FitSouth: Time for Change

Resolutions can be tough to stick to. Especially healthy ones. We want to start you off with three tips that can help you now and in to 2017.

As another year draws to a close, many of us will start mulling over our New Year’s resolutions. We’ll swear to save more money, do better at work, or improve our relationships – and an astonishing number of us will resolve to lose weight. It’s a harder feat than it sounds; Southern fare is known to stick to your ribs and land on your hips. This year, though, we can be a little better. For starters, finding fun ways to work out is easier than ever before with the advent of experimental and exciting classes (Bikram yoga, anyone?). When it comes to chowing down, the many local healthy offerings at places like Brighter Day’s sidewalk café and Butterhead Greens, mean eating hearty foods doesn’t have to have a detrimental effect on our waistlines. And, of course, the physicians and specialists seen throughout this issue can be a major lifeline in this never-ending endeavor. So, in 2017, may we all vow to tighten up a little, watch our middle and be fit as a fiddle.


Saylor Britt, 16, has been cheering since she was five years old. She has begun modeling for national cheerleading campaigns.

1. find your passion

Cheerleading was once considered an extracurricular activity for girls to support their school’s football team. That was yesterday. Today, cheerleading is considered a sport – a competitive sport that can help young girls and women be strong, confident and self-assured by instilling in them things like teamwork, discipline and achieving success at the highest level. All Star Cheer was launched in Savannah over 17 years ago, when competitive cheerleading was in its infancy and non-existent in Savannah.  Now more than 200 girls are 4-18 are enrolled and members of 11 different cheer teams. Each cheer team trains twice a week all year long and competes against other cheer teams from around the country. This past September, the All Star Senior Team of 19 girls qualified to compete in The Cheerleading Worlds Championship, the ultimate competition of competitive cheerleading that occurs every year at Disney World in Orlando.  Even qualifying for “Worlds,” as it is affectionately known, is an honor, but the All Star Cheer team qualified for the final competition, and took 11th place overall. Many cheerleaders from All Star Cheer continue to cheer into the collegiate level, cheering for esteemed universities such as University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the University of Georgia.




For Cal Pyrch the goal was a contest at 180 Fitness, a big gym in Statesboro. “I had always been interested in body building, but I never thought I could be competitive, never thought I could get to that level,” Pyrch said.  “But my coach convinced me to go for it, and we set a goal.” The contest was about five months away, and required a grueling workout schedule and strict adherence to dietary guidelines, balancing protein and carbohydrate intake. He and girlfriend Kayla Boston did much of it as a team. They planned meals, shopped, cooked and trained together. “The goal was so important, like a light at the end of the tunnel that you could see and work toward,” Pyrch said.  “It kept me going.  I think you definitely need that.  It would help anyone trying to get in shape or make a change of any kind.  It could just be a class reunion – anything with an end date.” At first, Pyrch’s goal was “just not to embarrass myself.”  But he said that the more he trained the more confident he felt.  “I ended up placing third,” he said. Pyrch is taking a short break now – “especially on the diet” – but another contest is on the horizon next fall, and a new goal may be in sight.



3. Find a hobby

More dangerous than football, more complex than hockey: that’s the game of Rugby, according to Dante Lawrence of the Savannah Shamrocks. “It’s the hardest thing I make myself do on a day-to-day basis,” says Lawrence of the contact sport. “It’s just as much a game of persistence mentally as it is physically.” He began playing with the local team 13 years ago and has never looked back, even when he got hurt. And getting hurt is a common theme among hardcore rugby players. “It’s full contact with no pads or helmets,” he says before recounting his many injuries sustained during games past, including a broken ankle and facial fractures for which he underwent reconstructive surgery. But it’s all been worth it, Lawrence says, for the camaraderie and mental strength he’s gained over the years. “It’s like having a second family,” he explains. “It’s a brotherhood made up of guys I play with and against.” He goes on to describe the Savannah Shamrocks' tradition. Every time they scrimmage against another team, they always take them out for a beer afterwards. It’s something he really admires about the game. “I can call them right now, and say ‘hey, I need help’ and they’ll come running,” says Lawrence of his team. Perhaps that close-knit bond is responsible for the team’s many successes. The Savannah Shamrocks won 5th place in the nation last year, adding to their three wins in the Georgia Rugby Union and two wins at the USA Rugby Championship. The Savannah Shamrocks meet at Forsyth Park every Tuesday and Thursday to practice, and they play on Saturdays around 1 p.m. 

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