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BIGGEST LOSER: Contestants dig spikin' it with FMU

FLORENCE, S.C. – Contestants from the Florence’s Biggest Loser competition found themselves passing, setting, serving and more with the Francis Marion University women’s volleyball team on Wednesday night.

The exercises were part of a volleyball-themed fitness challenge created by the women's volleyball team to help test the contestants' fitness abilities and show them ways to work out outside of a gym.

"Volleyball is a great workout, because it requires you to engage every muscle in your body." FMU Coach Lauren Baufield said. "Every skill (passing, setting, serving and attacking) uses a different muscle group, and it can also be a great aerobic exercise with the amount of jumping, swinging, passing and digging. Volleyball can turn into a fun activity that you can play with your friends, and it can be a workout you actually look forward to."

Along with giving the contestants a good yet fun workout, the team also was excited to participate in the challenge as a way of giving back.

"Florence has such a great community atmosphere about it, and we were dying for a way to get involved and to give back to a community that gives so much to our program and our university," Baufield said. "When the United Way contacted us about the possibility of working with the Florence's Biggest Loser, it was a no brainer to get involved, and we were very pleased that we did!"
 
To start the challenge, the team took the contestants through a warmup of dynamic stretches and relay races to prepare them for the workout. From there, the contestants were put into teams and worked through four stations that each featured a different element of volleyball.
 
For the first station, each contestant paired up with another contestant to work on passing and hitting. Contestant One would throw the ball to Contestant Two, who would try to hit the ball using their forearms in order to pass the ball back to Contestant One. After the contestants passed it back and forth several times, they switched positions and increased the distance between each other.
 
At the second station, the contestants learned how to set the ball. The players first demonstrated to the contestants how to position their hands to properly set the ball and then had the players practice by repeatedly setting the ball against the gymnasium wall. Once the players were comfortable setting against the wall, they then tested their setting abilities by trying to set the ball into a basketball goal. The players also challenged some of the contestants to try setting while performing a sit-up.
 
The third station of the challenged focused on learning how to serve. Each contestant partnered up and stood on either side of the volleyball net. Contestant One would serve first, using the bow and arrow arm setup that the players taught them, and Contestant Two would catch the serve. Then, Contestant Two would hit a practice serve back to Contestant One.
 
For the fourth and final station, the contestants learned how to attack or spike the ball. One at a time, each contestant approached the net and tried to spike the ball to the other side. The players helped the contestants modify the exercise by alternating between tossing the ball right in front of the contestants to hit it and having the contestants run up and then spike the ball in one motion.
 
Once all of the contestants had made it through each station, they put their newly developed skills to the test by playing a game of volleyball. The contestants were divided into four teams of six and faced off against each other on the court. After one team would score a point, everyone of the teams would rotate positions to allow each contestant the chance to practice serving and attacking.
 
Although the contestants definitely were tired and sore by the time the volleyball challenge was over, they all expressed how much they enjoyed learning and getting the chance to play the sport.
 
"I had an absolute blast," contestant Kym Rush said. "The players were very patient with us and made it just such a fun way to work out."
 
The contestants will have their last fitness challenge of the competition on March 25th when they kayak with Naturally Outdoors.
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