Meet Austin’s Ten Fittest

By AFM – August 7, 2012

They signed up; they showed up; they measured up. Nearly 300 participants converged on the Camp Mabry parade ground on Saturday, June 9, to test themselves against national norms in ten tests that spanned the spectrum of human physical fitness. The visual of the AFM FITTEST was described by the ten winners as “amazing,” “incredible,” “intimidating,” “bigger than I expected it to be.” They had high praise for their experience of the event and their fellow competitors: “there were some amazing athletes out there,” “the community is so welcoming,” “I learned so much,” and “it was an incredible group of people…even the spectators were good looking!”

The event included the tests, done in categories organized by age group and gender. Spectators, friends, and families milled around the parade ground; supporters could actually follow competitors around the testing area to watch and cheer. Competitors within categories cheered each other’s efforts. Husbands and wives competing at the same time (albeit in separate categories) would hang back or run ahead as time permitted to check on each other—for encouragement and for data. One woman in the 40-49 age group did 33 burpees. Her fellow competitors were amazed. Her reply? “My husband just told me he did 30 so I had to beat him,” she said, still catching her breath. In fact, the burpees were the only test where the male and female winners of “best in test” had the same score.

In addition to watching the competition, spectators and competitors could visit the Fit Village to try the Nexersys fitness machine and nosh on healthy (and tasty!) food from Galaxy Café, Snap Kitchen, Muscle Maker Grill, and wash it down with water from Whole Foods Market, Zico Coconut Water, and Michelob Ultra. Red Bull sponsored the starting tent, where competitors could stretch in the shade and down a Red Bull energy drink before starting the tests. Core Power furnished the athletes’ Recovery Zone at the end of the 1-mile run completion of the tests.

So who were the winners? Where did these folks come from and what is their fitness background? Yes, there were a few professional trainers and one former NFL football player, but there was also a computer programmer, a lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom, a psychologist, an environmental Ph.D, a salesman, a retired teacher and coach, and a management consultant.

Greg Cook

Greg Cook, 24, is relatively new to Austin, though he grew up in Houston. An economics major who ran track at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, Cook grew up playing “almost everything.”

“Basketball, soccer, baseball, and then I started running track and playing soccer in high school,” he said. His events as a college track star were the javelin, triple jump, and the 400. He holds the school record in the 400.

A trainer at Pure Austin, Cook said he signed up for the AFM FITTEST because he was looking for something to train for and it sounded like fun.

“I was working out anyway, and I work at a gym, so it’s easy,” he said. “I was training myself already—a lot of speed and explosiveness, strength stuff. I started training for [the AFM FITTEST] probably two months before the competition and six weeks out we had, through the gym, training every Saturday five weeks in a row leading up to the competition.”

Of the competition event itself—and he was in the most crowded category, as more than 50 competitors were vying for glory in the 20-29 age group—Cook said it was pretty much what he expected.

“Doing all the events in a row was a little more tiring than I thought,” he said. “You look at it, the 40-yard dash and the broad jump and the intervals and the agility, and you don’t think it’s going to be all that tiring but then being out in the heat doing all those back to back, then you get to the pull-ups and burpees and it starts to get hard. You’re already a little bit tired.”

His advice for those who might have been intimidated to sign up this first year? “It’s designed so that you can complete it and get a good benchmark of where you are and you have stuff to build on,” Cook explained. “Stuff that you can train for without having hours a day to dedicate…it’s not like you’re training for an Ironman where you need to have a couple hours a day to get out there and run. If you’re working on jumping higher, doing pull-ups, running faster, you don’t need to spend 20 hours a week. It’s more accessible in that way. You can go after work or before work; you don’t have to get up at 3 a.m. in the morning to get a 3-hour run in before work.”

Cook’s fitness philosophy is “Train fast, get fast; train slow, get slow. Which means that if you’re trying to run faster for short distances, running ten miles is going to hurt that; it’s going to make you slower. If you want to be fast,” he reasoned, “then everything you do should be fast and explosive and doing slow twitch training will slow you down. That’s for myself.” As far as training advice for other people, Cook said, “Enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t like running, don’t run. Find something that is fun for you; you’ll work harder, you’ll do it more.”

What motivates him? “I love exercising. I really enjoy it. It’s good to have goals.”

His next goal is to improve his jumping for basketball, and to try to gain a few pounds. In terms of diet, Cook said he does try to eat a high-protein diet.

“Exercising a lot and being sort of young, I have to eat a lot of food,” he said. “It’s hard to afford a lot of nicer variations of that, but I try not to eat too fatty or greasy; I eat vegetables.” He generally eats every three hours with high protein and works out six days a week.
 

Jaclyn Keys 

Jaclyn Keys, 28, moved to Austin from Atlanta, via St. Louis. A native of Duluth, Georgia, she was on the first women’s varsity swim team at Georgia Tech. A management consultant, she travels a lot for work but when she’s in Austin, she is a volunteer CrossFit coach at Camp Mabry; CrossFit has a nonprofit military affiliate that provides free service for the soldiers on base.

For many college athletes, transitioning to a demanding career can take a toll on a fitness regimen honed in the NCAA. Keys said she’s done pretty well maintaining her fitness in the years since graduation. “I’ve pretty consistently kept some sort of sport since I graduated. It’s pretty easy to transition to running and triathlons and road biking. I got into road biking right after college, so I did that up until last year when I found CrossFit.” In the last year she says she’s really embraced the CrossFit fitness philosophy.

“It’s not just endurance like marathon running and triathlons, and it’s not just strength like Olympic lifting and powerlifting. It’s everything. It’s strength, it’s agility, it’s balance, it’s endurance. It’s ‘fit’ along the entire spectrum, not just specializing in one particular area.”

Of being one of Austin’s 10 Fittest, Keys said, “I was shocked; I didn’t think I had a chance. I was just out there to have fun.” The broad jump was her favorite test but the precision throw was her least favorite. “I have zero background in softball and any ball sports,” she said. “I ended up doing pretty well but I thought it was going to be a lot more embarrassing.”

She said the AFM FITTEST event was fun and accessible to anyone.
“I feel like anybody can do it. I think that was what was most attractive about it. They’re not overly complicated movements. You’re throwing a med ball; you’re jumping with the broad jump. These are functional movements that you do already in your day-to-day life. Anyone can do any of those activities. A pull-up obviously can be kind of intimidating, but that was one event out of ten. I would encourage anybody to come out and just give it a try and then you know where you stand and you work on it and you try again next year and see how you improve.” Her own next fitness goal is to qualify for CrossFit Regionals.
 

Dane Krager

Dane Krager, 33, is a veritable Renaissance man; a former NFL linebacker turned businessman (he owns Dane’s Body Shop), Krager reads at least one new book a month and includes “cross-training and longevity exercises” in his workouts. Although he describes his former football persona as “a big, mean dude,” his countenance is peaceful and contemplative and, having left competition largely in his past, he refers to his workouts as a “daily practice.”

“You know this thing that we did with the competition was awesome,” Krager said, sitting in another gym’s lobby in a posture that could only be described as a sort of expectant repose. “I’ll train for stuff like that but I basically train for life now. I don’t compete anymore; I got it all out of my system, which is good because I think a more passive life is what I’ve been searching for from the beginning, when I started playing. Finding this realm of fitness, which is a mixture of cross-training, yoga, Pilates, and extreme fitness is a mixture that creates longevity and I’m in love with it.

“When I was playing ball for so long, I was tearing my body down and I was working out hard. It was about tearing yourself down. The body repairs itself, but eventually, if you continue in that same direction, you’ll hurt yourself.” Krager, and his coaches at Dane’s Body Shop, do what they call “fusion training,” which is cross-training, strength, and longevity training.

“That’s what makes a difference,” he said, “it’s not just one realm.” And, he says, it’s injury-free.

Fitting in training as a business owner is difficult, Krager said, but he works at it and encourages his busy clients to make time for themselves. What motivates him is setting a good example. “If you are going to be asking people to accomplish a certain goal, then I believe you have to lead by example,” he explained. “That’s what inspires me.”

Diet is “a huge part” of fitness for Krager. “You need to eat clean. You’re going to catch me eating a burger out at Hopdoddy’s or having a slice of pizza sometimes; that’s just the way it works. I’m living life. I love eating. I make up for it, of course. You have to have a healthy balance. I cook at home a lot. As long as I continue to do that, it’s okay if every once and a while I splurge. We all do that. We all need to. If you eat fresh berries and vegetables and lean meats, your health is going to improve. If you don’t do that, you’re going to gain unnecessary fat. We live in Texas; we don’t have to carry fat for warmth.”

Sadie, his 11-year-old dog, makes him smile; she was present for the interview and photo shoot. “She’s my kid, my baby,” Krager said. “She’s been with me since college, through breakups, through getting let go of teams. She’s always there right by my side.”

Krager acknowledged that anyone could come out to an event like the AFM FITTEST and experience fitness. But to be seriously competitive requires years of work.

“You have to make a life of it,” Krager said. “You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to roll off the couch and go out there and do it,’ unless you just want to experience it. Now you can make it an amazing experience, like in triathlons, just to finish is an accomplishment.

“You’re never too old [to start],” Krager said. “My dad, he’s sixty years old this year and started working out with me about six months ago. He came out and watched me. Before the event, he was like, ‘I could never do anything like that. I can’t do that; I’m too old.’ Well there’s a 60 and up category. My dad’s going to compete next year. He’s really excited about it.”

Krager’s next fitness goal is in line with his more balanced approach to life—he’s going to the beach.
 

Judy McElroy 

Judy McElroy, 35, moved to Austin about a year ago from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, home of one of the most beautiful Ironman events. A computer programmer and, yes, a triathlete, she had just completed the Ironman Texas a few weeks before the AFM FITTEST. She also tore her calf muscle on the bike leg of that race and completed the run by effectively swinging her leg and running on her heel. She’s one tough competitor. Yes, she’s signed up for Ironman Cozumel in November and Ironman Cabo San Lucas next spring. But after winning the AFM FITTEST, McElroy’s next goal is to defend her overall world records in the raw bench press and raw dead lift. That is, McElroy, in the 148-pound class (though she weighs more like 140) set the world record at 510 pounds for the raw dead lift and 285 for the raw bench press. “Raw” means the lift is done without specialized clothing that “equipped” lifters use to increase the amount of weight they can lift.

“The only woman who has a record lifting more [than Judy] is in the 198-pound class,” her husband said. He’s also an Ironman athlete. In fact, that’s how they met.

“My brother was from Texas and said ‘I met this guy that does all that crazy stuff that you do, all the biking and the running. I’m going to introduce you guys because he’s going to be up your way at Christmas time,’” McElroy recalled. Her husband was from Washington and was visiting family; he called McElroy and she invited him for a 13-mile run on December 26.

“He showed up. At the door. With all the winter compression running gear on,” McElroy said, telling the story with the same incredulity she felt at the time. “So he wasn’t just talking the talk. When you live in Coeur d’Alene, you have to run in the snow because it snows a lot in the wintertime. So we do run in the snow; ski mask and boots, chains on your shoes. And he was totally down for it.

“I think, looking back, if you ever had to plan a first date, making him go on a long run in very, very cold weather is the best way to find out everything you need to know. Because instead of telling me all the good things that have happened, I got to hear the full story,” she said. “So getting somebody really cold and really tired is the best way to learn about him.” And, McElroy added, “it was nice to find someone who had the same passion for exercise that I did.”

They had their first child just ten months ago. McElroy worked out and ran throughout her pregnancy, up to 39 and a half weeks.

“I didn’t want to. I’d get up in the morning and I’d be nauseous and tired. You get that achiness from that big belly. I told myself, ‘Every morning I’m going to get up early and I’m going to go down to Town Lake,’ and I would go down to the Rock and I would just run that four mile loop. Toward the end, I would not be feeling good when I woke up, so stiff and sore. I just said, ‘It doesn’t matter; I’m just going to go down there and if I have to walk it, I’ll just walk it. So it was that whole mentality to show up and give it a chance. I’d walk, and then I’d start to jog, and the first few hundred meters was so painful because of that weight of the big belly, and then I felt great. It would always be such a surprise to me; this is awesome. I was able to do it another day,” McElroy explained. “Then, all of a sudden, here I was at 39.5 weeks and it was just another day, another day. I was really grateful that I was able to keep doing it. Same thing in the gym; I was lifting, I was squatting, I was dead lifting, and talk about getting some really dirty looks, when you’re dead lifting and squatting with some really big plates when you’ve got a big pregnant belly. But keeping my fitness up made me feel healthy and made me feel good. It was important for me. If I was going to bring another life into the world, I wanted to be able to not give up everything that was important to me because I want to pass that healthy habit on to my child.”
 

Tim Zeddies

Aformer collegiate football player from California who then went to the University of Texas to earn his Ph.D. in Psychology, Tim Zeddies, 42, found it very easy to stay fit in his 20s and early 30s. But, as his life got busier with marriage, family, and career, his “fitness level progressively began to suffer” until Zeddies herniated a disk about seven years ago. “I had the good fortune of having a friend who’s in the physical therapy business who practiced a little bit of tough love on me, and I ended up losing about 50 pounds over the next six months and from that point, I really dove into fitness. I would say about the last two years I did P90X and then a lot of other home programs like P90X2 Insanity Asylum.” Zeddies is up by 4:30 a.m. working out in his home gym, which he created by converting his garage.

“It’s not ventilated with air conditioning yet, which makes it a little dicey in the summer. But it’s real convenient,” said Zeddies. “Sometimes I’ll go to the Y if I need some specialized equipment that I can’t really accommodate in my gym.

“With my age, in addition to trying to improve my overall fitness level, I’m really focusing on trunk stability and cleaning up my kinetic chains. Because the older I get, I want my body to move fluidly in a way that decreases the risk of silly injuries, like herniation.” His number one fitness goal is to stay healthy.

Zeddies is a consulting psychologist with the University of Texas football program and in his private practice helps athletes of all types and ages with a variety of topics. He himself doesn’t struggle with motivation. Rather, his challenge is overtraining. Like all of his fellow FITTEST winners, he loves to work out. He’s recently added yoga into his routine as a recovery exercise.

Zeddies has the most extreme diet of any of the 2012 Ten Fittest winners. “My friends think I’m a little bit obsessed about it but I think diet is more important to fitness, in some respects, than working out. I don’t eat any breads; I don’t eat any sugary desserts of any kind. I don’t eat red meat. Of course I don’t eat any fast food, no colas, no caffeinated beverages. I limit alcohol. And I eat small portions throughout the day, focusing on nuts, Greek yogurt, and fruits.”
 

Cara Mastrian

A California native, Cara Mastrian, 40, has been an athlete all her life. Playing soccer, then track and field, she was also a sprinter in high school and college. She currently runs and plays soccer in Austin.

“There’s a lot of great soccer in Austin,” she said. “As an adult, you can play all over town; you can play indoor, outdoor, you can play various types: six on six, three on three, seven on seven, 11 on 11; the options are awesome.”

With three kids under the age of eight and a husband who travels a lot, Mastrian said that figuring out a workout every day is a strategy. “If [my husband’s] out of town, I can’t just get up and go on a run, so when he’s home, I make myself go, no matter what. If I have the opportunity to get a workout or a run in, I take it. Sometimes it’s a bummer, if I have a headache or am feeling super tired because the baby kept me up all night, it doesn’t matter. If he says, ‘You have an hour until I have to go to work,’ I seize the opportunity. When he’s out of town, I schlep them all to the gym and check them into the kids’ care. If I have just the baby at home, I put her in the jogger. If I have to, I’ll do 20 minutes on the driveway while they’re playing, or 20 minutes on the living room floor while they’re watching TV, whatever I can fit in my life.”

Diet is a similar challenge. Mastrian said she watches carefully but doesn’t do anything extreme. “I probably eat the 80/20 thing, 80 percent clean. It’s hard with kids because a lot of times, you’re out all day, in the sun, at the pool. You’re starving; you went on a run that morning; you’re like, ‘Just pass me a Diet Coke and those Sun Chips; pass the Teddy Grahams, I’m starving!’ Or you’re at an event with them and there’s just a snack bar with hot dogs and nachos. It’s way harder than I ever thought it would be to eat healthy and have kids. You can feed them healthy at night, but when you’re out a lot at their events, it’s not very healthy. I aim for about 80/20. My husband is a fantastic cook. That helps a lot. He cooks really healthy great food, so I eat well. We like to eat. For us, everything in moderation is our rule; it’s sustainable.”

For the AFM FITTEST, Mastrian did some of the workouts at Pure Austin leading up to the test but she doesn’t have a coach or trainer. “I invent my own little workouts,” she explained. She said the number of fitness professionals at the event “was intimidating a little bit. I’m just trying to get my workouts in between shuttling the kids to school and pushing the baby in the stroller.” Overall, Mastrian thought it was an accessible testing event for anyone. “I think the competition was so well-designed, for anybody, and it’s a challenge for everybody. There were some amazing athletes out there that were struggling. It was tough.”
 

Allen Whitley

With a Ph.D.in Environmental Engineering and an MBA, Allen Whitley, 51, is well suited to his role as the senior director of Environmental Business Services at Goodwill Industries of Central Texas. He and his wife, Kathi, have been married 27 years and they have two children. His motivation for staying fit? “Making sure I can keep up with my wife.”

A high school soccer player, Whitley power lifted in college. He played “old man” soccer in Austin, the over-40 league, but stopped because it took so long to recover each week. His fitness philosophy is the same as his fellow winners: stay healthy.

“At my age, my number one priority is trying not to get injured,” Whitley said. “Training is very different as you move through the ages. You can’t work out 110 percent like you did when you were 25. You have to keep your intensity between 80-90 percent, then try and get to 100 percent on event day. Some exceptions like swimming and biking are not as hard on the body.”

Whitley’s diet is an important part of his fitness program and, while he’s not a strict vegetarian, he eats “pretty healthy,” citing a balanced diet and the recent addition of Ultimate Meal, a vegan protein, after workouts.

He works out at Gym One and his trainer for the event was Cindy Salazar. Like others who have shared feedback about the ads for the event, Whitley said they were a bit intimidating. But he attended some of the FITTEST training at Pure Austin “to size up who was participating. Ninety-five percent were not in my age group.” He read about the event in the magazine and registered because it sounded like fun and he needed a goal.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Whitley said. “It was run better and more efficiently than I expected.”

His next fitness goal is to recover from the tendinopathy in both his Achilles so that he can run 3-5 miles without pain. He really enjoys sprint triathlons.
 

Kathleen Parker

A native of San Antonio, Kathleen Parker, 51, has always been active, from track to water activities, to a family chin-up competition among her five siblings with prizes awarded by her father. “He was a very big fitness enthusiast and I think we all got the bug,” she said.

Parker signed up for the AFM FITTEST at the suggestion of a friend…a friend who didn’t actually sign up! But Parker went ahead, thinking, “why not?” Despite the fact that she teaches cross-training four days a week and then on Wednesdays teaches water skiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing on Lake Austin, she said when she drove up to the AFM FITTEST event she almost threw up. “I didn’t know it was going to be so big,” she said. “I got that butterfly feeling in my tummy, like at the start of a track meet and I thought, ‘Do I stay? Do I go home?’ It just took that little 30 seconds of courage to do it. I stayed.

“The competition was fierce, which was inspiring. I loved seeing the 50- and 60-year-old-women in my heat. And the 20-year-olds. I loved watching everybody. It was a very inspiring day.”

Parker’s philosophy and motivation for fitness are simple: just stay healthy. “Once you lose your health, your quality of life is diminished,” she explained. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how many cars you have if you lose your health. I’ve had a couple of friends who have lost their health or not stayed in good health and their quality of life is much less than it was. If you have your health, you have everything. I truly believe that. I think that if you are well and you’re strong, you can have a wonderful and fulfilling life. That’s what’s driven me the whole time, especially in my 40s and 50s, is having a great quality of life and being able to do things, like be on the water, water ski. I have so many friends that are afraid to start up again and it just is something you have to stick with.

“I have been blessed by God with a good, healthy body. I’ve stayed injury free my whole life. I had a broken wrist from snowboarding and that’s my only bad setback and it was a six-month setback.”

Parker skis three or four days a week and encourages others to challenge themselves. “I think that you just have to get that little bit of courage and push yourself, be inspired by others who are doing it. Once you step over that edge, you feel so good; you feel like you’ve lived.”
 

Pat Thomas 

Pat Thomas, 60, is unique among the 2012 Ten Fittest, and not just because he works out despite his struggles with asthma, which developed when he was 29 and living in Silicon Valley during an ozone alert. The Montana native is the only one who didn’t play sports in high school or college.

“My first job was as a freshman in high school, so I didn’t have a chance to play sports,” he said. “I never did anything in my whole life until I was about 48.” Thomas started working out when his son, a football player, wanted to lift weights. They learned and lifted together. His son went on to be a tight end, playing college football. Thomas kept working out, lifting weights.

“I had no base so it was painful,” Thomas said. “It was so hard for the first two years but once you get the base, then all of a sudden you can improve. I just fought my way through the first couple of years and slowly but surely got a little bit of muscle mass and ever since, it’s been a part of my lifestyle. With asthma, I can’t do other things but I can do that.”

One of those “other things” is running…which he did to win his age group in the FITTEST. Thomas started working out with a trainer about a year ago. “I typically hadn’t done anything aerobic because of my lungs. But my trainer, Shane Wright, has got me doing super sets. He didn’t care that I had asthma. He didn’t care that I was 60. He just said, ‘get going.’” When Wright told Thomas about the FITTEST, his first reaction was that the mile would kill him but everything else looked fun. He trained and, with his son, at a track learned how to get ready for a 40-yard dash.

“I ran for the first time ever,” Thomas said, “I loved it. I was really happy that we were first! My son was in the 20-29 group and it was hot even by then. [Austin Fit Magazine] developed something completely different; there’s plenty of 5Ks and 10Ks and triathlons.”

Thomas reflected a bit and speculated on the future of the AFM FITTEST: “When I saw as many people as I did, I was thinking of the first ACL Fest; I was one of the people when it was small and we knew who all the bands were and it just got bigger and bigger. I think you’re going to have same issue. I think it’s going to grow. What’s neat is you have ten events, which is perfect. I was exhausted after ten and I could tell everybody else was too. It was a good combination of different things.

“There were all kinds of people there; it was a diverse group and everybody was having a good time. People were competing against each other, but you’re really competing against a clock or a number, so it was fun for everybody in our group and different family members in different age groups. When your heat is done, the 20-29 group and the Open Invitation group are fun to watch. It’s just amazing how good some of those guys were, and ladies, of course. It was amazing.”

Thomas said he stays motivated over time and through adversity like injuries or soreness because it’s too hard to get back after letting fitness slip.

“It’s not hard to be disciplined,” he said. “There have been times when I took two weeks off, and it’s so incredibly painful to start over again, that I said ‘Screw it. Don’t let it drop because it’s just too hard to start back.’ I had pneumonia for a week and I couldn’t do anything for three weeks and the first few sessions back was like, ‘Good Lord, I’ve been doing this for 12 years, it’s like I just lost 5 years there’.”

His next fitness goal is to do the AFM FITTEST again. “The big difference is I’m running; I’ll continue to run. My goal is to get up to two miles without stopping.”
 

Janice Wirtanen

Janice Wirtanen, 62, works out at a gym near her home and at a boot camp at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in northwest Austin, but her real passion is basketball. She is one of the women of all ages who play in Becky Beaver’s pick-up basketball games at the Fulmore Middle School gym. She’s been to Nationals in the Senior Olympics, but for now, is having trouble finding enough people to be able to field a team in her own age group.

“We can’t find three more women in our age group,” she said. “This is the first summer we haven’t gone to Nationals.” (Hint to readers: if you play basketball and are 60 or over, there’s a whole lot of fun looking for you!)

Wirtanen retired from Anderson High School, the last school where she coached freshman and varsity girls basketball and assisted with track. Over the years, she taught Texas history, government, economics, physical education, and freshman English. She signed up for the AFM FITTEST after receiving an email from her fitness instructor, D. J. Olsson.

“Physically, I like challenges, even at my age,” she said. “And I thought, well, D.J. evidently thinks I can do this.” Not only could she do it, Wirtanen’s scores were better than some of the participants in the 50-59 age group. “I love to work out—the way it makes me feel, the fact that it gives me energy; I eat well when I’m working out.

“That’s how I’ve always been, except when I was teaching and coaching with our two little girls. I didn’t take time for myself.” Wirtanen got back into a fitness routine but many people don’t. She encourages women of all ages to stay fit. “It’s never too late to change your lifestyle to include fitness. Women need to know that they need to be selfish and do something for themselves; it makes them a better mother and a better partner.” She said she was shocked when she learned that more women die from heart disease than breast cancer.

Is diet important to Wirtanen? “Well, I love Hershey’s chocolate,” she confessed. “But I don’t eat donuts, chips, French fries—I stay away from that stuff. I eat a lot of grilled chicken; I eat pretty well.”

To others who might consider participating, Wirtanen says, “Growing old is not for sissies,” and “You never know how you’re going to do unless you participate.” She believes competition will be tougher next year. “People I’ve talked to wish they had done it and want to do it next year.”

Does she have a next fitness goal (other than getting that basketball team to Nationals)? “To be healthy enough to participate next year,” she offered. “I feel blessed to be able to maintain this workout schedule.” Wiraten did note, though, that she turns 63 this month and she will have to compete against 60-year-olds next year!
 

Dane’s Body Shop Takes the AFM FITTEST Team Competition 

Dane's Body Shop won the team competition with skill and strategy. Five teams, each made up of ten people (at least four of which were women) vied for the title. In the end, Dane's Body Shop acknowledged that they had carefully and intentionally prepared for the tests.

“We all came together and made the proper assumptions about who would do the best in what area,” said Dane Krager. “And we didn’t get first in every [test]. We got second and third sometimes; there were better people out there than all of us, but we continued to stay at that level. We continued to push hard at our events and so we stayed at the upper tier. That’s how we came across as the winning team. Strategy. In that kind of environment, you don’t have to be the absolute best at everything, you can be really good at everything.”
 

AFM FITTEST Invitational Participant quotes:


"I did the course twice [as part of the] age group and the invitational divisions. It was harder than I expected it would be, but insanely awesome!! AFM put on a fantastic event for the inaugural AFM FITTEST competition in June! Being a part of the fitness movement in Austin is not only a passion of mine but one that inspires me to keep doing what I do and help motivate others to make a commitment to their personal health and fitness. The AFM FITTEST competition brought an amazing group of people together who share the same love of fitness as I do. The spirit and energy of the day was contagious! There was a sense of camaraderie between the invitational competitors and throughout the day from everyone involved. We cheered and pushed each other through each challenging event and had a blast. The competition was exhilarating, inspiring, and something that I plan to do year after year.” — Lindsey Morris Ginko

"It was inspiring to see so many fit Austinites all in one place having such incredible fun, participating in events you don't get the chance to compete in often. Can't wait for next year!” — Jen Ohlson

"As a dancer with Ballet Austin, it was very special to participate in the AFM FITTEST event and be embraced and respected as elite members of Austin's fitness community. Given that dancers train in such a specific way, I knew many of the tests would be foreign territory, and I honestly had no expectations. I surprised myself with a pretty high score on the grip test, which I thought was pretty funny! Everyone knows dancers have strong feet, but apparently we have strong hands too!” — Ashley Gilfix

"The AFM FITTEST was a great measure of athletic ability and participating was so much fun that it reminded me of Field Day back in Elementary school.” — Dan Carroll

"I had a blast getting to meet all the other fitness oriented folks out there. I was impressed to see how fit everyone was regarding of their fitness background… the event was a lot of fun, very competitive and super humbling!” — Maurice Culley

"Thanks for the great event! Our kids and friends enjoyed watching how competitive we still are :)” — Yvonne, Winthrop, and Aiken Graham

"AFM FITTEST was an exhilarating experience, and I had a wonderful time meeting so many other types of athletes from the Austin area.” ? — Paul Michael Bloodgood

"The event inspired me to strive for a new level of fitness.” — Gordon Alexander

 

 
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