Ararat vs Stawell - battle of the fittest

REGION - Teams from Ararat and Stawell have always enjoyed a healthy rivalry, be it football or netball, but now the two towns are set to sweat it out in the gym to prove which is the fittest.

The Ararat YMCA and Stawell Leisure Centre have joined forces to create the Biggest Winner Challenge.

The weight loss and fitness battle kicks off tomorrow and will run for two months.

Health and Fitness coordinator with the Ararat YMCA, Peter Harrison said the idea of the Biggest Winner Challenge was two-fold.

"Firstly it has been brought about because of The Biggest Loser and we also wanted to come up with a way of introducing the gym to people who have never used it before," he said.

"Obviously we are an obese population, but statistics show that only 12 per cent of people use a gym. That means 88 per cent have never used one and that percentage is just too high.

"This challenge is a way of getting those people through the door and on to the floor as a group and be guided through everything."

Tomorrow will see the Stawell Leisure Complex hold its first weigh-in from 8am-11.30am for those that have already signed up for the challenge, while people can also register on the day.

Mr Harrison said the Ararat YMCA will also begin its testing tomorrow for Ararat team members.

"At the open day this Saturday the Ararat members will be measured on a range of things, but it absolutely depends on what the individual wants measured," he said.

"Those things include weight, body composition and a fairly arbitrary fitness test which records how fast you can travel 400 metres.

"If you are out of shape there is no reason you can't walk the 400 metres and then perhaps the next time around you will be able to run it."

At the end of the eight week program fitness testing will be completed once again with the average improvement of the members calculated to determine a winner.

"People don't have to join by this Saturday, but the team can benefit if more people get on board early," Mr Harrison said.

"The averages at the end of the challenge will work out better."

Tomorrow will also see the Ararat YMCA run group fitness sessions from 8.30am to about 3.30pm with cost being $6 for casuals and free for members.

"People can come and try all our land-based activities, water aerobics won't be running, but we have our regular classes like Pump and Balance, as well as new classes including Octane, which is a high intensity training," Mr Harrison said.

"The classes are for beginners all the way through to people who are quite fit. We want people of all fitness levels to join in on the challenge, because those that are already starting off with a good fitness base will be able to give others an idea of what to aim for."

More than 20 people have signed up for the challenge from both Stawell and Ararat, while Mr Harrison said both organisations are hopeful that each team will have at least 50 members.

Both the YMCA and Stawell Leisure Complex have added extra classes to their programs to try and encourage more people in the community to get active.

In Stawell a 'child friendly' outdoor fitness session called 'Back to Basics' will be held at the Leisure Complex at 9am on Thursday mornings, with mums and dads encouraged to bring along their children in prams or strollers and take part.

Stawell is also running high intensity cardio sessions on Tuesday nights at 6pm which is perfect pre-season training for footballers, netballers, basketballers or anyone looking to boost their fitness levels.

Mr Harrison said the YMCA will be running a full calendar of events during February and March, with a timetable available for collection tomorrow.

"We will have a number of VIP events including with The Biggest Loser contestants who will be running circuits and even the final four having a train off when they are revealed on TV," he said.

"The people in our challenge will have first dibs at attending those events before spots are open to the general public."

The Biggest Winner Challenge between Ararat and Stawell runs from February 1 to March 29.

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