PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The YMCA of Southern Maine is holding a competition to find out who the fittest man and woman are, but building camaraderie and community may be the most important results of the event.
"I love working out and it is a great group environment," said Amanda Hemmerich, last year's women's champion. "It is fun and I laugh a lot and it is definitely for the YMCA. It is a great mission they have here with the children and the community."
Hemmerich says she had no idea what she was getting into when she signed up to compete for the first time two years ago.
"I was so humbled and blown away, they were just impressive to watch," she recalled.
Once she took part, she was hooked.
"It challenges every facet, you know, you get to work at things that are your strong points and weak points and I get to improve upon my weaknesses and kind of feel better about where I improve," she explained.
"In Maine, you know especially in the winters, there isn't as much stuff to do and you can only run on a treadmill so long before it gets boring," said Jared Eaton, who will be competing this year with two other men in the team competition.
"There is nothing like having 30 or 40 people just egging you on, screaming for you to do better, you know that's a good feeling," he explained.
"Anybody can do this," he added. "That is the best part about the team division. There are 10 events. If you are on a team you can just do one."
The competition, which takes place over two nights, January 29th and 30th, is not only about bragging rights, but a chance to raise money to fund scholarships for kids to attend camp in the summer.
"The 'Y' raises money to basically put disadvantaged youth and adults into membership and into programs here," stated Jesse Wall, who has helped train the athletes and organize the event since its inception five years ago.
"The event is really as much a competition about bringing people together as much as putting them head-to-head," said Wall. "When people have a common passion, it is awesome to see what kind of synergy comes from that."
The event has helped raise roughly $50,000 since it started.
The Fittest Man and Woman Competition is open to members of any branch of the YMCA of Southern Maine. It takes place at the Portland Branch on January 29th and 30th from 5pm to 8pm and the public is welcome to attend to watch and cheer the competitors on.