After a tough competition, a Wollongong CrossFit devotee has won the inaugural 2012 SHAPE Fit Chick Challenge.

The SHAPE Fit Chick Challenge was the first individual competition Dimi Poulos, 27, had ever been brave enough to compete in. In front of a large and vocal crowd of supporters and fitness fanatics, there was no one more surprised than Dimi when she took out the trophy.

In a seven-woman final, Dimi, who is the goalkeeper for Sydney FC, in the W-League, and has also played in the US and Spain, was first to smash out the 50 back squats with 35kg, six shuttle_ runs, 40 push presses with 3kg, six shuttle runs, 30 overhead squats with 35kg and another six shuttle runs.

The competition was the finale to the Fitness Expo at Sydney's Darling Harbour Exhibition and Convention Centre in late April.

Description: the Fitness Expo

the Fitness Expo

Thirty-six women competed in a maximum of seven workouts over two days, culminating in the final. Dimi was among quality competitors including the other finalists – Amanda Allen, Pip Malone, Jo Maas, Nadine Burns, Courtney Fitzharris and Renee Hoffman.

Dimi, a massage therapist, thanks CrossFit for her success. It's a training program she took up 18 months ago to get fit for the start of the soccer season. For a bit over a year, Dimi has been completely hooked.

"When I first started, I never thought I'd be able to manage a pull-up, but now it's a massive part of my life," she says. "I've lost about 10kg, am getting fitter and stronger and I've learned how to eat properly and what works best for me."

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that helps you shed fat, strengthen your muscles and challenge yourself like never before.

It's the program The Biggest Loser's Commando uses to keep himself fit and is similar to training in military and police academies. The workouts change daily and focus on exercising at a high intensity for a short period of time, making it ideal if you don't like repetition.

"When I started CrossFit I was looking for a way to get fit for the W-League season (women's football/ soccer)," Dimi recalled. "I had two months to get into shape and thought CrossFit would be the perfect fit for me. l was no stranger to training at high intensities so there was no way I was missing out on my first day.

What began as a way to prepare for my football season ended up becoming probably one of the best experiences of my life. "CrossFit is now a massive part of my life and I cannot imagine life without it. I feel the best I have ever felt. "I feel more confident and would love to compete some day in the CrossFit Games.

Description: 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games

2012 Reebok CrossFit Games

"I have grown up around lots of good food and every time our family got together all we did was eat, eat and eat. I learned how to pick and choose and know my limits now. I feel too good to look back."

A few weeks after the SHAPE Fit Chick Challenge, Dimi competed in the Reebok CrossFit Games Regionals in Wollongong. On May 18 she came 15th and Amanda Allen, 41, the woman Dimi pipped at the post in the SHAPE Fit Chick Challenge came 14th.

Men'sfitness fit bloke challenge

The Men's Fitness Fit Bloke Challenge at the 2012 Fitness Expo in Sydney crowned Chad Mackay, 30, from Sydney, as winner. In a seven-man final, Chad, who co-owns the CrossFit Active box in Waverton on Sydney's lower north shore, was the first to complete the men's challenge's 50 back squats with 50kg, six shuttle runs, 40 push presses with 50kg, six shuttle runs, 30 overhead squats with 50kg and another six shuttle runs. The 186cm, 100kg personal trainer said his training for the Men's Fitness Fit Bloke Challenge was gruelling with workouts six days a week.

A native of NSW's central coast, Chad grew up on a diet of baseball, tennis and surfing, and at 19, discovered bodybuilding. It enabled him to work as a gym instructor and swimming pool lifeguard, but a decision to ramp it up a notch and become a physical education teacher meant a move to Sydney to study at the Australian College of Physical Education.

He put himself through college as a personal trainer at the Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre in east Sydney and the City Gym. In early 2008, through his boss at Cook and Phillip Park, Luke Starr, Chad found CrossFit. He incorporated it into his personal training regimen and immediately lost 10kg and 15 percent body fat. And he found CrossFit's evidence-based training motivated him to become even stronger. "You can see improvements in power and speed daily," he says. "We have benchmark workouts every couple of months, where you compare how you're going with how you went last time."

He says the Men's Fitness Fit Bloke Challenge's most demanding workout was the chest-to-bar pull-ups - completing 10 of them beat up his hands badly because the distance to the bar was so great owing to his height, and he had to use his hands to take his weight. His strategy was to divide them into two sets of five. It worked - he made it through to the power snatch and smashed the rest of the workout. His tip for Fit Bloke and Fit Chick success is simple: get yourself to a CrossFit session.

"General gym fitness isn't enough," he says. "I noticed those guys who were gym-fit really struggled. You need to learn the faster, more explosive movements you get only by working out in the box"Next step for Chad is the 2012 CrossFit Games in California from July 13-15.

Dimi’s Tips

TIP: Time yourself and keep score. Keep a written record of your times and repetitions for each exercise workout. You'll know you're getting fitter when your numbers improve and soon you will find yourself coming back and trying to beat your time.

Box jumps

Description: Box jumps

Box jumps

Find a stable platform with a height of at least 30cm (a garden bench or ledge is fine). Jump or step up, keeping your gaze forward. Alternate the foot you lead with.

Medicine ball clean

Description: Medicine ball clean

Medicine ball clean

Place a medicine ball on the floor between your feet and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight, squat and take hold of the ball with both hands. Use the power in your legs to push off the floor and lift the medicine ball until your arms are straight.

Shoulder Press

Description: Shoulder Press

Shoulder Press

Sit a bar on your shoulders with your grip and legs shoulder width apart. Press the bar directly overhead until your arms are fully extended.

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