Nicholas was given a second chance at life. After an intervention from his best friend, Nicholas began his journey to health and happiness in August of 2013.

Leading up to that intervention, Nicholas had several life curveballs thrown his way – including illnesses with medications that promoted weight gain and struggling to find a job in the press operations field due to failing two colorblindness tests after completing his first year in the program. He was slowly losing control of his life and began using food as a coping mechanism to comfort him. “I was meandering from job to job, addiction to addiction, aimless and living pointlessly – going from 300 to 400 to 500 to 600 pounds,” he said.

In the midst of that downward spiral, more medical situations arose and Nick began to lose the ability to do the things he enjoyed. His passion for hockey, history, and music disappeared and even more alarming was the fact that he just didn’t seem to care. “I had no confidence or self-respect,” says Nicholas. “I figured I was too far gone – that I was beyond saving.”

And just when he lost almost all belief in himself, Nicholas’ best friend, David, gave him a slight glimmer of belief and convinced him to give it one more honest try.

Two years ago, Nicholas weighed in on a freight scale at 621 pounds. Shortly after, he signed up at Xperience Fitness and has been on his journey ever since. “I figured it would take a decade to get where I wanted to be…when you have 350 pounds to lose, it feels like it may as well be 1,000,000 pounds,” he said, but that didn’t stop him. He would walk a tenth of a mile at a time and then do some low-impact pool exercises. The most difficult part of the process for Nicholas was in the beginning – making the decision and commitment to change his life and once he had that down, his athletic background (a football and hockey player in high school) drove him to excel, never give up, and keep pushing harder and faster.

Little by little the horrible lifestyle choices shifted into healthy ones, the self-hatred diminished, and the lack of desire and motivation to go on was re-awakened. “At 621 pounds, I sat in a chair for 75% of my day because I could do nothing else. Now, at 295 pounds, I work out five days a week, take care of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping; I work two jobs, and I play hockey again – in short, I live the life I want to live, not the one I have to live!” Nicholas says. With a loss of 326 pounds as of October 2015, Nicholas’ story is a reminder that there is very little in this world that cannot be overcome.

“Every day I come into Xperience Fitness, I feel like a red-carpeted rockstar! The crew is always upbeat, friendly, fun, and passionate about what they provide for members,” Nicholas told us. His favorite part of being a member at the gym is the camaraderie. “It seems like we’re a team,” he says, “people coming together with common interests and goals, working hard, and accomplishing what they set out to do!”

Speaking of what they set out to do – Nicholas still has a goal to get down to 250 pounds, 40 pounds of which is excess skin that will be removed in the future. While friends, family, co-workers, and even people on social media have followed his journey and expressed their pride in him, Nicholas is most proud of the man he’s become. “I’m proud of the work I’ve put into myself and the obstacles I’ve overcome,” he said. Nicholas’ confidence has increased and he has learned to love himself and his body again. “In many ways, having a bad, well…decade has been a blessing – I will never take my body’s ability to move for granted again because I know what it’s like to be held prisoner in your own body and I’ll never have to worry about being bored because I know there’s always a new skill to try, knowledge to learn, desire to satisfy, experience to live, and love to feel.”

Nicholas has no plans to waste a moment of his second chance. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends, playing hockey, and has hopes of giving semi-pro football a shot.  “Don’t waste the short amount of time you have to enjoy every minute you’re alive – embrace your life with all the fear and joy and sadness and excitement and tears and laughter you can possibly cram into one lifetime,” he says.

And when we asked Nicholas to tell us about why Xperience Fitness is “his” gym, this is his response: “One word: people. Without them, every gym would be exactly the same. The reason I go to Xperience Fitness is because the people I interact with on a daily basis are the perfect combination of celebration, motivation, reality check, and fun! These people…are MY people.”

Documentary credit to Affinity Health