PHOTOS: Ararat Boot Camp

ARARAT - Richardson Oval was a hive of activity last Saturday morning, with dozens of people doing star jumps, push-ups and crunches as part of Ararat's very first boot camp.

About 50 people took part in the event comprising of an even mix of locals and tourists with The Biggest Loser trainer Shannan Ponton leading the intense workout.

Ararat Rural City manager of tourism and community information, Julie Kilpatrick said people from as far as Queensland and other towns including Rainbow, Geelong, Ballarat and Melton signed up for the three-day camp.

"The group from Melton also wanted to bring a football club down as well, but they are looking at doing that next time now," she said.

"Basically this one was about trialing how it would all work and overall we found it to be a huge success.

"The facilities at Richardson Oval were great for that boot camp style and there was about half a dozen that camped there during the weekend.

"Others that didn't camp booked motels, so there was money being put back into the local economy. We had people eating at the local restaurants, some of the ones camping did washing at the Laundromat, there was even a couple that went to the movies."

Capitalising on the exposure from The Biggest Loser, the boot camp also saw former Ararat contestants Katrina Pianta, Sharon Bassett, Mary Reid and Kerry and Toni Stockwell taking part.

"Shannan was obviously a major draw card and having the contestants involved was great too because the people were very familiar with Katrina and Sharon and everyone involved," Ms Kilpatrick said.

"Having said that there were ones that hadn't even seen the show and were just keen to get involved and get active."

Ponton opened the boot camp with a motivational speech last Friday night before putting the participants through their paces with a series of exercises at Richardson Oval bright and early on Saturday.

The group then hiked up Mount William in the Grampians the same challenge that contestants had to go through during The Biggest Loser's boot camp in season nine of the program.

Other activities over the weekend included a body balancing class at the Ararat YMCA and walk up One Tree Hill.

"The feedback we got from everyone was really good, people have made new friends and connections," Ms Kilpatrick said.

"We are now looking at another one, whether it is towards the end of the year or next year."

Ms Kilpatrick said Ponton also enjoyed being back in Ararat for the first time since filming the finale of The Biggest Loser last October.

"He found the whole thing really good and I think he enjoyed catching up with some of the contestants," she said.

"He said that it was good to see that the legacy lives on now that the show had left."


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