How I Got This Body: Overcoming Debilitating Pain by Losing Just 10 Pounds in the Studio at Sweat DC

Photos courtesy of John Quattlebaum.

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Who: John Quattlebaum, 49, financial planner 
Lives: Northwest
Height: 5’11”
Start weight: 205 lbs
End weight: 195 lbs
How long it took: 18 months, “with plenty of breaks and set backs.”

Turning point: “I was overweight (not obesely so, but the largest I’d ever been) and in so much pain that it was debilitating. As a matter of fact, I had to postpone my initial consultation with Coach G because I ended up in the emergency room and spent a week in the hospital (I still think he thinks I made that story up, though). For me, initially it was not so much about weight change as it was about rebuilding my core strength and toning my body. As my body began to tone up, my goals changed to rebuilding muscle mass and getting leaner. Overall, I didn’t lose that much weight, but my body composition changed significantly. I am now leaner and have more muscle mass. My overall health has improved significantly since I started working on my transformation. Compared to two years ago, I feel like a completely different person who is capable of doing more physically, has a lot more energy, and holds a much brighter outlook on life.”

How he did it: Initially, it started with three personal training sessions per week with Coach G. After a few months of strengthening my core, I was ready to try his Sweat DC classes. I was very intimidated at first, but once I got there I realized that it was a supportive and welcoming group. Before long I was coming to class two to three times per week. Once he opened his dedicated studio in Petworth and expanded the schedule, I started coming almost every day, sometimes twice a day. I also run steps in the summers with a friend and go through phases of spinning and running. The consistent element through all of it, though, is Coach G and Sweat DC.”

Diet: With Coach G’s help and ever-watchful eye, I significantly reduced the amount of alcohol I drink and even the type. I increased my protein with protein shakes and lots of chicken and started eating less pizza and more salads.” 

How he stuck with it: Mostly, Coach G and the supportive community he’s fostered at Sweat DC. Surrounding myself with people along their own journey was very powerful. Eventually when people started to notice the change, the positive reinforcement kept me going. I am always amazed when Coach G makes me do weird stuff like push ups while my feet are on medicine balls and my hands are on roller blades.  I always start with ‘no’ but he makes me do them anyway. When I’m done, I can see the sheer joy in his face because he knows I just overcame the impossible, and that makes me happy, too.” 

Fave splurge: Pizza used to be my favorite cheat meal; however, I rarely crave it any more. Now I mostly just crave chocolate.”

How he feels now: Before the change I was in a lot of pain, especially in my lower back. Now I have a lot more energy, and my back pain has diminished significantly. I’ve dropped from a size 35 to 31, which means more shopping opportunities!”

Workout wisdom: The advice that was given to me when I set out was to find a trainer who isn’t connected with a big gym, because they usually have no vested interest in your success. Instead find an independent trainer and work with them. Make sure that trainer is someone who motivates you. Invest in your health! Personal training is not cheap, but neither is health care. Find a supportive community to join you on your journey.  Be open to receiving support and be prepared to give support to others.”

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Want to share your transformation story? Whether you lost weight or gained muscle, I want to hear from you! Email me at

Kim Olsen

Kim Olsen ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Alexandria.