"She was always just enrolling everyone in her positivity," the trainer told PEOPLE.
Chris Powell, trainer and host on Extreme Weight Loss, is remembering Brandi Mallory, a former competitor on the show who died last week at age 40.
“It's so sad that she's gone because of who she was for so many, including myself,” Powell told PEOPLE. “She was just an incredible person.”
Mallory, a makeup artist, appeared on season 4 of the reality series in 2014, dropping from 329 pounds to 178 pounds after training with Powell for a year. At one point, Mallory competed in a Half Iron Man alongside Powell, running, swimming, and biking over 70 miles over the course of eight hours.
Powell reflected on the Half Ironman experience. “So you go through 70.3 miles with someone and throughout that entire process, that process of shared suffering, you bond a lot,” he said. “And I just remember crossing the finish line with her at the very end. I mean, we were all exhausted and all of us just broke down and started crying together and just hugging each other because it was just such a monumental moment for all of us in our lives. I'm lucky just to have had the opportunity to share that with her,” adding that she was “one of my favorites.”
After her time on the show, Mallory gained a dedicated following on Instagram, as she showed off her glamorous makeup work and energetic dance videos. Mallory also worked as a dance instructor for Dance Your Pounds Off in Atlanta.
“That girl could dance. And she always brought that energy with everything that we were doing,” Powell remembered. “She really owned the body positivity movement. It was great because she was very open about her struggles with her weight and everything, but the fact that she would just get out there and she would just fully express herself, you could feel how free she was. And that in turn inspired so many other people to jump on board to accept and embrace and appreciate their bodies.”
Powell also told PEOPLE that he was surprised by Mallory’s consistent, authentic enthusiasm from the very beginning of her training. “She was so spunky right off the bat, and she just danced everywhere. She was always just enrolling everyone in her positivity,” he remembered. “It's funny because you're like, okay, we'll see where this goes in two weeks… and she was still just that. Then after four weeks, she was still glowing. And then after two months I'm like, alright, she's legitimately just a bright, shining light for everybody around her.”
Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.