Folsom grad shows heart of a ‘Gladiator’

By: Jim Ratajczak The Telegraph
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After years of private struggles and personal triumphs, one Folsom High School alum was finally able to share his story with the rest of the nation. The 29-year-old Sean Hetherington, a 1996 FHS graduate, appeared on the June 30 episode of “American Gladiators,” the iconic televised competition which pits contestants in physical challenges against muscled-out “gladiators” with handles like Militia, Justice and Titan. Even though Hetherington was eliminated from the competition at the end of the show, just being able to face off against the gladiators was a dream come true. “I grew up watching the show,” he said. “I would stay at home eating hot dogs and cupcakes. I always wanted to be on the show but never thought I’d be able to because of me weight.” After years of unhealthy eating and physical inactivity, the five-foot-nine-inch Hetherington tipped the scale at 275 pounds. At that weight, appearing on “American Gladiators” was no more than a pipe dream. “I grew up really heavy,” he said. “I was really unhappy. But when I was ready to lose weight, I was ready to be open with my life.” Being open with his life included coming at as a gay man to his family and friends in 2003, the same year his weight loss totaled 100 pounds. By hiring a personal trainer and adhering to a strict diet, Hetherington was able to shed his unwanted, unhealthy poundage. With his newfound healthy lifestyle, Hetherington currently works as a personal trainer. “Most of the people I work with are battling obesity,” he said. “What I teach people is there’s a lot more to exercise than kicking a ball into a goal or being a big fat meat head.” His weight loss, combined with being open about his sexuality, gave Hetherington the confidence he needed to pursue his passion as a stand-up comedian. Hetherington said he draws his material from growing up in Folsom where he felt like an outsider. “I have such a funny story,” he said. “I never really fit in (in Folsom), so that’s very funny me to.” Hetherington’s spot on “Gladiators” has thrust him into the spotlight and given him a newfound audience. He said he will be appearing in an upcoming edition of “Us Weekly.” “Having battled to lose 100 pounds and then battle the gladiators, Sean was probably the most inspirational contender we’ve had compete in the Gladiator Arena,” said David Hurwitz, executive producer of “American Gladiators.” Even if his stand-up career never quite takes off, Hetherington will be content if his “Gladiators” appearance inspires others across the country. “The career I would ultimately like to evolve into is an inspirational person in the personal health of others,” he said. “I feel very lucky I’m able to help people with my personal training and stand-up.”