Diamond Hills offers a variety of exceptional fitness, recreational, and social activities including yoga, swimming, tennis, plus a full range of state of the art equipment for exercise and weight training. One of our programs is an eight-week focused fitness project, called Lean Up, that must be one the world’s most innovative and effective programs for leading seriously out-of-shape people into a healthy lifestyle.
Lean Up is essentially an introductory course in the principles of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition. Participants in each group work out together an hour a day, three days a week. The exercises are mild at first, but gradually become more intense as members begin to focus their newfound stamina and strength on ever-more-challenging routines. Participants also have group meetings to learn about nutrition and weight-loss. Current weight and body fat numbers are recorded and progress is noted. Participants engage in conversations about how their week is going and discuss their food log for the past week.
Lean Up was started seven years ago by an Elk Grove fitness trainer named Jesse DeHaven. Jesse was troubled by the fact that most of the people in her fitness classes were already in good shape. The people in the community who were most in need of physical training were members of the obese and sedentary segments of society. They weren’t going to the gym. Jesse realized that the reason they weren’t embracing a healthy and fit lifestyle was because they thought they would be awkward and out-of-place in the company of healthy and fit workout enthusiasts. Jesse realized that if she could offer such people a free program that would expose them for two months to regular exercise and training, they might be able to overcome that reticence, so she created a complimentary eight-week program, called Lean Up.
The original program was limited to 10 participants. Jesse said she was surprised when, with only word-of-mouth advertising, more than 100 people filled out applications. Jesse and her fellow trainerssorted through the applications looking for interesting background narratives plus compelling reasons why an applicant wouldn’t be able to pursue fitness without the support that the Lean Up program was offering. In many cases, applicants were chosen who confessed that they had previously engaged in unsuccessful attempts to lose weight through such things as online exercise programs and workout videos. They had come to realize that they were not able to be successful on their own; they needed support from coaches and workout leaders.
The first Lean Up program turned out to be amazingly successful. Participants made satisfying progress in actually changing their lifestyles by becoming physically active, losing weight, and increasing their fitness levels. The completion rate was close to 100 percent. It proved to be such an effective method of helping people to become physically fit that Jesse and her team developed it into an ongoing project and moved it to other Spare Time Clubs fitness centers. The programs have been expanded to accommodate a dozen or more participants in two groups — one morning and the other evening.
At the beginning of the project, participants tend to be nervous and excited, but over the succeeding weeks their nervousness changes to delight as their weight and body-fat numbers go down. Their clothing size diminishes, their cholesterol and blood pressure drops, and the number of pills they take every day often goes down, as well.
The supreme goal is to make positive changes in the daily schedules and habits of the participants so they continue following regular schedules of healthy exercise, eating, and sleeping. The most important hurdle — also the most difficult — is to get them to commit to making the change. Nothing can be accomplished without persistence, but by the end of the two months, participants who have maintained the activities will see marked improvement in their appearance and sense of well-being. If they continue to maintain the activities, by the end of two years their bodies and general wellness will have undergone truly dramatic transformations.
Lean Up manages to instill that essential quality of persistence by encouraging each participant to work as a member of the group. In a short time, the members develop a sense of cohesion and a team spirit that make it easy to continue following the Lean Up program during the eight weeks. Each group becomes a community. Participants develop a sense of shared struggle. They have each other’s back, attend classes together, share recipes with one another, and form relationships that last long after the eight weeks are up — in many cases turning into enduring friendships.
I’ve been managing Diamond Hills’ Lean Up program for two years. The program exceeded my expectations and had a transformative effect on my own life, challenging me to take my professionalism to higher levels and driving me to pursue higher-level certifications including specialties in Fitness Nutrition and Behavioral Change.
Lean Up has turned out to be an effective recruiting tool for Diamond Hills and the other Reach Out clubs, but attracting new club members has always been a mere byproduct of the project. Everyone I know who is associated with the program shares a common core value that came down to us from Jesse and the original prototype event. Lean Up is a reach-out program that serves the valuable function of encouraging members of the community to embrace health and fitness as a lifestyle — opening a doorway to wellbeing and weight-loss for people who otherwise would never have found a way out of their sedentary, unhealthy, and ultimately lethal lifestyles.