2018 Get Fit Challenge Update

Suwanee Get Fit Challenge

We couldn’t be prouder of each of the contestants, as they’ve all pushed through their personal struggles to make health and fitness a priority in their lives – and each of them are thriving in the competition so far. Outside of their regular workout schedules with their assigned trainers, we’ve also scheduled periodic group activities to get the contestants together for team-building and additional education.

By: Alicia Carter | Photos by Alicia Carter and Tim Dryden

On January 12th, the contestants gathered at the Suite Spot in Sugar Hill to meet with Whole Foods Coach Stephanie Wolfe, a local wellness coach whose services include customizable group workshops, individual consultations, wellness luncheons, and lectures focusing on “understanding how your lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition choices integrate and set the stage for your overall health.” Stephanie met with the contestants to talk about how they can adjust their approach to nutrition in order to live the healthiest life possible. “You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, easy, or fake!” Stephanie said. “Most of the worst cheap, easy, fake food is found in boxes, bags, cans, and jars. This processed food is making many people weak, sick and overweight.”

Suwanee Get Fit Challenge
Certified Health Coach Stephanie Wolfe met with the Suwanee Get Fit contestants to give nutrition advice and share some healthy food samples.

Incorporating the advice from Stephanie into the lifestyle changes they’ve already made with the assistance of their trainers has helped the contestants to have a more well-rounded approach to their health and take control of the direction their journeys will take them over the next couple of months.


While all of the contestants are working out in group fitness-style classes, each are getting the individual attention that is imperative to the success of the three-month competition. Shonika Ochoa-Williams and Kevin Burkhardt have been training hard at Crux Fitness with Dan LeBlanc, whose gym incorporates the “H.I.R.T.” system: high intensity resistance training. In her second day at Crux, Shonika was already flipping tires! She thought to herself, “What have I gotten myself into?” But admits that her “energy levels increased even with an 8-month-old still waking up every few hours at night. It’s so much more manageable having this newfound energy to keep up.” And Dan can’t help but boast on both Shonika and Kevin’s progress and dedication: “The progress these two have made so far is incredible. Not only are they losing body fat while gaining muscle, they have gone so much deeper than that. They’re changing their mindset. They’re fighting for their lives in the most literal sense, and it’s awe-inspiring.”


Amy Doherty and Sheri Matt are also thriving with trainer Anthony Wilkins at Alloy Personal Training for Women. “I am really enjoying working out at Alloy, and Anthony is an amazing and inspiring trainer,” Amy said. “I wasn’t sure how I would like small group training and am surprised how much I am truly enjoying it. Anthony is able to change up my workouts so that I am never bored, and always feel challenged.” And while Sheri has been dedicated to her workouts and nutrition, recent changes at work have caused unexpected stress that has made it difficult to be excited about the progress she has made, but she’s pushing through: “I am trying to be patient and to continue to do the work,” Sheri said. “I am trying to stay focused on where I was six weeks ago, and even though I haven’t dropped a lot of weight, I am finding that I am stronger, have more energy, am proud that I am sticking with it (I have given up in other programs after just two weeks), and I can feel some of my muscles!”


Over at Stage 3 Fitness, Bill Pennington and Sue Brown have been dominating their workouts! I was lucky enough to observe a class in which they were working out together, jumping from pull-ups to TRX rows to chest presses and more! I was so proud and inspired by both of their determination — they worked out hard for the duration of the 60-minute class and the high-fives from other people at the end of the class showed the camaraderie of the group and how everyone was an inspiration to each other. “The great thing about the challenge is that I’m learning things I had never considered before,” Bill said. “My lack of knowledge is probably why my weight has yoyo’d for so many years.” And their trainer Angie had nothing but praise for them both: “I’m so incredibly proud of both Bill and Sue. Not only are they gaining lean muscle, losing weight and body fat, but they are staying extremely consistent with their workouts. They’ve totally grasped the concept of what it means to step outside of their comfort zones, and not just during their workouts, but also with their nutrition.”

Follow the contestants’ bogs at suwaneemagazine.com/getfit.

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeKevin Burkhardt
Starting Weight: 243
Current Weight: 231
12 Pounds Lost!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Staying away from, or keeping my will power around bad influences. I have a lot of support from friends and family. In fact, several friends and family members are following along with their own challenge. We hold each other accountable and discuss our diets, workouts, and progress. However, there are some people who will still binge in my presence, order the dessert and eat it right in front me, want me to agree that “a few days off from the gym won’t hurt anyone,” and just aren’t the best influence. It’s a struggle to maintain relationships with these people, not give into their habits (which are appealing!), and keep my will power when around them.

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: I wore a suit to court on February 8th that I haven’t worn in about 2 years. Its very tailored for a modern, slim fit. Not only did I fit into it, I felt confident wearing it.

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeShonika Ochoa-Williams
Starting Weight: 221
Current Weight: 217
4 Pounds Lost!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Turning my list of CANT’S into CAN. Having a prior knee injury, I developed a fear of performing certain exercises that required movements I was not accustomed to in my day-to-day, so I would automatically state that I couldn’t do it.

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Trusting Dan and the trainers to strengthen my knee so I can trust it again and execute specific exercises (i.e., deep squat). Slowly but surely I am pushing past the fear of my knee giving out on me and challenging myself more. I am also very proud of myself for sticking with this and being consistent thus far. It has resulted in great changes overall, be it my energy, how I feel in my clothes, that my concentration has improved, my eating habits are great — I can go on!

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeAmy Doherty
Starting Weight: 185
Current Weight: 178
7 Pounds Lost!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Eating the right foods all the time. I love Mexican food and would love to eat chips and cheese all day every day! And what goes better with chips and cheese than margaritas? But, I have limited my chips and cheese and have avoided alcohol and soda to eliminate so much sugar in my diet.

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Working out at Alloy at 6 a.m. three days a week and then finding two other days to make sure I am moving. I try to walk or play tennis at least two other days. The more I move, the more calories I burn! To know I am actually changing my BMI and reducing the fat (not just the weight) has been the greatest reward.

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeSheri Matt
Starting Weight: 225
Current Weight: 220
5 Pounds Lost!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: I guess there are a couple of challenges. First, I’m not seeing the results that I would like especially when I hear about the successes of the other contestants. Also, a big challenge has been to not let stress and the long work hours during my work transition derail me in exercise and eating.

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: There have been a few successes, I am not sure which one would be considered my greatest. 1. Finding that exercise is awesome for managing stress. 2. Loving Alloy (coaches and fellow ladies working out there) and making improvements in my workouts. 3. Not quitting through this work transition (when I wanted to just crawl in bed with a bag of cookies).

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeSue Brown
Starting Weight: 189
Current Weight: 181
8 Pounds Lost!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Eating enough protein and hitting my food goals!

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Weight loss both in pounds, body fat, visceral fat and building muscle! Things are changing, like my ability to work harder during a workout and seeing and feeling the results of that hard work.



Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeBill Pennington
Starting Weight: 309
Current Weight: 286
23 Pounds Lost!

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Learning that food is fuel and not just for enjoyment, and then coming up with healthy options.

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Having the discipline to get up for 5 a.m. workouts and “mastering” the My Fitness Pal app. I’ve been logging my food on My Fitness Pal the last few weeks and have been amazed at what I’ve learned by simply using the app. I’ve really had to focus on adding protein and watching my carb intake.

Follow the contestants’ blogs at suwaneemagazine.com/getfit

A special thank you to our Get Fit Sponsors:


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