Inspirational Members

Gold’s Gym Challenge Winners: A Follow-up Edition

It’s been almost a year since these four winners transformed their bodies in 12 short weeks. See how the drive to win the challenge became their new, healthy normal.


Luis Collazo

Overall Male Winner, Spring 2012

Before Challenge Weight: 261 pounds

After Challenge Weight: 203 pounds

Current weight: 212 pounds

His story: While training as a Marine, Collazo sustained multiple injuries that never quite healed despite surgery. Then he went through unemployment, divorce and a move to Texas to be near his family. He remarried and had another child, but his weight had ballooned to 275 pounds. He had pain in his back, knees and hips, and his doctor said he was borderline diabetic.

How he won the challenge: His trainer showed Collazo how to train around his injuries with the low-impact cardio and resistance training and helped him plan a diet. He was allowed to cheat every time he lost five pounds-a real motivator for this food lover.

Biggest motivator to stay on course? Dealing with the pain from his past injuries. "It's an everyday struggle," Collazo says. "If I slow down my workouts or stop eating correctly, my body lets me know I'm slacking off."

Big life changes? His kids are healthier and more active. He eats mainly fresh foods, grills two to three times a week to prepare meals in bulk and eats four to five times a day. "I haven't touched anything in a can going on two years now," he says. Plus he went from being a stay-at-home dad to manager of the Gold's Gym Evans Road in San Antonio.

Any backslides? Last year he was working and going to school-and his busy schedule kept him from going to the gym for three to four weeks at a time and became an excuse for bad nutrition. He could feel his pants getting tight. "But then I adjusted my eating plan to compensate; so once I got back to it, I could tone up easily," he says. "Now, I'm a creature of habit with food."

Still treat yourself? "Every other Sunday, I order a medium or large Domino's pizza, eight pieces of chicken kickers and two molten chocolate cakes, and I go to town," he says. "I had to work hard so I could splurge, but Duane 'The Rock' Johnson says, 'If you're gonna cheat, do it right."


Schenna Blaue

Overall Female Winner, Fall 2012

Before Challenge Weight: 162 pounds

After Challenge Weight: 130 pounds

Current weight: 112 pounds

Her story: In the fall of 2011, Blaue tipped the scales at 208 pounds-the heaviest she'd ever been-and a meeting with her doctor turned out to be an eye-opening reality check. She was on the verge of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease like most of her overweight family members. "My mother suffers from diabetes, asthma and anemia-all weight-related issues," Blaue says. "I wanted to ensure that my two boys didn't follow in this legacy."

How she won the challenge: She had already lost over 40 pounds when she started the challenge-and she credits her continued success to her trainer's initial coaching. "He and I sat down and set goals, mapped out a plan, and I just stuck to it," she explains. "He pushed me to join the challenge because he knows I'm competitive and it would help me stay on track."

Biggest motivator to stay on course? Seeing how her friends and family have reacted to her weight loss and changed their own lives. "There isn't a day that goes by that someone doesn't ask me about nutrition choices or working out," she says.

Big life changes? Her diet plan before was nonexistent. "I ate when I wanted to eat, whatever junk food I was craving," she explains. "Today, I go into my day intentionally with a nutrition plan." And she's gained the confidence to try out new fitness challenges like 5K races and dodgeball tournaments. "Now I want to try out rock climbing."

Any backslides? She recently switched roles at work and the busy transition schedule had her reaching for office treats and skipping the gym. "Once I realized what I was doing-I just switched back. I think it's important when you falter to not overreact."

Still treat yourself? "My husband and I love to throw parties, so I store up cheat days for that," she says. "And we like to show friends that you can be healthy and still have fun."


Jerry Baker

Male Winner in 60+ Age Group, Spring 2012

Before Challenge Weight: 193.8 pounds

After Challenge Weight: 159.8 pounds

Current benefits: Heart rate of 45; low blood pressure and

better sleep

His story: One day, Baker woke up, looked in the mirror and realized he no longer looked like the man he wanted to be. "I didn't have a six pack, I had a keg," he says. He'd been a fan of classic bodybuilders, which immediately made him think of joining Gold's Gym-where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno famously trained. He found one less than a mile from his house and decided to join.

How he won the challenge: There was nothing over-the-top about his training methods, just steady and focused. "I trained one body part per day, rode a bike before and after strength training, and went to a boot camp on Monday nights," he explains. He worked on his diet by getting tips from fit fellow gymgoers.

Biggest motivator to stay on course? The attention from being in the winner's circle. "It's put more pressure on me because people know I won, plus when you've molded yourself into an image, you don't want to lose it."

Big life changes? Sound sleep and low blood pressure are two nice changes. He's also trying to help family and friends start training. "I'm trying to motivate a young girl I know who's already overweight. I convinced her mom to start working out to inspire her," Baker says. "It keeps me going."

Still treat yourself? "I eat small amounts of beef, usually a small filet mignon, and I like yogurt ice cream," he says. "But at my age after eating clean, it feels like you're poisoning yourself when you overindulge. It's not easy on your body."


Vaia Serimian

Female Winner in 30-39 Age Group, Spring 2012

Before Challenge Weight: 159.2 pounds

After Challenge Weight: 134.4 pounds

Current weight: 140 pounds

Her story: In November 2011, Serimian hosted her very own intervention. She decided that she was going to take back control of her life and focus on herself. Her first step? She joined Gold's Gym.

How she won the challenge: It wasn't an easy win. She struggled for the first two months, seeing almost no changes and still missing out on the food she used to eat. "It was so hard to walk by my husband's stuff that I used to be able to nibble on or try," she says. Then she found real mental determination by waking up at 4:30 am to make the gym her first priority.

Biggest motivator? Plain and simple, she feels better about her life and

relishes a good workout. "I love to wake up early, hit the weights and feel the burn."

Big life changes? Food and friends. "I've changed the way my husband and I eat," she says. "I made friends that I hike with, climb stairs with and share good-for-your-body recipes with," she explains. And she's revamped her workout routine to include the outdoors and her dogs.

Still treat yourself? "I cheat...I'm human, but it's usually a small piece of chocolate or a slice of pizza or chips-and I get back on track right away," she explains.