There are two kinds of people who like to hate on the 6-week challenge “fad” that has been dominating the group fitness scene for the past several years. 1. People who are currently in shape. 2. People who think they can solve chronic-bad habits through PowerPoint presentations and webinars.
Let’s deal with the first group right away. If you are in shape, you have nothing to gain (lose) by participating. You very likely do not empathize with people struggling with weight. These challenges are designed for overweight people with ‘some’ fat to lose. And by “some fat” I mean they are clinically overweight/obese. If you’re looking to exclusively get stronger or perform better WITHOUT weight-loss, almost all of these challenges – with the exception of a few – are NOT FOR YOU. So get off your high horse and do some more dead-lifts.
The second group of people are the ones that you can never have over for a dinner party because they are trying to calculate the macros of your spinach artichoke dip due to the fact that you used mayo and cheese and then they want to tell you about a healthy alternative made from almonds that is 99% protein. Hey…I like veggies…I just lack self control. Let me enjoy my spin dip please.
What do these two groups of people have in common? They are probably not fat and can already make healthy decisions (albeit sometimes annoying ones). You can go to hell with you zoodles…they do NOT taste like noodles just because you made it rhyme.
6-week challenges are for fat people. They are for people who lack self control. They are specifically for people who WANT to make a change but haven’t been able to. I fall into these categories. This is exactly why the marketing works even though it is so terribly tacky, un-creative and overdone. It is finally fitness marketing designed NOT for fit people. So for everyone trying to “PR” on your next lift, stop just for a moment before you start talking shit about something that COULD trigger a healthy life change in someone. The viral effect of these challenges is due to the CALORIC DEFICIT that successful participants sustain for 42 days. When you’re in that big of a deficit, for that long of period, you will shrink. Guaranteed. You will also be drained of energy as your body begins consuming itself. This is what happens. If you’re not fat, DO NOT do this to your body.
I have heard it all:
“Crash diets are not healthy”. You know what else isn’t healthy? BEING OVERWEIGHT. It is almost categorically healthier for an overweight person to crash-diet than it is for them to remain overweight. For many people gradual lifestyle change is not attainable. Don’t be a dick and try to talk them out of something that COULD help them become healthy. Additionally more and more research is supporting the efficacy of drastic diets compared gradual changes.
“You can’t keep the weight off!” Changing habits is extremely hard. But it needs to start with a change. It’s better to try and fail than to not have tried at all. There is no science that will support the claim that slow weight loss is more effective than fast. It’s about decisions. If there is no plan for after the 6 weeks, of course you won’t keep the weight off. However most of these programs are meant as a starting point to fitness, not the finish line. It’s about picking one that you can stick with. Did you ever hear of whole-30? That’s the sadists version of a 6-week challenge and without the fitness.
“There are better ways!” Of course there are better ways. There are better ways to do just about everything. But a wise person once told me “perfection is the enemy of good”. If you are always in search for the best or perfect solution you may never find one that is simply good for you.
There are a lot of ugly things about 6-week challenges. There are plenty of people dishing out nutritional information which they don’t even understand. But that is on a case-by-case gym-by-gym basis. This is obviously a recruiting tool for gyms. I think it’s high time that gyms recruit/market-towards unfit/unhealthy individuals.
Here is some truth about me as of TODAY:
When my dog died I gained 20lbs in 2 months.
I can’t do 5 strict pushups.
I can’t fit in my pants from last year.
I don’t feel comfortable taking my shirt off.
I have lots of weight to lose. (30+ lbs)
I know how much I want to lose. (35 lbs of fat)
Oh, and by the way, I have pretty radical balance issues now.
So please, don’t shame me for trying. Don’t talk shit about how stupid these challenges are. Please don’t tell me I’m going to gain it all back. Don’t explain how there are better ways. Please just support me, and anyone else who got up today and decided they wanted to make a change.
If you are considering starting a 6-week or X-DAY challenge. Please for the love of all that is good in the world, consult a doctor. Weight-loss challenges are difficult. They ARE hard on your body. And if you are on the fringe and doing extreme things to your body when you’re already in a decent starting place you are going to do more harm than good.
If you need a 6-week challenge buddy, I will do it with you. If you want to come over to the office and use the InBody you are welcome here. Find what works for you. Start with day 1. When you get to week 6… keep going.
Disclaimer: By no means are 6-week challenges the only way to weight loss in group fitness. Starting and maintaining a good regimen at a studio you enjoy and can be consistent at will almost ALWAYS be effective. You simply need to be able to maintain it. Respect to any studio or gym that focuses heavily on programming because they care about your results first.