A big change: Fitness programs aims to alter one person’s life

Published 6:33 pm Saturday, December 28, 2013

KEVIN SCOTT CUTLER | DAILY NEWS Austin Thomas, owner of Fitness Unlimited, is set to launch a new program, Weight Loss Journey Extreme, this week.

Austin Thomas, owner of Fitness Unlimited, is set to launch a new program, Weight Loss Journey Extreme, this week.

In just a few days, Austin Thomas will embark on a journey that will most likely change one person’s life forever.

During that journey, he will offer that person advice about exercise and healthful food choices. But most of all, he wants to offer hope.

Thomas, owner of Fitness Unlimited in Washington and Williamston, is launching Weight Loss Journey Extreme, a new program that will find one person spending the next year becoming his or her personal best.

“I’ve had the idea for quite a while. … I’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Thomas said. “My wife finally told me to stop talking about it and do it.”

Over the past several weeks, Thomas has been sifting through video applications from perspective clients who want to take a big step toward becoming healthy and physically fit. That process ends with a New Year’s Eve deadline, after which Thomas and a few close associates and confidantes will choose one person.

Narrowing it down to that one person is Thomas’ greatest nightmare right now, he confided.

“I’ve truly lost sleep,” he said. “I haven’t been so intimidated by anything in my life. Telling someone ‘No’ is definitely a drawback of this, but it’s my goal to still help them anyway I can.”

Weight Loss Journey Extreme is a partnership between Fitness Unlimited and Pam Pippin of P-Inc., according to Thomas. Once the individual is announced, his or her journey will be documented through the program’s Facebook page, Twitter and a series of YouTube videos. Likewise, the Washington Daily News will follow Thomas and his client on the path to better health over the next year.

“They need to be a weight-loss candidate,” Thomas said of his ideal client. “I prefer someone who has struggled with their weight since they were a kid, but that’s not a requirement. For me, personally, this is a chance to pay it forward. I’ve had a lot of things go my way. … This is a chance to be a springboard for more people.”

During the yearlong process, Thomas intends to be personal trainer, life coach, food coach, friend and parent.

“I’m going to give them everything I’ve got,” he said. “They’re going to be married to me for the next year, without the intimacy. I’ll be with them in their home; I’m going grocery shopping with them. We’ll be sharing meals together sometimes.”

Two key elements to success will be the person’s family and friends, he said.

“Their support system has to be supportive,” Thomas noted. “I’ll be talking to their spouse or their significant other. I’ll be talking with their kids, their parents.”

Once a decision is reached, Thomas hopes to make that big announcement by the end of the week. The program begins in earnest Jan. 6, pending doctors’ clearances.

“For the first three months, they’ll be looking at coming here to exercise twice a day,” Thomas said. “And they’ll be sitting down with a counselor. My staff here at Fitness Unlimited will also be very involved with this.”

What is one component that is guiding Thomas in making a final decision?

“You have to feel the person’s ‘powerful why,'” he said. “You have to find someone who is willing to make this transformation last for the rest of their life. It can’t be about just wanting to lose weight for a class reunion or a wedding.”

Thomas is accepting applications, videos preferred, through Tuesday. For more information, visit the Weight Loss Journey Extreme page on Facebook or call Fitness Unlimited at 252-975-7400.