Growing up in Portsmouth, Jeremy Moore '10 was a scraggly teenager. "I wanted to build size," said Moore, 33, "but I kept getting skinnier and scrawnier while the other boys my age got bigger."
When he was a student at Old Dominion University, he figured out what he was doing wrong from the regulars at the University Village gym. But unproductive routines hadn't been his only obstacle.
At 15, he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which causes buildup of thick mucus in tissues and organs. That can lead to serious respiratory and digestive problems and diabetes.
Cystic fibrosis also dramatically ups the challenges for weightlifters. Not only is it hard to develop muscle, but muscles sometimes atrophy.
Moore stuck with it at ODU and, after graduating with a degree in music business and production, decided to become a trainer.
Moore was certified through the American Council on Exercise in 2008. Since 2010, he has been a trainer at Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios and manager of the Great Neck gym in Virginia Beach. And this year, he self-published "Trail Map to Muscle," which compiles "everything I've learned over the last 15 years."
The cover features a photo of his now-impressive pecs and biceps. "I wanted it there as inspiration: If you follow my method, you can look like me," he said.
Finding out at age 15 that he had cystic fibrosis was actually "a relief," Moore said.
He hadn't yet displayed the most common symptom - coughing up mucus. But the diagnosis explained other problems, including the inability to gain weight and the intense stomachaches he felt after eating foods high in fat or protein.
At times, Moore has had to wear a battery-powered vest that cleanses his lungs twice a day, 20 minutes each time. This year, he began taking Trikafta, a recently approved drug that enables proteins to work more effectively in CF patients.
"It's like have a whole new lease on life," Moore said. He's producing less mucus and gaining weight more easily. "I think it's going to keep me healthy a long time."
His 45 clients range in age from 16 to 80. "You need to be versatile and adjust your workout to every single person," Moore said. "If they want me to be a drill sergeant, I can be a drill sergeant. If they want to do 20 minutes of stretching at the end, I'll say, 'Sure.' "
Maurice Browne has been a client for the past 3½ years. "He will push you," Browne said. "His workouts are very demanding."
"I knew right away he had all the credibility and all the skills to change lives," White said. "He can connect with and motivate people of all ages - athletes, kids, older adults, women, men. It doesn't matter. He works hard, and you can see that showcasing in his clients every day."
Plus, White said, "He has developed more muscle than I have ever seen with someone with CF."
Moore said his goal, as a trainer and author, is "to help people who have no idea what they're doing. Instead of struggling two or three years wasting your time, like I did, you don't have to make mistakes. You could be healthier much faster."
Watch Moore demonstrate four exercises at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAlr4ifvvig
A longer version of this article and a list of workout tips from Moore are in the winter issue of ODU's e-magazine, Monarch Extra, at www.odu.edu/monarchmag