Online fitness challenges are everywhere, especially this time of year when we are looking for extra motivation. Setting yourself a challenge or goal can be a highly effective way to achieve success. I am a big believer in goal setting. In sport, health and in life. I set goals for myself and my clients all the time, but is the latest viral #FitnessChallenge the most safe and effective way to get what you want?
Online fitness challenges can motivate us and inspire focus. Seeing the success of others can help to push us towards our own success and give us ideas for our own goals. This can be particularly helpful if we find ourselves in a slump or at a loss for a reason to get up and at it. When we broadcast our intentions out loud it creates a degree of accountability and can act as an extra motivator to keep up the good work.
My main concern with online fitness challenges comes from my experiences in the gym and in my clinic. You can guarantee that within weeks of the latest #SquatChallenge or Run Streak movement that I will have a load of new clients calling up with injuries. You see, these challenges are usually numbers or ideas plucked from the air. Sure, they may have been inspired by something or someone, but the 30 Day Squat Challenge inventor doesn’t know you. They don’t know whether 3,000 squats in a month is going to make you fitter or destroy your knees and back.
“Everything we do in training should make us fitter and healthier than we were before, not the opposite.”
There can be internal and external pressure to keep going even though your body is crying out for you to stop. What’s more, you have broadcast to the world that you’re doing this thing so the pressure to keep going through injury can make people do a lot more harm than good. There is a danger too that if we are unsuccessful in the challenge that our confidence and motivation can take a nosedive. Nothing hurts your progress more than an injury and rock bottom self esteem.
The Best Way Forward
Some of us need a big, crazy challenge to get us into action. I have found that this is not the best way forward and often ends in a failed challenge or some kind of injury. Instead, be inspired by a challenge, but make it fit for you. Rather than going for 100 squats a day, how about you simply vow to be active every day for 30 days. Or, go to the gym, pool, climbing centre every day for the month. Not even a month; how about a week. High five yourself at the end of the week and then challenge yourself to go one better next time. It’s better to complete an easy challenge and push on to something a bit harder than destroy your body and end up unable to exercise at all. Here is my previous blog post that will help you here.
One of my golden rules for fitness is, everything we do in training should make us fitter and healthier than we were before. So, if a workout or a challenge leaves you broken down, injured or constantly exhausted, it might be time to rethink it.
RED January is going on as I write this and it is a brilliant cause created by the mental health charity MIND. Their challenge is just to get active every day, just as I recommend. You can do this by yourself for yourself or join in the fund raising for a superb cause. Keep it to yourself or join the social media community @RedJanuaryUK for some social motivation. This is not an ad, it’s just a really good cause and example of a brilliant fitness challenge.
I wish you well in your own challenges. Come back and tell me all about them in the comments below.