Fitness Challenge
Inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas song, I’ve devised a “12 Days of Fitness Challenge.” Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even nothing at all, embrace twelve days in the month of December to focus on fun exercise challenges.

It’s one way to keep on track with fitness when the weather gets cold and it’s tempting to stay in bed, lazing the day away. On the other hand, as the days get busier, these challenges are still do-able because they don’t take much time. Print out a list for clients to check off as they go along.

Three fitness challenges are listed here. Consider one or all of them for your clients. Add them to your training routines as a supplement or suggest for your clients to do them to fit in some extra exercise.

You can either start on the first day of the month, the Epiphany which begins December 26, or pick a day that works with your client’s calendar. It might be a mix of doing them in training and doing them on their own.


Pushups

trainer coaching pushupsPushups are an excellent exercise to wake up the arm and shoulder muscles, fire up the core and engage just about everything. There are lots of ways to do them: incline, wall, knee, close grip, wide grip and so on. Choose what works for your client.

Two options are suggested for different fitness levels. Feel free to go somewhere in between or beyond the advanced level to suit your client. Modify as needed and as always remind clients to listen to their bodies especially when they aren’t with you. As the reps progress, remind clients to space them out over the day if necessary.

Day 1
1 pushup or 10 pushups+
Day 2
2 pushups or 15 pushups+
Day 3
3 pushups or 20+
Day 4
4 pushups or 25+
Day 5
5 pushups or 30+
Day 6
6 pushups or 35+
Day 7
Rest
Day 8
8 pushups or 40+
Day 9
9 pushups or 45+
Day 10
10 pushups or 50+
Day 11
11 pushups or 55+
Day 12
12 pushups or 60+

Core training continuing education


Crunches

Crunches have as many variations as pushups. Use a stability ball, no ball, a small, soft ball under the low back, or a combination. You can include some reverse crunches, oblique crunches or whatever works to keep your client focused and enthused. Increase intensity by having your client wear a weighted vest and/or hold a medicine ball or a dumbbell.

Space out the crunches if necessary, but doing them all at once is preferred. Quit when you realize your client is too tired or not using correct form. Two options are listed, but like the pushups, find what works best for them.

Day 1
10 crunches or 20
Day 2
15 crunches or 30
Day 3
20 crunches or 40
Day 4
25 crunches or 50
Day 4
30 crunches or 60
Day 5
35 crunches or 70
Day 6
40 crunches or 80
Day 7
Rest
Day 8
50 crunches or 100
Day 9
55 crunches or 110
Day 10
60 crunches or 120
Day 11
65 crunches or 130
Day 12
70 crunches or 140

The crunch challenge is an easy one to keep going. On a side note, I had a friend who was a heavy weightlifter. We would challenge each other to push ourselves beyond our limits. Rob was a big guy focused on lifting heavy weight, so I would send him hill sprint challenges–way outside of his comfort zone. He challenged me to do 1,000 crunches in return. I thought that was absurd, but I took the challenge. While 1,000 takes me about 30 minutes, it’s become part of my weekly routine.

A fitness challenge can keep us on track, and have the potential to create new, attainable goals. (Note: anyone with lower back pain, injury, or pathology should avoid excessive spinal flexion, such as crunching challenges!)

Now onto the lower body.


Squats

personal trainerWe use our leg muscles for so many things, like walking, running, kneeling, sitting down, and standing up. Might as well keep them as strong as possible. Squats are a great way to do this, as long as there aren’t any hip or knee issues.

Just like the pushups and crunches, you have options for varying the way you and/or your clients do squats. Choose a narrow stance, wide Sumo, wall, or stand on a half-dome ball. Do them all at once on a given day or space them out with rest periods.

Days 1 – 3
40 squats+
Days 4-6
50 squats+
Days 7 – 9
60 squats+
Days 10 – 12
70 squats+


What’s Next?

At the end of the twelve days, your client may continue to keep going or start over from the beginning. The idea is to be consistent with the challenges when exercise might not be prioritized – like over the holidays. And maybe the challenges are the start of something big.