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Inspiring others to reach for health and fitness goals

<p>Bill Case and Susan Johnson lift weights together at Five Mountain Fitness. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Bill Case and Susan Johnson lift weights together at Five Mountain Fitness. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Susan Johnson does a deadlift of 250 pounds as she trains for an upcoming competition. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Susan Johnson does a deadlift of 250 pounds as she trains for an upcoming competition. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Susan Johnson does a deadlift of 250 pounds as she trains for an upcoming competition. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Susan Johnson does a deadlift of 250 pounds as she trains for an upcoming competition. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Susan Johnson does a deadlift of 250 pounds as her husband and trainer, Bill Case, watches her form. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Susan Johnson does a deadlift of 250 pounds as her husband and trainer, Bill Case, watches her form. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Bill Case, Susan Johnson’s husband and trainer, adjusts the weight on a barbell during a training session. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Bill Case, Susan Johnson’s husband and trainer, adjusts the weight on a barbell during a training session. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

Seven years ago, local resident Susan Johnson found herself morbidly obese, with pre-diabetes and high cholesterol. Not liking what she saw, she decided it was time to make some major changes in her life. Determined to become strong and healthy, she started on a journey that would ultimately take her to the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters World Championship Competition this weekend in Reno, Nev.

“It got to the point where I was really disgusted with myself,” said Johnson. “I’d neglected myself and was putting all of my energy toward my business, family, and husband. I never put any energy into myself, and I realized that was a huge mistake. The first thing I did was start walking because I didn’t know what else to do. I weighed about 250 or 260 pounds at that point.”

After losing 50 pounds, Johnson realized that she needed to reach out for help to achieve her goals and she found personal trainer, Bill Case. With his help, she lost 85 pounds and was on her way to becoming healthy and strong.

“I credit Bill with all my success,” said Johnson. “I could not have achieved what I have without him. He keeps me on track, he keeps me focused, and he programs my training. I started eating less and making healthier choices. I eat lean meats, fruits and vegetables, good fat, very little carbs, and as little sugar as possible.”

During her fitness journey, Johnson fell in love with lifting weights, specifically powerlifting. Case noticed her growing interest and encouraged her by starting her on a program that focused on deadlifting. In February of this year, the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters came to the Big Island and held an event to inspire powerlifters to compete in the sport.

With Cases’s encouragement, Johnson entered the competition and did so well that the representatives from WABDL asked her to enter the Hawaii State Powerlifting Finals on Oahu last July. Johnson not only entered, but took first place in her division and set a Hawaii State record for her lift of 286.5 pounds. This qualified her to enter the World Championships this week.

“As I said before, I credit this all to my trainer, Bill Case,” said Johnson. “Without him I would have never done this. I would never have had the confidence in myself to try this, train like this, or achieve this. He truly keeps me focused and has given me the tools I need to do what I do. He also encouraged me to become a personal trainer so I can help others.”

Five years ago, Johnson and Case bought Five Mountain Fitness Center and started the Hawaii Kettlebell Club. Two years later they also started CrossFit Waimea, which offers everything from a full gym, circuit training, powerlifting, spin classes, yoga, power barre, and more. They also began working with the NHCH Ho’omalule program to help native Hawaiians lose weight and improve their health. Johnson enjoys being a personal trainer and encouraging others to reach their goals.

“Susan greets me daily with a smile,” said Johnson’s client, Stacy Disney. “She is the grounding force of Five Mountain Fitness and her becoming Hawaii State Champion shows that what she preaches really works. As my personal trainer, she gives me the tools and motivation each Tuesday morning to try a new workout, build new muscles, and value myself enough to take on anything she throws my way.”

Johnson feels that her own experience helps to motivate her clients to keep going.

“I tend to attract clients who are like me,” said Johnson. “They relate to me because I’m not the skinny little trainer that’s never had a weight problem. They feel comfortable with me. I’m still not skinny and probably never will be. I don’t care about that anymore. I spent 50 years wanting to be skinny and I’m over it. I want to be strong. I want to be healthy. I want to be capable.”