NIAGARA FALLS —
My trainer Chris Tybor is not going to like this column.
That’s because it is all about him and what he has meant to me in the past year.
In two weeks, my final column will run and I will announce whether I hit my goal of losing 100 pounds. But this week, it is only fitting to honor and personally thank the person who made that all possible.
This is the part that has Chris shaking his head. He always insists that it is the hard work and commitment from each of his clients that make positive changes possible, and he is merely by their side as a guide.
Speaking from personal experience, I humbly disagree.
For starters, without Chris agreeing to this year-long program, I wouldn’t be writing this now and I am certain I wouldn’t be anywhere close to a 100-pound loss. He took a chance on a complete stranger, one that could have hurt his business and image if I didn’t hold up to my end of the agreement and work hard.
I am certain I couldn’t do this on my own. I have “tried” for years and could never keep it up (or off in this case). But the benefit of working with a trained professional, combined with my strong desire to honor my commitment to him, got me through the first month of tough training. Quitting never crossed my mind, no matter how sore I was or how many times pushing the Prowler made me vomit.
And after the first few sessions, it became apparent that Chris’ teachings and support would not be confined to the gym. He began texting me – a lot. Most of the time it was to give me positive feedback on my session and encouragement to keep it up.
Then came the inevitable texts about logging my food and eating properly. As I have written before, those weren’t always so cordial. But whether he was praising, complaining or criticizing, I always, always knew he was teaching.
While vacationing in New York City last September, I was just about to bite into a large, meaty bistro sandwich at the Trump Tower deli when I received a text out of the blue from Chris that read “are you sure you want to eat that?”
Five months in and he already knew me so well.
That’s the other side of Chris that doesn’t usually make my columns. The fact is, he has been much more than a personal trainer to me.
At different points, he has become a mentor, a friend, a confidant and even had to play psychiatrist a few times. He has helped me through many life-altering challenges and some of the worst days of my life that had nothing to do with squats or bench presses.
Here are just a few of the examples that show how my trainer’s commitment to me doesn’t stop after my 30-minute sessions are over:
• When I was seriously considering making a major career change, his opinion was among the first I sought. Without hesitation, he gave me sound and unbiased advice.
• When I was having persistent pain in my foot, Chris would not let me leave his office one morning until I called and made a doctor’s appointment. Months later, I was suffering through back pain and he threatened to stop training me until I had it checked out. Both times, the issue was treated without resulting in serious injury, thanks to Chris’ persistence and caring.
• He and his wife Cathy have invited my wife and I over for dinner, partially to help us learn about good nutrition but mostly because that’s the kind of people they both are.
• We have become fierce competitors in online Madden football for PlayStation 3. Considering he owns nearly all of the victories, I won’t elaborate on that bond further.
• After knowing and training me for only a few weeks, Chris offered to help when my mother was moving to a new home last summer.
• No matter what, he has always had my back. A recent text message from him following a particularly tough workout read: “Very nice job today. You killed it. Made me proud.”
Don’t get me wrong. Things have not always been perfect between us. There have been times when we disagreed, argued and even walked away in disgust and frustration. Most of those times came when I needed a kick in the butt and didn’t want to admit it. When I was slacking he let me have it, but when I truly needed some compassion and understanding, he delivered.
Chris has put me through physical training that I never thought I could accomplish and sometimes had me afraid for my health. He always knew my capabilities better than I did. When physical limitations were the factor, he eased up. But if it was something mental or emotional, he made me work harder.
I have a hard time trusting people, but I trust him with my life.
I also have a deep respect with what he has been able to accomplish at ChrisFit Personal Training. In under a year, he has expanded his business twice and now has tripled the space inside the Hyde Park Boulevard facility. That also includes thousands of dollars spent on renovations and new equipment for the gym’s growing membership.
He has also assembled an amazing team of trainers that emulate his work ethic and talents, especially when it comes to putting clients first.
Chris used to tell me that sometimes after my columns were published, a couple of members would joke around with him about how much I praised him and his gym. One such comment made to him was, “what are you going to do next, walk on water?”
Though he certainly doesn’t have that talent, I am comfortable comparing him to my own personal savior this past year.
With his training, guidance and commitment, he has helped me change my life in so many positive ways.
And I will never be able to thank him enough.
Rick Forgione is a former city editor of the Niagara Gazette, now working for the Niagara Falls School District.