They’ve been matched in competition and their columns appear in print together every Tuesday morning.
But in the two months since they’ve become the faces of the Bulletin’s Year of You competition, Jeanette Balmut and Joshua Messersmith had never met.
On Thursday, the (workout) gloves came off. Balmut and Messersmith marked the two-month milestone of their journey with an old-fashioned face-off.
“He looks good,” Balmut told her oldest daughter, Myklyn, concealing her lips with her hand and speaking in a hushed tone.
It’s worth noting, though, that any hint of rivalry was dashed weeks ago. The two have actually traded messages and privately cheer one another’s progress.
Instead, their nemeses on Thursday were the scale and tape. They came together on Thursday to be weighed and measured.
The weigh-in and measurements took place in the studio room at CalFit Manteca, the home base for Balmut and trainer Antonio Hernandez.
In two months, Balmut has experienced a complete lifestyle change. She’s had a membership to CalFit for more than a decade, but embarrassingly admits she only stepped foot inside the facility to pay her bill.
Since being selected by Hernandez and CalFit owner Steven Zakarias, Balmut, a working mother of three, hasn’t missed a single workout.
“Everyone says you’ll get addicted. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m certainly committed,” she said. “I’m here every day, whether its morning, noon or night. I’m loving it and I’ve got a pep in my step.”
On Thursday, she was the belle of the ball.
The Bulletin’s video camera followed her every move. Members stopped their workouts to chat with her or take in the production. Year of You has made the bubbly, engaging 46-year-old a mini-celebrity. Initially, she feared the spotlight and public nature of the competition.
Today, she embraces the opportunity to share her story, knowing it could help others like her.
“Everyone knows everything. I never would have told anybody my weight; I certainly wouldn’t have told my husband,” she said. “Now I’m texting him and showing him.
“People know me everywhere I go in town,” she later added. “Somebody makes some sort of comment. They’re following me (on Facebook), reading (the column); they’re inspired.”
By almost every measure, Messersmith has proven to be Balmut’s polar opposite.
He’s the young buck. His age, 23, makes Balmut cringe. “I’m older than your mother,” she says with a forced smile.
He’s quiet and reserved. He’s a bachelor eager to marry his fiancee in October — “He’s going to wear one of those rip-away tuxedos,” CORE Athletic Performance owner Robert Iniguez quipped — and he’s a former athlete with a natural comfort among the iron bars and plates of the gym.
But he and Balmut share one commonality: At the first major checkpoint, they’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and inches. Messersmith’s weight loss is visible in his face, neck and shoulders.
With Iniguez diagraming his workouts — he specializes in training college and professional athletes — Messersmith has enjoyed a varied program.
His workouts include but are not limited to: flipping tractor tires, running bleachers and sprints, and wearing an elevation mask.
What he’s lost in inches and pounds hardly compares to what he’s gained: a better understanding of how to manage his diet.
“I’ve been used to working out, but didn’t know how much a difference diet would make,” Messersmith said. “And diet does make a difference, because I don’t work out too much harder than I already was.”
Messersmith has leaned on the My Fitness Pal app, which allows him to set daily nutritional goals and log his food, drink and activity. The app also allows Messersmith to track his progress.
“There have been ups and downs. Eating healthy was tricky at first, but we got it down,” he said. “... Knowing I can be able to eat foods I want to eat as long as I stay within my portion sizes and goal for the day, that makes it easier. That makes my journey a little easier.”