With 183 participants taking part over two months, Galliagh’s Biggest Loser has been hailed as a massive success. Organisers and participants alike are over the moon with individual weightloss achivements but also the strong sense of team spirit which has grown among those who got involved.
Michaela Devine, project co-ordinator, says she’s been completely overwhelmed with the enthusiasm for the weightloss competition which challenges participants in a team setting to see who can lose the most weight and become the ‘biggest loser.’
Every week, since the end of June, personal trainers have put people from Galliagh and the surrounding areas through their paces with a strict fitness regime while encouraging a healthier approach to life.
Away from the confined gym environment, those who took part say the programme is the most successful weightloss method they’ve ever used.
The winning team, aptly named ‘In it to slim it’ lost the most weight over the eight week period. Losing a staggering two stone and eight pounds, Noel Campbell, the overall ‘biggest loser’ says he’s delighted he got involved.
“The team setting is brilliant because everyone’s really supportive and I think that’s the key to the success. I really really enjoyed taking part in it and it wasn’t like a chore. I’ll definitely be signing up for it again.”
Noel’s fellow team member Kieran Quigley admits he was sceptical at first but says the setting was perfect for successful weightloss helping him shed one stone and nine pounds over the seven weeks.
“The informal setting really works. I’d put a lot of weight on but going to the gym just wasn’t for me but taking part in ‘The Biggest Loser’ was perfect. There was a real fun element to it too and we all kept each other going. It was so well organised and so affordable. I’d definitely encourage more men to get involved, it’s well worth it,” says Kieran.
Kieran’s sister and ‘In it to Slim it’ team member Sharon who was also put through her paces says she now feels more healthy than ever before.
“I’d lost weight before but this time it just felt really good getting out and doing the exercise,” says Sharon.
“We were all pushing one another on and the craic was great. I did an eating plan up for us as well so that we made sure we were getting the right kind of food to go with all the training.”
Gerard Hillen, whose team the ‘Wedding Crashers’ came second in the competition said that trainers and participants had been particularly helpful in setting a programme for him,
“I had been quite ill and had put on a lot of weight because of that and during the training there were certain things I couldn’t do. The personal trainers that we had were completely supportive and understanding and helped me lose the weight in a way that didn’t impact on my health. I absolutely enjoyed taking part and it’s a real coinfidence booster too.
At 63, Margaret Mullan had never heard of ‘The Biggest Loser’ but went along after being signed up by her friend Philomena Gillen.
“It was all new to me but I went along anyway,” says Margaret.
“Philomena and me were a great support to one another and before I knew it I was doing things I didn’t think I could do. I got a lot of help from the trainers and I’ll be signing up for the next one that’s on to try and lose another bit of weight.”
Co-ordinator Michaela Devine was inspired to launch ‘The Biggest Loser’ in Galliagh after seeing the success in a project which was rolled out in Creggan.
“I was attending classes in Creggan and I wondered if there would be a market here. I can’t believe the numbers who came forward and the messages we’ve been receiving.
“While it’s dependant on funding, we really want to run the programme again, and I think we can easily double the numbers taking part,” says Michaela.