5 Tips for Creating a Fitness Challenge with Julie Johnston

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It’s so hard on me to watch my members yo-yo diet and start working out and then quit. If I personally led you through a 6 Week Life-Style Challenge, would you commit to it? If I taught you how to eat right, helped you make small changes with huge impacts, helped you design your fitness and meal schedule, and held you accountable with bi-weekly meetings, would that be the spark that would ignite the fire within you? I believe it would. I believe in you.

We started our Rhino 6 Week Challenge in 2015 because I knew that I personally needed something more to stay committed. This meant that my members do, too! We run 25 Challenges per year and use the kick-off orientation as a motivational group meeting where we share our goals with each other and learn about the healthy changes we will be making over the next 6 weeks.

We just finished the first 6 Week Challenge of 2018 and have 24 graduates out of 25 participants! 20 out of 24 graduate challengers became members because they are addicted to their new lifestyles and don’t want to give up their fitness classes.

If you’re a gym owner looking to host a challenge, here are a couple MUST-DO’s for you:

1. Build your group

Start with a large group setting where everyone sits in a circle and one by one they talk about what brought them to do the challenge. Ask them what they have already been doing in preparation for the challenge to help them feel early success. There will be laughter, tears and bonding. Then, go over the nutrition program and the classes they will be taking.

2. Have check ins

Have someone check in on them weekly via text, email or phone call to ask them how they are doing and help them overcome obstacles. Maybe the group classes were too much for them and they didn’t realize they could purchase personal training and still complete the challenge!

3. Create a fun fitness test

Have one fun physical fitness test at the beginning of the challenge for which each participant will log their score. Try a 50-calorie row or a 400-meter run for time, or log how many burpees completed in 2 mins. Then, towards the end of the challenge repeat it to show them their progress! This gives them a huge feeling of success and they will start craving that feeling.

4. Encourage group bonding

The power of a group is amazing. When you start something big with a lot of other people next to you, you don’t want to let them down. And they inspire you to keep going. Encourage them to post in a group Facebook page when they are going to a class and how they do their meal preps. This will encourage participation and shared triumphs.

5. Make the goal accessible

Make the challenge possible to graduate. Don’t give them a Weight-Loss goal, give them an attendance and nutrition tracking goal. Weight-Loss goals wind up causing emotional harm and can even cause participants to lose weight in unhealthy ways. If a participant goes to a certain number of classes and follows the nutrition program, they should feel incredibly successful. If the challenge wraps itself around a weight-loss goal, and they don’t complete it, the participant feels worse than when they started.

Recent Rhino 6 Week Challenge numbers:

January 2nd, 2017 Group: 25 Committed, 24 Graduated, 20 new members!

December 17th, 2017 Group: 10 Committed, 10 Graduated, 10 new members!

December 6th, 2017 Group: 19 Committed, 19 Graduated, 19 new members!

November 20th, 2017 Group: 15 Committed, 13 Graduated, 12 new members!

November 12th, 2017 Group: 24 Committed, 20 Graduated, 19 new members!


Keep an eye out on some big changes we are going to be making to our 6 Week Challenge. As soon as we prove the model successful, we will be sharing with all of you!


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About Julie Johnston

Julie Johnston is the founder and owner of Camp Rhino, a first of its kind boot camp, indoor obstacle course, and Rhino CrossFit affiliate, in Las Vegas, NV. Over the past 14 years, Johnston and her team have grown Camp Rhino from one of the first outdoor boot camp classes to a one-of-a-kind fitness experience with two (soon to be three) locations. With 14 years experience as a physical fitness trainer and 17 years experience as an entrepreneur, Johnston stays ahead of the curve with never-seen-before fitness programs and business ideas.