Everywhere you look there’s another transformation challenge popping up. You can bet you’re about to see a whole lot more of them in the lead up to summer too. I’m sure if I opened Instagram or Facebook right now I could quickly find a before and after photo of an amazing 21 or 30-day transformation. Maybe even a 14-day detox transformation if I’m lucky!
There’s no doubt short term transformations are enticing. We can easily fall prey to the notion that with a little bit of short term pain we can be rewarded with the body we know is hiding under there somewhere. “If I can just put in a big effort for the next 21 days, I’ll see results that will spur me on.” Yes, a quick fix would be amazing… if it was that easy.
Sorry if I’m sounding like a Negatron, I’m usually more of an Optimist Prime (speaking of transformations, ha). The reality is that most transformation challenges are really just low-cost doorway programs into ongoing services. The idea being that once you have recognised the small gains made during the challenge you will be more likely to become a repeat buyer. You’re on the hook. The irony is that it’s only when you make the ongoing commitment, you get hooked, that you see the real progress.
It takes more than a short-term challenge to make sustained fitness progress, so while short term challenges can have a place in getting you started they only represent the initial stage of the journey. Looking at the four stages below, making sure you have a plan in place from the outset that is going to carry you through to the Results Stage, is paramount.
(10 – 30 days)
(1 – 6 Months)
(7 – 12 Months)
(12 Months +)
|You’re nervous but excited, proud of yourself for starting and really want to give it a good go this time. You might tell a few people.
|One to two months in is the end of the honeymoon period. Can be a test of will and commitment. People around you will likely pick up on your attitude which signals either belief or burden (of fitting in fitness).||Consistency is paying off as small changes have now become habits. Other people notice the physical changes, especially when they haven’t seen you for a while.||A new you is constantly learning and refining. Setting bigger goals and enjoying a more positive outlook on life.|
|Motivation is high and should take care of itself.||Biggest hurdle stage.||Positive external reinforcement spurs you on.||Motivation rarely wavers, fitness is part of your life.|
Four key features to look for in a transformation challenge
Before embarking on a short term challenge this spring, here are four key features you need to keep in mind:
- A socially supportive environment.
It’s got to be a supportive and encouraging environment, which you would think is a given in the fitness industry. However, it means the trainers are invested in your progress rather than the size of their group. They take the time for your questions, they learn about you, your limits and your motivations. The program supports you bringing along a friend or creates a team environment where everyone spurs on each other’s success. It’s easier when you’re not going it alone!
- Caters to your fitness level.
Most challenges will say they cater for everyone, no matter if you are a beginner or advanced athlete, male or female, old or young! Drastically increasing your “battle roping” and kettle bell swinging when you’re not ready for that type of exercise can certainly be a recipe for lower back injuries. If you’re starting out make sure there is a focus on mastering the basic movements before getting too adventurous.
- Realistic time commitment.
If you really want to kick start your fitness there’s nothing wrong with going all in. Understand there might be some sacrifices required, but make sure you’re not going to run yourself into the ground and need a week of recovery 30 days in due to trying to do too much. The last thing this new routine should be doing is adding another layer of negative stress due to your busy schedule.
- Diet advice that is not based on restriction.
This could be the most important one. Many challenges will market “free meal plans,” which can be great as a guide. But let’s be honest, they probably don’t really have the time or resources to understand your individual nutrient intake requirements and formulate a diet strategy for you. While you might lose weight by drastically reducing your overall caloric intake whilst massively increasing your level of exercise, this is not a sustainable method. It will most likely lead to low energy levels and putting the weight back on if/when you increase food intake. Instead, diet advice should first focus on substituting some of the energy dense foods in your diet such as muffins and hot chips for more nutrient dense foods such as vegetables and nuts. Unless you are working with a nutrition professional on creating a tailored diet plan, start with the basics of small substitutions, cutting down on alcohol and soft drink and increasing water intake.
The most important thing to consider before embarking on a new fitness program is determining where you want to get to and why. I always say clarity of vision comes before clarity of path. When you understand the long-term goals from the outset, an appropriate strategy can be designed to get you there.
At Geelong’s Gym we pride ourselves on being able to help you create a schedule that aligns with your goals, fitness level, budget and exercise preferences. With a huge group fitness program, Tribe small group team training, one-on-one personal training and a wide range of traditional gym equipment as well as functional fitness equipment, we truly cater to all levels.
It’s entirely possible to make life altering changes to your health if you are willing to do the work and perhaps make a few sacrifices along the way. With summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to start planning for your next goal, and remember we’re here to help, all you need to do is ask.