Jim Shaffer is not a natural athlete.

He was always “the fat kid.”

Through college and at his wedding, he slimmed down. Life happened, and sitting behind a desk all day for work led to getting “heavier and heavier.”

But when the Omaha man realized how serious his personal trainer was, he realized he could be more than a couch potato.

Shaffer’s been working out with a trainer at Life Time gym in west Omaha for about eight years. He’s since made exercise a routine and changed up his eating habits.

He’s down more than 20 pounds, and wants to keep chipping away at numbers on the scale.

Now the 58-year-old can do pushups and balance on one leg. His increased fitness level has also made skiing, one of his favorite hobbies, easier. He hits the black diamond courses and isn’t huffing and puffing along the way.

Q: When did you start working out and why?

A: I’ve been working out for quite a while before coming (to Life Time). I’ve been working with a trainer since 2011. Really, before, it was hit and miss. When I started working with a trainer, everything got more intentional.

Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?

A: I try to be here four days a week. A couple of times a week, on my own, I’ll swim. Mondays and Wednesdays, I work with trainer.

Q: What is your current fitness goal?

A: I was 254 pounds when I started. Now I’m at 230. I’d love to get down to 200 or less.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: When I started, I could barely walk up the stairs and I couldn’t stand on my tiptoes. I had severe tendinitis. Now I can get up on my tiptoes and can go up and down stairs.

Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

A: Getting my butt over here. The mental discipline. I’m not a born athlete. With a trainer, you know there’s someone with an expectation that you’re going to be there.

Q: What helps you stay on track?

A: (Trainer) Brian (Terry). It’s that accountability thing. He has expectations I want to live up to. I get the value now. When my head got in the game, my results picked up.

Q: What is your gym pet peeve?

A: Not so much anymore, but I used to feel unwelcome around jocks and studs in the gym. Working out with these guys, you kind of feel awkward. Now it’s just that they’ve been doing this a little longer. I can get there.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?

A: I’m part of the 402 Arts Collective. I’m pretty engaged with that. I hang out with creative artists and musicians. The organization also mentors kids.

Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?

A: Coffee and conversation. There’s a social thing here, too.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?

A: You can do this. Don’t doubt yourself. Just keep chipping away at it. You do have an inner athlete you’ll discover.

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