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by Latoya Burnham


Most of the participants in the Challenge, with challenge principals Sophia Forte (sixth front) and Kirk Bryant (right standing).

Last Sunday, for a few brief hours, the participants in the Want It… Live It Ultimate 8-Week Fitness Challenge met face to face for the first time.

Everyone was not able to make it – some had to work, some had other commitments, but more than 20 of the 28 were there to meet and greet and also for a photo op.

You see when we signed on, apart from the pedometers which go everywhere with us, we were also given red fitness challenge shirts, which everyone wore on Sunday. Because of the numbers, and people’s own schedules, the challengers are split into morning and evening groups, with Kirk taking care of the morning crew, and Sophia the evening sessions.

Sunday was the first time most of us would have been in the same place at the same time and the atmosphere was electric, almost joyous as those familiar with each other greeted those new to them. The jokes were raunchy sometimes, and words of challenge exchanged in jest.

What was useful, apart from the obvious meeting and sizing up of those whom we didn’t know, was the fact that here was the group that understood what each other was going through. So challenge set aside for a bit, participants talked about everything from the changes in their bodies, to how the meal plans were working out, comparing a bit of who was pushing what weight and doing how many reps and then there were the tips that everyone could use – how to get rid of that jiggle in the legs where we want muscle to be; developing abs to replace the pudgier middles, and foremost staying the distance for the next seven weeks of the challenge.

By then almost everyone, except those who joined late, would have completed week one and therefore knew a bit more what would follow the next seven weeks and believe me, it is not going to be easy.

Some of the names of the morning participants whom I would have photographed or spoken and written about, are now out there, and Bernadette joked to me that since she has “gone public” people are saying she cannot under any circumstance not complete it. That can be a good thing, but it can also add pressure and believe me, we are beginning to understand pressure.

Additionally, there are people, who know you are in a fitness challenge who will pile on their own pressure when they see you eating something you shouldn’t, or hear you say how tired you are.

The thing I’ve realised about this challenge is that it is indeed one of stamina, will-power. Not every “mind-over-matter” battle is one you will win, but when you push yourself as far as you can go and then tell yourself, “no, tomorrow I gine do a bit better”, that’s what it’s about. It’s about the personal challenge that you win each time you do something better than before. Kirk always says, it’s not about how many reps, it’s about making sure you do the exercise right and work the muscles you are supposed to, slowly.

So if any of you out there have begun to set your own challenges, take heart that you are not a failure because you skip a day or don’t have the energy to go as far as before. Take heart that the battle is one with yourself to do the best you can. Celebrate your successes and note them down; but also log your failures as reminders to get up again and keep going. When you look back, trust me, you will surprise yourself how far you’ve come.

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