Campus News

Shape up: Fitness program helps employees, students get healthy

Karen Kelley (center)

UGA’s Biggest Loser Program is getting even bigger this year. In its third year, the weight loss program, held by the Ramsey Student Center’s department of recreational sports, is expanding to 100 participants:
50 students and 50 employees. 

Based in part on the reality show The Biggest Loser, the 10-week program has weekly boot camp-style workouts: jumping jacks, lunges, squats, planks and windshield wiper abs—all supervised by a team of personal trainers.

There are Sunday group workouts and wellness presentations on topics like nutrition for weight loss and fitness myth busters.

This year there’s also a cooking class led by University Health Center nutritionist Ben Gray for faculty and staff to learn about healthy cooking options and easy ways to trim the fat and calories from foods. 

The student and employee participants who make the biggest fitness transformation—fitness improvement, weight lost, body fat lost along with a good attendance record—each will win one of two $100 gift cards to Bulldog Sporting Goods. 

Susan McCullough, a business manager in the Division of Finance and Administration, was last year’s employee winner. She ended up losing about 17 pounds and has since completed a half marathon. 

“I signed up to challenge myself and my co-workers,” McCullough said. “I had a hard time losing weight before. I was just exercising and didn’t change the way I was eating. After I signed up and attended the nutrition classes, it all came together for me.”

The program was the motivation she needed to effectively change her eating habits and exercise. 

“The goal of the program isn’t that people will be in Biggest Loser year after year after year, our goal is to teach them the skills so that they know how to effectively manage their weight, maintain a physically active lifestyle and make good nutritional choices,” said Stacy Connell, assistant director for fitness and wellness in recreational sports, who oversees UGA Biggest Loser. “Our goal is for participants to gain skills and knowledge so that they can continue to work out and lose weight on their own.”

To participate in UGA Biggest Loser, you don’t have to be a certain size or a certain amount overweight. “This program is perfect if you’ve never exercised before or just looking to get into shape,” Connell said. 

Biggest Loser is a team-based program, and while participants are welcome to sign up without a team, they’re encouraged to sign up with a friend, co-worker or roommate. Last year, a married couple signed up as a team.

“You’re going to be so much more successful if you have someone with you who can help you with the program, someone to hold you accountable,” said Connell.

This year, each team will have its own trainer, all of whom are on staff as certified fitness instructors or personal trainers at the Ramsey Student Center. 

Registration for UGA’s Biggest Loser program takes place Dec. 3-14 at the cashier’s window at the Ramsey Student Center. Sign-ups are first-come first-served, and Connell expects the program to fill up. Last year there were 37 faculty and staff on the wait list.