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One of our favorite things about the Whole Life Challenge is that we get to hear stories from CrossFit gyms about their students who have participated in the Challenge. Here’s a story from Jeff Germond of CrossFit NOLA, who told us how the Challenge has impacted his community — and his mom.
WLC: You’ve participated in the Whole Life Challenge since we opened it up to CrossFit affiliates in 2012. Thinking back over those years, who is the person whose life has changed the most because of the Challenge?
Jeff Germond: That would have to be my very own mom. My mom was 62, she weighed 170 or 180 pounds, was recovering from a surgery, was on a bunch of medication for inflammation, and she wasn’t happy about how she felt or looked. When she looked forward to the years ahead of her, she was scared and worried. She just didn’t feel good about herself.
When her 63rd birthday rolled around on August 26, 2012, I signed her up for the Challenge that was starting in September. I sent her a birthday card along with the piece of paper that contained her registration information, and I told her that she was going to have to work for her birthday present that year.
She wasn’t sure if she could do it, but she ended up winning. She was in the top five, but what was more important was that she lost ten or twelve pounds that first go round. And since then, she’s registered for every single Whole Life Challenge on her own.
WLC: That’s great! Did she keep losing weight?
Jeff Germond: Yes, she lost another eight or ten pounds the next time around, and by now, she’s lost more than 25 pounds. She’s lost so much weight that she’s started keeping track of how many inches she has lost because she just doesn’t have that much more weight to lose anymore.
But the bigger thing is that she is down to just one medication, and the doctor has been reducing the dosage on her medication ever since she changed her diet. She recently had blood work done, and everything looked normal. The doctor said that her blood work hasn’t looked this good since 2006. That’s the best thing.
Well, the best thing is that she feels good about herself and about her life now.
WLC: So your mom is turning 65 this year. That’s a big deal to lose 25 pounds at that age and reclaim your life.
Jeff Germond: It is, and I think that’s what the Whole Life Challenge does: It allows people to realign with their real goals. New Orleans is a unique city because people can go out to dinner three or four nights a week. People move here, realize that everything is delicious, and within a couple of months, they’ve gained twenty pounds. So the Whole Life Challenge is kind of a reset button. I think people all over the world need that ability to realign, but it’s especially visible in New Orleans.
That’s why we keep signing up. I always want to remind my members to make choices that align with who they want to be.
WLC: There are a lot of affiliates who are deciding whether they want to do the Whole Life Challenge. What would you say to them?
Jeff Germond: Well, first of all, it’s been a really good source of revenue for us. It gives us a nice little monthly bump. We’ve had months when we have received an extra $5,000 or $6,000 from the Challenge alone.
So the extra money is a nice little incentive, but for me, it’s all about the community. We encourage all of our members to have a concrete goal or a task they are working on at all times. We ask them to set a goal of completing a 5K, or joining a CrossFit competition, or participating in a diet challenge. The Whole Life Challenge is that goal. It clearly defines an objective and makes it all quantitative. This gives your community a framework. It energizes them, and it gives real results to people who aren’t seeing results from exercise alone.
You know those people who come to the gym all the time, and who have been long-term members, but they aren’t seeing the physical changes they want to see? Those are the people who should join the Challenge because when they start following the food rules, they drop weight like crazy. Then those students’ families and friends see results, so their friends and family members might join the Challenge or even the gym down the road.
WLC: Do you have any hot tips for any affiliates who are new to the Whole life Challenge? What can they do to have a really fun, successful Challenge right out of the gate?
Jeff Germond: You can encourage people to join the Challenge by asking this question as an ice-breaker during class: “Why are you joining the Whole Life Challenge?”
The people who don’t plan on joining the Challenge will give some excuse for why they can’t do it, and then the people who are doing the Challenge will always shoot these excuses down. The last week before the challenge starts, we start personally calling people out, and asking “why haven’t you signed up yet?” I bet we have doubled our participation in the last week before the challenge starts by the hype and the push. And I have never had someone regret signing up, which gives confidence in the push.
The other thing is to have a barbecue or potluck at the beginning and the end of the Challenge. We always have a WLC-compliant potluck at the beginning, and then a party after it has ended that usually involved a few things that aren’t WLC, like maybe a little alcohol. (Hey, it’s New Orleans.)