There was a joyful air of celebration, tinged with just a bit of melancholy, during the last day of the most recent round of the Insight 2 Health Fitness Challenge.

Participants arrived with spring in their steps and smiles on their faces, ready to tackle what the last day of these 10 weeks had to bring. One of the participants even arrived dressed to party.

“But I came prepared just in case we were doing this," she said with a smile as she went to change into her exercise clothes; and all had a good laugh.

The last class was very much like the first … a blur of push-ups, crunches, stretches and steps. But there was something glaringly different from that first class, however; movements were stronger, faster, more deliberate. The participants’ eyes shone with a new sense of determination and renewed self-confidence. As the session drew to an end, participants gave their notes to the instructors and that’s when the real magic began.

Everybody assembled in a conference room to reflect on the past 10 weeks and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. As each participant recounted their story, common denominators began to emerge, and all testimonies were woven with the same thread … “I found out I can.” In the midst of more than one tear, each participant recounted what they found out about their bodies and themselves through the challenge, and the results were spectacular.

Needless to say, it was not easy. That thread was also part of the weave. Waking up in the dark to get to the class at 6 a.m. took some getting used to for more than one participant. Some days some of them couldn’t. But support systems were established and wake-up calls followed. Some participants took each class fighting through insurmountable pain, showing unwavering grit they didn’t even know they had.

Thus, results began to show. Backs began to feel better than they had in years. Knees started to bend in ways that were thought impossible anymore. Waking up at the crack of dawn became easier, and as participants noticed their bodies and attitudes changed. They thirsted for more. The instructors Chaz Sandifer and Val Fleurantin even had to instruct a participant to exercise less. “You need to chill,” they told her smiling proudly.

The participants saw more than their bodies change; they saw their mindset shift as well. They all concurred that the energy and the motivation their instructors brought with them to each class was infectious and made them come back for more. Finding out that they could do this, even though it hurt, made them feel better about themselves. “I’ll start caring for me now” was repeated over and over.

From not wanting to come at 6 a.m., now participants didn’t want to leave. They each received a certificate commemorating their achievements, tickets to a Twins game because this was a celebration, after all, and a goodie bag courtesy of the Wedge with healthy snacks and a $10 gift card so they could dine and celebrate feeling good enjoying delicious, healthy food.

“I’d do it again”, participants agreed. The next Insight 2 Health Fitness Challenge begins on May 14. For information on how to participate, email

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