If you’ve ever taken part in a 5K or fun run for charity, or just gone all-out in the cornhole tournament at the company BBQ, then you know the motivating power of a friendly competition. When you’re tuckered out and need that last push of encouragement, there’s nothing like the promise of a fistful of cash or good old-fashioned bragging rights to get you over the edge.
Similarly, fitness challenges are a fun way to promote some competition between your members while boosting everyone’s physical activity. They leverage those competitive instincts and what’s known as gamification to build a long-lasting commitment to exercise and other healthy habits.
Fitness gamification is known to improve activity levels, beyond what’s usually achieved through participation and motivation. A 2017 study from JAMA Internal Medicinefound that participants in a “gamified” group recorded 1,661 daily steps compared to their baseline of 636. Even though their activity dropped once the competition ended, these participants still maintained higher physical activity than the control group throughout the follow-up period.
A fitness challenge can be a great way for you to help members achieve their personal goals and establish a regular workout routine with your gym. From monthly challenges to exercise challenges, get started with these nine ideas!
- 30-Day Mileage Challenge
A mileage challenge can be a fun and engaging way to promote physical activity and increase member motivation. Do you know the old adage about walking 10,000 steps a day? Well, one study actually found that it might be associated with a lower risk of dementia. You can encourage your gym members to take those steps and push past their comfort zone in order to achieve their long-term health goals with this challenge.
Since this can double as a running challenge and/or walking challenge, it’s really easy to involve anyone who wants to participate, just as long as they’re moving around! Members are encouraged to track their daily mileage by running, walking, or cycling in order to accumulate miles. You can either reward the participants who total the most miles or steps across the month — however you choose to count it!
- Nutrition Challenge
A nutritionchallenge is a fun way to get gym members engaged in the importance of healthy eating habits. This can be a great way to introduce meal planning and portion control, as well as introduce them to healthier alternatives to their usual snackage. With a healthy eating challenge, members can track their daily intake of vegetables, fruits, and proteins, or tally if they reach their macro/micronutrient consumption in order to win the challenge. You can encourage further engagement by asking team members to share recipes, tips, and healthy meals with each other for inspiration along the way.
- Most Visits Challenge
This challenge encourages members to visit the gym as often as possible so that they stay committed to their fitness goals. It also helps foster retention and loyalty to your gym or studio, by building that positive relationship and showing some of the great things you offer members every day. You can even offer rewards for reaching specific goals such as attending a certain number of group classes or personal training sessions. Participants are able to track progress and measure their improvement over time, providing an added incentive to stay active.
- Workout Streak Challenge
This type of workout challenge motivates members to stay consistent in their workouts. Participants are encouraged to build up an increasing streak of consecutive days that they have exercised, with rewards for reaching certain milestones. You can set the workout parameters however you’d like, either designating specific workouts or letting participants pick their own exercises, from burpees to cardio to sit-ups to lunges. This challenge is a great way for gym members to track their progress and maintain motivation over time.
- Yoga Challenge
A yoga challenge is an opportunity for gym-goers looking to up their yoga practice. Yoga has been shown to increase muscular strength and flexibility, making it a well-rounded workout that will test plenty of participants. Beginners who are new to practicing yoga can get out of their comfort zones with a new workout and mindfulness practice, while others can perfect their poses in a fun and friendly competition.
You can track members who take a certain number of classes in a month, or have participants compete against one another to see who can complete the most challenging poses over a set period of time. This type of challenge also makes for a great way to show off your gym or studio’s range of classes, since you can swap out yoga for dance or any other class.
- 30-Day Outdoor Challenge
Getting outside can lead to a number of different health benefits, including better sleep, improved immune function, and fewer depression symptoms. For this challenge, you can encourage your members to take their workout outdoors. The only requisite is that they spend at least some time outside every day — you can determine the exact time, whether it’s 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or more! There’s no limit to the possible options, like running or biking around the neighborhood or hiking a local trail system, so members can get creative and enjoy nature while also pushing themselves physically.
- Personal Best Challenge
The personal best challenge encourages gym-goers to set and exceed their own personal bests in various physical activities. It provides a measurable, achievable way for members to continuously push themselves to be better than they were yesterday. The participant sets goals with running, swimming, lifting weights, or any other workout, and works towards surpassing their times or max reps. Additionally, the PB challenge can be tailored to a variety of different exercises, allowing members to participate in activities that they’re already comfortable with or even branch out and try a new exercise.
- Stretching Challenge
Stretching is key for protecting mobility, and should be part of everyone’s daily routine, according to a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital. By implementing a stretching challenge, you can get more of your members out of their comfort zone and help build a new habit. You can teach members new stretching routines or require them to stretch for a set amount of time each day or week.
Anyone who completes the challenge stretches or reaches the milestones would receive the reward. This is a great challenge because it can be tailored to any member’s goals and physical ability, as long as they try out a new stretch, while still encouraging them to push themselves.
- Weight Loss Challenge
One recent study found that across the globe, about 45% of peopleare currently trying to lose weight. For members looking to hit their target weight, a weight loss challenge can help provide some extra motivation in a supportive environment to do so. Every participant will have unique goals, body types, and starting points, so milestones should be tailored based on every individual’s experience.
Another weight study showed that partnering with a “buddy”led to people losing more pounds and inches off their waist than those who were involved in a weight loss program alone. By making this a group challenge, you can bring people together to share in the journey’s highs and lows, helping everyone to succeed.
Focus on the Ultimate Reward For Your Fitness Challenges
No matter which challenges you decide to offer, improved physical health and wellbeing is a great reward for any participant!
These challenges can be tailored to meet the needs of your members and help them stay motivated and engaged. Whether they’re trying to lose weight, build strength, or just have fun, there’s a way to include all members and support them on their path to wellness. So don’t lose sight of those goals in the spirit of the competition — although discounts, gift cards, and recognition on the leaderboards can certainly be fun rewards!
For corporate employees, having access to well-rounded fitness centers and gyms that fit into their lifestyle and healthjourney can be the biggest perk of all. Companies like Gympass offer great partnerships to bring your services directly to this untapped audience through their wellness programs. And who knows — your own challenges might be the perfect way to complement any in-office fitness challengesthat employees are competing in!
Learn more today about how partnering with Gympasscan bring more clients and revenue to your company!
- Patel MS, Benjamin EJ, Volpp KG, et al. Effect of a Game-Based Intervention Designed to Enhance Social Incentives to Increase Physical Activity Among Families: The BE FIT Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(11):1586–1593. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.3458. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2655242
- del Pozo Cruz B, Ahmadi M, Naismith SL, Stamatakis E. Association of Daily Step Count and Intensity With Incident Dementia in 78 430 Adults Living in the UK. JAMA Neurol. 2022;79(10):1059–1063. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.2672. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2795819
- Swaim, Emily. (May 28, 2022.) 8 Health Benefits of Getting Back to Nature and Spending Time Outside. Healthline. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from https://www.healthline.com/health/health-benefits-of-being-outdoors
- Halder K, Chatterjee A, Pal R, Tomer OS, Saha M. Age related differences of selected Hatha yoga practices on anthropometric characteristics, muscular strength and flexibility of healthy individuals. Int J Yoga. 2015 Jan;8(1):37-46. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.146057. PMID: 25558132; PMCID: PMC4278134. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4278134/
- The importance of stretching. (March 14, 2022.) Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
- Bailey, Pippa. (January 18, 2021.) 45% of people globally are currently trying to lose weight. Ipsos. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from https://www.ipsos.com/en/global-weight-and-actions
- Rene DAILEY, Lynsey ROMO, Sarah MYER, Cathy THOMAS, Surabhi AGGARWAL, Kelly NORDBY, Madison JOHNSON & Carolyn DUNN (2018) The Buddy Benefit: Increasing the Effectiveness of an Employee-Targeted Weight-Loss Program, Journal of Health Communication, 23:3, 272-280, DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2018.1436622. Retrieved March 2, 2023 from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10810730.2018.1436622
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.