Detroit Lori Wengle has come by her credentials as a personal trainer through experience.
In her transformation — from 242 pounds to 135 pounds, from weak to strong, from hiding her body to showing it off — Wengle also has discovered the inspiration for a new business.
“Because I was so overweight for so long, I wanted to tell my story,” says Wengle, 38, of Genoa Township, Mich. “Anybody can do this.”
That’s why Wengle created “Change Your World Fitness Personal Trainer,” which she describes as “a personal trainer in a box.”
The sturdy carrying case with a handle holds about 150 exercise cards. There are routines for workouts for any schedule from two days to six days a week. The laminated cards have photographs and specific instructions for each exercise. The exercises are color-coded for work at home, or with gym equipment at a fitness center.
“I don’t want a client forever. I want to teach them so they don’t need me,” Wengle says. “I want them to kick their own butt.”
Client Shirley Lessner, 39, of Brighton, Mich., lost 34 pounds in twice-a-week workouts with Wengle last year. She helped critique and edit the exercise cards.
“I learned I’m capable of a lot more than I thought I was because she really pushed me,” Lessner, a wedding photographer, says. “I learned that I just can’t sit around and lose my weight. I really have to work hard to do it.”
When Wengle got married, at age 27, she weighed 243 pounds. That marriage lasted less than a year, and Wengle’s weight issues continued. She’d yo-yo between 225 pounds and 180 pounds. The latter she considered her “skinny” weight.
She still remembers the hurt she felt when her daughter had to draw a picture of her parents for school. Wengle’s daughter drew her lying on the couch and watching the news. “I thought, ‘How sad was that.’”
She met her second husband, Jeff Wengle, at a party and remembers weighing 195 pounds. When she learned that he weighed 183, she wouldn’t date him until she lost the pounds so she wouldn’t weigh more than he did.
Her weight was never an issue with him. “He says he fell in love with my eyes,” Wengle said.
When Wengle faced taking blood pressure medication and was at risk for Type 2 diabetes, she decided to lose weight for good. She lost more than 100 pounds in 2000-2001 by what she describes as starving herself with a 500-calorie diet and filling up on Diet Cokes.
She was a size 6 but was flabby, tired and out of shape.
In 2003, her husband bought her a membership at the Howell Fitness Center, and she started working with a trainer.
When folks at the fitness center saw the results of her workout, they came to her for advice. She sent clients home with copied sets of instructions, and from that her exercise kit was born.
Since November, Wengle has sold hundreds of the exercise card kits online. And she’s doing TV commercials in the Lansing area.
Wengle says she knows what her body needs now. “I say I’m a work in progress.”