A few years ago, I spent some time training with Mary Catherine (MC) Domaleski, whose victory over weight challenges was the feature of a Fayette Woman cover story in January 2006. When she emailed me about World Gym’s upcoming “I Lost It At The Club” late in the summer, I began to think about taking the challenge.
A week before the contest, I pitched the idea of a Fayette Woman team to our Facebook fans. Half a dozen ladies quickly raised their hands, and “poof” we had a team. A trio of girls who didn’t mind joining us were folded in and Mary Catherine’s Sunday@4:15 group was full.
“I Lost It At The Club” (ILIATC) is a boot-camp type, competitive approach to a weight loss and exercise. The 2009 brainchild of Jeremy Gritton, who leads the personal trainers at World Gym’s three Fayette locations, the program pits trainer-led teams against each other to see which group can lose the highest percentage of total body weight during a seven-week period. A weekly group exercise meeting and diet counseling are at the core of the experience. More than 400 people have lost almost 6,000 of pounds on the program since it began.
Perhaps the most important historical point to note is that one of Mary Catherine’s teams recently won first place. She likes to win, and we arrived, unknowingly, as something of a defending championship team. Yikes!
Cut to the chase on this fact: We broke her winning streak.
However, I don’t think you’ll find a team member who does not feel like a winner. After seven weeks of dieting and eight sessions with Mary Catherine, our total weight loss was 82 pounds. Some of us lost more than 10 lbs., some less, but we all made new friends, learned serious skills for weight-loss and exercise, and came away knowing we had taken significant steps toward improving our health.
Here’s an overview of our experience.
MC held a preliminary informational meeting Sept. 11, when we named ourselves “Phenomenal Fayette Women,” after the magazine and member Cheryl Burnside’s Phenomenal Women’s Health program. She gave us quite a bit of information and I was very glad to have a week to wade through it before we actually began.
On Sept. 19, 10 of us weighed in and had our initial workout. After the first hour, we knew why they call Mary Catherine “The Hammer.” The exit looked very appealing.
One team member said her favorite memory from our experience was the look on all of our faces when MC told us to run “suicides.” (You don’t want to know.)
But, this was a no-turning-back journey. The door had shut and there was no graceful way of getting off this bus, especially for me. (You can’t name something after your magazine and then quit… can you?)
So, we proceeded and embraced Mary Catherine’s three-point approach: whole foods, exercise, and supplementation, as follows.
Mary Catherine worked with us individually to determine the appropriate number of calories we should consume daily based on our present weight and goals. In addition to a caloric cap, she asked that we follow these additional guidelines:
- Carbohydrates – Limit intake to 30 grams per meal or snack, 150 grams per day.
- Protein – Consume 80-120 grams per day.
- Fat – Limit fat to 20-30% of daily calories. Avoid saturated, hydrogenated and trans fats.
Perhaps the most important requirement in the program was that we journal daily all food, drink and physical activities. Journals could be on paper or electronic. Mary Catherine introduced us to several free online journal options, which many of us found helpful, including:
I chose Lose It because it has a wonderful iPhone app that made entries so easy and fun that sometimes I’d rather log my food than eat it.
In addition to the weekly group session, we were required to pre-plan all of our exercise and email that plan to “The Hammer” by noon on Mondays. The plan had to include five to six cardiovascular exercises. Three were to be “challenging (60 to 90 minutes at a moderate rate), one to two moderate, and one easy. (Mary Catherine considers walking easy.) In addition, strength training was required two to three times per week.
We were also required to participate in at least two group fitness classes each week. Some of these satisfied the cardio requirements as well. Mary Catherine asked us to try a different class each week. (World Gym offers more than 90 weekly choices!) The idea is that fun fuels motivation and you never know when you may find your new favorite workout.
Mary Catherine also introduced us to Advocare supplemental nutrition and weight loss products. Many of us included these in our program. The group favorites were probably the vitamin and amino acid energy drink mix Spark and Catalyst, an amino acid supplement that put the “heat” on every workout. Best used as a combo, these two products should have earned a marketer somewhere an award for “best-named.” They gave what they promised — that extra burn to keep moving.
The first week, we lost a team member to a non-ILIATC related injury. The remaining nine stayed the course. One of the most unexpected and encouraging aspects of the experience were the almost daily emails exchanged among team members. We critiqued classes, shared favorite recipes and tips, commiserated over our failures and celebrated successes. There is no doubt that the team aspect of the journey kept everyone focused. The temptation to stray was mitigated hourly by the realization that bad decisions would reflect on Mary Catherine and the rest of the team.
As with anything else in life, individual members’ results were a reflection of their own efforts. Those who were the most compliant lost the most. I did not have a single week in which I did everything I was supposed to do, or even came close, but every single week I did much more than I would have done had I not been on the team. The glue that held it together for all of us was our deepening friendships and the amazing Mary Catherine, whose personal attention made each of us feel like her only client.
“She’d email me, call me, encourage me, and scold me,” one team member said. “She’s my hero.”
“Mary Catherine is a total sweetheart,” another claimed.
Post-ILIATC, team members enthusiastically recommend this program to anyone who is serious about improving their health. Here are a few of the things they had to say:
“I tried harder because I was accountable to MC and the rest of the team and it was fun!”
“I made some new friends, started working out again, and lost weight! Especially if one hasn’t been able to do it on their own, this makes it easy and fun. (Well, mostly fun.)”
“I think the most important things is that you do SOMETHING, whether it is ILIATC or just taking a walk everyday! There is no magic to it, just move more and eat less!
If you need a little extra motivation to get headed in the right direction, I definitely recommending “I Lost It At The Club.”
Since 2009, World Gym has sponsored the program four times. The next class is expected to be in the spring. For more information, email Jeremy Gritton at email@example.com.
Click here for some of our team’s favorite recipes.