Gena Mueller is a founding member at Iron Tribe Fitness Vestavia in Birmingham, Alabama. In less than six months, Gena has lost more than 70 pounds and found a community of people who continually encourage her to reach new goals. Read her full story:

It wasn’t too long ago that Gena Mueller couldn’t run a short distance without stopping to gasp for breath. At 235 pounds, she couldn’t fathom fitting into skinny jeans and feeling good about what she saw in the mirror. Doing an unassisted push-up, or jumping rope, were just distant dreams.

All of that was about to change, however, after Gena’s name was drawn during a raffle at a chamber of commerce meeting.

“I can remember hearing the announcer say ‘oh, this is a good one, this is a really good one!’” Gena recalled of the moments before finding out she won four free weeks of Iron Tribe Fitness workouts. “I never thought I was going to join the gym — I thought, ‘I’ll take my four weeks, I’ll learn how to do some of the movements and then I’ll figure out how to do it at home.’”

After working out at the newly opened Iron Tribe Fitness in Vestavia Hills for one month, Gena began seeing the pounds slide off and her energy rise. Just two weeks into the program, Gena admitted she knew she had found something that worked like nothing she had tried before.

“The coaches here really make me feel like I am somewhat of an athlete, and that’s empowering,” said Gena, who has since lost 79 pounds. “It makes me feel strong.”

The coaches here really make me feel like I am somewhat of an athlete, and that’s empowering.

One of the greatest benefits of Iron Tribe, Gena said, is it offers a community of people who are all working toward a common goal — to get fit together. The friendships formed between members are something you won’t find at a big-box gym, she said.

“The friendship, that’s really the best part of it all,” Gena said. “They’ve encouraged me over and over. No one ever laughed at me, no one ever said ‘I can’t believe you can’t do this.’ It was all ‘girl you’re getting better, you’re doing great.’”

Now nearing her goal weight of 150, Gena said she plans to continue working out at Iron Tribe — getting stronger with a community of people who are doing the exact same thing.

“You will be amazed to find out what you can do when you get a little bit of help from someone who knows what they’re doing,” she said. “If I can do this, anybody can do it.”