As winners of the Fitness Together makeover contest, each experienced a dramatic physical transformation

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Hannah lost 10 percent of her body fat in just eight weeks. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

After reviewing stacks of entries for the New Year, New You Makeover Contest—sponsored by Fitness Together Studios in Brecksville, Bay Village and Concord—the trainers picked two winners: Susan and Hannah.

“These deserving ladies were on opposite ends of the training spectrum in terms of needs and goals,” says Studio Manager Brooke Kratche. “Hannah, who is 20 and had been overweight most of her life, was looking for guidance and instruction for how to lose weight and gain strength. Susan is 67 and was seeking accountability and help with flexibility and balance to prevent osteoporosis.”

The winners received, free of charge, eight weeks of science-based, results-driven professional training at Fitness Together. And to complete the transformation, Studio Muse Salon in Brecksville performed a dramatic haircut, color, highlights and makeup makeover. They also received a one-hour massage to any Elements Massage Studio.

They started training in early November and by the new year had shed inches and pounds, gleaning professional knowledge about their fitness and health goals along the way.

“In addition to the training sessions, the ladies tracked everything they ate for two weeks, which gave us a good picture of their eating habits,” explains Brooke. “They were both so different in their habits. For instance, Susan routinely skipped lunch, which isn’t healthy for your nutritional needs, so we got her eating little things at work, like cucumbers, throughout the day. Hannah is a college student who snacked a lot when she was stressed out, especially over finals. We worked with her to react to stress with non-food habits, like taking a 10-minute walk.”

Susan started training at Fitness Together in early November and by the start of the new year had shed several inches and pounds, gleaning professional knowledge about her fitness and health goals along the way.

Here’s What They Liked Best About the Experience
“Before the contest, my biggest form of exercise was vacuuming,” says Susan, laughing. “I was still walking the dog, but nothing too strenuous. And I could feel myself slowing down and being more cautious. After being introduced to weight-bearing training, I feel so much stronger and more confident in everything I do.”

Hannah says that being pushed by all the trainers to go further than she thought she could made a real difference. In the end, she lost 10 percent of her body fat in just eight weeks. She says her family and friends have noticed, and buying new clothes is on her to-do list.

“I especially loved the pack training one day a week, too, which consisted of small group classes where we would run circuits doing different exercises at the same time,” says Hannah.

The facility itself—with state-of-the-art exercise equipment in plush private training suites with cardio machines, suspension bands, medicine and stability balls, battle ropes and weights—intensified the experience.

Katherine and Ricci’s reasons for wanting to turn over a new leaf really spoke to us,” says Studio Manager Rachel Pekarski. “Both ladies are divorced, lead busy, hectic lives, and truly deserved the chance to take better care of themselves.”

Katherine started training at Fitness Together in early November and by the start of the new year had shed inches and pounds, gleaning professional knowledge about her fitness and health goals along the way.


The winners received a comprehensive fitness assessment, a cardio plan, two nutrition assessments and eight weeks of four-times-per-week professional training at Fitness Together, as well as haircut, color and makeup application from MJ Hair Studio in Bay Village, and a massage at an Elements Massage studio, a value of more than $2,400. They started training in early November and by the start of the new year had shed inches and pounds, gleaning professional knowledge about their fitness and health goals along the way.

“As a nurse, you’d think I’d know better when it comes to taking care of my health,” says Katherine, who is 60. “But after I divorced seven years ago after 28 years of marriage, it sapped my confidence and the weight crept up. Then I was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, finishing up my radiation in March of last year. Although I had lost weight during the treatment, I wasn’t active and felt this contest was a great way for me to kick it up a notch.”

Ricci joined the FT makeover contest as a way to find inspiration to get in shape for the long haul.

After Ricci P.’s brother became paralyzed following a bike accident, she became his 24/7 caregiver. She now lives with him and works from home to be able to do that.

“I just turned 52, and am looking for inspiration to get in shape for the long haul,” she says.

What They Like Best About the Training
Says Katherine, “I’ve never done one-on-one personal training. These intense workouts four times a week, with timed rounds of pushups, punching bags and being totally motivated the whole time by the awesome trainers, was an incredible experience.”

Ricci calls her encounter, “personal personal training” in that everything was geared to her capabilities and goals.

“I especially loved the pack training one day a week, which consisted of small group classes where we would run circuits doing different exercises at the same time,” says Ricci.

Both ladies report that the accountability of having the workouts on their calendars and such a supportive staff of trainers made all the difference.

Mission Accomplished.

“Since we are in the transformation business, we thought to ourselves that the new year would be the perfect time to transform someone to look and feel their absolute best and give them the knowledge and the tools to maintain that,” says Studio Owner Sean Sullivan. “We like to give back to our local communities and this seemed like a natural fit.”

For Susan and Hannah, 2020 is a jumpstart to attaining their best possible fitness level, and they have two words to the trainers at Fitness Together: Thank you!

Fitness Together is located at 8251 Chippewa Commons, in Brecksville. For more information, call 440-550-4862, or visit the website at FitnessTogether.com/brecksville. Find out more about Elements Massage at ElementsMassage.com/concord-oh. Salon Muse is located at 8803 Brecksville Road in Brecksville, 440-740-0000. Other Fitness Together locations are within the Dover Commons Shopping Center, at 650 Dover Center Road, in Bay Village,440-671-3200 or FitnessTogether.com/bay-village; and 7651 Crile Road, in Concord, 216-278-7766.