Katie Stache

Katie Stache, fitness manager at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center

Week one is in the books for Biggest Winner competitors at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center, including the six-member Observer-Reporter reader team.

Working out four days a week can be challenging, and the training team at the wellness center employs its Four Pillars concept to help participants attain their weight-loss, health and fitness goals.

“Four Pillars comes from our management company, EXOS, a human performance company,” explains fitness manager Katie Stache. “We incorporate our philosophy with health clubs, corporate wellness sites, the military and with athletes around the world. Our goal is to upgrade lives, reach higher and achieve more.” To accomplish that, EXOS created a training system comprised of four pillars: Mindset, Nutrition, Movement and Recovery.

“When planning Biggest Winner 2020, it was important for the wellness center to include all four pillars in the program to be sure we are able to focus on overall wellness and not just weight loss,” Stache said. “We want to impress upon participants that weight loss is a product of a healthy lifestyle, which consists of a healthy mindset, healthy eating habits, exercise and allowing the body time to rest and recover.


Before any exercising begins or diet changes are implemented, the first step is to get into the right mindset. Stache admits this is probably the biggest challenge.

“When we work with clients on mindset, we are challenging them to understand their ‘why’ or motivation to change their lifestyle,” Stache says. “We ask questions and connect with participants in an environment that we create to build trust and growth. We determine obstacles and how to overcome them. We create short-term goals that will help lead to long-term goals.”

Each week, trainers check in on short-term goals and make minor adjustments to set up participants for long-term success. “We have discussions on how to continue their wellness journey,” says Stache. “Are they looking to build strength, become less stressed, maintain their current fitness status? We can help.” She stressed that mindset is not just about being ready to start a program, but helping clients learn tips and provide tools to stay motivated.


Movement is broken down into several components: Pillar preparation prepares the torso, hips and shoulders for exercise. Movement preparation readies the body for specific movements that will be included in the workout. Plyometrics trains the body to create and absorb forces dynamically to reduce injury risk and improve performance. Movement skills help the body move more efficiently while medicine ball skills involve kinetic linking and force development.

Next comes strength and power resistance training; energy system development, which involves meeting the body’s energy needs efficiently, and regeneration focuses on recovery. “During the sessions, the trainers will analyze each participant through a series of exercises,” Stache says. “Following these evaluations, the trainer is able to see their overall ability and set up a routine to challenge but also support healthy growth for muscular strength and endurance. Each participant is different, and our trainers will provide modifications for all abilities.”


The third pillar is nutrition, an essential part of the Biggest Winner program as well as any successful wellness program. “Contestants have the opportunity to meet with our registered dietitians, attend a snack and learn, which will also include a recipe swap, or learn how to online grocery shop. The dietitians will help guide the participants on better, healthier choices to make for a balanced diet.”


The final pillar is recovery. “Recovery is very often seen as just rest,” says Stache. “Recovery is allowing your body to physical and mentally heal and regenerate. This includes methods such as massage, foam rolling, yoga, stretching, meditation and post- workout nutrition and proper sleep.” Recovery allows the body to rebuild after it has has been placed under stress. This may include muscle fibers being broken down after a workout or even mental stress.

“If we do not allow our bodies to recover, this will lead very quickly to fatigue and exhaustion, which will halt any participant in their tracks.”


Kristin Emery is a meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, an O-R columnist, and writer for Total Health magazine and other publications. Kristin is a Washington native and a graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University.

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