Leona Gwaz, humanitarian, philanthropist, and activist first came to Excel Fitness in 2010 hoping to lose weight and get in better shape. Since then she has lost 40 lbs and over 3% percent body fat. Leona has placed within the top three slots of the Excel Fitness ‘Our Biggest Loser’ competitions for both 2011 and 2013. Additionally, in 2013, Leona underwent a double knee replacement to contend with worn away cartilage in both of her knees. The lack of existing cartilage had been causing increasingly severe pain issues and resulted in an increased anti-inflammatory/pain medication regimen. At the time of her surgery, consistent swimming and water based activities were the only thing effectively helping to keep the knee swelling at bay. Leona was diligent in maintaining a modified training regimen in preparation for the surgery. Following surgery and a full physical therapy protocol, Leona returned to small-group training classes with Excel Fitness trainer Ilicia Balaban while also restarting her own swimming and cardiovascular fitness routine under the guidance of her doctors. “Leona is a phenomenal example of what it means to be fully committed to fitness! She listens to her body, pushes as hard as she can, and knows when she needs to back off. I am honored to have worked with and psyched to continue working with clients as steadfast as Leona,” says Balaban. The team of trainers at Excel Fitness have chosen to recognize Leona as our July 2014 Excel Fitness Spotlight Member for her continued dedication to improving her health as well as the health of our immediate community and communities around the world. Here’s what Leona has to say about her experience at Excel Fitness: My introduction to Excel Fitness was through then co-owner Shawn O’Brien. He said, “Sign up for the ‘Our Biggest Loser’ contest, and I’ll take care of that limp too!” Twenty-five pounds lighter and able to walk down the stairs like a normal person, he convinced me that ‘to run like a gazelle’ was also as good as to be ‘strong like bull.’” Several years later, Shawn and I had a heart to heart and decided it was finally time for knee replacement surgery. Ilicia conditioned me before and has continued to do so now after the operations. My most recent accomplishment was to be able to get down to and up from the floor without holding on to anything! Previously, it was ALL arm strength that enabled me to pull myself up. My sessions with the trainers at Excel Fitness are continuous physical therapy for me! Special thanks to Jeff Roux, Excel Fitness has truly accelerated my life with fun, inspiration, perspiration, and results! – The Gwaz-inator!