With less than two weeks to go until the winner of the 2012 Fittest Loser Challenge is crowned, the Push Fitness trainers are gearing up for a big finish. Less than three percentage points separate the top three contestants and, at this point, it's anyone's game to win. While their answers were intentionally vague, the trainers offer at least a glimpse into their plans for the home stretch, which will culminate Thursday, May 3, when the winner is named at the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington Heights.
Tony Figueroa/Karen Maranto
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"I've increased Karen's cardio workout big time and, so far, she's handling it very well," says Karen Maranto's trainer, Tony Figueroa. "Our goal is to take third spot. In order to do so, her diet will remain secured and she will continue to lose weight. Between my experience and Karen's energy, in the end, I'm confident we will be very happy."
Just in case his intentions aren't clear, Figueroa clarifies.
"Stepping up is not the problem, it's moving up we're after, and I will make sure we take someone else down ... if you know what I mean."
Karen Maranto, 47, of Bloomingdale
Starting weight: 288
Current weight: 248
Weight lost this week: 3 pounds
Total weight loss: 40 pounds, 13.9 percent
Wade Merrill/Michael White
Michael White has been in first place since the beginning of the competition, but can he hang on to win? According to his trainer, Wade Merrill, as long as he can get up (at 3:45 in the morning), he can get it done.
"He's been having difficulty waking up the past couple weeks," Merrill says. "But, for the most part, Mike's been very consistent in his attendance."
That's a good thing because Merrill has plans for White.
"In the home stretch of the competition, there's no such thing as training too hard," Merrill says. "I'm not using any special training tricks, we're just going to stay focused and keep Mike motivated toward achieving results after the competition ends. The finish line is in sight and I'm excited for him to finish strong!"
Michael White, 25, of West Dundee
Starting weight: 320
Current weight: 247
Weight lost this week: 6 pounds
Total weight loss: 73 pounds, 22.8 percent
Michelle Amsden/ Katie Przyszlak
Watch out, Katie!
"The last two weeks will be grueling," Michelle Amsden warns her contestant, Katie Przyszlak. "Of course, I say that with a smile!
"All the trainers have tricks up their sleeves for the last two weeks. For Katie, the workouts will be hard, and she'll need to push her cardio. Her nutrition will be stricter than it's already been with very limited options."
One thing Amsden knows for sure: "Katie is strong and will finish out great!"
Katie Przyszlak, 32, of Schaumburg
Starting weight: 266
Current weight: 227
Weight lost this week: 2 pounds
Total weight loss: 39 pounds, 14.7 percent
Joshua Steckler/ Tom Hampson
As for contestant Tom Hampson, he'll be getting quite a push from his trainer, Joshua Steckler.
"I'll be encouraging Tom to push his limits with exercise. If there was ever a time to really dig deep and find out what he's capable of, now is the time.
"Tom's diet has been very clean so far, but there are a few foods we'll cut out for the last couple weeks. Dairy will be eliminated, along with certain fruits and all processed sodium. Good fats will be slightly increased for a period of time, and then everything will taper down the last few days of the contest.
Throughout the competition, Tom has been open to anything his trainer suggests.
"Hopefully all he's learned during the contest will stick with him as he continues to make permanent changes to his lifestyle," Steckler concludes.
Tom Hampson, 64, of Hoffman Estates
Weight lost this week: 0 pounds
Total weight loss: 36 pounds, 11.4 percent
Mark Trapp/Matt Kramer
Everything trainer Mark Trapp has been doing with contestant Matt Kramer these last several weeks has been to prepare him for the final two weeks.
"I've been getting into his head the last couple weeks," Trapp says. "When the contest is over, I want Matt to look back with no regrets. But, more importantly, I'm preparing him for life after the competition is over."
As for specifics, Trapp definitely has a plan in mind.
"Matt will be working to the point of exhaustion," Trapp promises. "He'll be adding more cardio sessions each day, especially on the treadmill. We'll be manipulating his diet by pulling foods in and out, thus confusing his body and prompting more weight loss.
"Matt is working hard, giving 110 percent, and he is so close to winning!"
Matt Kramer, 47, of Elk Grove Village
Starting weight: 372
Current weight: 298
Weight lost this week: 5 pounds
Total weight loss: 74 pounds, 19.9 percent
Steve Amsden/Brian Corrigan
Less is more when it comes to Steve Amsden's strategy for contestant Brian Corrigan.
"We've seen lowering weight-loss numbers the past couple of weeks as we added more exercise and reduced his calorie intake," Amsden says. "That tells me Brian's body does better and loses weight faster when he is eating more and training less. Sometimes more isn't always better when it comes to exercise and diet restrictions. His body needs to recover more and the only way to do that is through sleep, food and rest."
With just one more weigh-in before the final numbers are tallied, Amsden will continue to make adjustments.
"I'm sure during the final week we'll revamp the intensity, cut calories a little and push hard through the end."
Brian Corrigan, 44, of Carol Stream
Weight lost this week:2 pounds
Total weight loss:52 pounds, 18.9 percent