How to Set Up a Holiday Fitness Challenge

Jessica Thiefels, The Upside Blog by

by | Read time: 4 minutes

As we approach the end of 2021, you may be feeling ready to reclaim healthy fitness habits, prepping yourself to hit the ground running with resolutions this January. Aside from signing up for annual Turkey Trots and Santa Runs, or squeezing in time at a crowded gym, how can you keep your body moving and get back on the right track?

Here’s an idea: why not set up a remote holiday fitness challenge?

You don’t need an expensive gym membership or to avoid eating your favorite holiday cookies to prioritize your health this December. Use these ideas to jump-start a personalized fitness challenge.

Holiday Fitness Challenge Scene With Weights, Sneakers and Fitness Journal on Wood Surface |

How to Set up a Fitness Challenge

Find your group

Identify at least one friend, family member, or coworker with whom you can share your fitness challenge. They don’t have to take on the challenge with you, but you should trust them enough to support your goals and hold you accountable. For example, if you want to exercise three times a week through December, make sure this person feels comfortable asking if you have worked out—and then hold you accountable if you didn’t.

Not only does this allow you to bring more people into your challenge, but studies have shown that telling people your goals makes you more likely to follow through with them. “You want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to,” says Howard Klein, professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

Instead of inviting just one fitness buddy, invite all your friends and family. Get everyone involved and be one another’s accountability partners. With digital technology, you’ll be able to stay connected, work out together, and even do weigh-ins or check-ins as a group.

Focus on holistic health

There’s a big difference between setting up a holiday fitness challenge and a holiday weight-loss challenge. Focus on fitness to encourage everyone to develop better health habits, like getting off the couch, keeping your muscles warm, and setting yourself up to easily complete functional movements, like squats or overhead reaches. This makes it more relevant to your group of friends and family while keeping it fun and low-pressure.

“I ask my clients to move away from weight loss goals and focus on developing a positive relationship with exercise instead,” says Hollie Grant, founder of The Pilates PT Method. In this way, the focus is less on forcing yourselves to exercise in a way that you don’t enjoy and instead, lean into the things you do enjoy, whether that’s yoga, HIIT, daily walks or weekend hikes.

Build this into your challenge, giving everyone a chance to identify their own goals and exercise modalities. The key is for everyone to set specific goals so you can check in with one another throughout the process.

Set the ground rules

They key to getting the most out of your holiday fitness challenge is to set ground rules that everyone has to follow. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • Everyone must check-in on a Sunday morning video call.
  • Everyone must move their body 3 times each week.
  • Everyone must check-in with their accountability partner once each week.
    Everyone must participate between [date] and [date].

These ground rules keep everyone on track and accountable for sticking with it.

Connect virtually for workouts and wins

Hop on video calls throughout the challenge to celebrate wins and workout together. The beauty of digital technology is that everyone can do the same workout together at once, or better yet, simply get together for a celebratory party. You can even turn your annual holiday party into a virtual wellness party where everyone makes a healthy dish after you do a workout together as a group.

The key is connecting and supporting one another, whether everyone is staying on track or struggling. As Annie Blay, fitness writer for POPSUGAR explains of her fitness accountability group:

“When someone misses a day, we first ask if she’s OK, then encourage her to get back on schedule ASAP. In that way, these check-ins are equal parts tough love and validation—we keep each other on task, while celebrating each other’s successes. Above all, we encourage each other to meet our fitness goals, while serving as a constant reminder that we are more than our bodies.”

Bring fitness into the new year

Your virtual holiday challenge can be a fun way to get back into good fitness habits and to set aside time to prioritize your health. While you should focus on clear goals in the short run, don’t let your challenge end in the New Year. The habits you build now can help you develop a long-term health plan that will propel you into 2022 and beyond. This is even better if you complete your holiday fitness challenge with close friends and family members who will also be able to develop new habits and know-how to better care for themselves. Together you’ll get stronger and healthier, making your bond that might closer.