The Power of the Powell’s

Jamie Shane
Author:
Photographer: James Patrick
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Powell Power!
Fitness Media Moguls

By Jamie Shane
Photography by James Patrick
Photo Assistant: Amber Blom
Hair: Chirrsy Rasmussen, Habit Salon
Make up : Kayla Oberg
Wardrobe: Reebok and Rogiani

Is there any slowing down for the Powells, now that Extreme Weight Loss is in syndication? Clearly Chris and Heidi don’t have it in them to rest on their laurels and coast on their enormous success. With limitless energy and focus, the couple from the American Southwest have assembled what could be the greatest fitness and transformation app to date.

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Chris and Heidi Powell are native Arizonans – and one of the nation’s leading fitness couples – but they came to each other from different worlds. At present, they are riding high on the success of the Extreme Weight Loss television series which ran for five seasons from 2011 to 2015 on ABC Television and is currently in syndication running on The Learning Channel (TLC) and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). At press time, the couple will have recently launched one of the most comprehensive fitness apps available on the market called Transform with Chris and Heidi. This unique app offers unprecedented numbers of videos and recipes for fitness subscribers.
SWEAT RX spoke with the couple from their home in Mesa, Arizona about the origins of their exciting (and remarkably busy) ascent to the top of the fitness world.

The Unrelenting Man
Chris Powell was a very mobile youth, with his family moving frequently due to his father being an airline pilot. Although born in Arizona, Chris’ family moved all over the Pacific Northwest, living in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. With a keenness for football, Chris tenaciously played on numerous teams wherever he went; unfortunately his slight stature at the time was a big handicap.
“I was always the new kid – and always the smallest,” says Chris. “Playing football was tough because most of the other kids had a big size advantage on me. When I was 14, I was 5 foot 4 and only 105 pounds.” Like many adolescents, Chris was unfortunately also subjected to bullying in school. When the family lived in Portland, Oregon, Chris once again tried out for football but was only able to hang tough for two weeks before being forced to quit.
“I really hit rock bottom then,” says Chris. “I was getting physically beat up on the field and my demeanour was crushed at the time.”
This emotional nadir for Chris in turn became a watershed moment that turned his life around: his introduction to weight training. His parents, regarding Chris’ setback as the straw that broke the camel’s back, cleared out all the furniture in their home’s living room and set up a weight bench. At that moment, the man who would go on to help so many thousands of individuals lose substantial amounts of weight, for the first time began to pump iron.

The All-American Woman
Heidi Powell was born in Flagstaff, Arizona to a family for whom fitness was everything. Both her parents were bodybuilders and all three of her brothers excelled at football and other sports. She fit the bill as the beautiful, blonde, energetic southwestern girl who competed in gymnastics and cheerleading. These two athletic pursuits unfortunately lend themselves to taking a toll on one’s body and Heidi was not immune. Eventually, she tore her ACL and could no longer compete to the same extent as she was accustomed.
With her two favourite pastimes out of the picture, Heidi developed an eating disorder. After her second surgery on the ACL, things “spiraled downward,” according to Heidi. “I’d gone from competing in gymnastics and cheerleading to developing anorexia which then turned into a food addiction in my early adult years,” says Heidi. What grew frustrating was that she had all the knowledge of fitness and nutrition one could need, but she “didn’t practice what I preached,” in her own words.
Heidi worked in real estate for 10 years afterward while having her first child at the age of 23. She recalls an obsession with looking at the scale (with terror), not accounting for actual body composition. Like Chris, she felt that she too had hit rock bottom. But all that was about to change on one fateful December weekend in 2008.

Universes Colliding
Both Chris and Heidi didn’t even know the other existed until they met by chance at a “Landmark Forum” event held in Phoenix, Arizona. The theme for such events, according to Heidi, is “integrity, empowering people, and following through on doing what you say you’re going to do.” The event was a life milestone for the couple of young fitness enthusiasts who had recently experienced their own respective challenges.
“We discovered we had a lot of commonality,” says Heidi. “We had a foundation of working to help others and quickly became best friends for six months.” Not only had both Chris and Heidi walked away from the Landmark Forum with a renewed sense of purpose and vigour, but they now found themselves as a team working for a common goal of transforming individuals through substantial weight loss and fitness.

Transformations on Television
In 2009, The Learning Channel (TLC) aired a documentary of an individual named David Smith who, under the guidance of Chris, experienced an astonishing transformation of dropping from 650 pounds to just 221 (a drop of 429 pounds) in just two years. This show, entitled The 650-Pound Virgin, was the harbinger for a new series called Extreme Weight Loss (EWL) which ran for five seasons on ABC Television (2011-2015) and still runs in syndication on TLC and OWN.
When EWL became a hit, Chris and Heidi became recognized as two of the nation’s leading figures in personal training and transformations. It was no ordinary show about typical people dropping 40 or 50 pounds; this program showcased 13 people every year who literally dropped hundreds of pounds – often half their body weight. “When an individual goes on such a long journey of weight loss over a period of a year, they don’t simply go from A to B; rather, they go from A to B to C to D to E.”
To this day, Chris and Heidi still receive mail – sometimes totaling 1,000 letters in one day – from people reaching out to them for guidance in weight and fat loss. In all, the Powells have received approximately half a million letters from people worldwide.

Transform with Chris and Heidi: The App
Riding high on the success of EWL, the Powells spent very little time waiting to embark on a new fitness project that could make a substantial difference in the lives of so many. With such an overwhelming outcry for fitness help that reasonably speaking would be impossible to accommodate completely, the Powells embarked on a new multimedia project: a new app titled Transform with Chris and Heidi. On October 1, 2015, the Powells teamed up with an assemblage of about 35 experts in production, research and development, and marketing; Transform was underway.
“This app covers absolutely every component of fitness, from nutrition to exercise to life coaching,” says Heidi. The app may prove to be the most comprehensive in its field on the market. Transform carries over 1,000 videos showcasing exercise technique, fitness troubleshooting, and life coaching. The app also offers subscribers access to 300 different recipes to make food preparation during a successful transformation easy. “We understand that individuals have so many different body types and that nutrition needs to be catered to one person at a time. From gourmet recipes to convenient items you can simply ‘grab and go’, you’ll find everything you need in this app. It’s truly five or six apps in one,” says Heidi.
Transform is designed not only for weight loss ranging from 40 pounds or so to over 200 pounds, but it’s also a valuable tool for individuals interested in physique and crossfit. The app has been available as of March 27, 2017 and everything you need to know about it can be found online at: thetransformapp.com.
If Transform ultimately mimics the success of the Powells’ television projects, the app may set records of its own and prove to be everything a fitness enthusiast could want.

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