This competition may have losers but that’s the goal.
The West Hills Athletic Club has been holding a weight loss competition, The Biggest Loser, for the past six years. This year's competition is just getting started. The first official weigh-ins and assessments, on January 12, marked the beginning of the challenge.
Small teams of 6-8 people with 2 designated trainers compete over 10 weeks in hopes of winning a 2 month training session. From now until March, the 5 teams will meet with their trainers for 3 hours per week to get in shape. However, not everyone shares the same weight loss goals.
For some, getting in shape requires losing more weight than others, allowing the competition to be both individual and team oriented. The overall “biggest loser” wins 6 months of SMG (Superior Muscle Growth) training.
Andres Ballines, a Western alumnus, is the Fitness Director at the Athletic Club. He organizes the teams and trainers as well as communicates with the members for the competition.
Ballines himself is not a trainer for any of the teams. However, he is quite knowledgeable as to how the training sessions are formatted. He explained that although they can’t recommend diets for participants, the trainers design workouts for the teams and modify them to suit the individual. The certified trainers recognize and account for physical disabilities during training sessions.
“We try to make it as healthy and as life style change as possible as opposed to just losing a bunch of weight” said Ballines.
Although the trainers can’t give suggestions for diets, they do check on how the competitors are doing nutritionally. The myfitness pals allow them to hold the members accountable by seeing what they eat.
“Honestly, weight on the scale isn’t the end all be all,” said Ballines. “There’s a lot of other factors that are important too.”
He emphasized the importance of building healthy habits to not only lose weight, but to stay in shape even after the competition is over. By attending the club 3 or more hours a week and going in each Saturday for weigh-ins, participants are developing a steady routine that they will hopefully continue after the training sessions end.
The competition is not exclusive to only gym members. Anyone is welcome to sign up for The Biggest Loser; however, all participants must first take a health assessment to ensure their safety during the competition. Participants then have the option to join a morning, lunch or evening team, depending on their availability.
For next year, Ballines is thinking about changing the competition a bit. It would go back to being individual based rather than team oriented. They are doing this to find ways to get more people to join. However, the concept and reason behind The Biggest Loser will not change.
“The goal is to keep them going like create this habit and hopefully have them continue working out and exercising,” said Ballines.
The West Hills Athletic Club’s goal is to help people have a healthier lifestyle by building lasting routines.