By Rebekah Martin
Assistant Editor

As the motto goes “New year, new you.” It’s time again for the annual Scale Back Alabama competition, a statewide weight loss initiative that began in 2007 with a goal of helping and encouraging Alabamians to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s how it works: Teams of two register with the program and visit a local weigh-in site together. Team members work to lose 10 pounds each by the end of the event, aided, in part, by motivational tips along the way. Those who reach their goals are entered into a drawings for different prizes.
There is no cost involved in participating. This year the Opelika/Auburn areas are collaborating to offer 10 weeks of free events to encourage success among SBA participants. The weekly events kick off Jan. 31 with a guided tour of the Publix Supermarket on Moores Mill Road in Auburn by dieticians from East Alabama Medical Center. According to information provided by, “The tours will encourage participants to choose fruits and vegetables and will also demonstrate how to properly read food and nutrition labels, and suggestions for nutritious substitutions in recipes can be found throughout the store.
City organizations and businesses from both Opelika and Auburn will be participating. Laura Leigh Chesser, public relations coordinator for the Opelika Sportsplex, said she believes these events will be beneficial to those participating in Scale Back Alabama.
“I think with things like working out, especially if you’re new to working out, it can be really hard to get motivated … to take the extra step, to try new things,” Chesser said. “We are providing events each week, laid out with a specific time and place and a specific activity so it’s really easy to commit to … You can sit on your couch and say, ‘I’m going to run at some point today’ and never do it, but say if there’s a Zumba class today at 2:30, it’s a lot easier to get out and finish your commitment.”
Other events include:
-An Aqua Aerobics class held at the Opelika Sportsplex Feb. 2 from 6-7 p.m. This low-impact class is beneficial for new or experienced exercisers of any age. Participants should wear a swimsuit and bring a towel and dry clothes to wear home.
-A Family Fun and Fitness Day Feb. 15 from 2-5 p.m. at the Frank Brown Recreation Center in Auburn. Activities will include volleyball, racquetball, ping-pong and more. Athletic attire is recommended for this event.
-A Walk with a Doc event Feb. 17 beginning at 7 a.m. Join doctors and healthcare professionals from EAMC in the hospital main lobby for a few words about the benefits of physical activity and then walk with the group on a refreshing one mile walk around the EAMC fitness trail. Comfortable clothes and shoes are recommended for this event.
-A “Let’s Ride! Scale Back by Biking!” event Feb. 28 from 7-9 a.m. Join the Auburn Bike Committee at the Auburn Mall for a 3-mile bike ride that will help kick your weight loss into gear. The comittee will lead the ride around the mall and surrounding neighborhoods followed by the opportunity to visit a variety of tents that will feature information on bike safety as well as other fitness related items. Participants are asked to wear appropriate exercise attire and a helmet. Bikes are not provided.
Chesser said the collaborative events are new additions to the local efforts of Scale Back Alabama, additions the cities hope to continue in the future.
“Having the events in both cities and having a different variety of events will be good,” Chesser said. “There’s something out there for everybody. I think everyone in the community can find something they’re interested in.”
A full list of free events can be found on The website also offers a printable version and calendar. The website states the outdoor events are weather permitting and urges participants to check back for weekly updates.
FAQs, resources and registration information can all be found on For additional information, email