HOLDEN, Mass. — From flipping 440 pound tires to running through Holden's industrial park while carrying weights, women tested their mettle in several fitness events Sunday morning to discover who would take this year's title of the fittest female in Central Massachusetts.
The competition was created five years ago by Heather Baker, owner of GH2 Fitness in Holden.
"I was listening to the radio and the announcers were debating who the world's fittest man was, so I went home to my husband and said let's come up with a contest that tests strength, explosive power, cardiovascular endurance — all of those different components of what it takes to be the fittest female," she said.
Fourteen women competed either individually or in pairs, running a full gauntlet of challenging events that had them lifting weights, jumping up on to boxes and doing pull-ups with weights attached to their belts.
While in the end the team of Tara Hoekstra-Martinez and Helen Bibeau took title of fittest female, throughout the contest each competitor was constantly cheering and encouraging each other to go faster, stronger and longer.
"Those women are all in it for bettering themselves, but they're also for every other woman," said Baker. "This contest was about 14 women as individuals, but also 14 woman plugging away and cheering for each other to do the best, saying, 'you can pick it up, you can lift it, you can run.'"
Baker said this is the atmosphere of the gym itself.
"It's a very supportive, high-five, pat-yourself-on-the-back, way-to-go type of gym," she said. "That's what you see in this contests, it's strong women, doing great things, supporting each other."
This, in fact, was part of her vision for GH2, which stands for GO HARD, GO HOME.
"Workouts are quick. Metabolic conditioning classes are 30 minutes long," she said. "Women are busy — we have children, we have jobs and we can come in here for 30 minutes, work as hard as we can and then go home."
While currently located at 766 Main Street, Baker said the gym will soon be moving to a new, bigger home at 512 Main Street in November.