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Join the Steno Fitness Challenge!

Students are running things over on the “Steno Fitness Challenge ‘til Orlando 2022! Exercise at least 15 minutes a day” Facebook group. They are inspiring us all.   

On August 20, 2021, Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter, captioner, and CART provider from Washington, D.C., started the Facebook group, challenging members to exercise for at least 15 minutes a day until July 21, the first day of the 2021 NCRA Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. The challenge is not just to exercise every day for 15 minutes, but also to post your accomplishment. If you miss one day of exercise, you have to start back at Day 1. The group offers fun, focus, friendship, and most of all, fitness!

The idea to start the group was something that came to Rogers’ mind, and she thought, “Well, would people really be interested in this? We do need to be healthy and active given the fact that we have sedentary jobs. A little friendly competition never hurts. The group is fun, supportive, encouraging, and interactive,” Rogers added. “The purpose of the group is to continue with the steno camaraderie that we already have in our wonderful profession and to continue to uplift each other as we gain and maintain great health. Having great health is a major component of our profession.”

Rogers was inspired by freelancer Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, of North Brunswick, N.J., who created a steno practice Facebook group with a similar concept. There are many students and stenographers who participate in the 100-day Challenge Practice Group. In that group they also practice on their steno machines for 15 minutes a day.

Students running the show

Students Angie Podge, of Kansas City, Mo., Christine Moers, of Austin, Texas, and Erin Blair, of West Des Moines, Iowa, have been running the show in the Steno Fitness Challenge group. They have not missed a day of exercise since their Day 1.  As of Jan. 24, they had exercised for at least 15 minutes a day, and posted it for the last 158 days. To motivate the members, on Dec. 1, 2021, the group held a live drawing to give away fitness equipment and gadgets to those members who had exercised for the first 100 days straight without missing a day. Podge won exercise dice. Moers won a Smart Watch with workout features. Blair won a running belt, and Leslie Stilwell of Daytona Beach, Fla., won a waist trainer. There will be more fun giveaways and drawings in the future.

Read below about their fitness journeys, which includes testimonials about weight loss, renewed mental health, and reaching goals.

Angie Podge

If you met me today you may not ever guess that I was overweight and obese since elementary school, or that I had reached 200 pounds by eighth grade. Physical Education was my most hated class in school and led me to feel shame and embarrassment about my body. When it came to diet and exercise, consistency was not a concept I understood, and every time I tried to lose weight I’d be frustrated with the lack of quick progress and give up.

Angie Podge

One day in September of 2018, I decided I was going to invest in myself and hire a personal trainer and then a few months later I decided to join Weight Watchers, and this time everything clicked for me. I never imagined I would enjoy working out or consider myself an athlete. It takes a lot of time, patience, discipline, and grace, which is also necessary to get through court reporting school. Once I had lost the weight I was in search of a new challenge and when I learned of court reporting as a career, I was confident that I could apply the same discipline and determination needed to lose weight towards learning this skill. I started school in January of 2020, and I am currently working towards exit speeds and hope to be a working reporter by the end of the year. September 2018 was the beginning of a physical transformation that snowballed into a total life transformation, and I’m grateful for where I am today.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, losing my job, and pursuing court reporting school full time, I’ve been much less active, and some weight has come back. The Steno Fitness Challenge Facebook group has helped keep me accountable to my fitness goals and kept my life balanced. I love having a group where two of the most important aspects of my life merge, where we can virtually meet up once a week to work out together, and where we can share our successes and lift each other up, and I can’t wait to meet all the participants at the next conference.

Angie Podge is a student at the Court Reporting Institute of Kansas City in Kansas City, Mo. She is currently at 180-200 wpm.

Christine Moers

When I first heard about the Steno Fitness Challenge group, I was not sure I wanted to add another thing to my plate. As a student, I am very protective of my time. However, as I looked through the details, it sounded like exactly what I needed and wanted.

I am 49 years old and started running in my mid-30s. I always despised running until the emergence of the Couch to 5K app. After hitting that first 3.11 miles, I have never looked back. I love running even on the days I feel like I am moving through pudding. Since starting court reporting school, I have made sure to get in at least three runs a week. It is great medicine for my brain and my body. 

Christine Moers

I had not been exercising every day. When I read that the Steno Fitness Challenge group would encourage a minimum of 15 minutes of daily exercise, my wheels started turning. I had been meaning to do some light weights. I had been meaning to throw in other cardio workouts now and then. I knew my legs needed some cross training. Moving and strengthening my body in some way for 15 minutes was only going to benefit me. I needed to stop saying, “I needed to.” I was in!

I dusted off my weights and added an arm workout twice a week. I intentionally found beginner videos that were exactly 15 minutes. I did not have anything to prove. I was just going to get the job done. I would toss in some low-impact cardio videos here and there for a half hour. On the weekends, it has been a great push for my husband and me to plan at least one hike or walk around Austin. In the time I have been in the group, I have gone from my two-pound weights to my five- and eight-pound weights.

The best part about the Steno Fitness Challenge group has been connecting with other students and working reporters around our health. Everyone is positive and encouraging. I get excited when someone pops back in to start exercising again. I love to see all the various ways people are moving their bodies. The accountability has been just what I needed to keep up a daily streak for myself.

At the time of this writing, I have exercised for more than 158 days straight. I have never done that in my life until now. I would never have been so consistent without the group and knowing I have a place to check in day after day. Whether you can stick to it every day or need a safe place to show up when you are able, the Steno Fitness Challenge group has a spot for you. Come join us!

Christine Moers, from Austin, Texas, is a student at Simply Steno. She is currently at 150 wpm.

Erin Blair

Erin Blair

The Steno Fitness Challenge group has been a positive force in my life in many ways. Prior to joining the group, I was very active, but the extra accountability of the group dynamic has really helped me take my fitness to the next level. As a student, I have become very aware that taking care of your body is a large part of succeeding in stenography. Being consistent in my fitness has helped me alleviate my pain while writing and made me better at saying “yes” to myself and my fitness goals, even when I don’t feel like it.

The members of the group are supportive and encouraging, and it’s great to have the camaraderie of fellow students and reporters who are very aware of what it takes to sit in a chair and write and edit for many hours a day. Fitness is crucial to maintaining your body for a career in stenography, and I have Steno Fitness Challenge group to thank for setting me up for a lifetime of consistency in fitness goals.

Erin Blair, from West Des Moines, Iowa, is a student at Simply Steno.  She is currently at 190 wpm.

Cristina Ameel

Cristina Ameel

Over the past couple of years, I found it getting easier and easier to neglect my health and well-being. I was spending most of my free time on school and steno practice and made that my priority. That, along with the pandemic and the ease of staying home in sweatpants all day, contributed to my feeling sluggish, tired, and unmotivated. Looking back, there were plenty of times I could have taken a quick walk or done a weight-lifting session, but I needed a little kick in the behind to seek out that time. 

Thankfully, I found the Steno Fitness Challenge Facebook group. Just as I had been making myself accountable to steno practice, I found the push to be accountable for my health and to integrate daily exercise into my routine. I started making small changes first, making sure I got in a 15-minute walk every day. Then I began adding short weightlifting routines found on YouTube. Finally, I was motivated to change my eating habits as well.

All these factors combined have helped me lose 25 pounds and get through the holidays without too much overindulgence. Overall, I feel so much better mentally and physically, and I am continuing to make changes to my routine and habits to make sure I don’t get stuck in a rut again.

Cristina Ameel, from Brighton, Mich., is a student at 200 wpm.

Students, you are welcome to join in on the fun at “Steno Fitness Challenge til Orlando 2022! Exercise at least 15 mins. a day” Facebook group. As you scan through the group posts, you will notice many inspirational hashtags like #lifebalance, #DisruptAging, #Orlando, #ChallengeYourself, #getfitstayfit, and many more. The Group has four administrators to help encourage and motivate group members to keep going and to not give up.