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Challenge Accepted!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Have you ever decided to start working out in earnest, only to lose motivation midway? That’s exactly why social media websites are flooded with posts about various fitness challenges! They make exercising fun and help you stay motivated to reach your goal. But do they work? That’s what Sara Shah & Yamini Walia set off to find out. They also spoke to an expert to see how effective these fitness challenges really are

Fitness challenges are on the rise — the 30-day ab challenge and the 90-day Zumba challenge are good examples of that! These challenges combine conventional exercises with new-age fitness apps to keep you fit and motivated. But, are you really going to get the desired results? We spoke to Mamtaa Joshi, a fitness consultant from Orange Tree Image Consultants, about the effectiveness of these workouts.

The 30-Day Ab challenge
The thought of achieving rock-hard abs in just 30 days is tempting. So, it’s no surprise that the 30-day ab challenge is one of the most popular fitness challenges today. This has been designed to tone your core muscles and build full body strength. As the name suggests, your abs take top priority in this challenge, which involves performing four or more different ab exercises every day. You can download a chart for the challenge off the internet and it will provide you with information about the exercises that you need to perform. Each day is different and the amount of time you spend working on your abs increases as days go by. The best part about this challenge is that you don’t need any equipment to get you through the month. Mamtaa Joshi, fitness and wellness expert at Orange Tree Image Consultants, tells us, “This challenge tones you, makes your abs strong and boosts your core muscles and body strength. However, sometimes, short-term challenges like this can cause injuries. I recommend proper guidance from professionals in order to maximise the results. A far more realistic and long term programme is necessary for a strong, functional core. It is challenges like this that give people unreal expectations and turn people off exercise because of the amount of overtraining that it causes.”

The Squat Challenge
The 30-day squat challenge includes performing one exercise every day — a squat. The amount of time that you spend holding the squat is gradually increased everyday in order to help you strengthen your core. This is so that completing the final day of the challenge becomes an achievable task.
Mamtaa says, “Squat challenges have become increasingly popular over the past year. The focus should be on doing fewer, better-quality reps that get tougher over time — you can use heavier weights to increase the intensity. Apart from squats, you should also perform other lower-body exercises that will tone your glutes and thighs.”

In terms of how effective or long-lasting the challenge is, Mamtaa explains, “This particular challenge does have a lasting effect. It targets a larger muscle group, so working on it may be difficult at first. But, you will get evenly toned if you’re dedicated.”

Cold Pressed Juice Challenge
Remember when everyone was going on a juice diet to lose weight or increase their immunity. This juice detox, or cleanse, achieved a fair amount of popularity and was even considered to be pretty effective. The challenge requires you to drink raw, cold pressed juices that serve as your daily source of nourishment. Mamtaa tells us, “This challenge is meant primarily to detoxify your stomach, and it does clean it out. However, sometimes, it is difficult to avoid consuming coffee or the starchy food that we are accustomed to eating every day. However, if you remain consistent, this challenge will work wonders!”

The 90-Day Zumba challenge
Zumba is being recognised as an effective workout that will keep you fit. So much so that several fitness centres have started conducting special Zumba classes to promote fitness. Mamtaa tells us, “It is like taking the work out of your workout,  because the challenge requires you to mix low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Once the catchy music takes over, you will understand why Zumba group exercises are often called exercise in disguise.”

Since the dance session is quite entertaining, you may not realise how effective it is in helping you stay fit. However, Mamtaa cautions, “It is important to maintain proper posture while performing Zumba. Also, wear proper workout footwear.”

The Plank Challenge
The plank challenge is similar to the 30-day ab challenge — it centres on just one exercise — the plank. It involves 30 days of performing the plank with very few variations, for an increasing amount of time. The initial eight days are spent doing a basic plank in an incline position (leaning against a wall, chair or anything that supports you), which is perfect for beginners. As you get stronger, the next 22 days will be spent doing planks on the floor with your palms flat on the ground.

Speaking about the challenge, Mamtaa tells us, “Core exercises are a great place to start if you are new to working out, because most core moves are pretty simple, require little or no equipment, can be performed at home and can be learned in minutes! In this challenge, each week will get  progressively harder. This exercise will boost your body’s stability. But, don’t worry if progress is slow. Just keep working towards your goal and stay motivated.”

We spoke to a few people in the city, who undertook these fitness challenges, to learn their side of the story

Copywriter, Sanjit Roy, decided to take up the ab challenge. However, it didn’t seem to work for him. He says, “Apart from all the exercising, I had to watch my diet too. But, a major part of my time was wasted looking at pictures of other people’s progress. I know this was supposed to motivate me. But all it did was make me lazy!”

Drishti Valecha, student, has taken up several challenges in the past and feels that these challenges put a lot of pressure on you, but in a good way. “When I post something online, I’m portraying myself to the world and it keeps me dedicated. And, looking back, achieving something out of this feels awesome. Also, I might have ended up inspiring someone. Who knows?”

Drishti Kaul, a media professional, tried the Nike Training App for a healthy body. She tells us, “What’s really helpful about the Nike Training App is that you can watch demonstrations if you want to find out how to do a particular exercise. You can select the duration of the workout, which varies from 15 to 45 minutes! After completing the workout you’re assigned a score and a medal, which helps you monitor your fitness level. The ease of working out is what works best for the app. I don’t think you burn as many calories, but it is a good option if you are travelling or have space constraints.”

Megha Iyer, a public relations professional, recently started following Blogilates on Instagram. She explains, “It is a 30-day split challenge and is a bundle of fun and fitness. It encourages you to push your limits and do better every single day to reach your desired fitness goals. It is also an amazing way to spice up your regular fitness routine by constantly setting fitness goals for yourself and accomplishing them. I am eager to see what kind of result the programme will have for me. It’s been quite effective so far.”

Fitness blogger, Riya Patel, tried the 60-day fitness challenge, which is based on the 30-day ab challenge. “It basically consists of various routines that work your abs, arms, bottom and legs. It also includes a 5km run every day. It is extremely strenuous, time consuming and requires good stamina, but once you get into fitness mode, it is the best feeling ever! The results were amazing. I lost almost 6 kilos with the challenge and I have some advice for anyone thinking about trying it — you need to follow a high protein diet. It really does help! The worst thing that happened to me was suffering from running blisters, which were a real bummer as it happened just before a marathon I had registered for. So, unfortunately, I couldn’t take part. With challenges like these, remember not to get so carried away that you start missing your meals. Never starve yourself!”

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