Kingsport exercise instructor brings home second-place in national Fitness Idol competition

Marci Gore • Aug 13, 2016 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Tyler Ramey began working at the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA more than a decade ago. Having taught group exercise classes for seven years now, Ramey serves as the Group Exercise Director at the YMCA. Recently, Ramey received national recognition for his skills as a group exercise instructor.

Ramey, along with several of his fellow instructors from the YMCA, attended SCW Fitness Education’s Mania Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Ramey returned home to Kingsport a second place winner in the convention’s Fitness Idol competition.

SCW is an internationally recognized education body that provides hands-on certifications and continuing education courses and conventions to fitness professionals in multiple disciplines nationwide. Ramey says this was the first year the convention hosted the Fitness Idol competition.

“They emailed us about six months ago, telling people they could submit a video audition and the top finalists were going to get to compete live at the conference,” Ramey said.

Ramey, who teaches everything from cycle to high-intensity interval training to strength-based to dance classes, was selected to do his fitness presentation in front of the three judges.

“I did my classic Tyler Ramey funny, southern charm,” he said. Presenters had to show a warm-up, a work phase and a cool down.

The judges must have liked what they saw, because not only did Ramey come in second overall in the competition, but he was also invited to come back to next year’s convention and be a presenter.

“I’ll get to formulate my own kind of workshop and I’ll get to present that to other instructors and give them ideas,” he said. “We’re trying to get rid of this elitist mentality when it comes to fitness. We don’t want to have a beginners’ class on the schedule. We don’t want to have an advanced class. We want to have a class that everybody can come to regardless of their ability level and have a fantastic workout — and a really good time in the process.”

Watching Ramey lead a group exercise class, you’d think he’d done this his whole life. However, Ramey, at one time, tipped the scales at 318 pounds and says he knows how much courage it takes to walk into that exercise class for the very first time. It was group exercise classes that turned Ramey’s life around, leading him to eventually shed 135 pounds.

“I want people to know they can come into my class and feel comfortable. I can tell them, ‘Look, I’ve been where you are. Here’s the picture to prove it. Just stay one time and we’ll talk after class.’ Nine times out of 10, they’re telling me, ‘Gosh! I’m so glad I came! That was fantastic!’ So, if I can help just one person get over that ‘scared boundary,’ I’ve done my job. I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do in life,” he said.

One of the things Ramey says he’s most excited about after returning from this year’s fitness convention is being able to showcase on a more national level what the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA does.

“We have an incredible program here and not just because of the instructors, but because of the people. It’s just unreal the connections and friendships I’ve made in classes and the people I see that become friends in classes. They become like family to each other. It’s a very special thing that goes on here at the Y. I feel so lucky and blessed to be a part of it and I hope we can spread our message to more people,” he said. “If 11 years ago you’d told 300-pound-Tyler this is where I’d be today, I would’ve laughed in your face. This is something I would have never, ever dreamed that I would be doing and now I get to go and present to other fitness instructors? What world is this?!”