Planning a Fitness Competition at Work

The biggest loser competitions in the workplace are becoming a big craze with a lot of companies.  Inspired by events like the biggest loser TV Show and the Nike Plus competitions, but which one is best for you and your company? How easy are they to setup and manage? We have some helpful tips on how to create a competition that is both fun and helps you get in shape.  

There is one question you need to ask yourself before starting these competitions. What are you trying to achieve, losing weight or being in better physical condition?  These are two things people tend to lump together but they aren’t interchangeable.  As many of you know, 65% of your body comes from water weight and an average person can fluctuate 5lbs on a daily basis depending on how much water the drink or don’t drink, so simply going on the number of lbs lost can be deceiving.  Most weight loss competitions can focus around fasting or depriving the body of the nutrients it needs and it can destroy muscle and not necessarily help you lose fat.  That is why on the surface these types of weight loss challenges are ineffective at achieving their ultimate goal, to make their employees healthier, happier and give them more energy. 

What Challenge is the Right Challenge?

Any challenge you do should be centered on working out or burning calories and not simply losing weight.  Come up with an exercise to focus the competition around.  Many companies choose the Nike Plus running challenge which is pretty simple to get started.  Weather you walk, run, inside or a treadmill or outside it’s a challenge anyone can take part in.  The hard thing is how do you track the progress and keep people honest.  That is the great thing about the Nike Plus or the Garmin Forerunner, they track your mileage for you.  Nike also has a website where anyone can sign up a team or challenge and imports their statistics.  Or there are some new age treadmills and elliptical machines that use iFit Live and you can track all your statistics directly on the screen and send to your facebook or any page created to track.   You base the competition around the amount of miles or time that a team completes in a certain time frame or you can even do it by the number of calories burned.  The end goal is that you will lose fat, but in the process build muscle and get your endorphins flowing.

If that isn’t the challenge for you, and you can’t handle the running, you can also base a competition around a specific fitness or workout videos.  P90x and Insanity are the two big ones on the market today but you can go with any of the ones out there that do circuit training or use aerobic activities.  Teams can either train/workout together or do it individually and track by total time you spend doing these exercises or measure by the amount of calories you burn.  You can get a cheap sport watch that shows calories burned for any given time or exercise and you can log it.  The goal is to make the tracking as simple as possible or most people will forget or neglect to log it.

Another option is to focus a challenge around healthy eating. This is going to have to be based on the honor system for it to work.  You can lay out a regime that everyone has to follow for example.  No fast food and anyone that eats fast food will lose 3 points. For every day you don’t eat fast food you get 1 point.  For every bag of junk food you open or put your hand in you lose 3 points and for every day without eating you get 1 point.  You can apply this to all things like Soda, Snacks, Preservatives, Frozed foods, canned foods and the list goes on.  There are extreme benefits to eating healthier and it doesn’t need to revolve around losing weight for the sake of cutting weight. 

The ultimate goal is to build this program off some sort of reward that will incent everyone involved to really try to compete.  Even if that is just for bragging rights or their name on a trophy or for some companies a few hundred dollars. I recommend anyone interested in doing these types of challenges that you consult with your HR representative first, usually they are more than receptive and usually willing to sponsor an event of this type.  Most companies know the advantage of healthier employees, the more money they save and better productivity they get from those employees.  As always be sure to consult with a doctor or professional before starting any challenge like this if you aren’t properly conditioned.

Good luck with your Company’s Fitness competition.


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