Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center Encourages Community to Attack the Fat

Posted: May 6, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

In an effort to “green” its people, the university is sponsoring the Wellness by Mason program throughout the university.

At the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center on the Prince William Campus, the program is reaching out to both the Mason and surrounding community.

The Freedom Center’s Attack the Fat Challenge is a two-month group weight-loss program that challenges teams and individuals.

This year’s challenge began on March 1 and ended on May 2, when the winners were announced in an awards ceremony. Fifty-six people ranging in age from 20 to 50 years participated.

The program was developed by Freedom Center trainers Robin Frey and Nils Buhl.

“It was really important to us and the Freedom Center’s administration to offer a program to our members that would help fight the growing problem of obesity,” says Buhl.

Participants were divided into 15 groups of three or four people. Freedom Center trainers were assigned to each group and were responsible for creating vigorous workout routines and monitoring individual safety and development. Participants received healthy food guidelines from their trainers and were given a food log to record their eating habits.

Each group met with their trainer three times a week for one-hour workout sessions that involved moderate- to advanced-level exercises such as swimming, biking, running and spinning. The trainers also encouraged the participants to take other classes in addition to their workout sessions and to add more walking and stair climbing to their daily routines.

Throughout the challenge, each group participated in weekly weigh-ins, which were recorded and posted in the Freedom Center.

The team that lost the most collective weight was deemed the winner. Since the program partnered with Chick-Fil-A, each winning team member received three months worth of free food from the restaurant in addition to $100 toward Fitness Center membership dues. The individual who lost the most weight won $500 toward Fitness Center membership dues. All the teams together shed a total of 686 pounds.

Several people from the Mason community participated in the challenge, including Jeanne Spencer, program manager in the Office of Continuing Professional Education, and Molly Grove, director of campus relations for the Prince William Campus.

“I was already pretty active with walking in the morning and attending classes at the Freedom Center, but I needed something to get me to the next level of fitness,” says Spencer. “The Attack the Fat program taught me how to push myself and encouraged me to focus more closely on my calorie intake.

“I enjoyed being on a team and felt the accountability of weighing in once a week was a big motivator. It was a great experience, and I loved every sweaty minute of it.”

“The opportunity to participate in the program was the jumpstart I needed to begin focusing on myself,” says Grove. “This was not just a two-month program for me – it is a life choice I have made for myself to improve on my fitness and healthy eating habits.”

Frey and Buhl say that even after the program ended many of the members said they wanted to continue working with their teams to reach the goals they had set for themselves. The organizers hope to offer the program again in the fall.

For more information about the program, contact Frey or Buhl.

Write to at