Based on the idea popularized on television to make losing weight a team competition, the Merage Jewish Community Center Fitness Department launched a 10-week “Largest Loser” program. Last year at the end of the first season, the 30 participants lost a total of 450 pounds! This season’s Largest Loser competition ended last month, and the 48 new participants topped season one in net weight loss with over 720 pounds lost! The winner of the program, Andy Johnson, lost an impressive 58 pounds, and the runner up, Audra Martin, lost over 30 pounds.
Andy says, “Deciding to be a part of the Largest Loser program was one the best decisions I ever made. It gave me the support, inspiration and knowledge to become healthy and fit. I came into the program hoping to lose 20 pounds, but I ended up losing 58.”
According to Jason Myers, founder of the program and Merage JCC sports and wellness director, “This season proved to be much more than just a version of the TV reality show. The Largest Loser program impacted the lives of the participants not only by weight lost, but in improving their overall health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, encouraging healthy eating habits and establishing a strong foundation for how to exercise correctly.”
The JCC’s Largest Loser trainers and dietician organized the participants into groups based on age and fitness level. Andy adds, “I attribute my success this time to my amazing trainers and dietician. There is no way I would have been able to lose so much weight on my own. The friendly competition and team spirit really helped to keep me motivated. I feel like I’ve been able to turn the clock back twenty years!”
The workout component of the program was made up of three group workouts weekly with a personal trainer/coach. Participants were also encouraged to exercise with a buddy or on their own. Fitness specialists in Pilates and indoor cycling also trained the groups to expose participants to different types of workouts. On Sundays throughout the 10-week program, the groups competed against each other in hikes, relays and bootcamp style workouts.
Each participant was put on a strict diet designed by the program’s dietician, Sarah Bernhoit. Sarah met with the participants in small counseling sessions to educate them and give them tips on how to shed the weight through healthy eating. Participants could also choose to order calorie-controlled, pre-made, fresh kosher meals prepared by Blueberry Hill. Sarah took participants on guided food shopping tours, offered recipes and invited guest speakers to talk about nutrition and weight loss.
The Merage JCC’s full-service fitness center has a large workout room featuring panoramic views and closed circuit TVs. Equipment includes PreCor, TKO, Star Trac, Paramount, Icarian and more. Personal training and Pilates reformer training are also available. More than 50 group exercise classes are offered weekly.
For more information about fitness at the Merage JCC, go to www.jccoc.org or call (949) 435-3400. The Merage Jewish Community Center is located at 1 Federation Way in Irvine.