Healthy Sunshine Coast fitness challenge helps locals shape up

Ninety locals have been invited to come together in celebration of their hard work and newfound commitment to fitness next week, after spending the past three months sweating it out at the gym as part of TAFE Queensland and council’s Healthy Sunshine Coast 12 Week Challenge.

Following on from the success of their free group training fitness classes and Men’s Health Challenge, TAFE Queensland and Sunshine Coast Council have joined forces once again to encourage the community to take charge of their health – providing fitness students with valuable, practical experience in the process.

The 12 Week Challenge is set to culminate in a celebration of participants’ achievements at TAFE Queensland’s Mooloolaba campus on Thursday 29 November, during which gift vouchers will be awarded to the participants who have made the most improvement.

Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said Healthy Sunshine Coast’s popularity had grown significantly, with more than 20,000 people taking up the opportunity to join in one of the many free or low cost classes delivered across the Coast since 2016.

“Our joint partnership with TAFE Queensland has been a real winner, with more than 480 Sunshine Coast residents reaping the rewards of an active lifestyle while the fitness students are receiving valuable ‘hands on’ practical experience,” Cr McKay said.

“The feedback we have received from the participants had been very positive and we look forward to continuing this partnership in 2019.

“Together we are really making a difference by aiming to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative.”

Yolandie Weir is one of the 31 students from the Diploma of Sport Development responsible for helping the participants achieve their goals and said she had found the experience highly rewarding.

“This has been the best experience that we’ve had during the course, in my opinion,” Ms Weir said.

“This challenge gave us the ability to gain experience doing real world work with real clients, and the results have been amazing. Everyone has done really well and made proper lifestyle changes and the hard work they’re putting in is definitely showing; I know three participants who lost 20cm from their girth measurements within the first six weeks, while another participant managed to shave over three minutes off their fitness test.

“I’ve seen people get good results with exercise before, but to play a part in that is very soul-warming and satisfying.”

The program saw students work in groups to provide encouragement, training and health advice to teams of seven to 15 members of the Sunshine Coast community, with prizes set to be awarded to those who show the greatest improvement in fitness, body composition and overall result.

After hearing about the program at the council’s Healthy Sunshine Coast training sessions, community member Benita Hennessy signed up with the aim of pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Now, nearly 12 weeks on, Ms Hennessy said she has lost weight and has a newfound appreciation for exercise.

“It’s been challenging but rewarding, not just physically, but also mentally,” Ms Hennessy said.

“It’s really taught me to not be scared of exercise and eating healthy,” she said.

“The trainers have been really encouraging and motivating, and the students really went above and beyond. I wasn’t the fittest or the fastest or the strongest at the start of this, but they were all so welcoming and accepting of everyone, and provided support and guidance in helping us achieve our goals.

“It’s been wonderful to be a part of, so full credit to the teachers and the students who trained us – I may not win the challenge, but I still feel like a winner.”

While the 12 Week Challenge has concluded for 2018, TAFE Queensland will continue working with council to provide low cost fitness initiatives to the public in the new year.

Find out more.

Image caption: TAFE Queensland Diploma of Sport Development students with their teacher Paul Barr (back row – fourth from the left) pictured with council’s Community Development officer (Health and Wellbeing) Cheryl Pattison (back row – fourth from the right) with Healthy Sunshine Coast fitness challenge participants.

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