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11 gym challenges to keep member motivation high


Sometimes finding the motivation to work out can be tough. When January hits, members practically motivate themselves with New Years’ resolutions and commitments to health and fitness. As the year goes on, that motivation can start to fade. A key part of member retention is finding ways to maintain motivation so that members continue to see results and value in your business. 

A gym challenge is a surprisingly simple yet effective tool to boost motivation and achieve member results. If you can tap into a person’s motivation and desire to work out, members tend to be more consistent, which means they see results. If motivation dips, consistency drops, and you stop seeing results, it’s a cycle. Creating a gym challenge gives members a goal, timeline, and method to hit a new level. If you’re looking to improve member retention and drive acquisition, gym challenges are your friend. 

What is a gym challenge? 

A gym or fitness challenge gives members a precise goal. It’s more than just getting fit, which can be a bit vague and overwhelming. By pinpointing a specific goal, you can create a straightforward challenge for members. What’s great about challenges is that they help to create healthy habits that members can continue even after the challenge. 

The complexity of your gym challenge is down to you. The best setup depends on your brand and customers. Most gym challenges suit a range of fitness levels as you can adapt the goal or movement for different abilities. Workout challenges can benefit new gym-goers as well as experienced lifters and athletes. 

When creating a gym challenge, you provide the goal, timeline, method, and encouragement. For example, with a 30-day plank challenge, members have 30 days to complete the challenge. Throughout this time, you would send emails and reminders to complete daily tasks. This could include tips on form and encouraging words. The idea that you’re performing a challenge as a community is a great motivation in itself. 

4 benefits of a gym challenge 


Owning a gym comes with its own set of challenges. Keeping members engaged and motivated is hard and requires a multi-faceted approach. Gym challenges are ideal for those members who want to work out alone but love a sense of competition. They need a little push and a friendly sense of competition can do just that. 

Hold members accountable 

Your fitness accountability strategy is how your gym plans to hold members accountable for their actions. Accountability is important in fitness or in an environment when you’re trying to make a change. It could be trying to eat healthier or going for a daily walk. When you feel accountable, you take responsibility for your actions. When members feel like you’re watching and monitoring their progress, it can help to hold them accountable and encourage them to show up and complete the challenge. 

Encourage and celebrate members 

A gym challenge gives you a chance to celebrate your members and encourage results. Sometimes it is hard to see progress, by judging progress on the number of reps or time to complete a task, members begin to see progress in a different way. Challenges give you the opportunity to celebrate members and make them feel properly engaged with your brand. 

Promote member retention 

Your gym member experience is part of your retention strategy. A gym challenge is a useful tool to engage and motivate members, both of which promote member retention. Member retention is an ongoing battle. But showing progress, increasing motivation, and building a community, can be a useful member retention strategy. 

Nurture gym community 

Building a community, both online and offline, contributes to the overall member experience. A great sense of community can do wonders for attracting new members and promoting member retention. 

For expert insight, listen to Russ Harrison, the Group Managing Director of Spartans Boxing Club, a community-focused boxing club on The Fitness Founders Podcast. He talks about growing a successful fitness franchise from the ground up and the importance of community.    

Key elements of a gym challenge 

Although you can get lots of different challenges, they all contain the same elements. The main components of a gym challenge are: 

  • Goal – what is the primary aim of the challenge?
  • How – how will your members achieve the goal?
  • End date – how long do members have to achieve their goal?
  • Encouragement – how do you plan on keeping members motivated throughout the challenge? 

When it comes to gym challenges you can have something very simple or create a more complex challenge. The best option depends on your target customers and the information you have on them. 

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11 gym challenge ideas your members will love 

Monthly gym challenges can give your members a goal to work towards and motivation to keep going. As challenges work for various fitness abilities, it can be an inclusive way for members to compete with each other. To get you started, here are eleven gym challenge ideas you can implement in your fitness business at any time of the year. 

Running challenge 

With a running challenge, start by setting a realistic goal for members. This could be 40 miles in 40 days. It’s down to your members to set their pace and decide how they want to collect those miles. Whether that’s shorter runs, more often, or longer runs over a few weeks, it’s up to them. You can use apps like Strava and wearables such as Fitbit and Garmin to track miles. Members can then sync or manually log miles for the cardio challenge. 

AMRAP challenge 

AMRAP stands for as many reps as possible or as many rounds as possible. You can do an AMRAP challenge in a range of workouts. This will be a muscle-shaking full-body challenge that will get your heart pumping. It’s a quick workout, so won’t take up a lot of time which is ideal for busy members. For an AMRAP challenge, you would select your reps or rounds. This could be burpees, treadmills, or weights. The challenge can include one exercise or a few different types. They usually take between 10-20 minutes. The AMRAP challenge would then last for a month or so. Each time a member does the challenge it sets a marker for themselves. Over time, they can look to improve and do more reps or rounds. It’s a simple challenge and is a great way to show member progress as well as set a marker for fitness. Don’t forget to include a warm-up in the challenge. 

Calories burned 

As one of the top reasons for joining the gym is to lose weight, a calories burned challenge targets several membership personas at once. It’s down to the individual how and when they work out. The only thing the challenge tracks is calories burned. You can track calories burned through logging exercise or using an activity tracker. You simply monitor progress, provide encouragement, and let members compete against one another. Remember to use photos to hold members accountable and show progress. There are various apps available that you can use to track calories burned. Members submit their numbers and work towards a joint goal. 

Rowing challenge 

Indoor rowing continues to grow in popularity as more people are looking to work out effectively in a shorter period of time. For members with home rowing equipment and the opportunity to join your streams, this challenge works for both in-person and digital-only gym members. If you have members in your gym who particularly love rowing, then this challenge is a great option. You can set distance, pace, and time challenges that are suitable for a range of abilities. 

Cycling challenge 

Like the running challenge, a cycling challenge covers miles traveled and speed. It may be more suitable for non-runners as it’s a lower impact exercise and easier on the joints. Cycling challenges work for both in-person members and at-home members if you stream your indoor cycling classes. You also have the option to run cycling challenges outdoors and track distance traveled using Strava. This is a good way to motivate members to move more at home. How you run the challenge is down to you and the way your members interact with your brand. 

Healthy eating challenge 

Encourage members to join a healthy eating challenge, share recipes, and log food data. There are various apps you can use to log food data like MyFitnessPal. Healthy eating challenges can be broad or narrow. For instance, a daily water challenge, eating five a day or cooking one new healthy recipe a week. The most important part of a healthy eating challenge is that it’s realistic for your members and not too overwhelming. If you have to change everything about your diet in one go, it’s hard to sustain. But when you adopt one healthy habit at a time, members are more likely to stick to the challenge and see results. 

Daily yoga challenge 

Encourage members to join a daily yoga challenge. You have the option to use an already created challenge or come up with one on your own. For example, Yoga With Adriene has a free 30-day yoga challenge every January. You also have the option to create your own yoga challenge and stream daily videos. 

30-day fitness challenge 

The 30-day fitness challenge can include any type of exercise. Typically, the challenge includes one exercise that you do at varying amounts and intensities for 30 days. There will be rest days built into the challenge to make sure members don’t overdo it. Ideas for 30-day fitness challenges include sit-ups, push-ups, bodyweight exercises, squats, and HIIT exercises. You can create challenges that cater to a variety of abilities by adapting the exercise. For example, within a plank workout, you can have different positions, times, and goals depending on your fitness level. 

Personal best challenge 

A personal best challenge is ideal for showing members progress and celebrating achievement. Encouraging members to improve their chosen activities is a good way to keep them motivated and engaged. The personal best challenge can be for a range of activities like walking, running, lifting, and rowing. For this challenge, you would need to take a personal best from competitors. Then, set a timeline for how long members have to improve their personal best before testing again. Throughout this period you can offer personal trainer sessions, tips, and advice to improve their personal best. 

Flexibility challenge 

The flexibility challenge primarily focuses on increasing flexibility throughout the body. This could include a set of daily stretches and workout routines for members to perform either at the gym or at home. By creating a challenge that supports both in-person and at-home members, it encourages participants to introduce more movement into their day. You have the option of creating a yoga challenge with a focus on increasing flexibility for a specific activity such as running or cycling. 

Chair fitness challenge 

This challenge is aimed at anyone who works at a desk. The chair fitness challenge encourages members to move while at their desks. Sitting for long periods of time can create tightness in the body, shoulders, and neck. By running a chair fitness challenge, it can help to counteract the effects of sitting all day, ease stress, and promote overall well-being in your members. By adding value to your members in other areas of their life, your brand can remain fresh in their minds. 

In summary 

Gym challenges can be as simple or complex as you need them to be. Whether you challenge members to see how many burpees they can do in one minute or to run a certain number of miles in a month, the important part is that you’re getting members moving. By setting realistic goals and timeframes, you can keep motivation high, track progress, and see results, all of which support your overall member retention strategy. 

The Customer
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for Your Fitness

Customer engagement is the way in which a brand
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