Exercise science grad takes health message to the masses

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2012 edition of ASU Magazine.

Chris Powell, host of the ABC television series “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” is perhaps the most high-profile personal trainer and transformation specialist to emerge from ASU’s kinesiology and exercise science program.

After working as “The Transformation Pro” on KTVK’s “Good Morning Arizona” for six years, Powell earned national prominence and accolades when he guided David Smith to the largest and most rapid natural loss of weight on record: 401 pounds in 26 months.

Powell made his network television debut last March as a host for the “Extreme Makeover” series – a reality TV program that chronicles the journey of morbidly obese individuals as they attempt to engage in massive weight loss. The first season of eight episodes featured Powell as a vigilante-style personal trainer, arriving initially without notice, to assist in the rapid transformation of people’s lives. Each episode condensed a year’s worth of work with a client to an hour.

Powell’s method is a combination of specialized exercise regimen and diet, which he says is the result of his concentrated studies in biomechanics and physiology at ASU.

“ASU gave me an incredible scientific foundation that I can use to elicit any kind of physiological change that my clients desire. The hands-on experience primed me for the real-world issues I have since encountered in my clients' lives,” says Powell, who graduated in 2000.

Powell says his message and communication methods have been adjusted to reach a national audience.

“The overall approach is still the same, but when communicating with a broader audience, it's important to simplify and make the approach fast, easy, fun and convenient."

Another challenge for Powell has been maintaining his own healthful lifestyle while becoming a celebrity almost overnight.

“I'm living life like I always have,” he says. “I am a family man with a beautiful wife and three incredible kids. I change diapers, pack lunches, and drive the kids to their activities alongside my wife every day.”

Written by Charlie Vascellaro (class of 1993), a freelance sportswriter based in Baltimore