With just a month or so to go, the personal trainers at Push Fitness in Schaumburg are amping up their programs, devising new ways to motivate their Fittest Loser contestants and setting the stage for an all-out competition down to the wire.
But most admit that their jobs are pretty simple, as their Fittest Loser challengers have success in their view; passion in their bones; and they are not about to give up, or give out.
Lindsay Vigna/ Cheryl Seibert
"I have learned how important this challenge is to Cheryl," says Lindsay Vigna, trainer for Cheryl Seibert of Joliet. "She juggles work, kids, and a husband and still finds time to train with me and early Saturday boot camp."
Vigna says that she is inspired by how Seibert makes time to work out when and wherever possible.
"She finds time to work out while on shift at the firehouse, at a separate fitness center, and comes in to practice 400 m runs to prepare for her upcoming 5K," Vigna says. "As Brad (Parotto, the boot camp/run instructor) mentioned, 'She was killing the 400's!'"
The results have been fast and furious. Vigna says Seibert "sees her hard work paying off and that is what will keep her motivated to finish strong."
Vigna plans to keep the workouts challenging to continue to motivate her to the very end.
"I will continue to encourage her success," she says. "Regardless of the end result, Cheryl will have come out stronger and healthier than before."
Michelle Amsden/John Bohanek
Michelle Amsden, trainer for John Bohanek of South Elgin, says the process of being a trainer can be frustrating.
"You can't follow the contestants and see the choices they make for food. All you can do is guide them and give them the tools to help them make the right choices," she says.
"Out of all the past years of working with the Fittest Loser contest, John has been the most creative with his food planning. I think this has been the No. 1 key to his success. Learning and trying new recipes and constantly changing his food have made eating fun, but also healthy."
That enthusiasm, Amsden says, will help Bohanek to succeed.
"Typically at this point, you can tell if your contestant is serious about making this a lifestyle change or if they are just doing this for the three months to lose what they can," she says. "But John motivates himself. He is so excited and already planning his goal to reach 100 pounds down by the end of the year!"
Mapping out goals is a sure sign of continued success, she says. Over the next four weeks, she plans to motivate him even further. "I will continue to push him mentally and physically with new challenging workouts, but John has taken everything I've given him, and I couldn't be prouder," Amsden said.
Wade Merrill/Allie Monroe
Trainer Wade Merrill says the competition has been "more of a mental struggle than a physical one" for his client Allie Monroe of Schaumburg.
"Allie has really struggled to trust my guidance and exercise planning. It's not because she's trying to be difficult," Merrill explains. "It's because she had to trust that I wouldn't give her an exercise she wasn't ready for. In the last couple weeks, she's grown to trust me more and her attitude in the workouts has gotten way better."
Merrill has worked with Fittest Loser competitors before; in fact, he trained the 2012 winner.
"She's a lot different from my past contestants not only because she's a woman, but because she's had to learn to trust me. Allie is almost at that point, and it's a lot of fun for me to see her enjoying the workouts instead of dreading them."
In fact, Merrill is confident that Monroe will stay the course.
"She has such potential to not only win this competition, but achieve fitness goals that are probably beyond her imagination at this point," he said.
Steve Amsden/Tim Lange
"The longer I train Tim, the more I like the guy," says Steve Amsden, trainer for Tim Lange of Algonquin. "The main things I have learned about Tim are he works hard, has a good attitude, and never complains."
And Amsden says that culmination is the recipe for success.
"I would say those three qualities set him above the rest," says Amsden, who trained the winner of the 2009 competition.
"In order to keep Tim motivated, we are changing up our training style while at the same time, increasing the intensity even more. He likes the training and enjoys the challenge, so it won't be tough to keep him pushing ahead."
Brodie Medlock/ Chris Kalamatas
Personal trainer and licensed chiropractor Brodie Medlock is training Chris Kalamatas of Lake in the Hills.
"I've learned that Chris is in no way afraid to work for every pound he loses in this contest," Medlock says. "He's very focused and very committed to doing everything we can to come out on top. I don't have to do much at all to motivate him; he's very self-driven."
Medlock says his job is to help Kalamatas remain focused on the present and to take small steps at a time.
"I've reminded him that the cumulative effect of all his smaller commitments to exercise, nutrition, and recovery will all add up in the end," says Medlock, adding, "The home stretch will be tough, but I have no doubt Chris will pull through a winner no matter what."
The contestants weigh in
John Bohanek, 46, South Elgin
Starting weight: 361
Current weight: 309
Weight lost this week: 10 pounds
Total weight loss: 52 pounds, 14.4 percent
Chris Kalamatas, 63, Lake in the Hills
Starting weight: 262
Current weight: 234
Weight lost this week: 4 pounds
Total weight loss: 28 pounds, 10.7 percent
Tim Lange, 57, Algonquin
Starting weight: 236
Current weight: 206
Weight lost this week: 2 pounds
Total weight loss: 30 pounds, 12.7 percent
Allie Monroe, 29, Schaumburg
Starting weight: 334
Current weight: 290
Weight lost this week: 8 pounds
Total weight loss: 44 pounds, 13.2 percent
Cheryl Seibert, 40, Joliet
Starting weight: 263
Current weight: 237
Weight lost this week: 4 pounds
Total weight loss: 26 pounds, 9.9 percent