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The MAX Story, Real People, Real Results

Angela Dikker

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 • 5:00am

Editor Note:  As the New Year approaches, many of us make resolutions regarding our weight and fitness, the story below explains how one of our advertisers “The MAX Fitness and Challenge” was created.

After a difficult pregnancy left his wife and newborn son in the hospital for over a year, martial arts instructor Bryan Klein soon saw his own health deteriorate.

Driving from his home in Manalapan to a hospital in New York City each day began to wreak havoc on his diet and overall fitness level several years ago.

"After the whole ordeal was over and we had returned to normal life, I had gained over 100 pounds," Klein said. "It became difficult to fulfill my job duties. I put up with being overweight for five years. One day I said enough of this, so I hired a personal trainer and nutritionist because I was out of control and just wasn't doing it on my own.

"I started to lose weight, but I was spending $300 a week, which is just obscene, so I thought somebody should combine (fitness and nutrition) into a class. If I could pay $100 a month and go to this class every day that would be ideal."

One day Klein was looking at an empty room in his karate studio in Manalapan, and the spark of an idea came into his head. Soon thereafter, Max Fitness was born.

"I said to myself, I know how to do this. I've been studying this for years, so I started to write the program," Klein said.

Klein designed Max Fitness as a 10-week program that combines fitness classes, nutrition guidance and advice, in addition to motivation, all in one. Starting in the fall of 2011 with 30 people attending the first session in Manalapan, THE MAX has since grown to 3,000 people in the program and will have 22 locations in 2014. 

"I just wanted to help people benefit the way I did, but I quickly realized we were filling a huge void," Klein said. "Once I saw how well it was received, I started formulating a plan and just saw it multiplying. We went from 30 people for the first session to 50 for the second session, then 100, then 250, then 400. And the results people were seeing were amazing. We had a woman, Christine, who lost 165 pounds in one year. She was sitting on her couch, eating chips, watching TV and she barely left the house. Now she's one of our instructors."

The 10-week challenge involves people attending a class at the same time each day Monday through Friday. Unlike a gym however, THE MAX is about building a support network for people of all fitness and weight levels.

"When you go to a health club or gym, they don't care whether you're there or not. The only time you're going to hear from them is when you stop paying your bill," Klein said. "We know every person by name and we help you stay motivated. We're going to call you if you miss class because we want you to reach your goals." 

The program uses simple equipment like medicine balls and dumbbells, varying cardio and strength training each day of the week. The other component to THE MAX is learning about healthy eating.

"It sounds cliché but we don't like to call it a diet. It's a lifestyle change," Klein said. "It's only a 10-week program, but people see how much their bodies have changed and see the affects of healthy eating, and then they come back for the next session. We have people who have been with us since the start in 2011 and they still come every day. People just need to get over their own fears. In this country, so many people think eating healthy and exercising everyday is insane, but it's flipped backwards.

"The 90 percent who are not exercising have it wrong, because the evidence is in front of us all day long. Anyone can try this for 10-weeks, and after they feel the affect for themselves and how much more energy they have, coming back is a no- brainer."

Klein said people in the program include all ages and fitness levels, ranging from people in their 70's down to teenagers, and from people as much as 200 pounds overweight, down to people with low body fat. He also added the program includes modifications for those with physical impediments.

"Large majorities of our people are at the beginner level and that's one thing that makes this work. Our instructors are non-judgmental because 99 percent of them have been through the program and they started out overweight," Klein noted. "They know what each person is going through and help you pick yourself up and overcome your doubts and fears. We have people with bone on bone knee conditions and they just start doing light exercise and learning nutrition then they start to feel 100 times better. We have people with diabetes who are now coming off their insulin, people with high cholesterol who are reversing that."

Beyond the health benefits of the program, Klein said THE MAX provides a self-esteem boost through the building of relationships between people who are all struggling to climb the same mountain.

"The amazing thing is how strong of a community we develop where everyone supports everyone else," he said. "You see people high five each other at the end of class. People exchange emails and develop friendships, which helps with accountability. I'm going to go to class if I know the guy standing next to me each day will be looking for me."

Make 2014 the year to change your life!!! New Year, New You!

For more information call 732-520-6700, email Adikker@THEMAXchallenge.com. Website www.theMAXChallenge.com Facebook www.facebook.com/TheMaxofPiscataway

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