Anita Parker September 30, 2014
- a call to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
- a task or situation that tests someone's abilities
Googling fitness challenge gets you one hundred and forty-seven million results. Evidently they're happening all over North America in home gyms, facilities, and on social media platforms. A fitness challenge adds zest to a regular program, igniting that natural human response of, "What's that? A challenge? Oh yeah, bring it ON!"
This abundance of choice permits us to become fitness challenge connoisseurs. We can select one that best suits our abilities, preferences, and time availability. And when we successfully complete one challenge, heck, we can try another one.
As you begin your quest for the best home-based fitness challenge for you, here is a checklist of criteria.
1. Comprehensive & good value. Free challenges are usually just a list of exercises, and your motivation will fizzle by the third day. Aprofessionally developed challenge is worth a small investment, especially if it includes helpful resources that remove guesswork. Look for guidebooks, posters or webpages with plenty of images and descriptions. Videos (just clips or maybe longer) can bring the workouts to life in the privacy and convenience of your home.
2. Adaptable. A great challenge encourages users to tailor workouts for their fitness levels, abilities and health status every step of the way. Every exercise within the challenge should offer levels of varying intensity, complexity, or impact on the joints. Be wary of cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all programs that are simply too rigid and potentially unsafe and discouraging. Your challenge should be exactly that... yours.
3. Realistic. Red flag any guarantees of a bikini-ready body, a quick whittling away of muffin tops and other troublesome areas. These statements are inaccurate, unprofessional, insulting and will leave you feeling like a big failure. Yes, you will likely lose weight on your fitness challenge, perhaps a lot. But put aesthetics aside and let your goal simply be, "I'm going to complete this challenge no matter what." Then give yourself a gigantic pat on the back when you do.
4. Supportive. Nothing can take the place of a face-to-face session with a personal trainer, but a well-planned challenge can include supportive elements that enhance personal accountability. This might be some or all of the following:
- A logbook or other method to record your efforts and track your progress over time.
- An easy-to-navigate website with relevant information and a 'contact us' form. (Extra bonus when your emailed questions receive a timely and thoughtful response from a real trainer.)
- A social media site, such as Facebook, that creates a community of other challengers, a 'we're in this together' feeling. It's a site where you enjoy spending your time engaging in conversation with like-minded challengers.
Other important elements of a well-planned fitness challenge are:
- It's do-able. Necessary space and equipment are easy to find, and all excuses are out the window.
- It has a reasonable timeframe. Anywhere between 21 and 90 days will help you make regular exercise a habit. Too short, it's too easy. Too long, you'll lose momentum.
- It suits your preferences. For example, an aquatic fitness challenge isn't going to work if you don't like getting into the water.
- It's un-intimidating. Exercise is for everyone. Insane exercises and images of hot, tanned, sweaty skin can seriously hamper your self-esteem. You're gorgeous in your goofy shorts and t-shirt.
- It's fun. Yes, fitness can be fun much of the time. For the times when it isn't fun, you're motivated by the post-workout endorphin rush.
There are potentially 147,000,000 ways to eliminate barriers and take your health, fitness level, and energy to a new level. It's not a question of whether or not you should engaged in a well-planned fitness challenge. The question is which one are you going to begin tomorrow?