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5 a.m.? No prob! These women rise early for fitness and friendship

Carmen Bird needed a nudge or two.

Not that long ago, she had been at the gym every day, part of a group of women who were faithfully working out at One 80 in D’Iberville. When the gym converted to Crunch Fitness Center, some of the women moved to another gym. Being less motivated, Bird’s everyday workout became an every now and then workout.

“I needed to get back on track,” she said. “I knew that I was slacking, and I needed a little help from my friends. I knew there were others like me that needed a little help staying on track.”

That led Bird to form Crunch Time Ladies Bringing Sexy Back at the gym.

Carmen Bird, before and after losing 40 lbs.

“I formed the group to help motivate, support and encourage one another – more importantly, to hold each other accountable,” she said. “We have a special group of ladies. We come from different backgrounds and different age groups, yet we all have one thing in common: to be better and stronger than we were yesterday! I love these ladies. We’re not in competition with one another but rather we hold each other up and have fun along the way.”

Bird, the owner of Tiffany’s Cleaning Service, has a history of struggles with her weight.

“In this crazy busy world, it’s hard to balance work, kids and their sports, and the demands of the day. Most women put themselves last on their list of priorities. That’s where we go wrong,” she said, speaking from experience. “For years I put my life on hold with traveling soccer teams, and traveling baseball and dance teams. I was overweight and depressed.”

One day she had to take her son to a beach baseball practice at 5 a.m. That’s right, 5 in the morning.

“I decided I would walk while they practiced. As I started walking, I thought, ‘You should run and burn more calories.’ I was 50 years old,” she said. “A few months later, I signed up for my first 5K and joined a gym. It was the best thing that has happened to me.”

At age 51, the woman who had never played sports as a child won her first race trophy. Four years later, she is 40 pounds lighter. Bird has run 13 half marathons and six marathons. A big one is coming up this fall.

“In November, I along with my good friend Latisha and Kathy Ruthrauff, will be running the mother of all marathons, the New York City Marathon. Growing up in NYC, watching those crazy runners year after year, I never once dream that one day I would be one of them,” she said. “I get emotional just thinking about it. It doesn’t matter your age or your skills. I had none. You will be amazed of what you can do with a good support team.”

Remember that 5 a.m. walk on the beach? That time has become golden to Bird, who gets up at 4 a.m. to be at the gym’s class an hour later.

“Getting up at 4 a.m. to get to the gym for 5 a.m. classes was a little hard at first, but soon you get used to it. The 5 a.m. workouts are perfect. You are up early, you take time for you, first, and still get home to send the kids off to school and/or to get to work on time,” she said, adding that the early workouts set the tone for the rest of her day.

Monday through Friday, the early birds enjoy a variety of classes, such as spin, HIIT, TRX and B.BT. The women also meet up for early morning runs and Sunday long runs on the beach.

“We have some pretty amazing women in our group. Some have lost 42 to 100 pounds, with beautiful transformations.”

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