Back in December 2021 I challenged myself to cycle every single day of the month to get my legs back under me and begin building my mental and physical base to kick off Ironman Training. I chose the difficult month of December because I knew how hard it was to be consistent during the holidays, special events, and less-than-spectacular weather.
Riding 31 days in a row seemed epic at first, and there were definitely days I did not want to get on my bike, especially in the pouring rain. But because I committed to this personal challenge, and shared my goal with my friends and family, and Instagram connections, I dragged myself out the door and onto the road every single day (or on a spin bike at the gym, or my bike trainer in the garage). I didn’t miss one ride, and by the end of the month I had logged 809 miles and over 14,000 ft. of elevation. More importantly though, I reminded myself that I could do hard things and indeed loved doing hard things. Mission accomplished.
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Fast forward to the beginning of 2023. After successfully completing Ironman California in late fall 2022, and letting my body recover for a couple of months, I launched a push-up challenge to work on my much-needed upper body strength. Push-ups have always been my nemesis, even though I strength train and swim. If you want to read the full details of this challenge, you can pop back to my previous blog post HERE. In a nutshell, it was a simple concept: starting with one full push-up on the 1st of January and working up to thirty-one full push-ups on the 31st. To build strength along the way I also added knee push-ups and inchworms and Pilates push-ups in addition to other usual fitness exercises.
I won’t lie. It was hard. Really hard.
What made it less difficult though, was inviting my friend Emma to do it along with me. We cheered each other on and held each other accountable, and when we completed our challenge, we hooted, hollered, high-five’d and celebrated over a tasty meal at a wonderful restaurant.
When our January push-up challenge wrapped up, Emma and I both knew we still had a lot of work to do to improve our strength and form–especially getting ourselves all the way down to the ground, so we decided to repeat the same thing in February. This time I invited my friends Janet and Robert, my brothers Tim and Scott, and my sister-in-law Jess, who were quick to join the fun. Our little group plugged away each day, doing our daily push-ups on top of our other personal fitness training, sending each other photos or videos, cheering each other on, and checking in when someone got quiet. Once again, we got it done. Having a larger group made it all the more fun, especially celebrating each person with a virtual mini trophy and Rocky music.
This month, to keep the consistency going, but change it up a bit, I launched a 10/10/10 Challenge–10 push-ups, 10 squats, and 10 minutes of plank rotations or core exercises every day. I wanted to make it short and sweet (and give my wrists a break after doing 2,774 push-ups in various forms during the past two months), and also include other areas that need strengthening too.
As I write this, we’re on Day 27 of this March 10/10/10 challenge, and I haven’t missed a single day. In fact, I’ve had so much fun with it, I’ve often done far more than the original challenge, which has helped me keep my sanity as I let a foot/ankle issue heal. Posting reels of our challenge on Instagram has also helped keep me accountable.
I share all of this with you to suggest that if you want to light your motivation on fire, a personal fitness challenge can be the perfect kindling to do just that.
Here are my Top 10 Reasons to Start or Participate in a Fitness Challenge
1) It’s fun taking yourself out of your everyday routine and pushing outside your comfort zone. It can be epic in scale and time-commitment or just a little daunting–something you may have wanted to work on that will take extra effort to get to where you want to be — stronger, healthier, and more disciplined.
2) It’s the perfect way to work on your weaknesses. Slowly building up and focusing on progress over perfection allows you to give it your best every day, while also giving yourself grace as you build up to where you want to be.
3) Numbers are motivating. Usually a challenge is a short-term project with a definitive start and end date. Marking off each day on the calendar, writing down your distances, reps, time, elevation, or whatever metric you like to track so you can add it all up at the end of the challenge will help fill your confidence bucket and remind you of what a badass you are.
4) Consistency. Showing up and doing the work every single day, no excuses, even on busy days or days when your motivation isn’t setting you on fire will make you stronger. As the saying goes, “Consistency is what transforms average into excellence.”
5) Accountability. When you do a group challenge, you become accountable to other people who are challenging themselves too. On a day when you don’t feel like doing the hard work, knowing that other people are out there working their hineys off will help inspire you. Even doing it solo, you are likely to have told at least one person you are doing it, so hopefully that person will not let you off the hook.
6) Connection. Participating in a structured challenge offers a great excuse to reach out to others to convince them to join you in your pursuit of awesomeness, or connect with others who are part of an existing group challenge. The more the merrier, right?
7) Gains in strength. It’s hard not to get stronger mentally and physically each day as you keep plugging away at your goal. On day one it may feel really hard (and in fact, it may totally suck), but by day 5 or 6 it will likely start feeling easier. By day 12 or 13 you may feel totally on fire and ready to ramp it up even more.
8) Builds strong habits. It’s been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Doing something consistently day after day ingrains a practice in your mind and body so it becomes a regular part of your daily routine. You may even find you feel off when your challenge is completed unless you honor your healthy new habit in some form or another.
9) It rubs off on other parts of your life. It takes discipline to complete a challenge that takes effort every day for an entire month. You will likely find that discipline crosses over to your nutrition or your daily To Do List, or your motivation to ramp up other aspects of your fitness.
10) Gaining grit and gratitude. You will be reminded that you absolutely can do hard things, especially when you consistently plug away at them, and you will likely be flooded with gratitude that your body is capable of so much more than you thought.
I often remind myself that health and fitness is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Why not make that gift especially fun, challenging and memorable along the way?
Here’s to you, dear followers…I will be cheering you on as you rock your first (or next) fitness challenge. Drop me a comment and let me know what your favorite challenge is or what challenge you are contemplating in the coming months.
3 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Create and Rock a Fitness Challenge”
I love this idea! Thank you for sharing.
You are welcome. I hope you enjoy doing fitness challenges as much as I have. 🙂
I love working out and a challenge seems like a great way to be consistent!
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