Losing to the beat of their own drums

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Lana Eddy-Campfield, center, leads a drum class at St. Joe’s at the Mall. Class members move around exercise balls mounted on tubs while drumming to the rhythm of music pounding from throughout the classroom.

To see complete results from this week, click here

Two laps remain in the race to the bottom of the scales in the 2019 Tribune Chronicle / Mercy Health Fitness Challenge.

The Big Dogs had a big week to retake the lead in the Go-Getters Division. In the Dynamos class, Just Weight held onto the top spot, but just like their waistlines, the gap between first and second is slimmer.

The Fitness Challenge pits 24 five-member teams from across the Mahoning Valley in an eight-week weight loss competition. The teams that lose the greatest percentages of their starting weights win the fattest share of prize money for nonprofit service organizations of their choice.

After six weeks, the 120 players are a combined 1,680 pounds lighter for an average of 14 pounds of brand new skinniness per person. That works out to nearly 6.2 percent of the starting weight lost.


In the Go-Getters division, it’s been all Mission Slimpossible and Big Dogs.

Mission Slimpossible paced the group in Weeks 1 and 5. The Big Dogs pawed ahead in Weeks 2, 3 and 4, and this week took back the lead.

The top three spots now belong to the Big Dogs at 10.2 percent of starting weight lost; Mission Slimpossible, 9.7 percent; and Blubber Busters, 6.2 percent.

“I think we broke through the wall,” Dogs captain Glenn McClellan said. “Last week, several of us didn’t have the good results. We had a good workout week this week and kinda got through it.”

The plan is to stay the course and hope for the best.

“We know that Mission Slimpossible can come back,” he said. “They’re doing very well.”


In the Dynamos division, where the veteran teams play, defending Fitness Challenge champions Just Weight continue to stake their claim. They’ve led every week except for Week 3, when The Slimsons ruled the scales.

At the six-week mark, the top three teams in the Dynamos division are Just Weight at 12.2 percent of starting weight lost; The Slimsons at 10.5 percent; and Thinning the Herd, 9.4 percent.

Last week, Just Weight held a commanding 2.47 percent lead over then-second place Thinning the Herd after five weeks. The Slimsons turned in a monster week this week to retake second place and are 1.75 percent out of first.

Just Weight captain Jim Miller said his team is neither panicking nor issuing smack talk after seeing its lead shrivel by a half percent.

“No comments at this point,” Miller said. “Still working hard and staying true to our way of eating.

“Best of luck to all teams. Keep up the great work and remember, this is for a great cause.”


The team with the best single-week performance each week earns a bonus $10 for its designated charities. This week, Team of the Week honors go to the Big Dogs for the Go-Getters with a 1.3 percent one-week showing, and The Slimsons for the Dynamos at 1.53 percent over the last week.

It’s the third Team of the Week showing for the Dogs and the second for The Slimsons.


So you braved the cold to power through a brisk, 30-minute walk and now your calorie calculator says it was worth only 150 calories? That’s not even a full candy bar’s worth of calories.

Thirty minutes of calisthenics — about 200 calories. Low impact aerobics — about 240. Why bother?

“It’s not the calories you burn while exercising,” St. Joe’s at the Mall exercise physiologist and trainer Lana Eddy-Campfield said. “When you’re fit, your body burns calories all day long. The 220 calories you burned while exercising is the icing on the cake.”

A fit body is like the big engine in a high-performance car — it burns a lot of fuel, she said.

“Exercise is safe, controlled stress on the cells of the body,” she said. The body has to work at a higher level to perform the exercise and adapts to a higher level for everyday activities as well.

Exercise builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat. The organs of an in-shape body function at a more efficient level. Exercise lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, controls lipids and has been proven to battle 12 kinds of cancer among a myriad of other disease-preventing bonuses, Eddy-Campfield said.

Exercise even energizes the brain, actually increasing the number of cells in the part of the brain that boost wisdom, discernment and memory, she said.

So a fit body at rest — think the big engine on a muscle car — burns significantly more calories than an out-of-shape body. The calories burned during exercise are bonus calories. Also, you’re life is far less likely to be interrupted by trips to the hospital.


At its most basic, exercise is movement. The forms movement can take are more varied than any restaurant menu.

One of the newer exercise offerings at St. Joe’s at the Mall is a cardio drum class. Students plant a large, stability exercise ball in a plastic tub, like placing a globe on a pedestal. Then they take a pair of drumsticks and wail on the ball to the beat of thumping music blasting throughout the classroom.

There’s dancing, coordinated movement, smacking sticks against your neighbors and generally a lot of sweat and smiles. Think of the movie “Drumline” without the band uniforms.

“The principle behind it is activity and exercise,” said Eddy-Campfield, class instructor. “It requires the whole body to be involved. And it’s conditioning. That’s what we do out here.”

“It’s fun,” she said. “Everyone likes to think they’re the drummer and beat on things. Listen to the beat. You’re the drummer — drive the band.”

There’s also science behind it.

“Everything in life is a rhythm. The brain locks onto rhythms whether you think so or not,” she said. “Even if you shut the song off, the brain keeps the beat. It sends the signal to the arms and you can keep going and keep the rhythm.”

Studies have shown the mathematics of music — the beat — helps organize the brain. The reshuffling, the putting things in order to the rhythm, has been proven to improve cognition and memory and reduce the effects of aging and dementia.

“It helps with coordination. It reduces the effects of dementia. It improves balance. All that besides the fact that you’re moving quickly and getting healthier,” Eddy-Campfield said.

Working toward better health simply does not need to be tedious.


When the Fitness Challenge began, 20 of the 24 teams weighed a combined 1,000 or more pounds. Now it’s 18.

The PsyCare Hungry Gamers, which started at 1,005.5 pounds, have dropped 44.25 pounds and after six weeks, now weigh in at a combined 961.25 pounds.

Trumbull Family Fitness 2 began at 1,004.5 pounds and has lightened up to 978.75.

With two weeks to go, at least two more teams are positioned to shrink below the half-ton mark. HUM Heavenly Losers have dropped 33.75 pounds to 1,016.75, and Because We Can 2 has dropped 45.25 pounds to shrink to 1,015.75 pounds.

No new teams joined the 100-pound club this week — teams that have lost a combined 100 or more pounds — but the number should move up to at least six by next week. Lowry Family Dental is knocking down the scales at 97.5 pounds lost.

The five teams that have top 100 pounds lost are the Big Dogs, 131.5 pounds; The Slimsons, 120.5 pounds; Just Weight, 116.25 pounds; Mission Slimpossible, 110.5; and Thinning the Herd, 109.5 pounds.