In 2016, Kimberly Metzger, then 47, stood in the door of a Battle Creek, Michigan, health and wellness center and listened to the rhythm of the drums.

She could feel the beat thrum through her.

The drummers moved fast, their sticks hammering on exercise balls. They’d squat and rise up again, beating their makeshift drums the entire time.

Metzger tapped her toe along with the beat, watching as the cardio-drumming class cycled through its regimen—drumming, squatting, drumming, squatting.

At her heaviest, she weighed 298 pounds.

She started to put on weight when she had her three children.

Twice she had lost 100 pounds. And twice she had regained it.

An incident earlier in 2016 proved to her it had come time to make a change.

Call it her wake-up fall: “I was visiting a friend in May 2016 in Arizona,” said Metzger, now 50. “I had a bad knee. I’d torn it in a ski accident and had eight screws in it to hold it together. I walked across the room and suddenly my knee gave out. I fell and broke my wrist.”

As she watched that cardio-drumming class, she began to give serious thought to weight loss—again.

She had friends who had undergone bariatric surgery, but she felt it wasn’t for her.

She knew she had unhealthy eating habits. That’s where she wanted to put her focus.

“I started using a fitness app on my phone to track my eating habits,” she said. “I realized my problem was with portion control and that I was a late night eater. I decided I wanted to work with a nutritionist.”

She also realized she wasn’t moving much.

Joint pain had been a ready reason—sometimes an excuse, perhaps—for her sedentary ways.

That, too, had to change.

As she stood watching the cardio class that day, something clicked. She decided to join in.

“I loved it,” Metzger said. “The cardio-drumming was a low-impact, full-body workout. And so it didn’t hurt my knee. I was also a swimmer in high school, so I joined the pool. And that gentle resistance of the water in my workout was great.”

Paired with a close eye on her food intake, the cardio seemed to do the trick.

Metzger lost 70 pounds in six months.

“It was during those first six months that I had a profound realization,” Metzger said. “I had long talked myself out of being active because of joint pain, but the more weight I lost, the less pain I felt in my joints.

“The more I moved, the better I felt.”

Top of the class

Metzger continued to lose weight.

By May 2017, she had changed her mind about bariatric surgery.

“I had lost 70 pounds and I was terrified of gaining it back,” she said.

To maintain her weight loss, Metzger underwent gastric sleeve surgery, or sleeve gastrectomy. In this procedure, doctors remove about 80 percent of the stomach, including the area that produces an appetite-inducing hormone.

“Getting a gastric sleeve doesn’t mean you don’t have to work out, because you can still gain weight,” Metzger said.

And so she kept moving.

Metzger recalled a dream she’d had back in high school of becoming a runner.

She decided to make her dream a reality: she put on her running shoes and hit the road.

“I did two sprint triathlons,” she said. “Those combine swimming, biking and running. I came in fourth in my age group the first time. And I finished first in my age group the second time.”

After surgery, Metzger lost another 85 pounds, for a total of 155 pounds.

Her weight hovered at about 140 pounds.

“I used to wear a size 26 in pants,” Metzger said, smiling wide. “Now I wear a size 6.”

But she has more goals in mind.

She likes those cardio-drumming classes and those swimming classes. She likes feeling fit and healthy.

So Metzger signed on to teach classes at the Spectrum Health Pennock Health and Wellness Center in Hastings, Michigan, where she lives.

“Teaching the classes has become part of my workout, too,” Metzger said. “I teach cardio-drumming on Mondays and Wednesdays and aqua kickboxing in the pool on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”

And she still runs—three days a week, about four to five miles twice a week, farther on the third time out.

And she still swims—once a week, about a mile each time.

And she still bikes—two to three times a week, 10 to 12 miles each ride.

“When I first set a goal, I started at 3,000 steps a day,” she said. “Now I’m averaging 12,000 a day. It takes about 45 days to form a new habit, and so I give myself small goals to achieve, write them down. And then create new ones when I reach those.”

Working out and teaching classes have become more than just a routine, she said. Her health and wellness center time has become a support system where she connects with others on similar journeys. It’s important to her to give back to others the same help she had received.

“I just keep going,” she said. “Because I’m having such fun doing it.”