A lot of fitness challenges out there focus on the individual rather than the team. One of the great things about the Fit Company Challenge is that participants can train (and bond) together while they prepare for the event.
The main reason we started this challenge was because we wanted something coworkers could get excited about and which they could work towards, together, as a team.
To do this, we kept things simple and focused on the basics. Participants don’t need to go to a special gym or class to get the training they need, and they won’t have to rack up a ton of running miles either. Instead, anything that you do to get ready for the event, whether that be hitting the gym, doing a lap around the block, or getting in a round of volleyball, will help get you ready.
Keep in mind that training isn’t a requirement for participation. We’ve had plenty of people just show up on the event day and do perfectly fine. However, if you’re looking to get the most of the experience bonding with your co-workers (or if you’re competitive and are looking to place higher at the event) then you’ll want to take part in a training routine.
Plus, everyone who we’ve spoken to who trains regularly has said that their routine played a major role in helping them not just do better at the event, but feel more confident and energized going in.
What we’ve done here is put together a list of the best practices that we’ve heard from teams who’ve participated in the event several years in a row. Some of these come from super competitive, top-finisher teams, while others are from regular offices looking to add a little wellness to their lives.
Without further ado, here are the top 7 best practices for training for the Fit Company Challenge:
1 – Organize at least 1 Weekly Team Workout & Invite EVERYONE
Having weekly workouts is key to bringing your team together and keeping the momentum going once you get the ball rolling.
Set a time each week where the team works out and where each member knows that this time is being set aside for specifically that. Your group can all hang out together after and grab a bite to eat or catch a Happy Hour, but make sure they come expecting to sweat (at least a little bit!) during the training session.
And remember to invite EVERYONE. Don’t miss the opportunity to bring your whole team together. There could be colleagues who want to join in even if they can’t make it to Challenge itself (such as with scheduling conflicts) and training sessions could help those sitting on the fence know if they are up for it next year.
2 – Pick the Right Training Leader
The right leader at your weekly sessions can make all the difference between workouts that are fun, engaging and social versus workouts that are slow, underwhelming and don’t get people excited for things to come.
Ideally, have your session lead by one of the team team captains or someone with the kind of personality that can motivate and encourage others. if they’ve done the Challenge before or have a lot of personal fitness experience, their knowledge can definitely benefit the whole team.
3 – Pick the Right Location
One of the best things about the Fit Company Challenge is that you don’t need any fancy or hard-to-find equipment to prepare for the challenge. You can largely rely on your own body-weight for exercises, or bring along some simple equipment (think sandbells, TRX, resistance bands, kettlebells, etc.) for some extra fun.
This means that your team can meet and workout just about anywhere. The office gym, an outdoor parking lot, or a nearby sports field are all places where you team can make it work. Whichever one you choose, just make sure that your team can get there easily enough and that you have enough space in case of a big turnout!
4 – Keep it Consistent and Simple
Don’t get discouraged if some weeks there’s only two of you who make it to the workout. People have busy lives so it’s natural that not everyone will turn out each week.
Usually, it’s better to keep it consistent rather than cancelling or constantly shifting the date. Cancelling can hurt the momentum of people who regularly attend and shifting the date can turn it into a scheduling nightmare as you scramble to find another free evening.
On the flip side, if you find that you’re consistently getting a great turnout, and people want more, then you can consider adding another session or two a week.
5 – Follow the Right Workout Plan
There’s no one-size-fits all workout plan that’s right for every team. While we provide a training plan specifically designed for the Challenge that a lot of teams use, not everyone follows it.
It’s also SUPER important to know your audience when selecting your workout plan. If it’s everyone’s first time participating in the challenge or if your team just wants to make it through a course or two, focus on more cardio (i.e. walks, light jogs) and add in a few bodyweight exercises at the start of the training session to get people pumped and ready.
Some teams who have captains with a lot of experience also devise their own plans, while others might bring in a trainer from outside. It can also be fun to attend a class together, like yoga, spin or a bootcamp. It all depends on where your team is at with their own fitness levels.
To get people excited about the workouts (and to actually show up!) we strongly encourage sending regular email reminders. Of course, use this medium to not only promote the training sessions, but include fun and inspirational things like: pictures from the event or training session and positive shout outs. If someone broke a personal record one week, share that with the whole team!
6 – Embrace the Buddy System
Mutual encouragement and accountability can really help participants feel like they’re making progress in their workouts. Having a buddy system works great if your company isn’t able to organize weekly team workouts, or if your coworkers want to meet up even more times during the week.
Try not to make your accountability groups too big. For instance, having one person trying to keep an eye on a dozen colleagues might overwhelm them. Instead, aim for smaller groups of 3-4. One of the great things about the Challenge is that by focusing on small squads, participants already have the structures in place for a close-knit group. This will help build camaraderie and encourage socialization.
Once your system is in place, let your colleagues decide how they want to use it. Some might decide to meet up and train together a couple extra times a week, while others might just want to meet over lunch and talk about their training progress. How your team uses your buddy system really varies according to what each participant needs.
7 – Do at Least 1 Office WOD Together Each Day
Office WODs are quick and fun workouts that you and your colleagues can do together at the office. They add a bit of fun and excitement to everyone’s day and are a great time for socializing and bonding.
Like your weekly training sessions, we suggest starting with one a day and keeping the timing consistent. We recommend setting your WODs at mid-morning, about halfway between the start of the day and lunch. There’s a good chance everyone is at the office at that hour and probably in need of a small break too.
Ideally, if your office has a fitness room, try to meet there as a team. If not, an empty conference room, hallway or the parking lot outside can all make for quick and easy alternatives.
Remember not to overdo it during your WODs. Keep them short and simple. Just 2-3 minutes of stretches can be enough to get people feeling energized. If you find that people want more after it’s done, add another in the afternoon halfway between the end of lunch and the end of the day.
There’s a lot of ways you can workout together, but there’s no single right way for your team to get together and train. If this is your first year participating, use these practices as a roadmap and feel free to mix it up with whichever way works best for your group!
No matter what your workout regime looks like at the end of the day, remember to keep it simple and social. We designed the challenge to be accessible and fun, and most importantly of all, as an experience that brings teams closer together, builds bonds and instills a great sense of achievement and camaraderie in every participant.
Of course, if you ever find yourself with any questions about training, communications, and keeping your team motivated in the lead-up to the event, we’re here to help. You can reach us by phone or email at any time and we’ll be happy to share our experiences with you and help your team put together the training that’s right for them.
Yours in wellness,
The FC Squad