For the past seven years, 27-year-old Danny Acosta has worked as the maintenance and all-around-go-to-guy at the Barry’s Bootcamp in Sherman Oaks. In addition to keeping the equipment cootie-free between classes, he fixes treadmills and works behind the desk as efficiently as a Hogwarts house elf, with an ever-present, easy-going smile.
Although there’s certainly nothing elfin about this 6 ft tall and 195 pound young man with the athletic physique, it’s hard to believe that this maintenance man has maintained a weight loss of over 100 pounds, thanks to Barry’s Bootcamp.
As a former football player at Belmont High School in Los Angeles, Danny used to practice four hours a day, which kept him lean and mean despite a typical teenage diet of burgers, nachos and sodas. When he graduated high school, he stopped football practice, but didn’t stop his junk food habit and the pounds quickly piled on. He recalls, “I used to drink almost a 2-liter bottle’s worth of soda with every meal.” But when his weight ballooned to 295, he recklessly decided to see if he could hit that 300 lb mark just to “see how it would feel.” Ironically, he found putting on those last five pounds surprisingly hard.
RACHEL TO THE RESCUE
He credits Barry’s Bootcamp co-founder, Rachel Mumford for getting the ball rolling on his weight loss journey. “She offered to pay for my lunch as long as I bought healthy foods like salad.” In addition, she urged Danny to take the bootcamp classes for free. Although the first week was tough and he got winded on the treadmill, he stuck to it.
“Barry’s Bootcamp is hard, but you are pushed to your own capabilities. The point is to improve from wherever you are right now.”
He also gave up his soda habit and substituted it with water and “cutting out the soda, that helped me drop 20 lbs right away.” But he suffered horrible withdrawal symptoms from giving up cola, but shrugged, “when I set my mind to something, I just keep going. It took about a week or two to get used to this new routine.” Danny was quickly hooked on the endorphin rush he got after each class. “The first month, I started at one class a day, then kicked it up to two classes a day, sometimes two in a row.” Within a year, he’d dropped over 100 pounds.
CHANGING THE BODY BRINGS A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE
“It’s amazing how your perspective changes. When I was 300 lbs., I was happy. I thought I was sexy” he laughs. But he did admit that he lacked energy and got winded just going up a flight of stairs. Adding to his nagging sense of dissatisfaction were the limitations his size placed on an active lifestyle. He wanted to try skydiving, but the weight limit was 220.
Midway during his weight loss journey, he slimmed down enough to try outdoor cycling and now competes in criteriums and road races. Despite being a fit 195 lbs., his goal weight is 185 so he can achieve an edge in competitive cycling, where every extra pound counts.
“It’s a rush. Whenever I’m not feeling well or kind of down, I just take a class. It always flips me around for the whole day and clears my head.” Aside from the physical and mental benefits of Barry’s Bootcamp, he loves the social atmosphere. “The biggest plus are all the people I’ve met here. They’ve all been great.”
In fact, Danny’s a newlywed who met his wife Katie at Barry’s Bootcamp. He’d seen her around working at the Starbucks downstairs and when she started taking classes he crushed on her from a distance. One day, while he was doing pushups on the floor after class, they struck up a conversation that became the first step to a trip down the altar.
He’s successfully maintained this weight loss for four years now and his biggest dieting changes have been cutting out soda and cutting back on portion sizes. “I eat everything I want – pizza, nachos. I don’t deprive myself at all. But I’m more controlled down. There’s more of an awareness that I need to keep a balance. If I gain a few extra pounds, I feel it right away and work it off again.
ADVICE TO NEW BOOTCAMPERS
For any potential new bootcampers or anybody else nervous about reaching out for their own fitness goals: “Don’t get discouraged by not being able to reach the suggested treadmill speeds or weights by the trainers. Just do what you can do and just try to be a little better each time.”