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8 Fitness Challenges Ideas to Supercharge Acquisition and Retention

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Retention is crucial in gym management, and the process of keeping your members engaged is challenging. It can be one of the most frustrating questions in the fitness industry: you have new members, how do you retain them?

A recent IHRSA article found that when a member leaves a fitness studio, it can cost as much as $674 in annual revenue per dropped account. According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new client can cost anywhere between 5-25 times more than retaining an existing one. If you’re not convinced on the value of customer retention, increasing customer retention by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

One of the biggest reasons for losing members is their lack of motivation. You know the feeling, we’ve all been there. This is where fitness challenges come in. They are a fantastic way of keeping member motivated to hit their goals which is the reason they signed up in the first place. This can ultimately lead to higher retention rates. 

The fitness challenge is something that any gym or studio can use as a tool to keep members engaged. It also offers avenues in corporate wellness to keep employees motivated. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to create a killer fitness challenge and nail your member engagement and retention. Click on a section in the table of contents below to travel down the page.

What Fitness Challenges Do for Your Gym

Implementing health and fitness challenges at your gym is a great way to boost engagement and satisfaction. A fitness challenge introduces an excellent competitive edge. It’s suitable for both members who love to work out alone as well as those that prefer group workouts. Create a sense of community and encourage your members to crush their goals at the same time.   

How Do Fitness Challenges Help with Retention?

It’s no surprise that the primary reason for gym members canceling their contracts is a lack of motivation. Research suggests that about 50% of people that sign up for an exercise program drop out in the first six months. If this were the actual retention rate for your gym, that would be a problem.

In terms of cold hard cash, studios spend an average of $118.65 on sales and marketing per new member, according to the IHRSA whereas a current member brings in $793.40 every year. So, you can see why member retention is so crucial.

Of the millions of Americans that have gym memberships, 44% of members only go to the gym four times a month. Hosting a fitness challenge encourages members to keep coming back and helps in several ways such as:

  • Create a fun and collaborative environment with a sense of community, making your members feel like they are a part of something and increasing engagement.
  • Generate organic social media content. Members sharing their experience and progress on social media is an inexpensive way to spread the word about your fitness studio.
  • Members are engaged and motivated. A little friendly competition encourages members to take part and drives them to meet goals.
  • Turning fitness into a game is an effective way of keeping members engaged in exercise. Research from UC Berkley suggests that the gamification of fitness is only going to continue to grow.

Example of Fitness Challenges from the Best

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to fitness challenges, check out these examples from these major players in the fitness industry.

F45: F45’s Playoffs is an intense workout challenge designed to test all body, agility, strength and cardiovascular.

f45 playoffs screenshot


SoulCycle: SoulCycle offers regular challenges that allow clients to access exclusive gear and specially-price classes by riding to their goals.  

Blogilates: Casey Ho offers 30-day video challenges to rock hard abs, arms, and thighs and offers a community for users.

Orangetheory: Orangetheory’s annual transformation challenge offers cash prizes in the eight-week challenge.

How Do Fitness Challenges Help with Acquisition?

Marketing your fitness business is a multifaceted task. On top of the various marketing strategies you already use, running fitness challenges should be a part of that strategy. Challenges are fantastic for both acquiring and retaining members.

A fitness challenge can bring in new members and introduce them to your community and services. By creating a clear structure with an end goal, a fitness challenge may help to deliver the results they were looking for. This may mean they join as a full-time member. Offering a challenge that encourages a current member to bring a new member to work out with is an easy way to reach a new audience.

When it comes to timing, you should aim to run fitness challenges around certain points of the year. It’s no secret that when January hits, the new year’s resolutions have been made and people are ready to burn off some holiday weight. Creating a fitness or transformation challenge around this time is a great way to seek out new members and motivate current members to get back into the gym after the holidays.

Some awesome holiday ideas include:

  • March muscle up challenge
  • April abs challenge
  • Fall yoga flow challenge
  • Summer squat challenge

The basis of any marketing strategy is getting someone’s attention. Telling them exactly why they should visit your establishment over the competition and what you offer in a very short space of time. Fitness challenges are part of a greater marketing strategy. Luckily, we’ve already gathered all the information you need in this fitness marketing guide. Find out about proven marketing strategies and how you can create a compelling and unique campaign.

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Resources You Can Listen To

Listening to podcasts is an excellent way to spark new ideas and learn from thought leaders in your field. For fitness and business inspiration, check out:

  • Fit-C – Fitness + Technology podcast hosted by Bryan O’Rourke focuses on a combination of business, fitness, and technology.
  • The Voice for Fitness Professionals Podcast – hosted by Debra Atkinson with episodes covering marketing, advertising, social media and more.

Fitness Challenges for Corporate Wellness

Integrating fitness challenges into your corporate wellness program can be an effective way of reducing stress and illness amongst employees.

Offering fitness challenges for companies can help to motivate their workforce and achieve their fitness goals while adding additional revenue for you at the same time. From cooking classes on healthy eating to an eight-week mindfulness challenge, here are some fitness challenges ideas for corporate wellness.

How Do You Create an Effective Office Challenge?

corporate wellness programs stats

A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled Winning with Wellness makes a case for the business value of providing an employee wellness program. With more than one-third of the American population being obese and an estimated 86 million Americans suffering from prediabetes, these conditions can severely impact your workforce.

The good news is that by doing the five following things, companies typically spend 33% to 50% less on healthcare costs. These include:

  • Walking 30 minutes per day
  • Not smoking
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Having a waist size less than half their height

Within the same Winning with Wellness report, it found from a RAND report that 60% of companies that took part in corporate wellness programs saw a reduction in healthcare costs. 

To set up a corporate challenge for your employees, first, pick up the phone. Connect with local businesses and start selling your services. Create a page on your website that describes the challenge or program and how it will help their business. Next, decide whether you want to host the wellness challenge at your studio or the company office. This decision is entirely down to you and what suits your client the most.

Ideas for Corporate Fitness Challenges

Before launching straight into your fitness challenge ideas, perform a wellness audit. Take a look at the current levels of health and fitness amongst employees. The result of the audit will be the benchmark of the corporate wellness program as you will be able to see where needs more work and how you can help. Once you’ve decided on the location and carried out the wellness audit, you might choose to offer either a workshop, program or challenge. Some great ideas for corporate wellness are:

  • 30-day plank challenge
  • 28-day challenge couch to 5K
  • Workshops: How much exercise does a healthy adult need?
  • Eight-week nutritional health programme

8 Fitness Challenges Ideas to Supercharge Engagement and Retention

a row of people doing a plank in a room

Fitness challenges not only help with both acquisition and retention but are very adaptable to corporate and workplace wellbeing. Offering an incentive or reward can motivate members to join. Keep track of progress and always deliver on the rewards promised. Here are some fantastic fitness challenge ideas to get you started.

Weight Loss Challenge

One of the best parts of a weight loss challenge is that it’s easy to monitor as everyone can submit their weight before starting the program. People love to see a physical difference in their appearance, and by making weight loss more of a game, it may encourage members to stay motivated.

Transformation Challenge

A transformation challenge is a little different from a total weight loss challenge. With a transformation, the result looks at the whole body including muscle building, strength and body fat. Creating a plan for nutrition and exercise is crucial for this type of challenge. Set a time that is realistic for members to achieve their goals such as eight weeks or three months.

Charity Challenge

Getting involved in a local charity keeps members motivated while helping them raise money for a cause. Start by asking your members what they would be interested in doing; they may have a charity they would love to raise funds for. Organize an event and tailor classes specifically to help individuals train.

Walking or Running Challenges

A walking or running challenge is one of the most straightforward challenges and an easy way to encourage exercise. This is a good option for the workplace as well as those looking to up there fitness gently and just move a bit more. To keep the challenge fair, how steps or distance are tracked would need to be the same or at least similar. Using fitness trackers or wearables would be ideal.   

Calories Burned Challenge

This type of challenge gives your members a little more freedom as they can choose the type of exercise they do. There are a ton of apps that can help calculate total calories burned for specific exercises and time spent. They can run, swim, walk or do anything they want to participate and join in.  

Healthy Eating Challenge

Healthy eating and proper nutrition is an essential part of overall wellbeing. It can be one of the most challenging parts to get right, that’s where a healthy eating challenge comes in. Perfect for both the gym and the workplace, this challenge is all about giving users the nutritional information they need. It also works in encouraging them to make healthy food choices. This can include eating five fruit and vegetable portions a day and cutting out soda or junk food.

Workout Challenge

Workout challenges are designed to test the fitness of members. You’re pushing your clients out of their comfort zone. For this type of challenge, set a goal that tests the capabilities of your members. Then put a time limit on it and show them the exercises they need to complete. Make sure to use branding for your challenge and use a popular hashtag to boost your social media presence.  

Mindfulness Challenge

Mental health is not only crucial in the workplace but all areas of life. To manage stress levels and prevent burnout, a mindfulness challenge will encourage positive activities such as meditation. Similar to other fitness challenges, users can be rewarded for regular use of mental wellness apps or frequently taking time out to meditate.  

In Summary

Always make it as easy as possible for members to join your challenge, track their progress and offers rewards at the end. Launching a fitness challenge helps to create a sense of community and encourages a healthy lifestyle. By assisting members in meeting their fitness goals and providing results, you can retain clients and acquire new ones.

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