Kingz, Just Weight lead the pack

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When legendary playwright George Bernard Shaw penned the now famous proverb more than 100 years ago, I’m not sure he had our very own weight loss competition in mind … but maybe he should have.

That’s right, for the third straight week, pound-dropping juggernaut Kingz of Carz sits atop the leaderboard in the 12th annual Tribune Chronicle / St. Elizabeth-St. Joseph Health Center Fitness Challenge.

Now seven weeks in, the field is running out of time to catch the quintet working out of Toyota of Warren.

After yet another strong week, which saw the Kingz drop an impressive 1.4 percent of their initial weight, team captain Tino Merlo’s crew has a foothold on the top spot with 13.64 percent lost overall.

The rest of the top four teams also remained the same this week.

Just Weight is in second place, losing a bit of ground this week but still within arm’s length of the leaders.

The fivesome out of the YMCA of Trumbull County dropped 0.92 percent this week and sits at 12.96 percent overall, which puts them 0.68 percent behind the Kingz.

In third position, the veteran group Wellness Warriors held firm, losing 1.06 percent for the week and 11.87 percent overall.

Rounding out the top four, Fatagins lost 0.85 percent for the week, and 11.46 percent overall.

In this week’s biggest move, Weight No More continued its sudden rise up the board, jumping in front of Mocha House / Warren Strong to grab the five spot.

With 2.11 percent lost this week, Weight No More recorded the best score of the seventh week.

Mocha House dropped to sixth position with 10.11 percent lost.

What’s cooking?

The Fitness Challenge works like this:

Teams are comprised of five individuals who select their favorite service organization for which they are participating.

After an initial weigh-in to gauge starting points, the team who loses the highest percentage of weight over the 10-week competition wins at least $1,400 for their chosen charity.

Runner-up receives $900; third, $550; fourth, $400; fifth to seventh, $325 each; eighth to 10th, $275 each; all others, $225.

Additionally, the team that loses the highest percentage of weight each week will receive a $10 bonus award. This week, that team is Weight No More.

After the initial weigh-in, which occurred Jan. 16, 10 weekly weigh-ins will be held at various locations around Trumbull County for all 48 teams.

The final weight check will be held March 27, and the contest winners announced April 6.

Dig in!

Vince Peterson leaned back in his stool at the Cupcake Cakery along Youngstown Road in Warren, pondering how this whole Fitness Challenge thing got started.

“A buddy of mine was telling me one day about him and a few other guys who put in like $50 to lose weight, with the winner getting the pot,” Peterson said. “He asked if I wanted to be a part of it.”

That’s when the idea clicked for Peterson.

“I said, that would be nice, but why not do it on a bigger scale and do it for charity?” Peterson asked his friend.

From there, Peterson contacted Tribune Chronicle editor Guy Coviello and events coordinator Sue Shafer for help.

“I ran the idea by them and they said that would be great,” Peterson said.

Now, over a decade later, the competition has grown far beyond Peterson’s wildest expectations.

“Sue and Guy work their butts off,” Peterson said. “It’s a lot to keep up with. We’ve had as many as 77 teams in a year.”

A Trumbull County probation officer and pastor, Peterson wears many hats in the community.

Now, he’s also known as the co-founder of the Fitness Challenge.

Not just a creator, this year Peterson is – once again – taking part in the competition.

He is team captain of Trilogy, which sits in 25th position after seven weeks, losing 5.63 percent of their initial weight thus far.

Individually, Peterson said he has lost more than 20 pounds so far this year. He has also been a part of a championship team in 2006.

However, losing weight wasn’t on his mind during an interview Thursday, as he slowly hovered over “The Hulk” specialty burger at the Cupcake Cakery, his new favorite local spot.

“They have gluten-free stuff too,” Peterson chuckled.

Pass the salt …

Along with telling the story of the humble beginnings of the Fitness Challenge, Peterson had a message for his biggest rival, state Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Brookfield) of Soon to be, Skinny Ds.

The 2014 Fitness Challenge hasn’t been kind to the Skinny Ds, as they sit in 38th place through seven weeks with 3.39 percent lost.

“Tell Sean I know he hasn’t lost any weight, so I want him to meet my new weight-loss product,” Peterson said, holding up a double “The Hulk” burger.

“The Hulk” consists of two chicken strips, bacon, cheese, pulled pork and barbecue sauce.

“I guarantee, if he comes here and has two of these, he’ll drop 10 pounds,” Peterson pledged. “I’ve never steered him wrong before.”

Will O’Brien take the bait?

Fun with numbers

The pounds continue to drop.

An updated look at the board, six teams now boast weight loss decreases that exceed 10 percent of their initial weight.

In total, teams have now lost exactly 6.1 percent of their initial weight.

With three weeks yet to go, it’s safe to say that things are heating up.

Week eight is right around the bend. See you then.