“Come on. You can do it, just a little more,” Peggy Sue Barber, professor of health and wellness at Delta College and personal fitness trainer, often says to the participants in her Super Fit Challenge.

The Super Fit Challenge is an 8-week fitness program that not only encourages people to eat better, but also to engage in strength training," explains Barber.  Participants have a weekly exercise plan that is personalized to their individual goals. At the first meeting, participants fill out a health assessment where they explain their personal fitness goals as well as a short questionnaire about their overall health conditions.  Barber then uses this information to create a nutrition and exercise plan tailored to each person's needs that each participant will then follow.  The exercise plan includes high-intensity boot camp workouts as well as weightlifting and body toning.  Barber also does nutritional counseling and writes up a customized diet plan for each participant.  The program is limited to 25 participants and is open to anyone at any fitness level at any age, from 14 to 69, who wants to make an investment in his or her health

Some participants will go on to compete in the Natural Northern and Peggy Sue Classic Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Competition on September 26, 2009.  The competition was started by Barber 7 years ago after she competed in the Saginaw Valley Classic in bodybuilding.  The following year, the Saginaw Valley Classic stopped hosting competitions.  Barber set a goal to get her Pro Card, to be sanctioned by the Natural Physique Committee, and to bring a show back into the area.  This is exactly what she did.

The Natural Northern and Peggy Sue Classic Competition has three different areas in which participants can compete.  Bodybuilding includes strength stances and different weight classes and groups from teen through masters.  The fitness portion includes a 2-minute fitness routine that includes the splits, one-handed push-ups, and strength stances as well as a physique/bathing suit round.  The figure portion is a bathing suit round where judges look for a lean, tight physique.

When asked why she is competing, Danille Richard, married, mother of two, and school teacher at a local elementary school says, "I decided to compete to see if I could do it and to become a healthier person as far as exercise and diet go." Richard met Barber at Old Town Gym where Barber is a fitness instructor. She found out about the competition and the challenge, Richard remembered, "She (Barber) said, 'Danille, mark your calendar for September 26.  You are going to do the challenge.'" Richard's training schedule involves going to the gym 5 days per week, sometimes 2-3 times per day.  She says that her personal goals were to decrease her body fat, to learn to make better food choices, and to get an exercise routine worked into her daily routine.  Richard will be competing in the fitness and figure portions of the Natural Northern and Peggy Sue Classic.

Ann Marie Libera is one of the youngest competitors signed up for this year's competition.  At 14 years old, Libera says, "I wanted to compete because I thought it was a great experience to do something different."  She does personal training workouts with Barber 5 days a week and spends 1 hour a day on the treadmill.  She says that the hardest part is trying to incorporate the strict diet plan into her everyday life.  "I want to place in the top 5 in competition," says Libera about her personal goals.  “My mom is my biggest support right now.  She encourages me to keep going and to keep going hard.  It makes me feel like I'm not alone in this."

The Natural Northern and Peggy Sue Classic Competition will be held on September 26, 2009 in the Malcolm Field Theater of Performing Arts on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University.  For more information visit the website or

© Julie Lake, 2009