As the smallest kid in his classes
growing up, Powell constantly
struggled with being underweight.
At several inches shorter and
many pounds lighter, he was
bullied throughout his primary
school education. When high
school sports came around, his
love of football overruled his size
and he tried out for the team.
“I was railroaded every time I
was out on the field,” he said.
“It discouraged me and broke
my spirit. I knew I didn’t have the
size I needed to have to be out
there, so I quit.”
But with supportive parents and
a weight lifting set, things soon
turned around. Every day after
school, Powell tried lifting a little
more than he did the day before.
After a month, he began to see
and feel the results.
“I felt strong again—mentally and
physically. It empowered me. It
was the beginning of everything
for my path going forward.”
Today you know the super fit
trainer fromExtreme Weight
, which ran successfully for
five seasons on ABC. On top of
being a reality TV trainer, he’s
also an author. He and his wife,
Heidi, have coauthored a book
Lifelong Weight Loss in 21 Days.
But it’s been a long journey from
finding his love of fitness to
turning it into a viable business
Finding an Audience
With his exercise science degree
from Arizona State University,
Powell knew he wanted to work
as a trainer. But he knew it’d be
tough in this part of the country.
“There’s a trainer on every
corner in the sunbelt,” he said.
“I needed something that set me
apart from everyone else.”
To stand out amongst the noise,
Powell began filming short fitness
. Six months later he
began receiving pleas of help from
people who wanted to change
their bodies and their lives.
The first email he received of this
nature was from David, a 25-year-
old man who had been stuck
in his basement for two years
because of his extreme weight.
At 630 pounds, he asked Powell
for help to change his lifestyle.
After setting reachable dietary
and fitness goals, Powell
“I WENT FROM A LOCAL
FITNESS GUY TO A
GLOBALLY KNOWN TRAINER
ALMOST OVERNIGHT. IT
WAS CHAOS. “
helped the man lose 400
pounds. Three years after the
weight loss, Powell helped him
become a trainer. He posted the
transformation pictures online,
and David’s story went viral.
The Transformation Story
, everyone wanted
the success story. This opened
Powell’s eyes to how people
gathered around the feel-good
tale of transformations. So
when TLC approached him
about turning this journey into a
documentary, Powell knew he
It was the highest viewed
documentary for TLC in 2009,
and Powell was riding high.
“I went from a local fitness guy
to a globally known trainer almost
overnight. It was chaos. And
although people had seen this
incredible success, I was at a low
point in my own life.”
Powell had invested money in an
idea, borrowed money from the