The top three finishing teams for the Spring Grove Fitness Center’s Big Loser Contest were, from left, first place: Fred Onsgard (standing) and Anne Doering (sitting), second place: Mike Folstad (standing) and David Costet (sitting), and third place: Dawn Tyribakken (standing) and Sharyl Chicos (sitting). PHOTO: MARLENE DESCHLER/SPRING GROVE HERALD<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
The top three finishing teams for the Spring Grove Fitness Center’s Big Loser Contest were, from left, first place: Fred Onsgard (standing) and Anne Doering (sitting), second place: Mike Folstad (standing) and David Costet (sitting), and third place: Dawn Tyribakken (standing) and Sharyl Chicos (sitting). PHOTO: MARLENE DESCHLER/SPRING GROVE HERALD

A local group of people have been very active this winter not letting the cold temperatures keep them down. They were active and diligent and committed and lost the equivalent of a male Bengal tiger or a male Eastern Lowland gorilla - about 500 pounds! That is quite an accomplishment.

Forty-eight people participated in the Spring Grove Fitness Center's Big Loser Contest that began Jan. 6 and wrapped up on April 4.

"It was a very competitive year; it came right down to the wire with eight teams fighting for the top three places," commented Fitness Center manager, Brandon Bergey. "With the close competition, it made people push hard right to the very end."

The Big Loser participants weighed in every two weeks with individual prizes given out at weeks four and eight. The 48 participants lost a total of 490 pounds or an average of 10.2 pounds per person. Of those 48 participants, 17 lost 12 or more pounds and out of those 17 people, 10 lost 20 or more pounds.

Winners are determined by their combined body weight percentage lost. This year's top winning (or losing, really!) team was Fred Onsgard and Anne Doering who lost 12.2 percent of their combined body weight. Second place went to David Costet and Mike Folstad who lost 9.78 percent of their combined body weight and third place went to Dawn Tyribakken and Sharyl Chicos who lost 7.5 percent of their combined weight.

Anne and Fred both had been going to the Fitness Center on a regular basis prior to the Big Loser Contest. They both told Brandon [manager] that they were interested in participating in the contest, but they didn't have a partner, so Brandon paired them together.

"Anne has been a really good partner," remarked Fred. "She's encouraged me and knew the right words to say to keep me going."

"Having a partner for a contest keeps you accountable," added Anne. "A contest helps keep you on track so you know where you're at with your fitness and food."

"Brandon does such a good job here; he will work with you and answer any questions you have," said Fred. "He's a really good instructor and knows how to tailor things to you - he knows my age so he reminds me that it is really important to stretch a lot before a work out."

"I do cardio at least five times a week and weights about three times a week," explained Anne. "I started this about five years ago to control my cholesterol. My doctor wanted me to take medicine for cholesterol but I started exercising and eating oatmeal and when I went back in for a check-up they thought the medicine was working and I told them I never started it! They told me to keep doing what I was doing. It really becomes a way of life."

Both Fred and Anne encourage people to check their insurance coverage because more insurance companies are covering all or some fees for fitness center memberships.

The second place winners have also been Fitness Center members for a few years and wanted to join the contest to make changes in their lives, but needed a partner, so Brandon paired them together.

"My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this summer and I decided that I wanted to be able to do more things with my kids," commented Mike. "I'm learning more about making healthy choices. I've noticed that I feel more energized and I'm looking forward to taking more walks and more bike rides with my family when the weather is nice."

"I turn 40 this year and for quite a while I've been losing and gaining weight and I decided it was time to stop this nonsense," remarked David. "I wanted to lose weight regardless, so I thought why not join the contest. I feel like I have more energy and the more I lose the more I want to keep going!"

Dawn had started focusing on losing weight and then her cousin, Sharyl, asked if she was interested in joining the Big Loser Contest. After thinking about it for a little bit, Dawn decided that yes that would be a good idea, so the cousins were off on their journey together.

"It has been a great experience; Brandon has been so helpful," said Dawn. "I've also been trying to cook healthier for my family and have changed up a few of our favorite recipes so that they are healthier. My favorite equipment has been the ab machine."

Sharyl added, "Once I started losing weight and my clothes fit differently I wanted to keep going! We did try to meet at the Fitness Center, but it didn't always work so we often would talk on the phone or text or message through Facebook. We had good and bad days, but having a partner made me want to keeping going and held me accountable."

"This year's percentage of body weight lost was the third highest ever; I think that is really good," remarked Brandon. "This is the seventh year of the contest and since it began participants have lost 4,400 pounds! That's amazing!"

First place winners received a six-month membership to the Fitness Center, second place received a three-month membership, and third place received a one-month membership.

"We do offer month-to-month memberships, so people can try it out and see if it works for them," added Brandon. Brandon can be reached via phone at 498-2004 or via email at

The Fitness Center will be celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Watch for details about the celebration.