“Trail Voices” highlights the work of rail-trail supporters around the country. Our interview subjects are anyone from high-level urban planners to local volunteers, and no contribution to the trails, walking and bicycling movement is too big or too small–dedication comes in all sizes. We could never tell all the personal stories that make rail-trails a success, but we can share a few of the voices behind the movement.
Since she was 20, Stacey Capers had weighed more than 200 pounds. She was an athlete in high school, yet for her entire adult life she struggled with being overweight. This past year, though, Capers and her husband Adam became contestants on the sixth season of NBC’s reality TV show, The Biggest Loser: Families, which challenged couples to lose weight through improvements in diet and exercise. “Never in a million years did I think we would get chosen for the show,” says Capers. “It was a huge blessing.
During the course of the show, Capers and her husband lost a combined 145 pounds. They didn’t win the competition, but they were so inspired by the experience they decided to start their own company, called I Can Do Fitness. Their mission is to provide “resources, advice, outreach and support for individuals committing to a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and physical fitness.” I Can Do Fitness helps clients use different types of interval training to increase their weight loss, and they encourage clients to be creative with their exercise plans to stay motivated. That was a lesson she learned from her trainer on the show, who introduced her to the 44.8-mile Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park (W&OD).
Growing up in New York, Capers was always more familiar with urban areas, but she now takes full advantage of the many trails in the Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia area—especially the W&OD trail, which runs from Shirlington on the outskirts of D.C. to Purcellville, Va. These days, she regularly incorporates the paved trail into her workout sessions. Using trails for exercise has given Capers a new appreciation for the outdoors, and she hopes to continue using them to achieve her weight-loss goals and live a healthy, active lifestyle.
Did you ever use trails before you made your commitment to losing weight and getting healthy on The Biggest Loser?
No, I got introduced to the Washington & Old Dominion trail by my trainer. I started using the trails by my gym in Vienna to run, and I would use the mile markers to push myself farther each time. Your body will quickly adjust to your workout routine if you do not push it to work harder, and running on the trails really allows me to do that. As I started to lose weight, I was able to run for longer periods of time. It was a really good switch of environment from my typical gym workouts.
What benefits do you enjoy from outdoor activity versus working out in the gym?
The good thing about [running on trails] is that once you run two miles, you have no choice but to turn around and run two miles back home. I also love how running outside allows you to see so much nature, and you can just escape in your thoughts. I’ve learned that you can use the outdoors to do the same gym-quality exercise. We encourage this idea to all of our clients.
Are you training for anything in particular right now?
I [ran] in the American Heart Association Lawyers Have Heart 10K in Washington, D.C., which I primarily used trails to train for. I also just signed up to do my first triathlon, so I plan on starting to bike more often. I don’t actually own a bike right now, but I think that this triathlon will encourage me to buy one.
Before the show, could you ever imagine yourself getting in shape so successfully on trails?
Definitely not. Now that I’ve been introduced to it, I always prefer to exercise outdoors rather than being cooped up inside the gym. When I was carrying around all of the extra weight, it was very uncomfortable to be outside. Now I am able to enjoy it, and for the first time I actually love summer. It’s also a good way to spend time with the family. I love picking up my daughter from school and taking her to the trail for a walk.