Talk about a transformation!
When Steve Tanen was a teenager, he was continually bullied and shamed for being obese — but after losing 100 lbs., he started his journey towards becoming a personal trainer. Now 29, he owns his own fitness studio — Transformation Fitness Studio —in Staten Island.
“I was obese as a child and teenager and like others I was bullied, teased and shamed for how I looked. Junior high school was the hardest time for me, and it came to the point where I didn’t even want to go to school,” Tanen told PEOPLE. “I felt mentally and physically sick all the time, I couldn’t walk up the stairs without getting winded, I was constantly teased, I felt frustrated, sad, and angry with others but mostly myself. I remember I would come home from school and just feel down and depressed all the time. I remember not wanting to exist at such a young age.”
But when he was 13, after having a particularly bad experience with a bully, Tanen decided he was ready for a change. “That’s when I began working on myself.”
Although the process wasn’t easy, Tanen took up boxing, weight training and cardio and adopted healthy eating habits. He lost 100 lbs. in about a year and a half.
“In the beginning I remember how much emphasis I put on the scale with myself,” Tanen said, adding that as he got older, he “realized how the number wasn’t and shouldn’t be the focus. It became about how I felt how I felt about myself. I was so much more confident than I have ever been. I fit better in clothes, I felt healthy — I literally felt like I could do anything. “
And Tanen’s personal transformation turned into a desire to help other people transform their own lives too. After starting out just working with his friends and family members, Tanen decided it was time to get certified as a personal trainer at the age of 17.
However, once he got a job working at a commercial gym, Tanen said he felt “disgusted” by what was going on there. “The place where I was, everything was focused on sales,” he said, adding that, “I saw terrible things done to make deals and people were most certainly taken advantage of.”
So in 2008, when he was just 19 years old, Tanen set out to start his own gym: Transformation Fitness Studio.
Part of what makes Tanen’s gym different is its dedication to privacy and making sure people feel comfortable working out there — even if they’re not completely comfortable with their bodies yet.
“There are many people who don’t feel comfortable in a gym setting and Transformation Fitness Studio is a studio that focuses on giving the clients the option to exercise in a private setting,” Tanen said. “We have sliding walls that create private training stations for those clients who feel more comfortable in a separate training area with just them and their trainer.”
He also added that TFit is different because “we do not endorse or recommend any fads or supplements that may be considered a gimmick. We don’t believe in hidden secrets of fitness. We do not believe in quick fixes. Our philosophy is that if you eat well, work hard, be positive and have patience, your body will reward you and you will accomplish your goals.”
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In March, after multiple expansions over the years, Tanen moved his studio to a new, larger location. He hopes that as his studio continues to grow he can “work more with younger people and help teach [them] how to actually lead a healthy lifestyle.”
“I genuinely want to help others and when I heard that I, my staff, my studio, etc. has changed a person’s life, that is worth more to me than anything in the world,” Tanen continued, adding that “we are like a family. Everyone who comes to the studio is part of our big family.”