ISSUES ADDRESSED: The 'Waist' Disposal Challenge (WDC) is a lay-led community-based health intervention in Rotary clubs in Western Australia aimed at reducing risk factors leading to lifestyle-related chronic diseases and, in particular, obesity. Ninety-three lay health advisors (LHA) or Champions were trained to deliver educational sessions to their clubs (for 1300 peers) and implement a body mass index competition by taking monthly weigh-ins (for 764 peers). METHODS: A mixed method design was used to explore Champions' experiences with the training program and their perceived role and impact on implementing the program in their clubs in 2010-11. RESULTS: The qualitative data provided important evidence that initial implementation of this LHA-led health promotion intervention (WDC) has been effective and impacted positively on the Champions and their Rotary clubs. The results were a good fit in the two social action arenas of the Natural Helper Intervention Model: peer-to-peer social support and community attachment. CONCLUSIONS: Reflecting on the impact of the program in their clubs, Champions reported overall health improvements at the personal, peer and community levels, enhanced awareness about health-related issues, improved health behaviour and enhanced community capacity. So what? Champions are an important resource for providing self-management education to people who are at risk of developing chronic conditions, particularly for those hard to reach and where there are difficulties recruiting trained health professionals. Future research needs to explore the characteristics of Champions that impact on the success of community-based programs.