By: Lucy Morrissey

Krystal Lauzon is on her feet all day waiting tables, but this 21-year-old Fitness Zone member still hits the gym, with her eye on the prize, and posts to Facebook to prove it.

A graduate of the police foundations program and server, Lauzon has certainly been up for a challenge. No matter the demands of her day, she works out and posts photos frequently – something she’s not keen on, she said, but recognizes how effective it can be in providing support. Her family shares the photos and friends leave encouraging comments, she said.

She’s not alone. The Transformation Challenge, new to the Fitness Zone, runs from Sept. 4 to Dec. 3 and is offered to all Algonquin College community members. The challenge integrates something past challenges haven’t: participants take to Facebook to document their progress.

“Encouragement goes a long way,” said Wayne Boucher, fitness and wellness co-ordinator, who called the challenge his “brain child.” Incorporating Facebook is meant to aid in establishing a support group of family and friends.

Once a week, participants are required to post a photo of themselves working out. For every Facebook “like” each participant receives on the photo, he or she is one point closer to snagging the $1,000 travel voucher prize. Regular posting can also lead to increased accountability, said Boucher.

Work-out attire must be worn in the photos and they’re to be “tagged” under the Fitness Zone. One person has opposed using the social media site during the challenge. This individual, while encouraged to continue working out, becomes ineligible to win the voucher.

Tiffany Reed, Fitness Zone staff member, said they’re encouraging participants to use Facebook to better their chances of winning, although some have not been posting to their advantage. Participants also earn points for the amount of change made and assessed throughout the semester, which will be considered in determining the victor. There’s an initial assessment, followed by another between mid-October and early November and finally one when the challenge is finished.

“We’re hoping it’ll create a buzz in the Fitness Zone and encourage people to be healthy,” said Shannon Campeau, fitness and wellness co-ordinator. However, it’s difficult to say how well the challenge will go, she said, considering it’s the first year for it. Components of the transformation challenge include cardio and strength-training with a focus on body composition.

The last day to register for the free-of-charge challenge is Sept. 28. As of Sept. 12, 20 people were registered – 70 per cent students and 30 per cent faculty and community members.

Lauzon started making lifestyle changes a week prior to starting the challenge and one week into it, she’d lost 10 pounds. Her ultimate goal is to reduce her body fat percentage from 29 to 18 per cent, pick up her cardio and win a trip to Cuba with her boyfriend, who she said is her biggest source of support.

Participants have voiced only realistic expectations for end results – striving to improve their fitness, said Boucher. He recalled an expression that says it takes about 10-12 weeks for others to notice a transforming bod. Fortunately for contestants, to ensure time for advertising, registration and assessments, said Boucher, they’ll have 11 weeks to make this transformation.