January 5th, 2012
07:53 AM ET

CNN Tri Challenge: Introducing our 2012 team

The 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge is officially underway!  This year we have selected seven CNN viewers just like you to train for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Each person will be given a road bike and all of its accessories, a wet suit, and a gym membership.  In turn, they will blog, tweet, and share their workouts, from now until race day in mid-September, on Facebook.

We invite you to follow along as the "Lucky 7" train to swim a half mile in the ocean, bike 18 miles, and run four miles in California!  So without further ado, meet our new team:

Rick Morris told us he may be dead by the time we saw his video. He's a veteran, who admits to letting his fitness slide after leaving the Army.

Morris says he smokes a pack and a half a day and is having a heck of a time keeping up with his fellow volunteer firefighters. He's lost several family members to preventable diseases and knows if he doesn't make a change now, he will follow suit.

Watch Morris' iReport submission video here

Denise Castelli always prided herself on being a top-notch athlete. A softball game during her senior year of college changed her life.

As she went to steal second base, she fell and broke her leg.  An infection developed and more than thirty surgeries later, Castelli had to have her right leg amputated below the knee. She says she's anxious to be a part of the Tri Challenge, so she can go back to being an accomplished athlete.

Watch Castelli's iReport submission video here

Jeff Dauler admits he's a self-proclaimed control freak, but for the last 18 months his life has been anything but in control.  He's been dealing with various personal challenges including a divorce.

Dauler says dealing with those obstacles led him to a major realization: One of the only things a person can control is how they treat their body.  Yet, for a guy who likes to take charge of a situation, Dauler hasn't taken care of his body.  He's hoping the Challenge will help him regain control.

Watch Dauler's iReport submission video here

Glenn Keller is a truck driver who leads a prayer ministry from his cell phone 3 times a day, 7 days a week - all while he's on the road.

He tells his fellow worshipers it's possible to overcome any obstacle they're presented with, but feels like a hypocrite.  That's because Keller has not been able to overcome a big obstacle of his own - his weight.

He estimates he's at least 100 pounds overweight, which among other things, causes sleep apnea and is why he needs a CPAP machine to sleep.  Keller says he needs goals and guidance - two things he's hoping to get from the Tri Challenge.

Watch Keller's iReport submission video here

Nancy Klinger was married for 26 years when her husband told her he wanted a divorce.  Now newly separated, Klinger wants to race the Nautica Malibu Triathlon as much for her mental health as for her physical health.

She hopes the regular exercise and goal-setting that come along with training for any endurance event will help alleviate her recent depression.

Watch Klinger's iReport submission video here

Adrienne LaGier stood in the middle of the school office where she teaches feeling mortified.  A coworker had just come up and rubbed her hand on LaGier's belly, mistaking her for another (actually pregnant) teacher.

LaGier was pregnant seven years ago, and is getting ready to marry the father of her twin girls in September. LaGier says being a part of the Tri Challenge means beginning her life with her new husband in fitness and in health.  She also hopes people will stop mistaking her for a pregnant woman.

Watch LaGier's iReport submission video here

Growing up in Southern California, Carlos Solis was headed down a dangerous path of drug use and gang violence.  Some concerned teachers helped him alter his path and now as an adult, he's paying it forward, helping other troubled teens.

The problem is, he does a poor job of taking care of himself. Solis has type-2 diabetes and wants to show his students they can break the cycle of obesity and diabetes.

Watch Solis' iReport submission video here

If you're not one of the Lucky 7, don't worry. You can join them by following their workout plans, which will be posted on our Facebook page starting in early February. You can also tweet your workout successes at @CNNFitNation. We'll have regular updates from our new team on "Sanjay Gupta, MD" Saturday and Sunday mornings, 7:30 eastern and online at CNN.com/FitNation.

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Percy von Lipinski (iReporter; seeitnow)

    What a great diverse team of challengers. As someone who has taken fitness quite serious for over 20 years now I am deeply touched by this story. I wish them well. I've also ad some serious health challenges not to mention I am the 57 year old daddy to an 8 year old. I have no problem keeping up and my health is perfect. I know you can all do it!
    Much Metta

    January 5, 2012 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Meredith (The Original Six-Pack)

    Wow, what an AWESOME team! Looking forward to seeing your growth and progress during the challenge – and racing alongside (or behind; or maybe even ahead of) you in Malibu! Go Lucky 7!

    January 5, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ryan

    Go for it folks. Having a date that you will be held accountable is a great thing. I started doing triathlons 2 years ago and have since dropped 60lbs and well over an hour off of my first triathlon time.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Rusty

    Jeff Dauler is a fat idiot who thinks he has talent.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jake

      Unnecessary to be an A..hole. Have a nice day!

      January 7, 2012 at 19:29 | Report abuse |
  5. Danielle

    We Love Jeff in Atlanta!!! YAY!!! Much success to him, he is wonderful!

    January 5, 2012 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Andy

    Go get it! I hope all of you guys do well.

    That being said, I thought this was supposed to be a team of random iReporters. Why is Jeff Dauler, a host on the Bert Show, one of the largest syndicated talk shows in the US, on there? Either he is really lucky, or the fact that CNN is based out of Atlanta (same as the Bert Show) may have something to do with it.

    Either way, to Jeff and the rest, I wish you all the best and good luck!!

    January 5, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CaitlinCNN

      Hey Andy! Thank you for following our team. We did choose six random iReporters but when Jeff approached us and applied, we added him to the team as the seventh. You can see his video above. We think his story is relatable to many people in our audience who have also dealt with divorce and various other personal issues and we didn't want to exclude anyone based on their job. We hope you follow along with the new team! They have amazing stories and are sure to undergo remarkable transformations.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
  7. The7thseal@yahoo.com

    FAT is the new thin.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Loren

    We love you Jeff Dauler!!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. szahn34

    Congratulations Lucky 7! Me and my fellow 2011 Six-Pack wish you all the best of luck and can't wait to meet you all. I will be there in September with you in Malibu. Enjoy the journey, it's a wild ride! You will be amazed what you will be able to do 8 months from now.

    January 5, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Rusty

    Dauler is a tool and attention hog

    January 5, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AlwaysTri

    As a fellow triathlete, I want to tell you that your first race will be amazing!! Enjoy the training and don't stop pushing yourselves! Good luck!

    January 5, 2012 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Glenn

    Awesome to be associated with such a great group of people.

    January 5, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ken

    Can there be a second group here? I do not need a bike or anything special – just motivation. In 2006 I was 293 pounds, could not run 1/4 mile, ride a bike for more than a few minutes and had never swam a lap in a pool. I joined Team In Training in Chicago and, 6 months later and 60 pounds lighter, I competed in my first Olympic Triathlon. I completed 4 more triathlons over the subsequent 18 months but then had a back injury that ended everything (turns out I was training wrong). 10 months of forced bed rest led into my first son, moves all over before ending up in NJ and a second son. I am now back in the 290+ range and I need to get back in shape...but I need help to get there.
    Unlike Chicago, TNT around me just does marathons and is filled with yound girls that hold no social value for a father in his 40s. There is a triathlon group nearby but it is filled with true athletes who have been competing for years. I swear when I went to a meeting I possessed all of the body fat for the entire room.
    I have a road bike, training gear and I know how to do a triathlon but I need motivation and that social support to get from here back to there...so can you help? Perhaps a secondary group that is not getting anything in terms of gifts but is receiving that online social support group?

    January 5, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MattCNN


      Thanks so much for asking this question, and congratulations on taking the first step towards getting back into shape.

      The answer is YES, absolutely!

      If you go over to our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CNNFitNation, you can see everything we're up to; and starting in February, we'll be posting workout plans, nutrition information, and other motivational information!

      Please keep us posted on how you do, and best of luck to you!


      January 5, 2012 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
  14. MArk D. Rucker

    I really had hoped to get picked for this opportunity but I am beyond thrilled for all of the people who were picked. I'm still down 100 pounds since starting my journey in February 2011 and I know that 2012 will be the year that I lose the last 60 and reach my goal weight. I'm really looking forward to following the team as they work to develop into triathletes, a transformation that I plan to complete in 2012 as well. It's going to be a year of many positive changes for a lot of people and the 6-pack will inspire many people to get up, get out and get fit. Congrats again and best of luck to each of you!

    January 5, 2012 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Charlotte Kluna Leonard

    Congratulations to all the new members of the CNN 6-pack team. I wish I could have been picked to be on the team, but I will be following along and keeping tabs on everyone. I also promised myself that if I were not one of the lucky picks, that I would train and be in Malibu for the triathalon anyway. I will keep putting new goals out in front of me so that I will continue to win my weight losing battle. I intend to be "Thin Until The End" and my exercise is a very important part of the whole process.

    January 5, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Cindy Kennedy

    Congratulations to all the 6 pack team members. Along with sharing the training plan can you try to include some tips on how to train and prepare for a triathlon on a budget. Personally my gym membership and swimming lessons are really pushing the budget. I'm trying to find a local event that will let you volunteer in exchange for entry fee. But a new bike, wet suit and training class are out of the question. I could use some tips on how to get the most out of my nothing fancy 10 speed and inexpensive alternatives to the expensive uniform pieces.

    January 5, 2012 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. SLN

    Congratulations to the new team members! They have an amazing journey ahead and I wish them all the best. I couldn't agree more with Ken – sign me up for the secondary support group.

    January 6, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Chuck Frushon

    Congrats and good luck to the 7. I submitted an entry to be part of the team and just the thought of being on the team motivated me to eat healthier (only one Christmas cookie per meal, which is progress) and work out over the holidays. I still am going to train and try to do it on my own but will follow along with the teams progress!

    January 6, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cynthia childers

    Carlos, so proud of you!!! Can't believe you're going to be 50!!!! You know how I'll be this month. Tina and her family were here for Christmas, Stephanie drove here from Virginia, where she lives now.
    We are over here cracking up on how much the family looks alike. My grand kids and children have never seen you so this has been fun. My granddaughter, Aaliyah, asked, he's a teacher, that's cool! She was watching your video with me. She always here me say that I wanted to be a teacher. We are all here for you. You are going to have a wonderful New Year! Love your sister Cindi

    January 7, 2012 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. warrior11209

    Congratulations to the 2012 Six Pack Team. I am looking forward to seeing you guys train , transform and complete your first tri!!!! Best of luck to all 7

    January 8, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Marey

    Congrats to the "Lucky 7"! I will be following you guys and I look forward to seeing your transformations and reading your stories of triumph. I was not fortunate enough to be chosen but I am happy for those who were selected for this life changing experience. Good luck...

    January 11, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. William Wilkins

    Wow!! I'm so excited to read the individual profiles of the "Six Pack Team"!! I'll be coaching / Mentoring/ Training with Rick Morris!! I've competed it many triathlons in the South East; I'm also a USAT Race Director and host and sponsor my own King Of The Smokies Triathlon at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina and love the family of triathletes I come in contact with not only training and racing but in life's travels. Go Team Go!! This is Your Triathlon 6 packers!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.