Fitness Challenge Blog

Why Run a Fitness Challenge when You Can Have a Tournament?

March 6, 2017 by Joseph

Fitness challenges allow participants to get healthy while competing against friends and coworkers in a friendly competition. A typical challenge runs from a few weeks to a few months and, depending on the activities selected, participants lose a few pounds, improve their cardiovascular system, or pick up some healthy habits. However, running the same challenges over and over will see a drop in enthusiasm and participation levels. How to break up the monotony? Start a fitness tournament.

A fitness tournament differs from a fitness challenge mainly in the use of multiple short rounds instead of long activities and that lower performing participants are removed from the tournament from round to round.

Tournament Rounds

You can think of a round as a short, self-contained challenge. A tournament round can have one or more activities that participants will compete over such as: walking, weight loss, water consumed, vegetables eaten, etc. The length of the round can run from one day to several weeks. While not a traditional challenge in duration, your tournament must still be long enough to provide some health benefit to all participants. Therefore, a round should probably be at least one week since half of the participants will be eliminated after only one round.

Depending on the type of tournament, participants with the fewest points at end of each round are eliminated. This, of course, provides much more incentive to try harder than a standard challenge. Another positive aspect to a tournament is that all participants restart at zero points each round. This keeps the handful of performance athletes in any group from dominating the leaderboard after the first few weeks and spoiling the competition for everyone else. The two tournament types supported by ChallengeRunner are Group Points and Single Elimination.

Group Points Tournament

A Group Points based tournament allow groups of participants to compete against a golf tournament style cut-line. At the end of each round, only the participants above the cut-line are included in the next round. This type of tournament was popularized by “The Biggest Loser” television show although the cut-line was less aggressive. While a “bad round” can eliminate a participant from the tournament, your higher-performing participants generally reach the final rounds and are less susceptible to getting a bad draw like single-elimination tournaments since, until the final round, competition is against a group instead of an individual.

Single Elimination Tournament

Anyone who has ever competed in an organized sport or filled out a NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket is probably familiar with the single elimination tournament format. At the start of the tournament, participants are seeded into their brackets based on prior performance or by completing a “seed round”. The seeds are important because they place the highest seeds (The highest performing) against the lowest seeds (lowest performing) to help the higher seeds advance. The seeding process can also limit the field of participants. If a challenge only allows 32 seeds, the 33rd and lower scoring participants would not make the tournament field.

After the seed round, participants compete head-to-head each round with the highest seeds against the lowest seeds. The winner of each head-to-head competition advances to the next round while the loser is eliminated. Rounds continue until only two participants remain. While single elimination tournaments work well with individual participants, using teams allows for even more competitors per round and promotes engagement and camaraderie.

So why would you choose a tournament challenge over a standard fitness challenge? Variety. Although you certainly wouldn’t want to use tournaments as the only, long-term option to improve the fitness of your group, mixing in a tournament now and then is certain to generate interest in your program as well as drive participation.

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