Community Hospital Fitness Pointe Members Row, Row, Row Their Way Into Second Place in World Challenge

Community-Hospital-Fitness-Pointe-Members-Row-Row-Row-Their-Way-Into-Second-Place-in-World-ChallengeAfter a month-long competition, members of the Community Hospital Fitness Pointe® team rowed their way to a second place finish in the World Rowing competition. Despite their best efforts, Fitness Pointe lost the title to one team, SLP Rowing of St. Louis Park, Minnesota. With 242 participating members, SLP finished with 21,245,978 meters. Fitness Pointe’s team with 182 members rowed 17,550,329 meters to earn second place.

Sponsored by Concept2, a manufacturer of indoor rowing equipment, the challenge took place March 15 to April 15 at the medically-based fitness center, 9950 Calumet Avenue. As in years past, Fitness Pointe’s team of indoor rowers in the Health/Fitness category was comprised of healthcare system employees, facility staff and members.

“This year, the competition was fierce,” said Nikki Sarkisian, exercise program manager Fitness Pointe. “We were in third place most of the time, but in the end we came from behind to capture second place. It’s a remarkable achievement for our team. Our members also have jobs and families and gave 100 percent of their time, endurance, strength and stamina over the course of the competition. They understand what it takes to win. They gave it their all.”

Three members of the rowing team achieved more than 1 million meters: Gary DeYoung (Munster), 1,175,000 meters; Billie Jo Spence (Highland), 1,131,735 meters and Judy Abbott (Munster), 1,010,077. DeYoung placed 8th overall among the men and Spence and Abbott placed 1st and 4th overall among women competitors, respectively.

Six members of the Fitness Pointe team rowed more than 500,000 meters: William Russell (Dyer), 960,714; Dennis Yatsko (Munster) 750,585; Franco Molinaro (St. John) 586,000; Deb Bergren (St. John) 551,055; John Neighbors (Griffith), 507,009 and Pattie Dobin (Cedar Lake) 500,622.

In order to attain this level of recognition, teammates put their lives on hold for the four-week period of the competition and focus on rowing and one goal, according to national women’s champion Spence.

“I try to start strong and finish strong,” Spence said. “I have a routine where I come in the early morning and row for 3 to 3-1/2 hours, then go home take a shower and nap and then come back in the afternoon for another 3 to 3-1/2 hours. I needed some extra support for my spine since I had surgery for a broken tailbone, but my friend helped me find the perfect cushion. All this exercise has reshaped me and my health and my doctor said I’m in a lot better condition because of rowing. You need to learn to pace yourself.”

First time rower Don Watkins said he really enjoyed the experience and that he didn’t feel sore at all.

“I understand now that it is the camaraderie that keeps team members coming back year after year,” he said. “Everyone is very supportive and offers encouragement. I made a few new friends and found a fellow Navy seaman who served the same time I did.”

Community Hospital Fitness Pointe helps individuals achieve life-long health and fitness through innovative, quality programs, state of the art equipment and highly credentialed staff. For more information about the programs and services available, visit

For more information about Concept2 programs and challenges, visit online at