Why Social Media Fitness Challenges Work

Why Social Media Fitness Challenges Work

Last summer, I took part in an Instagram yoga challenge. If you follow enough fitness-based accounts, I’m sure you’ve seen these social media fitness challenges on your feed. It’s usually a challenge for a specific number of days and you’re asked to document you doing the daily move with a photo on Instagram. My parents happened to be visiting from Australia at the time and explaining the concept to them was not simple.

Watching me set up my pose and fiddle with the timer on my phone camera: “What are you doing exactly?

Oh, I need to document my pose for the day for this Instagram challenge I’m doing.

{I will skip the next part of the conversation which consisted of explaining what Instagram is exactly and what it has to do with yoga}

So you just take one photo and that’s it?

Well, yes, but I usually do a little flow first to warm up to the pose first.

{At this point there was a quick back and forth on what on earth a flow means and why I would need to do that}

And why are you doing this ‘Instagram challenge’ exactly?

Well, some people do it because I think there might be prizes? But I’m doing it just to keep myself accountable and get a little more yoga into my daily routine. Plus it is a guaranteed Instagram photo every day for 10 days which kind of takes the pressure off when I realize I haven’t photographed anything and my feed is a barren wasteland.

{And here again, a reiteration of what Instagram is exactly and why it’s important to blogging, as well as the beginning of an explanation of why I blog until I kind of just gave up and said…}

I’m just doing it because it’s fun, okay?

Why Social Media Fitness Challenges Work

So why are these challenges so popular? And are they effective for fitness at all? Social platforms like Instagram are a perfect medium for fitness challenges. It harnesses everything that’s positive and helpful about social media – forging a sense of community; finding like-minded connections; getting instant feedback and communication from leaders and participants – and adds in an element of having to hold yourself accountable. Maybe this is not the case with everyone, but I find when I begin a daily challenge group, I feel indebted to follow it through to the end. If I miss a day, I almost always make it up with a double post the next day to include the missed prompt. Partially this is because I know the organizers have put work into hosting the challenge, from finding sponsors, to promoting and publicizing the event, so I want to respect their effort. It’s also because to me it feels like such a do-able mini fitness goal, that I tell myself I cannot fail.

Mini goals work well for anyone starting anew with fitness, or trying to add in a different kind of movement or challenge into their existing routine. An achievement like a run streak, which may seem ridiculously impressive when you tally up the results, like, “I’m on a run streak of 243 days of running consecutively!” are maintainable because each day’s run does not need to be a crazy distance or effort. Usually the basis of a run streak is at least one mile a day, which many people can get done in less time than you might take for a coffee break.

It’s achievable. It’s maintainable. It’s enough of an effort that you get that mental pat-on-the-back feeling of, ‘Hell yeah, I did something good for my body today!’ while it’s not so grueling that fatigue, either mental or physical, has time to set in. And the thing about making exercise a habit, a daily occurrence that just becomes part of your routine, is that after your challenge time is up, it’s not unlikely that the habit has stuck enough for you to keep going. 

I’ve mentioned before the Women Prioritizing Fitness Facebook group I belong to. You know I’m a big fan of any form of community when it comes to achieving fitness goals, and this group has been great for that. Just this week one of the members posted about this burpees challenge that a Runner’s World writer did for a story and suggested we all try it too. I had just read the article that day and vaguely thought, “Burpees really are such a perfect full-body exercise. I should try that challenge,” then promptly forgot about it, until I saw this woman’s post in the Facebook group. Reading all the responses from the ladies, “Yes! I love burpees! I’m in!” “How do you *love* burpees??? But I’m in too…” “Sounds terrible, when do we start?”, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. 

 Why Social Media Fitness Challenges Work

Here, again, is the perfect platform for a challenge like this. You have a few people excited for the challenge who already love the movement and will act as the leaders and the motivators. You have those who may not be so convinced but enjoy being part of a challenge. And then you have those who want to have something concrete they “have” to do each day and a place to hold themselves accountable.

Yesterday was day one and I added in my own personal challenge of squats and push ups as well as the burpees, so I know that every day I have a mini workout that will suffice when I’m not able to get out for a run or to the gym. This is my motivation – knowing I have somewhere online I feel obliged to document my progress, as a way of ensuring to myself that I carve out the time, even when I’m just not feeling it. I’m curious to see the results of this particular challenge – it’s 15 days and I’m not expecting any real physical changes, but I do believe my motivation and dedication to daily fitness will definitely benefit from this mini kick in the rear. I’ll keep you posted! 😉

Have you ever taken part in any social media fitness challenges? What did you get out of it?


  1. I love this whole trying to explain to your parents the Instagram thing… I can totally picture it. I haven’t really done any of these social media challenges… maybe I just haven’t seen one that interested me enough… I’d definitely have to break up 30 burpees into two sets!
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  2. I love to do social media challenges. As through them i get an inspiration of working hard. I use to do work out daily. It keeps your body active and you always feel fresh. Instagram is a perfect medium for fitness challenges. 2017 Social Media Apps