My Weekly Valley Pick – Favorite Place To Find A "Big Loser"

My answer?  Ridge Fitness and their “Biggest Loser” weight loss competition.  Yesterday marked the end of week 5 – and almost the halfway point.  There are 100 competitors this go-round and over 120lbs have been shed so far.   The latest installment of Ridge Fitness’s Biggest Loser Challenge is off to a good start.

Ridge Fitness is a great gym – the people, the trainers, the atmosphere, the classes, the equipment.  Since opening in 2007 it quickly became my “mommy sanity” place.  I enjoy being in shape and feeling healthy.  Not that this always happens.  As a mother of 4, sometimes it’s easier to find reasons NOT to exercise.  But, having a neighborhood gym makes it easier (at least for me) to stay healthy.

The Biggest Loser Competition lasts 12 weeks.  This challenge ends in late April.  The process starts by visiting Brian at the infamous Dunk Tank Truck.  At the beginning of each competition, it parks in front of Ridge Fitness and weighs in all participants.  Competitors slap on a bathing suit and get submerged in a water tank.  It’s not as bad as it sounds – although a bit intimidating.   And when it’s over, the truth is revealed.  That truth is your weight and body fat percentage.  Brian then determines your personal resting metabolic rate – or how many calories you burn each day sitting still.  Based on that, Brian determines how many calories your specific body burns with different exercise types.  It’s very enlightening.

Participants track their weight loss on a large, visible chart in the gym’s lobby.  Week by week weight loss (or gain) is tracked and anyone can monitor

Public Weight Loss Tracking Chart in Ridge Fitness Lobby

your progress.  There is nothing private about this competition aspect.  Once your name and weight are charted,  say goodbye to insecurities.  This alone can be a life-altering experience.

I love the competition because it’s inspiring for all involved.   Sue Dowling, Ridge Fitness owner, agrees.   She said she is inspired listening to participants’ reasons for competing.  Last fall’s winner, Clarissa, says she now feels like a better wife and mother  – that weight can affect the simplest parts of your life.   Having lost 20lbs almost 4 years ago, these sentiments hit home.  I know maintaining my loss will always be a challenge.

Fellow Ridge businesses are now involved in the competition.  Finaghty’s Irish Pub and Ana’s Mexican Restaurant offer healthy, balanced menu options under 600 calories.  Class instructor, Kelly Saunders, started Team Zumba which is composed of competitors and Zumba regulars who motivate each other throughout the 12 week journey.   The gym even offers participants nutrition classes and personal trainers.

Past winner, Lori Riffe, now blogs her weight loss and exercise journey .  Here is a little of her story:

“My husband (prior winner) really pushed me to do the challenge.  He knows I am super competitive and also knows I will not attempt anything unless I think I have a chance of being the best, or the winner.  He convinced me that, even though I was going to weigh in initially at one of the lowest numbers, I statistically had a chance to win.  That was enough for me and I took off running, literally.

My workouts began with interval sprints on the treadmill.  The problem was, I’m not a runner, and my body knows that.  I ended up hurting myself and getting very discouraged.  After some help from trainers and others with WAY more exercise knowledge than me, I switched to the elliptical.  From there, and completely randomly, I was convinced to take a spinning (cycle) class.  After that one class, I was hooked, and didn’t look back.  My workouts for the summer averaged 6 days per week 1-2 hours per day.  A typical week was Mon/Wed/Fri 60 minutes of spinning, followed by 60 minutes of Pilates.  The other days included 35 minutes of elliptical and circuit training.  The key to my weight loss was that I worked with a nutritionist for 5 of the weeks.  I am a self-proclaimed nutrition expert, but never followed any of my own advice.  Working with a professional allowed me to lose weight by eating healthy and not dieting.  This experience provided an opportunity for me to prove to myself that I am capable of so much more than I believe I am.  It strengthened my faith in God, and my gift to inspire others.  Winning the competition was just an added bonus.”

Lori says she still struggles with the same thing I do – and maybe others of you out there?  That struggle is knowing that you do HAVE to work out to be healthy.  It’s not magic.  It’s exercise.  Lori  says continuing to exercise will be her life-long challenge.  I agree.  So many things in life – kids, work,  just being busy – can knock you off the exercise band wagon.  It’s about accepting that as a woman over 40, if you don’t exercise you won’t be healthy.  Magic teenage metabolisms are distant memories.  Luckily for me, there is an incredible gym a mile away.  It’s filled with plenty of friends to keep me inspired.  Yes I get lazy, but I always find my way back to Ridge Fitness!

For more info on Ridge Fitness and their Biggest Loser Challenge visit

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