20 Fitness Challenge Ideas to Use in Your Gym

In this article we will explore fitness challenge ideas that you can implement in your gym, or as a personal trainer with your clients.

Whether you’re promoting a new service, hoping to improve gym retention or simply want to build a community, cultivating a list of fitness challenge ideas is a valuable tool that all gyms should be utilising. 

Throughout the year, motivation tends to go up and down. The new year ignites passion and determination which usually begins to falter during the summer. During this time, memberships are often cancelled and gym staff note that far fewer new members join. Unfortunately, this number seemingly only continues to decline as the year draws to a close. 

However, staff members and personal trainers have been able to prevent these numbers falling by designing fitness challenges. A fitness challenge is an easy way to re-create that spark and has been proven to dramatically increase member retention and encourage new leads.

So, if your gym isn’t already regularly hosting these challenges, you are seriously missing out on potential sales.

Here is a list of 20 fitness challenge ideas you can start today.

Cycling Gym Challenges

What is a Gym Challenge?

Gym challenges are a fun activity, routine or targeted performance goal that gyms can set and encourage members to work towards. These goals are often more than just ‘getting fit’, they will promote healthy habits, introduce a sense of competition amongst members, increase focus, improve engagement, and also provide the gym staff team and personal trainers with the opportunity to form new relationships with members.   

The gym challenges can either be hosted by a Level 2 qualified gym instructor or a Level 3 qualified personal trainer. Depending on the intensity of the challenge, there the gym management team may choose a gym instructor or personal trainer that has a specialist skill set to run the challenge, like a Level 4 Strength and Conditioning coach or a Spin Instructor for example.

There are many fitness challenge ideas that the gym can use. However, there are a few ground rules to follow for the challenge to be successful.

Most importantly, the challenge should be versatile, easy to follow and adaptable. People at any fitness level should feel included. 

The host of the challenge should set a goal, a timeline or deadline, the method and be actively encouraging members to take part. 

When the challenge is set, you will need to get the word out there. This can be done through the usual marketing channels like sending regular emails, speaking to people in person and via social media.

The overarching idea is to promote healthy discipline and bring together a community of people who want to better their health. Which, subsequently, has a monetary gain for the gym through improved member engagement and new memberships.

Furthermore, the gym challenges can be promotes across social media, showcasing to prospective members how much fun the gym and personal training team are!

What is Included in Gym Challenges?

All challenges look different and can be altered to fit the gym’s preference. However, a good rule of thumb, to make the challenge easy to understand, is to answer the following questions.

  • What is the goal of the challenge?
  • What method will the members take to achieve the goal?
  • What is the deadline for that goal to be achieved?
  • How will the gym promote the challenge?
  • How will the gym motivate members throughout the challenge?

The more simple the rules are to follow, the more likely you will have people of all ages to want to take part.

Fitness Challenge Ideas with a personal trainer

Benefits of Gym Challenges

You might be surprised at the list of benefits that come with implementing fitness challenge ideas. The list below highlights the key reasons why your gym should be actively engaging its members in workout challenges.

Membership Retention

One of the biggest problems that gyms face is retention. According to Gitnux, “63% of gym members attend regularly during the first month, dropping to 33% by month six.”

Retention going up and down is almost unavoidable. Even the most avid gym-goers can have weeks where they feel unmotivated to show up to the gym. However, a fitness challenge could seriously improve your numbers. 

Through the challenge, staff can actively use this time to motivate individuals on a personal level and get to know them more. This improves gym loyalty as the members feel valued and the workout challenges help he gym to improve the sense of community. Members can be encouraged to share and promote their efforts in the workout challenge on their own social media. This has the effect of exposing the gym challenge, and the business itself to new audience!

Improve Members Motivation

People can fall off the wagon when it comes to working out, especially when they work out alone. Fitness challenges will increase motivation, by encouraging members to work as a group, even if the challenge is based on individual results. Members can start to feel rejuvenated, not just from the determination to take part in the workout challenge and get a good result, but also from the increase in human interaction with other members, and the personal trainers working in the gym. 

Hosting a challenge improves the quality of service in the gym and people are much more likely to keep showing up and paying for memberships if they feel connected to the staff that work there. 

A Sense of Accountability

Accountability is a hugely important factor when striving to achieve fitness goals. Sometimes, people require that extra nudge to keep showing up and putting the work in to get their desired results.

If a 30-day gym challenge is set, members are more likely to push themselves to complete the entire 30 days making more time for results to appear. The more results they see, the more likely they will be to return for another month. Similar challenges you might of heard from outside the gym include things like couch to 5k. This is a great example of a challenge which gives someone a clear, SMART goal. The couch to 5k challenge is an example of a well known challenge that could take part in the gym too, all you need is some treadmills and some support and accountability to be implemented by the gym team

Community Building with Gym Challenges

Fitness challenges work to bring people together in your gym. 

This sense of community can improve member retention dramatically and is great for attracting new members. Finances Online states that “Fitness club members in the UK are more likely to stay if they are part of group activities. Forty-eight percent of members went to the gym to attend one group activity, while 32% attended two, and 20% participated in three or more group activities”

Drives Sales

When creating a fitness challenge, you should not only have the end goal for the clients in mind but also for the gym. 

Fitness challenges are a great way to promote a new product or service, increase engagement on social media or encourage referrals and new members.

20 Fitness Challenge Ideas You Can Start Today 

Now you understand just exactly what a gym challenge is and the incredible benefits that they bring, here is a list of gym challenge ideas you can start today. For all gym challenge ideas we encourage the gym to utilise visual aids like posters, messages on screens, leaderboards and social media posts.

You want gym members to be aware that the challenge is on and be encouraged to take part from every angle in the gym.

Running Challenges

Arguably, the simplest challenge to organise is a running challenge. This can look like anything from mastering a 5K run in a specific time, running a certain length each day or simply a competition to see who has run for the longest length of time in a specific month. 

Encouraging your members to use the treadmill or even run outside is a great way for them to continue improving their cardio. Plus this type of gym challenge is accessible to most people. 

Squat Challenge 

A squat challenge is one of those fitness challenge ideas that can be continued on the days that people can’t attend the gym. This means, this challenge will appeal to many members and you can easily adapt the squat for different abilities. 

To keep people interested, teach the benefits of squats, the importance of lower body strength and choose different squat techniques including sumo squats and weighted squats. 

To add variety to this challenge you can create a workout plan that introduces different varieties of squats into your 30 day squat challenge.

Like many of these top 20 gym challenges, it is very common to find charities raising money using workout challenges. Like, Cancer Research UK raising money with the 30 day squat challenge. You may want to link in with a charity and raise money when you run your workout challenge in your gym.

Squat Challenge

Pull Up Challenge

All over the internet, you’ll find people trying to master the pull up. You should use this trend to your advantage. 

During the pull up challenge, educate participants on which muscles they need to train and how to perform the dipping and pulling up movement. 

Keep in mind, this challenge is quite difficult. Be sure to make this challenge a couple of weeks long to give members enough time to perfect the movement. Personal Trainers can support the members to improve their pull ups, or even to master their first pull up! Using a resistance band to aid with the movement, or simply starting with the lowering eccentric phase of pull up are good first steps to aid people to begin to work towards their first pull up. 

You could start with a beginners 28 day pull up challenge (or for the extreme there is David Goggins world record..)

Checklist Challenge

Organising a checklist challenge is ideal for members that get easily bored or demotivated when just working on one exercise. 

To perform this challenge, provide all participants with a checklist of exercises they have to complete each day. This is a versatile yet easy to accomplish challenge that promotes healthy habits. Plus, having a physical box to tick every single day will hold members accountable.

Hydration Challenge

If you find that the same people are always participating in the challenges, you should consider a hydration challenge. This is an easy way to encourage even the least enthusiastic members to improve their health. 

This wellness challenge promotes an overall healthy lifestyle and will likely increase energy levels, which makes people more likely to go to the gym. 

This is also a great entry-level challenge. Be sure to promote another challenge after this one ends, as the participants will be more inclined to get involved with another. 

Calories Burned Challenge

Weight loss is often the number one goal for many gym-goers, so creating a fitness challenge surrounding calorie burning is a perfect way to speed up somebody’s fitness journey.

In this challenge, members have the freedom to work out how they like but they simply have to track the calories they burn through a specific app. Make sure to remind members of healthy amounts of calories to be burning, provide nutritional advice and encourage them to take photos to track their progress over the course of the challenge.

Healthy Eating Challenge

Another way to promote an active, healthy lifestyle is a healthy eating challenge. 

This challenge is available to everyone and all they have to do is log the food that they consume each day. The challenge could be centred around eating 5 vegetables everyday or even simply consistently hitting a set amount of nutrients. Keeping this challenge as simple as possible will further encourage small changes that add up to an overall healthy lifestyle. 

It could be focused on reducing alcohol consumption, some well documented examples of challenges on alcohol include dry January or Sober for October.

Having a Level 3 Nutrition for Sport and Exercise qualification will be valuable for this challenge.

30-Day Workout Challenge For Beginners

Gym anxiety can be one of the primary factors that deter people from starting at a gym. So, creating a challenge with beginners in mind can help newbies feel more comfortable.

During the 30 days, teach participants how to use different machinery and different workouts they can do. This also gives them the opportunity to make a gym buddy which will encourage them to continue their membership after the 30 days are over.

30-Day Fitness Challenge Ideas

You’ll find that some members prefer structure to the gym challenges that they take part in. 

Creating a 30-day fitness challenge where each day targets a different muscle or exercise is a great way to get people to move their bodies (and show up to the gym) 30 days in a row. Be sure to also incorporate low level exercise days with walking or yoga so the amount of exercise is not overwhelming.

Cycling Challenge

A cycling challenge can encourage members to track their distance or time how long they cycle for. To make this challenge more exciting, host group cycling classes where members can encourage and compete against one another.

This is a lower impact exercise than running and will appeal to both young and older age groups. Just ensure that your gym has enough bike machines for members to take part. To optimise this challenge, a gym instructor with a Level 2 Indoor Cycling qualification should be used.

Yoga Challenge

Yoga challenges are perfect to encourage more women and older people to take part in the challenges of the gym (although, men are welcome too). 

Stream daily videos for participants to complete online or hold classes to attend. Members should have to attend a specific amount of classes each week as part of the challenge. 

Our recognised TRX qualifications have a course that directly covers yoga training whilst using TRX straps.

Pilates Challenge

Pilates is a great low-level exercise that helps to stretch and tone muscles. Plus, this form of exercise has grown in popularity recently.

Akin to the yoga challenge, host classes to attend or send videos of pilates movements that have to be performed each day.

Flexibility Challenge

Stretching is often neglected in workouts but adding just 5-10 minutes can improve form, strength and recovery time.

For a low-level challenge, you can encourage people to stretch their bodies each day by supplying a list of stretches to complete. 

Rowing Challenge

Similar to the running and cycling challenges, a rowing challenge can be monitored by logged distance or time spent on a rowing machine. 

This is another entry challenge that invites all age groups. Keep in mind, this challenge can usually not be performed at home, so ensure that your gym has enough rowing machines for people to take part. 

It’s quite easy to scale your rowing challenge up with varying levels of difficulty and create rowing challenge for beginners and an advanced rowing challenge. Or you could spice things up with a combination challenge of rowing and burpees – now that’s what we call taking things up a notch!

Social Media Accountability Challenge

If you want to generate a buzz on social media, organise a social media accountability challenge and get members to post their daily workouts online (and tag the gym) for 7 days. 

This is incredible exposure for the gym and a great way to interact with your members online. Every time a member shares their workout challenge journey it exposes your gym to a new audience, ie their followers. The likelihood is that some of these followers will live locally, and before you know it your fitness challenge will be generating new sales for your gym!

Workout Challenges in the Workplace

A lot of people spend their entire workday sitting at a desk. As stated by the NHS, “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.” The workout at work challenge motivates people to keep moving all day long. 

To fulfil the challenge, members just have to perform specific movements (that you provide) that help ease tension, stress and muscle tightness whilst sitting. This also keeps the gym present in their minds and may provoke conversations about the challenge with their colleagues which can lead to new members. 

Workout Challenges in Groups

‘Hit Your Personal Best’ Fitness Challenge Ideas

There is nothing quite like achieving a personal best. Harnessing that excitement in a challenge is an excellent way to celebrate members. 

This challenge can be for any workout of choice and allows members to track their progress and push themselves the extra mile each day. You can offer additional advice to help them achieve their personal best and encourage them to post online and tag the gym when they do so.

Core Strength Challenge

Core strength is absolutely vital for physical performance, in the gym, in sports and in every day life. Even for everyday activities. 

With that in mind, creating a challenge that encompasses core strength is a great method to have people push themselves to improve their core strength.

You could create a 28 day challenge, or this 30 day challenge in Runners World, focused on making you a better runner. More specifically, you may want to focus on post natal progressive exercises to support mothers to regain their core strength gradually after pregnancy. For this your gym instructor or personal trainer must hold an accredited pre and post natal qualification.

Older Adults Gym Challenges

Older adults can sometimes be put off by joining challenges due to the amount of younger members they are in competition with. It is vitally important that you aim to improve the engagement of gym members of all ages.

To combat this, design a challenge catered solely towards people above a specific age. To make this gym challenge fair, you could judge the winners on improvement over speed or another metric. If you have any older adult personal trainers in your team then they could support you with ensuing you are capturing and engaging with older adults. 

Older Adult Gym Challenges

Holiday Themed Challenge

Christmas and summer are traditionally quiet periods for gyms. To reignite a passion, create a fitness challenge with a holiday theme.

This could be a “get fit for summer challenge”or even “12 days of Fitmas.” – What a wonderful way to end the year!

Summary 

This list of fitness challenge ideas will set you on a path of sparking determination and motivation within the members of your gym. 

From improved gym retention, new sales and increased gym loyalty, when regular fitness challenges are in place, you can reap the benefits that come with it. 

When organising a gym challenge, just remember to keep the rules simple, have a clear method and a deadline for when the challenge will be over. Also, be active with promoting the challenge through social media and in person. 

Most importantly, providing a high-level of service is what will keep bringing members back month after month. Be sure to always be improving your own fitness knowledge, and create new opportunities for new challenges by studying accredited CPD courses and specialisms like our Level 4 Personal Training Courses.

Through continued investment by your team gym in further education you will continue to provide valuable knowledge to your gym members, improve retention and increase profitability.

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