Less than a year ago, Randy Fyfe was an entirely different man.

After a decade of inactivity, and days spent mostly in front of a computer, the 28-year-old web developer hardly noticed the weight gain.

“At one point I started putting on large shirts and I started feeling like maybe I’m no longer an athletic person. Maybe this is how I’m going to be for the rest of my life,” said Fyfe.

It was only when he grew out of those shirts – and into an extra-extra-large – the Winnipeg man decided to make a change.  

“I needed to get control and do something different,” said Fyfe, who weighed 230 pounds at the time in May 2015.  

After buying some wearable tech to track his progress, he set out on finding an activity. Fyfe had recently joined a dodgeball league in Winnipeg, and decided to focus his efforts in the sport.

“It’s getting exercise while being with friends and just doing something – not sitting in front of that computer anymore,” he said. “After that season, I felt a lot more motivated. I started losing weight and feeling a bit more athletic.”

As of February 2016, Fyfe has lost more than 80 pounds and gained many more friends playing on four teams.

While adult dodgeball has been around in Winnipeg for years, a new league is playing by international rules to help bolster competitive spirit.

Dodgeball Winnipeg launched in October 2015 and has seen hundreds of players – from all different levels – signing up for individual and team leagues.

“It’s just really easy to get into because rounds are short. You can play really hard and then take a rest if you don’t have great cardio,” said Stacy Huen, founder of Dodgeball Winnipeg. “There are players here who can throw a ball 100 kilometres an hour. Accuracy comes into play, there’s a consistent rule set now across the world.”  

Danielle Caners, 22, has been involved in the local dodgeball community for several seasons. She said the sport presents new ways to exercise body and mind.

“You’re very present and it exercises all your sharpness. You have to know what your friends are doing, but also what everyone else is doing and there’s six balls to keep track of,” said Caners. “I would say my cardio has gone up. My strength in general because I need to be able to throw properly.”

What’s the secret? There is no secret

While Fyfe plans to continue losing weight, one of his biggest gains is finding an activity to stick with.

Dr. Shaelyn Strachan from the University of Manitoba studies exercise adherence; she’s interested in the psychological factors that motivate people to exercise regularly. 

“One area we’ve been neglecting…is the simple area of enjoyment,” said Stratchan, adding often people hoping to start fitness habits bypass fun ideas for what’s more common.

“I think people tend to think by default, ‘OK I’m going to join a gym or I’m going to get out there and start running,'” she said. “I would really encourage people to look back on maybe what they’ve done in the past and what they find enjoyable because you’re much more likely to stick to it.”

According to 2011 numbers from Statistics Canada, 85 per cent of Canadians don’t meet national guidelines for activity levels. The recommendation: 150 minutes, or two and half hours, of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week.

"People often ask me, ‘What’s the secret?’ There is no secret, it is hard work,” said Stratchan. “(But) if you’re trying to do an activity you enjoy, or do it with people you like doing it with, it’s just going to be that much easier to do the work piece of it.”

For those interested in following Fyfe’s footsteps, Dodgeball Winnipeg kicks off a new season in March with plenty of room for new people to sign up.