Michelle Duell doesn’t find much time to exercise between working, going to school and being a mother, but she’s hoping to drop some extra pounds anyway in the “Mechanicville Losers” weight-loss program, starting next month.
The new program is sponsored by the Mechanicville District Public Library, where Duell is the manager. The program started after Duell and her co-workers were talking about having a friendly competition among themselves to see who could lose the most weight in 2008. Library workers decided to expand the idea into a community project.
Teams of five will compete from February through April to see who can lose the biggest percentage of their total weight.
Each team will weigh in every week at Downtown Health and Fitness Center or Curves in Mechanicville, and results will be posted on the library’s Web site. The library plans to make public competitors’ percentage of weight loss, not their actual weights.
Winning teams will receive prizes donated from local businesses, but organizers haven’t finalized what the prizes are going to be yet.
Duell said she expects about 10 teams and 50 people to be registered by the time the competition starts on Feb. 1, and that about 40 people have already signed up.
Local businesses are offering discounts and specials for anyone involved in the program.
For example, Downtown Health and Fitness Center is offering to waive its normal sign-up fee of $20 and halve its monthly fee from $39.99 to $20 for anyone participating in Mechanicville Losers.
Faldoni’s Deli, McDonald’s, Sub King and other local restaurants are also offering food specials or coupons.
“I want to at least lose 25 pounds,” Duell said.
Duell said she hasn’t been able to work off the weight she gained after having a child three years ago.
“Your body changes as you get older. There’s nothing you can do about it except exercise and eat right,” she said. “I think it’s something that everybody in every community struggles with.”
Pat Sgambati, the manager at Downtown Health and Fitness Center, said that participants of the library program can continue the discounted membership after the three months if they sign up for another nine months. Membership to the gym is not required to participate in the program, though, and competitors can weigh in at the gym even if they aren’t a member.
“Anything to pick up business for us, we’re going to do it,” he said. “I’m hoping after the three months, people are looking and feeling healthier and they’re going to want to stay with Downtown Health and Fitness.”
Two of the teams competing will be from the Mechanicville Area Community Services Center. The center’s assistant manager, Holly LaTorre, plans to be one of 10 Community Center employees to participate.
LaTorre said that she was motivated by the NBC reality show “The Biggest Loser,” which is a weight loss competition similar to the library program.
“The people that participate are amazing, and I think a lot of it has to do with just being with a team and getting through it,” LaTorre said. “A lot of people really put their heart and soul into it and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”
Unlike the television show, nobody will be voted off of the Mechanicville Losers program during the three months, and there’s no $250,000 prize for being the Biggest Loser.
“Whether you have 5 pounds to lose or 100 pounds to lose, it’s dedication and it’s sticking to it,” LaTorre added. “It’s hard.”
Organizers will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 30 at the library for anyone interested in competing. For information, call the library at 664-4646.
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