Fitness Programs & Personal Fitness Trainers

Fitness Tips for Healthy Living & Fitness Exercises Programs

With these fitness tips from the Gold's Gym Challenge Winners, train like a champion and get into the best shape of your life. The Challenge is a fitness program that pits gym members against each other in a friendly total-body transformation competition that takes places over a span of 12 weeks. By focusing on healthy living and adding consistent high energy cardio workouts to their gym routine, these gym members became this year's winners. And when you add fitness exercises like running, even five to ten minutes to start, you can become more fit, too, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Meet the Gold’s Gym Challenge Winners

With 50 years as the world’s leading authority on health and fitness, Gold’s Gym is proud to introduce you to its 2015 Gold’s Gym Challenge Winners!

Gold’s Gym kicked off its 50th anniversary with the 2015 Gold’s Gym Challenge—a 12-week total-body transformation competition that helps people achieve their potential through fitness. Nearly 20,000 Gold’s Gym members across the U.S enrolled in the Gold’s Gym Challenge, with a total of 216,678 pounds and 226,527 inches lost. The average participant lost 11 lbs. and 11.5 inches.

We caught up with six of them to find out how they succeeded in getting stronger, and asked for the best advice they have to help you on your fitness journey

Gary Urie
Overall Male Winner, Ages 40–49
In 12 short weeks, Gary lost:

43.2 pounds
NA% body fat
10.5 inches off his waist

What was the key to your success?

A lot of cardio. Every day I either ran five miles or I’d get on an elliptical for an hour. That was the key to me dropping so much weight, so fast. I loved it. Cardio was the first thing I did every day. I wouldn’t touch weights before I did my cardio. I also kept my diet clean by avoiding unhealthy foods. And the training staff, especially my trainer Kevin, kept pushing me through every day.

What was a benefit of the Challenge?

You can’t even explain the difference that you feel. At 42 years old, I can do stuff that I couldn’t do at 22. It’s amazing how my body has adapted to running five miles—and for the first 4.5 miles, I can have a conversation with somebody and not be winded. I can do a set of 20 pull-ups with no problem. I could never do that before.

How did you stay motivated?

I had never entered any kind of challenge or weight-loss challenge, but I was feeling winded and out of shape. I knew that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it all the way. I couldn’t believe how far I actually went. I love the way I look and feel. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Gary’s Challenge Tip: Do your cardio first. If I do it at the end, I’m dragging and I’m second-guessing myself. If I do it first, then the rest—the weights, the abs, is a bonus for me.


Maribel Contreras
Overall Female Winner, Ages 30–39

In 12 short weeks, Maribel lost:

47.2 pounds
15.7% body fat
6.5 inches off her waist

You did the Challenge last year but dropped out. What was the difference this year?

What needed to change was my thinking. I needed to think that I could win it. I told the cameraperson that she was taking the winner’s picture. She laughed. But I needed that for motivation.

What were some keys to your success?


I had a workout buddy, so the accountability piece was there. I relied heavily on my trainer. When I didn’t believe in myself at the beginning, my trainer did. Now, we’ve looked at what’s next, like what exercises I need to do for my arms, for my abs. I set some new goals. I’m not exactly where I want to be now, but I know I can get there.

How has your life changed?


People say I smile more. I have a lot more energy. I find myself talking about fitness and about health, especially to people who haven’t seen me in awhile. I’ve been telling my kids about being healthy and working out—and now they ask me for broccoli and about how many carbs are in certain foods.

Maribel’s Challenge Tip: You might have a setback. It’s okay. Recognize that you reverted back to old behavior, and then move on from that moment. Don’t wait until Monday. Restart right then.


Matt Morrissey
Male, Ages 40­–49

In 12 short weeks, Matt lost:

47.5 pounds
10.26% body fat
9.75 inches off his waist

Why did you start the Challenge?

My dad sent me pictures of myself at a family wedding, and after seeing those, I knew it was time for me to do something about my weight. My body was sore constantly and I would injure myself doing simple things like playing on my co-ed volleyball team. I was hurting and out of shape.

How did you train?


In the mornings I’d either do steady-state cardio, which would be around 30 minutes of consistent activity like walking uphill on a machine, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio that really burns calories. At night, my daughter and I followed a video series that we downloaded from Bodybuilding.com called Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size. We did that for the first two months. After that, I would grab a machine and see what muscles it worked out. It was a learning experience. I tried teaching myself.

What does your training look like now?


I still go to the gym on an almost nightly basis. Every once in a while I’ll get a two-a-day in if I get to bed early enough, although probably only once a week. I’ve upped my calories and added more protein to my diet, trying to put some mass on.

Matt’s Challenge Tip: Sometimes that last 30 seconds of HIIT training is brutal. To take my mind off it, I’ll count to five really slowly just to get over the hump. When I finally look down at the timer, I’ll be almost done or done.


Georgia Snodgrass
Female, Ages 40–49

In 12 short weeks, Georgia lost:

17.4 pounds
8.5% body fat
3.5 inches off her waist

What was your motivation?

I knew I needed to be healthy. I’m not 20 years old. I’m adopting two little kids and I already have a three-year-old and a six-year-old at home. I need to be in better shape for them and for my longevity. A few of my friends thought I was crazy, that I was never going to win. But I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try.

How do you feel now?


You feel better. You feel lighter. All your clothes fit well. Obviously, you’re more physically fit, but mentally I feel better, too, because of being physically fit. I’ve gotten into the mode of eating well. Monday morning I’m craving to get up and get my gym on, to start off well for the entire week.

How will you stay focused?


During the 12 weeks I did a lot of the things on my own but the classes at Gold’s were always a big motivator for me because of the people in there. Now I have friends in the classes, and I really like some of the instructors—they all help me motivate to get to the gym.

Georgia’s Challenge Tip: I’ve gotten more into HIIT training. People think that doing 30 minutes on the elliptical is a good workout. But it’s not really. A 30-minute HIIT training is so much more powerful. My HIIT workout incorporated upper body one day and lower body another, using weights intermixed with one-minute high-intensity cardio like jumping rope, burpees or mountain climbers.


Tim Angus
Male, Ages 50–59

In 12 short weeks, Tim lost:

42.4 pounds
17.8% body fat
10 inches off waist

What motivated you do to the Challenge?

In December, I weighed 258 pounds, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and severe hypertension. The medical staff that was performing the intervention was amazed that I had not already suffered a stroke.

How did you accomplish so much?


My day started with a strength endurance session with Shayla Gowler, my trainer at Gold’s Gym, followed by an hour of cardio. In the afternoon, I would return to the gym for another cardio session.

How has your life changed?


I started sleeping better and my mood improved. I can enjoy doing things and participate in activities that I had struggled with for some time because of my weight and health. My blood pressure is 110 over 60, my resting heart rate is 64, and my blood sugar stays between 80 and 120, without insulin.

Tim’s Challenge Tip: I made dramatic changes to my diet by utilizing the app MyFitnessPal, and was able to control my caloric and carbohydrate intake as well as increasing protein and healthy fats.


Deandra Bodenhurst
Female, Ages 18–29

In 12 short weeks, Deandra lost:

54.8 pounds
7.9% body fat
9.25 inches off waist

Why did you want to do the Challenge?

Before the Challenge, I was weak. I was someone who was insecure and covered up my unhappiness by going to bars frequently. My favorite color to wear was black just so I could hide behind it. I had very little motivation to do anything in my life.

How did you push through the difficult times?


I broke down more times than I can count, but I realized that every time I built myself back up, I was no longer starting from the bottom.

Has your life improved since the Challenge?


Every single thing about me has changed. I no longer have to hide behind dark and baggy clothes. I am the most confident that I’ve ever been in my entire life. I used to be a C-average student and now I am making straight A’s in college.

Deandra’s Challenge Tip: Get a Microsoft Band. It helped me keep track of my vitals and my workouts, and it was simple to use.
Get moving with these fitness tips from the Gold's Gym Challenge Winners, and electrify your workout with energizing fitness classes at Gold's family fitness center. Boost your fitness program with high intensity interval training, like winners Matt Morrissey and Georgia Snodgrass did, and get calorie-sizzling workouts that burn more fat than traditional workouts, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. And for healthy living, the ACSM suggests starting with only one HIIT workout per week and working your way up to a second one, leaving time for your body to recover in between these intense exercise sessions. Also, the fitness exercise sessions keep your body burning fat even after you finish your workout.

One fitness tip mentioned by several of this year's Challenge winners was to partner with a personal fitness trainer for workouts based on your personal fitness level, goals and personality. And one benefit of fitness programs with personal trainers is that you gain the support and guidance of someone who becomes your number one cheerleader from start to finish. Fitness trainers can provide healthy living tips for everything from smart nutrition while eating out to how to stay motivated during solo workouts, and they can also modify your personal fitness program as your strength and endurance increase so that you are always challenged. With fitness exercises for cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility, you can get total body workouts with fitness trainers that push your health and fitness to a whole new level.