Fitness trainer’s work has personal roots in 100-pound weight gain


Matthew Chesley knows a thing or two about getting in shape.

“From (age) 14 to 24, I gained 100 pounds,” he said. “When my wife was pregnant with my daughter, I decided I need to be in shape so I could be around for her. From there, as I got in shape I wanted to help others do the same.”

Chesley is not only manager of University Recreation at Detroit Mercy, he is a personal trainer at the fitness center.

Detroit Mercy’s state-of-the-art fitness facility, built in 2012, caters to university students through both class and competition, aiming to bring a sense of community to campus.

The 12,720-square foot recreational center offers fitness classes every weekday for students looking to sweat and burn some calories between study sessions.

The current weekly fitness schedule includes “butts and guts” at 5:30 p.m. Mondays; cardio dance at 5:30 p.m. and Barre strength at 6:15 p.m. Tuesdays; yoga at noon and boot camp at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays; fitness 101 at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays; and high intensity interval training at 5:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Chesley has been at the university since the fitness center opened.

He studied commercial recreation and facility management at Central Michigan University, graduating with a minor in hospitality.

Chesley was mentored by former Detroit Mercy personal trainer Grafton Wiley, a friend from college who ran the boot camps Chesley attended during his weight-loss journey.

But his biggest influence in becoming a personal trainer was his kids – and his desire to help others, he said.

“That’s why I kept the Biggest Loser going and that’s why I train,” he said.

The Biggest Loser is a weight-loss competition that anyone can participate in.

This time around, 36 people are participating.

The standings for the competition are posted in the fitness center.

“This is the seventh time we’ve run it (The Biggest Loser),” Chesley said. “I started it in 2013 as an obese guy working in a fitness center that wanted to lose weight.”

The competition started in January and ends on April 10 with a cash prize awarded to the top three teams.

As the weekly fitness schedule changes every now and then, Chesley is currently instructing two classes, those being “butts and guts” and, the toughest of the two but also most rewarding, high intensity interval training.

With Chesley having the experience of losing 70 pounds, he gives weekly tips on nutrition and exercise.

For those who are serious, Chesley also offers different packages of personal training for purchase.

Chesley prides himself on the originality of his training sessions.

No two sessions are the same, he said.

He aims to make every experience oriented specifically towards his clients, he said.

Everything he does is backed on scientific research or personal experience, he added.

“If it’s something that I know they can do, I am going to push them harder than ever,” Chesley said.

Although he claims to be stern in the way the he trains, he is personable and just wants the best out of everyone he trains.

“Our fitness classes are free, so there’s no reason not to come,” he said.

As far as classes go, they can all be modified for those who may find some activities difficult – or easy.

“Most of all, we (the fitness center staff) just want to build a healthy campus community,” Chesley said. “I’ve seen strangers become friends and roommates … through fitness classes.”