How to Create a Successful Fitness Challenge

The “Gym Challenge” has been around for some time but how can you make them really effective?  Not only do challenges give your customers a focus or a shake up of their routine but they should also encourage interaction between your staff and the users.  Therefore, start to see fitness challenges more as engagement tools that can increase customer retention whilst also improving staff motivation. 

First, let’s consider the purpose of your challenge. 

Who is the audience?

Are you targeting your fitness members, all customers, potential prospects or the wider community? Do you have particular personas you want to engage with e.g. your truly fitness focused or your less confident exercise or is this for everyone?  Can you use the challenge to encourage non-users to visit the centre? Check out our article on finding your target audience for more help on this.

What is the objective?

Are you looking to drive social engagement, generate more attendance, create a feeling of community, encouraging atrisk members to achieve or to support fitness goals?  Can the challenge encourage new members of staff to find confidence in talking to customers?

Where will they be able to complete it?

Is it purely gym based, or can you include your other programmes and activities? Maybe you can encourage engagement in home workouts too?  Can the challenge motivate and encourage users to try new activities that they wouldn’t normally do on their visit?

What is the incentive – can you offer a prize or is this about celebrating achievement?

If it is a prize, will you have a single winner or multiple? If celebration of participation and achievement, how can you make this truly meaningful and shared?   Be creative with your prizes. Can you link with local businesses to offer a month of free advertising in return for a prize? For example, a local sports shop could donate a pair of trainers or a local restaurant offering a meal for 2 in return for featuring them in your app or advertising around the facility.

Never underestimate the power of recognition though! Celebrating achievements or public thank yous for contributions to a charity challenge milestone can be just as rewarding as physical prizes for some!

⚠ A recommendation from us ⚠

We recommend that you avoid challenges that reward the fittest/fastest/strongest/best unless specifically targeting the fitness focused, this can be alienating to your members most in need of encouragement.

Once you have a clear objective and audience in mind, consider which type of fitness challenge would be achieve this. Here are some challenge types to consider:

  • Team challenges – encourage people to achieve as a group. For example, ask for teams of 5 to complete a marathon distance or climb the equivalent of local mountain – this encourages attendance/completion through community and not wanting to let the team down. It also allows people to contribute as much as they are able to. 

  • Staff leader challenges – each team has a member of staff as its captain to achieve a team goal or ”win” a challenge. This creates competitiveness from staff which drives them to actively encourage their team and create opportunities for contact and communication. 

  • Participation – this encourages everyone to “have a go” and anyone taking part gets entered into a prize draw so it doesn’t matter who is the fittest/fastest/best as everyone has a chance of winning.  

  • Charity based – Create a challenge driven by a goal for a local charity, maybe something meaningful to the community or individual members. This taps into peoples desire to do good and feel good about it! For example, for every 100 miles completed we will donate £10 to the charity.  Achieve a target that reflects the charity e.g. 160,000 people die of heart disease every year in the UK, so a collective attempt to burn 160,000 calories over a time period realistic for your total membership base.

  • Personal Best – This isn’t about competing with others but encouraging anyone to improve their PB at a given activity, or one of their choice, in a given time frameEvery success is a winner/celebrated or is entered into a prize draw. This often means less fit participants have a better chance of larger improvements 

  • Daily Challenge  simply, daily challenges set by the fitness team in the morning and last for 24 hours.  A whiteboard can be used to display the daily challenge and can be changed regularly. 

Now decide how to promote it for best uptake:

  • Do you have a fitness challenge “brand” you use to support an on-going challenge calendar? Build this into the on-going member journey and engagement strategy. 

  • Can you utilise your social media channels? Encourage members to share a photo of them completing the challenge. 

  • What on site assets will you need? Maybe a branded tracking board so participants can see their name or contribution on the sheet or so teams can keep updated with their position. 

  • Can the challenge be linked to options within your app? Adding as a workout of the day or pre-set workout or can your app send invites and updates on new challenges?

  • Do all your team across the facility know and understand the challenge, consider where it can be embedded into the member journey? 

Be creative, relevant and have a clear objective when creating challenges and consider how, where, and when you promote them

For help and advice on creating successful member challenges please get in touch with the team at TA6 – we will even share 3 free challenges that you can adopt for your facilities!