Ask a PT: Do short-term fitness challenges really work?


Whether it’s 30 days or 8 weeks, you’ll be surprised what this fitness expert says about the pros and the cons. 

Picture: Supplied. Tanya Poppett x adidas

One of the biggest trends in fitness at the moment are short-term fitness challenges, and I’m often asked if they really work.

Like anything, there are pros and cons to these challenges but it all depends on individual circumstances. I am going delve into these so you can see if they will work for you.

THE PROS

The call to action: Beginning a fitness regime and incorporating it into your lifestyle can be daunting. It’s easy to ‘tomorrow’ your fitness plans away – we’ve all done it so don’t feel alone! The thought of a short-term fitness challenge can seem a little less daunting – presenting workouts in a manageable time-frame. Starting a fitness challenge can bring a sudden surge of motivation which can hopefully be sustained well past the completion of the challenge.

Teach you long-term strategies: When done correctly a fitness challenge should inspire you to make lasting changes to your lifestyle. It’s not all about slogging it hard in the gym. A good program should educate you on how you can make informed choices about your daily movement, mindfulness and the food you eat.

Tap into your competitive side: Let’s face it, we all have a little competitive streak in us somewhere. I have a lot of clients that light up as soon as I set a workout that involves times or scoring. Fitness challenges are great for those that need a little friendly competition to get them going. It’s just important to keep in mind that your biggest competitor is yourself, not those around you.

Sense of community: These fitness challenges are often done in groups. Each day you show up to your workouts, toughing it out with the same people, encouraging one another and helping you push your limits. This builds a sense of comradery and can even build long term friendships. It definitely helps to connect with like minded people that are going to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.

Give you goals to work towards: Another benefit is that a short term fitness challenges give you a clear direction. A good challenge will allow you to identify a goal and set a time-frame for you to achieve it. The BEST fitness challenges are tailored to the individual.

THE CONS

Some programs can encourage over training: This is one of my major concerns when it comes to short term fitness challenges. Anything that encourages excessive, over training, is not good physically or mentally. You want these challenges to give you more energy and build your strength and fitness.

Give unrealistic expectations: The before and after shots are inspiring but don’t forget every body is different. No two individuals will react to a specific exercise regime or new diet in the same way. Make sure that when you are setting a goal with your trainer that it is realistic and attainable.

Unbalanced: Balance is key! The most effective and sustainable training programs have heavy and light days. All training challenges should promote adequate rest and recovery to ensure participants aren’t going to burn out.

Ends abruptly: Once finished the challenge you may be left thinking…’What next?’ A successful challenge should always provide you with pathways to ongoing success and long term fitness goals. Look for these in these programs and the group you’re training with.

If you’re needing that extra little bit of motivation and structure to fire up your fitness regime then short term fitness challenges may be the thing for you! Before jumping into one, do your research, keep a healthy attitude and be realistic.

Tanya Poppettis a Sydney-based personal trainer andadidas ambassador.

ShapeScale is the first health-tech device that allows people to create their 3D avatar at home in a matter of minutes. ShapeScale’s CEO spoke to MarketWatch about how 3D avatars can transform retail, fitness and health care.



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