THE final 13 candidates have been selected to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime fitness programme that will see their lives totally transformed.

More than 300 people applied to enter the gruelling six-week challenge, known as Swindon Biggest Loser, in the hope of losing weight and acquiring a brand new lease of life.

Over the past few weeks, three professional fitness gurus and lifestyle coaches have been sifting through the mountain of applications in a bid to find the perfect candidates.

In total, 327 people applied to take part, but only 13 made the final cut.

Organiser Ricardo DeFazio, 32, was thrilled that the team had managed to select what he described as a “fantastic group of motivated people”, all of whom met for the first time on Monday night.

Pride of Swindon award winner Ricardo said: “After a solid four months of organising, it’s great to finally get everyone together and it’s very satisfying to see how ready everyone is to get going. They are a really nice group and they are all there to support each other. They are ready to change their lives, and that’s the attitude we are looking for.”

The three trainers – Ricardo, fitness and nutrition expert Siobhan O’ Connell and spiritual guru Richard Jones – will spend the next six weeks putting the participants through a range of challenges, testing their inner strength and mental fortitude.

The lucky 13 will be expected to give their time for a number of fitness sessions each week, including four hours of nutrition and meditation coaching, all of which will be provided completely free of charge.

Ricardo said: “They were all very interested in the meditation and mindfulness – that was the aspect they all really wanted to focus on.”

Activities will start next Monday at the athletics track near the County Ground when the participants will be put through their paces. They will also be encouraged to keep a journal so they can monitor their progress and reflect on the experience when the six weeks is up.

“Everyone is ready and raring to go and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Ricardo added.