Keizer resident Ethan Blaser weighed more than 300 lbs and wore size 42 pants when he entered his freshman year of high school. By the time he was 30, he weighed 400 lbs – but in the space of a year, with the help of the trainers at Prosper Athletic Club, he dropped more than 170 lbs.
Blaser, now only 229 lbs., is a tool and dye maker and computer numerical control (CNC) operator. He was preparing to get married a year ago when the COVID pandemic arrived and he found himself out of work and with a lot of time on his hands.
“Once I realized my wedding was in six months, it was kind of a wake-up call,” he said. “I decided I needed to do something now.”
His first steps were all diet-related. He educated himself about nutrition and changed his diet, with an initial goal of losing 70 lbs. in the six months until his wedding.
“I looked up how to have a good relationship with food,” he said. “It was working but I knew I needed to do more, so I contacted Prosper – they were just re-opening and starting to let limited people in the door. I came in and signed up for their physical training (PT) program and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
According to Sal Marino, Prosper Athletic Club director, the staff at Prosper were waiting for just this kind of opportunity.
“We picked him out, actually,” said Marino. “I don’t think he knew what he was getting into. At the time, I was just a trainer and my boss assigned him to me.”
Marino said Blaser is a case-study in discipline and hard work.
“You don’t see this happen often,” said Marino. “We often get clients who lose 60-70 lbs. in a year, but this is triple that.”
The early stages involved assessing Blaser’s overall health and ability to handle a workout regimen.
“I was sedentary for most of my life,” he said. “Once I figured out what I could do, mobility-wise, they created a program for me.”
Blaser didn’t settle for the work-out program Prosper designed, however. He added morning cardiovascular workouts, as well.
“For a long time I was doing two-a-days,” he said.
He said the one indelible lesson he’s learned in the past year is that “you can’t out-train a bad diet.”
“Just from the diet-change alone, in the first two weeks, I dropped about 20 lbs. I cut out fast-food and soda, started eating a lot of lean proteins and such.”
Blaser said the key for him, diet-wise, was finding foods he could eat a lot of, for not a lot of calories.
“When you’re really big, you have a big appetite,” he said. “In the beginning you still need to eat a lot of food, it just has to be the right kind.”
The most challenging part of the whole experience, according to Blaser, was the obvious mental challenge inherent in losing 170 lbs. and the vast changes that was going to have on his lifestyle.
“The mental part is the hardest – worrying about what people were saying,” he said.
Blaser thinks he overcame that obstacle largely because of the atmosphere at Prosper.
“This isn’t, like, a commercial gym,” he said. “I can look around and I know pretty much everyone in here, and there is a mutual respect that happens – the atmosphere is different here. It’s much more like a bunch of friends working out together, and these guys will do anything in their power to help you.”
Sometimes that even means telling a client they need to “take it down a notch.” The staff has been challenging Blaser to reach his goals, but they also want to ensure he stays healthy and doesn’t over-train.
“They told me I need to take a step back and let my body recover,” said Blaser, who just finished a 75-day hard challenge, which requires two 45-minute workouts each day – one of which has to be outside. “So I was out on runs at 3 am carrying weights, then I’d be in here in here at night doing my second workout.”
Marino said Prosper was now fully-open with regular hours, and he wanted to let Keizer know they are here and ready to help.
“I want Keizer to know we accept everybody,” said Marino. “ We have an 89 year-old lady who comes in here every day and does her thing. It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in – we’re here to help you achieve your goals.