Aaron Thompkins, 'Biggest Loser' Contestant, Starts Weight Loss Charity
Kent resident, Kent State student wants to help others live healthier lives
Aaron Thompkins has always been caring, but he never knew how to help people.
Then the Kent State University graphic design major became a contestant on NBC’s reality show The Biggest Loser. He underwent both a mental and physical transformation by losing 180 pounds and gaining confidence.
Now that Thompkins is healthier than ever, he wants to help other people be healthy as well. So he started BL360, a nonprofit that gives families access to The Biggest Loser lifestyle at no cost. He wants to use BL360 to help those who are struggling with their weight, as he once did when he was at his heaviest – 480 pounds.
“I just want to be able to help people in that same darkness,” he said.
Thompkins plans to help people through BL360 by not only encouraging exercise, but also emphasizing a positive mindset.
“I don’t want them to think they can go to the gym, lose weight and be happy,” he said. “It doesn’t work that way. You got to take care of everything else and then the weight will take care of itself.”
Thompkins' first step with BL360 is to use Jumpstart events that will kick off across the country in 2012. These events will be a chance for people to work out with former Biggest Loser contestants and learn about healthy living.
At each event, participants will have a chance to win the grand prize of a one-week stay at Fitness North Resort, a one-month membership to the Biggest Loser meal plan, a one-month membership to The Biggest Loser coach network and a one-year membership to The Biggest Loser Club.
Thompkins originally planned to hold the first event this month at Kent State, but he decided to postpone it one year so he could schedule consecutive events with the BL360 tour across the country. His goal is to have each event encourage participants to have fun while working out by creating a bright and energetic atmosphere.
“Once they realize that the fitness part can be fun, and just changing their whole idea on fitness, then that’s a good jump-start,” he said.
Thompkins hopes to have events at each of the universities Biggest Loser contestants attended during his season, including Arizona State University and Kent State. He is still working on securing sponsorships to support all of the events.
He also will work with the American Diabetes Association and take part in its upcoming events.
BL360 began after a conversation season 10 Biggest Loser contestants had about paying it forward – the theme for that season. Contestant Brendan Donovan suggested giving inner-city kids a trip to the Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge. Thompkins thought it was a great idea, but he believed it could be expanded to offering families everywhere Biggest Loser benefits. He presented the idea for BL360 to the cast and everyone was excited about being involved in it.
Season 10 contestant Adam Hurtado can’t wait to engage with the community through BL360 events.
“The main idea that I want to convey at the BL360 events is that there is no such thing as a dream too big or a feat that is impossible,” Hurtado said in an e-mail interview. “I want to inspire the youth of America to get healthy so they do not have to face the same struggles that I have faced growing up. Self-confidence, creativity, hope and love are the focal points of my inspiration to others. The Biggest Loser has taught me to believe in myself and I want to do the same for others.”
Hurtado lost 138 pounds on the show and said that the experience “forever changed his life.” He is eager to return the favor to people across the U.S.
Thompkins is still enrolled as a full-time student this semester at Kent State, but he will continue to plan next year's tour and build up BL360 so he can help transform people’s lives — just like The Biggest Loser transformed his.
Thompkins has been receiving heart-warming feedback from people inspired by him and interested in BL360 since his emotional time spent on the TV show.
“I never cried, but now the floodgates are open,” he said.