Losing it: Followers of personal trainer Neil Burns are seeing benefits of exercise

kward1@herald-leader.comMarch 24, 2013 

Jon Rawlins has lost 45 pounds in two months, but he's not resting on his laurels. In fact, he is working harder.

"I don't think I could stop now," he said. Rawlins, 26, of Irvine weighed 686 pounds when he started losing weight in mid-January.

"My clothes are fitting me a whole lot better," he said. "I can see it in my stomach. It doesn't pooch out as much."

The Herald-Leader is tracking the progress of Rawlins and four others as they embark on a journey to lose weight. All of them have gotten help from Neil Burns of Richmond, who lost 400 pounds through exercise and healthy diet and is now working as a personal trainer.

Rawlins said he's excited about the improved range of motion he's seeing in his leg since he began working out. He does calf and toe raises, and Burns rolls a medicine ball to him on the floor, having Rawlins catch it with his foot.

"Just walking is a whole lot easier now," he said. "Before, I'd catch my toe on stuff."

Poor mobility in his calf also has kept Rawlins from driving, which means he's dependant on others to take him to and from First Step Fitness on Wayne Drive in Richmond, where he works out.

He hopes to be able to drive himself, which will allow him to work out more than the three days a week he currently hits the gym.

In the meantime, he's using free weights and a broomstick to do exercises at home. And he's continuing to track what he eats in a food journal.

Rawlins said he drinks at least 72 ounces of water daily and has cut his calories in half, to about 2,000 or 2,500 a day.

While he admits that there have been times when he has been hungry, Rawlins said he keeps 90-calorie Special K cereal bars on hand.

"It usually settles my stomach down," he said. "Those have helped a lot."

Working off the pounds For Butch Kirby, the struggle has been drinking only water.

"I miss something with some flavor to it," said Kirby, 58.

He said he's tried calorie-free water flavoring, but he wasn't a fan.

Kirby said he is sticking to the diet plan Burns prescribes, though ... with one notable exception.

He drinks a glass of orange juice and eats a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast every morning.

"That's in Butch's plan," he joked.

In spite of that, Kirby has lost more than 50 pounds since he began working out in January and is now down to 404 pounds.

He and his wife Janie work out at the gym six days a week.

Janie Kirby, 56, said she has lost eight pounds since January and is down to 211 pounds.

"I feel a lot better," she said, adding that she has much more stamina during workouts now than when she began. "I sleep better."

She said she regularly burns 1,200 calories during Beastmode, Burns' group cardiovascular workouts.

The sessions have become so popular, First Step Fitness is moving to a larger location at 305 Geri Lane in April to better accommodate them, Burns said.

"I love Beastmode," Janie Kirby said. "I could do Beastmode every day."

Her challenge: "I probably still am not doing the best in the world at eating like a should," she said.

Working out on her own

Theresa Anderson said she's "losing more inches now than anything."

Anderson lost 63 pounds in her first two months of workouts but did not specify how much weight she has lost since then.

"I'm fitting clothes that I haven't worn in a long time," said Anderson, who weighed 330 pounds when she began working out in November 2012. "I can actually see my feet now. A couple months ago I couldn't."

Anderson said she's taken what she learned from Burns and is continuing to work out on her own at home and at the YMCA.

She said she's working toward getting rid of the canes that help her get around.

"It won't be much longer," she said. Recovering from a setback

Jared Webb, 44, said a neurological condition sidelined him from early February until late March.

"My feet, legs, hands, arms and back went numb," Webb said.

Although he wasn't able to exercise, Webb said he thinks he was able to keep off the 18 pounds he lost in January by continuing his new, healthier diet.

Webb started at 437 pounds.

His doctor gave the OK last week for Webb to return to the gym, and Webb said he planned to go in on Monday.

"I can't wait to get back," he said.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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