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Big winner with the losers

Gercine Carter

Big winner with the losers

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Richard Callender is six-foot-two and weighs 220 pounds. His imposing and impressive physique has become the inspiration for men and women to address their own weight problems before a television audience of millions.
The British-born son of Barbadian Walton Callender, of Lead Vale, Christ Church, and a Jamaican mother, 34-year-old Richard has been starring as one of two personal trainers on the British version of the popular American television show The Biggest Loser, aired by ITV during prime time.
Contestants in the reality show go through the gamut of emotions as they fight to lose weight within a four-month period, two months spent in a house in an isolated area, the other two in their own homes following a strict fitness regimen.
 “We get 16 obese people sometimes weighing as much as 400 pounds,” says Richard, who first appeared on the show along with a female trainer three years ago.
Relaxing at his parents home in Lead Vale where Walton and Lily have resettled after a long stay in Britain, Richard told the Weekend Nation: “It is one thing about being just overweight, but if you are overweight and you have got a good story with it, people will notice.”
This is how he says people are attracted to the show. For example, the policewoman who was so big she protect herself, this woman turned to the Biggest Loser for help with losing the excess weight.
It was literally by accident that Richard became a personal trainer. Coming from a family of sprinters, he was an outstanding athlete in his teenage years, competing for Old Gaytonian, a London sports club. He also competed in the British National League. But he was forced to quit when he injured his back at age 17. He then turned his attention to academics, studying sports science at South Bank University.
Next, he studied to be a personal trainer and sports therapist. The newly acquired knowledge landed him a job as sports therapist and he was promoted to general manager in 11 months, later becoming a regional manager. But he confessed that laptops and briefcases were not for him.
He missed training people and found himself returning to doing just that and also setting up the hip hop dance company, Urban Funk, and teaching dance.
It was then he was spotted by well known British model Jordan (Katie Price) who asked him to get her in shape for her wedding. It opened the door for Richard’s exposure, and to become trainer to other high-profile personalities, travelling the world as a personal trainer.     
He has been training celebrities in the United Kingdom for the past five years, and has filmed a few DVDs.
When he was called for an audition by the series producer of the Biggest Loser, he impressed at the interview and was hired to team up with the female trainer on the one-hour weekly show now in its second season.
The show provides balance in the training of the desperate, obese men and women who are selected for the experience.
The final  is next month.
Even on holiday here, he continues to be bombarded with e-mails on cell phone from people who anxiously want to secure his services as a personal trainer.
“Three of the biggest reasons people get that overweight and people don’t realise it – people don’t eat breakfast, they consume too many fizzy drinks, and fast food. People who do not have breakfast, their metabolism slows down. That’s when your sugar levels drop, basically, you start storing fat.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He mentioned, as an example, men on the show who lost 14 pounds in four weeks with trainers showing them how to eat properly.
“We teach them how to cook food properly. It is not just about exercise. We try to address the whole person,” Richard adds. “By doing the right things and working hard, six people in the first week lost 14 pounds. After seven weeks, one of the guys in my team lost over 60 pounds”.
These are accomplishments of which he is proud.
Because of the need for encouragement and support, the show generally caters to couples – mother and daughter couples, two best friends, and husband and wife. It is one way of getting the assurance and reassurance needed to stick with it and avoid being booted off the show Richard said.    .

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