Andrew Norman is not the man he used to be – even friends and relatives no longer recognise him.

The Doreen call centre manager did not realise how extreme his transformation was until he attended his father’s 70th birthday party and guests thought he was a stranger.

Norman, 38, has stripped 54.4 kilograms from his 1.83 metre frame and went from couch potato to marathon runner – he has even raced the Puffing Billy train.

Tipping the scales at 138.9 kilograms in February 2011 and struggling to find clothes to fit was his lowest point.

‘‘It was the heaviest I had ever been. I felt unfit, I felt bad and all of a sudden I felt I really had to do something,’’ he says.

‘‘I was driving through Laurimar and there was this billboard about bootcamp. I had tried individual training and losing weight by myself, I had tried different eating plans, but I needed assistance.’’

He joined Doreen’s Glowing Results bootcamps with its founder, Linda Mancino. ‘‘She had been there and done it and could aid me on my journey,’’ he says.

Norman says he was one of the heaviest people at the first bootcamp, which involves training with a group of people.

‘‘The first thing we did was go for a run. By 100 metres I started walking, but I didn’t give up. The other people there encouraged me,’’ he says.

‘‘Motivation and encouragement not only from Linda and the trainers but from the bootcampers [members of the training group], is the key. Everyone has their story and is happy to share the good and the bad.’’

Norman’s wife, Julie, 41, lost 40 kilograms as a fellow bootcamp member, and in doing so, the pair gained a social life through the exercise group.

‘‘We moved here in 2006 but knew no one in the area. Bootcamp became a social event and we got so many friends out of this,’’ he says. ‘‘If you are out five or six nights a week training and going to different classes, and it’s all outdoors and fun, you look forward to it.’’

Norman worked with Mancino, a Doreen local, on a nutrition program and met weekly with her to discuss goals and weight loss. ‘‘I threw the scales out at home but had someone monitoring me.’’

As the weight gradually fell off over 13 months, Norman shed his previous wardrobe. ‘‘We took a tandem trailer full of my clothes away; I never want to see them again,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ve got energy now, I enjoy life, getting out and being out in the sun. I am no longer a couch potato, we bootcampers get together in our own time for a run on Sundays.’’

The group also travels to races and fun runs locally and interstate.

‘‘I ran my first [run] in my life in July, 2011 – it was five kilometres. And I’ve built up distance over time. In July I did my first half marathon on the Gold Coast. A group of us [from bootcamp] said, ‘Let’s do it’, and we trained together and we ran it together.

‘‘I’ve even raced the Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Emerald, about 14 kilometres up hill. There was a group of us from bootcamp. Unfortunately, the train won.

‘‘In July this year, I did a full 42-kilometre run in the Melbourne Marathon.’’

Norman says with Christmas looming, he will be practising moderation. ‘‘I have come too far now,’’ he says.

Trainer Mancino, who lost 40kg and has kept it off for years, says there is one simple tip for anyone. ‘‘Turn off the telly,’’ she says. ‘‘Do it now and you won’t look back.’’