A weighty challenge

LA Canada

With swimsuit season upon them, dozens of people lined up at the West Coast Boot Camp in La Cañada Flintridge, weighing whether to participate in the center's third weight loss challenge.

"I am not an adventurous person at all," Toluca Lake resident Mindi Dyson admitted Saturday. "I am sweating just being here."

Dyson was inspired to participate after watching a friend lose weight by a similar method. "I am not looking to run marathons, but just so I can walk up a hill and not be out of breath and feel better in my clothes," Dyson said, who would like to ultimately lose 60 pounds.

Adrian Pietrariu, who founded the gym in La Cañada in 2005, said the eight-week challenge helps motivate people to achieve and sustain fitness goals.

Participants are weighed and measured, then put through push up, sit up and running tests. They also meet with a nutritionist and La Cañada chiropractor Rion Zimmerman. At then end of July the tests will be re-administered, with the top three male and female participants awarded $2,500, $1,500 and $500 in cash and prizes.

Boot camp participants are a familiar site in La Cañada. The groups are often spotted in the early morning hours running on Foothill Boulevard or working out in local parks.

Eight weeks is plenty of time to make significant improvements, said Pietrariu. During the most recent contest, the male winner reduced his body fat by about 10%. Collectively, the 120 contestants lost 1,200 pounds, an average of 10 pounds each.

Much of the strengthening work, such as lunges and squats, requires no equipment, he said. The exercises are ones participants can continue to do long after the competition is done .

"You don't have to use heavy weights," Pietrariu said. "You can use your own body, you can use five to 10 pound dumbbells and stretch bands."

When La Crescenta resident Patrick Selway first joined the boot camp program in 2008, he ran a 13-minute mile and could do no more than 20 push ups.

"The reason I did it is was because I have a 4-year-old, and I just wanted more energy," Selway said.

A few weekslater he won the weight-loss challenge, shedding 20 pounds.

"I feel great," Selway said.

Pietrariu works with a broad range of people, said past participant Robert Blackstone, and tailors the program appropriately.

"He is the embodiment of what he does," Blackstone said. "And it's not like you have to be a 20-year-old type of athlete. He works with anybody, and wherever you are at, he makes you better."

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