Plus-size challenge for women

May 2, 2008 7:08:25 PM PDT
On Sunday, 18-thousand people will lace up their sneakers for the Broad Street Run. Most will race against the clock. But one group is chasing a bigger goal.

"Down, up, down up, " Debra Mazda calls out to the women along with her at the base of the Art Museum steps.

The trainer has had these women in her workout class for a long time.

Many have already become fitter, and slimmer.

But 9 weeks ago, they accepted a challenge - to complete the 10 mile Broad Street Run.

Mazda explains, "My goal was to increase their confidence, increase their energy, and get them to a higher fitness level."

Mazda didn't realize she tapped into a secret dream.

Rosina Conches, of south Philadelphia, says,"It's something I've always wanted to do, always dreamed of doing, but didn't know how to start."

The first hurdle was getting them to believe they could do it.

The next was getting their bodies ready.

Mazda, "5 days a week, through the cold, in the dark, through 6 o'clock in the morning trials, every weekend. Some of them got injuries. I had to work with them longer, we had some shin splints, some foot problems."

As the weeks of training went on, many of the participants set up personal goals for herself. Linetta Simmons of South Philadelphia already walks 5 miles a day to and from work, so she decided to boost the distance she can jog. When she spoke to Action News, she could do 4 miles of jogging without a stop

But they are determined, and want to finish Sunday's course in 2 and a half hours...either jogging or power-walking.

Rosina says, "i've felt my body change. I've felt my personality change. I feel a lot more energetic."

Simmons chimes in, "I think I can do anything. I really do."

One of these novice athletes told Action News she's definitely on a track for a fitter life, but will still be happy not to do the early-morning training. To contact Mazda's ShapelyGirl program, call 610-933-2777, 1-888-CRVYGRL (278-9475).