Fighting fit and 100kg lighter

LOOKING BACK: Ken Palaaia, a systems analyst from Manurewa, now weighs 97.8kg. INSET: Ken when he weighed 189kg.
LOOKING BACK: Ken Palaaia, a systems analyst from Manurewa, now weighs 97.8kg. INSET: Ken when he weighed 189kg.

Ken Palaaia is half the man he used to be ... literally.

Back in November 2009 the Manurewa resident weighed 199kg. Now when he hops on the scales they read 97.8kg to be exact.

But it took a nightmare for someone close to kick him into action to lose the weight that was weighing him down. As he got bigger Ken had started to make changes to his environment like buying a bigger couch and a bigger car.

"I didn't want to go out, I feared restaurants and not fitting into chairs," he says. "I hated public spaces. I feared bumping kids and kocking them over."

He says he had no energy and was just doing the bare minimum. He wasn't even up to cooking dinner so he just bought takeaways.

"It was like I was just waiting to die," the 27-year-old systems analyst says.

That's precisely what his brother thought too – he was so worried he was having nightmares that his brother was dying. It was then Ken realised he needed to do something for himself and his family.

He credits Buck Stowers, the owner and trainer of Genetics Gym in Manukau and the man behind the Big Boys Club, with helping change his life.

Ken heard about the club through a work colleague and says when he first started with Big Boys one task was to crawl around on the floor and he struggled to even do that.

At the beginning he nicknamed himself "Axe" and imagined himself as a 199kg tree that needed chopping down.

Now he trains six days a week with a group of more than 30 big boys.

"Everything we do we can do at home like push-ups, sit-ups and running."

With the meal plans and food advice he's eating more fish and protein and smaller portions.

The Big Boys help motivate each other and Ken says it's all about setting small goals for yourself like 100 grams a week. They also have regular weigh-ins to keep track of progress.

He says the club has shown him three things: "I'm strong, I can do anything and I will succeed."

For now this energetic Samoan man has a bet with his wife to get his weight down to 92kg.

It was family who inspired Mr Stowers to get Big Boys going – his mum died at age 49 of complications from heart disease – and he says his efforts represent "every mother and father who should not die".

He says kids are obese because they have been taught the wrong way.

"My programme is not a gym programme, it's an addiction programme," Mr Stowers says.

He has guys who weigh more than 260kg – "they can't move" – and is now getting people referred to the programme by their doctor.

Visit or phone Buck at Genetics Gym on 262-3686 for details.

Manukau Courier