Saturday, April 29, 2017

Workout Buddies: More Than Members

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Two friends who met through a board-game club went on to tackle fitness and lose weight. Grab a pal and be motivated by their journey …

Kenna (left) & Michelle, long-time pals.
Kenna (left) & Michelle, long-time pals.

Center members Kenna Meadow and Michele Bersak used to socialize and get their “competition fix” over a night of board games with friends. Recognizing the need to increase physical activity, they began to exercise together as well. Kenna created a regular walking schedule for Sunday mornings at the park. Their core group of four expanded over time to a mailing-list worth of Sunday morning walkers. These chatty walkers, who cover about six miles in a county park, call themselves the Walkie-Talkies.

At Michele’s recommendation, Kenna joined the Center in September 2015. They made a commitment to work out together on Tuesdays in addition to their Sunday power walks. Although both have additional components in their fitness programs, their twice weekly dates are nonnegotiable.

Kenna

A prostate cancer 5K run, in honor of a loved one, sparked Kenna’s interest in formalized competitive events. (Michele invited her to participate in this event.) Kenna developed a passion for running. The cancer 5K marked the start of her intense fitness journey. At the one-year anniversary of her journey, she repeated the event. This time, Kenna significantly improved her time and came in third place. This hints at how she spent her year, which also included the NYC Half Marathon in March.

Kenna & Michele, chumming it up while baking.
Kenna & Michele, chumming it up while baking.

Kenna made her fitness quest a lifestyle, adjusting her diet and other habits. She never misses her routine nurse assessment or personal training evaluation at the Center. The findings always remind her of the “big picture.”

“By now, I would’ve stopped the whole process. However, I’ve learned that my weight on the scale does not reflect all the changes. I may only lose a couple pounds; however, my body fat percentage has drastically improved. I am losing fat and gaining muscle equally,” Kenna indicates.

With Michele and her five-year-old son, Kenna has plenty of motivation to get healthier and more fit. Rather than focus on weight loss, she monitors her progress in songs.

“My son and I have dance parties in the living room. My goal is to out-dance him,” she laughs. With a focus on energy level rather than weight, Kenna does not get “thwarted by the scale.” As a result, she lost over 100 pounds this past year. And, she often hears, “Why aren’t you tired yet, Mommy?” No easy feat when competing with a tike known for endless energy!

Michele

Michele on one of the weekly walks.
Michele on one of the weekly walks.

Working out with Kenna has been equally inspiring to Michele. Even on the coldest days, the Walkie-Talkies persevere. Michele used to struggle to accomplish the two-mile commitment. Now, she regularly manages six miles.

“When someone is counting on you, you don’t want to disappoint them. Even if they don’t pressure you, you feel badly to miss out,” says Michele who lost 32 pounds since January. According to the Center nurse’s body-fat analysis, she lost 26 pounds of fat and gained 13 pounds of muscle in one month alone. According to clothing charts, she dropped two sizes. Michele credits the accountability factor.

Despite being at different fitness levels, she and Kenna manage to remain workout buddies and enjoy their competitive nature. Whether on the treadmill or in Pilates class together, each works at her own pace. “I aspire to achieve Kenna’s fitness level. My weight may be a factor in how far I can go, but I always try harder when working alongside Kenna,” Michele acknowledges.

Trainer Randie (left) -- a different kind of workout buddy.
Trainer Randie (left) — A different kind of workout buddy.

Michele works with Personal Trainer Randie. She admits to being quite surprised and pleased with the results. Her routine nurse assessments also are essential to Michele’s success.

“Through these evaluations, I gain a solid picture of my improvements and increased strength,” she says. Through everyday life, Michele notices the little things she now can do effortlessly, like lugging a club-sized pack of water bottles through the store.

The Buddy System

Without each other, Kenna and Michele may still simply be playing games. Taking their competition to a friendly fitness level has increased their stamina and their bond. Both attest, “In the end, the Center has become another workout buddy,” It takes one to know one!

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