3 Online Fitness Challenges That Will Massively Grow Your Email List

Building your email list is crucial for generating leads, sales, as well as positive word of mouth advertising for your business. Marketing statistics prove that the benefits of growing your email list will continue into the foreseeable future - no, email marketing is not "dead," as some have claimed. 

Great. Email lists are important. You get it.

But how can you quickly grow your email list without spending a fortune on Facebook ads?

online fitness challenges

An online fitness challenge is a great way to do just that. The challenge will include action steps that participants complete over a specific number of days (or weeks, depending on your program) to achieve a specific promise.

To cite an example, the 7-Day Weight Loss Workout Challenge for Beginners promises a healthy lifestyle change with a very specific end result: losing weight. Who wouldn't want to participate, especially when the price is FREE?

In the fitness industry, individuals get motivated when faced with challenges, especially if they are doing the challenge in a community, gaining support from other participants who are looking to achieve a similar goal.

Challenges offer a chance for them to reach their goals, be accountable for their actions, and receive proper guidance from the experts in the field.

Running an online fitness challenge is an opportunity to grow your email list since curious individuals have the potential to become your prospective clients. Then, prospective clients become customers and boost your online sales. You see where this is going, right?

The 3 Types of Online Fitness Challenges That You Can Use to Build Your Email List

When executing a fitness challenge, there are different levels of involvement and complexity that you can offer. It's wise to start with a simple version of a challenge, one that doesn't take much of your time to create, to see how much traction you can get.

​Remember, you are offering this fitness challenge for FREE. Don't make huge promises or give away tons of your time. Your goal is simply to engage prospects, prove your value as a coach, and then convert them into paying customers.

Let's walk through the three types of list-building fitness challenges that have the potential to grow your online business, starting from the simplest, then moving on to more advanced versions:

1. The Blog or Social Media Challenge

A really simple way to run your fitness challenge is through your blog or on social media. Begin by asking participants to sign up on a landing page - this is where you capture their email address (yeah, that's why you're doing this challenge in the first place!)

Tell your participants when the challenge will begin. Give them a few days advanced notice so ​they have time to prepare for anything needed and/or to ​block their schedule to complete the challenge tasks.

Fitness CHallenge

Be creative with your challenge name and objective. What could set yours apart?

Your job is super-easy from hereon: Post your blog or chosen social media platform alongside each sequential step of your challenge.

For example, if you're offering a 14-Day Stronger Core Challenge, you might post a new core workout each day. Participants check your blog or social media posts to see what they're required to do for the day. That's it.

A blog or social media fitness challenge is great because your posts are available for everyone to see, whether they are in your challenge or not. This could entice some people to follow along even if they didn't originally sign up.

This, however, can also be problematic. Why would someone sign up for the challenge if they can get all of the content on your blog for free and without commitment? This is where some psychology comes into play...

The results people get from any challenge or program is directly proportional to their commitment level.

​Connecting with Engaged Participants

If someone were to officially sign up for your challenge, just by entering their name and email into a registration form, they are more likely to take the challenge seriously; and therefore benefit from being part of it. Someone who just "creeps" the challenge without signing up isn't likely to stick with it.

Communicate this message from the start by asking people to commit and sign up. You may want to offer an added bonus for those who do sign up via email. For example, "Sign up now and get my 11 favourite weight-loss smoothie recipes!"

You want engaged participants who are committed enough to at least give you their email address. Set the tone for your challenge from the start, emphasizing that you want to help people see results, and for results to happen, you need commitment!

2. The Email-Based Challenge

The next level of online fitness challenges are delivered 100% via email. These email-based challenges create a deeper connection with your participants and often result to ​longer attention span.

There are 2 ways to make your email challenge happen: You can manually send email broadcasts each day or you can create an automated campaign using an email software solution like Mailchimp

fitness challenge 52 day

Don't plan too far in advance your first time through. See how your audience responds, make tweaks, and improve your challenge for the future.

For your first time through the challenge, I recommend sending out each email manually. You need to see how your audience engages with your content before planning it out too far in advance and investing in automation. Just be sure to save each email you send so that you can re-use the best ones for future iterations of your challenge.

Once a participant signs up, send him or her a confirmation email with key details about the challenge (e.g. start date, requirements, things to prepare, etc.). Then, once the challenge begins, simply send your daily email for the participant to follow.


Even though this challenge is being carried out via email, you can still leverage the power of social media to gain more followers: In your daily emails, ask your participants to complete tasks on social media, tagging you and/or other participants or friends.

For example,

Share a pic of yourself doing today’s workout. We want to know that you got it done – You might inspire someone else who needs some encouragement! Post your pic on Instagram and tag me.

3. The Online Course or Membership Challenge

As you fine-tune your challenge, you might want to add more value (and increase participant commitment) by turning your program into a full-fledged online course. This will pave the way for more leads, sales, and even bigger opportunities to cross-sell other products.

An online course or membership challenge combines an email sequence (usually automated) with "gated" content that's only accessible within a membership site.

Gated content

Creating a membership challenge is a lot of upfront work, but that work only has to be done once - it runs on autopilot from thereon out!

This sounds like a lot of work. So, what can you gain from using this strategy?

"Gating" and "Dripping" Your Content

By "gating" your content, you are creating an exclusive club. Participants have a password and they log in to get your materials. This might seem like no big deal, but you are creating trust and intimacy with these followers, both of which will make it easier to convert them into paying customers after the challenge is over.

In addition, this technique provides a more streamlined customer experience​, one that makes your business seem polished and professional. Again, this will increase the likelihood that people will buy from you, not just consume your freebies.

Calendar Days Fitness

Offering a "members only" area creates a feeling of exclusivity. Prospects who feel exclusive are more likely to become your paying customers.

"Dripping" your content within the membership area allows participants to unlock one day at a time based on what they signed up. Alternatively, you can set up a single start date for everyone, in which case content is unlocked for everyone based on calendar days.

I like to use Clickfunnels to create membership challenges. It provides an awesome user experience and is very easy to set up. Check it out!

The Most Important Step...

Regardless of which type of online fitness challenge you choose to run, there is one more step that you have to take care of: 

The beginning of your fitness challenge was all about building your list. The end of your challenge is all about upselling.

Once participants have completed your challenge, you must present them with a hard-to-resist call-to-action. What do you want them to do next? How else can you help them? What's your long-term plan for them?

Yes, your online fitness challenge is designed to build your email list, but don't stop there. Make a sales pitch when your followers are engaged and feeling good about their progress.

Even if they refuse your offer, you still have their email address. You can follow up with valuable content and future offers.

If you nurture these leads appropriately, many of them will convert into paying clients. Just be consistent with your value-adds and be patient. It will take time, but building your email list, then converting those leads is how your online fitness business will flourish.

Which online fitness challenge are you going to use to start growing your email list?

About the author

Dave Smith

Dave Smith was chosen as Canada's Top Fitness Professional for his innovative online fitness coaching found at Make Your Body Work. He now teaches other fitness professionals how to build their own profitable online businesses. Learn more at the Online Trainers Federation.