Motivating members can be challenging, as everyone beats to their own drum. However, competition can be good inspiration. It worked for Angie Berry, 47, of Wenatchee, Wash., and the national winner in her age group for Gold’s Gym’s 12-Week Challenge.
Berry was not much of an exerciser, prior to joining her local Gold’s Gym about a year ago. She originally joined because she had a lot of co-workers that worked out there and there was friendly peer pressure to join. “It was kind of intimidating at first, you felt like people could watch you [at the gym],” Berry said. “Becoming familiar with the gym helps, it gets easier. Overall, I love the gym, it’s kind of addicting after a while!”
When the 12-Week Challenge opportunity presented itself in January 2011, Berry, who was already losing weight on her own, decided to sign up. Again, she had the support of her co-workers. “This was the challenge I
needed to reach the goal in my head,” she said.
Participants had to be members of the gym and also pay a program fee to be part of the 12-Week Challenge. All participants were weighed and took a “before” picture. The challenge then offered information nights to give participants ideas on how to lose weight by giving tips, showing past winners for motivation. Members were encouraged to get a trainer, but it was not a requirement. A dietitian also spoke to the group and offered services, but they were not a requirement either. An information night was held again toward the end of the challenge to help members step up their workouts and do the last bit needed to reach their goals.
Berry got hooked on Zumba, but as she progressed in her workouts her knee began to give her some problems, so she then signed up to work with a trainer to get the workouts with modifications that she would need. She worked out with a trainer both one on one and as part of a small group bootcamp. “The trainer really helped a lot. She honed in on the aches and pains of the group and gave modifications for everyone. She made bootcamp individualized for each person. For me, she would modify the deep lunges. In one on one training, we worked with my knees a lot and they got better. The stronger my legs got, the better my knees felt.”
To track her diet Berry used the bodybugg® calorie management system. This helped her track her eating and the number of calories she was consuming and then expending. “I tried to stick to a 1,200 calorie diet plan. My goal was to try to get to a 3,200 calorie burn every day. I found out I burn 1,400 calories just by sitting with my metabolism so I would work out and just move more during the day to reach my goal. I would clean the house or walk during the day, park further away — things like that,” Berry said.
With the challenge, Berry lost 42 pounds. In total from the time she started working out alone, she lost 93 pounds overall. Winners of the challenge were chosen based on four criteria: before and after photos, amount of weight lost, percentage of body weight lost and a personal essay. For her essay Berry wrote about what her life was like being overweight and about her transformation with her trainer. “You think you have all this energy, but that’s all in your head. My energy now has increased so much. My endurance is huge from what it used to be. My aches and pains went away. My knee will always hurt some, but my legs are stronger.”
Berry won both locally and nationally with the challenge. “I thought it was unbelievable that I had won! I thought, ‘you’re kidding right?’ I thought that my knee was keeping me from so much,” she said. Locally, Berry won $1,500 and nationally she won $3,000 for being the winner of her 40-49 age group.
What kind of weight loss program can you start to help inspire your members? Make it a competition throughout your gym, or your few locations within the same city. However, make sure to provide enough information and support to your members because that is what they will really need. Berry loved her competition, but she said it could definitely get expensive participating, especially if you sign up for a trainer.
Fortunately, Berry had the budget to cover the costs. She suggested offering members more free information like a menu for the week based on different calorie counts or a different workout every week for those trying to lose weight alone.
Get creative — whatever way you can come up with to inspire members they will surely appreciate the help and support. -CS
By Ali Cicerchi