When losing is always good - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

When losing is always good

Gladden Farms residents take to walkways, gyms to lose as much as possible and stay healthy

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Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:17 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Usually, the biggest loser in a community seldom gets together with neighbors.

But, in Marana's Gladden Farms, big losers gather weekly, and celebrate their losses.

In partnership with the community association and SNAP Fitness, about 50 Gladden Farms residents are participating in a free, six-week long Biggest Loser competition.

Each week, residents take part in a free one-hour weekly workout with personal trainers from the SNAP Fitness facility located on Silverbell. They get in conditioning and cardiovascular activities.

Resident Kristina Lopez saw the community flyer and thought it would help with her new year's resolution of getting fit and staying healthy. Lopez is enjoying the social aspect of the competition because she has lived in community since April.

"It is nice to meet other people you have seen around but you don't really know who they are," Lopez said. "It is a good way for me to get to know other people in the community."

Though the workouts aren't one-on-one, she said the group makes the workouts sometimes better than other fitness experiences she has had.

"I have had personal trainers in the past and they are pretty expensive," Lopez said. "I was paying $150 a month and I was getting four to five personal sessions during that month, but they were only a half hour long. You don't really get a good enough workout in the half hour as you do in an hour."

The idea for the competition stems from a popular television show on which contestants try to lose as much weight as possible. Those who win each week's competition by losing the most weight become the "biggest loser."

Organization, participation and corporate support took a bit of work.

Kristina Allen, the lifestyle director for the community, said lifestyle programs are offered to Gladden Farms residents, their friends and families. The idea for this competition is among those coming from a committee of residential volunteers.

"When we got together at the end of last year and started talking about the things we wanted to focus on in 2010, one of the largest things that came out of it was that they would really like to see a focus not only on some healthy behavioral changes overall," Allen said, "but also some things that would focus on some of the amenities that we have inside the neighborhoods."

Participants and members of the community get to use paved walking paths and stationary exercise stations. Using them is one of the perks Karen Essif, a participant in the contest, has really enjoyed.

"It's nice being in this type of community where they have these types of events and it really brings people together and you get to utilize the area," Essif said. "I like taking advantage of the facilities."

Essif has noticed a difference in herself after using the equipment.

"Even in the three weeks time, I can really see the difference," she said. "Not only in my energy level, but I just feel stronger."

Each week, participants e-mail Allen their weight. She privately tallies the numbers and calculates the percentages each person has lost. At the end of each week, the participant who lost the largest percentage gets a prize. The first week's winner was Essif.

"It's been a fantastic response," Allen said. "So far we are only two weeks into the program, but we have already seen significant lifestyle changes with some people. They are out walking, taking advantage of the paths. We had seen some good weight loss even in the first week."

The person who loses the highest percentage at the end of the competition will win a one-year membership to SNAP Fitness.

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