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lived 25 years of my life morbidly obese and learned many bad habits, but I always wanted something else. When I appeared

on The Biggest Loser, I found my place – as well as meeting my wife. After leaving the show 146lbs lighter,

I did a lot of public speaking, which culminated in launching Square One in Omaha, US, last year. It’s a club of like-minded, larger people. Most are morbidly obese and we use a mixture of exercise, therapy, dieting and mentoring on how to tackle obstacles to help members control their triggers and cravings. Most of them have no clue about the fi ght they are fi ghting, or how to defend themselves, so we help them to build strategies. The programme is based on a mix

of research and my own experience. For example, one thing obese people

sees a high rate of retention

tend to suffer with is an ‘all or nothing’ mentality: they think that, if they break the pattern by eating a cookie, they might as well give up that day. I compare this to spending money. If you buy one thing you haven’t planned, you don’t have to go and empty the bank account. Many people see incredible results

with weight loss, but some people simply can’t get past the emotional eating and fail to lose weight. Working out is the easiest habit to grasp, because I can watch them, but I can’t watch them when they’re at the fridge at home. But even when people are obese, or

morbidly obese, exercising can make a huge difference. Losing 8–10lbs could mean reducing or coming off blood pressure and cholesterol medication.

Recruiting members is one of the

things we’re still learning how to do. The diffi cult part is working out how to approach people and we’re experimenting with that – targeted advertising on Facebook, for example, for those who have ‘liked’ The Biggest Loser and Weight Watchers. When compared to the industry standard, we do a really good job at retaining people. This is because we’ve created a community of people. Square One offers packages starting

at US$60 and rising to US$300 a month. Whether in the gym or in classes, PT or small group training, people always have to work under the guidance of a trainer. Going forward we plan to franchise, initially in the mid-west of the US.



was tired of being the biggest person in my yoga class, so in 1996 I embarked on a Sivananda yoga teacher-training course in

Barbados. After this, I developed my own practice and worked privately with another teacher, discovering how to get my body into the yoga postures. Buddha Body Yoga grew out of

this experimentation and is the only yoga offering I know of that caters exclusively for plus-size people. Although with my skills I could teach regular yoga, I fi nd larger people more interesting and challenging to work with. Millions of teachers work with the slender, strong and fi t, but only a handful work with big people. I run seven classes a week at our New

York studio and am just negotiating new space so I can expand my class size. Finding clients is not necessarily easy though: word of mouth and media coverage seem to be the best way, but

Classes are taught in a light- hearted way

many plus-size people remain scared to come to classes. I’ve had people register and not turn up, or arrive fi ve minutes late but then refuse to join the class. Once people start coming, however,

retention is good because I make it fun – it’s a community with lots of jokes and playing with postures. It’s not serious like many other yoga classes can be. Some people come because they want

to lose weight, some want to be more fl exible, some want to experience yoga and others like the feeling of movement. If I can stop someone hobbling, or help

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them move and sit more comfortably, I consider that a success. I’d like to take the concept across the

US and around the world with teacher- training. I’ve set up a certifi ed fi ve-day yoga teacher-training programme for working with big people, which is open to qualifi ed yoga teachers. ●

This feature fi rst appeared in Leisure Management 2013 issue 2, p62.

June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

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