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Military retiree experiences transformation at local YMCA
Leon Dingle, left, and his personal trainer, Joe Clark, celebrate their progress at the Liberty County Armed Services YMCA. - photo by Photo provided.

Military retiree Leon Dingle recently experienced a transformation and feels like a new person now. He credits his success to getting in shape at the Liberty County Armed Services YMCA with his personal trainer, Joe Clark.
In 2007, Dingle retired from the military, where he was an air defender. During his final three years of service, he served as an instructor of advanced individual training at Fort Bliss, Texas. After retiring, he moved back to Hinesville to join his family. Shortly afterward, he joined the local YMCA.
Recently, Dingle decided he needed to make some drastic changes regarding his health and wellness.
“I realized I needed to turn my health around and get back on track,” he said. “The turning point for me was in 2012 when I was told I had diabetes.
“I wanted to get in shape and get more active so that I could become healthier,” Dingle continued. “My A1C levels were all out of whack; I was at a 12.”
That level is a chart-topping score for an A1C test.
“After receiving this news from my doctor, I started trying to train on my own and get back into shape,” he said. “I thought I could do it on my own, but I really wasn’t getting anywhere. I wanted to see results. That was when I noticed Joe in the gym at the YMCA.”
Dingle had seen Joe Clark several times working out and training with his clients at the Y. One day, Dingle decided to approach Clark to ask him about training together.
Shortly after, the two met to determine the best approach for Dingle’s workouts.
“When I first meet with someone interested in getting personally trained, I go over what their goals are and what they’re hoping to accomplish. I also offer nutrition counseling,” Clark said. “The first couple of times we meet, I do a physical assessment to find out what they like, what they respond well to and what motivates them. From there, I develop a plan personalized for them and meet with my clients two to four times per week for our sessions.”
Based on the information Dingle provided, Clark developed a workout routine with a large emphasis on weight training. Dingle meets with Clark four times per week at the YMCA and also works out on his own two days per week.
Since these meetings, Dingle already has seen drastic changes. And while Dingle is pleased with his results, he admitted it wasn’t easy getting there.
“It’s a lot of work; the hardest part was getting started,” he said. “I had a lot of trouble personally keeping up and staying committed, but with Joe’s help, I got there. He pushes me while still being encouraging.
“Joe motivates me in a lot of different ways. I do have self-doubt, but he believes in me and my abilities,” Dingle continued. “He puts that extra weight on, and I am able to do it; I surprise myself. I believe some people see more in you than you see in yourself sometimes, and I definitely think Joe is one of these people. He’s a great person, and he’s been great to work with at the Y.”
After eight months of training at the Y, Dingle says he feels great.
“I used to hate coming to the gym, but now I can’t stay out of the Y,” he said. “I love the results I have seen, and I feel great.
“Not only do I get coached physically by Joe, but he also gives me nutritional advice. I feel a whole lot better, and I have so much more energy now. Since working out with Joe, my A1C level has dropped dramatically from a 12 to a 6.1.”
Other people have noticed a difference, too, including Dingle’s two sons.
“My kids tell me all the time how great I look now,” Dingle said.
“That’s my favorite part about being a personal trainer — hearing my clients like Leon say, ‘My doctor says keep up what you’re doing.’ That’s awesome,” Clark said. “In just a few months, Leon has been able to accomplish so much. It’s such a great feeling to see people like Leon becoming healthier.”
“Before this, I was never a free-weights person, but today I can bench 275 pounds,” Dingle said. “I wanted to lose my gut and build some muscle, but really I just wanted to feel fit overall. I’m definitely getting there, but I am going to keep going.”
For more information about working with a personal trainer, visit the Liberty County YMCA at 201 Mary Lou Drive or call the welcome center at 912-368-9622. Clark and other members of the YMCA staff are available to help others succeed at reaching and maintaining their personal wellness goals.

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