The Employer Group sets sights on Get Fit championship

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Luke Anderson and Eric Lowry of The Employer Group, which is competing in the team challenge. Anderson’s and Lowry’s co-workers Angie Heim and Marcus Neumaier round out the team.

Why did you compete in the IB Get Fit Challenge?

Luke: For a couple reasons. First off, the idea of participating in organized training sessions intrigued me. Generally, I go into workout hibernation during the winter, so I wasn’t in particularly good shape when our company president, Angie Heim, invited us to join her in the challenge. This seemed like a great opportunity to get back into a workout routine before the end of winter. But really, the main reason was to win the competition for TEG.

Eric: I’m 43 years old with a desk job and not a lot of desire to hit the gym for the fun of it. I thought this was the push I needed to get back into shape, since I knew I would be accountable to my fellow teammates. I’ve always gravitated toward team sports like softball, basketball, and volleyball, so I thought this was a good way to incorporate a team aspect into individual workouts.

How did you keep a healthy diet during the competition?

Luke: I’m generally ready for a meal every two hours. Seriously, I’m always hungry. Because of this, I needed to make sure the in-between meals were healthy choices. During the workweek, I’d stock the fridge with vegetables, fruit, whole-grain foods, and nonfat Greek yogurt. This helped me avoid going out and picking up lunch. I figured all this weekday healthy eating would allow me some freedom on the weekends … craft beer is just too delicious.

Eric: I was very aware of calories during the whole competition. I was always equating what I was about to eat with how much extra time I’d need to spend at the gym to burn that off, which ultimately led to better decisions like eliminating those late-night snacks. I didn’t deny myself things I love, like pizza or burgers; I was just smarter about it. For example, when I had pizza, instead of crushing half a large pie, I’d have a couple of slices and mix in a salad or some raw veggies. In general, I incorporated larger servings of fruits and vegetables and cut back on, but did not eliminate, the carbs we all love so much.

What have you been doing for exercise?

Luke: Our team trained two or three times a week with Tyler Seubert at Hybrid Fitness. I also squeezed in cardio or weights once a week. Much of our training exercises were focused on conditioning and circuit training. In the past, my workouts included about a 10-minute cardio warm-up (which I always hated) and a simple weights routine. I’ve got to give Tyler credit. In about four weeks I could run on a treadmill for a long time without experiencing shin pain and grabbing for the side rails (you know, the take-weight-off-your-legs move). The results over six months were phenomenal.

Eric: Like Luke mentioned, we were working out at Hybrid with Tyler two to three times a week. Some days I looked forward to going, and other days I was dreading it. I have to thank Tyler, though, as he really pushed us and kept us motivated. He also mixed up our exercises so there was always something new. We did cardio, core, weights, and all sorts of other exercises that I can’t begin to classify. Who would’ve thought you could incorporate a simple $10 PVC pipe into a full workout and have it completely wipe you out?

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What was the biggest challenge since the competition started?

Luke: Probably the duration of the challenge. Our training pushed us to improve our coordination, flexibility, and strength every time we entered the gym. At times you wondered, “Where do we go from here?” However, without the continued intensity and well-designed workouts, there’s no way I could have achieved the physical gains I did.

Eric: Trying to keep up. Our team consisted of The Employer Group President Angie Heim, who had been working out with Tyler for quite a while before this competition started, and a couple of 20-something guys. While I wasn’t terribly out of shape to start, I was well behind the group, so really I was just trying to hang on and stay close to those three without dropping over. I’m most proud of the fact that one team member, who shall remain nameless, threw up at the end of an intense workout and it wasn’t me.

Looking back, what did you gain from the challenge?

Luke: For me, I realized that getting back into a team or partner workout environment is really what I needed. It’s more enjoyable and much more entertaining. For some reason, when everyone’s complaining about how sore they are, it’s easier to deal with your own pain. Going forward, I’ll continue to attend our training sessions. But most importantly, I’m hoping to help win a championship for TEG.

Eric: I agree with Luke about the camaraderie of working out as a team, though I’m sure the rest of the office is tired of hearing us whine about it afterwards. I also learned a ton about how to work out and work out smarter. I always thought hitting the gym and just lifting a few weights or spending 45 minutes on the elliptical while watching TV was a great workout. Since working out with Tyler, I’ve learned a ton of new exercises and how to push my body a lot more than I ever did on my own. Oh, yeah — and I’d like to win a championship for TEG.

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