An Interview with THE MAX’s Tranforma10n winners!

In celebration of their 10-year anniversary, THE MAX Challenge held a special transformation contest for its members. This gave individuals an opportunity to share their stories and their progress, all while competing to win some fantastic prizes. The Grand Prize Winner was Christine Kotik of THE MAX of Westerville, Ohio, who received a free 10-Week Challenge membership to gift to a friend, 6-months of free ‘legacy’ membership, and a $150 gift card valid for MAX Challenge Meals or their supplement website. The three runners-up were were Lisa Barrett from THE MAX of South Windsor, CT, Kristy Ann from THE MAX of Clinton, NJ, and Doreen Spencer from THE MAX of Mount Holly, NJ, who each received 3 free months of ‘legacy’ membership plus a $100 gift card valid for MAX Challenge Meals or their supplement website. 


All four of these women achieved incredible results through their hard work and dedication. However, each of them followed their own unique path on the journey to wellness. They were kind enough to sit down and share a little bit of insight into their lives, and what allowed them to transform in such a positive way. 


When did you join THE MAX Challenge and why did you join?


Christine –  I joined in April with the Spring Challenge. My number 1 reason for joining needs a bit of explaining. When I was in my late teens, early 20’s, I spent many school year weekends practicing and 3 summers traveling the country and competing with the Canton Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps. This coming summer (August of 2022) Bluecoats will put a 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps on the field. I desperately wanted to be a part of this. But I knew that the shape that I was in would not allow me to hold up a baritone bugle, play, and march for 18 or so minutes. I was 52, overweight, out of shape, and recovering from a hip replacement. I was tired all of the time, had trouble getting up and down off the ground, and could no way see myself being able to participate in the Alumni Group. And then I found THE MAX Challenge.


Lisa – I joined over 3 years ago. I had survived Stage 4 stomach, esophagus, and liver cancer with a ton of chemo and then a few years later I got Stage 1 esophageal/stomach cancer and had to have an esophagostomy. They removed 1/3 of my stomach and 1/3 of my esophagus and turned my remaining stomach into an esophagus. I had to learn how to walk again. It took a long time to get back to being myself. I can’t lay down flat or everything comes shooting out. I can’t eat many food items so I was struggling. I had no workout routine and I was living on cheese, crackers, starch, pizza, and the like. I was in a bad place and there really was not much I could do about it. It took many years to heal from my esophagostomy so I was truly out of sorts and out of shape. I was noticing all kinds of advertisements for the new MAX Challenge in town. It was next to all of the stores that I frequent. I saw Kim in there one day and decided to go in and talk with her. Best decision I have ever made.


Kristy Ann –  I joined for the Summer Challenge 2021. I joined because I needed a change. Nothing I did was working.


Doreen – My story begins in  May 2018 at the Mount Holly Police Department Patrol Officer Association fundraiser to help raise money for cancer. (Cops Hike Up To Take Cancer Down.) The officers hiked the Appalachian  Mountains. Ivona Qualy, the owner of THE MAX of Mount Holly, donated a 10-week MAX Challenge membership as the door prize. I won the door prize! I could not believe it and was very hesitant. Ivona called to congratulate me and give details. I told her about my knee problem and told her I was intimidated because of my weight and being out of shape. I really hated gyms. She was very patient but also relentless. Ivona kept In touch with me through the next 7 months. I finally agreed to give it a try when she opened her gym that was January 2019.


What part of your transformation are you the proudest of? 


Christine – I am definitely proud of the physical transformation, but I am the proudest of the mental transformation that is happening. I have struggled with food issues all my life. As I gained weight, working out was harder, so even though the motivation was there, I still couldn’t do it. I made bad nutrition choices, not always enough food but then the food I was eating was calorie-dense and nutritionally empty. I thought it would never change at this point in my life. I’m in my third Challenge right now. I look at working out as something I get to do. I am a 6 am workout girl and even when I have to wait until later in the day to work out, I notice something missing. Leaving the center after a workout, I feel energized and ready to conquer my day. And the nutrition changes have been huge and impactful for me. I no longer eat for the sake of eating. I eat to fuel my body. I am trying different foods, cooking healthy meals, and eating healthy snacks. And I don’t look at this as the current diet I’m on, I look at it as the way to eat for life. I go to the grocery store and head to the healthy aisle; I don’t grab a donut or candy bar for the ride home. And all of this has made me more confident in my business and my life in general.


Lisa – I am most proud of the fact that I was working out between 2 and 3 times a day. I am in shape for the first time in many years. I can do moves I have not done in many years.  I was able to rock my daughter’s mother-of-the-bride dress a year after Covid. I am proud of my dedication. I am proud of my new size and the new healthier me. I am proud that I can be an inspiration to others in hopes that they see what I did and think, I can do that too! 


Kristy Ann – I am most proud of the fact that I now enjoy exercising. It felt like a chore before…something I had to do. Now I am excited to come to work out with my friends.


Doreen – The part of my transformation that I’m proud of is of course is the weight loss and the loss of inches but I’m most proud of my dedication to the program. I don’t think I’ve ever stuck to any program let alone a weight loss program like this before.


How has THE MAX Challenge impacted your life outside of the center?


Christine – I have made so many new friends through THE MAX Challenge. That is one of the unexpected benefits. These ladies are people that I talk to outside of class, we do things together outside of class. We care about and for each other.


Lisa – I eat better, I don’t throw up every day anymore, I can go up and downstairs, my knees don’t hurt anymore.  I have so much more energy and my spirit is just so high. I got my happy back! I tell everyone who will listen about THE MAX Challenge. I have changed my entire lifestyle. I can actually shop in a real store now and wear clothes that come from Old Navy and Aerie and not a plus-size store. I have been shopping at a plus-size store since the 90s. 


Kristy Ann – I am so much happier. My family has noticed that I am “lighter” not just in the weight that I lost but also in my attitude. I am more positive and want to help others feel as good as I do.


Doreen – Before starting the Max Challenge I had no energy to do or go anywhere. I was depressed. Now I am constantly on the go, much happier and as my hairdresser stated more outgoing. I take weekly walks with friends and enjoy keeping up with my grandchildren.


What do your friends and family think of your transformation and your dedication? 


Christine – My friends and family are all very happy for me. My children especially have noticed my dedication. In addition to the Challenge, I participated in a push-up challenge, 2 5K’s and a 10K (all unheard of pre-challenge). After every one of them, my son has reached out to congratulate me and encourage me. That means a lot. As for friends, many of them have been inspired by my love of THE MAX and my results and have joined me! I love that they put their confidence in me and what I was doing to good use for themselves.


Lisa – My friends say the most wonderful things to me every time they see me. They comment on how I look and how I dress and tell me how proud they are of me. My family is beyond proud. I even work out with one of my daughters and my son-in-law when they come to visit! It’s a whole new me. When you come to my house you see my weights, my mat, you see it all. It is never pushed aside. My family supports me every step of the way. It is wonderful. They are my cheerleaders! My daughters, sons-in-law, and my husband are so supportive of THE MAX. Even my mom and dad know what time I work out.  My mom hangs up the phone saying “OK! It’s workout time!” When my husband comes home and sees me working out, he jumps in front of the screen and waves. They know him by name now! He is even known to do a few moves! They are my support system.


Kristy Ann – They are very proud of me. People have asked…what are you doing…tell me more.


Doreen – My family is very proud of my transformation. They’re also proud and love how devoted I’ve been. I schedule my appointments around my MAX time. MAX comes 1st, other things come 2nd. And the fact that I have more self-confidence and more energy. My friends are constantly complimenting me on my progress.


What motivates you to keep working hard? 


Christine – Maria and Katie, our center coaches, do an incredible job of motivating us. They notice things we are doing. It’s always nice to have that external motivation. But what’s truly motivating me is that I know I have more “transformation” left in me. I’m not done yet. I am highly motivated by goal setting. That’s a cool thing about the challenge, there is always another higher goal that you can set and push yourself toward. More weights in the gym, going faster, longer planks, lower time in the MAX 500, smaller clothes size, more pushups…


Lisa – THE MAX. Kim. Heidi. The instructors, My family, my health, how great I feel, My new friends that I made at THE MAX  are the most inspiring people and the most supportive people of all. 


Kristy Ann – Happiness is addictive! I don’t want to feel the other way again.


Doreen – My motivation for this program is my health and my 4 active grandchildren. I am now able to keep up with them, run around with them, and do activities with them that I had not been able to do previously. I look forward to my MAX friends and family every morning. We motivate and inspire each other.  


Any advice for someone who wants to start a wellness routine but hasn’t quite gotten there yet? 


Christine – Be clear on your why and don’t lose sight of it. By joining THE MAX Challenge, you will never be alone any step of the way. We do the hard things, but we do them together. We come to believe that WE CAN and WE WILL do hard things. The thinking about who you are will totally change for the better. You will become the person who works out at 6 am on Labor Day, the person who goes to a soccer tournament with your own healthy food, the person who sets goals and crushes them. And the best part, you won’t think “I have to do this.” You will have committed to yourself and you’ll say, “I GET to do this!”


Lisa – Do it. Do it all. Start small. Just try one class. Just try one single shake. Just try it because there are different levels and no matter what shape you are in there is a level for you. There are different workouts each day and recordings if you can’t make it to the center. My instructor Heidi always says, If you’re moving, you’re reworking. That stuck with me. If I am exhausted, I can go down a level. If I have lots of energy, I can go up a level. THE MAX doesn’t push you. THE MAX inspires you to push yourself. THE MAX does not judge. Ever. They support you. Always. They make you a better you.


Kristy Ann – Try this….it is unlike anything you have tried before. The detailed nutrition program, the fun always-changing workouts, and the unparalleled motivation from instructors and fellow MAXers will keep you going. You are not alone in this journey.


Doreen – Give THE MAX Challenge a try! With the tools of exercise (with modifications if needed like me), nutrition, and motivation you have nothing to lose except some sweat, weight, inches!  It’s just 45 minutes 5 days a week. Treat yourself to feeling stronger and better.


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