This July, over 700 Gold’s Gym owners, master franchisees, staff and vendors gathered at the annual Gold’s Gym International (GGI) Convention at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. During the convention’s annual awards dinner, franchisees and members were honored with awards and recognition.
One member, Lindsey Cotter, was voted Gold’s Gym’s “Most Inspirational Member,” after she overcame both mental anguish and physical limitations, to lose a total of 130 pounds. Cotter was picked out of three finalists, voted on by convention attendees.
Cotter’s journey began three years ago, after she lost her brother and a short year later, her father. Grief-stricken, she took a trip to see her mother and stepfather, and during the visit talked about how she was struggling. Concerned, her stepfather took the initiative to sign her up for a Gold’s Gym membership and sessions with personal trainer Deb Leany. She began in October of 2010. “He gave me the opportunity, and I ran with it,” said Cotter. “It was scary walking through the doors that first time, but it took just one person believing me.”
In terms of struggling towards better health and fitness, Cotter said the mental hurdles were more difficult than the physical ones — when Cotter first started her sessions with Leany, she weighed over 300 pounds. “Physically we just took small steps, just a little bit everyday until I became stronger,” explained Cotter. “It’s been more mental for me — trying to get over the mental anguish of losing my brother and father.”
Cotter’s initial appointments with Leany started with education on diet and walking. As Cotter progressed, they moved on from walking to more advanced workouts, eventually adding strength and more intense cardio. “You work your way up,” said Cotter. “If I had trouble with something we’d try an alternative exercise.”
Fortunately, Cotter’s sessions with Leany worked as not only exercise, but as therapy sessions as well — the thing Cotter came to appreciate the most. Leany became more than just Cotter’s personal trainer, but her friend and support system. Their relationship, along with exercise’s therapeutic qualities, are what kept Cotter coming back. “[Deb] has been my rock,” said Cotter. “She’s been my backbone. Working out has really been therapy for me.”
That was over a year ago — after losing 130 pounds, Cotter said her life, physically and mentally, has been completely transformed. “I’ve completely fallen in love with fitness,” said Cotter. “Everybody is happier — my children are happier and I’m more active with them. Fitness is just a part of my life now, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
To Cotter, winning the “Most Inspirational Member” award was the culmination of her hard work and achievements. “It felt amazing,” she said. “It felt like all the work, blood, sweat and tears — like it all paid off. There’s no way I could have done this without the help of Gold’s Gym and Deb. They completely changed my life, and cheered me on the whole way.”
Cotter’s story shows the affect gyms and personal trainers can have on their members. Cotter became so inspired by Leany and Gold’s Gym’s staff, that she plans on joining the Gold’s Gym team — she’s taking her newfound passion for fitness and becoming a Gold’s Gym personal trainer. “[Deb] has inspired me to be a trainer,” said Cotter. “She is just so kind and she never gives up on anybody. I want to be able to pass that along to somebody else — do the same thing that Deb has done for me.”
As of right now, Cotter plans to push on and is working towards losing an additional 20 pounds. “We’re just going to continue doing what we’ve been doing — switch it up and work harder and better,” said Cotter. “I’m going to keep pushing myself.”
How do you inspire members to overcome mental and physical hurdles? By fostering relationships with members, such as Cotter and Leany’s relationship — you increase the chances that members will reach their goals, and up the odds they will stay committed to your facility.
By Rachel Zabonick