Meet the Get Fit Challenge Contestants

Suwanee Magazine Get Fit Challenge 2018

Back in October we reached out to the Suwanee community to see who would be willing to commit to a three-month fitness competition. We had recently made the decision to revive the Suwanee Magazine Get Fit Challenge, which we last hosted in 2012, and to our elation the response was overwhelming. 

By: Alicia Carter | Photos by Walt Wooden

We received submissions from a wide spread of the community — men and women in their 20s – 70s wrote in to express their interest in committing to the challenge and, hopefully, changing their lives. Many struggled with losing nagging baby weight, while others had recently overcome major health scares and were looking for a way to take back control over their bodies. The response from local businesses who wanted to contribute to the challenge was equally encouraging. It was wonderful to see our community rally around the challenge. In the end, it was difficult to choose only six contestants, but we feel we’ve landed on a group of people who will not only make a positive change in their lives, but also inspire the community around them. Follow along on the contestants’ journeys at and in upcoming issues of Suwanee Magazine.

Suwanee Get Fit Challenge

Sue Brown

Age: 62
Current weight: 189
Goal: Lose 40 pounds

Sue has experienced a rough few years. She has battled cancer and endured three hip replacements – one of which was to replace a defective part from a previous replacement. On top of the health scares she was dealing with, her mother, who she had been caring for, passed away in October of 2017. After overcoming so much, Sue is determined to make her health a priority in the new year. “It’s time to take care of me now,” she says. “This would be a great opportunity to get me started on the right track. I’m not afraid of hard work and I love a challenge!”

Like many of the Get Fit contestants, Sue is struggling to regain control over her health and feels the challenge will give her the means and accountability she needs to finally make the change. She has worn the hat of caregiver for a long time, and we’re excited to give her the support she needs over the next three months to finally take care of herself. In the end, she hopes the challenge will help her “get healthy and fit again and to feel good about myself – I want to feel my muscles again.”

Sue will be working out at Stage 3 Fitness.

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeBill Pennington

Age: 55
Current weight: 309
Goal: Lose 90 pounds, reverse diabetes

Bill entered the Get Fit Challenge at the encouragement of his wife. He had been on an endless cycle of losing weight and gaining it back for far too long, and nothing seemed to stick. “I’d lose 50 pounds by either a crash diet or excessive exercise,” he says. “Then I’d stall and end up frustrated and give up.”

Now at 55 years old, Bill finds himself 100 pounds overweight and was recently diagnosed with diabetes. “I’m looking for a lifestyle change that I can maintain,” he says. “I want to be around for my family and to be active in ministry for many years.” Bill is hoping that by entering the Get Fit Challenge he’ll learn how to balance exercise and diet in order to have long-term success – something that has eluded him in the past. He isn’t looking for a quick fix but to truly turn his life around and improve his quality of life. “I’m not looking to have a six-pack – I want to get to a healthy weight.”

Bill will be working out at Stage 3 Fitness.

Suwanee Get Fit Challenge

Shonika Ochoa-Williams

Age: 38
Current weight: 221
Goal: To fit into a size 10

Shonika’s story is one that many women in the community can relate to. She’s a mother to two young boys, ages 7 months and 2 years, who wants to be able to physically keep up with her kids – a large feat with the energy of a toddler in the house! And while being able to run around and play with her kids is her top priority, she also wants to find time for herself, too; which is something that many parents struggle with, especially those with young children. “Participating in this challenge will allow me to get and remain focused on my fitness goals and getting back to ‘me’ time,” she says.

While the number on the scale isn’t a major factor for her – she relies more on how her clothes fit – she does have a long-term goal that she hopes adopting a healthier lifestyle will help her obtain: “I just want to live as long as possible to be around to see my grandkids, and it all begins with getting fit and focused!”

Shonika will be working out at Crux Fitness.

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Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeKevin Burkhart

Age: 32
Current weight: 243
Goal: Lose 40-50 pounds

While studying law in 2010, Kevin was at the pinnacle of his fitness. He was lifting weights routinely, running races and participating in triathlons on a regular basis. Then the reality of becoming a business owner set in. Now a practicing lawyer in Suwanee, Kevin is familiar with the late nights and long hours it takes to build a practice. “Having focused on growing my business the past few years, I lost sight of my health and fitness,” he says. “Late nights in the office meant pizza dinners, and I just couldn’t find the time, energy, or motivation to work out.” Now that he’s established his business, Kevin is hoping the Get Fit Challenge will help jump-start a recommitment to fitness. “With the motivation from and accountability to a challenge, and a team of professionals to help me, I know I can reach my goals,” he says.

As a local business owner, Kevin is looking forward to sharing his experience with Suwanee Magazine readers, while also taking back control over his health. Though his ultimate goal is to adopt a healthier lifestyle for long-term fitness and health, Kevin would also love to look “trim and fit in a bathing suit out on the boat in summer 2018.”

Kevin will be working out at Crux Fitness.

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeAmy Doherty

Age: 47
Current Weight: 185
Goal: Lose 20 pounds

In 2015, Amy Doherty battled breast cancer. She describes it as “the fight of my life,” and although she’s currently cancer-free, she feels she never truly regained control of her physical health. And what better way to reclaim her body after kicking cancer to the curb than by getting back into shape? Amy entered the Get Fit Challenge with the hope it would motivate her to finally make the change she was having a hard time making on her own. “I need some accountability,” she says. “I can’t think of a way to be more accountable than to be part of this challenge where readers will keep me in-check!” In addition to obtaining a healthier lifestyle, Amy also wants to gain more energy, sleep better, and have a better outlook on life – all goals that can be achieved through implementing a regular workout routine.

But the fight for Amy goes beyond just dropping pounds. “I want to build muscle, be fit, be healthier, look better and take back my life,” she says. “I want my kids to be proud of me and I want to live a longer, healthier life.”

Amy will be working out at Alloy Personal Training for Women.

Suwanee Get Fit ChallengeSheri Matt

Age: 49
Current weight: 225
Goal: Lose 80 pounds

Sheri Matt is a former athlete who played soccer in college and has participated in 5Ks, sprint triathlons and two half marathons, the first of which took place two days before her 40th birthday. After being overweight for all of her 30s, Sheri wanted to be fit in her 40s. Things started off well after training for her half marathon and shedding some weight, but life got in the way, as it tends to do, and she began to put back on the weight.

Sheri turned 49 in November and is determined to make her 50s a “fit and fabulous decade!” “I want to participate in the Get Fit Challenge because I want to be successful in losing weight and getting fit, and I have not done very well on my own,” she says. In addition to losing the weight, Sheri would like to have a healthy BMI and for her clothes to fit better. “I want to fit into clothes that don’t have an X in front or a W behind the size,” she says. And with Sheri’s sweet demeanor and overall positive attitude, there’s no doubt the Suwanee community will rally behind her as she takes these first steps to making a positive lifestyle change.

Sheri will be working out at Alloy Personal Training for Women.

Meet the Get Fit Challenge Trainers

Angie Willet at Stage 3 Fitness

Angie has been a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor for more than 18 years, and holds certifications with ESA, AFAA, and F.I.R.E. She has been with Stage 3 Fitness, which focuses on a three-stage workout — burn, build, repeat — for nearly four years. “Health and fitness are what I know and love, and it’s a big part of who I am. But people are my passion, so naturally this line of work is the best way to combine the two.”

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Anthony Wilkins at Alloy Personal Training for Women

Anthony L. Wilkins is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (2005) and Titleist Performance Institute (2009) Certified Personal Trainer. He has been with Alloy Personal Training since 2005 and has been the co-owner of Alloy Personal Training for Women in Suwanee since 2016. Anthony was inspired to get into the health and fitness industry as well as open his own gym based on the life-long inspiration of his mother who is a breast cancer survivor.

Dan Leblanc at Crux Fitness

With more than 10 years experience in the fitness industry, Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist Dan Leblanc opened Crux Fitness in June 2017, implementing the H.I.R.T. (high intensity resistance training) program. H.I.R.T. focuses on targeted strength training for fat loss that breaks down muscle as quickly as possible so the body can naturally restart the rebuilding process. In his career as a trainer, Dan has rendered over 10,000 personal training and nutrition counseling sessions, and taught thousands of group classes.


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