A Time to Transform
Weight loss, fitness program attracts eager participants
(pictured above: James Maxie has become a self-described “gym rat” thanks to TNT.)
When city native James Maxie joined Transformation Nation Triad at Winston Lake Family YMCA one year ago, he was a different man.
“I’ve got a different swagger now,” said the father of two. “Whenever you see weight drop, I guess in a way, you’ve got a different smile about yourself. You feel happy.”
Concerned about his weight and his blood pressure, which had both been creeping up over the years, Maxie, an assistant teacher at Lowrance Middle School, said he joined TNT, a free, boot-camp style fitness program designed to promote weight loss and healthy living, in hopes of becoming more active and setting a better example for his two sons.
“My boys play sports and I preach to them about fitness,” he explained. “I talk to them about their fitness goals, but I noticed as I was telling them that, I was wasn’t being fit myself, so I just kind of wanted to lead by example.”
Although he hoped TNT would help him make some positive changes in his life, Maxie says he never could have imagined the impact the program would have on him. He dropped a whopping 65 pounds and found a new home at Winston Lake, where he now works out five times a week.
“It turned out to be a life changing thing,” he said of joining TNT. “I started losing weight and seeing results and becoming a gym rat.”
I’m very proud because he’s improved his overall health, and you can tell it in his stride – everything. I can tell he’s very pleased about his results,” said Maxie’s personal trainer, Tinia Scott. “He looks healthier, and he’s just excited more about his life.”
Maxie was back for more this year, joining the dozens of area residents who flocked to Winston Lake Saturday to join the program, which is offered at YMCAs across the Northwest North Carolina network.
“It’s crazy because people see me and say, ‘You’re good,’” related Maxie, who has dropped five pants sizes since joining the program last year. “But I’m really not satisfied. I want to keep going.”
Winston Lake Wellness Director Robert Edwards says he has seen firsthand the difference TNT has made for participants like Maxie.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said of TNT, which is embarking on its third year in the local community. “I think it reaches out to the community. I think it helps to show that we’re not just a gym, that we offer more than a weight room; we have the different components to help people to become successful for their future.”
Transformation Nation Triad has adopted an abbreviated schedule this year, with an eight week training period and a sharper focus on community members who need it the most, explained Edwards. Prizes will be awarded for the first, second and third place finishers, according to weight loss and participation. City native Michelle Cherry took third place in last year’s competition, shedding 21 pounds and managing to keep about half of it off long term. This year, the Flat Rock Middle School teacher says she is hoping to recapture some of the fervor she experienced during the 2013 TNT and sustain her results permanently.
“I just got to a point where I really enjoyed working out,” declared the mother of two. “I think the competition aspect of it really brings it to the next level.”
Cherry said she returned to Winston Lake this year because she enjoyed the encouragement and support she has received there in the past.
“Everybody here is so positive,” she remarked. “It’s the family atmosphere that really helps me.”
Winston-Salem State University alumna Kendra Minor signed up to participate in TNT for the first time this year. A former basketball and volleyball player, Minor’s time on the court these days is limited to her service as head coach of the women’s varsity basketball squad at Walkertown High School, where the 27-year-old says her physical activity can be described as “just enough to get by.” Through TNT, Minor says she is hoping to surpass the minimal progress she has made in other weight loss programs and realize true change in her health and her weight. The Charlotte native will be returning to her old stomping grounds at Winston Lake, where she was employed as a college student. Her best friend, Youth and Family Services Director Andrea Hicks, is joining her in TNT, which offers weekly weigh-ins, group workouts, prescribed daily exercise schedules, nutrition information and childcare (during normal Child Watch hours).
“It’s extremely hard to be motivated, especially when you’re doing it by yourself and you don’t have a workout trainer,” Minor said. “Now that I have other people to motivate me (through TNT), I’m excited.”
Forest Baptist Health’s Diane Hightower and Betha Watson were on hand at the signups to offer TNT participants an opportunity to lower their diabetes risk by participating in PACTPD (Parents & Children Together Preventing Diabetes), an NIH-funded study that focuses on the African American community. The study, which pays $75 for each parent/guardian and each child participant, is one of the first to include the younger generation, for whom diabetes is a growing problem, Watson said.
“What we’re trying to do is prevent diabetes in children, so we’re partnering the parent and child together to work towards not getting diabetes,” explained Hightower, a registered nurse. “We’re looking at parents and children who are already obese but do not have diabetes yet, so we’re trying to prevent that.”
Winston Lake’s executive director, Terry Matthews said TNT is yet another example of the YMCA living out its mission of “Helping people reach their God-given potential in spirit, mind and body.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the YMCA to give back to the community that supports us,” Matthews said. “Even if they’re not a member of the Y, we want the whole community to be able to be healthy.”