The competition is over, and the Start Strong contestants recently got together to reflect on their experiences during the time they spent together at Anytime Fitness in Uniontown.

Beginning with six contestants, the competition ended with five, including Ann Kelley, who took home the first-place title as well as Kathy Simons, Brittany Tanner, Misty Gibson and Richard Mollis.

Start Strong Head Coach Sierra Miller was in charge of communicating with contestants, helping them with any questions or struggles they were feeling and coming up with the work out plans - mainly functional training plans meant to burn a high number of calories.

Kelley said she didn’t have a real specific weight goal going into the competition because she had never participated in a 12 to 13 week program, but she was hoping she would lose 30 pounds.

In the end, she lost 36.2 pounds.

Her motivation was remembering a recent vacation where she struggled to keep up with the rest of her group.

“I definitely feel stronger than I was, and I’m already looking for vacations,” she said.

Her main struggle came around week nine when her motivation began to wane.

“But I kept telling myself that it wasn’t over yet,” Kelley said.

Finding a variety of healthy foods was also a struggle.

“I like a lot of vegetables and coming into the competition I loved fish, but now I’m kind of sick of fish,” Kelley said.

She won a six-month membership to Anytime Fitness, which she is considering saving until the colder months. She prefers to walk outside in the summer months.

Simons came into the competition frustrated with the ups and downs of dieting that she’d experienced over the last several years.

“I just got it in my head that I was going to do it this time - I was going to make it last,” she said. “I’m going to hold myself accountable.”

Simons faced some challenges throughout the competition due to her arthritis, but powered through regardless.

“The workouts were always enjoyable,” she said. “Everywhere I go everyone asks about the competition and how everyone is doing.”

The hardest part of the competition for Simons was the last week.

“But there were a lot of people at work who were checking in on me and kept me accountable,” she said. “I’m going to go home and go through my closets and get rid of all of my fat clothes.”

Tanner said she never really lost motivation during the competition, but there were several setbacks for her, including two bouts of sickness and a vacation.

“My goal was to lose 15 to 20 pounds total,” she said. “I lost six pounds before the competition, and I was able to lose six pounds during the competition. I do think this is just a start for me. I’m still going to keep going.”

Tanner added that she loved coming in for the weekly workouts and seeing the rest of the competitors.

“Everyone was so happy to see each other and always asked how everyone’s day was,” she said. “You kind of form a bond with them even though you only see them once a week. You feel like you know them.”

Gibson said her motivation was pretty strong throughout the competition, although the last two weeks were a struggle due to an ankle injury.

“I still lost weight over that time - I was still able to keep going,” she said.

Gibson admitted that towards the end, she started to feel tired.

“The competition really kept me going,” she said. “Knowing that your weight was going into the paper every week was definitely motivation, but I still wanted to do the best I could.

Gibson’s goal was to lose about 30 pounds before an upcoming wedding. She lost several pounds before the actual competition began, so she is thrilled with where she ended up.

“I feel good,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think she’ll take a break from working out.

“I’m still going to go to the gym, but I’m not going to be so strict with food,” she said. “I’m going to let myself have a snack occasionally if I want one.”

Mollis said he didn’t have any motivation problems when he was working out.

“When I started this competition, I was asked if I would finish, and I said yes, so I did,” he said.

He also agreed that the contestants sort of formed a bond even though they only saw each other once a week.

“Sierra (Miller) was a great coach,” he said. “She kept us all going, and even though I had a hard time doing some of the exercises that called for jumping or getting up and down, she modified the workouts for me.”

Miller said this was the first time she had ever taken part in such a competition as the head coach.

She said as she reflects back on the challenge, “a lot of the contestants struggled most with nutrition. It would be nice, if we did it again, to have a nutritionist or a dietitian come in to talk with the contestants.”

She said although this was also new territory for her, she very much enjoyed the challenge.

“It was challenging though, studying the different workouts and learning new stuff,” she said. “But I did enjoy getting to know the contestants.”

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