Fitness Challenge Blog

The 30-Day Employee Fitness Challenge

July 15, 2015 by Joseph

30-Day challenges have been making the rounds for a few years now but I have to admit that I only just recently completed one. It was your run-of-the-mill “Ab challenge” where you started with five reps and increased by five each day for 30 days with every fifth day off. I’m generally pretty fit but, by the last day, I had a little trouble knocking out 120 crunches in a row (more or less).

So, how does this fit in with your employee fitness challenge? 30-Day challenges are typically a solo, honor-based program where the participant is just trying to get started or restarted in fitness and the challenge represents a bite-sized chunk to propel them forward. In essence, they are cheat-day friendly and non-judgmental – perfect for the beginner! It just so happens this is exactly the participant you want to engage in your wellness program.

Naysayers will state that a 30-Day challenge cannot be that effective since a substantive physiological response takes more time and a workout program should be developed for the whole body and not just one or two muscle groups. While I would agree with some of this, I would argue that the point of an employee wellness program is not to create complete workout programs but to engage and help employees make positive lifestyle choices.

Challenge Design

A 30-Day challenge is significantly different than your typical weight loss or walking program in that it doesn’t lend itself well to a winner-take-all competition. In a 30-Day challenge with several participants, you will have many that complete all thirty days creating numerous ties for first place. To eliminate this problem, change the format from winner-takes-all to a minimum participation award where every employee who completes a minimum number of days receives a nominal award. For example, you could award every employee who completes 20 days with a $5 gift card, 25 days with a $10 gift card and all 30 days with a $15 gift card. In any case, keep award values low to discourage participants from inflating numbers. Most participants will consider the greatest reward to be the challenge itself since 30-Day challenge participants generally receive no award whatsoever.

The sky is the limit on the fitness mode used for your 30-Day challenge. Many incorporate exercises such as crunches, squats, pushups, etc. but you don’t have to stop there. Your challenge can also include vegetables, exercise minutes, water consumption or any other idea you can dream up. You can even incorporate multiple modes by having activities such as squats and water consumption in one thirty day challenge.

A leaderboard is still handy in a 30-Day challenge even when there will not be an overall winner. Essentially, you would establish milestones on your leaderboard and just use them to denote when participants achieve each milestone.


It is a simple matter to create 30-day challenges using the ChallengeRunner platform. You simply create the challenge itself and then build a True or False activity such as “Squats”. Then, under additional options, check the Incremental Caption option and set the starting value, increments, and optionally the rest day interval. When a participant logs in, they will see the activity (Squats) and the number of reps they are to perform. The system will take care of the leaderboards and any milestones.


There are many “Fads” in fitness that come and go and 30-Day challenges may be one of them. That does not take away from the fact that they can be an effective tool to inspire those who are largely inactive to move their bodies more each day. No, a 30-Day challenge will not turn a couch potato into an athlete but participation is much better than having another bag of chips sitting on the couch! The incremental daily goals even allow participants to see small victories where they had none before. Another bonus is that 30-Day challenges allow wellness program administrators to try something different besides walking, active minutes, or weight loss challenges which in turn will engage users beyond runners, gym rats, and those who need to lose weight.

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