COA hosting fitness challenge to help locals shave off pounds

CASSOPOLIS — Plates of roasted turkey — and turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey soup, etc. — have been devoured.

Boxes of cookies, be they frosted, iced, glazed or otherwise made twice as unhealthy as they be naked, have been munched on.

Glasses of sparkling libations have been emptied.

Now, with calendars officially flipped to 2018, many Cass County residents will be spending the first several weeks of the new year assessing the caloric damage they ensued over the holiday season.

To help locals shed their excess winter pounds, the staff of the Cass County Council on Aging’s fitness center program is kicking off 2018 with a special fitness challenge, in hopes of helping regulars and newcomers alike find the extra motivation to stick with their weight loss resolutions.

Beginning Wednesday through the end of February, the COA fitness center will be asking users to “find their inner ninja,” as they progress through several workout goals over the next several weeks. People may work their way up from a “Classic Ninja” to a “Dragon Extreme Ninja Warrior,” by logging certain milestones, such as walking or jogging 100 miles, or performing 1,000 squats.

People who work their way up the ladder will receive prizes, from T-shirts to gift certificates. In addition, the COA’s fitness center in Cassopolis will be adorned with ninja-inspired decorations to inspire users to harness their chi.

The local agency organizes fitness challenges several times per year, with its largest being its annual January challenge, said Susan McGrew, one of the COA’s certified fitness trainers.

“It’s a way to keep people involved and motivated with their workouts, and to help them step outside their comfort zone,” McGrew said.

It is the beginning of the year when many gym users need that extra motivation to push forward, McGrew said. While the COA, like every other fitness center across the country, is flooded with new members this time of year — around 50 new people join every January — a majority of people drop their new commitment to lose weight by March.

“We will be very lucky to find two or three new [members] who stick with it, and make a lifestyle out of their New Year’s resolution,” McGrew said.

The reason most people stop heading to the gym is due to a lack of perceived results, McGrew said. Typically, most people do not see signs of weight loss until around 90 days after beginning a workout regimen, which, in today’s world of instant gratification, is too long a wait for many people, the fitness trainer said.

Another reason people lose interest in working out is due simply to the fact they do not find it enjoyable, McGrew said.

Through challenges such as the COA’s upcoming ninja warrior one, people can help overcome both hurdles by tapping into members’ competitive nature, McGrew said.

With everything from treadmills to resistance machines to free weights like kettlebells, the COA’s Cassopolis fitness center has the equipment to rival any professional gym in the area, McGrew said. Unlike most gyms, however, the COA offers personal training to all its members at no additional cost.

Members range in age from 20 to 98 years old, McGrew said. New members should not have to worry about feeling intimated about joining, as the fitness center has a very laid-back, community-like atmosphere, the trainer said.

“We offer exercises that everybody can do, regardless of age,” she said. “There are no excuses. It’s just a matter of finding something that works with your current fitness level, and going from there.”

From now through the end of January, people who sign up for three months of membership will receive a fourth month for free.

For information about membership prices or to sign up, people may call the COA at (269) 445-8110 or visit

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