If you’ve hit a plateau, are seeking some fitness motivation, or simply looking to take your workouts up a notch, fitness challenges are a great way to give yourself the energy boost you need. Ranging anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months, many gyms and fitness studios have begun to pop up on social media offering all sorts of short-term programs geared toward maximizing results and allowing you to build a tribe while doing so.
Because recommitting myself to my health and fitness was a top new year’s resolution of mine, I decided to give it a go and join in on a challenge myself. I signed up for Sweat DC’s BYOB (Be Your Own Body Goals) Challenge, which is a six-week (twice a week in the evenings) program that includes a fitness assessment and reassessment, meal plans, photos, goals consultation, nutrition guide and of course, weekly classes.
So if you’ve been thinking about joining a challenge—and you totally should — here are a few things I learned that will ensure your own success.
Having a community makes a difference
The reason I chose Sweat DC specifically was because the entire theme of the gym is to inspire guests to be more confident in their own skin. The coaches are friendly, and the environment is race, gender and size inclusive, which is very rare in the wellness space. What made Sweat DC’s challenge much more beneficial was having a tribe of women that I got to see every week. They had similar goals, were friendly and at the very least, familiar faces while we endured our weekly torture, er, classes. Not only is this necessary for extra motivation (and ensuring that you all have like minded music tastes for your group workouts), but also it ensures accountability. You might make some friends in the process, and at the very least you’ll feel encouraged to keep working at it when you can scroll through the photos of other women out there with you.
If you’re not going to commit 110% then don’t waste your time
Not only do these challenges require you to show up daily, or multiple times per week, they also require a financial commitment. So it’s best to be honest with yourself (and your pockets) if it’s something you truly want to do. And the first step in that is preparing yourself mentally for what’s in store. “In my experience, the best way to prepare for a fitness challenge is to set ourselves up for success,” says Nazinga Thomas, Lead Coach and former track athlete who leads the BYOB program. “Having a moment with yourself about how committed you are, having the self integrity to hold ourselves accountable during the highs and the lows and having compassion and patience with ourselves because we are human and won’t meet our highest expectation 100% and it’s all good!”
And while a fitness challenge may be a commitment, or even a bit little extreme to some who aren’t used to consistently working out, this is a short-term endeavor, and you’ll have to make it a priority if you want to stick to it and see results.
Plan all of your workouts in advance
The second most important thing is to go ahead and schedule those workouts—all of them—right after you sign up. Signing up for your classes in advance (and paying for them) means you will not want to waste the money, so you will be much more likely to stick to your good intentions and show up. Not to mention, it keeps you on a routine for the duration of the program. If it’s on the calendar, you likely won’t cancel (for me, it doesn’t exist if it’s not on my calendar). It’s also helpful because you’ll be able to plan your social life around it, the same way you would schedule anything else.
Trust the process
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your summer body. Make a habit of trusting yourself and continue working hard no matter the numbers that you see on the scale each day or week (though most trainers recommend you shouldn’t be weighing yourself everyday anyway). Don’t worry about the outcome and only focus on what you do — even on the days that you’re tired (though Probar Bolt Energy Chews can help with that!). Because some of the most beneficial gains that you’ll see won’t even be on the scale.
“Many people join fitness challenges with the expectation of losing weight but I always like to encourage people to look at their other victories,” says Thomas. “Working out/eating healthy consistently is a victory, having more energy and motivation is a victory, having a better self image is a victory. There are so many other positives that can occur, give yourself the credit you deserve!”
The end result of me trusting the process? Yes, a few pounds of course, but also increased stamina, endurance, and the ability to complete the same set of workouts in a shorter period of time then when I first started.