6 Virtual Fitness Challenges to Motivate Your Clients

Fitness challenges have long been a handy tool for personal trainers and coaches to use to boost client motivation, attract new clients, and increase retention. A little competition or group event is a great way to light a fire under your clients’ feet and get them working harder and moving faster toward their goals.

Since the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic, the landscape of the fitness industry has shifted significantly toward virtual services. Even as gyms reopen and in-person training resumes, people still want to have access to the benefits of at-home workouts. In a 2020 survey by Beachbody, for example, 87% of adults who planned to return to the gym said they would also continue to work out at home.

Fortunately, it’s easy for personal trainers to adapt the fitness challenge model to the demand for virtual fitness options. In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of running virtual fitness challenges and give you a few challenge ideas for boosting client acquisition and retention!

How Personal Trainers Can Benefit from Running Virtual Fitness Challenges

An essential aspect of sustaining and growing your personal training business is engaging with prospects, new clients, and long-term clients on a regular basis. Nurturing those client relationships from lead status to loyal customer and beyond is how you build your brand and distinguish yourself from your competition. Virtual fitness challenges can help you do that. Here’s how:

  • Collect information from new leads. Since a virtual challenge doesn’t require anyone to be in a centralized location, your reach will be more expansive. Opening your challenge to anyone exposes new potential clients to what you have to offer. It also helps build your marketing lists for future outreach.
  • Motivate and engage your clients. Competing for a prize or to hit a goal by a deadline is an excellent motivator for clients who have stagnated in progress or effort. It’s easier for people to agree to put in the work for a shorter, fixed period of time than it is to think of working toward a long-term fitness goal.
  • Boost client accountability. Accountability is key to yielding results in any fitness journey — and when clients get results, your retention rate goes up. A fitness challenge holds clients accountable for putting in the work themselves. This will help them build healthy long-term habits and reach their goals faster.
  • Create a fitness community. One thing that personal training often lacks is the social aspect of working out, since it’s often one-on-one. A group fitness challenge, even a virtual one, gives clients the opportunity to connect with each other. They can also benefit from the support, motivation, and fun a fitness community provides.

6 Virtual Fitness Challenge Ideas for Personal Trainers

woman exercising while looking at a woman through laptop and following the woman's movements.

There’s a lot you can do with a fitness challenge, especially when you’re going virtual. You can go off programs other fitness professionals have created and give it your own twist or come up with something entirely original. Here are some of our favorite virtual fitness challenge ideas for personal trainers:

1. 30-Day Yoga Challenge

A 30-day yoga challenge is pretty straightforward: your clients commit to doing yoga every day for 30 days. There are plenty of these out there already you can play off of (Yoga with Adriene is a popular one), or feel free to come up with your own moves and routines for clients to focus on.

Yoga challenges are nice because they help establish the habit of moving your body and tie in well with mindfulness. Considering 35% of gym goers workout for mental wellbeing, this is a theme that can help your event gain traction. Yoga is also great for fitness beginners who may be wary of more intense programs, helping you unlock new leads.

2. Couch-to-5K-Challenge

Couch to 5K is a program that was created by Josh Clark in 1996 and has since been used in variations by many beginner runners. Essentially, it’s a running plan for new runners in which they move and run progressively more each day until they finally run a 5K. If the goal of your challenge is to help clients build endurance and make exercise a regular part of their daily routines, Couch to 5K is an ideal option.

3. 30-Day Plank Challenge

During a 30-day plank challenge, participants do a set or circuit of planks every day. You can also easily interchange the concept with other bodyweight moves such as push-ups, squats, crunches, or burpees. The idea is that it starts off easy, then gets progressively more difficult as the month goes on. This type of challenge will help your clients tone their bodies, build strength, and get fit.

4. Charity Challenge

You can go about a virtual charity challenge one of a few ways. One option is to partner with a local or national charity. For the exercises that the participants complete, they get pledges or sponsored (e.g., $X per mile run in 30 days or donate $X for completing a triathlon circuit). Another alternative could be to have clients choose their own charity they want to raise money for. They can log miles, workouts, or whatever you’re tracking in an app.

Charity challenges offer an opportunity for you to put your brand values on display and get your name out into the community. Plus, clients will feel good about giving back (as will you) and be motivated to put in the work.

5. 60-Day Balanced Plate Challenge

Fitness challenges don’t have to just be about exercise. In fact, as more people are focusing on wellness as a whole in their approach to fitness, helping them reach other types of health goals is a good way to stand out. A Balanced Plate challenge will tap into the nutritional component of wellness. The goal is for clients to make healthier, sustainable diet choices.

There’s a lot of opportunity to provide custom content for a nutrition-based-challenge — recipes, target macros and calories, grocery shopping list, portion tips, and so on. Typically, clients track their meals to stay accountable. Especially if you offer nutrition services, this kind of challenge can be helpful for trainers hoping to branch out to new clientele.

6. Walking/Running Challenge

If you want your virtual fitness challenge to be simple, easy for clients to track, and personalized to their goals, a walking or running challenge is the way to go. The most popular format is a 30-day challenge. In this challenge, participants compete to see who can get the most distance logged. These challenges encourage regular movement and are accessible to clients at all fitness levels, making them a great virtual option.

Tips for Managing Your Virtual Fitness Challenge

Once you’ve decided what format and rules your virtual fitness challenge will have, you’ll need to come up with a plan for how you’ll keep everything organized. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Consider what type of content your clients will like best. Common formats include livestream, pre-recorded/on-demand videos, and written.
  • Use a variety of platforms to deliver your content and keep the challenge interesting. Examples of platforms are email, text/chat, social media, video, or streaming.
  • Create an online community where participants can easily communicate to support and motivate each other. Facebook groups, WhatsApp, and the My PT Hub group chat feature are all great options.
  • Keep participants motivated and accountable with weekly check-ins and mini events and pop-up challenges throughout the challenge.

Growing Your Personal Training Business Doesn’t Have to Be a Challenge

There are plenty of fun, creative, and strategic ways to get more clients, enhance their experience, and increase your revenue stream as a personal trainer. Read more about building your personal training business on the My PT Hub blog!