The king of Tonga has a weight problem. He’s 87 years old and weighs 444 pounds. In fact, the entire nation of Tonga—population 110,000, near Fiji—has weight problems. But help has arrived in the form of two former Equinox trainers, Trevor Spring and Kim Overton, who flew over for a surfing vacation last month but have since been taken up by the royal family as unofficial fitness consultants to their dominion. They placed their first long-distance call to Ben Mathis-Lilley.
How’d you get in with the island royals?
SPRING: We called the only gym on the main island; the king works out there. And the manager offered us a job.
OVERTON: The king’s granddaughter has already been part of our fitness class. SPRING: It’s good we’ve gotten one member of the royal family.
Have you met the king yet?
OVERTON: We have an appointment next week at the pool where he swims, in the International Dateline Hotel. We plan to talk about his health and the nutritional and physical state and future of his country.
How do you plan to get him into shape?
SPRING: From what we’ve heard, he’s not able to move that much. We’re going to have to start very, very basic, make sure his heart’s strong, and from there we’ll try to get him burning more calories.
What’s wrong with how Tongans work out?
OVERTON: A lot of people’s routines are picked up from a poster. They really don’t know what they’re doing.
And their diet?
SPRING: Fipi. Fipi?
F-I-P-I. It’s the name for mutton flaps. These things are caked in a layer of fat.
OVERTON: It’s something that we would maybe eat once.
SPRING: It’s a sign of status to get a lot of food. For royalty, if they can’t stand up, that’s good.
OVERTON: [The local farmers] grow food to sell so they can buy the greasy American food.