“It's not so much about tracking the pounds; it's about prompting the action, getting people to move, getting communities to move so that we are all helping each other. Because if we're not helping each other, my goodness, we might as well hang it up.”

—Linda Fondren

“If you’re not healthy, you’re not happy.” With this simple but powerful mantra, Linda Fondren has been changing lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It’s never easy to lose weight, but with the right motivation it is possible. In her hometown of 24,000 people, Linda has made it her mission to help her community get fit and healthy.

Inspired by her own sister’s untimely death due to complications related to obesity and diabetes, Linda knew she had to do something to help future generations lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

She took the first step by becoming a certified personal trainer and opened her own gym called Shape Up Sisters, which offers a free day each Saturday. Even with the gym’s success, Linda wanted to do more. So in the fall of 2009, she asked the mayor, other city officials, and even local restaurants to make health a top priority—and then challenged the people of Vicksburg to lose a total of 17,000 pounds in 17 weeks.

More than 2,500 people participated in Linda’s Shape Up Vicksburg initiative.

“I turned a weight-loss challenge into a life-transformation challenge,” says Linda. “It’s not so much about tracking the pounds; it’s about prompting the action, getting people to move, getting communities to move so that we are all helping each other. Because if we’re not helping each other, my goodness, we might as well hang it up.”

By August of 2010, the citizens of Vicksburg had lost more than 15,000 pounds. They reached their goal of 17,000 pounds within the following few months.

Linda continues to keep the momentum going by offering free nutrition classes and fitness activities, including a once-a-month walk around the city of Vicksburg for anyone who wants to join.

Through the community’s loss of weight have come gains in self-esteem, energy and a sense of bright optimism for the future. Now that’s fitness—of body, mind and spirit.

Fitness. Pass It On!

This billboard about Fitness features Linda Fondren.

Pass It On®

  email   Print

Your Comments
unknown from unknown NOVEMBER 14, 2016
true <3 <3

SYNCER from 00000000 MARCH 18, 2016

awesome from .com OCTOBER 2, 2015
girls ARE are inspiaring

trinidy from cwa SEPTEMBER 18, 2015
she is so sweet

AJ from Brooklyn MAY 30, 2014
After seeing this billboard I was inspired to take the challenge so for 2 months I got 20 female friends to agree and start a healthier life of self care through healthier eating and exercise - thanks for the inspiration

DennisParker from singapore MAY 24, 2014
Wow! You’ve certainly done a great job by posting this bit of information for the benefit of us viewers. It’s so great to know that the Internet is not a dumb place after all.c

brittney sampsel from mansfield ohio  MARCH 4, 2014
that's absolutely amazing inspire me some more!

Kate from River Forest, Illinois FEBRUARY 15, 2014
All of these stories really inspire me.

Jennyfer from ohio FEBRUARY 7, 2014
wow thats great

Max from Atlanta JANUARY 3, 2014
You are so right, that if you're not healthy, you're not truly happy. This hit home for me as I continue to work on self esteem and fitness which is all connected to health!

Tony Edmond from Pensacola, Florida NOVEMBER 22, 2013
This is great. I love it! Fitness is a lifestyle, not a choice! Way to go!

morgan from oklahoma SEPTEMBER 25, 2013
lets start a chane reaction

Tara from Platteville, WI SEPTEMBER 10, 2013
You have inspired me in so many ways.

Leneesha from Daytona beach .fl SEPTEMBER 5, 2013
Miss Linda i am greatful what you are doing. God will be happy what you are doing helping your people out and WE LOVE YOU ! :)

a. kelly from bridgeton, New Jersey JULY 7, 2013
God bless you in your efforts, this is something i will ask my community to do, since we are number 1 in all of the wrong categories.

Marykim from Rockledge, Florida MAY 19, 2013
What a wonderful idea. In helping others help always comes back to you! I'm inspired and motivated. Thanks!

Ivonne Elliott from Des Moines, Iowa APRIL 27, 2013
You are an amazing woman, worthy of imitation!! I would like to lose some weight. Do you know where in Des Moines..?

Mylady from New Britain CT FEBRUARY 6, 2013
I think that what you did was awesome!

Dwan Henderson from MS SEPTEMBER 7, 2012
It looks as if Linda has really started to motivate people to improve their lives, great job and keep up the good work.

Kimball Goodlow from Vicksburg, MS JULY 24, 2012
Mrs. Fondren the Goodlow Family are very Proud of YOU!

Joan Dugan from County Clare, Ireland JUNE 28, 2012
Bless you and the work you're doing to make people happier in themselves in every respect. Now, when you get done there and everybody's living a better healthy lifestyle, you can please come to Ireland and do the same for these lovely people who were never overweight before the onslaught of the fast-food emporiums. Thank you for caring for your fellow Mississippians and for your fellow man. You are, as they say here, "a star"! Keep up the good work, Linda, and reach out to Ireland if you can...God knows we need you! God Bless the Work, (and the worker) Joan Dugan

Pam from NC JUNE 28, 2012
I think it's great that, instead of blaming people, organizations, etc. - something that is really easy to do - Linda decided to make herself part of the solution. Kudos!

Christina Goodlow from Mississippi JUNE 27, 2012
Love the clip!!!!! It's nice to have someone else care about you and your health especially a complete stranger.

Linda from Oregon JUNE 27, 2012
At a time of ugly national political rhetoric, Linda offers us a renewal of the spirit that Americans are most known for--reaching out and helping others. How wonderful that she continues to inspire overweight people who may have given up otherwise.

Here are some other billboards you might like.