When Glen Cove High School student Alessandra Sicuranza, 18, won The Max Challenge’s 10-week Summer Challenge last year, she felt a great sense of accomplishment. The Max Challenge in Glen Cove had offered her a supportive team that helped Alessandra tackle her poor-body image issues, lose weight and gain a love for exercise. Going to The Max Challenge gym quickly became Alessandra’s favorite thing to do, and when she was gifted the chance to sign someone up for the following Fall Challenge, Alessandra picked her mother, Caterina.
“As soon as I saw her win, I made up my mind to change,” said Caterina, who had spent years apathetic to the idea that exercise could help her.
As Caterina took on the Fall Challenge, she was swept up by negative emotions, believing that she would be unable to finish it. Despite the rocky start, Caterina found solace in her daughter’s success and in the supportive environment at The Max Challenge. As the gym celebrated the completion of the Fall Challenge on Jan. 4, Caterina was shocked to learn that her fellow challengers had voted her to be the winner of the challenge for losing 25 pounds, five more pounds than what she originally strived for.
Watching mother and daughter embrace in their success was an outcome that The Max Challenge co-owners Matilde Tysz and Fausto Rotundo could not be happier with. Tysz said it was moving to see how much a child could inspire a parent, and she and Rotundo were proud of the mother-daughter duo.
“It’s beautiful to see a family work together and want to improve on themselves,” Tysz said. “This gym is all about helping members of the community feel better.”
The seasonal challenges are the main focus of The Max Challenge gyms, where participants join a 10-week program designed around exercise, nutrition motivation and results. The gym holds several classes a day, with some as early as 5 a.m., which was the class Caterina was in. Although it was tough to work out that early, Caterina said exercise quickly became an addiction, which she plans to keep up even after completing the challenge.
Along with celebrating the end of the Fall Challenge, Tysz and Rotando also kicked off the start of the Winter Challenge in not only the Glen Cove location, but also in the East Rockaway Max Challenge, which they recently purchased. Glen Cove City Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, who works part-time at the gym, said he was proud of the gym’s growth and cited Tysz as a positive influence not only in her members’ lives, but also in the City of Glen Cove through her work on the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce, for which she is a board member.
“Even before Matilde and The Max Challenge opened their doors, they signed on to be a sponsors of the Downtown Sounds [Summer Concert Series],” Stevenson-Mathews said. “I’m always so impressed by this woman and what she does for the city.”