Chesney Mariani’s weight loss journey began with a pair of socks.
“I was at the point where I became immobile,” said Mariani TODAY. “My husband had to help me put my socks on because I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t want him to be my caretaker, I wanted him to be my partner.”
So the 39-year-old started what she calls “lifestyle changes” to get healthier. Mariani focused on making healthy eating choices, paying attention to portion sizes, and adding more fruits and vegetables to her diet.
“And then there was practice,” said Mariani. “I know that losing weight is probably 80% diet and 20% exercise, but I wanted to work out because I needed that extra 20%.”
Mariani, who has lost more than 70 pounds since late 2019, started walking a few times a week but was looking for a form of exercise that she enjoyed.
Then she discovered Supernatural, a virtual reality fitness and rhythm game for the Oculus Quest 2.
“I have set myself the goal of training three times a week,” remembers Mariani. “But I had so much fun that three times a week wasn’t a thing. I was in the headset every day.”
When she first started doing supernatural workouts, which, in addition to moves like squats and lunges, combine moving and hitting targets to the rhythm of popular music, Mariani said she only had one song done before resting and drinking water had to.
“Now I can do two or three training sessions,” said Mariani. “I can train for two hours and I don’t have to rest.”
Mariani says Supernatural worked well for her because she could do the workouts in her home, where she didn’t feel judged by the gym goers or felt unsure of seeing her body in mirrors.
She also loves music, which covers all genres from ’90s R&B to classic oldies.
“To be able to make the movements to the music is grueling,” she said.
Mariani found support on an online Facebook forum for Supernatural users, where she frequently shared updates on her weight loss journey. When Mariani shared a post saying that she had a secret dream of becoming a Supernatural trainer herself, the Supernatural team became aware of this and arranged a special surprise for Mariani by asking her to take a customer survey , but Pedante, Head of Fitness at Supernatural, actually brought her into play with Leanne.
“She asked if they could bring me to Los Angeles as a guest coach,” Mariani recalled. “At that moment my vision became blurry and I started crying – I never expected something like this to happen.”
Pedante says her team often hears from members who feel like Mariani: They never felt welcome in the fitness community until they discovered the workout.
What made Mariani stand out was her positive attitude towards her trip.
“What I noticed early on was the lack of judgment and criticism in Chesney’s post,” said Pedante. “So many people make the mistake of trying to motivate themselves through self-criticism or all-or-nothing thinking and then when they hit a bump, like all of us, they break down and give up I think people realize that self-love, forgiveness, and non-judgment are the most important tools you can arm yourself with to achieve a great goal, and the effortless way Chesney illustrated this impressed me from the start. “
Mariani says working with Pedante and her team to develop their own in-game training has been an “incredible experience”. In her workout, Mariani guides members through cardio moves and rhythm-based gameplay to songs that inspire them, such as David Guetta’s “Titanium” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.
“In my training you can expect love, confidence and the ability to break out of your shell,” said Mariani. “Whatever people think of you is none of your business. You have to break out of your shell and live your real life. “
Mariani says her journey was not just about losing weight, it was also about gaining confidence.
“I can put on my own socks now,” she said. “I can do a lot of things that I couldn’t do before.”
And Mariani has advice for those just starting a fitness journey.
“Take it one day at a time,” said Mariani. “It’s a journey and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There will be bumps along the way, but you are in control and if you can pull yourself up and move on, you win.”