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How to Run an Online Fitness Challenge

Ever thought about starting up an online fitness challenge? Or have you tried already? Then you may already know it’s not as simple as just creating a “challenge” and selling it. You must consider why you are creating the challenge from different perspectives. More notably, two perspectives, your personal training businesses and your target market.

Just simply creating a challenge doesn’t mean people will buy into it. Nor does it mean it will benefit your business either. Think of it like you do when writing a workout or creating a fitness program. You don’t just slap some stuff in FitSW and expect it to work do you? You more then likely put careful thought and consideration into it. As such, you should do the same when creating fitness challenges.

1. Breaking Down Your Online Fitness Challenge

When it comes to creating online fitness challenges, there are a couple essential variables you want to assess:

  1. What is the goal for your business?
  2. What is your target audience and what is your goal for your target audience?
  3. How will you market the challenge?
  4. What is your plan for after the challenge?

These questions help gain a better understanding of what it takes to run an online fitness challenge from a birds eye view.

Fitness challenges can be a very effective way of taking someone who is a complete stranger to your business and turning them into a long term client. The thing is, a lot of trainers don’t take the necessary steps to ensure the challenge launches successfully and they lose out on a lot of value that could have been generated from the challenge.

In the next section we will outline each step from the list above and look at what it takes to create and launch an online fitness challenge.

2. What is the Business Goal?

When it comes to the business goal you have to ask yourself what you want to come out of this challenge for your business.

  • Are you trying to increase sales?
  • Build your email list?
  • Create awareness of your business and services?

Your business goal is one of the most important aspects. It essentially defines the nature of the challenge and how you approach marketing it. Lets look at example challenges from the list above. Remember, there are loads of different business objectives. These are only examples.

Increase Sales

Lets say, for example, your goal is to convert people who do your challenge into longer term clients. Then that means your challenge might come with an exclusive discount towards some of your larger packages that you sell. But only if they signed up and competed in the challenge.

You could make this a free challenge or a paid one. It’s up to you and what you want to accomplish.

A challenge you can offer is 2 weeks of training geared towards solving a problem of your target market. Let’s say the goal is to lose weight. For those that complete the challenge get the price of the 2 week challenge taken off of a larger package that you offer.

This is a great way to increase sales. People are either purchasing the smaller 2 week challenge from you and that’s it or they are purchasing the 2 week challenge and then going on to purchase something larger.

Build Your Email List

Another business objective example could be trying to build your email list. You could run Facebook or Instagram ads that direct people to a landing page you have set up where they input their email as a way to sign up.

Then you deliver workouts straight to their inbox for the duration of the fitness challenge. Plus you could deliver other content besides the content you are delivering for the challenge. This gives you a great way to showcase your knowledge and provide real value to challenge participants.

This also opens the door to sending them marketing emails in the future when the challenge is over.

Creating Awareness

This is one of the more simple challenges, however, can still be effective. An example could be running a challenge on social media. You can ask participants to sign up on a landing page that way you can track who’s competing.

Then post updates on social media as far as the daily tasks for the challenge goes.

You could do a free 2 week push-up challenge where you post the daily workouts on social media. Then ask people to post their results on social media and tag you or use a specific hashtag you created for the challenge.

3. What is Your Target Audience and What is Your Goal For Them?

Keep in mind, many of the people who are or are considering signing up have something specific in mind they want solved. Maybe they are just looking to squeeze in a quick workout throughout the day, lose weight, or they want to try gaining muscle.

So, the question is, how will your challenge benefit them?

The goal should be to pick a pain point and guide challenge participants to a solution over the course of the online fitness challenge.

Lets look at weight loss as an example. Through the duration of the challenge provide exercises participants can do that will help them lose weight, educate them on diet, educate them on the myths of diet and exercise revolving around weight loss, and talk about how to healthily operate on a caloric deficiency.

It’s important to make sure the challenge target market fits the market you traditionally train in. Someone who’s a strength and conditioning coach isn’t going to launch a challenge about Brazilian jiu jitsu.

This is important because it helps you better ensure results for your clients and for your business.

In setting up a challenge that’s related to other personal training packages that you sell, it gives you the opportunity to up sell challenge participants later on.

4. How Will You Market Your Online Fitness Challenge?

There are different ways you can market your challenge. Without diving to deep into marketing your challenges, we will go into a high level overview of what a marketing plan can look like.


The first obvious one is using referrals! Once you have the challenge outlined, then you can send out an email blast to your current and past clients informing them of your challenge details and asking them to refer people to the challenge.

You can even create a rewards system. If a current client refers someone to the challenge they get a gift card, a free supplement, or they get a discounted rate on their next session.

If a past client refers someone, they get a discount on future sessions they purchase or you can even try giving the person they recommended to the challenge a discount on any of your programs they purchase.

Creating a rewards system might even bring some old clients back!


This method works if you already have a blog going. Posting a blog updating your blog readers on the challenge you are running can help create awareness of the challenge.

Having an active blog also helps as it this gives people the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter which opens the door to leveraging email marketing.

Email Marketing

This is one of the more powerful marketing methods. Especially if you have an active newsletter you already send out weekly or monthly. Simply just send out a couple newsletters announcing the challenge details, starts dates, how to sign up, and any other details you find are needed.

Another option for email marketing involves leveraging the power of social media marketing. Essentially, use social media ads to drive traffic to a landing page where site visitors are given the opportunity to sign up for the challenges. A part of signing up is they provide you with an email you can send information to.

Social Media Marketing

As mentioned in the previous section, you can use social media marketing to drive traffic to a landing page where people are given the opportunity to sign up for the challenge.

However, this is where social media marketing can get really powerful. Not everyone is going to sign up when they click on your ad and are sent to your landing page. Fear not, you can get them to come back through re-targeting ads.

With social media ads, you can create an audience based on what pages of your site they viewed. For example, if they viewed the “Sign Up” page for the challenge but didn’t view the “Thanks for Signing Up” page for the challenge, this means they didn’t sign up. With this same exact logic, you can tell Facebook to deliver ads to people who viewed and didn’t view certain pages.

Another option for social media marketing is just simply posting about it on your personal Instagram or Facebook page. In your posts, announce the challenge details and don’t forget to include a link in your bio.

Google Ads

Leveraging Google Ads for marketing your online fitness challenge can be intimidating but it’s not too bad when you get the hang of it. The reason why Google Ads is so powerful is because of human nature. Think about it, when you have a need or problem, where do you go? You search for solutions on Google. And so do most people.

Google ads give’s you the ability to bid on words people are searching for.

Google Ads Example Image
Google Ad Example: Notice the highlighted area? That’s what the typical ad looks like on Google.

In the image above, notice how an ad pops up based on my search? That’s because Adobe is bidding on the search term “Photoshop”.

When I say bidding that’s because Google Ads is structured like digital auction. Every time you search something, an auction happens in the split of a second.

Anytime you search something, it’s likely the first 2-4 search results are actually ads. Each of the top 2-4 search results are different companies bidding on the term you searched or one similar enough to the word you searched such that their ad appeared.

This whole process operates on what you’d call a “pay-per-click” model or PPC. This means you don’t pay until someone clicks on your ad. This is where the auction comes from.

In your Google Ads account, you tell Google the max amount you are willing to pay per click and they “enter” you into the auction. You also tell Google what words, or more commonly referred to as keywords, you are bidding on.

Then when a search happens involving your keyword, your business is entered in the auction and Google determines who the top 2-4 bidders are. You might think this is immediately based on what you are willing to pay per click, but that’s not everything. Google also looks at how relevant your bid is.

For example, if a software company was bidding on the search term “Cocoa Puffs” that wouldn’t be super relevant and Google wouldn’t show their ad.

Given this, what’s another reason why Google ads is so powerful? It’s because of what us marketers call…

commercial intention.

Commercial intention is referencing the intention of the user who is doing the searching.

For example, if someone searches for “Personal Training” it might be hard to determine exactly what they are looking for. They could be someone looking for a personal trainer, wondering what personal training is, or they could be someone who wants to become a personal trainer.

That wouldn’t be a good word you’d want to bid on because you can’t tell what the user wants. However, bidding on the word “Software for Personal Trainers” is a good one to bid on. It’s more specific and tells you more about what the user is searching for.

In the example of online fitness challenges, you can do keyword research and find the best words to bid on for your challenge.

Online Fitness Challenge Key Word Research
Ubersuggest: Keyword Research Tool

In this example, I’ve typed in Weight Loss Challenge in Ubsersuggest to give an example. Notice immediately it gives you the Search Volume which is how many searches for this terms occur each month, SEO/Paid difficulty, and the estimated cost per click (CPC).

This is a great place to get started in doing research for keywords for an online fitness challenge.

5. How Will the Fitness Challenge be Delivered?

There are many way’s you can go about delivering a fitness challenge.

Social Media/Blog

You could post the daily challenge details on a blog or social media profile. You’d just have to make sure you let people know where and when you will be posting challenge details. On top of that, if the challenge is based on a social media or internet platform, you might want to give people a place to post their results.

Since it’s on social media, it might be a natural response for people to want to share their progress.


An additional method for delivering challenge details and daily tasks could be over email. You could send out daily workout emails or deliver all of the details at once in an excel or word file. This is probably the most common method and can work pretty well.

The only thing is, if you are collecting feedback or results from this challenge, you will have to ask challenge participants to submit their results all over email. The problem with this is it’s a pretty manual process for your clients and can turnout to be a substantial amount of work for you.

Along these same lines, you could create a Google document you share with everyone. This could be a good central place to update challenge details on a daily basis and collect information from participants.

Client Management Software

The last route you can go is using a client management software for personal trainers. This is a pretty good way of making sure the challenge details are delivered effectively. Not only that, but, using a personal training software can help you track the results challenge participants see over the course of the challenge.

6. What is Your Plan for After the Challenge?

Your plan for after the challenge is completely dependent on your business objective and what you’d like to accomplish. One aspect to consider are re-targeting marketing campaigns to get people to sign up for larger packages.

With re-targeting, you can simply run social media ads and email marketing campaigns to inform challenge participants of the services you offer in larger packages.

Another aspect for consideration is setting up a system for feedback. Whether you simply accept feedback through email or you use a software like Survey Monkey to collect feedback, creating a plan for feedback is a must.

This way you get insight into what parts of the challenge worked and what parts didn’t for future challenges.

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