I Took On 52 Fitness Challenges For A Year And Here’s What Happened
In 2019, I took a chance on fitness: I set out to try a different kind of fitness each week of the year. That's 52 different kinds of fitness. I was inspired by Brit + Co Founder and CEO Brit Morin and her #GiveItAWeek challenges. (You can check out Brit's full year of weekly challenges @brit on Instagram.)
I've been a runner for almost 10 years now. Being a runner is part of my identity, it's part of who I am. I can't tell you the number of times people have said to me, "I could never be a runner!!" And the number of times I've responded "Yes, you can!!"
Or, they'd say, "I hate running, but I want to be a runner!"
It hit me one day, when I was talking to someone who loved dance fitness as much as I loved running: there are SO MANY types of fitness out there. There are so many different ways to be active. And I wanted to try more of them.
That's what inspired #fitforsevens.
Below are some of the lessons learned during my 52 weeks of different kinds of fitness:
- There are so many ways to sweat and be active. I didn't even make it through my entire list of different kinds of fitness — which included way more than 52 — that I wanted to try!
- The fitness industry capitalizes on body shaming, insecurities and diet culture. Unfortunately the majority of the gyms or new workout regimens I tried had a weight loss focus. One trainer even asked me during an introductory assessment, "How long have you hated your body?"
- Fitness culture is real and can be hard to break into. It can take a couple visits to know if you fit with the community of a particular gym or fitness space. Be brave and be patient.
- You have to do it for you, not anyone else. When I would invite someone to join me on one of the weeks, often they wouldn't show up or would cancel right beforehand. I think that fitness is one of those things that people choose to bail on — it's just too much of a commitment for some — so you can't rely on other people to help you reach your goals. You have to do it for you.
My favorites workouts
A few of my favorites were honestly surprising to me! I did not expect to love axe throwing (Week 13) as much as I did. If you haven't tried it yet, you need to!! I also loved Bar Method (Week 6) and pilates (Week 39) — both were such different kinds of fitness and movement. I was so sore from Bar Method!
My all-time favorite week though was visiting a women-owned CrossFit gym (Week 42) that is new to Fresno/Clovis. It was so different than any other CrossFit gym I've ever visited and the environment that the coaches and members created made me feel at home instantly. It confirmed one of the biggest lessons that I learned all year: that environment and community matters so much to a fitness experience.
Least favorite workouts
I don't love big box gyms (the ones that just have rows and rows of equipment and machines). I need more structure than those spaces offer for me and I need a greater sense of community. The price point for these gyms usually make them more accessible but for me they don't provide the accountability and community that I want and need.
I also had a really disappointing experience at a boot camp gym where I experienced an unfortunate amount of body shaming and weight-loss-only focused goal setting. Fitness is not always about weight loss, and it was disheartening to see some gyms capitalize on body shaming as a marketing technique.
What I learned about my fitness language
I need community. I care much more about how a place makes me feel than the kind of workout that I'm getting. Ideally, you'll find a place or a kind of fitness that makes you feel both. Because I work from home, I appreciate the community that my gym now brings me. It helps me to have somewhere to go and something to schedule my days around.
Would I do #fitforsevens again?
Maybe someday, but not someday soon, haha. It was so fun and I'm so proud of myself for completing the challenge, but I'm ready to focus more on my fitness in CrossFit, swimming, biking and running. There are still so many kinds of fitness that I did not get to try though, so overall, I think this challenge encouraged me to be more adventurous with my fitness.
As a long-time runner, I never thought I'd find another kind of fitness that I love as much as running. Running is still my greatest fitness love, but I learned that there are so many ways to move your body out there. My #fitforsevens challenge made me realize that I'm stronger than I think I am and inspired me to quit my full-time job to chase a huge dream: training for an Ironman!
Below are all of the 52 kinds of fitness that I tried. You can find videos and more @sweatytearsofjoy on my highlights:
1. Weighted vest workouts
5. Run 5 miles 5x
6. Bar Method
13. Axe Throwing
14. Hip Circle
15. Resistance Bands
16. Juggling and Lunastix
18. Old Town Yoga (online)
19. Old Town Yoga (class)
20. Weight Vest Running
23. Fitness Social - TRX focus
25. Aerial Yoga
27. 9Round Fitness
28. Driving Range
29. Night Running
31. Tai chi
32. Dance fitness
34. Hiking solo
38. Trail running
40. Pumpkin workout
41. High altitude running
42. Uncaged CrossFit
43. Fitness Social - Kettlebell focus
44. Park workouts
46. Step aerobics
47. Body pump
48. Tabata fitness
49. Open-water swimming
50. Open gym
51. Fitness apps
I hope that you spend 2020 trying things that you're afraid to try. I hope that you try things that you might be bad at. And I hope you get sweaty.
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