Shedding pounds

High-energy music blasting from speakers keeps Cassie Boyd of Calera moving at 6:30 a.m.

She’s been working out since 5 a.m. She won’t be finished with squats, jogging and stretching for another 30 minutes but she doesn’t show signs of giving up.

“Straight and simple, I don’t like being fat –– I had no energy and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin,” Boyd said.

Boyd is one of 14 participants in St. Vincent’s Biggest Loser 119 program. The program kicked off in early January pairing people looking to shed extra pounds with experienced trainers.

The three trainers Doug Klick, Hannah Alosi and Jerry Chambers put participants through rigorous workouts three days a week. They’ll do so for four months.

Before they all got started, Klick said they interviewed 20-30 applicants to discover who was the most determined to succeed and who needed the help more.

“The overall goal is your blood pressure is down and you’re off your meds. If you loose 35 pounds in four months then great, but even if you don’t loose that much and you accomplish better health then you’ve succeeded,” Klick said.

Boyd herself aims to loose 20 pounds.

She’d like to look leaner and, of course, fit into a closet full of clothes she hasn’t worn in years. Her ultimate motivations however are her children.

In November, doctors diagnosed her 11-year-old daughter as overweight with high cholesterol and signs of pre-diabetes.

“I thought, ‘I have to do something to be a better role model for them,'” Boyd said.

“On the weekends they are up early saying, ‘Let’s go mommy,'” Boyd said. “They are my at-home cheerleaders.”

So, now, Boyd and others get up as early as 3:30 a.m. to get ready for their day and their workout.

The participants run laps, swim, do aerobics and yoga and incorporate weight training. Trainers show participants how machines work in the gym and what each machine accomplishes for the body.

Alosi said the program helps individuals tailor workouts to get results on their own.

“After this program is over they can have a variety of exercises to work with — variety is the spice of life,” Alosi said. “You’ve got to keep it interesting.”

Boyd said she ccouldn’t believe Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays quickly became her three favorite days of the week.

“I learned there’s a lot of things I didn’t think I could do that now I know I can,” she said.

Trainer Jerry Chambers said he relishes in the look of accomplishment on the participant’s faces.

“The thing that a lot of our people are realizing is that they are a lot stronger than they thought,” he said.

Lauren Lake of Birmingham said she couldn’t believe she survived 80 sit-ups one morning. Others were surprised they could handle multiple lunges and pull-ups.

“I think we all feel stronger and more energetic,” said Annette Thomas of North Shelby. “I can tell the difference in my thighs. I look and realize, ‘Ooh, I don’t see as many dimples.'”

Participant Susan Moore said she’s battled through breast cancer twice.

“I think my main reason for doing this is to get healthy because I don’t want to go through that again,” Moore said.

Moore said she doesn’t think she’d ever get up at 4:15 in the morning to workout if it weren’t for the trainers and fellow participants.

“Lots of times people that have excess weight get really intimidated to even step foot in a gym,” Klick said. “What this provides for them are people who are like them — people who go through the same struggles.”

Klick said success depends on each individual recognizing their barriers and saying them out loud. Chambers agreed and said just stepping foot in a gym is an accomplishment for a lot of people.

“It’s like anything, the first step is the hardest,” Chambers said.

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