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Local gym Anytime Fitness Gentilly making the New Orleans community healthier one pound at a time

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Walking into Anytime Fitness Gentilly (2141 Caton St.) is like walking into a family member’s house. First of all, you’re bound to find somebody you know…and even if you don’t know anyone when you first walk in, you’ll for sure be family before you leave!
Opened in 2011, owners Eric and Elorial Monette, along with their staff, have cultivated this atmosphere of good ol’ New Orleans socialization combined with fitness and exercise. When you walk in, you’ll be greeted with either a “How’s ya mom’n’em?”, a “Hey, my baby”, a hug or some dap, followed by questions about your workout or how your diet is going. The two favorite things of the Anytime Fitness Gentilly staff are: 1) talking/laughing/ribbing and 2) working out.

In their commitment to making a healthier community, one of the staff members, Heather Ferdinand, began facilitating a weight loss challenge in September 2014. Over a series of ten weeks, the Anytime Fitness Weight Loss Challenge (WLC) provides a fun and friendly competition that promotes healthier eating, encourages physical activity, and creates a supportive environment for members seeking weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.
Challengers weigh in on a weekly basis to track their progress and are provided with educational lectures on fitness, health, and nutrition to assist them with their weight loss from staff member and certified nutritionist Kevin Drummond and Eric & Maleka Beal, healthy lifestyle coaches and owners of BetterChoices. In addition, The primary goal is for challengers to lose one percent of their body weight each week for a total of ten percent over the 10-week challenge. And whoever loses the largest percentage of body weight is crowned “The Biggest Loser” with a $1,000 grand prize!
“The Weight Loss Challenge has been a great addition to the services we offer here at Anytime Fitness Gentilly,” said Mrs. Elorial. “This friendly competition provides accountability and motivation to the participants and it has inspired the entire membership base as well. In addition, seeing the transformation that the competitors make in their weight, confidence, and overall health is rewarding and provides evidence that we are helping people improve their self-esteem as they progress to a healthier lifestyle.”
Staff member Eric Monette, Jr. added, “The Weight Loss Challenge makes people accountable for their actions. If you’re not eating right or working out, it will show in your next weigh in. Furthermore, we can see the difference from people trying to lose weight on their own and then doing the competition. We’ve seen people come in for a year or more attempting to achieve the weight loss on their own, but then they get involved in the Challenge and drop twenty, thirty, and even fifty pounds in just 10 weeks.”

Over the last three iterations of the Weight Loss Challenge, over 50 people have lost a combined total of over 1,200 lbs.!

At 67 years old (the oldest challenger to date), Ms. Mary Russell lost at total of 20 lbs. after completing the Challenge and placed 5th overall. With medical issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis, Ms. Mary has seen some definite benefits from participating in the Weight Loss Challenge. “I have arthritis in my knees and getting the weight off has helped my knee joints so much,” Ms. Mary explained. “At the end of August, I got my labs for my diabetes, pressure, and cholesterol, and everything was beautiful. My doctor says that if I keep going like I’m going, she will take me off of my medications. The Challenge taught me how to eat better and how to get up off the couch and exercise. And Heather was always there in my corner giving me a push. I feel good, my clothes fit better, and I’m healthier. It’s been a month since my Challenge ended and I’ve kept every ounce off!”

Lois Geertz has lost a total of twenty pounds in the last year, half of which she lost during the Challenge. “Before I started the Challenge, I was really discouraged because just working out wasn’t changing things,” she said. “Heather got me signed up for the Weight Loss Challenge, which was absolutely the accountability I needed. Her weekly check-ins with me were always challenging and helpful. She worked tirelessly to find alternatives for me when something wasn’t working. She was extremely patient with me when I complained and resisted the changes I needed. Heather never gave up on me when things got hard and I will always be grateful.”

Errol June lost a combined total of 56.8 lbs. during his two Challenges! “The Weight Loss Challenge is a motivator,” explained Errol. “It makes you want to do better. If I had a bad week, I was always encouraged to do better the next week. The staff made me believe in myself and I would not be the weight I am without them or the Challenge.”
For Heather, she's everyone’s biggest cheerleader and motivator during the Challenge. “The most rewarding aspect of facilitating the Challenge is seeing how the challengers go from not knowing what, how much, or how often to eat to gaining in depth knowledge about nutrition, food content, weight loss, and weight management,” she said. “Most of all, it’s what the challengers learn about themselves – their sabotaging bad habits, how their body reacts to excessive salt and sugar or a lack of water, what their personal caloric intake should be, etc.”
She continued, “The learning curve that I witness for each and every challenger who sees this process through to the end is extremely satisfying. They understand that weight loss and weight management are all about moderation. They learn how to see their eating habits over the course of a week and how to work around exciting events like weddings, funerals, or any of the many festivals we have in the city. Those events are often setbacks in the lives of individuals trying to lose weight. We teach strategy and how to avoid allowing bad habits to sabotage great progress.”

As we said before, New Orleans is 1,200 lbs. lighter thanks to the Weight Loss Challenge! With the good time that New Orleans people like to have, it can certainly be difficult to lead a healthier lifestyle, but it’s not impossible. Let’s continue to make New Orleans a “lighter” place to live.
Interested in joining the next Weight Loss Challenge (September 15 – November 24)? Contact Anytime Fitness Gentilly (2141 Caton St.) at (504) 309-9304.

Last modified on Monday, 14 March 2016
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