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This Competition Saved My Life: An Interview With The New GYFT Champ!

"We're sending out a massive congratulations to our new GYFT champion, Tony. He took home the belt and the $500 GYFT grand prize thanks to his hard work and, of course, his trainer Keoni. Read as we talk mindset, bad years and saying no to fear!"

So, how does it feel to be the new GYFT champion?

TONY: It feels amazing, it feels great knowing that all the hard work I've put in over the last 60 days didn't go unrewarded. I worked my butt off during this whole thing: it was a major challenge staying on track without cheating on my nutrition! You couldn't trap me with a Hershey's Kiss!

What was the biggest temptation for you throughout the process?

TONY: Good food! Hanging out with my family, there is always Mexican food around. It's very delicious, very rich food but not probably not the best to eat on a weight loss program. ESPECIALLY with it being the Holiday season: cookies, egg nog, and hot chocolate were big temptations. but it was worth it

What was your secret to success in this challenge?

TONY: Honestly, just how much I needed to do this for myself and for my future. I wanted to ensure I was moving in a direction better than the one I was headed in. I learned that I'm actually very dedicated when it comes to my diet: I used to talk down on diets before because I was never able to stick to them. Now I’m sticking to my nutrition even after the competition has ended!

Has your work with Keoni changed your training philosophy at all?

TONY: Keoni played a huge, major role in this process. For me, I live with anxiety and panic disorder, so the words “can’t“ and “no” were in my head a lot. I reluctantly joined this process because I needed to make a change in my life: Keoni was the person who pulled me forward.

Sometimes I’d begin to have panic attacks during our workouts, Keoni would calm me down and push me, which made me so much stronger mentally. I now know that I am capable of so much more than I thought. When I have an episode I know that I have the drive to push through it, he taught me that! He kept me motivated and that meant the world to me, especially after the year I’ve had.


TONY: Yeah, honestly it was a rough year and a half. It was losing, losing, losing. I lost a lot of people that I cared for, I felt like I was losing my mind, and I felt like I was losing in life. When I joined the GYFT program I was finally able to turn “losing” into a positive thing.

In the beginning I wasn’t really invested in the competition because I thought there was no way I could win. I’ve never really won anything before. Later in the competition I went through a difficult breakup: I needed to decide if it was going to be a hindrance or fuel. I needed to prove to myself and, unfortunately, to the other people out there that I could win something.

I now believe that you can overcome anything if you have the drive and will to succeed.

When I think about it now, even if I hadn’t won I would still be proud of myself. I’m still putting in the work even after the challenge has ended!

This challenge has taught me that there’s so much more outside of my bubble. I’ve gained the confidence to say “Hi” and make connections with people at the gym. I have a much more positive outlook than when I first started this program. I truly believe that this challenge saved my life.

Keoni, what was your secret to coaching Tony to success?

KEONI: Man, I’d absolutely start with mentality, right off the rip. The very first thing he struggles with is believing in himself, believing that he can do anything in general. We had a motto, “F$#! Fear!” Because he had a lot of anxiety going in to the challenge.

I told him that he was going to fall in love with the process. Just like he learned to enjoy training with heavy weights, I was going to teach him to fall in love with HIIT and losing weight. Battle Ropes and ladder work especially, he really mastered those.

As a trainer, there’s certain things that I look for, mentality-wise. I have a rule that we don’t say “I can’t.”

TONY: “Can’t” is entirely in your mind, it only exists if you allow it to. You define your limits!

KEONI: Especially with food, I tell everybody you can’t let food be another excuse. Sometimes we have to make a sacrifice for a bit of time so you can become your best person.

TONY: I’m lighter than I was even in high school! Another big motivation for me has been the awesome impact this has had on my family: my brother is joining the next challenge because he’s seen what it’s done for me, my mother is asking me “How do I do the same thing?” My dad even came to the Finale!

What advice do you have for someone who hasn’t been to the gym in a while or has never been to the gym before?

TONY: Take the first step and walk into the gym, and if not that, then find things that inspire you. Watching motivational stuff really makes a difference. Start small and just sign up for the gym, GYFT came for me a year later. You’ll sleep better, feel better and have more natural energy. Just take that first step and sign up for the gym.

Keoni was there every step of the way to help me with my anxiety problem and support me. He motivated me and constantly helped me maintain a positive energy. I’m excited to learn more!

KEONI: Honestly I’m just so excited to see him succeeding. In the beginning, I told him that it was going to be a battle but at the end of the day it’d be worth it. I just love it when my clients make the choice to persevere and see it through: they’re always surprised when they succeed! I’m like “I told you!”

TONY: Northwest Fitness Company saved my life. Great team, great people. I’ve been to a lot of gyms but one thing that sets this place apart is the people, you can’t get that anywhere else. The vibe here is real and that’s what drove me to keep going. I had my coach Keoni and I had the staff here: Marcus was always checking in on me whenever I came in, Parker gave me advice because he’s been in the same place mentally as me, Alex talked me down from a panic attack. It’s an incredible environment where the people really care: If I’m having a bad day, I know that this is the place for me to regain balance.

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