Drew Manning, a personal trainer from the US, had the physique that his clients dreamed of achieving. He was fit, happily married, and an absolute athlete. Fitness was his life, and always had been, which made him the perfect candidate for the role of personal trainer.
However, due to a clearly elevated emotional intelligence, Manning was able to recognise the shortcomings in his approach to training his clients. How could he, a physically fit and strong man, ever truly understand the struggles faced by his clients?
He had never experienced what it was to be overweight, to neglect his body, and the physical and psychological hurdles that most people face every single day on their journey towards optimum health.
It was upon this realization, all the way back in 2011, that Manning’s fitness empire, Fat2Fit2Fat, was born. Drew set out on an experiment that would scare even the most daring of fitness professionals; he completely neglected his body for 6 months, forgoing training, eating high fat meals, and gaining over 30kgs of fat in the process.
In 6 months, Manning went from physical perfection to borderline obese. While documenting his journey on YouTube, Drew created a cult following of his journey, with a timelapse of his transformation closing in on half a million views.
“I gained over 70 lbs [30kgs] in 26 weeks and lost it all to have a better understanding, for me, what it was like to be overweight and hopefully inspire people to live healthier,” said Manning on YouTube. “Luckily, both of those things happened. I was humbled and learned the lessons I needed to and literally thousands of people all over the world joined me on the journey back to fit.”
Kicking off at a starting weight of 87kg, Drew ballooned out, doing away with vanity, and incorporating weekly food challenges as a part of his ‘bulk up’ plan. He indulged in donuts, pizza, and soft drink without setting foot in a gym for the entirety of the 26 week project. After hitting the 6-month mark however, he made some serious changes.
He immediately cleaned up his diet, adopting a keto approach, and increased his physical activity in an effort to reverse the damage done during his experiment, although the come back was difficult at first. Talking to Good Morning America after his shred, Manning explained how the mental obstacles were just as humbling as the physical ones when returning to the gym.
“The biggest thing [I learned] is that it’s not just about the physical. It’s not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realised those issues are real,” said Manning.
Since his experiment wrapped on May 5th, 2012, Manning has garnered an international following, all wanting advice from a man who truly knows what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes with his story resulting in an online program, a New York Times best seller, and even a hit TV Show.