Meet Connecticut's “Biggest Losers”

New Haven gym hands out $3,000 in cash in fitness challenge.

“Squat it out!”

At a boot camp class in New Haven, Mubarakah Ibrahim orders 13 panting women to keep doing squats.

Ibrahim is a personal trainer and owner of Balance Fitness, a gym for women, on Whalley Avenue.

But recently she wanted to motivate more than just her clients to get in shape and took her cue from the NBC show, “The Biggest Loser."

"I see that people really compete and that's a motivating factor of losing the weight,” Ibrahim said of the hit show. “And, of course, the money is a motivating factor as well."

So she created the CT Fitness Challenge.

Open to anyone in New Haven County, Ibrahim offered $3,000 to the three-person team that lost the most weight in 12 weeks.

"When this came up, it was the perfect motivation, cause you don't want to less your boss down," Liz Parmelee of West Haven said.

Liz Parmelee teamed up with her boss, Denise Duclos and Denise Webb.

“I wanted it so badly to win the money, but that was initially,” Denise DuClos of New Haven said. “But after a couple of weeks and I saw that I was losing the weight."

"Once you get started, it feels so good it makes you want to keep going," Parmelee said.

In the end, Denise Webb and Denise DuClos lost 15 pounds and Liz Parmelee lost 19 pounds.

One look at "before" photos of the women and you can see the difference.

Through diet and exercise, the ladies beat out 16 other teams and lost more than 10 percent of their combined body weight!

“I lost two sizes in clothes and I never thought that was going to happen so that was cool,” Webb said.

They were beaming Monday night, as Mubarakah Ibrahim handed them each a check for $1,000.

The CT Fitness Challenge wasn’t just about helping individuals.

Ibrahim designed the competition so it also helped the community.

Each participant paid a $49 registration fee that went directly to the American Diabetes Association.

"I was actually delighted to have 17 teams because, of course, we were able to give the Diabetes Assocation almost as much money as we were able to give the participants,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim says she chose diabetes because it is most directly and immediately affected by weight.

“In New Haven County in particular we are 5% above the obesity rate for the nation, so we have a little extra work to do ourselves," said Ibrahim.

She hopes to keep motivating people to do the extra work by offering the CT Fitness Challenge, and that cash prize, again this summer.

Registration is underway and the deadline is June 11th.

For more information, click HERE.

There are other gyms that sponsor similar competitions.

The Healthtrax in Enfield offers a competition every 8 weeks.

 Healthtrax just kicked off “Lose-ilates,” a boot camp-style workout combined with pilates.

For more information, you can call Sarah Supino at 860-745-2408.

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