Drew Zimmerman: The Other 23 Hours

Drew Zimmerman

by Edward Gemdjian

If you were to look at Drew Zimmerman exercising this morning, you may have thought “Did he play college baseball or football?” or “What is he training for?”

At 6’4″ and a trim 210lb., the Drew of today bares no resemblance to the overweight 17 year old he was after a serious bicycle accident.  He has even less in common with the 235lb. Drew I met a few years ago, looking to change his exercise and eating habits after 7 years of prioritizing long hours at a major law firm.  My manager at the time, remembered Drew from a previous gym.  “I’ve seen him with trainers in the past but with very little progress.  Whoever gets him back in shape has my respect.”

The sessions started slowly, basic weight training 2 times per week.  Drew had always exercised and was fairly strong, but I knew he could be pushed much harder once he gained my trust.  The weights got heavier, but so did Drew, his muscles had grown but his body fat had stayed the same.  We slowly transitioned to short bouts of circuit training, causing a higher heart rate output and caloric burn during our workouts.  This increased his endurance and he got stronger still, but the weight and body fat had not changed.

More than a year into training together, our workouts got even more difficult. Three times per week, incorporating kettle bells, active rest and strength and conditioning workouts I had used on all star athletes.  I had convinced Drew to consistently do cardio workouts on his own.  His fitness continued to improve, but his appearance did not reflect the work we were putting in.  I began to doubt my ability as his trainer, “What am I missing?  I can’t possibly work him any harder, I must be doing something wrong…”  I made a decision then, to treat Drew’s fitness as if it were mine, to investigate every aspect of his life, not just his time spent in the gym.

I started asking about friends, nightlife, workload, sleep, diet, stress, family, television and anything else that would help me piece together this puzzle.  Drew became more interested, he wanted to know how our workouts fit into his goals, why I kept asking what he ate and how much he slept.  After a while I was able to show Drew that all of these factors play as important a role as exercise when it comes to complete health and fitness.  Almost two years in the making, Drew was now making his decision to commit fully to his personal health and fitness.

“I realized that I couldn’t get away with same food consumption habits in my mid-thirties that I could five or ten years earlier.”  When Drew came to this conclusion, he began reporting a food log to me on a daily basis, I only asked for it weekly, but Drew was very motivated by now.  He had talked about how much he enjoyed running 10 years before and now became motivated to incorporate it back into his cardio routine.  He joined the NYRR and even entered a few races.  The weight began to drop, and Drew’s confidence grew.

“I became more confident in my physical abilities as well as appearance which, in turn, provided further motivation to stay dedicated to an exercise routine.  I was surprised at how effective running was in terms of weight loss.  In the spring of 2010 I increased my training and got serious about my diet – smaller portions at greater frequencies with emphasis on protein.  This was probably the most dramatic result I have had with exercising since the time I first started exercising the summer before my senior year.”

Staten Island Half Marathon 2010

Most recently Drew has run The Staten Island Half Marathon, a 10k and 5k NYRR events.  He has consistently improved his times, while maintaining his muscle mass and lowering his body fat.

So, what’s next for Drew?  Anything he can make a decision to commit to fully.  Fitness is a microcosm of life, achievements in this arena translate to any endeavor.  Often it is those things that are outside of our initial focus that can make the biggest difference in our lives.  What Drew’s experience solidified in me is the importance of the 23 hours a day spent outside the gym.

Edward Gemdjian is a NASM certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. Team Awesome is his response to the myriads of misinformation about health and fitness in the media. He currently sees clients exclusively at Equinox Fitness in Chelsea, New York.

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