Teachers use workouts to lose weight, stay fit


Crosslin Silcott

Swim coach John Dissinger works out in the natatorium before school starts. Dissinger trains in his free time for open water races. Last April, he signed up to swim in a race from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island, which is supposed to be held in September.

Crosslin Silcott, Features Editor

With the amount of hours teachers and coaches spend at school, it is often difficult for them to find time to focus on their own personal fitness. Many have additional after-school commitments and families to come home to.

Despite the limited hours in a day, many teachers and coaches have had much success managing their time and dedicating hours to set and achieve fitness goals for themselves.

Joy. That’s the feeling that rushed through orchestra director Joshua Taylor when he first started noticing the numbers on the scale go down. After trying to lose weight on and off for years, he decided to give it another shot two years ago during spring break.

“I was on a plane and was nearly too big to put on the seat belt,” Taylor said. “It scared me.”

He soon after began working out with the help of a personal trainer and changed his diet. After a year and a half of waking up at 4:30 a.m. to workout and planning his meals, he lost a total of 100 pounds.

“I did a little dance and teared up a bit,” Taylor said. “My next goal is to lose 75 pounds.”

Diet has been the biggest change for Taylor. He said he is a stress eater, and there are many days where he is tempted to go through a drive-thru and eat horribly. He had to completely change how he eats and what he eats, he said.

“A healthy diet is a game changer to making the exercise worthwhile,” said Sara Koym, head softball coach, aerobics PE teacher, and AVID teacher. “There are temptations all around us, and it just really [takes] being disciplined enough to say no.”


Outside of school, Koym spends much of her time as a nutrition coach, mentoring those who seek knowledge of the right foods to eat and when to eat them. She said she is passionate about seeing other people achieve goals or doing things they never thought were possible.

“When I see people accomplish things that they just didn’t think they could do, as simple as passing up on a donut, it just makes me happy,” Koym said. “That’s what makes me go.”

On top of her busy schedule, Koym works out five to six times a week. Four of those days are at 5 a.m. in the morning to do crossfit. Crossfit is a fitness program that uses strength and endurance training for short, high-intensity workouts. The cool thing about crossfit is that it’s a community, Koym said. Some days there’s five people that show up to workout, and some days there’s 17.

“My goal is to get in 16 cross-fit workouts every month, and the only time to do that sometimes is at 5 a.m.,” Koym said. “For me personally, it’s just [about] pushing myself, my mind and my body to another level: getting better everyday.”

Koym has participated in many marathons, but for right now she enjoys setting an example of a healthy lifestyle for her children. She said she looks forward to when her now two and three year olds turn five and six, and can work out alongside her.

“An ultimate goal of mine [would be] an Ironman, but I need my babies to grow up a little bit so I can train,” Koym said.


Boys swim coach Greg McLain completed an Ironman on April 27, 2019, in the Woodlands, finishing in 12 hours and 46 minutes. Many of his swimmers that he coaches went out to support him, cheering him on during the race, along with his wife who presented him with his finisher medal.

“It was an emotional day to start with, since I trained a year to complete the race,” McLain said. “Having the swimmers take the time to travel there to cheer me on meant more than they know. I saw them about eight hours into the race and it really lifted my spirits each time I passed them.”

To train, he swam at the pool at Kingwood Park, rode a trainer bike in his garage or on his bike in Houston on some dedicated bike trails, and ran on the greenbelts around Kingwood. Additionally, he said he changed his diet so that he could train better. As a result, he has lost 90 pounds. Losing weight wasn’t a goal of his, rather, it was a byproduct.

“Honestly, it wasn’t difficult,” McLain said. “I was focused on the training, and the weight just came off.”

McLain is currently training for a second Ironman, which he had hoped to compete in this month. He trains anywhere from one to six hours per day. He hopes to finish in under 12 hours this time.


After watching McLain train for his Ironman last year, girls swim coach John Dissinger was inspired and decided to get in shape as well. Already knowing how to swim, he signed up for the Alcatraz Invitational last April. Described as the “swim of a lifetime,” this swim is a little more than a mile crossing from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park Beach in San Francisco, California.

“Gotta have a goal to go for and I thought it would be a great experience,” Dissinger said.

To train, he swims with the Masters program at the YMCA and in the pool at Kingwood Park whenever he gets a chance. He said he tries to do five to six workouts a week for an hour at a time, typically early in the morning. Additionally, he said he has been trying to watch his diet as he trains.

“I’m doing things in practices I never thought I would do again,” Dissinger said.

Last year, Dissinger participated in three open water races. This year, he plans on doing six. He hopes to start doing some longer races in 2021. Particularly, he said he has his eye on a seven mile race, where he would swim around an island in Florida.

“Don’t give up, working out wise, like just show up,” Koym said. “Just [start] the process, just [walk] in the door somewhere and [ask] for help.”