FAIR LAWN, N.J.– Two instructors from Fair Lawn's Retro Fitness not only helped local women lose weight and make lifestyle changes, they also created a community environment in the process.
"It's pretty cool to see people from different backgrounds [and of different] ages support each other," Zumba Instructor Dominic Flores told Daily Voice. "They shared healthy recipes, workouts and pushed each other to be better.
"Before, I used to walk into the classroom and everyone was in their own little world. Now they all interact with each other. Their energy, passion, determination, and most importantly, their commitment is absolutely out of this world."
Flores teamed with Samantha Lopez of Lodi, Retro's general manager and bootcamp instructor, and the duo also created a Facebook group to post meals and workouts “to hold each other accountable," Lopez said. "[Participants] took classes at the gym, worked out, drank more water, and changed their diets."
Sixty gym members signed up for the weight loss challenge and they lost a combined 176.3 pounds, Flores said.
Paterson hairstylist Trenace Ruffin won after dropping 49 pounds.
She credits her faith, along with nutritional changes, kickboxing, and Zumba classes.
"Once you get your mind right, faith is powerful,' Ruffin told Daily Voice.
Gina Shamas Caruso of Hawthorne and Jennifer Chais of Fair Lawn took second and third, respectively.
The challenge gave Caruso, who lost 21 pounds, "the push to go forward."
Chais told Daily Voice she's "feeling pretty good about herself" after shedding 17 pounds, seven percent body fat and 7.5 inches from her waist.
Several competitors were mothers looking to get back in shape.
Gissel Martin Gonzalez wanted to "get fit" after delivering her third child.
Mother of two Julissa Warren lost 25 pounds since March.
Some changes were smaller, but no less significant.
"I'm happy to notice the changes on my body," Evelyn Beltran, 30, told Daily Voice.
The Hawthorne mother of two lost eight pounds.
"My body looks more toned then before, and I have more energy," she said.