Research indicates that skyrocketing obesity rates are driving the fitness market. This means big opportunities for fitness businesses. But is your gym doing everything it can be doing to support members in their weight loss goals (while boosting your bottom line in the process)? Enter weight loss challenges. These group initiatives challenge participants to lose weight in a safe, motivating environment. 

Whether you’re considering introducing a weight loss challenge at your fitness business or hoping to improve an existing program, read on for a roundup of best practices for implementing and sustaining successful weight loss challenges.

Why Offer Weight Loss Challenges?

Weight loss challenges are a smart way to help your members reach their health and wellness goals. However, they also offer benefits for your fitness business, as well. Not only can weight loss challenges help improve your income stream through sign-up fees, but they can also support member relationships — both with each other and with your staff — thereby enhancing member engagement, camaraderie, loyalty, and retention. 

However, running a weight loss challenge involves much more than simply spurring members to lose the largest amount of weight in the shortest amount of time. Rather, pulling off a successful challenge takes planning and preparation. 

Three Best Practices for Weight Loss Challenges

Which begs the question: How can you make sure your weight loss challenges are having the most positive and effective impact? Start with these three best practices. 

1. Choose your parameters wisely. 

Weight loss challenges must be long enough for participants to see results but short enough for participants to remain motivated. As the adage goes, “Timing is everything.”  According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the average weight loss challenge spans between three and 10 weeks

The length of time is not arbitrary, but instead depends on the goal of participants. Are they looking to quickly detox, jumpstart a workout routine, eat right through the food-filled holidays, or get in shape for a far-off goal like a wedding or bikini season? 

2. Don’t overlook the importance of diet.

By now we all know that exercise and nutrition are equal partners in the weight loss effort. Unfortunately, many weight loss challenges place an overwhelming focus on working out while neglecting diet. 

Fitness business

Advises ACE, “Especially during a weight-loss challenge, it’s important to stress nutrition beyond setting the initial expectations. Keep the nutrition conversation going at every session throughout the challenge by asking participants about their meal plans, what they like or don’t like, and how they’re doing adhering to it. These conversations may help you identify where clients need more support, how lifestyle could be affecting client adherence to the challenge meal plan and more. Keep the nutrition conversation simple to stay within your scope of practice. Keep bringing them back to the basics of the plan, the foods and the lifestyle. This is about making changes that last, not just about following a meal plan for the short-term.”

Another way to keep nutrition at the forefront? Partner with a registered dietitian, who can help with everything from meal planning to reviewing food diaries. 

3. Generate buzz.

How successful will your weight loss challenge be without any participants? In addition to promoting upcoming challenges via your facility, website and social media, attract members to join through a number of other techniques, including using testimonials and before-and-after photos from past participants, create exclusivity by offering it only at certain times of year with limited space, and inviting members to encourage their friends and family to participate.  

Furthermore,  fitness business owner Julie Stubblefield tells ACE, “If enrollment is lagging, holding an information session about a topic (sustainable body change, hormonal imbalance or another point of pain for clients) to generate interest and the opportunity to sell the program face-to-face.”

If you started your fitness business to help people lead healthier, happier lives, weight loss challenges can be an invaluable tool in doing so. Another useful tool for 21st-century gyms and health clubs in achieving this goal? Wearable technology. Download the Catalog today to learn more about what the Accurofit System can do for you.