Raleigh, N.C. — Early before the sun rises in Youngsville, a group of women meets for an intense workout.
They call themselves Custom Built Chiks.
The group started one year ago when Mary Ann Janik-Hooker decided to get control of her health and lose 100 pounds. Janik-Hooker’s inspiration came from a book she was reading.
“It was talking about building a success team around you when you want to accomplish anything,” she said.
Janik-Hooker took to Facebook to find women with the same desire to get healthy. She invited them to join her for the journey.
“I’m going to start exercising. I just need some friends, some accountability,” Janik-Hooker said.
Tori Hughes was among the 70 women who answered Janik-Hooker’s Facebook request.
Hughes was inspired to get fit after a heartbreaking visit to her daughter’s doctor.
“My BMI was too high to donate a kidney to our oldest daughter that was in need,” she said. “So when we went to meet with the transplant team, it was, ‘You need to lose 50 pounds if you want to donate.’”
The group of women meets once a week to share their successes and learn from health experts. Whether they meet in person or through a private Facebook page, the women receive and give the kind of success that breeds success.
“Nothing is mandatory. We want it to be fun,” Janik-Hooker said. “We want it to be a lifestyle so that you will want to come back. We’re a fun group of girls. We’re accountable for each other.”
Hughes added, “It’s not just the accountability, it’s the togetherness and the love and the support. We’re here for the good of each one of us.”
Hughes began her 50-pound weight loss goal last May. She is only 2 pounds away from her final goal.
Hughes is excited to be able to help her daughter while also helping herself.
Many of the women with Custom Built Chiks have raised money for the Triangle Heart Walk with the American Heart Association.
This year’s event is Sunday at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The festivities begin at 1 p.m., and the walk starts at 2 p.m.