For most of her life, Quanisha Williams admits she’s always done her best to stay out of the kitchen.

“No, I like to order,” Williams said with a laugh.

When she gets the chance to take part in a team cooking competition, the Schenectady woman says she’s more than happy to get her hands dirty.

“Yes, I want to win; yes, I want a rematch if I don’t win!” Williams said.

What You Need To Know

  • Trainer Guy Waltman is creating a YouTube show about his work with men and women at the City Mission of Schenectady

  • "Fitness Rehab" tracks the journeys of 12 people throughout their quest to lose weight and learn better health and wellness habits

  • The show will debut on Waltman’s YouTube channel later this summer

The cooking contest will be featured in one episode of a new YouTube show called “Fitness Rehab,” about the journeys of 12 people who are trying to learn better health, fitness and nutrition habits and lose weight.

“It is fun because it’s time-challenging,” said Paula Nilsen, who was competing on the other team. As she diced an onion, she continued, “Then you have to recall [the recipe], so it’s like ‘oh no!’ ”

“Fitness Rehab” is hosted by health and fitness coach Guy Waltman, who bounced from station to station as his participants worked their way through a recipe he taught them a few weeks prior.

“I don’t know what they think they’re doing, but what they should be trying to do is make the guacamole recipe I taught them,” Waltman joked. “On a serious note, we’ve got to teach them how to navigate a kitchen and see if they can learn a way to cook for themselves in a way that will last them for the rest of their lives.”

Most episodes are being filmed at the mission, where three of the 12 participants, including Williams and Nilson, currently live.

I want to change my life and I want others to know they can change theirs in a really practical way, you know?” Williams said. “It’s really practical, simple stuff.”

Filmmaker Tyler Barhydt is Waltman’s partner on the project.

“It’s big for me as a filmmaker and for my team, but I’m just really glad we can be doing something of meaning,” said Barhydt, who owns Dreamspace Studios.

As a means to help people living in poverty get their lives back on track, Waltman has been leading fitness and wellness classes at the city mission for the past four years. Creating a YouTube show around his work is a way to bring the program to the general public.

“My work here at the mission over the past four years has made me feel really passionate about the fact that fitness really ought to be free,” Waltman said. “Health, not even just fitness, but health really ought to be a free service.”

Waltman’s program is about more than helping the participants. Before their cooking contest, they helped serve dinner at the rescue mission.

“The meal thing is kind of inspiring,” participant Nick Sauvignon said as he helped serve dinner to a group of men living at the mission. “It’s nice to come here and help and serve other people and it’s kind of humbling as well.”

When “Fitness Rehab” premieres on Waltman’s YouTube channel this summer, he says he’s positive audiences will be inspired by the transformations of his pupils.

“These guys are a source of motivation for me,” Waltman said. “There are days when I’m sore and I don’t feel like getting to the gym; there’s days where I don’t sleep great and I don’t feel like cooking for myself and I want to order. When I have that little voice in my head, I always think of these guys, and it helps me stay on track.”

As they work toward the end of their 90-day journey, Quanisha, Paula and the other participants say it’s already changed their lives for the better.

“You get an opportunity like this, and it just gives so much hope for the future,” Williams said.

“Before, I did come here very depressed and low,” Nilsen said. “I was like ‘oh, I’m in a shelter, I’m at the lowest of the low,’ but I’m really not. I’m really at the highest of the high, and I’m the happiest I’ve been in my entire life.”