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5 Great Fitness Challenge Ideas for Charity

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In our blog on 8 Fitness Challenges Ideas to Supercharge Acquisition and Retention, we looked at the type of challenges you can run to engage your members. But challenges don’t have to be always geared towards profit. They are also a brilliant way to get involved with some worthy causes. 

Running a fitness business, especially when you start from scratch, can take over a large portion of your life. Often we can become so caught up with what’s happening day to day that we forget to take a step back. If you are reading this, then the chances are your gym is doing well and you are ingrained into the local community. 

If this is the case, it’s a great time to try a few different fitness challenge ideas for charity. We will go through the different types later on in this article. Still, whatever you choose, it’s important you choose something you’re passionate about and will make a real difference to the charity you are supporting. 

In this article, we will look at why fitness challenges are great for charity causes and 5 ideas for challenges to inspire your fundraising efforts.

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Why Use a Fitness Challenge for Charity Fundraising?

As a gym, the best way you can fundraise is through a fitness challenge. 


Because it’s baked into the nature of what you do as a fitness business. You help people get fit and the fitter your members become, the more likely they are to want to test themselves in a challenge. Of course, you could fundraise with events like a bake sale or a raffle or singing competition but they won’t get the same traction as a fitness challenge. Here are a few key reasons why it will be successful.

Competition Equals Better Participation

As we said there are various different types of fundraisers you can put on. But not everyone wants to sing or has top-notch baking skills. A fitness challenge, however, will be more attractive to your members. Week in and week out they will be in your gym improving their fitness levels and getting results so it makes sense that they want to put their fitness to the test. This, in turn, will give you better levels of participation in other types of the fundraisers. The higher the participation, the higher the chance of success for your charity event.

Build a Better Team Spirit in Your Gym 

While the competitive spirit may be unleashed in some people, overall, a fitness challenge is great for building team spirit in your gym. After all, a community is now one of the most important things a person looks for in their gym, a topic we have talked about before

A fitness challenge, where the end goal is helping a charity, will give your members a worthwhile goal to strive for. If the challenge is successful, it will give them a greater incentive to take part in the next one.

Strengthen Ties With the Community

Besides the objective of raising money, you also unite the community to fight for a worthy cause. Any business owner should aim to have a positive impact on the community. Getting involved with a charity locally will create positive bonds with the community, creating a closer-knit relationship. By creating a movement on social media that the public can identify with, this event can become a series of projects that continue to raise money via sources such as donations or entry fees that are directly contributed to your chosen charity.

What You Need to Do to Make It Successful

There are a couple of things you need to make your charity fitness challenge a success.

Pick A Charity Your Members are Passionate About 

There are lots of different charities out there. But when it comes down to it, you should pick a charity that you and your members are really passionate about. This will really drive them to do the best they can to make it successful. Another factor to consider is the location of the charity. To really rally the community behind your challenge, maybe you should pick a local charity. However, if the charity is nationwide with a cause close to the heart of your members, maybe that is an option. A good idea would be to do a couple of different charities for different challenges. 

Build Relationships with Other Businesses

A byproduct of word of mouth are sponsorships and corporate partnerships that will help fund your charity event. Of course, it would be wise to contact them directly, and if your potential sponsors see that you are taking the initiative, they are more likely to hop on board. These partnerships with local businesses can expand to other events, and even lead to your gym become the official gym of the company, over time combining your strengths to further improve future fundraising events.

Promote Your Team

This will come naturally should your fundraising event include some weight loss challenge, as your contestants will want to reach their fitness goals. It would be an excellent opportunity to introduce members of your team and create long term bonds. Trainer morale will improve as they feel valued enough by the gym to be entrusted with significant roles in the fundraiser.

Have Fun

Advice that is key to a successful charity campaign but is often understated.

Have fun.

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The best way to attract people is to create an event that everyone will enjoy; you won’t get many involved if your fundraising ideas are more boring than watching paint dry. Create an atmosphere that allows the people involved to have a time they won’t forget.

5 Fitness Challenge Ideas For Charity

So what are some events you can do within a reasonable budget? Not everyone has the time or funds to organize a cycling or triathlon event. As those cover large areas and require you coordinating with local government officials for permits, so the following are some ideas aimed at minimizing expenses and maximizing the experience.

1. Strength Competition

An event that many can get behind and can draw a crowd is a strength competition. You can even team up with other gyms to have an inter-gym competition between trainers or form friendly corporate contests where local businesses send their best and toughest.

The contestants themselves can go through a variety of tests like a sled push, barbell cleans, lunge races, and of course the classic, tire flips. To raise funds, food stalls and souvenirs can be made with the proceeds going towards the designated charity fund.

It’s a simple concept but has proven to draw crowds consistently, and some have even become annual events. The location can be held in public areas like car parks or a field, so there is minimal paperwork to get site approval in comparison to hosting a 5k run and having to shut down entire blocks.

2. Obstacle Course

This one will take some collaboration with local companies to help sponsor the event, but if done right, it will be an event to remember and potentially start an annual occasion with some friendly competitive rivalries.

This would mean renting out an obstacle course or mud runner track for one day and set it up as a team event. For those interested, placing information in and around your gym will be beneficial to build up anticipation and plan attendance.

The main benefit of renting the venue though, is that cleanup is minimal as the facilities aren’t yours, plus its mostly mud. Also, you can collaborate with the owner of the venue to split expenses on entertainment such as food and music should you decide to have any. Since holding the event on their course promotes them as well, it can create a long term partnership that will be charitable for everyone involved.

3. Weight Loss Competition 

This idea isn’t exactly revolutionary. But, weight loss challenges are a standard among gym events because they work, consistently garnering contestants from all walks of life who want to better themselves while simultaneously helping others.

The cost of hosting one is minimal, and you have the best opportunity to display your facilities, staff, and classes to the participants. For donations, a fundraising page can be set up on your website to collect funds and update contestants on the event. Should anyone who didn’t sign up for the challenge itself wish to make a change, you can post weight loss tips on your site for anyone to get involved.

The process of this fundraiser won’t be completed within a single day, but rather it is a long term challenge that can last a few weeks or months from start to finish if we are to include planning, sponsors, the duration, and aftermath. But during this time, both financial and weight loss goals can be set for contestants to raise the most money and lose the most weight. 

4. Swimming Challenge

This is an event for all ages and abilities that anyone can get behind. Renting a pool for one day is a small expense to pay if you are hosting a charity event that’s fit for the whole family. Sign-ups can be segregated into age groups, and the tone itself can just be fun, supportive, and focused on the good cause that brought everyone together.

A school can host the event, and as they will most likely have many students participating in the swim meet, it might be possible to coordinate building a fundraising page together with the school board for parents to donate to. 

5. Dance Competition

This one may seem a little unorthodox, but dance fitness classes are becoming increasingly popular in the fitness community (eg, Zumba) and competitions are always fun to watch, so why not combine the two? By getting in touch with multiple dance studios, the lineup alone for the competition will increase anticipation. Another benefit is you will need minimal promotion as dancers tend to have a broad audience available on social media and plenty of videos that can be used as advertising.

The dance competition itself can be held within a school hall or any public indoor court, these are cheap to rent and very easy to prepare, the perfect place to host a dance marathon. Entry fees can be used towards charity, and a live stream on social media can be extremely influential in attracting a large crowd on the day as many will dash to see the competition first hand.

In Summary

If you decide to host a fundraising event, do your best to make it unique and exciting. But also remember to plan thoroughly, these events aren’t built overnight. Planning committees, reliable communication with partners, volunteers, clean up crews, and equipment costs all have to be considered before jumping in.

Once you have checked everything on your list, go for it! 

A good fundraiser will bring so many positives, it will raise awareness and funds for the cause you choose to fight for and you will receive positive attention and likely a boost in memberships. Finally, you will build long-lasting relationships with other businesses and the community that can be used for future charitable events.

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