Another Healthy U group has completed the yearlong journey, but the Class of 2015 doesn’t plan to stop even though a new class was named Thursday at the Night of Inspiration in the Stauffacher Theatre at State Fair Community College.
The Class of 2015 marks the first Healthy U class to graduate with all 12 students and had the largest combined weight loss of any class — 615 pounds.
“That is because they held each other accountable,” said Megan Webb, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist for the University of Missouri Extension Office and Healthy Living Action Group Co-chair. “They were a team and worked as a team, and more than a team — as a family.”
The standout winner of the Healthy U contest was John Bates, who lost 112 pounds during the last year, the largest percentage of body weight lost in his class. Runner-up was Kevin Holbert with 77.4 pounds lost.
Bates stood on the Stauffacher Theatre stage on more than one occasion Thursday night — as a member of the Class of 2015, as the class winner and as a fitness coach for a Class of 2016 member, Wyatt Jones.
“I think I’m more excited about the opportunity I’ve been granted for next year,” Bates told the Democrat after the event. “I’ve got the opportunity to be a coach for one of the next class members. I’m really looking forward to that.
“(My coaches) Travis (Jobe) and Angela (Kammeyer), they don’t get paid for this — they volunteer their time and it took a lot of time, so I felt it was the least I could do to pay it forward and do the same for someone else,” he added. “I know I could never pay them back for their time, so maybe this was the next best thing.”
Bates is going through NFPT to get his personal trainer certification, and until that time he will be working with Jobe to coach Wyatt.
“I’m very excited (to work alongside Jobe). We make a good team, so this is just one way to continue that team and friendship and help someone else,” Bates said.
Webb said Bates has been consistent in all aspects of the program throughout the journey and that he “did fantastic from the start.”
Jobe said Bates is “an amazing person” and that working with him was “unbelievable.”
“[Bates’ win is] well deserved,” Jobe said. “He put in the time and the effort and I couldn’t ask for a better client or participant in Healthy U, that’s for sure. The cool thing about it, now he’s a coach so he’s passing that knowledge onto the next class, which is what I feel like the Healthy U program is all about.”
There are a wide range of reasons students apply for Healthy U. For Bates, it was simply time to make a needed change.
“I turned 30 this year and I think that was a big part of it,” he explained. “I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember, and something about turning 30 and not changing anything scared me so I decided this was the time. If I was going to change, it was now or never.”
The most obvious change for Bates is his physical appearance, but he said the effect of Healthy U has gone much further.
“I think confidence has been huge for me,” he said. “I don’t want to sound vain, but I don’t mind looking in the mirror anymore. I don’t despise the reflection for the first time I can ever remember.”
The Class of 2016 includes Wyatt Jones, Sean Moore, Patrick Wilson, Delilah Nichols, Dawn McNeeley, Amber Croka, Mari Asbury, Bobby Houston, Ashley Caton, Taylor Thomas, Kimberly Agin and Wendi Burch.
Webb said about 70 applications were received this year, and 25 people were interviewed. New this year, Healthy U, part of the Healthy Living Action Group (HLAG), has decided to help the 13 applicants who weren’t selected for the final class with HU2, a weekly support group that will meet with the Class of 2015.
Healthy U volunteer Melissa Boeschen said those people will be given the same tools and resources as the main class, but instead of personal coaches it will be more of a mentorship with the Class of 2015.
“The Healthy U Class of 2015 was an exceptional group that accomplished amazing things,” said Stephanie Hanning, Bothwell Regional Health Center Community Outreach Coordinator and HLAG Co-Chair. “They set the bar really high for the Class of 2016. We are excited for continued success with the upcoming class.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.