“Hammer Athletic will NEVER do an 8-week challenge” – Matt Ham (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018.)
“Fuck it” – Also Matt Ham (2019)
I have been very vocal about my dislike for 8-week challenges, 12-week challenges, 21-day challenges and every other variation of these ‘fitness challenges’. Now I find myself promoting and pushing the very thing I have always hated (and continue to hate) about the fitness industry.
I wanted to share my personal piece on our ‘8-week challenge’ because of my outspoken views. Trust me when I say this, but I have been dragged here kicking and screaming. But after almost 5 years of avoiding going down this road, I am finally willing to admit defeat: unfortunately, the notion of injury prevention, consistency in training, science and life-long health and longevity DOES NOT SELL. If our little facility doesn’t follow suit, I feel that will never be able to survive against the big machines that are in this industry.
8-week challenges are nothing new, in fact, they have been around for a long time and to be honest I have not seen one be unsuccessful, for the client or the business. When done properly, they are a great way to drop some fast kilos and body fat.
What is so morally wrong about fitness challenges?
Isn’t this what gyms are all about?
My issue is more the second part of my earlier statement, “it’s good for the business”. Don’t get me wrong, I am all good with businesses being successful but what I am against is the lack of fucks given toward the client following the challenge. It shouldn’t be about getting you sucked in for a period of time, flogging you stupid and then pulling the rug and support out once you have stopped the high investment.
I have been all about consistency for our gym, “Lift heavy, lift often. Do your conditioning. Eat responsibly most of the time. Most importantly: Enjoy life.” This is my rhetoric. Nobody needs this challenge horse shit; you don’t need a false environment to speed up your results. For me, it is an unnatural way to get you where you want. And with such a big, dramatic change to how you live your life, you will inevitably relax once the challenge is over and the self-deprecating thoughts and habits begin again.
This is a generalisation and some challenge participants do go on to keep their weight off for good, but having been involved in commercial gyms that do these things regularly, I am pretty confident in saying this: most of all challenge participants go backwards immediately post challenge.
So why the fuck am I doing this?
I mentioned the big engines of this industry who hold these things continuously with huge success. I can tell you that they do the same shit each time, here’s the template:
- Before and after shots (mainly to re-use in future marketing campaigns – and always at the expense of the client’s modesty)
- Body fat/kg measurements
- Restrictive calorie reduced diets
- A big fat prize (usually something like a holiday that will kick-start the poor habits again)
- Massive amounts of metabolic conditioning with no planning or periodisation
They work because as soon as you make someone a little bit accountable both physically and fiscally, you will get results. Well fuck it, I can do that. In fact, I can do it better than all of these Instagram Influencers. Because: SCIENCE.
I am not going to implement dramatic and restrictive “carb-free” diets or ridiculously long/hard workouts that make you hate what you are doing and create the mindset “as soon as I finish this thing I’m gonna…….”
I am going to get a dietician involved – an actual tertiary educated, masters qualified PROFESSIONAL. Not a personal trainer or influencer who claims he/she knows macros because they competed in an ABCDEFG-pro-bikini-competition-figure-thingy. Our mantra will be about making small sacrifices to everyday routines that achieve big and long-lasting results and adherence. Sure, you could eat boiled chicken and broccoli for 8 weeks and get down to 10% body fat, but not only do you risk falling off the deep end at the end – you’ll hate life for 8 weeks. Who would want to live like that?
When it comes to training, not to be arrogant but my coaches’experience and level of education puts us ahead of any of the big gyms, big influencers etc. Our programming will be tough but planned appropriately to maximise results whilst keeping you in the gym without injury in order to stay consistent.
I am going to measure and test you repeatedly over the duration of the challenge to keep you accountable. But I’m not just going to measure your body fat. In doing that, too much is at stake. I’m going to measure other fitness parameters to show you that there are more things to look forward to than shifting a bit of pesky body fat.
More importantly, the prize isn’t a holiday/ipad/car – it’s a 6-month membership to Hammer Athletic which will help you STAY CONSISTENT.
Due to the achievable (not dramatic) changes to nutrition and training and our support network of coaches and clients in our Hammer community, it will be easier to stay on point post-challenge. Because let’s be honest, this challenge is just our S&C membership on steroids. To stay on track post-challenge participants will be encouraged to jump into our S&C groups to maintain the new habits formed from the challenge, which should now be… ‘just the way you do things.’
Failing that, going to classes and lifting some weights (as you should be more confident with doing this) in the open gym times and continuing your nutrition habits will also ensure that you are CONSISTENTLY training and eating well getting to where you want to be and staying there.
So why have I/We sold out? Well, if we can’t beat them, join them and do it better.
Get on board here: