"I found fitness when I was 14 years old," says Chris Powell, the guy behind the jaw-dropping body and life transformations on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition." "I was the tiniest kid growing up - the one kid who didn't make the football team - and my parents bought a weight set for me. I actually used it, and within a couple months, I saw it changing my life. It empowered me at my lowest point, and that's why I'm so passionate about it."
The Arizona native and proud dad of three became a personal trainer, eventually landing a gig as the fitness pro on "Good Morning, Arizona," where he was contacted by his first superobese client - a man Powell's own age who tipped the scale at 650 pounds. "I said, 'I'm going to come to your house every other day, and let's just see how this goes,' " Powell recalls. "Sure enough, after two years, he dropped 400 pounds, and he became one of my best friends."
The duo's journey was captured on a TLC documentary and led to Powell being contacted by everyone from Oprah Winfrey to "20/20" to discuss his life-changing techniques. Soon he was called in to consult with producers on a show that would become "EM:WLE." It was immediately snatched up by ABC, with Powell attached as its star, much to his surprise and delight.
"In Seasons 1 and 2, we did eight transformations in a year," Powell says. "This time we're doing 15 - and two of those are twins, and one is a married couple. So we actually have 17 people that are going through a transformation this year. We're jammin' right now!"
And while each episode features folks who are at least 200 pounds overweight, Powell stresses that the show has takeaways for everyone - especially those who would like to improve their exercise and eating habits.
"Honestly, that's why I love working with the superobese - because they have the longest, most daunting journey of anybody," Powell says. "All the people that I've worked with over the seasons, that's the message that they want people to know: that this what they were able to accomplish; this is what they were able to discover inside. And we all have that."
•What are you currently reading?
"This is going to sound really lame and so typical, but I am actually reading the CrossFit Journal. It's a bunch of workout stuff."
•What did you have for dinner last night?
"I had a protein shake, some roasted almonds and a banana (laughs)."
•What are your three must-haves in your fridge or pantry?
"Whey protein, roasted almonds, and pears or bananas."
•Where did you go on your last vacation?
"My wife and I did what we call a stay-cation and went to this amazing little hotel about 30 miles from our home. We got a baby sitter for our kids and went there for 24 hours just to reconnect."
Photo/Video credit: ABC