Boxing, running, dead lifts—diabetes doesn’t hold this Atlanta personal trainer back

Atlanta Personal Trainer and Type 1 Diabetic Jonathan Kolowich

Jonathan Kolowich, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12, wants other diabetics to feel as empowered and powerful as he does

Jonathan Kolowich is the kind of fitness trainer whose Instagram videos make you say, “Wait, whaaaaaat?” We’re talking about moves like Turkish get-ups with a heavy barbell, or push-ups on one arm and one leg, or plyometric push-ups that jump from benches to the floor and back, or getting punched in the gut while doing abdominal exercises. And he makes it all look kind of easy. It’s not—and not just because these kinds of physical feats take practice, strength, and stamina. Every day Kolowich has to think about, monitor, and manage his blood sugar because he has diabetes. But he never lets the disease stop him from being healthy and strong. And he wants other diabetics to feel just as empowered and powerful.

Kolowich has type 1 diabetes, the kind that typically develops in children and adolescents and occurs when the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetics have to watch their glucose levels and take insulin to keep their blood sugar from going too high or too low. Type 2 diabetes tends to affect adults (though it can also affect children), and occurs when there’s perhaps enough insulin but the body can’t process it. Obesity ups the risk.

“Diabetes doesn’t have to be limiting,” Kolowich says. “You can still do everything that other people do. You just have to be conscious about it.”

Kolowich spreads this message with tips and workouts at and recently raised more than $7,500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund at Brawl for a Cause, an amateur boxing event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He’d never been in a bout before, but every year he takes on at least one new physical challenge. Some years it’s a running race, other years a new kind of workout. For the brawl he trained with Adam Gil, a former boxer and fellow trainer at Brad Kolowich Jr. Personal Training (owned by Jonathan’s brother), as well as at a boxing gym.

To be sure, Kolowich isn’t blasé about these physical challenges; he knows he must be vigilant about what he eats and how he trains. That’s been true since he was 12 years old. That year he lost 20 pounds over a two-week period. When his mother took him to the doctor, the diabetes diagnosis came quickly.

“My blood sugar was 1,000, and it was supposed to be 100,” he says. “They knew right then and there that it was diabetes. It was definitely the biggest life-changing moment of my life.”

He had to prick his finger six to 10 times a day and give himself shots of insulin to stay even-keeled while he played baseball, basketball, and tennis. “Exercise can knock down your blood sugar,” he says. “That was tough. I always had to have sugar on hand in case of emergency. When it would go low, it was really scary. I once fainted on the baseball field. And when I was 16, driving home from practice, I passed out. Thankfully no one was hurt.”

When he went on to play baseball in college, on scholarship at Georgia State University, Kolowich would carry a candy bar in his back pocket, keep juice in the dugout, and check his blood sugar frequently on game day.

Now, as a personal trainer, he doesn’t use candy to keep himself stable. He tries to eat clean about 90 percent of the time, and if his blood sugar drops he’ll take glucose tabs or eat a banana or pineapple. For a while Kolowich used an insulin pump and monitor to keep his numbers in check, and that allowed him to live a very normal life. But the equipment wouldn’t work for boxing—he would too often get punched in the stomach, the site of the port and tubing for his pump. So for several months he was back to pricking his fingers and giving himself injections, and carefully managing his numbers.

“If my blood sugar is off, my reaction times can be slower, and in boxing, reaction is everything, so I had to be really careful,” he says. “I was being super aware.”

He trained hard, doing squats, hang cleans, push presses, rows, and at least 45 minutes a day of boxing with Gil or shadowboxing. For his diet, Kolowich ate a lot of meat, vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits like berries. To drink, he stuck with water and iced coffee. His numbers stayed mostly stable, and on the day of the fight, he checked them every 30 minutes to make sure they remained so. Gil, who served as one of the corner men during the fight, held on to a juicebox for Kolowich, just in case.

His blood sugar remained stable, and he went on to win the fight. “I crashed about an hour after the fight,” Kolowich says. “In boxing, even six minutes feels like an hour. I was definitely smoked and tired. But it was so worth it. It was fun to be part of that event. It wasn’t just about getting in the ring and killing each other. It was getting in the ring for a cause that’s close to my heart.”

Article adapted from:  Atlanta Magazine, Christine Van Dusen

Atlanta Personal Trainer Fit Fall Fun

the Best Atlanta Personal Trainers suggest some fun fall activities that will keep you fit

Fun Fall Workouts

1. Walk to the park.
Walking in the park with our four legged friend Rocky is a favorite fit fall activity we love. The weather is perfect and you don’t need any additional equipment. Just throw on your favorite tennis shoes and hit the pavement. To burn some additional calories, pack a book bag with a blanket (the additional weight will up your calorie burn), ball and healthy snack/lunch.

Calories burned: approximately 340 (for a 150lb.person on flat terrain)

2. Play Ball
Grab some friends, family or even the family dog and head outdoors for a fun game of flag or touch football. Running around after the pigskin can help you shed up to 500 calories per hour. This will give you a cardio workout like no other, leaving you tired and ready to relax in front of some fall football. After burning yourself out playing the game, you can sit guilt free in front of your TV to cheer on your favorite team.

Calories burned: 520 per hour

3. Rake and jump
Raking and jumping in the leaves was an annual event at our house growing up. Little did I know the beneficial exercise we were all receiving from this exilerating activity. Raking leaves is an excellent upper body workout! The rotating movements of your body engages shoulders, arms, back and core. Just make sure your rotate sides to equal work both sides of the body.

Calories burned: 260 per hour (jumping and re-raking adds additional calorie burn J).

4. Hitch a Ride
Check out your local Chamber of Commerce in your area to find a stable close to you that provides riding lessons. Horseback riding is fun and works muscles you are not use to using. Surprisingly, it burns a great amount of calories and is the perfect way to get outdoors and enjoy nature and this beautiful season.

Calories burned: 470 per hour

5. Take a Hike
One of our favorite things to do in the fall is get up to the mountains and enjoy the scenic view and cool crisp weather the mountain have to offer. The uneven terrain on the hiking trails engages more muscles and causes you body to work harder than walking on a flat surface. The scenery, sounds and scent of fresh air are so beautiful you won’t even notice all the huffing and puffing you’ll be doing.

6. Go Pumpkin Picking
We like to have an annual pumpkin carving contest at our house each October. This year we are adding an active twist to our yearly adventure. We will be packing our crew up to head to the local pumpkin patch. You could spend hours looking for the perfect pumpkin, and while you do you will be putting in several hundred steps around the farm. To add an extra fat burn and strength workout, carry you pumpkin around the patch. Keep the pumpkin close to you body, if you think you’ve found a better one, squat and pick it up and set the other down. Great leg workout!

7. Race the Finish
Fall is a great season for running, and many local running/walking events take place in the fall. One favorite that is dear to our heart is Atlanta’s annual JDRF Walk which donates to helping cure type 1 diabetes (T1D). Brad’s younger brother, Jonathan now 23, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 13 years old. Since then, we have been avid supporters of JDRF. JDRF is now the largest supporter of helping improve the lives of all people affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating and preventing T1D. This year we will be walking in Centennial Park on October 20th. Go to to find a cause you are passionate about and get active!

Calories burned: 460-680 per hour

8. Get Spooked
If fear is the reason behind your increased heart rate, you are not getting the same fat burning exercise as an intense workout. However, add walking, jogging or even better running to your fear and your calorie burn will reach all time highs. There is no better way to jump start this type of high intensity workout than running through a haunted corn maze or haunted house. This is a great way to enjoy the season, get outdoors, and for the thrill seekers get an adrenaline high along with getting physically fit. Walking through the frightful space can burn 150 calories and hour but running (or sprinting) will increase the burn to over 250 calories per hour!

Calories burned: 150-250 per hour

This weekend, pick an activity and try it! Send us a pic of you, your family and/or friends staying fit this fall!

In health and fitness,
Mandy Malool
Certified Atlanta Personal Trainer and Specialist in Nutrition

adapted from