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Laquita Hans has a friendly, personality, accented by a contagious smile. That is just the first impression at first meeting. After a few minutes of conversation, one realizes that is not just a surface, but an indication of her deep compassion for and a sincere desire to help others.
Laquita confesses that she had to face her problem, see the need for self-improvement and help herself. Wisely, she first sought help by praying for someone to come into her life to inspire and guide her into the right direction. Meet Laquita Hans as she shares her story.
Laquita is a wife (of Gale Hans) and a mother of two daughters, and is employed at Midland States Bank in Vandalia. She has gone on missionary trips to other countries, including Guatemala, and is planning another one in February 2015.
She is a member of the Assembly of God Center Point Church (located in the former Rural King building on Veterans Avenue in Vandalia), where she holds a free exercise fitness program twice a week in an effort to help others have a healthier lifestyle.
“I started changing my lifestyle in April of 2013, she said. “I was really overweight. I work at Midland and I couldn’t walk out the back door and go across the parking lot and back without being very winded.
“I thought, ‘This is ridiculous, I have got to get healthy,’ so I started praying that God would send somebody into my life that would hold me accountable and that would encourage me.
“I knew that I had to do it, that nobody else could do it for me, and I knew that no one else could make me do it, but I needed someone to stand up beside me and say, ‘You can do this, and let’s do it together, and just call me when you have a bad day.’”
An Answered Prayer
“I was on Facebook and looking through some of my friends’ baby pictures and a lady, Amy Propst, commented, talking about how she really wanted to help people and if anybody needed help, to get in touch with her,” Laquita said.
“I didn’t know her, but I went to her site and read her story, and she had been in the same place as I was. She had weighed over 300 pounds and she was down to 150 pounds.
“She felt like God had been encouraging her to help others, so she started Fit Clubs in Effingham,” Laquita said.
“So I reached out to her. I don’t do well one-on-one, but I really felt led and thought ‘this might be the answer to my prayer,’ so I got hold of her and we met in Effingham.
“She has helped me out a lot – I’ve lost 55 pounds. I still have a ways to go, but I can walk now and not get winded,” she said.
The ‘Fit Method’
She said that the Fit Club program does not use the gym-type workout equipment, but a fitness exercise video and rubber bands like those used in physical therapy.
She that she can do most of the exercises, then explained that they modify some of them.
“In the group, we always make sure that the people know that anywhere they are at in their physical fitness life, they can modify it to where they do what they can do,” Laquita said.
“When we started out, I could not do one push-up. I would do them off the wall, because I couldn’t do them from the floor. To start with, I just couldn’t get down on the floor, because I couldn’t get back up off the floor.
“So I would just push myself a little ways off the wall,” she said. “The stronger you get, the farther your feet go out, and then you are pushing more of your weight.”
Laquita expressed pride in her progress.
“I know this doesn’t sound like much, but I can now do five push-ups off the floor,” she said, “and I’m excited about it.”
“But there is a level for everybody,” she said, “from the beginner up to the ones who can really push it hard. We are all sizes, even some that I think don’t need to lose a pound. Those people aren’t there to lose, but to maintain where they are at, so there are exercises for them, too.”
When and Where
“It is free, so you can’t beat that,” she said about the Fit Club program offered at Center Point Church on Veterans Avenue in Vandalia.
They began with 19 participants and the number fluctuates, but the initial five who are always there.
The group has been meeting from 6-7 p.m. one evening a week. However, “Because some people want to come on different days, we are starting to meet on Monday and Thursday evenings at the same time, she said.
Two of the regular five who help her are Christy DeVall and Sherry Hicks.
“I don’t make any money from this; I just have it open for everybody to come,” Laquita said.
“I just want to help others, because if it wasn’t for Amy Propst in Effingham, I don’t know where I would be today,” she said.
“I’m so thankful that Pastor Rodney (Caswell) said that we could open it up here. The church hosts it, but it doesn’t have anything to do with it. “
“There are about fifteen Fit Clubs now, including those in Effingham, Altamont and Shumway. Amy Propst has had a part in opening all of them,” she said.
“We really try to lift one another up in this place,” she said, “because we’ve all been at the beginning and we know how hard it is.
“Sherry had to start exercising sitting in a chair. And she has come a long way. She has diabetes, and I think she has got off most of her medicine.”
“I was on two blood pressure medications, a water pill and an aspirin,” Laquita said, “and now I have it cut in half, only the water pill and aspirin, just since last April.”
“We try to encourage each other to eat right, because that is where fitness comes from, the kitchen, and if you are not exercising your food intake, then exercising your body is not going to be beneficial.
“And we encourage people to drink a lot of water,” she said. “I tell them to take your body weight and divide it in half. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water a day. It helps flush your system out.
“And sometimes when you feel hungry, you might just be thirsty, so drink water instead of eating and sometimes that hunger will go away.”
“Also, we encourage eating every two to three hours, six small meals a day. Have your normal breakfast. My normal breakfast is a whole wheat English muffin, a turkey sausage patty and a scrambled egg,” she said. “Then I have an apple. My snack is usually almonds.
“My lunch is usually a wrap with turkey meat, lettuce, pickles and pile on a lot of veggies, because veggies are free. I might eat some almonds or another apple to get some more fruit in.
“Then, for supper, I have a chicken breast and asparagus. And I try not to eat anything after supper. But if we’ve had a really hard workout, I might have a protein shake.”
Laquita welcomes anyone who needs help to come to a meeting Monday or Thursday, and advises all to wear something comfortable. All you need to bring is a bottle of water.