Dose of bad news from his doctor sent him to FFF for help

Mar 13, 2017
Ashley Ann Lawrie


Four months ago,  John Diener got a dose of bad news from his doctor. At 62, he was pre-diabetic.

His doctor gave him two choices. The first was meds that would manage the condition for a decade or so before the health issue grew more serious. But John opted for the second option – get off his butt and see if exercise could change his prognosis.

John had never been a physically active person, beyond the demands of running the family business. Along with his brother, John runs the two locations of an Ottawa mainstay – Saslove’s Meat Market. Preparing meat, serving customers and carrying boxes of stock obviously were not giving him the exercise he needed.

“I asked my doctor how someone who has never been that active gets started and she said the best way was to see a personal trainer,” he said.

Free Form Fitness’s ByWard Market location lay only a short walk from home and work, so John signed up and committed himself to six months of training, three times a week.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “As someone who was never that physically active I was actually frightened. I thought ‘they’re going to get me doing things and I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack.’”

But that didn’t happen. Trainers Alex Kenzora and Jonathan MacDonald took it a step at a time, with a tailored program of cardio and weight training that would safely yield results.

“I was teamed up with a couple of very good people and it’s actually become a very enjoyable experience,” John said. “The great thing about FFF is that there is only a handful of people in there at a time. It’s a warmer and friendlier environment than a big box gym.”

Three months later, he went back to see his doctor for a fresh round of bloodwork. The verdict? He is no longer pre-diabetic.

“Getting that news was a real bonus,” John said. “It’s really motivated me to keep going. I didn’t know if this was going to work or not, but it clearly did which makes it all worthwhile.”

John hasn’t experienced any dramatic weight loss during his first three months of training, just a modest five pounds. Nor has he make drastic changes to his diet. He’s just learned to be more conscious about what he is eating and avoid the temptation of sampling the tasty goods coming out of the oven at the shop.

His story just goes to show that regular exercise – in this case, 30 minutes, three times a week – can have a big impact.

“I like the way the workouts are varied – we’re doing different things all the time,” John said. “Having two trainers is a really good thing because they see things differently and push you in different ways.”

His new routine has rubbed off on others.

“It’s motivated my wife to get more active,” he said. “She’s decided to sign up to learn how to better use the gym where she works. My kids are both active and in good shape and are quite impressed that I’m doing something. I even have a staff member who now goes to the gym once a day. It’s contagious – people see what you are doing and it inspires them to do things, too.”

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