We're sweaty. We're stronger. We're obsessed.
Yes, we've made it to the end of our #STRONGer2017 fitness challenge and let us tell you, it's been a whirlwind. We spent the past two months slaying (well, attending) two to four STRONG by Zumba classes per week, we buckled down on improving our eating habits and we actually started paying attention to the seemingly minor things that factor into our overall health.
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And while it certainly wasn't easy, we're pleased to report that many of us accomplished the goals we set at the beginning of the challenge. We also learned about the science-backed connection between great music and better workouts, and — most important — we had a total blast. (No, seriously, we did.)
Since we believe that sharing is caring, we asked the Elite Daily staffers who participated in the #STRONGer2017 challenge about everything from our biggest hurtles and the progress we've made, to how we plan to stay on track in the coming months.
Here are the main takeaways, straight from ED staffers themselves.
Sticking to a routine is hard, but practice makes perfect.
Across the board, we all found ourselves having difficulty settling into — and committing to — a new workout routine. But it didn't take long for our new schedules to click and, before we knew it, attending several STRONG by Zumba classes every week wasn't just second nature — it was a crucial part of our routine that we looked forward to as much as happy hour.
ED staffer Michael found this to be especially true. "I've heard before that it takes three weeks to make a habit. But for me it only took a few STRONG by Zumba classes before I was hooked. Now STRONG by Zumba is such an important part of my week, and I have so much more energy because of it, that I won't allow myself to miss a class."
Friends don't let friends quit.
It's no secret that staying motivated can be, um, difficult when you start a health challenge, especially when it's after the holidays. And we weren't immune to that — we're human, you know?
So, what helped our team stick to the goals we set? One simple word: team. Banding together with our co-workers on our quest to get healthier made it (roughly) one million times easier to stay on track.
That was ED staffer Jenna's experience. "When you're doing a team fitness challenge, you've GOTTA stick with it, and having friends keep me accountable has definitely paid off in terms of results — I've noticed that my core and legs are so much stronger since starting the challenge, and I know it's from sticking with my routine. Thank you, friends!"
Also notable: It's SO much harder to flake out on a workout when you know that your work BFF is going to roast you nonstop for skipping.
And if you don't have co-workers ready and willing to join you for regular sweat sessions? Never fear: STRONG by Zumba's group exercise format ensures that you'll work out in a supportive and friendly environment, even if you're riding solo.
Hard workouts don't have to feel bad.
Recruiting ED employees to join the #STRONGer2017 challenge was generally pretty easy. But some people were intimidated when they found out that STRONG by Zumba is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class. That wasn't surprising, either: HIIT is notorious for being intense and is not exactly known as a particularly enjoyable method of working out.
But we all breathed a communal sigh of relief as soon as we experienced our first SBZ class. Not only was the instructor amazing at breaking down the moves for us, the class was actually — GASP! — fun.
Was it challenging? Uh, yeah. We felt the burn during (and long after!) class. But the combination of the synchrony of our movements and the instructors' encouraging energy made us feel more like we were in a music video than at a bootcamp.
And since the moves increase mobility and movement, you start to notice results in your everyday life; after a little while, even something simple like lifting a heavy object off the ground becomes easier. Another serious bonus: The amazing music (from producers like Timbaland) actually distracted us from the pain, which helped us push past our limits and do way more reps than we'd usually be capable of.
"I was hesitant the moment I heard 'HIIT," ED staffer Jamie says. "I've had sports injuries in the past, so I usually steer clear of high-intensity workouts. But the music and the moves in STRONG by Zumba don't feel like any HIIT class I've ever taken before. And now that I've been doing SBZ for a few months, I'm stronger, and I've noticed that my balance has improved from all the core work."
Transformations run more than just skin deep.
We all started the #STRONGer2017 challenge with different goals in mind. Some of us wanted to tone up nagging problem areas, while others wanted to get stronger while breaking out of a workout rut.
And while our achievements were as diverse as our goals, one result is consistent across the board: We all feel stronger than when we started the challenge. And when you FEEL strong, looking great is just icing on the cake.
I've personally noticed that since completing the challenge, I don't get winded walking up the four flights of stairs to my apartment. For me, no small accomplishment.
For Elite Daily staffer Camille, the fitness challenge provided a much-needed confidence boost. “After the holidays, I needed to get back into the swing of things, and STRONG by Zumba was the perfect way for me to do that: I'm in better shape, my arms have toned up and I never felt overwhelmed or judged during class.”
Progress is addictive.
With the end of the #STRONGer2017 challenge upon us, one thing has become abundantly clear: We're not stopping any time soon.
"I had been trying to break out of my workout rut for months," Elite Daily staffer Francesca says. "I wasn't being challenged at the gym, and I felt like my usual routine just wasn't effective anymore. But my first STRONG by Zumba class left me sore in muscles I didn't know existed, and after almost two months of regular SBZ classes and healthy eating, I feel toned and stronger. I definitely notice when I'm holding my daughter — my back doesn't hurt, and my arms don't get tired. I can't wait to see where I'll be six months from now!"
Bottom line: We're hooked. What started as a two-month fitness challenge has become something so much more — to us, #STRONGer2017 is all about a lifestyle change, and we couldn't be more excited to keep it up. STRONG by Zumba classes are rolling out globally at gym chains and studios — there's no better time than right now to unleash a better, stronger you.
There's no better time than now to set yourself up for a #STRONGer2017. Find a STRONG by Zumba class near you and join Elite Daily as we get healthier and stronger together.