When I was 14, I weighed 140kg. One morning I woke up and decided I had a choice to lose the weight or continue to be obese. So in the Christmas school holidays, between grades 10 and 11 [at Capalaba State High in Brisbane’s east], I decided to do it. I went to the gym across the street from where we lived and exercised four to six hours a day. I lost 40kg by the time I went back to school and over the next six months, I lost another 30kg. In total, I lost 70kg, which was half my body weight.
My parents [Warren, 66, Maree, 64] were normal weight and my older brother [Adam, 34] was 6ft (183cm) and thin. My oldest sister [Rebecca, 44] has also lost 60kg. All my life, my parents supported me and took me to Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and the doctor’s to try to educate me to lose weight.
I was active – I was a dancer, did musical theatre and swimming – but I was a binge eater. In the middle of the night, I’d wake up and go to the fridge and eat. I didn’t know when to pull back. By the time I was 15, the gym had become my second home because I was doing so many classes, and I got a job as a fitness instructor. I’ve been in the industry ever since, working my way up and now I’m a national group fitness manager for Goodlife Health Clubs. Losing the weight gave me the confidence to be myself and I also came out as being gay when I was 15. My partner [Ben, 32] and I have been together for five years. Dancing and performing have been a big part of my life. After school, I studied for a diploma in musical theatre at Australian Dance Performance Institute. One month before graduation I got a contract to work overseas on cruise ships and I did that for seven years from age 21. For a year, between cruise ship contracts, I also played Captain Feathersword in The Wiggles’ Dorothy the Dinosaur live shows. Between cruises, I would always come back to the fitness industry.
Having that massive transformation, it really inspired me to think that anything is possible. If you want something in life, create that mindset, go for it and achieve it.
“In the middle of the night, I’d wake up and go to the fridge and eat. I didn’t know when to pull back.”
LUKE MERINO, 32 FITNESS MANAGER , FORT I T U DE vA LLE Y