It’s easy to get out of shape—and much harder to get back in it. To kickstart the process, a 30-day fitness challenge may be just what the trainer ordered.
Just ask science: In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, nearly 35,000 sedentary women performed a Curves circuit workout three days a week for 30 days. The results? They lost weight, reduced their body fat percentages and improved their blood pressure levels—and many ended up eating better as well.
There’s nothing magic about 30 days. In fact, at least one study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, found that many people need about double that to truly make something a habit. But you can’t do 60 days unless you start with 30, right?
So get yourself in motion with one of these five 30-day fitness challenges. Our guarantee: Next month you’ll look back and be so glad you did.
Livestrong On-the-Hour Workout Challenge.
Ideal for people who work at-home, this free, low-bar approach is a great way to ease into exercising. Simply choose an eight-hour window (usually your workday), and set a once-an-hour timer. When it goes off, choose from one of eight exercises (click here to print out the list), and perform it for 30 to 60 seconds. As you improve, you can add a set or two, up to five sets. For extra motivation, join the Livestrong.com Challenge Group on Facebook. There you’ll find other challenges as well, such as 5K training plans or ab workouts.
If you want to go big, sign up for this program, designed and led by four-time Tough Mudder X champion Hunter McIntyre. Each week you’ll do five challenging workouts, plus a mobility day and a rest day. You can try it for 14 days for free, when you sign up for an Openfit membership ($8 per month, if you pay in advance for a year). Workouts are 30 minutes long and require a set of dumbbells.
Trap N’ Tone.
Dance your way strong with this 30-day challenge from hip-hop fitness queen Keaira LaShae. For $60 (you can try seven days for free), you’ll get streamed, 20ish-minute workouts; a nutrition plan; and entrance to a private Facebook group for accountability. For best results, you’ll want an exercise band or two.
Ripped in 30.
This Jillian Michael’s DVD is an oldie (released in 2011) but forever a goodie. It features four 24-minute workouts of progressive difficulty (you do a new workout each week), using Michaels’ signature 3-2-1 interval system: three minutes of strength, two of cardio and one of abs (you’ll need a set of dumbbells). Each exercise offers easier and harder versions, so you can ramp it up throughout the week. The DVD goes for $10.95 on Amazon. Other options: Buy digital versions through Amazon Prime Video for $1.99 per workout, or join Jillian Michaels’ FitFusion channel for $6.99 per month (after a seven-day free trial) and get access to her other workouts as well.
Keeping Kids in Motion.
Get the whole family involved with free monthly fitness challenges from father and P.E. teacher Justin Cahill. Subscribe to his newsletter, and each month you’ll get a new calendar of daily exercises that kids and parents can do together. You can also check out Cahill’s YouTube channel for tons of short videos showing ways to get your family moving—and have fun while you’re at it.