Fitness Trainer Drew Manning gained weight (middle) and then lost it (right) to better understand his clients

Here are excerpts from a story about a fitness trainer who gained 70 pounds on purpose (then lost it) to better understand what his clients go through. His journey allowed him to empathize more with his clients and suggest new ways to become fit.

Always a fitness junkie, staying in shape comes naturally for Drew Manning. He’s that guy at the gym the rest of us love to hate. But his wife says he was a “judgmental” trainer who would look at someone who was overweight and say, ‘They must really be lazy.’ ”

In order to better understand the struggles his clients were facing, he had to face them himself. He gave up the gym and started consuming junk food, fast food and soda. In just six months, he went from 193 pounds with a 34-inch waist to 265 pounds with a 48-inch waist.

Manning says he didn’t realize the effects of his weight gain would be more than physical. It altered his relationships and his self-confidence. The fact that he had to do push-ups on his knees was almost humiliating.

Manning suffered through soda deprivation headaches and food cravings on his way back to fit. The journey was easier for him than for most, he’ll admit, but he’s eager now to provide tips for others to follow in his footsteps.

“The biggest thing [I learned] is that it’s not just about the physical. It’s not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realized those issues are real.”