Are gym challenges good or bad for your gym ?

There are many reasons that gym challenges are not completed at gyms and the overriding evidence in this statement is that of all the local gyms I have been a member of  none have run a gym challenge for me to compete in.

Local area would include ROKO Gillingham  , Black Lion Leisure Centre, Gillingham , TryGym Chatham, Reynolds Rainham.

Of all of these local gyms I have requested that Gym Challenges be put in place, for me to train towards, yet for some reason a gym challenge is alien to the very people who own gyms.

And you have to ask yourself why ?

The evidence is overwhelming that those who compete in gym challenges are superbly fit, motivated and focused. Indeed when Fitness First and DW gyms went in search in finding the fittest gym members in the UK it came as no surprise that the winning females for 5 years running have all been those that compete in gym challenges on a regular basis. Even some of the male winners over the last 5 years have been gym athletes.

So , then if Gym Challenges produce exceptional levels of fitness, why won’t gyms run them ?

Gym Sport








I can only reflect on my current Gym – TruGym in Chatham Kent when I look for answers. As a member I asked for challenges to be run and as a business I asked for challenges to be run and on both occasions I have been turned down.

It may sound like sour grapes that gym challenges are not created in the likes of TruGym, but I find it odd that they are not encouraged at all. The whole idea of gym members finding a common purpose and training for an event has over the years in the gyms I have witnessed this at has produced nothing but a feeling of bonding and support, from the personal trainers who may find extra clients who want to train for fitness events, or indeed the member who was just bored and needed something else to train for.

I find it hard to understand the mentality of the modern day gym, that are focused on Functional Fitness as a way of encouraging some sort of mass drive to the only way to train is by HIIT Classes or seeking the help of personal trainers. It seems also that there is a massive failing by UK Active in not creating a culture of sport within gyms, whereby as you leave school, you are prepared to enter a gym and know how to train effectively using the equipment provided. On so many occasions, Ive heard form a generation of voices saying we just don’t know how to use the equipment properly in a gym. How is that possible with modern day schools having purpose built gyms in the their grounds?

If a gym claims it will get you fit, then there has to be documented evidence of this working. Not so much on losing weight as gyms simply don’t work work on that front unless you are seriously combining a healthy nutrition to accompany it.

So, will there be a difference in 2018 ? Will gyms be encouraged to try a sport that the whole gym can try if they so wish? Will gyms encourage their members to go out of their comfort zone and look for widening challenges? Or will they as I suspect just let things run they way there are and not do anything.

So far for 2018, in the gym I train at TruGym there are some fancy new posters on the wall, which are very pleasing to the eye, but I suspect will not do much to change the way people train, or seek new challenges. It will be much the same as it was last year. Walk through the door , nod at the receptionist and get on with your own training. Nothing wrong with that, but I just feel it could offer so much more.


World Gym Challenge launches its new Monthly Challenge for gym members

World Gym Challenge has been at the forefront of Gym Challenges since its creation in 2006.

What makes a good gym challenge ? 




A good gym challenge has to be simple in its execution, challenging and doable in any gym for any level of fitness to take part in.

This means that the order in which the gym challenge is completed has to be doable within a gym without having to deprive other members of the use of the gym or inconvenience other gym members . In some cases this may be trickier to manage in some of the smaller gyms, but large based gyms should not have a problem.

Gym members that want to take part?

It’s very unlikely your gym will actually run a gym challenge that provides results that are kept in a stable database so that you can reflect on your performance. That is why WGC created a personal folder for you to keep a record of the gym challenges that you take part in.

Why is this ?

Gyms are busy places and basically the gym just do not have the time or the resources to run gym challenges . In fact ask a gym what is a gym challenge and they will not know how to run one or set up a results service.  That is why WGC creates challenges that are Gym Management Free and rely on either established personal trainers to send in results for verification or established members of the community.






Why only one per challenge per month?

World Gym Challenge has over the years tried most combinations in what would engage gym members to try gym challenges. And for that reason we have reduced the gym challenges to just 12 per year for the Advanced, Intermediate and Non competitive gym member.

The Challenges this year are based on Historical World Leaders , the first is Kennedy.

Based on three levels of fitness.

What is non competitive racing ?

Just pop into a gym and try a challenge Non Competitive Racing is just about trying a gym challenge.

In each case you just need a watch to time yourself .




The perfect Gym Challenge

The Gym Challenge






In all my time at WGC I’ve been searching for the perfect gym challenge, and that’s over 11 years now. Ive seen combinations from all disciplines absolutely destroy and bring exceptional athletes to their knees. Ive seen the fit and Ive seen the fun athlete compete and push themselves in their own class equally as hard. So finding the perfect workout to suit them both is quite a challenge, but I think I have done it.

But before I go onto the perfect gym challenge, its important to reflect on what makes somebody WANT to go to the gym and to do that you must understand your reasons for going.

This year for me personally my drive and focus has been crushed beyond anything I have ever experienced before. Ive always bounced back and always had a drive to keep me pushing in the gym and working hard and always enjoy a visit to the gym.

This has been my passion for so many years that everyday I’ve always been wondering what will be my next session be like?

So my surprise this year to find myself in probably the worst shape of my life , having been affected by bad luck, injuries,  personal loss, lack of motivation and the discovery of high blood pressure and the eternal issue of being on medication.

I can say now categorically at the start of 2017 I was not expecting such a disastrous new year for my me physically.

So now I find myself searching for the perfect gym challenge to help rescue me and find me again wanting to bring that fire back in my belly instead of watching the waistline grow and see a pattern develop where going to the gym is no longer an option but an inconvenience .

So this is where I look for the perfect gym challenge for me .

And to find to find it I have to look at:

The perfect Gym Workout

  • The equipment in the gym that I use.
  • The duration that I want to be in the gym.
  • The intensity I want to work at.
  • The recovery I need.

The combinations of equipment, time and recovery are endless.







This particular challenge is not the perfect gym challenge, but it is based on the principles of what works to make the best challenge possible on the day. You can change it endlessly and the variations just add to your excitement of discovering the person you want to be.

If I can continue my progress throughout next year and keep a strict eye on my nutrition then I should be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle that is both physically challenging and rewarding when I visit the gym.

Be interesting to see what 2018 brings. Will I keep to the program, or fail to achieve my ambitious plans to be on track with my fitness? I guess many of you are thinking the same.

So to those of you who are looking at perhaps starting a gym regime beginning in the new year then , really learning how best to create gym challenges for you , certainly would be a good place to start.

Check out


Hampshire XT 2017

2nd December 2017

David Lloyd in Hedge End Southhampton saw the annual and most popular XT event take place. Entries from all over the UK , US and Iceland came to compete in this arduous and very difficult challenge.






Consisting of nine disciplines, of varying rep range and distance, three categories of athlete had to race down the course with the fastest time being  the winner .

The Disciplines were :

  1. Step Ups (with dumbbells)
  2. Press Ups
  3. Shuttle Runs
  4. Sit Ups
  5. Bench Press
  6. WattBike
  7. Burpees
  8. Row
  9. Seated Shoulder Press

The course is well established with varying exercises based over 20 years plus.

It was unfortunate that WGC was not involved in any capacity to supply live results and create a continuation of records  and databases for the results for the competitors to receive and look back on over the years ,in fact looking back this ceased in 2008 where I competed on top of a massive hangover and had a great time.

In fact , in the results above  is also results for Anton and Joseph Micallef who have both gone on to compete in Advanced levels.

Robert Gottlieb

So on this occasion, I visited just to really watch a friend race down the course. Robert Gottlieb had traveled from the US to take part and has done on several other occasions too. I felt a sense of immense pride and satisfaction seeing Robert race, something Im sure he shares too. A friend for over ten years Robert represents the true athlete in gym sport, not somebody who is supremely fit but somebody who just loves the thrill of competing, challenging himself and enjoying the day.

Press Ups

Can of worms time. Can Press Ups continue in event race line up ? IMO no. Press Ups are just too difficult to consistently get right by a group of judges who have the difficult task of counting reps, which are just fogged in inconsistency. The exercise is terrific and will continue to end of time with people trying them, but in competition no. This was discussed with Harry Thomsett while at SID 2017 (Strength in Depth) and he was in agreement that press up are just too difficult to judge consistently.

The race report …

No race report. I was in a visiting role who just visited this event to see a friend race , while there I took out the Go Pro and filmed a few friends who Ive known over the years compete and show a film record for them. These have been published onto WGC Blog page.



Fitness Racing and Equal Fitness Racing (EFR)

Part 2

Last week I wrote about Fitness Racing and its drive to be recognised to form a governing body to be representative of a sport and be the  Fitness Racing Federation.






I do think this is a necessary step in the evolution of fitness. Having witnessed the event at Bath and the atmosphere created there its almost a necessity.

However there are boundaries that need to be mentioned at this point and something that sets the differences between World Gym Challenge and what happens in Fitness Racing.

World Gym Challenge fundamental call for a sport, was centred around Equal Fitness Racing (EFR) that is the pre determined time of a fitness event for the individual taking place and then matched against somebody with the  same (or close as possible ) time frame for completion. In this way, no matter what level of fitness you are, you are guaranteed and absolute fair and equal race, that has no boundaries in physical ability.







Its very important for the future of fitness racing to see the differences in both structures and the reason for this blog. So when the mist starts to fall with similar views, the boundaries have been mentioned and there is no call for blurred lines to cause confusion.

Where the Fitness Industry is and where Fitness Racing is. 

Although WGC has been around since 2006 , the reality of what it envisaged then as a sport , has not materialised. In fact its fair to say that the Industry never in any format supported the need of a sport for gyms. That is essentially , members of gyms, competing in a fitness challenge against other gym members from other gyms to be the basis of a sport. And yet Fitness Racing has seen a positive growth in its infancy to produce a strategic and current plan to increase its format into a legitimate sport, in a relative short period of time.

Why is the reason for this ?

It’s the hardest question to answer, because the theory has always stood the test of time. What is needed for a sport to exist ?  Members, equipment and venues. That has not changed and will not change, in fact it will only increase. Its the Fitness Industry itself that is the problem. The gyms are a financial source for revenue. That is their priority and a sport that centres on another source of income, a sport is just not needed because the current format works so well. That is why CrossFit had to form outside of gyms and create their own rules, because the existing infrastructure simply would not allow it to grow within their boundries.






The reality of growth

Unless your head has been buried so far in the sand that you are breaching the sands of Bondi Beach , you must have noticed how successful the model of CrossFit has been over the last ten years. The model works , so what is the Fitness Industry afraid of ?

Gyms just do not deliver on their promises of fitness

There is currently no benchmarking system on improvement in fitness in the Fitness Industry. Or none that I am aware of. So thats not to say that there are none out there, just that out of the 6 , 728 gyms , and the 9.7 million members (1 in 7) and a total value of £4.7 bn , not one gym will entertain the fact of challenging another gym to a fitness challenge, using the equipment they all have in their establishments. To put this in context this is like out of the 7000 football teams estimated in the UK, they would only play football amongst themselves, not other teams. They would never know just how good they were. Or in this case how fit they have become.


So at some stage the question has to be asked, how good am I ? Have I improved in fitness since I have joined this gym? And how do I find the answer? And the only logical answer I have ever come up with is to form a sport that records the information , has a governing body and has an infrastructure in place to over see its future growth. Fitness Racing Federation is certainly needed, but with an Industry with £4.7 bn and expected to increase to £5 bn in 2020 is it needed? The current format works in generating income, what it doesn’t do is deliver on the improvement in fitness with year on year statistics. And the only way I can see this happening, is by creating a sport for gyms, thats starts at school and continues into adult life.


Strength in Depth 2017

Strength in Depth Final 2017

I was invited down by the organisers of Inferno racing to see the final of what can can be labelled the biggest Fitness Racing event in Europe and the search to find the fittest collective members of a fitness training establishment.

More importantly though, and what the main reason for my visit was to see was two fold.

  1. To see how the progress develops into the search of Sport recognition
  2. To compare just how the differences between Gym Sport and SiD have reached their respective levels (later blog)

The first is to see how the progress develops into Sport recognition, something that WGC had the painful process of undergoing in 2006. And this is where Id like to feature predominately on yesterdays event.

Harry Thomsett from Inferno Racing and now set to lead the way in The Federation of Fitness Racing  gave a passionate speech during this event about the need to gain  acceptance as a sport, he mentioned the amount of money table tennis receives each year to compliment its sport, then went onto make comparisons about the level of fitness seen here today and the lack of funding that goes into Fitness Racing and he has a point.

It is unfair for me to write an article to which most of the work that goes on in creating a sport is done behind closed doors, so this observational post, through discussions with Harry throughout the day and what I have seen and experienced over my past endeavours and what I saw take place yesterday. What I can say is its a tremendous slog. It is relentless and there is little reward for the hours spent when seeing little or no progress.

Sport England

Is the obvious place to start.  Its where I started and where the acceptance to be a sport is granted , through a very tough and long winded process. Only those with the very stout hearts and determination beyond their wildest levels of endurance need apply.


The first question is the obvious starting point?

Is there a need for Fitness Racing to have a NGB ?






And the over riding answer on every level is yes. Fitness Racing needs to be  centralised with a governing body to oversee the structure and growth for future events. It is how sports develop and flourish.

Growth Period

If you take 2017 as the day the ball started to roll and look to the future of gaining acceptance. Then this process is at the foot of Mount Everest. The climb for recognition can take take in my opinion at least ten years. If the end goal is to be represented in the Olympics, then perhaps even longer – ask Squash if its been an easy ride? But then ask Parkour and what appears division into whether Parkour is a sport or an art. My point being that an NGB is needed to oversee Fitness Racing, but it will boil down to the mass participants supporting that notion, or if they just want to continue competing in existing events.






Sport Politics.

Once the momentum starts then its the politics that decide if it stays the course. In fighting, feuds, arguments, pressure of work, lack of empathy, frustration , are just the tip of the iceberg, but all are cracks in what has to be a unified structured approach. If you do not have the bond and a joint vision, you do not have a start point in which to create your platform. After all, what’s to say that in five years time, somebody else comes along and begins their own process, that is well financed, planned and has all the hall marks of the perfect set up. So if Fitness Racing is to have a chance, those that are in the driving seat, need the support of those are representative of the sport they represent.

Will Sport England accept that a NGB is needed? 

Looking at the website for Sport England and their new attitude in acceptance to a changing platform in sport , then perhaps, they may just give Fitness Racing a chance. If FR can adhere to the five principles of acceptance, then there could be a start process. But that is also true for any activity seeking acceptance as a sport, so this is why its vital for the FR community to start looking at Grass Root growth, rather then elite races, to build on.






Taking the next level 

From what I saw yesterday. FR is a 360 Activity. It encompasses much of the structure from many sports and combines them into a format that allows its own unique individual and team athletes to be acknowledged as some of the fittest and most inspiring athletes in the UK today which have   been created from a Grass Root level. None of the athletes have been funded. They train in their own time, many holding existing and very demanding jobs and furthermore, the expense to compete is met by their own finance.

My concerns at this point. 

Identity . Sport has to have its own identity. Where do you pull participants of your events for a sport ? Now it seems that from yesterday, a large percentage if not all were from certain training establishments from all over Europe. And this brings with it its own risks in engaging into the need for Sport acceptance. As what works now will work in ten years time, only be more refined (and it was pretty slick yesterday), so is there a need for an NGB ? Drawing from an affiliation backed company for your participants, means that effectively, you are dependent on their support and possibly sponsorship. What you don’t want to do is come into conflict or bite the mouth of those  who supply the athletes.

As to who is the Governing Body. Simply put they will be  the ones who run the show and will decide the future of all Fitness Racing Events.


Without question an NGB into Fitness racing is needed. There has never been a better time to start this ball rolling. But that is just a brave vision of the few who dare to look at the potential. And there lies the problem. When a mass market has potential, then it is often followed up , by a pack willing to nip, bite , scavenge and destroy at the bricks that have to be laid in the process that leads to acceptance.






Harry , I wish you every success in your journey. Its a brave thing you do, which will be relentless and unforgiving over many days ahead.