NEW ORLEANS -- If Mardi Gras sidetracked your new year's weight loss resolution and you're hoping to do better during Lent, there are some people who will inspire you.
In a group class with a lot of cheering, sweating and moving, regular people, men and women from their 20's to 70's, with children and jobs, not athletes, took the ultimate body and mind challenge. They signed up for the first five-week long Armageddon competition.
"The worst day that I did, I'm saying the worst, the most was seven hours. And the least I probably did was four," said Lynn Crozier, 43, a mother of six who was one of the first place winners.
That's how many hours of dedication they put into working out. There were 125 people who signed up to make the commitment over the year end holiday season. They earned points for going to 4 a.m. boot camps, fitness classes, TRX training, working out with a personal trainer and also for recovery massages, wearing a costume item to some of the workouts, or helping the needy with food or Christmas gifts. Teams of two had the chance to win $2,000 for the top prize.
Now I know what you're thinking, There's no way you can find that kind of time to dedicate to fitness. You have children, a full-time job, a physical ailment, or you're getting up in age, or something else.
Well with this group, you have absolutely no excuses.
A 49-year-old participant has multiple sclerosis.
"I just wanted to get a good workout," said Mary Katherine Pou. When asked how Armageddon helped her, she responded, "Wonderfully," with a smile.
The other first place winner and Crozier's team mate, Jenna Martin, 37, has five children, a full time job, even working overnight shifts.
"Four in the morning boot camps and then straight to work and then back, and yeah, it was crazy," she said.
When asked if there were enough hours in the day to do all that she does, Martin said, "To that I would say there really isn't, but you just have to make time. I find that I'm a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better worker,"
Seven members of one family joined Armageddon together. Three members are Bethany Burst, 22, her mother Yvette Burst, 40, and Bethany's grandmother Yolande Burst, 70, whose doctor says her lifestyle shows.
"They compare me to a 40-year-old. My blood pressure last time I went (for a check up) was 96 over 50," said Yolande Burst, who will be a great grand mother in April. She does TRX classes, high intensity classes and five-mile runs on a regular basis.
Some winners say they should split the prize money with their other halves, because they could not have done this challenge without them.
"Waking up early, my husband was a tremendous support for me. He basically did the whole nighttime routine, fixing dinner, feeding the kids, bathing the kids, getting them to bed so I could be here for two and three hours a night after work," said Brandi Dumontier, 36, one of the second place winners.
And because recovery workouts and seminars were part of the program there weren't any over training complications.
"We didn't have a single injury. We didn't have a single person say, 'I hurt this. I hurt that,'" said RJ Rice, a trainer and owner of The Parks Health and Fitness in Lakeview, the home base for Armageddon. He said he started the program to get people motivated to make fitness a priority during the holidays.
There was one case though of dedication that led to exhaustion, diagnosed by a doctor. But all the Armageddon participants we talked to say stress and weight went down and energy and body tone went up.
"It totally transformed my body. I've taken my physique to a whole other level and it was just so much fun," said Evan Posey, 29, who lost weight and says he ranges between 4.3 percent and 5 percent total body fat. He just got his social worker degree and is hoping to find a job in the school system.
"I had a lot of energy that I never had before. I mean, I'm always happy," said Yvette Burst, who is part of the big family that joined. She said she didn't start working out until later in life when her children were teens and encouraged her.
After the workout, the group gets in a huddle and goes a final cheer.
If you want to get on the list for the next Armageddon, call "The Parks" at 504-288-7275.