Health nuts and gym rats can be quite annoying—critiquing everything you eat, flashing their firm physiques at every opportunity, devouring food you wouldn’t touch even if you were starving—the nerve of them. But Kenneth Clarke isn’t like that. The physical trainer doesn’t want you to envy, he simply wants you to enjoy and live life. And that’s why Clarke’s Fitness Together studio, the largest personal training franchise in the nation, will, on Oct. 23, be raising money for a cure for diabetes.
Clarke’s studio, based in Silver Spring, Md., was recently named the official health and fitness sponsor for Washington, D.C.’s upcoming “Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes,” an event organized by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The charity trek will feature a 2-mile walk around Nationals Park and a 5-mile hike through nearby Eastern Market and Capitol Hill. For the public, it’ll be a chance to help give back and raise money for a good cause, but for Clarke, it’ll be a chance to continue a personal vendetta.
Clarke’s mother fought obesity for years, a battle he helped her fight off and on. But 12 years ago she had a stroke and developed diabetes as a result of her condition. With a family history of the disease, Clarke was motivated to partner with a few other colleagues in the area to lend a hand. Now, he’s walking in search of a cure.
“We were looking for a cause to partner with and to help raise money and hopefully find a cure for, and diabetes was kind of the one medical condition that we found that was common among our clientele,” Clarke said. “Black, White, young, old, didn’t matter. We all had a percentage of our clientele who had diabetes because of being overweight, family history or whatever else. We’ve been working to raise money. So far, we’ve raised almost $12,000 and we’re looking to raise $15,000 by .”
Coming from an engineering background, Clarke wasn’t predestined to be a fitness guru. He was always active in sports and fitness, but he spent 15 years doing information technology work for the government and private companies before settling in on his current occupation. After assisting a few friends and family members with their weight and diet to some success, Clarke decided to make a career out of it and took over his current facility in 2006. The former engineer has been changing pants sizes and lifestyles ever since.
“What we do is we focus on three areas: weight resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning and nutrition,” Clarke says. “We work one-on-one with folks because we can actually develop relationships with our clients and they take our advice and respect our advice. When they follow our suggestions, they get results. There’s a lot of diets that promise you results in 10 days, 15 days, 21 days, whatever. We’re actually trying to change lifestyles.”
And save lives in the process.