Fitness trainer helps clients crack `the weight-loss code'


November 18, 2003|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

OWEN BROWN resident Pat Bellomo and two of her children have lost something they don't ever want to find - a total of 235 pounds and still counting.

Bellomo, who is 55, lost 125 pounds; her daughter, Lori Cunzi, 33, lost 80 pounds; and her son, Tom Bellomo, 24, lost 35 pounds. They have struggled with their weight all of their lives and all tried fad diets and exercising. And they all agree that they owe their success to personal trainer Lane Leslie Cobb.

Cobb teaches classes at Synergy - The Future of Fitness for Women in Columbia. She also has an online business: For My Well Being. Cunzi and Cobb met at the club and began training together.

"I was exercising regularly at the gym," said Cunzi, who at 5 feet 1 inch was up to 206 pounds. "I lost 30 pounds on my own. But I thought I made as much progress as I could by myself. I felt successful in every other area of my life. I have two master's degrees and a great job in marketing and public relations. But I couldn't crack the weight-loss code." Working with a trainer gives you accountability that you don't have when you are working out on your own, Cunzi said.

"It's easy to cheat on yourself," she said. "But you don't want to disappoint Lane."

Cunzi's family joined the health bandwagon when they saw how successful she was. Now they cook and take walks together regularly.

"We joke that Lane is omnipresent in our house," said Cunzi, who lives in Elkridge with her brother and their father. "If one of us cheats, the others always say, `I'll tell Lane.' "

For Cobb, who has trained about 100 clients over the past 12 years, it is all about health and empowerment.

"I like supporting people to be their best physically and emotionally," she said. "I try to give my clients a holistic view of what a healthy lifestyle consists of and be a resource for them. I will often refer them to other health care providers such as physical therapists, registered dietitians, chiropractors and acupuncturists. My goal is to have people embrace health and well-being in whatever way is appropriate for them, with a focus on balance, positive mind-set and a pro-active approach to wellness."

Cobb, who has been a certified personal trainer for 12 years, is also a certified nutrition consultant and massage therapist.

"I've always been active and interested in health," she said. "In college, I was a dancer. In my 20s, I started lifting weights and taking aerobics classes."

That's when the ball started rolling.

"An aerobics instructor asked if I would teach for her. Then someone in the class asked me to train them. That's when I got my certification," Cobb said.

It all clicked. Cobb quit her job as an assistant vice president in charge of check processing at a New York bank.

"I love helping people feel fulfilled," she said. "I would never say obesity holds people back. But when people begin to get more physically active and successful in their fitness goals, it reaches over into other areas of their lives. They reach goals like getting a promotion and buying a house."

"I have more energy," said Tony Bellomo, who was 280 pounds before he began training. "I can do normal things that other people take for granted. I love roller coasters. I was on the verge of being too big to fit into them. Now I can enjoy them.

"All summer, I went [with my mother and sister] for long walks around Lake Elkhorn and Centennial Lake. I never could have done that before. I have more confidence in my job. Before, I felt my skills were overshadowed by my weight. Now I feel like I can go into an interview with more confidence.

"There is a history of diabetes in my family," he added. "Before I started to take off the weight, I was worried I would develop that or high blood pressure."

Cunzi said Lane is her "personal muse."

"I hear her voice constantly and it motivates me," Cunzi said. "When I'm working on a presentation at work, I hear her saying, `Don't quit just because you're tired.' "

In some ways, Cobb's life has come full circle: She is training a class of branch managers and a vice president from Wachovia Bank, Pati Morton.

"When you are healthy, you are not as stressed out and it is easier to work," said Morton, who helped organize the class. "During the class, we all support each other to reach our goals. At the bank, our motto is, `There is no I in team.' This class is another way for us to work together and support each other. We are getting healthy as a team. It is a group effort."

Cobb is teaching her class how to eat during the holiday season.

"Holiday tips include serving lots of vegetables instead of starches," she said. "Cook with less oil. For every alcoholic beverage ingested, drink one 8-ounce glass of water. It helps the body not get dehydrated. And, probably most importantly, stay active throughout the season."

Cobb says her next goal is to "reach out her arms into the community" to help people who can't afford to join a gym or to get a personal trainer. She wants to work with the problems of teen obesity and diabetes. She has started working with an area church to add a fitness component to its community programs.

"If you are looking for a trainer, it's important your personalities click," Cobb said. "And be sure they are certified."

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