Linda Fondren owns a gym in Vicksburg, Miss., a city in which two-thirds of the population are overweight or obese. To counteract the trend of increasingly unhealthy lifestyle choices, Fondren began the Shape Up Vicksburg movement last fall, a 17-week weight loss challenge that has since evolved into a walking club.
Mississippi has ranked as the most obese state in the country every year for the last six, and the obesity epidemic on the larger U.S. scale is consistently garnering media attention. Fondren's program employs a balance of fitness and nutrition to help people combat obesity and live consistently healthier lifestyles. 'Shape Up Vicksburg' emphasizes reasonable life changes in the hopes that participants will be able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight over time.
Fondren is featured as part of CNN's "Heroes" series. A group of CNN Heroes are selected each year to be honored in an annual ceremony in November, with one CNN Hero chosen to receive a large sum of money to continue his or her work. Last year's winner was Efren Peñaflorida.