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Fitness Challenge wraps up 2 tons lighter

April 3, 2012
By BURTON COLE Tribune Chronicle ( , Tribune Chronicle |

And the Fitness Challenge winner is...

Sorry, not yet. Come back Sunday when all will be revealed.

Final numbers are being double-checked and the winner is being confirmed before we weigh in here with the fat splash of a skinnier Mahoning Valley in the 11th annual Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Health Centers Fitness Challenge.

Article Photos

Victor Bozis, wellness coach at the YMCA in Warren, spots Miguel Medina, on the bench. Just Weight team members Jim Miller, left, and Stephanie Iacozili spot the ends of the barbell.

In the meantime, here are a few teasers from preliminary numbers:

Fat facts

Less than a tenth of a percent separates first and second place in preliminary numbers;

Just Weight apparently will make its third appearance as Team of the Week with a blistering seven-day loss of 4.65 percent of their starting weight for the week in their quest to overtake first place Believers' Bulge Busters. Will it be enough? Wait for it

Main course

This year's Fitness Challenge featured the first team made up entirely of adults with developmental disabilities.

The Grand Olympians are based out of The Nicholson Center in Warren, which provides training and employment for adults with special needs.

Lori Babik, a community liaison at the Nicholson Center, talked with team members Scotty, Jozlynn, Sean, Marcus and Rashida about their strategies and what they learned.

"Jozlynn said that it was more exercise for her: 'I was doing Zumba on the Wii and walking more outside. I like kickboxing, too.' Sean said that he was working with horses once a week, and he began playing golf," Babik said.

"Scotty said that he was making an effort to walk more: 'I got on the exercise bike, too. That's a lot of fun.' Marcus was doing the same thing.

"I don't have high blood pressure and my legs aren't swelling," Jozlynn said.

The team's designated charity is the Special Olympics, which will be receiving $225 on their behalf.

"We love going to Special Olympics and I'm going to be running this year," Jozlynn said.

Babik said that Marcus wants to run long distance, and Sean and Scotty are happy to participate by running.

"This team is excited about participating next year for the Fitness Challenge. The response has been so positive that there will be more than one team from The Nicholson Center participating next year," Babik said.

On the menu

Each team designated a nonprofit service organization for which they are playing. All prize money will be donated to each team's charity.

Prizes are first place, $1,350; second, $900; third, $540; fourth, $360; fifth to seventh, $315 each; eighth to 10th, $270 each; all others. $225.

In addition the team with the best single-week showing each week earns a bonus $10.


As noted above, the $10 bonus for best single-week performance will go to Just Weight with nearly 4.6 percent (in preliminary numbers).

Tips and tasty tidbits

It's been 10 weeks. Some Fitness Challengers either already are at or could be ready for an advanced exercise program.

Ryan Foertch, manager of the Humility of Mary Health Partners Competitive Edge Sports Medicine, said kicking it up to advanced training is much the same as when beginners moved up to the intermediate level - increase frequency, intensity and time of workouts, but only one variable at a time until all three are at peak levels.

"Your body will hit plateaus, which can be caused by inadequate rest and / or boredom to the routine. To help prevent this, give your body a couple of days rest each week, and change your workout routines every other week," he said.

Obviously, it also helps not to get hurt.

"Proper warm-up and stretching after exercise can reduce the risk of injury," Foertch said. "Proper warm-up exercises (for example) would be walking, jumping jacks, skipping, high-knee walking, lunges, side lunges, toe walking, heel walking, marching, etc."

Gentle stretching after exercise is just as important in keep muscles from cramping and doing otherwise nasty things from a sudden cool-down.

The other rule: "Have fun!" Foertch said.

Groups we'd like to take to dinner

A total 35 service organizations are represented by the 66 Fitness Challenge teams this year.

Here are the stories of two more of the selected charities.

The Fat and Furious team is one of three teams playing for the Juvenile Diabetes Association, along with Mid-Waist Crisis!!! and The Plastic Losers.

Belinda Hillegas, captain of the Fat and Furious, said, "While I was pregnant with both of my kids, I had gestational diabetes, and never having to deal with diabetes before, it was tough. I had to learn how to eat different and give myself shots, and it was all worth it because I have two beautiful healthy kids.

"After I had my kids, I ended up with Type 2 diabetes," she said. "I just can't imagine being a child with diabetes. It's hard enough on an adult that has never had it.

"I am eating healthier and exercising and controlling my diabetes with just diet. I just want to help kids so they get a better understanding of why it is so important to eat healthy and stay healthy, and maybe one day they will find a cure for any child dealing with diabetes."

The Big Uglies selected Cornerstone of Hope.

"I think our charity would make a great story in the wake of the Chardon tragedy," team captain Jim Parry said. "The Cornerstone of Hope is providing support for students at Chardon.

"It was founded by my good friend Mark (and Christi) Tripodi, who lost a child to meningitis. He realized that families who suffer the loss of young children need a support system. He quit his job and started the Conerstone of Hope."

Cornerstone of Hope, based in Independence, lists as its mission to provide "comprehensive grief support services to those seeking support after the death of a loved one and to the professional community who serves the bereaved."

Smacking of the lips

Defending champions Believers' Bulge Busters led this year's Fitness Challenge out of the gate and - if they survive the onslaught by Just Weight - will be the first team in the 11 years of the Challenge to never trail.

Just Weight ranked 19th after Week 1 and have continued charging since.

The Wellness Warriors, in a comfortable third place last week, have ranked as high as second.

In fourth last week were the hard-charging Mocha House Health Solutions, which started in 33rd place and have been putting together the Challenge "Cinderalla story" since.

In fifth last week was Weigh Out of Control, which started in 13th place, the only time it hasn't been in the Top 10. They've been as high third place.

And that's the setup. See you Sunday.



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