EAGLES fans are ditching the terrace pies and getting fit – thanks to a scheme introduced by the promotion-chasing club.
The Crystal Palace Foundation has come up with a way of turning its larger fans into lean, mean Palace-supporting machines with the Eagles Fitter Fans Club.
It has been run by 29-year-old Rob Perrett for two years, with members losing a combined weight of 1,300 lbs in that time.
Supporters are encouraged to join, to not only lose weight but also learn how to live a healthier life in general.
Mr Perrett explained: "We've had a great response from fans of Crystal Palace who end up joining the club. Some guys have lost a lot of weight, and some men have not only lost weight but have cured former health problems; the club has had a really big effect on their life.
"We weren't sure if it would be too popular at first but now we have had many groups go through the ten-week course. Then, many of them carry on with us after as they have enjoyed it so much."
The free course, which caters for men aged 40 or over, includes sessions of fitness training at Selhurst Park and lessons about nutrition and diet, all with ongoing support from the club's coaches.
Members also get the chance to meet Palace players and legends in regular question and answer sessions.
Mr Perrett said: "We felt there was a lot of opportunity for women in Croydon to lose weight with clubs and that kind of thing, but there wasn't much geared towards men, who often need some help to get started.
"I think that's why it's been so successful. Not only do the guys get healthier but they also meet like-minded Palace fans and get to play a bit of football as well."
Richard Green, 53, has lost three and a half stone since joining two years ago.
He said: "I can't say enough good things about the Fitter Fans Club. Not only has it changed my life health-wise, but socially it's brilliant, we've all made great friends.
"I'm a driving instructor but I would miss an hour of work every week just so I could get to the club, that's how much I enjoy it. We also get to play a football game at Selhurst Park each May, and how many men over 50 get to do that? It's really changed my life around."
For further information or to book your place on the course, call Rob Perrett on 020 8768 6047 or email email@example.com
Turn to the back pages for a preview of Palace's crucial play-off clash with Brighton and more on the club's new badge and player of the year.Goodbye burgers, hello broccoli - the fitter fans tell their stories...
Andy Burton, 53, has lost almost two stone, by drinking less and cutting his portion sizes:
"I was in the first group of the Fitter Fans Club, but we still gel with everyone who that has joined since. "I feel so much healthier but it's also the social side of it as well. We see each other every Thursday and have curry nights and play football; we have become really good friends. It helps that we all have a shared love for Crystal Palace but now it's gone beyond that. I'm so glad I joined."
John Harris, 49, joined the club 18 months ago, and has lost almost two stone:
"I was putting on weight and getting really out of shape and I just decided it was time to do something about it. "My father had leukaemia which weakened his heart, and he died of a massive heart attack. They had to keep monitoring me for the same thing as I was so unhealthy, but now they aren't worried about my heart at all as I've got so much healthier. "I have made great friends with everyone at the club, even visiting France with another member as we have a shared interest in the First World War and the trenches."
Richard Green, 53, has lost three and a half stone by ditching fry-ups and white bread:
"I really enjoyed the initial ten sessions, a lot of it was theory-based and taught us how to eat better and how to effectively exercise. "Now I feel like a different person. I'm a driving instructor and before when my students had a test I would go to the cafe. Now I go and do a 40-minute walk, and it's just become a part of my routine. I have new habits that will last a lifetime."