A Very Brief Guide to Making Fitness Fun (and Getting in Ridiculous Shape)

Written by Scott September 17, 2010

Written by Scott Dinsmore –  Follow me on Twitter.

Get Fit with 30 Day Challenges

Average Read Time: 2.5 Minutes

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Hi! If you’re visiting from the recent mention on ZenHabits and are new to the action, then welcome. Leo’s a good friend and even better workout partner. This post led to the 30-day Crossfit fitness challenge we just completed. I am still sore…

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Begin Post:

For me success has always started with personal health.

If I don’t feel fit and healthy, it’s much more difficult to go after the rest of my ambitions, let alone follow my path. Not to mention, tremendous energy comes from a good workout and a consistently healthy diet.

I have tested all kinds of ways of getting active and eating healthy over the years (thanks to Michael Pollan, Tony Robins and The China Study, among others, I’ve settled on a mostly plant based diet and haven’t looked back).

As a result I’ve found some pretty powerful results.

This year I stumbled on something that has helped me accomplish more physically in a year than I thought possible.

The Solution: The 30-Day Challenge

Given our craving for variety and how quickly we get bored with the norm, especially with working out, I decided to break my activity into 30-day bursts. This allows me to try all kinds of adventures and to really go after the activity at hand without getting burned out. Plain and simple, it makes fitness fun.

All of us can do something for 30 days, right?

Here’s how it works:

1. Build your team. Find a few active and motivated friends to join you. This will help a ton with accountability and making it way more fun. And if your buddies are anything like mine, you’ll push each other without even trying.

2. Pick your activity. Brainstorm a list of things you can do for a month using the following criteria: 1. It must be fun and exciting, 2. Can be done almost daily, and 3. It must be a stretch to accomplish. Remember, it’s called a ‘Challenge’ for a reason. A bonus would be that it teaches you a new skill. I listed some ideas below. Most gyms and workout classes have an introductory special that is a ridiculous deal. Even trying a new one of those each month works well. Plus, you may find your perfect activity in the process.

3. Create your schedule. Ideally every morning first thing, because that gives it the best chance of actually happening.

4. Do it. No excuses. Keep each other motivated.

5. Celebrate. No accomplishment is complete without a victory dance.

30-Day Challenges I’ve done this year:

  • Rock climbing (gym or outdoors)- pick a face the first day you hope to conquer by month’s end.
  • TRX Suspension training– whoever can get the most days in wins.
  • Bikram hot yoga- 12 days straight (it doesn’t always have to be a whole month, especially at 105 degrees!).
  • Swim Fast Escape from Alcatraz and across the Golden Gate swims- open water swim regimen leading up to big event.
  • Tahoe Rim Trail Ultra Marathon barefoot run- long runs and learning Chi Running as prep.
  • Pick a different stair case to run each day in San Francisco- we found a great guide book for this. Every city has countless stairs.
  • Summit Mt. Shasta or climb any mountain for that matter.
  • Crossfit (high intensity 10-20 minute workouts)- I did this challenge remotely with my buddy in the Navy in Maryland using his Crossfit website. Free workouts posted daily. What a fun way to keep up from afar. We compared times each morning.
  • P90X Extreme Home Fitness. The 13-week program is one of the best I’ve experienced for full body muscle, cardio and flexibility. Doing a month of it is a great start.

Future challenge ideas:

  • Surfing or stand-up paddle-lessons and conditioning. This is my November challenge.
  • Martial Arts-perhaps something really effective like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Krav Maga. This may be my October.
  • Eat a natural plant-based diet for a month. Maybe even try going totally vegan. Tina Su’s Eating Our Way to Death, Literally is a great place to start. A 6 or 10 day cleanse is another option.
  • Skiing-next February challenge for me.
  • Gain five pounds of muscle.
  • Lose five pounds of fat.

Anything can become a 30-day challenge. Just pick a sport, set some parameters and you are off and running, literally.

If it’s exciting, you will do it.

Sometimes all it takes is a new spin on the normal to make it exciting. And when it’s exciting it happens.

Spend a few minutes this weekend thinking through what might be your right challenge and who could join you. What have you been wanting to do or were never really sure you could? Maybe you’ve been lacking a bit of motivation. Pick that one and crush it for 30 days.

The commaraderie has been unbeatable and the progress will likely blow your mind. And most importantly, before long, health and fitness will become fun. That is the biggest victory of all.

I believe next month is Krav Maga for me. Anyone want to join?

What techniques do you use to blow through fitness goals? How do you make it fun? Please tell us your story in the comments below.

If you liked this article, please Tweet about it or tell your friends on Facebook using the links below. I’d appreciate it.

Resources that may help you along the way:

The Magic of Attempting the Impossible

How to Summit Life’s Everyday Mountains

The Most Dangerous Word in the World

Eat Simple and Reclaim Your Energy

A Simple Guide How to Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants

Photo Courtesy of: The U.S. Army
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