When it comes to gyms, people have plenty of choices. Your members can easily find another option, whether in-person or online. You need to balance incredible customer service with out-of-the-box ideas. Fitness challenges are one way to engage members in a fun way that also supports their fitness goals. Fitness challenges can be open to all fitness levels, from beginners to athletes. Throw some great fitness marketing into the mix and these challenges can draw positive attention to your gym within the community and online. Here are some fitness challenge ideas for gyms and studios to get you started.


Fitness Challenge Ideas for Gyms

I’m going to break down these fitness challenge ideas for gyms and studios into the following categories:

  • Accountability and Motivation
  • Total Body
  • Isolation Exercises
  • Cardiovascular
  • Diet and Nutrition

This will make it easier to cycle through a new type of challenge each month. The variety and novelty will continue to keep members engaged and excited about their progress. These challenges also add a community element, which promotes a positive group mentality. As the gym owner or manager, you can foster the idea that every member in the gym is in it together. They are doing the same challenges and they can support one another. Let’s get to it with these fitness challenge ideas for gyms.


Accountability and Motivational Challenges

If members feel like your gym is a safe space to work on their fitness goals and make friends in the process, they’ll remain lifelong customers. Try these accountability and motivational challenges and promote a positive environment in your gym.

Gym Buddy Challenge

There are a few ways to do this one, but the overall idea is to make sure members are pairing up with a gym buddy or an accountability partner. These two or three people will push one another to stay dedicated and accomplish their goals. You can offer a sign-up sheet and then pair up members with someone of a similar fitness level and goal. You can also factor in age and preferred gender.

Another way is to offer a discounted rate if the member brings in a friend who signs up. They can work out together, go to classes together, and help each other stay on track. Add a reward for the pair that earns the most points based on rules you set.


Total Body Challenges

This type of fitness challenge focuses on exercises that offer the most bang for their buck. In other words, improving performance on exercises that activate the most muscle groups in one sitting.

For these challenges, members see how many reps they can do within a certain amount of time (usually one minute).

They need to write down the number of reps they complete each and every day within that time limit. Let them know they can take off one or two days per week to recover.

At the end of the challenge, the member compares the Day 1 number to the Day 30 number. Again, you can offer a reward for the greatest improvement to one male and female member in the gym. Here are some total body fitness challenge ideas:

  • Burpee challenge
  • Medicine Ball Slam challenge
  • Rowing challenge
  • Crawling challenge
  • Farmer’s Walk challenge
  • Lunge to Overhead Press challenge
  • Turkish Getup challenge
  • Wall Ball challenge


Isolation Exercise Challenges

I’d say these are the most popular fitness challenges. You’ve definitely seen these all over social media and YouTube.

As overdone as they might seem, there’s a reason they are so damn popular: They can paint a clear picture of the 30-day goal.

For example, if a member is doing a squat challenge, they can see themselves with a nice butt and toned legs. Or if you’re holding a push-up challenge, the member can envision a specific number they want to reach within 30 days. Don’t overlook these challenges just because you’ve seen other gyms or fitness personalities promoting them. Isolation exercise challenges can generally be broken down into two types:

How Many Can You Do in a Minute?

Most of these challenges focus on the number of repetitions the member can do within one minute.

  • Squats challenge
  • Wall Sit challenge
  • Push-Up challenge
  • Plank challenge
  • Double Under challenge
  • Pull-Up challenge


30-Day Improvements

The other type of isolation exercise challenge is a 30-day improvement. This means there is a clear improvement from Day 1 to Day 30 that the member can see in the mirror. Here are some examples:

  • Better butt challenge
  • Six-pack abs challenge
  • Bigger biceps challenge
  • Terrific triceps challenge
  • Defined calves challenge

Make sure the member takes a series of pictures: one picture on Day 1, and then at least one per week until the final day.

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Cardiovascular and Performance Challenge Ideas

These challenges are a bit more unique. They focus on improving performance in relation to the cardiovascular system. This means there’s a lot of opportunity for variety. Some will be “how many can you do?” challenges and others will focus on improving overall race pace time. Here are some examples based on the type of cardiovascular exercise:

Running Challenges

  • Fastest mile challenge
  • Best 5k time challenge
  • Do a half or full marathon challenge
  • Fastest sprint challenge
  • Distance running and time trial challenge


Swimming Challenges

  • Do a certain number of laps in a pool challenge
  • Treading water for time challenge
  • Swim across a lake or river challenge


Cycling Challenges

  • Ride your bike to work every day for 30 days
  • Bike 100 miles in 30 days
  • Ride up a big hill or mountain challenge
  • Do a century ride (100-mile bike ride) in under a certain amount of time


Diet and Nutrition Challenge Ideas

Finally, we get to the type of challenge that everyone loves to hate: diet and nutrition. Since diet is difficult for most people – and yet so important for reaching a fitness goal – it’s important to make it as fun as possible. Also, it’s important to push the idea of slow and steady wins the race so that members don’t feel overwhelmed. I’d recommend focusing on “better habits” challenges. The goal of these challenges is to develop better habits around eating and nutrition. This could involve anything from drinking more water to cooking more meals at home. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Drink X number of glasses of water per day
  • Eat X number of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Cook X number of meals at home per week
  • Meal prep for the entire week on Sundays
  • Bring your lunch to work every day
  • Eat out only X number of times per week
  • Snack only on healthy foods
  • Limit alcohol consumption to X number of drinks per week


What Are Your Fitness Challenge Ideas for Gyms?

These are just some examples to get you started. The possibilities are endless when it comes to fitness challenges. The important thing is that you make sure the challenge is safe, attainable, and fun. You want people to be excited about the challenge, not dreading it. Otherwise, you might as well forget about it and try something else. Do you have any other ideas for fitness challenges? Let me know in the comments below!

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