How to Run an Impactful Fitness Challenge

5 mins read
woman pulling weight with man
Written by:
The BodySpec Team

It can be difficult to make time for the gym, prioritize health, and make measurable fitness & lifestyle changes. Creating a fitness challenge is a great way to overcome these obstacles, and comes with a slew of additional benefits. It can help improve overall performance, establish healthy habits, and create a sense of community.

The complexity of your fitness challenge depends on the number of people participating, overall resources, and additional goals. At a gym, a fitness challenge can be used not only to encourage healthier behaviors, but also to increase attendance, drive social and web traffic, and turn a gym into a meaningful social space that customers go to for motivation.

Here’s what to consider when planning your next fitness challenge:


What are you asking people to accomplish? This should be easily measurable and align with individuals’ personal goals. For example, the goal may be to achieve the highest percentage gain in lean mass (building muscle) or the greatest loss of visceral fat.

If you’re using statistics, consider how you plan to collect information. This function may be built into your management software, or you may need participants to submit documents, like comparative DEXA scans. Avoid goals that impose significant costs on your participants. If a challenge requires hundreds of dollars in classes, it’s much less enticing.

Challenge Name

Your challenge name should only be a few words, and easily convey the overall purpose, with a focus on fitness, health, or location. Words like ‘Open,’ ‘League,’ ‘Games,’ ‘Cup,’ ‘Championship,’ and ‘Series’ are good go-tos, as they immediately bring to mind sports competitions.


When does your challenge start and end? Consider what a realistic timeline would be for people to achieve measurable results. If you’re measuring the percentage change in visceral fat or lean mass as your challenge goal, 6-8 weeks would be a realistic timeline to allow for noticeable results.

Entry Fee

Entry fees can be a great way to create accountability and encourage people to follow through with their goals. You’ll need to decide what participants would realistically be able to spend, and the value of the prize they would expect in return. Pooling the entry fee money into a cash prize is one option, which allows people to see the benefits of participating right from the start, when it’s most essential to grab participants’ attention and retain their commitment. You’ll also want to consider how to collect entry fees and how you can make it easy for people to pay.


While better health is a great prize in itself, the prize you choose may be the greatest incentive to sign up. You can pool the entry fee money into a cash prize, or offer gym-related services like free months of membership, consults, gift memberships, class credits, or special events. Providing tiered prizes for first-, second-, and third-place winners is a meaningful way to reinforce the benefits of participation and encourage sign-up for future contests.

Challenge Milestones

Creating milestones can remind participants to actively work towards their goals, help them visualize their progress, and create a positive feeling about what they’ve accomplished so far. For example, if your challenge uses DEXA scans, your milestones may be (1) first scan submitted, (2) midpoint scan submitted, and (3) final scan submitted. Communicate with your participants as they achieve these milestones, congratulate them for making it this far, and help them get excited about finishing the challenge. You can also use results from these milestones to share current high scores, letting participants know where they stand and how far they need to go.

How to Sign Up

Consider what you need from participants to communicate with them throughout the challenge. What is the easiest way for you, and for them, to send and receive information? A well-placed physical sign-in sheet is useful. Consider a digital sign-up option to increase participation. For example, a QR code to sign up online, placed throughout your gym, may increase your sign-up rate.


Requirements for a fitness challenge can be simple. For example, the only requirement may be that they are a member of your gym. However, if you have additional requirements, you need to make sure it’s clear what participants need to provide to be considered for the prize. If you’re using a percentage change in body composition, you’ll want to make sure participants know they have to submit a before and after DEXA scan to win. Tip: if you’re using a machine, like a DEXA machine or scale, make sure participants use the same method to get these measurements, or results may be skewed.

What's Next?

Running a fitness challenge can motivate people to stick to their fitness goals. Consider adding a goal, duration, entry fee, prize, and requirements to your fitness challenge. Want to bring accurate health data to your fitness challenge? Get in touch with BodySpec today!

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