Free bootcamp aims to help end obesity

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Fitness crusader Paul Lacoste is bringing his free bootcamp — Next Level Mississippi 2019 — to Brookhaven.

The fitness program is made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Department of Human Services and Families First for Mississippi.

“Obesity is something that’s hitting us all. It doesn’t matter — man, woman or child. Doesn’t matter where you come from, your background, it’s affecting us all and it’s such a big national financial issue, and state financial issue,” Lacoste told the media.

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Training sessions will start May 20 and wrap up Aug. 8. Sessions will be Monday-Thursday each week from 5-6 a.m. or 6-7 a.m. at KDMC Fitness Center.

Registration deadline is May 13 at 5 p.m. Registration is available online at

A pre-medical evaluation and team meeting will take place May 16 at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

Participants are required to submit a $20 “accountability” payment. The check will not be cashed unless a participant drops out before the program is complete. Participants are also not allowed to miss more than six training sessions.

All participants must also attend the pre-fitness and post-fitness tests and a 5K.

The first day of training and a pre-fitness evaluation will take place May 20. A post-fitness test will be July 31.

The director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, John Davis, is from Brookhaven and helped get the program here. The program will also take place in Greenville and Pascagoula.

Lacoste and his training programs are well known throughout the state.

In 2010, he challenged the state’s leaders – legislators, elected officials and the governor — to lead by example and get in shape.

His Fit 4 Change program garnered nationwide attention and coverage from major news sources, including CNN, NPR, Fox News, People Magazine and Men’s Health.

In its first year, Fit 4 Change recruited more than 100 legislators, and not a single one dropped out. Over the course of 12 weeks, they collectively lost more than 1,400 pounds.

State Rep. John Hines lost the most weight of all the participants, dropping more than 70 pounds. Going through intense workouts four days a week with other lawmakers also helped participants set aside their political differences and work together.

“We feel good. I’m even loving Republicans right now,” said State Rep. Steve Holland, a Democrat who went from 359 pounds to 216 pounds during the Fit 4 Change program.

In 2011, more than 200 people participated in Fit 4 Change, shedding a total 3,043 pounds and 714 inches from their waists.

In 2012, participants lost over 3,400 pounds. Paul Lacoste Sports also launched the Fit 4 Teaching program and 200 Mississippi teachers lost over 3,100 pounds in 10 weeks.

Lacoste is a former All-American linebacker who played at Mississippi State. He was diagnosed with West Nile Virus in 2012 and since then has battled kidney cancer.