Get fit trims 2,500 pounds

Published 1:53 pm Friday, April 15, 2011

Three members of In It To Win It were recognized Thursday at the YMCA for winners of the 2011 Be Fit contest, part of the United Ways Get Fit, Be Fit Challenges. They are, from left: Betsy Mental, Katie Sollid and Melony Berndt. Members not present were Chad Mental and Brandy Waldron.

Twelve weeks ago, hundreds of Austin area residents were collectively putting a lot more weight into their steps.

But because United Way’s Get Fit Be Fit challenge is over, more than 2,500 pounds of their stress is gone.

The competition, which rewarded one group for being fit and three groups for getting fit, saw several hundred more participants this year and even more improvements in health.

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The 603 Get Fit participants composed 96 teams that competed for nutrition and exercise points. Winners received items including fitness bags, shirts, gift certificates, iPod Shuffles, gift baskets and more.

Winners of this year’s Get Fit Challenge was Cinderfella and The Step Sisters: pictured from left: Chris Grev, United Way of Mower County, Karen Oldenkamp, Jan Murphy, Kim Bumgarner, Bob Bumgarner and Kristi Stasi, Austin YMCA. - Photo submitted

However, most participants saw the event as a way to hold their weight loss goals accountable — not wanting to upset their teammates.

Anna Otto, a member of a winning team in the Get Fit challenge said, “There’s a lot of accountability. It’s not just for ourselves; it’s for the team.”

She and her teammates said working out with a group of friends relieved some of the pressures of self consciousness. Several of the members of Otto’s team lost nearly 10 pounds in just four out of the 12 weeks.

Team Cinderfella and The Step Sisters, winners of mini-challenge no. three, had the highest average weight loss. Between four people, they lost 84.6 pounds in 12 weeks.

The United Way’s event isn’t just for weight loss, however. The Be Fit portion drew 173 participants who gained points for nutrition and exercise commitment. Teamwork proved to hold Be Fit-ers accountable with their goals, as well.

“They proved they were very motivated,” said Betsy Mental, team captain of team In it to Win it. “I didn’t feel that was my job.”

Chris Grev of the United Way has seen motivation and commitment increase within the competition over the years. By breaking the competition into segments and awarding more than one winner, she thinks people are more likely to complete the challenge.

Although the 12-week competition is three weeks longer than it’s been in the past, Grev said it’s been better for the contestants.

“That’s a long time to be focused, but it’s also the amount of time needed to develop a habit,” she said.

Another perk was this year’s website, which helped contestants enter and track their points. The site also had a poll that asked for feedback from participants. Grev and others will carry this format into next year’s competition and possibly alter more things to make it better, once again.