There are no intrusive cameras filming your workouts. No falsified, over-the-top dramatics of reality TV to detract from the goal of Saanich’s Biggest Loser challenge.
The program, offered through Commonwealth Place, is one of dozens offered through Saanich’s recreation department to help people with fitness and weight-loss related New Year’s resolutions.
“We try to customize the program to each person so that is enjoyable and user-friendly for everyone,” said Kamran Rad, weight room programmer for Commonwealth Place. “I don’t agree with some of the things (the TV show does) that aren’t healthy. … We make it about baby steps, about seeing success in a healthy way, not an extreme way.”
Eleven different classes, running now through March 31, are offered. And it’s not just about weight loss. Nutritional and motivational aspects are touched on, too.
“For a lot of them, this is about getting rid of their fear and changing their habits – becoming regular users of the facility,” Rad said. “I think a lot of people are intimidated by going to the gym – not knowing how to operate the equipment safely, or they’re conscious of their body image.”
January is the busiest month at Saanich’s four rec centres, noted Gordon Head recreation’s manager, Charlene Parker. That’s why new programs begin at the start of the new year, when people are more attuned to their health and fitness.
“We’re just packed to the rafters. Our programs are doing really well, and drop-ins spike this time of year, too,” she said. “The New Year’s rush used to end around late January, the first of February, but the last couple of years we’re seeing people stick with it longer – stretching right into April and May.”
That long-term interest, Rad says, is what the Biggest Loser challenge aims to promote.
“A lot of them, once they get rid of their fear, they’ll take some of the other programs in the spring – aerobic programs, the weight room circuit classes,” he said. “I would say about half of them develop a new habit (from the Biggest Loser program) and become a regular user of the facility.”
Another key to developing a healthy habit is using the buddy system, says Commonwealth manager Tom Bryce.
He recommends having a partner who’ll make the same commitment you do – go to the gym at the same time as you, take the same program you do, swim alongside you – as motivation.
The Biggest Loser isn’t new for Saanich. Commonwealth has offered the program for two years, complete with a prize for the participant who loses the largest percentage of weight. The winner receives a three-month pass to Saanich’s rec centres, valued at $136.
Hundreds of health and fitness classes are starting through the different rec centres – with options for all age groups, fitness levels and activity interests.
For a complete list of programs, check out Saanich’s Active Living Guide.