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Get off the couch, and then beat it up

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Nutritionist Catherine Burns is recruiting for another round of a fitness programme that sees people transform from couch potatoes to runners in just ten weeks.

If you've ever wanted to run a 5K race but don't think you are fit enough, here is your chance. Registration for Mrs Burns annual Beat the Couch programme is open now.

“One of the things that made it so enjoyable last time was that it was an incredibly diverse but very unified group who took part,” she said. “It is nice in Bermuda to see that happening. Everyone was in it together. There were some really good friendships that formed through that.”

Some participants took 28 minutes to finish and others took forty to fifty minutes.

“The most fun part at the end was to see everyone streaming in,” said Mrs Burns. “Everyone who finished first, ran back and started running in with everyone who came after. It was just really nice to see. People had their children joining them in the last stretch. We have a mother who did it last year, whose husband and son who have signed up to do it this time. It was very rewarding for us and the participants too.”

Training officially starts next month. There are nutrition seminars to help with what to eat while training, and then there are three training sessions each week including two morning runs on the weekends and weekday lunchtime runs.

“You pick three and then space them out so you have recovery times in between,” she said.

If you can't make one of the sessions, that's okay, the entire training session will be available for free on a podcast.

Mrs Burns said having the training sessions on podcast made for a very high completion rate. She was expecting that 60 percent of people would probably stick to the programme, and in fact, 92 percent crossed the finish line.

“That was great,” she said.

The programme costs $395. It is actually available for free online, but the advantage of taking part in Mrs Burns' version is that you get access to trainers, and also a community of other people trying for the same goal.

“This results in a level of motivation and camaraderie that makes people ten times more likely to success,” she said. “For that price you get 30 training sessions. Our trainers can also give advice and watch for potential injuries. We work with the Bermuda Podiatry Centre. The Sportcellar offers advice on the right running shoes and a ten percent discount for people taking part in the programme. We also pay for your entry fee to the 5K race.”

Many people in the last group wanted to continue after completing a 5K race for the first time. They held regular follow-up running sessions until it became too hot in August.

“I became interested in Beat the Couch because I was always very good at the nutrition part and not so good at the fitness part,” said Mrs Burns. “I wanted to go into business full time so I thought I needed to be a better example.”

At that time she was working at Argus Insurance. The company trialled the Beat the Couch programme with their employees and found it to be a great success.

“I got off the couch and was running a 5K in ten weeks,” she said. “That was really exciting for me. I did it in 29 minutes. I was one of those thin unfit people. Lots of people assume that if you are thin you are fit and if you are overweight you are not fit, but that is often not the case. One of the things we push a lot in our programmes is that healthy isn't necessarily about size; it is about how you feel, your level of fitness and your body composition. We are trying to encourage more awareness and self-acceptance.”

Now she is fit, and the added benefit of running is that this mother of two small children gets 30 minutes, three times a week all to herself.

One of the highlights of last year's Beat the Couch was an actual couch that was pushed along the race route by running champions Ashley and Chris Estwanik.

“We beat the couch, literally,” said Mrs Burns. “We have a very good friend who helped us out who is an engineer. He put the couch on a dinghy carrier and set up some handlebars. The Estwaniks were basically running and pushing the handlebars.”

They are now looking for a new couch to take part in this year's race.

If you would like to go head to head with the couch, sign up on the website www.natural.bm. Click on the Beat the Couch logo or click on the sports tab on the site.

Trainers Sergio White and Catherine Burns with the Beat the Couch logo. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
The first Beat the Couch group. Champion runners Chris and Ashley Estwanik sitting on the couch that was actually pushed along the race route.

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Published September 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 22, 2013 at 11:55 pm)

Get off the couch, and then beat it up

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