During high school, Keith McGee fell in love with basketball. But attempting to improve his game opened the door to his long-term passion — weight training.
“I was 5-foot, 11 and ¾ inches high, didn’t have long arms … I wasn’t able to compete,” McGee said, recalling when his dad took him to a gym during his junior year of high school to help him improve his hoops skills. “The guy said he could increase my vertical jump and quickness. I started lifting, gained 10 pounds of muscle …. When I came back to basketball, I could guard a quick guy on the outside, I could elevate and shoot the jumper, and I could take it to the rack with authority. My coach broke a wall down and bought weights and said I was the reason they were now lifting weights … after that, I was hooked.”
McGee now uses his knowledge to help others develop a love of weight training and transform their bodies by teaching a women’s body-sculpting class through the Liberty County Recreation Department.
McGee is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a certified strength and conditioning specialist and is a USA Weightlifting Level II coach in Olympic weight lifting. At LCHS, he trains all the athletes and has led many to the sport of Olympic weight lifting. This weekend, four of his Lady Panther weight lifters will compete at the youth nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida.
McGee said his body-sculpting class started when he volunteered to help a couple of female teachers at the school who requested his training assistance.
“They made great gains ... so I talked to Jimmy Martin at the recreation department and told him I had an idea and that several ladies had approached me, wanting to train,” McGee said.
He directed Martin to his blog page that explained the training program. Within minutes, Martin called him back, saying the program looked great. The first LCRD women’s body sculpting class was held from 4-5 p.m. “So I got a lot of teachers, but I didn’t get a lot of community members because they didn’t get off work that early. So then, it evolved into a class held from 5-6, and then I got more community members,” McGee said. “And it evolved from just the weight lifting … I use the same workout that I use for the football guys, but geared for the female gender.”
The women train at various stations, performing chin-ups, bench presses, squats and a variety of weight-bearing moves designed to increase and improve muscle tone. Between sets, they walk or jog laps or perform exercises.
McGee said as his participants begin to see weight loss and benefits of their exercises, they naturally start making healthier food choices.
“It changes your mentality … it’s a good deal,” he said.
LCHS teacher Lacey Whitney said she avoided joining the class at first. But last September, Whitney gave in to her friends and made the decision to sign up. She said she can’t believe what she now sees in the mirror.
“From September to just a few weeks ago, I lost 45 pounds and some kind of crazy number of inches,” she said, adding she feels like a new person. “I have energy now. I had plantar fascia, and I don’t have that anymore. I don’t have acid reflux anymore … I feel healthy, I feel younger, I have a better attitude … it’s all been positive. I was in size-16 pants and about to go into 18 because my 16s were getting tight, and now I wear sizes 6-8 depending on the brand.”
She said McGee gave her advice on what food she should eat, but she isn’t dieting, just making better food choices.
“I don’t eat a whole lot of what we call the white stuff,” she said, meaning refined starches and sugars. “But it is not completely eliminated from my diet. If I want a slice of pizza, I will have a slice. I just don’t have three-to-four slices. I eat a lot of strawberries, watermelon, almonds instead of chips and a lot of protein.”
She said McGee is a great motivator and offers a lot of encouragement to the participants.
“He modifies the class to fit all our different abilities, and he is very encouraging,” she said. “Before, I was going only two days a week, but now that summer is here and I have the time I go all four days … it’s my new hobby.”
Class is from 8-9 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesday and Thursdays.
Registration is handled through the LCRD office. For more information, call 876-5359.