Lose fat and fear: Fitness experts, ‘Biggest Loser’ alum offer advice

We’ve all heard it before. The way to a healthy body is through diet and exercise — there are no short cuts.Need to lose weight? Burn more calories than you’re consuming? Need to gain weight? Dial up the caloric intake? But if it’s really that simple, then why are nearly 70 percent of adults age…

We’ve all heard it before. The way to a healthy body is through diet and exercise — there are no short cuts.

Need to lose weight? Burn more calories than you’re consuming? Need to gain weight? Dial up the caloric intake? But if it’s really that simple, then why are nearly 70 percent of adults age 20 years and older overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

Could fear play a part?

Rick Raimondo, owner of Planet Fitness in Schererville, says that women might be afraid to join a gym due to lack of experience with gym equipment, the intimidation factor or the cost. Planet Fitness created a Judgement Free Zone — a fun, hassle-free and nonjudgmental workout environment. Planet Fitness is open seven days a week and includes unlimited small classes taught by a certified instructor. No long-term commitment is required.

“To help inspire and motivate our members we have a Planet of Triumphs website, www.planetoftriumphs.com, and mobile app where members post and share their stories of successes both big and small,” says Raimondo.

Planet Fitness encourages all members to join classes, learn how to use the equipment, and develop a workout regimen to meet their goals. Classes are designed to target specific areas of the body.

“We strongly believe that we are in the business of changing lives and we base our model on our members and what works best for them to achieve a healthy, active lifestyle,” says Raimondo.

Joining a gym can be frightening for first-timers and, according to Mohammad Musleh, owner of Merrillville’s Anytime Fitness, the most important thing to remember is that everyone starts somewhere. There are challenges and setbacks; however, we have to treat them as lessons and building blocks, all part of succeeding in reaching our goal.

“The quality of our life completely revolves around our health and fitness,” says Mike Maslanka, regional manager at Anytime Fitness. “It affects our longevity, our personality and our actions — the healthier and more fit you are, the better you feel.”

Choosing to be healthy is a lifestyle. That’s why Anytime Fitness offers 24/7 gym access, which includes unlimited live and virtual classes, tanning, hydro massage therapy, and a free fitness consultation with a certified personal trainer.

“Always have the right mindset. You are your biggest motivator and competitor,” says Arianna Baiz, Merrillville’s Anytime Fitness facility manager. “Anytime Fitness provides all of our members with an activity tracker, workout planner, diet tracker, an online community, and virtual coaching.”

Real people with real stories have the opportunity to make an impact on women looking to make a change. Marci Crozier, a contestant on season 11 of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” is hoping that her story does just that.

“I never recognized the problem of fear, to the magnitude it is in the fitness industry, until I was on ‘The Biggest Loser,’” says Crozier. “Fear is real but it comes out in excuses; fear is the vicious enemy and action conquers fear.”

Taking the first step proved to be the hardest one for Crozier because she had to change her mindset. Once Crozier did, however, she was able to go on the show with her daughter and “Biggest Loser” partner, Courtney. While on the “The Biggest Loser” ranch, Crozier focused on a complete transformation: mind, body and spirit.

“I needed to be there,” says Crozier. “I was tired, I was angry, I was resentful of always putting others before me and I was clearly disgusted in myself for letting my health go.”

And where is Crozier now? She is director of marketing and sales at Franciscan Omni Health & Fitness in Schererville. Crozier proudly meets health-seekers where they are — physically and mentally — put through Omni’s Thin & Healthy’s Total Solution program, which is an avenue that gives clients the proper tools to be successful. The program is a tailor-made weight loss program that provides personalized coaching, mental motivation and physical movement. Crozier sets clients up for success by addressing the whole person, including how they take care of themselves mentally, emotionally and physically.

Women, says Crozier, will see results if they put themselves first, which she admits is difficult for a lot of stay-at-home-moms, working moms, and women in general. “When I coach women, I remind them that it’s not selfish, it’s selfless,” says Crozier.

Getting into shape takes commitment and hard work — and it doesn’t happen overnight, says Leah Okner, Omni’s wellness manager. Omni offers support, education and resources, such as personal training, to help women make a long-lasting change in their lives — from weight loss to strength gains.

“I encourage everyone to work with a trainer for at least 90 days (an average of two times a week),” says Crozier. “It is the trainer’s job to keep them on track and help them find their ‘powerful why’ — why they want to improve their health.”

Gail O’Donnell has been working with Omni personal trainer Dina Berry for one year, losing 40 pounds, according to Omni.

“I always look to inspire my clients, but for me, Gail is now my inspiration and that makes my job as a trainer so rewarding,” Berry says.

Omni offers results-driven programs, including fitness assessments and orientations, as well as more than 70 classes such as aqua aerobics, cycling, yoga, small group training, functional training, and Les Mills classes (Bodypump, Bodycombat and Bodyflow) for all ages and abilities.

“We also offer arthritis classes and various wellness workshops throughout the year to keep our members informed with information about their health,” says Okner. “Our success is based on our members’ success.”


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