Top Fitness Challenge teams keep losing, change places

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Carl Antonelli of Champion, a member of the Because We Can Fitness Challenge team, works out in a fitness class Friday morning at St. Joe’s at the Mall in Niles. With his help, Because We Can was this week’s Team of the Week for the best seven-day showing.

The Big Three are shrinking.

So are the other 14 teams in the 2017 Tribune Chronicle / Mercy Health Fitness Challenge.

But the Big Three — or perhaps we should say the Tiny Three — have held the top three spots all three weeks so far of the eight-week community weight loss competition to benefit service organizations. They just keep switching the order.

The Warren-based team known as Just Weight strengthened its stronghold on first place at 8.3 percent of its starting weight lost. It’s the first team to hit the 8 percent mark.

Niles-based Do It Again, stuck in third the first two weeks, powered into second place at 7.7 percent of starting weight lost.

“We are starting to improve,” Do It team captain Brian McConnell said. McConnell has led several teams to the Fitness Challenge title in the past 16 years.

“We know this will not be easy but we have been in this for years and we know what we have to do,” he said “This is when it’s starts to get hard and when you have to push yourself and be self-disciplined. We know it’s going to be tough, but we will do it.”

Meanwhile, the Believers Disappearing Act appear to be living up to their name — just not the way they meant for it to happen. In first place after one week and in second after two weeks, the Disappearing Act dropped to third place in the third week at 7.2 percent.

It’s a trend team captain Rudy Pekarovic hopes to halt. The name is supposed to suggest how skinny they plan to be, not how low they plan to sink in the rankings.

“Well, the motto we try harder worked for Avis for 50 years. It only worked for us for a week, and hopefully the spiral stops at third,” Pekarovic said. “We hopefully can pick up the pace.

“Jack LaLanne was right — if it tastes good spit it out. Easier said than done.

“The Disappearing Act — now you see us; in eight weeks you’ll need your glasses,” Pekarovic said.

Meanwhile, Low Ton remained in fourth place at just shy of 6 percent and Heavy Decisions kept its hold on fifth place at 5.4 percent to round out the top five.

Overall, the 17 five-player teams combined for a loss of 961 pounds over three weeks, about 5.1 percent of their starting weights.

All teams are guaranteed to send at least $225 to their chosen service organization. The top 10 teams win more for their favorite groups, up to $1,125 for first place. Or more…


Here’s the sweet treat: The team posting the best single-week performance each week earns a $10 bonus to tag onto its earnings for its designated nonprofit.

This week, the honors and the 10-spot land on the plates of the quintet known as Because We Can, which also made the biggest jump up the standings.

Because We Can, which started out as the lightest team in the Challenge at a combined 947 pounds, worked off nearly 12 pounds in the past seven days for a one-week slimming of about 2.1 percent.

That shot the team based out of St. Joe’s at the Mall up six notches to ninth place.

“We all lost this week and I think we are settling in on good habits that are showing forth in the weight loss,” team captain Shirley Lisk said.

“Ted (Barritt) did good this week because he did good by snow-blowing his neighbors’ driveways. Carl (Antonelli) is doing good on his smoothie diet and exercise. So we have a great motivated team that is also a helpful team,” Lisk said.


Perhaps it was the Super Bowl and all the snack foods knocked back during the course of football-watching parties. Or maybe it was just loser’s fatigue.

Whatever the case, nine of the 85 people playing this year — NINE! — gained weight. GAINED!

Every team showed an overall loss, which, you know, is the point of a weight LOSS competition.

Let’s hope the two weeks of the Winter Olympic Games isn’t as heavy as the one night of the Super Bowl.


This week, the service organizations spotlight falls on the Rich Center for Autism at Youngstown State University, the designation of Do It Again.

Team captain Brian McConnell said the center holds a special place in his heart and for his family.

“My son (Jared) has attended there for eight years,” McConnell said. “He is 17 and still going there.”

The Rich Center for Autism was established in 1995 at Youngstown State University for the “creation, use and enhancement of innovative educational programs specifically designed to enhance the individuals’ opportunities to achieve their full potentials.”

McConnell-led Fitness Challenge teams have been playing for the Rich Center for nearly as long as Jared has been enrolled.

“We are very grateful that we have such a great school in the Mahoning Valley, and the people who work there are very special people,” McConnell said.