With the recent announcement that Topeka was the eighth most obese community in the United States, some Topekans are becoming introspective about the health risks associated with obesity.

For those who wish to make a significant change in their lifestyle, Jayhawk Pharmacy and Patient Supply offers a new program called Get Fit Topeka Style (GFTS), which kicked off its first community workout June 21 at Hummer Sports Park Stadium.

GFTS originated as a contest for 20 contestants themed after NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” but soon blossomed into a community-wide workout program, thanks to a massive influx of applications to participate in the competition.

“We had almost 200 applicants for 20 spots, so now we have 20 individuals that are competing for six months,” said Mike Conlin, owner of Jayhawk Pharmacy and Patient Supply. “Then we decided we wanted to do something else for the community as well, so now we do this on a monthly basis.”

The first community workout garnered 113 participants, not including the trainers and other volunteers on hand to help organize it.

“I thought it was a great success, for it being the first time out of the gate,” said Lauren Tice, communications manager for Get Fit Topeka Style and owner of Speak, Ink. “We’re still building momentum with the program and it’s definitely growing much bigger than we expected. The whole program has ballooned beyond our expectations.”

“We’re trying to get people excited about doing something healthy. whether it’s diet or exercise, we’re just using this as a tool or a platform to get people in the community to say ‘Hey, I can do that,’” Mike Conlin – owner of Jayhawk Pharmacy and Patient Supply

Tice said much of the support for the workouts came from Facebook and promotion by local media.

“It has been a tremendous help that we have Stephanie Lynn from 94 Country and also Kelli Stegeman from Kansas First News involved,” said Tice. “Both 94 Country, WIBW and especially Kansas First News have put a lot of effort into it and really partnered with us to get the word out.”

Kansas First News anchor Kelli Stegeman is one of the 20 contestants involved in the GFTS competition, and said she has already lost 10 pounds and seen a significant difference in her muscle mass.

“I was so excited,” said Stegeman. “This is something I’ve been looking forward to for so long, and I wasn’t really sure what I would expect. But coming up here, and once everybody got together out on the field, it was more than I was expecting. I just hope that from here on out we can keep this growing and hopefully start a trend in Topeka.”

Rather than focusing on a specific number, Stegeman said her goal is simply to become a better person.

“All it takes is one step,” said Stegeman. “It’s so easy to lay on the couch and do nothing and feel bad about yourself, but the moment you start taking that one step, that leads to the second and the third, and before you know it you’re up and you’re active all day long.”

The next community workout takes place August 16 at 6:30p at Hummer Sports Park, and continues Sept. 29 at 8:30a before wrapping up with a Crawl, Walk, & Run 5K Oct. 20. For more information, go to www.jayhawkpharmacy.com or check out the GFTS Facebook at Facebook.com/GetFitTopekaStyle or on their Twitter account, @GetFitTopekaKS.

[ Story + Photography by Josh Rouse | July 2012 ]

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