By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some of the young ladies competing in the Miss New Jersey pageant are taking part in a new kind of challenge in their quest to become the next Miss America.
The Miss New Jersey pageant is adding a new competition and scholarship this year that is all about fitness.
And the contestants are climbing and crawling their way to stronger bodies.
No beauty queen back-stabbing here.
Instead these Miss New Jersey contestants are hoping on each other’s back and pushing their way to ultimate health.
“This is so much more than just walking on stage in a swimsuit,” said Miss New Jersey contestant Deevon Anderslice.
The women will still be judged in bathing suits, but this year for the first time, there’s a new scholarship called the Move, Look, Feel Award.
“It’s more than just what people look like, but it’s actually how healthy you are,” says personal trainer Kirill Vaks.
Vax, the owner of Training Aspects in Voorhees, will be testing the contestants on a variety of fitness measures ranging from strength to endurance to cardio.
The contestants will have their fitness tested weekly from now until the end of May and the winner will get a $1,250 scholarship.
“They’re enabling us to learn how to be healthy by giving us this challenge,” says Sandra Hill, another beauty contestant.
Twenty-year-old Hill lost thirty pounds with diet and exercise before entering the pageant.
“Here, I was actually at my heaviest,” said Hill describing a photo of herself. “I was 160 to 165.
For this competition, they don’t focus on weight, it’s all about improving fitness levels.
“Its not just about looking good, it’s about feeling strong for me,” said beauty contestant Brenna Weick.
Weick was runner-up last year.
And for her, looking good in a bathing suit means being in the best shape ever.
“The Miss America Organization, it empowers women, it makes us root for each other,” said Weick.
And like so many contestants, Weick wants to be a broadcast journalist.
But for now she’ll punch and kick her way to what she hopes will be the pageant crown.
All of the women say this fitness program isn’t a temporary fitness fix but a lifestyle change that will last even after the winner is crowned in June.