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Challenge Season

If there were such a thing as “challenge season,” it would be now. Affiliates the world over have, for the most part, figured out that their biggest asset is their people. What is possible in a group exceeds what is possible alone, and using that model, gyms are seeing incredible value in community-wide challenges.


These challenges are nothing new. Andy Petranek, founder and head coach at CrossFit LA, was doing challenges at Petranek Fitness years before his gym became the ninth ever CrossFit Affiliate.

His model? Leverage group accountability, create context and have students put themselves on the line. His students would ante up some monetary “buy in” in order to have some skin in the game and then compete via improvement in some test over a six- or eight-week period.

In the early days, this began with a simple preliminary workout and a retest six weeks later. Cash prizes were awarded for the fastest men and women, but most of the money went to the most improved. This put the participants’ training under the microscope and inevitably led to a whole new feeling around training and some exceptional gains.

This model has continued to develop over the years both as an extension of and separate of Andy’s early innovation. Common challenges in gyms include nutrition games, body-composition-focused efforts, training competitions and combinations of two or more of these elements. Whether you are a student at an affiliate, a coach or a gym owner, these types of events are exceptional tools to foster the very thing we all want, which is to look, feel and perform better.

Here are some tools to set you off on the right foot:

The Whole Life Challenge: This is the entire package. Credit goes to Michael Stanwyck and Andy Petranek on this one. With origins at CFLA, this lifestyle game is a comprehensive look into nutrition, lifestyle, mobility, training and discipline. With a plug-and-play-style set-up, the back-end workings of the WLC make hosting or participating in a challenge both simple and incredibly impactful.

Whole30: The authority on clean nutrition, Whole9, has outlined the nitty-gritty details of world-class nutrition. What I love about their work is that they make the science of nutrition personable and easy to follow. Their Whole30 guide may provide the blueprint for the most thorough personal examination of nutrition in 30 days.

Lurong Living Challenge: With one nationwide challenge under its belt, the Lurong Living Challenge has some similar elements to the Whole Life Challenge. With an opportunity to win huge prizes, participants may be inspired to play to win as well as any. There is a bit of wiggle room that, depending on your personality, may require a little more discipline.

Keep in mind that these resources are just that. Many affiliates have been successful doing challenges on their own. The pros include control over the rules and framework. The cons, however, could include a mountain of extra work for the gym.

Either way, the potential for greatness is too much too ignore. If you’re a student, beg your coach to put a challenge in place for you and your classmates. If you’re a gym owner, this is a no-brainer for efficacy, gym spirit and increased value.