When the end of December and beginning of January roll around, people are eager to set and work toward new goals. According to research by Sundried, 43% of these New Year’s resolutioners give up on their new goals, most of them fitness related, after just one month. Some studies have even pinpointed an exact date that people abandon their resolutions, which ranges from mid-January to the beginning of February, depending on who you ask.
This drop off in motivation and effort is most often a result of people setting unrealistic goals for themselves — such as losing 30 pounds in a single month. When they fail to achieve these impossible goals, resolutioners become defeated and demoralized. Since a majority of New Year’s resolutions are related to fitness, your club can be a great resource to help members stick to their goals.
A popular and effective tool for guiding your gym members in setting realistic yet ambitious goals is a fitness challenge. The small wins attained throughout and at the end of the program have a significant impact on motivation and engagement — and, in turn, your retention rate. Here are a few fitness challenge ideas you can use to get members out of their post-New Year’s motivation slump!
1. Club Visits Challenge
What better way to save dropping attendance numbers than by incentivizing club visits? For a club visit challenge, the idea is to reward whichever members check into the club the most during the allotted time period. You can track check-ins yourself with your club management system, or have participants track themselves via Facebook check-in or by using a member app. Motivating potential prizes might include a free month of membership, branded gym swag, a free class pack, and so on.
2. Better Sleep Challenge
The consumer interest in wellness is growing steadily, as seen in McKinsey & Company’s 2021 Future of Wellness survey. Considering the proximity of wellness to fitness, it only makes sense for gyms to capitalize on this — and a challenge is a fun and engaging way to do it! According to the survey, sleep is one of the six dimensions across which consumers view wellness. A challenge that focuses on sleep will help you tap into this trend to engage current members and attract new ones.
Start by educating participants about good sleep practices, such as keeping to a routine, turning off electronics, and getting X hours of sleep per night. Have them log these habits over the course of the challenge and structure rewards based on who practices them the most.
3. Weight Loss Challenge
If you’re looking for a simple challenge to reignite your members’ New Year’s resolution drive, a weight loss challenge is it. Results are usually measured by number of pounds lost, percentage body fat lost, or total body composition change. Tracking your participants’ progress is easy with weekly check-ins in person (which also help to get them into the club) or via that oh-so-helpful member app. With an app, you can also send push notifications to keep them engaged in the challenge and even send mobile rewards to the winners.
4. Comfort Zone Challenge
The New Year is all about trying new things and growing as a person. With a comfort zone challenge, you can encourage members to do that right in your club. Reward participants for new activities they try throughout the challenge, such as a class they’ve never signed up for or a first session with a personal trainer. Your members can discover new workouts they love, and you can boost attendance in your studio classes.
5. Mindfulness Challenge
In the 2021 IHRSA report, The Next Fitness Consumer, 35% of consumers named mental well-being as a top extrinsic fitness motivator. Promoting positive mental health practices is, therefore, becoming a must for clubs who want to position themselves as offering a holistic fitness and wellness experience.
Show members you care about their mental wellbeing, and help them refocus on their goals, with a mindfulness challenge. Mindfulness is about being in the moment, so results and rewards should be based on how often participants practice habits like meditation and breathing exercises or use wellness apps throughout the challenge.
6. PR Challenge
There’s a special kind of motivation that comes from hitting a personal record. Whether it’s your heaviest deadlift or fastest 5K, it leaves you feeling accomplished, energized, and hungry for more.
For a PR challenge, have participants sign up 1-2 weeks in advance (automated mass email and SMS campaigns to members is a great way to get the word out quickly). Once everyone is signed up, give them those 1-2 weeks to pick their activity and record their PR achieved within that timeframe. Then, give them X number of weeks to try to beat it. Hand out rewards to anyone who beats their PR and maybe even something special to the participant who triumphs by the highest margin to spread the motivation and celebration all around!
7. Hydration Challenge
Running a challenge that helps your members develop sustainable healthy habits, such as the sleep challenge, is a great way to show them you care about their wellbeing. Drinking more water is always a great health goal to strive for, so why not turn it into a full-blown challenge? It will help members focus on developing one habit at a time and they’ll be grateful as they reap the benefits of adequate hydration. Have them track how much they drink each day and reward them for hitting goals or drinking the most water by the end of the challenge.
8. Squat Challenge
A squat challenge is a simple setup that can deliver quick results. Essentially, participants just do squats every day, with the number of sets/reps (and difficulty level) increasing as the challenge goes on. By the end, those who did the work will be more toned and sculpted, and better understand the importance of consistency in fitness.
You can easily interchange a squat with another bodyweight move, such as a push-up or burpee, or even alternate between different types of squats. This program also works well as a 30-day challenge.
9. Healthy Eating Challenge
Every fitness professional knows that achieving the results you want in the gym is only possible if you’re mirroring your efforts in the kitchen too. A healthy eating challenge is an opportunity for you to offer more value for your members by providing nutrition advice and resources. Get participants involved with cooking classes, nutritionist consults, personalized meal plans, or inter-challenge recipe challenges.
10. Social Media Accountability Challenge
With 72% of the American population and 77.9% of the UK population actively using social media, it would be foolish not to take advantage of its power for gym member engagement, acquisition, and retention. Increase your brand recognition and boost accountability among your members with a social media challenge. For this challenge, participants post all their workouts on social media for the duration. Have them tag you or your club location for extra exposure. At the end, dole out rewards for whoever posted the most workouts.