Chris Powell, the celebrity trainer from ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, can’t say no to a challenge. After his friend dared him to try “Fran”—a thruster and pullup WOD with a 21-15-9 descending rep scheme—Powell became obsessed and has trained for and competed in CrossFit competitions since 2008, even attending the 2015 East Coast Championships where he (happily) placed dead last.

But the 38-year-old husband with four kids and a busy schedule isn’t a professional athlete, and CrossFit—as much as Powell loves and respects the sport—just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

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“I was like, OK, how else can I improve myself? I want to bring my waist in; I want boulder shoulders; I want bi’s and tri’s. There’s a beauty to sculpting your body, and it’s a whole new sense of empowerment and control,” reflects Powell. So when two clients—Josh and Kelli from Season 5—challenged him and his wife, Heidi (also a trainer on the show), to train for a physique show, Powell accepted and went all-out.

After years of menacing WODs, Olympic lifts, and countless kipping pullups, Powell gravitated to an old-fashioned arm pump. He’s stronger than ever, too, deadlifting 549 pounds and back-squatting 435 pounds at a body weight of 180 pounds. The diet, however, is a different story. While he and Heidi have always lived a healthy lifestyle, very few people can drop their body fat to the low single digits on just three clean meals per day; it takes an extra level of precision. Chris follows a restricted, carb-cycling diet with a low-carb, high-fat day (2,300 calories) and then a high-carb, low-fat day (4,030 calories). He’s careful to execute his more taxing workouts on his high-carb days, so the extra calories are put to use.

Crossing Over

Since taking a dose of his own medicine, the transformation specialist sports newly capped shoulders, a full chest, and a Google Map of veins that trickle down his arms. It was a physique worthy of the overall title in the master’s division of the 2015 NPC Warrior Classic in Colorado last August, with Heidi taking third place in the Novice Bikini division.

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A big obstacle for Powell was shifting his mindset from the trainer everyone leans on to putting himself first in order to compete. Luckily, he had a teammate to lean on.

“I’m blessed that my wife is on board with me and we’re [competing] together, because that way, we can trade off [responsibilities],” says Powell, who, with a chuckle, admits that competing has done more than just strengthen their emotional bond. “Her transformation has been freaking mind-blowing over the last seven months…it’s awesome…it’s definitely been good for the love life.”

Powell’s next challenge: Exit the amateurs. With plans to enter two upcoming pro qualifiers, don’t be surprised if you see him in board shorts, front and center, on an IFBB stage come fall.