Chris Saenz, a missionary priest, spends much of his time traveling out of Eppley Airfield. The Bellevue priest’s travels take him across the country and the world.
He’s used to traversing busy airports, waiting in security lines and dashing from gate to gate.
But at his heaviest, near 400 pounds, it wasn’t an easy feat. His legs ached from standing in line. He sweated after lugging his backpack across the airport. He found places to rest on the way to his gate.
But now, about 100 pounds lighter, traveling isn’t much of a challenge for Saenz.
The 51-year-old has adopted a regular workout and routinely meets with a dietitian. They help hold him accountable.
Q: When did you start working out and why?
A: I’ve done several exercise stints through the years. I started working out when I was 50 and over 400 pounds. I lost a little weight doing water aerobics. I started (at Fit In The City) in May of last year and was 375 pounds. I didn’t have the energy. I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs without panting. My knees were hurting. I have a family history of diabetes. I knew that when I got older, I didn’t want to live like that.
Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?
A: It’s predominantly circuit training and high-intensity interval training. I come here three times a week. We haven’t repeated the same workout. I still work out at the pool, and I walk and use the recumbent bike.
Q: What is your current fitness goal?
A: I want to lower my body fat percentage to 22 percent. I’m at 34.9 percent now, and I was at 41.6 percent when I started.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
A: I don’t rest as long between sets. I started with two sets and had to lean against the wall to rest. Now I can do five sets in a circuit and not rest as much.
Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
A: Food is the toughest. You have to try to live outside of the gym, and you need a handle on food. I go to a dietitian. I have a food journal, too. There was a lot I thought I knew about food that I didn’t.
Q: What helps you stay on track?
A: Accountability. Some people have a problem with alcohol and can stop cold turkey. Others need AA or a sponsor. I look at my trainer and my dietitian like my sponsors. The scale never lies. This is a program you can’t cheat on.
Q: What is your gym pet peeve?
A: When I used to go to a drop-in gym, it was when people didn’t rack their weights.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?
A: I do like to read. I studied spirituality, so I like to compose prayers for prayer cards. It’s kind of like poetry.
Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?
A: One of the things is a jump rope. I’m starting to get much better. I travel a lot, so I may not have access to a gym all the time. You can take a jump rope anywhere.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?
A: Number one, go to your physician and see what you need to do. Then go to a dietitian and begin a food plan. Don’t be afraid to get a personal trainer. You may think you know how to lift a weight, but then you throw your back out. That’s what the trainer’s there for.
Gym-goers share what motivates them, pet peeves and their proudest accomplishments
You never know who you might run into at the gym.
There's the man who's exercising as he waits for a heart transplant. Or the woman who's made Jazzercise workouts part of her life for more than 30 years.
Some workouts see moms accompanied by babies. Elsewhere you'll find folks well into their 90s who stick with exercise.
Check out their stories.