Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bringing Fitness into Focus: Trainer Uses Personal Connection to Help People Transform Themselves

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bringing Fitness into Focus: Trainer Uses Personal Connection to Help People Transform Themselves

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Personal trainer Ryan Vivar isn't looking for clients who are pictures of fitness. He aims to give people hope that they can transform themselves. That's why he chose Sherri Gamel in 2011.

Gamel met Vivar when her husband, Mike, went for an interview with the trainer. Mike Gamel was interested in getting into better shape to help him as a football official. Sherri Gamel came along to support her husband and didn't expect to hire a personal trainer. Vivar saw something in her that she didn't see in herself. At the time, she was 90 pounds overweight and had been told she was disabled, she said.

"She needed the help more than he did," Vivar said. "She could barely walk."

Gamel was told she would be wheelchair-bound by age 50 after a series of knee surgeries left her unable to bend her right knee. After training with Vivar for about two years, however, she was able to run the Oklahoma City Memorial 5K race in 2013.

Yet Vivar's ultimate goal is larger than just working with clients in his downtown Oklahoma City studio. He wants to help residents become fitter. In the meantime, he aims to reshape how people view his field.

"I want to be a good example of the personal training industry," he said.

Gamel said her outlook on life changed since she began working with Vivar. She is a district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, and has worked for him for 17 years.

Before she started exercising, however, she was in the background. Gamel said she didn't have the nerve to leave the office and interact with people.

Besides losing the weight, she now has better balance and more confidence in her job and marriage.

Vivar said he wanted to give her the hope he found within himself. His parents are Mexican immigrants, so the native diet he ate as a child contributed to him becoming overweight. He lived in rural Morrison, north of Stillwater, and didn't excel in sports. A gym membership was a luxury his parents couldn't afford.

At age 17, he started jogging on a gravel road next to pastures. He worked out on his own until he lost about 100 pounds. He later did bodybuilding as a hobby.

Though he was happy to shed pounds, he became a different person, he said. …

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