Tracy Burns is looking forward to being a loser.
The second-grade teacher signed up for the Ultimate Loser Challenge at the Salvation Army of Augusta Kroc Center with a goal of dropping 50 pounds before she has hip-replacement surgery this year. She is also doing it to set a positive example for her pupils at Barton Chapel Elementary School, who ask her about her workouts a lot.
“They just love it,” Burns said.
Augusta will soon be awash in people like Burns trying to get into better shape. Those who do best will see cash or prizes.
Two big community weight-loss efforts are enrolling now. The Family Y of Greater Augusta is enrolling teams of four or five individuals, schools, churches and businesses for its fifth annual Team Lean, which kicks off Monday. The Kroc Center is enrolling its members through Jan. 15 for its contest, which starts Jan. 23. Both will run 12 weeks.
Team Lean follows the weight loss of individuals and teams, with a top individual prize of $500 and a small-team top prize of $1,500. Schools will compete for a top prize of $2,000, and churches will try for a $1,000 top prize.
Corporate teams will compete for the honor of the corporate cup, but some businesses look at it as part of a wellness plan, “an opportunity to set a healthy trend among their employees,” said Millie Schumacher, the community relations director for the Y. That team concept, and the accountability that comes with it, seems to be the key to success, she said.
“The encouragement and motivation is really what keeps them going and makes it more fun,” Schumacher said.
The Kroc Center’s contest also has both a team and individual focus, with members having to commit to three fitness activities a week at the center, registering with a trainer and two nutritional sessions a month, said Heather Altman, the health and wellness manager.
“For us, it’s more about teaching people how to change their behaviors, both their eating behaviors and their physical activity behaviors,” she said.
Twice a month, participants will have a check-in that not only measures weight but also looks at body fat and body composition, Altman said,
“It may not necessarily be over losing lots and lots of pounds and seeing all the changes on the scale as it is seeing overall changes in their life, feeling different in their clothing, feeling more comfortable about taking that flight of stairs, playing with the children, playing with the dog,” she said.
Gold’s Gym is also taking part in a national contest among its gyms called the Gold’s Gym Challenge. Participants will take a before photo, and the contest is based on what they do to change themselves after that, general manager Ben Daniel said.
“It’s based on people’s full body transformation,” he said. The contest is also a 12-week challenge with $75,000 in prizes in the nationwide contest.