For Andy (32) and Sara (30), this 12 Week Challenge (12WKC) presented an opportunity to draw a line in the sand. “Enough was enough”, says Andy who was on a self-confessed downward spiral of unhealthy habits. For Sara, it was just as personal; “I didn’t want to be “the big girl” who couldn’t keep up anymore. Having not been members of a gym before, they were unsure where to start but knew a team environment would present their best opportunity for success, having both played competitive team sports over the years. Enter Pinnacle Health Club, the 12WKC, and the amazing Upwey community and now – 10 weeks in – it’s safe to say neither Sara or Andy could have imagined their new lease on life. Here’s their story (so far!)…

How did you feel before the 12WKC?
ANDY: Completely shot! It was time for a change in a lot of aspects of life and the 12WKC has reinvigorated me, not just with the exercise but eating habits and choices! It’s even given me the energy and enthusiasm to make changes in other areas like finance and work/life balance.

SARA: In a word: unhappy. I knew I needed to do something but didn’t know what and I was scared to put myself out there. I was nervous walking into the gym – even for the initial chat with the Pinnacle Coach and almost talked myself out of the challenge all together before the first scan.

How do you feel today?
ANDY: Refreshed, recharged, reinvigorated and reenergised! Sara and I are both happier in everyday life, we are laughing more and starting to live a better life than the one we had been living for a while! I genuinely can’t thank Ryan, our 12WKC team mates, and everyone else associated with Pinnacle enough for what the last 3 months has taught me!

SARA: I feel great and have so much more energy but it’s been far more than just exercise and going to the gym – I feel happier, more confident, proud of my achievements and am looking forward to setting new goals and reaching them too. I am enjoying the new routine and look forward to going to the gym – words I never thought I would say!

Best thing about the 12WKC so far?
ANDY: The sense of achievement. We’re in week 10 now and the sessions we’re doing I’d never have been able to do 3 months ago! I’ve also discovered that I love boxing – so much so that I went and bought boxing gear and I’ve been making Sara box with me at home!!

SARA: The people. Coach Ryan and the other 12WKC Crew make every session fun; it’s supportive but we also push each other at the same time. There have been times when I have had to push myself to get up and go but the minute I am there with everyone it’s so much easier to get through the session. I love that every session is different because I’ve been exposed to different exercises – even if that has meant I’ve had to spend time in the spin room!!

Your proudest achievement so far?
ANDY: I’d have to say the Pinnacle Park Run/Walk we did last weekend. It might not seem like a massive achievement to others but completing 3.3kms in 37 minutes proved to me that I’m doing all the right things. Previously the farthest I’d attempted to walk was 2.5kms and that took me at least 50 minutes – if not longer!

SARA: The first time we did the 1000 steps – this was a big moment for me. Having lived around the hills for most of my life I have used every excuse to not attempt the 1000 Steps. The first time we did it as a 12WKC group, we were two weeks in and I was really nervous – I even hoped it would be cancelled due to rain but it wasn’t and I went. Coach Elise and Allie (challenger from another club) were with me the whole way and when I got to the top I was ecstatic and emotional (lots of tears at the top!) Seldom have I been proud of a physical achievement and it felt like a real turning point.

Toughest part of the 12WKC and how you got through it?
ANDY: I’ve struggled with tiredness, energy levels and an injury to my quad. In previous attempts to lose weight the injury would have been all the reason I needed to pack it in and declare it “all too hard”. Coach Ryan has been fantastic – helping me train through the injury, constantly checking-in to make sure what he has planned isn’t too strenuous on the quad and suggesting suitable (and I’m sure, often harder) alternatives!

Sara has kept me on the straight and narrow at home, making sure I haven’t undone the hard work when tiredness (and laziness) have started to creep back in as a convenient excuse.

SARA: Remaining consistent, turning up three times a week and giving it my all. It’s hard to change habits and push myself week-in-week-out.

How has Pinnacle’s Nutrition App helped you?
ANDY & SARA: We used the Nutrition App a lot in the beginning to re-educate ourselves on the types of foods we should be eating to support good nutrition, how often and how much of each macronutrient we should have. Coach Ryan has also checked in with us a lot with regards to nutrition and that has kept us on the right track too!

Any healthy habits to share? 
ANDY: I’ve rediscovered a love of eggs! I think I’ve had an omelette every morning Monday to Friday since we started the 12WKC and my personal favourite would have to be blue cheese and chipotle tabasco sauce!

SARA: The biggest thing I have learnt is to be prepared. Be organised with healthy options so there is always a good choice on hand. Boiled eggs, cut up veggies, portioned out dips in the fridge all mean I make good decisions when I need to grab something quick. I also have things like natural popcorn portioned out in the cupboard so that if I do snack I’m not over eating.

I have often referred to the Pinnacle 12WKC Facebook group to ask questions and ask for inspiration and I think this platform has been incredibly beneficial. Having a forum to ask questions and see food photos and recipes has been great.

Your biggest learning so far?
ANDY: I’ve learnt that I have much more resolve and determination than I thought! And that its more than okay to put myself first rather than trying to please other people all the time. I’ve also learnt the importance of recovery sessions, daily foam rolling and a balanced diet.  My new diet is a sustainable lifestyle change rather than a short-term attempt that will ultimately crash and burn in glorious failure.

SARA: I have learnt that I hate spin classes (ha ha!). In all seriousness, I couldn’t articulate how much I have learnt as it has been incredibly eye opening. From learning a myriad of different exercise techniques and targeting specific areas to researching food and being far more aware of what I am eating and how it impacts my body – it’s been an incredible, life-changing journey.

PINNACLE: Sara & Andy have not only made each other proud, but their Pinnacle Coaches and team mates couldn’t be prouder. They’ve also helped motivate the Upwey 12WKC crew with their cheeky banter and positively infectious personalities! We’re so grateful they chose Pinnacle Health Club and can’t wait to see what else is in store for them.  

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