerate- fun, too!


Ruth’s personal training session with Kelly.


I’ve thought for a while that triathlons looked like fun. I mentioned this to Kelly, and about two days later SHE found one for me! I signed up and we began a special running program as that was the event where I needed most help. That was a four week program and was perfect timing for the triathlon. I’d been swimming 32 lengths for quite awhile so that was the easiest part. I also rode the stationery bike for 5 or more miles, as well as riding my own bike at home.

At the end of the triathlon I finished with tears in my eyes because I DID IT! My family and Kelly were there with hugs and congratulations. Then I got the triathlon medal- what a feeling! My son said, “That’s the feeling that makes you want to do another one.”

Not only have I learned to eat better, and I’m in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, but I’ve lost 25 pounds and 3-4 jean sizes! The fun part is that I can go shopping and get a whole new wardrobe!

After I finished the triathlon last week, my granddaughter, who is a complete coach potato, said “Grandma, you inspired me, I’ll do a triathlon with you.”

We, including my grandson, have signed up to do a triathlon next week.

It’s been an unbelievable journey- one I never even considered, but all the hard work has given me a different view of me – and I like it!

I’ll keep going!

Ruth Green


Ruth & Kelly after Ruth crossed the finish line!

Interested in learning which NAC trainer may be best for you?