ALMOST 300 people who use Worthing Leisure Centre are hoping to start the new year on a lighter note.
They are taking part in the Worthing Obesity Week challenge, where the team of people to lose the most weight will win a year’s free membership.
It is the third year the Shaftesbury Avenue-based centre has run the challenge, and I went along to find out more.
Marketing and business development manager Violeta Belogaska explained the scheme to me.
She said: “We started this three years ago to tie in with National Obesity Week, but then they changed the date of that, so we decided to make it Worthing Obesity Week as it had been so successful.
“It’s important to us that we do it, because obesity is one of the biggest health challenges that we face.
“It helps to encourage people to commit to a fit and healthy lifestyle, and to stay aware of their weight.”
The challenge started at the end of October, when 269 people signed up and were weighed by gym staff.
They were then put into groups of five, and the group that has lost the most weight in six weeks’ time will win the top prize of one year’s free membership.
The award will be presented to the winning team at an awards evening on December 15, but all those groups taking part who have managed to lose six pounds will receive a month’s free membership, too.
Membership advisers Donna Moule and Catherine Hall signed people up to the free challenge, and said those taking part are already seeing the benefits.
Donna, who is also taking part, said: “We give the people taking part motivational advice, and they are encouraged to speak to members of staff if they need any help or advice.
“I think having this spirit of competition helps people.”
Catherine added: “Last year, we had 196 people take part and the total weight loss was 58 stone and 13 pounds, so with more people taking part this year the total amount should be a lot more, too.”
Last year’s winning team lost a combined total of four stone and nine pounds.
Violeta said: “This is a good time of the year to motivate people, as it’s just before Christmas and traditionally a time when they might eat a lot of things like sweets and crisps.
“It’s a six-week challenge because that’s how long it takes people to form habits, so in the new year if they’ve already seen the results they will probably want to carry on.
“There’s been a great response so far, and we hope people will do very well.”