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How to Run an Online Fitness Challenge (Free Guide)

How to Run an Online Fitness Challenge (Free Guide)

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning SpecialistĀ® (CSCSĀ®) on May 29, 2023 ā€” Updated on November 24, 2023

If you’re interested in learning how to run an online fitness challenge, Exercise.com offers the tools to easily create, manage, and promote your fitness challenge online. With the best fitness challenge software, it enables seamless participant tracking, easy communication, and even the integration of leaderboard systems to fuel competition and engagement. Here’s everything you need to know to run a virtual fitness challenge.

Fitness Challenge Checklist

And to take your gym and fitness marketing to a world-class spot, be sure to check out our big list of fitness challenge ideas, our guide to learn how to run a fitness challenge (whether that be in-person or online), read our list that is chock-full of gym event ideas, and see why learning how to create an online fitness challenge could be just what you need to take your fitness business to the next level with the best apps for online fitness coaches.

How to Run an Online Fitness Challenge

Whether you are a fitness influencer, personal trainer, gym owner, or other fitness professional, learning how to create an online fitness challenge with the best fitness challenge software will help you run a successful fitness challenge that is as fun and rewarding for your challenge participants as it is profitable and impactful for your business.

Exercise.com is a comprehensive platform with the best fitness software for influencers, the best personal training software, and the best gym management software so no matter what type of fitness business you have, it simplifies the process and amplifies your earning potential while also helping you run fitness challenges, create online workout groups, do fitness livestreaming, do in-person and online training, and more, all through your own custom-branded fitness apps. With its ability to create, market, and sell personalized workout plans to a vast audience, Exercise.com can help transform your fitness passion into a lucrative online business.

Jimmy Myers Relentless Sports Performance
If you want to offer an elite service for the end user you need to get with the times and use elite level software that is intuitive, visually appealing, and effective. That is exactly what Exercise.com delivers to its clients.
Jimmy Myers
Owner/Trainer, Relentless Sports Performance

Want to learn more? Get a demo now!

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Steps to Creating a Virtual Fitness Challenge

Let’s get right to some practical ways that you can create your own online fitness challenge. With the Exercise.com platform you have a number of options to run a comprehensive online fitness experience for your community. You can sell workout plans, run fitness challenges, offer access (paid) to an online workout group, you can sell online training sessions, sell a membership to your own custom branded fitness app, and much more. Here are some easy things you can do with the Exercise.com software platform.

Use the Exercise.com workout plan creator to create your workout plans.

Workout Plan Creator

Then mark them for sale online so you can sell workout plans easily and quickly.

Sell Workout Plans

Publish your custom branded fitness apps to iOS and Android so you can offer a premium workout logging experience to your community.

Custom Branded Apps

You can then, of course, run your own virtual fitness challenges.


And create online workout groups, do distance training, sell workout plans online, all right within the Exercise.com platform.

Online Groups
Core Online Mobile Fitness App
“My custom-branded apps have made my life easier and helped streamline my online training, which in turn has transformed into a pretty awesome additional revenue stream for me and my family.”
Tony Gentilcore
Founder, Core Online

Ready to get started? Get a demo now!

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Guide to Running a Successful Fitness Challenge Online

Here are seven steps to learn how to run a successful online fitness challenge:

  1. Define the Purpose: Identify the goal of your fitness challenge. This could be anything from weight loss, strength training, flexibility improvement, to adopting healthier eating habits. Having a clear purpose will help you design the challenge and attract the right participants.
  2. Create Your Challenge: Plan the details of your challenge. What will participants need to do? How long will it last? What are the rules? If it’s a weight loss challenge, for example, you’ll need to decide on a specific duration and rules for tracking and reporting weight loss. Be sure to make your challenge achievable yet challenging to keep participants engaged.
  3. Set Up Registration: Use a platform like Exercise.com to set up registration for your challenge. You can customize your registration process, including what information you collect from participants. You may also decide to charge an entry fee to generate revenue or to cover any prizes.
  4. Promote Your Challenge: Share the challenge on your social media channels, website, email list, and any other platforms where you have a presence. Be sure to highlight the benefits of participating and any prizes that participants could win.
  5. Provide Ongoing Support: Throughout the challenge, stay engaged with your participants. This could involve sending motivational emails, hosting live workouts, or creating a community forum where participants can share their experiences and support each other.
  6. Track Progress: Use Exercise.com’s robust analytics to track and showcase participant progress. You can create leaderboards, celebrate milestones, and more.
  7. Wrap Up the Challenge: At the end of the challenge, announce the winners and celebrate all participants’ accomplishments. It’s also a great time to gather feedback about what participants liked and what they would improve for future challenges.
  8. Follow-Up: After the challenge has ended, follow up with participants. You can offer them incentives to join your next challenge, sign up for your workout plans, or join your fitness programs.

By running an online fitness challenge, you can engage your existing clients or followers, attract new ones, and grow your fitness brand. And with a platform like Exercise.com, the process is streamlined and simplified, allowing you to focus on creating an impactful fitness challenge.

Fitness Challenge Checklist

Types of Virtual Fitness Challenges

Here are the different types of online fitness challenges, but remember, the only limit is your imagination!

Virtual fitness challenges are a great way to engage your audience, foster a sense of community, and promote health and fitness. They can be designed to suit a wide range of fitness levels and interests. Here are some types of virtual fitness challenges you could consider:

  1. Step Challenges: Participants aim to take a certain number of steps each day or reach a total step goal over the course of the challenge. This type of challenge is easy to participate in and track using smartphones or fitness trackers.
  2. Workout Streak Challenges: This challenge involves committing to doing a specific workout or any form of exercise for a certain number of consecutive days.
  3. Weight Loss Challenges: Participants aim to lose a certain percentage of their body weight or achieve their weight loss goals within a set timeframe.
  4. Running or Cycling Distance Challenges: Participants aim to run or cycle a specific distance over the course of the challenge. This could be tracked in total miles or kilometers.
  5. Healthy Eating Challenges: This could involve committing to eating a certain number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day, drinking a specific amount of water, or avoiding certain types of food.
  6. Mindfulness Challenges: This type of challenge could include activities like daily meditation, practicing gratitude, or completing daily stress-reducing activities.
  7. Strength Training Challenges: These challenges can be targeted towards specific body parts like core, arms, or overall strength and can be customized according to different fitness levels.
  8. Yoga or Flexibility Challenges: Participants aim to practice yoga or do stretching exercises every day for the duration of the challenge.
  9. Fitness Class Challenges: This could involve attending a certain number of virtual fitness classes within a given timeframe.
  10. Hybrid Challenges: These challenges combine multiple elements like steps, workouts, nutrition, and mindfulness into one comprehensive challenge.

By leveraging a platform like Exercise.com, you can easily create, manage, and track these virtual fitness challenges, providing an engaging and motivating experience for your audience.

Be sure to check out our big list of fitness challenge ideas for more inspiration.

Benefits of Online Fitness Challenges

There are many online fitness challenge benefits, including:

  1. Increased Engagement: Online fitness challenges can foster a sense of community among participants, which can lead to increased engagement. Participants are more likely to stay active and involved when they feel like they’re part of a group with similar goals.
  2. Motivation: Fitness challenges often provide the motivation participants need to stick to their fitness routines. The competitive aspect of the challenge, along with the sense of achievement upon completion, can inspire participants to push themselves further.
  3. Accountability: Online challenges usually involve tracking and sharing progress, which helps to hold participants accountable. This level of accountability can encourage participants to stay consistent and committed to their fitness goals.
  4. Attract New Clients: Online fitness challenges can help to attract new clients or customers. People who may not normally engage with your services might be enticed by the unique, fun aspect of a challenge.
  5. Revenue Generation: If you decide to charge a fee for participating in the challenge, it can serve as an additional revenue stream for your fitness business.
  6. Brand Visibility: Fitness challenges can increase brand visibility and awareness. As participants share their progress on social media or with their friends, it can lead to increased exposure for your brand.
  7. Improved Health & Fitness: The most important benefit is the potential for participants to improve their health and fitness. By engaging in regular physical activity during the challenge, participants can make strides towards healthier lifestyles.

By using a platform like Exercise.com, you can easily set up, manage, and track online fitness challenges, providing a great experience for participants while reaping these benefits for your fitness business.

Our overall experience with Exercise.com is a breeze. We love how easy it is to integrate this app with our current workflow while providing great fitness programs for our customers and save us time in the process.
Julie Ledbetter
Owner, Ledbetter Fitness

Want to run your own fitness challenge online, all with your own custom branded fitness apps and web platform? Get a demo now!

Understanding the concept of a virtual fitness challenge

Are you looking for a fun way to promote fitness and wellness among your community? One great option is to host a virtual fitness challenge. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to successfully plan and execute a virtual fitness challenge. From understanding the concept to promoting your challenge, we’ve got you covered.

What is a virtual fitness challenge?

A virtual fitness challenge is a competition where participants engage in various fitness activities to reach a set fitness goal. It’s usually done virtually, meaning participants can take part in the challenge from anywhere and often at any time. These challenges can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, and they can vary widely in terms of fitness goals, activities, and rules.

Virtual fitness challenges have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially with the rise of technology and social media. With the help of fitness tracking apps and online communities, participants can easily track their progress and connect with others who are also taking part in the challenge.

One of the benefits of virtual fitness challenges is that they can be tailored to fit the needs and interests of the participants. For example, some challenges may focus on running or cycling, while others may include a variety of activities such as yoga, weightlifting, or even dance. This allows participants to choose a challenge that aligns with their fitness goals and personal preferences.

Benefits of hosting a virtual fitness challenge

Hosting a virtual fitness challenge comes with many benefits. First, it’s a great way to promote fitness and wellness among your community. By encouraging people to get active and engage in healthy habits, you can help improve the overall health of your community.

In addition to promoting fitness, virtual fitness challenges can also help build camaraderie among participants. By connecting with others who are also taking part in the challenge, participants can share their progress, offer support and encouragement, and build a sense of community.

Virtual fitness challenges can also be a great way to raise funds for charitable causes. By partnering with a charity or non-profit organization, you can encourage participants to donate money or raise funds through sponsorships. This not only helps support a good cause, but it also adds an extra incentive for participants to take part in the challenge.

Finally, hosting a virtual fitness challenge can also be a great way to promote a business. By offering a challenge that aligns with your brand and values, you can attract new customers and build brand loyalty among existing ones. For example, a fitness apparel company might host a challenge focused on running or yoga, while a health food store might host a challenge focused on healthy eating habits.

Overall, virtual fitness challenges are a fun and engaging way to promote fitness, build community, and support good causes. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast looking to challenge yourself or a business owner looking to promote your brand, hosting a virtual fitness challenge can be a great way to achieve your goals.

Planning your virtual fitness challenge

Setting goals and objectives

The first step in planning your virtual fitness challenge is to define your goals. Think about what you want to achieve with the challenge, and what kind of fitness activities or goals you want to set. For example, do you want participants to engage in running or cycling? Do you want to motivate them to walk a certain number of steps per day? Defining your goals will help you create a challenge that is tailored to your participants’ needs and interests.

When setting your goals, it’s important to make them SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This will help you create objectives that are clear and actionable. For example, if your goal is to get participants to walk more, a SMART objective could be for each participant to walk 10,000 steps per day for a month.

Choosing the right platform

When it comes to hosting a virtual fitness challenge, choosing the right platform is crucial. Look for a platform that is user-friendly, has features such as social sharing, and can handle a large number of participants. Platforms like Strava, Fitbit, and MyFitnessPal are popular options, but there are many other great ones out there. If you use Exercise.com you can have a tightly integrated fitness challenge software solution with messaging, online groups, workout delivery, habit tracking, and even your own custom branded fitness apps.

It’s also important to consider the privacy and security of the platform you choose. Make sure that participants’ personal information is protected, and that the platform is compliant with data protection regulations such as GDPR.

Deciding on the type of fitness challenge

There are many different types of fitness challenges you can host, so think about what will be best for your participants and goals. Here are a few of the most popular types of fitness challenges from the list above (and check out our big list of fitness challenge ideas for even more):

  • A step challenge – where participants aim to reach a certain number of steps per day or week. This is a great option for beginners or those who want to focus on increasing their daily activity levels.
  • A running challenge – where participants aim to run a certain distance over a set period of time. This is a great option for those who enjoy running and want to challenge themselves to run further or faster.
  • A cycling challenge – where participants aim to cycle a certain number of miles over a set period of time. This is a great option for those who enjoy cycling and want to challenge themselves to cycle further or more frequently.
  • A strength training challenge – where participants aim to complete a certain number of strength training exercises over a set period of time. This is a great option for those who want to focus on building strength and muscle mass.

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Establishing a timeline and duration

Once you have defined your goals and chosen your platform and type of challenge, it’s time to establish a timeline and duration. Think about how long your challenge will run, and when it will start and end. It’s also important to consider how frequently you will check in with participants and what metrics you will use to track their progress.

You may want to consider offering prizes or incentives for participants who complete the challenge or achieve certain milestones. This can help motivate participants and keep them engaged throughout the duration of the challenge.

Creating an engaging and inclusive challenge

Virtual fitness challenges have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially as more people are working from home and looking for ways to stay active. However, creating a challenge that is both engaging and inclusive can be a challenge in and of itself. Here are some tips to help you design a virtual fitness challenge that will keep participants motivated and excited throughout the duration of the challenge.

Designing fun and diverse activities

When it comes to designing a virtual fitness challenge, it’s important to consider the types of activities that will be included. To keep participants engaged, it’s important to incorporate a variety of activities that will challenge them in different ways. For example, you can include activities like yoga, strength training, or Zumba to keep things interesting. You can also consider incorporating outdoor activities like hiking or biking for those who prefer to exercise outside.

Another way to make your challenge more engaging is to incorporate challenges or mini-games within the larger challenge. For example, you can challenge participants to complete a certain number of push-ups in a certain amount of time or to walk a certain number of steps each day. These mini-challenges can help keep participants engaged and motivated throughout the challenge.

Encouraging team participation

Participating in a virtual fitness challenge can be a great way to stay motivated and accountable, but it can also be a bit lonely at times. To combat this, consider encouraging team participation. Participants can form teams and compete against one another, which will boost camaraderie and motivation. You can also offer prizes for the winning teams, which can serve as a great incentive to participate.

Another way to encourage team participation is to incorporate team challenges within the larger challenge. For example, you can challenge teams to complete a certain number of miles collectively or to complete a certain number of workouts together. These team challenges can help build a sense of community and support among participants.

Adapting the challenge for different fitness levels

One of the key challenges with hosting a virtual fitness challenge is accommodating participants of different fitness levels. To make your challenge more inclusive, consider offering modifications or alternative activities for those who are just starting out or have physical limitations. This will ensure that everyone can participate and feel included.

You can also consider offering different levels of difficulty for certain activities. For example, you can offer modifications for a yoga pose to make it easier or more challenging depending on the participant’s fitness level. This will allow participants to challenge themselves without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

Finally, it’s important to encourage participants to listen to their bodies and take breaks when needed. Remind participants that the goal of the challenge is to stay active and have fun, not to push themselves to the point of injury or exhaustion.

Promoting your virtual fitness challenge

If you’re planning a virtual fitness challenge, you’ve taken a great first step towards creating a fun and engaging way for people to stay active and healthy. However, organizing the challenge is only half the battle. To ensure that your challenge is a success, you need to promote it widely and get people excited about participating.

Utilizing social media and online platforms

Social media and online platforms are powerful tools for promoting your virtual fitness challenge. Consider creating a Facebook event and inviting your friends and followers to join. You can also post updates about the challenge on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Be sure to use relevant hashtags to help people find your posts.

In addition to social media, there are many online platforms that can help you promote your challenge. For example, you can create a listing on Eventbrite or Meetup to help people find your challenge. You can also post about your challenge on relevant online forums or message boards.

Finally, consider reaching out to fitness influencers or bloggers who may be interested in promoting your challenge to their followers. This can help you reach a wider audience and attract more participants.

Creating eye-catching promotional materials

To grab people’s attention, it’s important to create eye-catching promotional materials. This can include visuals like posters, flyers, or social media graphics. Be sure to highlight the benefits of participating in your challenge and use engaging language that will motivate people to join.

For example, you could create a poster that shows a group of people working out together, with the caption “Join our virtual fitness challenge and get fit with friends!” Or you could create a social media graphic that highlights the prizes that participants can win.

Encouraging word-of-mouth marketing

Encouraging word-of-mouth marketing is another great way to promote your virtual fitness challenge. When people see their friends or family members participating in the challenge and achieving their fitness goals, they’re more likely to want to join themselves.

Encourage your participants to share their progress on social media and to invite their friends or family members to participate as well. You could even offer incentives for participants who refer others to the challenge, such as a discount on registration fees or a free fitness class.

By utilizing social media and online platforms, creating eye-catching promotional materials, and encouraging word-of-mouth marketing, you can help ensure that your virtual fitness challenge is a success. So get started today and start promoting your challenge to the world!

Erica Nangle Fitness
Exercise.com is amazing! Positively surprised by the efficiency at responding and helping out!
Erica Nangle
Owner, Erica Nangle Fitness

How do I host a virtual fitness challenge?

Hosting a virtual fitness challenge requires planning, promotion, execution, and follow-up. Start by defining the type of challenge, the rules, and the duration. Use social media or your website to promote the challenge and encourage sign-ups. Once the challenge begins, provide regular updates and encouragement to participants. After the challenge, consider recognizing the achievements of participants. Using software like Exercise.com can streamline this process, making it easy to set up and track the challenge, and engage with participants.

How do I create an online fitness challenge?

Creating an online fitness challenge involves several steps. First, decide on the type of challenge, whether it’s a step challenge, a weight loss challenge, or something else. Then, set the rules and the duration of the challenge. Promote the challenge through your social media channels, email lists, and website. Once the challenge starts, use a platform like Exercise.com to track progress, communicate with participants, and provide ongoing motivation.

How do you create a fitness challenge for clients?

Creating a fitness challenge for clients starts with understanding your clients’ fitness goals. Once you have a clear understanding, create a challenge that aligns with these goals. This could involve a step challenge, a healthy eating challenge, or a workout streak challenge. Use a platform like Exercise.com to track progress, provide updates, and maintain engagement.

How long should a fitness challenge last?

The duration of a fitness challenge can vary depending on the type of challenge and the goals of the participants. Generally, challenges can last anywhere from a week to several months. A 30-day challenge is common as it is long enough to see progress, but short enough to maintain motivation.

What makes a good fitness challenge?

A good fitness challenge is engaging, achievable, and aligns with the fitness goals of the participants. It should be well-organized, with clear rules and expectations, and provide regular updates and feedback to keep participants motivated. Using a platform like Exercise.com can help manage and track the challenge effectively.

What is the best way to measure a fitness challenge?

The best way to measure a fitness challenge depends on the type of challenge. It could be based on weight loss, number of steps taken, workouts completed, or dietary goals achieved. Tracking progress is key, and software like Exercise.com provides easy tracking and reporting features.

What is the goal of a fitness challenge?

The goal of a fitness challenge can vary, but generally, it’s to motivate participants to achieve a specific fitness goal within a set timeframe. This could involve weight loss, increased physical activity, healthier eating, or a combination of these.

What is the best software to run an online fitness challenge?

Exercise.com is a leading choice for running an online fitness challenge. It allows you to create, manage, and track challenges easily, with features for tracking progress, communicating with participants, and integrating with social media. It’s a comprehensive solution for hosting engaging and effective online fitness challenges.

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Co-Founder, AMPD Golf Performance

Start Your Own Virtual Fitness Challenge Now

Hosting a virtual fitness challenge can be a fun and engaging way to promote fitness and wellness among your community. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can plan a successful challenge that will motivate and engage your participants. Remember to set clear goals, choose the right platform, create diverse activities, and promote your challenge widely.

See why Exercise.com is the best choice for fitness influencers and fitness professionals who want to grow their fitness business online and in-person.

Book a demo now!

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Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning SpecialistĀ® (CSCSĀ®). He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life.
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