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How to pick the best streaming fitness challenge for you

One of the best ways to start an exercise program and stick with it is to join a challenge. Almost every major online fitness service or connected fitness equipment offers challenges or similar motivational programs to keep you active. These challenges help you set a goal that you work towards over a set course of time, whether a week, a month, or a year. We cover what to look for in a challenge and share our favorite ones to start 2022.

How to pick a challenge

Fitness challenges in one form or another can be found in nearly every fitness subscription service. Most online services, like iFit, showcase their challenges front and center, encouraging you to join their trainers on your next fitness journey. They make it easy to find a challenge and often offer challenges for different activities, like biking, running, or strength training. Other services like Apple Fitness Plus, don’t offer specific challenges but instead group together workouts into a motivational series. Even though they are not branded as a challenge, you can still join them and use them to challenge yourself.

When choosing your next challenge, you’ll want to look for one that matches your level of fitness.  If you haven’t sat on your bike in a year, don’t choose a challenge that starts with a killer 20-mile ride. You will set yourself up for failure. Be honest with yourself and choose exercises that are appropriate for your current fitness level. Don’t be ashamed to start from the ground up. You should also pick a challenge that encompasses exercises that you enjoy. Don’t like to run? Then choose a challenge that offers walking or cycling instead. If you are not sure what you want to do, then find a challenge that offers a little bit of everything.

What to look for in a challenge

Challenges come in all shapes and forms, but they share a few key features. Look for a challenge that lasts more than a few days. If you want to improve your fitness, you have to exercise consistently for a period of time. Monthly challenges are great, especially for beginners, as they are short enough to be achievable, but are long enough that you will actually see improvement.  Yearly challenges help you stay committed for a long period of time, but are best saved for those who already exercise regularly. Many beginners are intimidated by these long-term goals or lose interest in them over time. It’s easier to talk yourself into running five hours a week for the next four weeks than to commit to running 500 miles in a year.

Many challenges are individual and motivate you to complete a program to better your health. Other challenges have a social component where you are competing against other people. These challenges use leaderboards to track how far, how fast or how long someone has exercised and records every participant’s progress towards the challenge’s goal. Some people are motivated by this direct competition while others find it frustrating, especially in large groups. Some find it hard to push themselves when they are moving up from 2,021 to 2,000 on the leaderboard. If you find these leaderboards discouraging, then look for alternative challenges that focus on you and your individual achievements.

iFit: Goal Chaser Challenge

IFit Goal Chaser Challenge.

Each month iFit adds a new set of challenges to encourage you to stay active. This month, iFit kicks off the new year with the new Goal Chaser Challenge. As part of this challenge, you can test drive six new iFIT series as you work on improving your fitness. Some workouts feature new trainers so you can explore new content and new instructors simultaneously. The Goal Chaser Challenge starts on January 3rd and ends on February 28th.

Peloton: Peloton Annual Challenge

Woman riding Peloton Bike.

Want a challenge that’ll last for a year? Then check out Peloton’s Annual challenge for 2022. This challenge logs the total minutes you spend working out. It doesn’t matter where or when you exercise. Just hop on the Peloton Bike, jump on the Peloton Tread or fire up the Peloton app to track your workout. You earn badges starting at the 1,000-minute mark with 13 tiers of awards. The top tier is reserved for those who work out a whopping 20,000 minutes or more over the year. To meet this goal, you’d need to work out an hour a day, every day for the entire year.

Strava: ROKA RISE UP 300 Challenge

Women running sunset.

Feeling ambitious, then join the time-based Roka Rise Up 300 challenge at Strava. Complete 300 minutes of activity in January to earn a $50 gift certificate to and a digital badge that you can display proudly on your Strava profile. If 300 minutes is too much of a commitment, you can join the January Fresh Start Challenge, which requires you to complete 30 hours of activity this month. You can run, walk, hike, or yoga your way to this goal.

Fitbit: StrongWill with Will Smith

FitBit StrongWIll with Will Smith.

One of Fitbit’s newest offerings takes you on six guided sessions with actor Will Smith. Follow along with Smith as he begins his fitness journey with both high-intensity workouts and stress-relieving mindfulness sessions. Designed for beginners, it’s a great way to get started or pick up where you may have left off last year.

Apple Fitness Plus: Time to Run

Apple Fitness Plus Time to Run.

Though not specifically a challenge, Time to Run promises to do for running what Time to Walk did for walking. This brand new series takes you on popular running routes in some of the world’s most well-known cities.  Not only are you immersed in a stunning new environment, but you also are running along with some of the world’s best runners and running trainers. This audio experience complements the visual experience and encourages you to improve your running with tips and stories to bide the time. Apple is adding new episodes regularly which keeps you coming back for more. This consistency is key to making progress while training for your next big race.

Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge

Six Pack of peaks challenge.

Want to challenge yourself but don’t have a subscription to Peloton, iFit, or the other streaming service? Not to worry, you can join stand-alone challenges like the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. The Six-Pack of Peaks requires you to hike or run six of the peaks on the list. It doesn’t matter where you live. There are challenges available for all the major mountain ranges in the United States. You can hike or run six peaks in Colorado, New England, and more.

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Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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