Jewish Light, JCC challenge community to ‘Lighten Up’

Lighten Up logo

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

If like so many of us, you have made the same New Year’s resolution for the past decade – eat less, move more – and yet somehow have managed to do the opposite, have we got the program to rock your world.

Welcome to the “Lighten Up Weight Loss Challenge,” sponsored by the St. Louis Jewish Light and the Jewish Community Center. Beginning Monday, Jan. 17 and continuing for eight consecutive weeks, through Saturday, March 13, teams of four will compete to see which team loses the largest percentage of weight and wins a fabulous prize (look for details on the prizes coming next week). An individual award will also be given to the entrant who has the largest percentage of weight loss. Think “Biggest Loser” only with trainers and dieticians available who are somewhat kinder and gentler (but not always!) than Jillian and Bob.

Here’s how it works:

Between now and Monday, Jan.10, teams of four need to register at the J with Challenge Leader Katie Hughes (reachable at 314-442-3176 or [email protected]). So it’s best if you find three others to be on your team (but don’t panic if you can’t and see below). They can be family members, co-workers, friends or mere strangers who you feel will benefit from exercise and weight loss. The only caveat: Each member of the team needs to be a member of the J.

If you do not have a team but would like to participate, contact Hughes. She will help place you – and anyone else you want, if you have less than four competitors – on a team. Teams can register, weigh-in and work out at both J facilities, the Staenberg Family Complex and the Marilyn Fox Building.

Registration costs a total of $80 for a team of four. However, there is a 50 percent off coupon in today’s Jewish Light, which cuts the registration cost to $40 per team. And that includes a nifty T-shirt, too.

Once your team is registered, you will need to be weighed before the competition kicks off Jan. 17. Not all team members have to be together for the weigh-in. Weigh-in will take place between Wednesday and Sunday, starting Jan. 12, at both locations during the hours the J is open. Just find one of the J fitness staff to witness, initial and approve your weigh-in. Your weight will be kept top secret, even from the other members of your team. Only you can choose to tell.

Once the competition begins, weigh-ins will be weekly, again during regular business hours from Wednesday through Sunday, so entrants can gauge their progress.

Throughout the competition, the Light will do periodic stories about teams and individuals involved in the Lighten-up Challenge, as long as they are willing. Teams will be encouraged to utilize the J’s nationally certified personal training staff to increase their chance of success.

Participants in the Lighten-Up challenge can receive a free fitness assessment as well as choose among a variety of eight-week individual and group training packages designed to help ensure success in the program. These packages, which range from $299 to $599 for the eight weeks and are completely optional, include nutrition counseling provided by a registered dietician from St. Luke’s Hospital (offices are located at the J).

“It doesn’t necessarily matter what time of year you decide to get healthy and in shape, it only matters that you make the decision,” says Challenge Leader Katie Hughes. “Consistently after the New Year, people want to start with a clean fresh slate and better themselves. By starting the Lighten Up Challenge this time of year, there are so many people with the same mindset and goals to help keep each other motivated. Enrolling in the Challenge encourages them to link together to be one another’s inspiration. By working in teams, each participant is more likely to stick with his or her goal and work hard to achieve it.” 

In addition to Hughes, information about the Lighten-Up Weight Loss Challenge is also available at and

Oh, and by the way, the Jewish Light is entering a team in the competition, and while we are not eligible to win any prizes, we do plan to give you a run (possibly even a marathon) for your money.