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Why fitness challenges are essential to fitness studio retention

a group doing fitness challenges

Fitness challenges are a great way to motivate members, increase retention and give meaning and outcomes to their daily workouts. 

Studies have shown that challenges and gamification can increase member motivation and make workouts more enjoyable and fun. They should form an important part of your membership offering if you want to keep members long term. 

Why this topic is important: In an increasingly digital world, fitness challenges work for both your online and offline customers and  keep your members accountable in and out of the gym. 

What you’re going to learn: In this article, we try to understand the core elements of a great challenge, hear from retention expert Dr. Paul Bedford, and lay out 10 fitness challenges you can use for your fitness business today

Here’s what’s coming up:

What is a fitness challenge?  

​​A fitness challenge is more than a fitness goal. The idea is that if you immerse yourself into the challenge and a positive environment. It’s more than a workout and some dumbbells. A fitness challenge usually has a goal, an end date, and tools to help your members get there. For instance, a challenge could include at-home workouts, equipment suggestions, nutrition tips, and certified personal trainer sessions. 

With most things, it takes longer than a few days to see results. This is especially true in health and fitness. You need at least a few weeks to see results. Also, you want to give those in your challenges the best opportunity to hit a goal. That way, they associate your brand with their success. For non-members, this could be the tipping point for signing up to your services on a more permanent basis. 

What the experts say: Dr. Paul Bedford 

“The routine of going to the gym can get boring. We need to focus our energies on improving the experience and creating memorable workouts for members who are going through the motions.”

In a recent issue of Health Club Management Magazine, retention expert Dr. Paul Bedord laid out some very key reasons behind why fitness challenges are important for retention. 

According to him, routines can get boring for members. You need to break up the routine and give members something to aim for and something to excite them – this will keep them retained longer. 

Why fitness challenges are important for retention 

Statistics show that 73% of people who set New Year’s resolutions give them up. That’s a lot of commitments and gym sign ups that go to waste. A lot of the time, people set unrealistic goals. They sign up to your gym in January or your digital fitness platform and set an unattainable goal. Then, when they don’t hit that goal in two months, they leave because your brand is not delivering results. 

To achieve results at the gym or working out at home with a live stream, the key is consistency. To stay consistent, you need a lot of motivation and drive. For many people, this is a big hurdle. Life gets in the way and prior commitments mean you have less time to dedicate to health and fitness. All of a sudden, your motivation drops and then you stop seeing results because you’re not being consistent. It’s a frustrating cycle. 

A fitness challenge is a good way to set a realistic yet challenging goal for your members and potential customers. Motivation and seeing progress go hand-in-hand. When you look at before and after photos and see a difference, it encourages you to keep going. 

As more people start to see results from your challenges, it promotes referrals and gives you new leads. While educating your members, you can also inspire them to keep going. Adding variety to the workout routine could be just what someone needs to hit their fitness goals. The bottom line is that, when done properly, a workout challenge can motivate members, and boost your overall brand.

What makes a good fitness challenge?

From 30-day fitness challenges to yoga and meditation challenges, there’s a huge amount of choice when it comes to challenges. But they all tend to include similar elements. It’s these foundational elements that create a good user experience. Like any service, if the user experience is difficult or gets in the way, you will lose customers and the fitness challenge won’t have as big an impact. Organizing a fitness challenge can be tough, so it’s important to set a strong foundation. 

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Here are five qualities of a great fitness challenge:

  • Goal – there should always be an end goal. Whether it’s weight loss, distance traveled, or money raised for charity, state the goal clearly. 
  • End date – give the challenge a deadline. This could be one month or eight weeks, it depends on the specific challenge. 
  • Tools – give users all the tools they need to succeed. This could be tips, advice, videos, podcasts, fitness plans, and in-person classes. 
  • Track progress – make sure users are able to track their progress and see how far they have come from the start. This could be with an app, an online portal, and photos. 
  • Realistic – the best fitness goals are realistic yet challenging. Unrealistic goals set users up for failure. 
  • Abilities – if you’re running a challenge for a range of abilities, it’s a good idea to make the content adaptable with progressions for different fitness levels. 

10 fitness challenges you can use for your studio

A member fitness challenge can be as simple as performing one type of exercise each day and gradually progressing, like a plank challenge. At the same time, it can be a complex two-month challenge with weekly classes and check-ins to track progress. The best challenges support your membership base and target audience. 

30-day fitness challenge 

A 30-day fitness challenge is designed to work multiple muscle groups over the course of a month. Think about including bodyweight exercises that target different areas and allow users to complete an effective workout. You can design a fitness challenge for the gym or home. If it’s a home fitness training plan, consider including equipment-free exercises like push-ups, burpees, and lunges. There should be no barrier for anything thinking about joining. 

Weight loss challenge 

For a weight loss challenge, the idea is that the person who loses the most weight wins. In this type of challenge, you will have to determine how you measure success. To lose weight, nutrition plays a big role. So, your challenge may include daily exercises and tips, nutrition advice, and a meal plan. By setting realistic goals and giving members the tools to achieve them, you can track progress and show results. In these types of challenges, don’t forget the before, during, and after photos. 

Mindfulness challenge

A mindfulness challenge promotes the practice of feeling present. In turn, this can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and make you feel calmer. A mindfulness challenge would include daily tasks with clear instructions. Features could include a mindfulness diary, guided meditation videos, and calming audio guidance. 

Healthy eating challenge 

There are several dimensions of wellness. While fitness can improve your physical health, nutrition also plays a big role in achieving your goals. A healthy eating challenge could include cooking classes, healthy recipes, access to a nutritionist, and a personalized meal plan. Challenges like this aim to develop healthy lifestyle habits. Holding members accountable is key for this type of challenge. 

Squat challenge 

For a simple yet effective exercise regime, a squat challenge is ideal as a lower-body challenge. With a squat challenge, members start by completing a certain number of reps in the first few days. This number gradually increases so that by the end of the 30 days, members are doing more reps and feeling the difference in their glutes. The main point of these kinds of challenges is that they show how crucial consistency is in fitness. 

Flexibility challenge

A flexibility challenge is about creating a workout plan with a specific focus on improving flexibility. The thing about flexibility is that people are very different. What’s easy for one person is very difficult for another. For this challenge, it’s a good idea to include beginner, intermediate, and experienced options so that users can perform the right movement for their ability. 

Personal best challenge 

A personal best challenge can work for so many areas of fitness. Things like distance run, weight lifted, fitness, number of gym visits, and amount of class streams could be the focus for this. Start by choosing the goal and timeline. You can then work backward to see what you need to include to help members progress their fitness journey. 

Walking challenge 

The walking challenge is similar to Fitbit Challenges where the focus is on steps. These are a great way to get people moving more. For someone new to fitness, a 30-day bodyweight workout challenge can be a bit much. Walking challenges are ideal for corporate challenges and personal goals. 

AMRAP challenge 

AMRAP stands for as many reps as possible. This challenge is for HIIT enthusiasts and avid gym-goers. Choose five different full-body workouts and the challenge is to complete as many reps as possible. You can set a time limit or go until failure. This is a good choice for the gym where you can create a friendly sense of competition. 

Distance challenge

Like the walking challenge, this one can include steps but mainly focuses on distance. So, you could include running, biking, swimming, or any other type of cardio activity that requires you to cover distance. Synchronize the challenge with fitness trackers and smartwatches so that users don’t have to do anything to track their progress and compete. This can also help members train for big events like marathons. 

In summary 

Coming up with fun and exciting fitness challenges can increase brand loyalty and ultimately increase retention – and high retention is the bedrock of every major business. 

Here’s an overview of what we covered today: 

  • What a fitness challenge actually is
  • Expert insight from Dr. Paul Bedford 
  • Why fitness challenges are important for retention 
  • 10 fitness challenges you can start right now

What next? 

  • For more information on how to engage your customers, download our expert driven customer engagement playbook directly below. 
  • Speak to a member of our team if you’d like to know more about how Glofox can drive your retention and member engagement – simply click on the Demo & Pricing button at the top of this page.

The Customer
Engagement Playbook
for Your Fitness

Customer engagement is the way in which a brand
connects with its customers on a deeper level than a
simple business and consumer relationship.
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