Last June, Tara Holtgrewe Smith threw all her “skinny clothes” away. After having four kids, the most recent being a set of twins, the almost-42-year-old had accepted that she would now have a “mom bod” forever. The former athlete had struggled to get back into shape after her twins were born and had resigned to the fact that her former self was now out of reach.
But the next month, Tara saw a friend’s post on social media about a six-week challenge at Iron Tribe Fitness, home of the high-intensity workout combining fitness coaching and group training. Over the course of six weeks, participants who enroll are challenged to lose weight, trim body fat, gain muscle and overhaul their diets through coach-led workouts, a custom meal plan and a ton of support from the Iron Tribe community, both online and off. Participants who meet their goal weight, body fat percentage loss or muscle mass gained get their money back.
The challenge got Tara’s attention. But the full-time mom and part-time tutor was just about to embark on an extensive home remodel, and cash was tight. Plus, she’d just gotten rid of all those clothes. She went into the Belle Meade location anyway to learn more. When she called her husband to tell him what she was considering, her next step instantly became clear.
“He said, ‘You’re gonna kill it.’ I get emotional just thinking about it,” Tara says. She told her husband they didn’t have the money though. His response? “He said, ‘I am zero percent concerned that you’re not going to kill it. Do it.’ So I was very motivated that six weeks.” The first day of the challenge started the same day as their home remodel. Kitchen or no kitchen, Tara was determined to make it work.
The challenge is simple, but not easy. With a personalized plan, coaches and a community of support, you have six weeks — 42 days — to transform your body. Meet your goal and complete all the challenge requirements, and you get your money back, simple as that. In addition to a customized meal plan, each participant also gets a personalized grocery list, food prep instructions and 42 recipes to eliminate some of the most common food roadblocks that can set challenge-takers off course. Three 60-minute workouts each week, with check-ins required online for increased personal accountability, are accompanied by a coach and an online and in-gym community support system. While the challenge is yours alone to complete, you are never alone.
Founded in 2008 in Birmingham, Ala., Iron Tribe now has 35 locations in 12 states. Dedicated to making fitness fun, fast and effective, Iron Tribe hosts a legion of devotees committed to their high-intensity, always-changing, community-oriented workouts. Iron Tribe offers three diverse class types designed to meet the needs of everyone from current and former athletes to individuals brand new or just returning to fitness.
And for many, like Maggie Jenkins, the 6-Week Challenge is exactly what they need to break into a new way of living.
Like Tara, Maggie was also a former athlete who’d settled into a less than satisfactory health and fitness routine. The 33-year-old hair stylist was in the worst shape of her life, a fact made apparent to her on a trip out west when she found the hiking more challenging than she thought it would be.
“I was definitely ready to make a change,” says Maggie. “I don’t want to miss out on things because I can’t physically do it. That was really my motivator.”
Also a motivator? Getting her money back. When Maggie arrived for her orientation, she was not happy. “I was so mad,” she says, now laughing. After learning what was required over the six weeks and watching people joyfully high-five one another after their workouts, she remembers thinking, “This is not the place for me. But I was committed, and I was going to get that money back.”
After Maggie’s first class, she was hooked. By the second week of the challenge, she knew she would keep going after the six weeks were complete.
She didn’t have significant weight to lose, so she focused on body fat percentage loss. The results came fast. She met her 6% goal (actually, 6.2%) with more than a week to spare. While Jenkins added some additional workouts outside the three required, the success came from following the meal plan to the letter. Tara had a similar experience.
With four kids and a part-time job, Tara didn’t have time to do more than the three required workouts, but she followed the meal plan exactly. And like Maggie, the changes were almost immediate. By the halfway mark, she’d already lost 8.5 pounds and met her 6% total body fat loss goal. By the end of the six weeks, she was down 13.2 pounds and had lost 7.2 percent body fat.
“I don’t have my mom bod anymore,” Tara says. “I didn’t realize that I had just given up on that former self, and to find her again and to realize that I was still there was very, very emotional.”
For Maggie, completing the challenge changed her body, but like Tara, it also changed something inside, too. “It was the first time in my life that I had experienced that level of confidence,” she says. “I was so stinkin’ proud of myself [for completing the challenge].”
Challenge completed, weight lost, confidence boosted, they’re just the tip of the iceberg for Tara and Maggie when they think about everything the challenge has given them.
Tara can pick up endless toys with no pain, run up and down stairs, and chase her small children. She’s watched her joint pain dissipate, her sense of intimacy and desirability change, and even her complexion has improved. She has been able to show her 11-year-old daughter what it looks like to set and meet goals.
Maggie, whose job is very physical, can now work all day without pain. She’s noticed how days that start with a workout at Iron Tribe go more smoothly, how it can change her mentality for the entire day. And her wins in the gym move into wins elsewhere, too. This year, Maggie is starting her own podcast, and she credits the confidence that comes from looking and feeling her best for inspiring her to take that leap.
“If you want to make a change,” Maggie says, “this is how you can do it.”
The six-week Winter Transformation Challenge runs January 16-February 27 at all Iron Tribe locations. Iron Tribe Fitness has locations in Belle Meade, Belmont, Brentwood, Cool Springs and Franklin. Learn more about the challenge and sign up at https://6week-challenge.com/jan-optin.
This article is sponsored by Iron Tribe Fitness.