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Even fitness business professionals have to stay focused on their goals and why health matters.

My name is Francisco Lopez, and I’m from San Francisco, Calif., and I am currently the sales manager for 24 Hour Fitness Potrero. I’ve been in the sales world for more than 12 years and came to 24 Hour Fitness in September of 2016.

I am an uncle to more than 16 amazing nieces and nephews, and a godfather to eight kids. I’m a very simple person. I enjoy spending time with my family on my days off and watching sports or movies.

Francisco Lopez in 2016

24Life: Tell us about your fitness journey—where does it begin?

Francisco Lopez (FL): I started my fitness journey nine months ago, never once thinking this would be as life-changing as it has become.

I began my weight-loss journey in an unconventional way. You would think it would have started when I became the sales manager at 24 Hour Fitness, but unfortunately it did not. I was a 5-foot-8-inch, 295-pound guy coming from the retail commission world. Fast-food and energy drinks were my main source of energy.

24Life: Do you remember what you said to yourself or the exact words or moments that you decided you wanted and needed a change? What inspired that?

FL: My change of heart came from a coaching I was leading one day between my sales team and the trainers. We were throwing ideas around and having conversations on how to reach out to people that do not want to be helped or did not see anything wrong with being overweight.

I gave them a few objections and literally told them, “I am that person. Some people, like myself, are happy the way we are, or will tell you we’re OK.” One of my newest trainers replied, “Well then, is that it? Give up?” I let him know it was more than answering questions, it was about finding the root of the problem and figuring out the person’s goal. I told the trainer we all have a story about why we come to the gym. I told him, “I will never show you that I fear that one day I will not be there for my niece, who is like a daughter to me, because of being overweight. Or that one day, if I have kids, I would not be able to play and run around with them due to my health.”

As I explained this to him, something triggered in my head and I said to myself, “Why am I not changing myself?” knowing this mindset was one that negatively affected my own life. The next day I came in and had a long conversation with my general manager about changing my life and he immediately said, “Let’s do this!”

24Life: Who helped or encouraged you along the way?

FL: As I started my new fitness lifestyle, I had many different members commend me on my fitness journey. While I would be working out, one person in particular stood out to me. His name was Rigo. He had a stroke about three years ago, but he did not let that stop him as he would come in and work out every day. I always had admired his energy because he is always happy and ready to tackle any physical obstacle in his way.

One day I decided to walk up to him and let him know what he was doing was very inspirational and that I was always happy to see him putting in work, and as we were talking he said “You’re doing good work, too. Don’t stop.” I told him that I felt it was hard sometimes, because of my weight, and he said some words that will forever guide me: “Imagine what I can do with half my body. Now imagine what you can do with your whole body.” These words not only changed my perspective toward my health, but my approach to life. Many times when I felt overwhelmed or I felt like giving up on my fitness journey, I used Rigo’s words to fuel me and continue trekking.

The biggest advantage I’ve had throughout my fitness journey would be my supporting circle. From my assistant sales manager, Omar, coming in on his days off to weight-lift, to Brandon, my fitness manager who’s always making sure I’m working out correctly and efficiently while doing HIIT workouts. The best part has been getting my family involved, like my cousin Saul who’s been by my side through this fitness journey from heavy cardio to weight lifting. I can easily say that without my circle I wouldn’t be where I am today.

24Life: What has been the most challenging part of your journey?

FL: The journey has not been easy. For the last nine months, I’ve worked out five to six days a week. My diet has changed completely—and that’s not easy when you’re Hispanic and your mom cooks the most delicious foods known to man.

Francisco Lopez at his first 5K

24Life: What surprised you the most about yourself during this journey?

FL: The one thing I would have never thought I would ever do was completing my first 5K. I started to run one day after cycling for four months because I wanted to do something different. The first time I ran a mile it felt neverending and I finished at 14 minutes. As I started to run more often, I found myself enjoying hitting my mental targets and daily goals.

One day at a family birthday party, we all were at the table joking around and my sister said, “Why don’t you do a 5K?” I really didn’t have an answer, but that question stayed with me, and every time I ran I would challenge myself to run for longer distances or faster times. I finally decided to do it; I signed up for the San Francisco Giants run, and I trained for two and a half months. Seeing my times get better and eventually running a mile under nine minutes was a big accomplishment. I have never been a runner due to my hip dysplasia, but that day, as I crossed the finish line, I could now classify myself as a runner.

24Life: What is your go-to workout?

FL: My go-to work out would be a choice between body building and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Cardio has helped me along the way, but let’s be honest, it can get boring sometimes. When I started doing HIIT workouts with my fitness manager I found myself enjoying the workouts, so it became one of my favorite things to do. My other go-to workout would be body building. From just using pure body strength, using proper body mechanics and altering the movement tempo, it’s never been the same workout. Right now my mindset is to break through as many strength barriers as possible, and this relates to me on a personal and work level as I try to bring my best to 24 Hour Fitness.

24Life: What advice do you have for others who are just starting out or want to quit?

FL: If I can give any advice to anyone going through the same struggle of weight loss or thinking a task is too large to conquer, I would let them know to take it day by day and make small goals that are reachable. Even if it’s only losing two to five pounds or being able to do a single dip, you have to enjoy every step of the journey. We only get one life to live and we can’t look backwards, but what we decide to do with today will determine our tomorrow.

When I first started I was 295 pounds and had just turned 31. All I wanted was to lose 20 to 30 pounds and in the last nine months I’ve lost 62 pounds. I am currently 233 pounds and in the best shape of my life since the age of 18.

24Life: Do you have any future goals that you’re going after?

FL: I’m still not done yet. My newest goal is to jump out of a plane for my 32nd birthday (February 16) and I need to be under 220 pounds.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” –Lao Tzu

Please note that the results that Francisco has experienced are unique to him, and your results may vary. Always consult your health care provider before undertaking changes in your diet or fitness regimen.

Interested in joining the 24 Hour Fitness team? Visit careers.24hourfitness.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Francisco Lopez

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