Every day, Marian Harris repeats the phrase, “inhale, exhale,” over and over. She said she wishes she had a dollar for every time it’s been said inside Max Results Training, the gym she co-owns with her husband, Jim, in Gainesville.
In fact, she’s said it so many times, she named her new book after the phrase.
“This is about a story of stories,” Harris said of the book, which was released Dec. 4 and focuses on the inspiring people Harris has met through her work.
She said she woke up one day and realized her life was different than most people’s. She was surrounded by stories of determination and trial and success day-in and day-out, and as a certified personal trainer, she didn’t want to keep those stories to herself.
So, she decided to share them, one after the other, chapter by chapter, in the new book.
“Our whole focus and our whole passion has been to help everyday folks learn how to get fit and stay fit by learning how to overcome the pitfalls that you normally find in a fitness program,” Harris said.
Throughout the book, she said she’s shown how she and her husband have done just that. Harris chronicles the stories of local residents who have jumped into the programs at Max Results and have had their lives changed by getting in shape.
One of her favorite stories is one from Nancy Lawalin, a 62-year-old retired preschool teacher. Lawalin told The Times she struggled for years trying to lose weight and get in shape and couldn’t seem to make it happen..
“It was 30 years of struggling on my own to try to get my weight under control,” Lawalin said. “I tried walking a lot, I tried dieting. Just anything that you would try when you’re on your own, and it was certain failure every time.”
She was a self-proclaimed “sugar addict” who relied too much on sugary foods after a hard day and enjoyed sugary drinks a little more than she should have. Even when it came to the food she thought was healthy, like yogurt, Lawalin said she learned it was all filled with sugar.
After all those years of struggling with her weight, Lawalin knew things had to change. She had constant knee pain, shoulder pain and hip pain.
In 2015, she finally gave into her friend’s request to join the bootcamp at Max Results. Even though she said she didn’t know anything about exercise — terms like plank, for example, were foreign to her — she kept going, and after a few classes of getting used to things and learning from others in the class, she started to enjoy it.
“I’ve lost in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 pounds,” Lawalin said. “You just absolutely would not believe it. My size has really gone down. What weight I do have left is muscle. I went from being an extra-large to a medium now. You have no idea how great that is for me. It’s been a long, long time since I was a medium.”
Nowadays, she said she sometimes forgets she was in pain in the first place.
And apart from the physical change, Harris said everyone can see the changes in Lawalin.
“She just totally changed her life,” Harris said. “And through her joy and her enthusiasm, she rubs off on everyone else.”
Lawalin said with the help, instruction and patience of Harris, she’s able to do the simple things in her life much more easily than she was before her time at Max Results.
“When I was climbing the ladder outside to put up Christmas decorations, I did it with much more ease this year than last year,” Lawalin said. “I feel like a teenager on the inside.”
Harris shares that story, and the story of many others, in her book. She said she’s hoping it inspires more locals and even those who aren’t nearby to exercise and get healthy in 2019.
“Sure, I hope we pick up some clients because that would be awesome,” Harris said. “But I hope (the book) helps somebody in California get off the couch and do something. I hope it helps someone who’s 70 years old and feels like their life is over. I hope they start doing something and realize they can do it.”
And she feels confident the people who read her book will realize just that, because she’s seen those stories that fill the pages of the book unfold in her life over the years. Even if, like Lawalin, they’ve been trying for years, Harris said anyone can make the change.
“I see people change in front of my very eyes every day,” Harris said.