Four-week fitness contest is in the cards

In a city famous for cheesesteaks and ranked one of the nation’s fattest, about 100 Temple students will take on the challenge to lose weight and aid the university in hopes of being named “Philly’s Fittest College”.

The four-week competition employs Flip Fitness, a new workout system that uses a deck of playing cards to determine the exercises. Each card represents a particular exercise that a participant must perform.

A 10 of hearts means 10 toe touches or an ace of spades requires a 30-second wall sit, and other exercises until all the cards have been pulled.

“One of the biggest things in the news today is youth obesity,” said Heather Hoehn, cofounder of Flip Fitness.

“When you go to college, you see your body going through a lot of changes. We wanted to bring in a program that you can come in and do even if you can’t make it in the gym.”

Temple will compete with students from Villanova, Drexel, La Salle, Philadelphia University and St. Joseph’s. The winner will be determined based on the school’s overall weight loss and improvement and will hold the “Philly’s Fittest College” title for one year.

The contest kicked off early last week when students were weighed in, measuring body weight, body fat percentage and resting heart rate. Students were also given a deck of cards to use for Flip Fitness classes, held twice a week and at home during their free time.

“This is a good opportunity for people who have access to the gym but can’t make it and want to work out,” said Ron Dukes, fitness coordinator for Campus Recreation.

“If you don’t have a lot of time or space, you can still exercise,” he said.

The workout, which takes about 30 minutes to complete, does not require exercise equipment and can be done in any space available, even a cramped dorm room.

“It’s a new way to work out,” said Mary Cimmino, a junior kinesiology major. “I like that it has a start and finish.
If I go to the gym, I’ll go, ‘OK, I’m done now.’ With the cards, you know how much more you have to do.”

The winning school will be announced Feb. 26, and in addition to receiving the “Fittest College” title for one year, student participants will receive $25 and a range of prizes from Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wawa and Starbucks and will be featured in “PhillyFIT,” a bi-monthly fitness magazine.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we’re going to win,” said Dukes, who also signed up for the competition.

Besides the prizes and recognition, some students like Ryanne Smith said they are looking for a personal gain. “I’m taking a trip to Africa in June. I want to hike Mount Kilimanjaro,” Smith, a sophomore public health major said. “I’m getting stronger, so hopefully this gives me a head start.”

Vicky Thomas can be reached at

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