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Mind, body, and steno: The Steno Fitness Challenge

Stenographers are springing forward with fitness before the 2022 NCRA Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., this July with the “Steno Fitness Challenge ‘til Orlando 2022! Exercise at least 15 minutes a day” Facebook group.

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter and CART provider from Washington, D.C., started the group on August 20, 2021, giving founding members a total of 334 days to take on the challenge before July 20, the last day before the NCRA Conference. “The group works as a steno fitness challenge,” said Rogers, “to encourage stenographers to exercise for at least 15 minutes a day until they get to the Conference.”

The challenge is not just to exercise every day for 15 minutes, but to post your daily exercise in the Facebook group. For example, on your first day, indicate Day 1, and post your exercise (either a picture, video, or written description of your exercise). If you miss even one day, you have to start back at “Day 1.”  “It’s 334 (or however many) days of absolute fun, focus, friendship, and most of all, fitness,” added Rogers.

Rogers was inspired by Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelancer and agency owner from North Brunswick, N.J., who created a steno practice Facebook group with a similar concept. There are many students and stenographers who participate in his 100-Day Challenge Practice Group, in which reporters and students practice on their steno machines for at least 15 minutes a day.

The steno fitness group is a fun, supportive, and interactive group, and friendly competition never hurts. “The purpose of the group is to maintain the camaraderie that we already have in our wonderful profession, as we continue to uplift each other on our quest to promote great health,” Rogers said. “Being in great physical and mental health is a major component of our profession.”

Read below about the fitness journeys of a few of the members of the group, which include weight loss testimonials, renewed mental health, and reaching goals. We’ll be sharing more profiles in the coming months leading up to the NCRA Conference & Expo in July.

How to stay in shape when you sit in a chair all day
By Meredith Bonn

I have been a court reporter for 32 years. I graduated college when I was 20 and at first sitting in a chair to take testimony or sitting at a computer to edit was not a significant factor in my life. However, as life went on, bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle were not conducive to wearing the clothes I wanted to wear or feeling how I wanted to feel. After the birth of my children, I joined Jazzercise and loved every minute of it. Years later I began running.

From approximately 2005 on, my family participated in a variety of running and triathlon races. I didn’t want to be left out. My running races grew longer, and then I began training for a triathlon. It’s truly a great way to spend a summer in Western New York — outside swimming, biking, and running. However as life goes, work and homelife and volunteer commitments began to eat up my time, and I stopped exercising. Combine that with great stress and that sedentary lifestyle, and I was back at square one looking at how to get my fitness back.

Every time I have participated in regular fitness activities, logging [my progress] and community have held me accountable. I like to see my progress. I am encouraged by my communities. I am motivated to keep going. I have been a decade-long user of MyFitnessPal. So when the Steno Fitness Facebook challenge began, I was all in as another way to join my court reporting community to be inspired, to be held accountable, and to inspire others.

The power of the positive attitude and the effect of motivation are topics I have studied for a very long time, and they are as crucial to the fitness process as they are to the process of many things we do in life. The fitness challenge is yet another way to share that positive attitude, to motivate, and be motivated, and through it all — smile! 

Meredith Bonn, RPR, CRR, is an official reporter in Webster, N.Y.

I lost 30 pounds!
By Brenda Countz

During the Steno Fitness Challenge, I am delighted to report that I have lost more than 30 pounds. Through the decades, I have found it increasingly difficult to lose weight through dietary changes and vigorous exercise. In May 2021 I discovered a missing element in my health and fitness regimen. I learned that my blood sugar levels had been rising dangerously.  

I began to study literature and web content about elevated blood glucose and insulin levels. I read about how for the past 50 years our American food supply has been increasingly loaded with added sugars. I realized that things like fruit juices, which I truly believed were good for me, were actually the main culprits.

I learned that when glucose and insulin levels are out of balance, the body switches from fat-burning mode to sugar-burning mode. I also learned that high blood sugar and insulin resistance can cause heart disease, stroke, vision, and nerve problems, to name just a few.

I was scared straight and responded to this new knowledge by adopting a “low glycemic diet” and I immediately started to lose about two pounds per week. I recommitted to my daily regimen of thoroughly stretching my body in the morning and walking one to two miles in the evening.

As simple as that sounds, that was it. The dietary changes took some studying and perseverance but even during the holidays, I have continued to slowly lose weight.  

Brenda Countz, RPR, CRR, is a freelance reporter in Los Angeles, Calif.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon
By Shellene L. Iverson

Just after the NCRA Conference & Expo last year, I got invited to join the Steno Fitness Challenge Facebook group. The group is based off another practice group that I belong to. The goal is to do a minimum of 15 minutes of exercise every day until the NCRA Conference in Orlando in July.

I started off with a bang and managed a minimum of 15 minutes (usually 30 mins to an hour) a day for about a month and a half and then, well, life.  There were too many pages and the holidays and everything else. I was still exercising, just not every day, but I was not posting either. This is an amazing group of people. I’d go and lurk and see what everyone was doing. It is so inspirational and awesome to see all the progress, and it reminded me to get off my butt.

When January hit, it dawned on me that the half marathon that I had signed up for in 2020 was now finally going to happen – in a month and a half! I needed to start training. So I lurked and I trained and lurked some more. Once my marathon happened, I finally posted to the group what I had done. The support and enthusiasm of the group was amazing. They were almost as excited as I was for my accomplishment. I beat my last half marathon time by 18 minutes!

This made me realize, even if I wasn’t exercising every day (I need a rest day every now and again), that I should still post. Who knows?  Maybe something I do could inspire someone else. That is what this group is all about – inspiration and hard work.

Shellene L. Iverson is a freelance reporter and agency owner in Portland, Ore.

Find the “Steno Fitness Challenge til Orlando 2022! Exercise at least 15 mins. a day” Facebook group here.

Read about students participating in the Steno Fitness Challenge.