The Biggest Loser leaves legacy in Ararat

BIGGEST WINNERS: Ararat has benefited from the filming of The Biggest Loser: Challenge Australia. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

BIGGEST WINNERS: Ararat has benefited from the filming of The Biggest Loser: Challenge Australia. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

FILMING of The Biggest Loser: Challenge Australia might be over, but the hit television series has left an enduring legacy on the city once dubbed 'Arafat' and 'Fatarat'.

Ararat Mayor Paul Hooper said not only had statistics shown a huge improvement in residents' body mass indexes since the show, but membership at Ararat Aquatic Centre was up 170 per cent.

"Use of the gym has gone from 60,000 people to 100,000 in that time," he said.

"It's amazing to see how far we've come.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of the people who have driven this."

Cr Hooper said Ararat residents had embarked on a new challenge during the past couple of weeks: Ararat Activ8.

The program is an initiative of the 'Kitty Committee'.

The committee comprises the four Biggest Loser finalists, Craig Booby, Toni Stockwell, Sharon Basset and Katrina Pianta, Ararat Rural City community development and client services manager Angela Hunt and Healthy Together Grampians Goldfields preventive health manager Sharon Ruyg.

Ararat's Craig Booby celebrates winning The Biggest Loser.

Ararat's Craig Booby celebrates winning The Biggest Loser.

"They have a whole list of initiatives and are using the $145,000 Ararat received from the show to implement them," Cr Hooper said.

"Ararat Activ8 is based on the concept of 'paying it forward'.

"The Biggest Loser contestants have taken a punter off the streets and along with personal trainers, are participating in a program.

"At the end of the program, the participants each choose someone else from the community to mentor."

The Ararat Active8 Biggest Loser mentors include Basset, Pianta, Toni Stockwell, Kerry Stockwell, Rodger Turner, Jane Jantzen, Shannon Woolley and Mary Reid.

The eight participants are Kerrilee Pitches, Deb Slorach, Michael Roche, Narelle Smart, Lydia Jackson, Jess Praag, Sandy Burton and Louise Gray.

Each has been allocated a personal trainer.

The Biggest Loser winner Craig Booby will mentor an additional 30 participants.

The three-month challenge started on Friday and will finish on October 11, the one-year anniversary of The Biggest Loser finale.

Each participant will receive two personal training sessions a week, a three-month Ararat YMCA gym membership and other incentives for healthy living.

Cr Hooper said Ararat Activ8 would complement several initiatives council was considering to improve the way people moved, including looking at creating more walking and bike tracks.

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