Fitness Elite owner Kristen Pappalardo was sad that her gym was unable to conduct its annual Fit Love Movement campaign last year due to COVID-19.
The Hillsborough-based gym had run its fundraiser the prior three years, raising over $2,000 each time through its love of fitness to help people suffering from severe medical diseases in the Somerset County area and aid their families in paying off medical expenses.
With the opportunity to run the event this year, Pappalardo and her five trainers went all out to conduct the fourth annual Fit Love Movement challenge and raise money for a local organization called Steps Together that supports families in the area who are facing a medical crisis.
“The Fit Love Movement is my favorite time of the year,” Pappalardo said. “It’s something that our gym is very passionate about doing.”
The Fit Love Movement was a monthlong event, with donations and bets starting on Feb. 20 and lasting through March 20 when Pappalardo held a Core Games-themed competition between five of her trainers at the gym: Shannon Kelly, Deandre Hopes, Sandre Grant, Sammie Berrios and Michelle Macauley.
Each trainer went through a circuit of eight functional exercises – a quarter-mile treadmill sprint, 10 renegade burpees with dumbbells, 20-yard slide army crawl, 20 TRX pullups, ball slam gauntlet, 20 pushups, fireman’s carry with a 45-pound bag, and a half-mile wind sprint on an Airdyne assault bike – for the best overall time out of the group.
Everyone, from clients at the gym to people around the community, placed bets on which trainer they thought would win the competition, and all that money went to Steps Together.
Pappalardo used the gym’s social media platforms to promote the event all month long and also showed videos of each trainer training for the challenge.
“The trainers were very excited about it,” Pappalardo said. “They pushed so hard for the purpose of doing it for all the people that supported them and for Steps Together.”
Come competition day, trainer Shannon Kelly finished atop the leader board in first place.
As for the final tally for this year’s Fit Love Movement, Pappalardo and her crew was able to beat their goal of $3,000 and raise a total of $3,053.40.
It’s the most money that event has ever raised, said Pappalardo, who added that many local businesses donated money toward the cause this year, including F2B Services LLC, David Alex Films, Fancy Nails and Spa, Lenny’s Pizza and Pasta, Mailbox Business Center, Magyar Bank and Tender Lovin’ Grill.
The success of this year’s Fit Love Movement would also not be possible without the help of Elsa Jimenez, who Pappalardo said is “the wind behind the Fit Love Movement”.
Pappalardo said she is in the midst of talking to her brothers and trying to collaborate with other companies to make the event into an “actual” business and “bigger” than it is now.
Pappalardo is a big believer in how fitness can help people improve in all different ways and wants to use that same energy to help uplift the spirits of people that are going through hard times.
“Fitness serves a larger purpose than just working out your muscles,” Pappalardo said. “We want to share that spirit of fitness helping ourselves improve with others to bring their spirits up.”