Students join program hoping to be ‘biggest loser’

By Faith Hufford

College can be a time of stress and greasy food, but University Health Services is kicking off February with a pilot program aimed at helping students on campus deal with the pitfalls of college life and the state’s high rate of obesity.

Wildcat Fit Camp is a trial program for students who live on campus who have a body mass index of 30 or greater. Program coordinators hope to bring awareness to health risks that come with being overweight and help students make lifestyle changes, said Fadyia Mohammad, a health education specialist for University Health Services and a co-designer of the program.

“We want to teach them to be healthy and know they are at risk,” Mohammad said.

The program, a collaborative effort of University Health Services, the Office of Residence Life and the Underground Fitness Center, was inspired by NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” where contestants participate in a series of challenges to help them lose weight.

The six students who started the program Feb. 1, are divided into two teams of three and will compete against each other during the 12-week program, which will include physical and educational exercises.

“Effective weight loss encompasses accountability and internal motivation and having people there to fuel that motivation,” Mohammad said.

The team members will be required to weigh in weekly and work out six days a week for 60 minutes based on the Food and Drug Administration guidelines for physical activity. The workouts will vary between training with a personal trainer, with teammates and group fitness.

The students will participate in swimming, agility exercises, weight training and cardiovascular workouts, Mohammad said.

“They will be exposed to every possible kind of workout to find one they can be comfortable with and do on their own,” said Hannah Fuller, a kinesiology and exercise science junior, and certified personal trainer working with the program.

Fuller will work with participants twice a week and help organize biweekly team challenges.

“I hope by the end of this program they will feel comfortable and have the knowledge to work out on their own, along with better eating habits and the motivation to live a healthier lifestyle,” Fuller said.

The weight management program also offers several health education sessions designed to promote lifestyle changes, including education on nutrition and grocery shopping, team building, motivation and positive thinking.

“It’s not just about working out, getting to the gym — it’s about time management and self-confidence,” said Casey Gilvin, director of the Underground Fitness Center, co-designer of Wildcat Fit Camp and a certified personal trainer.

All of the services provided in the program are also available for any UK student at campus gyms and Mohammad said she hopes the program will grow and will be open to more students in the fall.

“The goal is to have one large weight management program with a large population and the campus cheering them on,” Mohammad said.