In January 2005, I weighed 189 pounds—more than I ever had in my whole life. I wanted to lose the 40 pounds I’d gained in graduate school, but I truly hated gyms.

Then I saw my boyfriend lose weight after being with a personal trainer for six weeks. “If you’re serious about losing the weight, you should get a trainer,” my boyfriend encouraged me. “You’ve spent so much money over the years on workout videos and exercise equipment; you can afford it at least for a few sessions.”

Feeling embarrassed about my body and with very little money in my bank account, I went into Hyde Park Gym one evening. I found Amalia’s business card and e-mailed her. I was frank about my terrible eating habits and honest about my weight-loss goals.

Her response made me trust her immediately–she was honest as well, and kind and sincere and funny on top of that.

After our first session, I knew that having Amalia as a personal trainer was an endeavor that I would genuinely enjoy. After a few more sessions, I stopped feeling like she was an employee, and more like she was a friend who happened to know a lot about working out.

She congratulated me as I made weight lifting progress (however small), and she encouraged me when I felt like I wasn’t making enough progress. I looked forward to every scheduled appointment, and I felt more comfortable at Hyde Park Gym than I did anywhere else.

Soon, the pounds started dropping off–slowly at first, then with surprising speed. By May, I had lost almost 20 pounds, to my delight and shock–previously, the most I had ever lost was 5 pounds.

With Amalia’s food tips, exercise combinations, and consistent, sincere support, I lost 35 pounds by October. Co-workers, friends, and family complimented me constantly, and people I hadn’t seen in months were stunned at how much better and healthier I looked.

I also felt stronger, more energetic, and more confident than ever before–although all of my clothes had become much too big to wear!

I owe my new body and new-found life entirely to Amalia. Anyone with some knowledge on fitness can become a trainer, but not everyone can be as wise, compassionate, and supportive as she consistently is. She has helped me incorporate fitness into my life in a realistic and long-term way. From answering my food questions via e-mail to cheering me on as we add more weight to the machines to laughing at my cheesy jokes, Amalia inspired me to keep up my weight-loss goals even when I’d lost hope. I cannot recommend her enough, and I cannot thank her enough.*