I've always been into fitness. I've tried pretty much every workout there is and I have a package of spin classes at a variety of studios, so when I heard about Flywheel's 28 Days to Fit I knew it was something I had to try.
I have never done a fitness "challenge" (my closest attempt was a month of squats I found on Pinterest, which I gave up halfway through).
After little to no convincing I, along with my editor Claudia, decided to dedicate the next month to getting into as great of shape as possible.
The best part? We refused to give up on the social aspect of our lives... well, this was the best part until halfway into the second week when the dietary aspect of our plan went to sh*t.
But yes -- gasp -- we still went out to happy hour and to bars with friends on the weekends. We didn't disappear from our social circles, and we were still able to attend birthday dinners galore, granted we skipped out on the desserts (most of the time).
We wanted to do a challenge that was, well challenging, but also didn't completely disrupt our daily lives.
Inevitably, we did sometimes have to make compromises or wake up at 6 am to get a class in because fitting in four classes per week does get a little hectic, but that's life and you just have to rearrange.
And thus our challenge began.
The overall Fly challenge is comprised of three different versions: Flywheel, FlyBarre and FlyPlus. Claudia and I both opted for the FlyBarre challenge because our fitness goal was toning up as opposed to dropping lbs.
During the first two weeks we did, however, mix in a few cardio classes here and there (spinning, bootcamp, rowing, etc) but halfway through the challenge, we hung up our spin shoes.
So, what do you learn along the way while taking part in a fitness challenge?
1. Doing it with a friend is so much better
Heading to the gym at 9 am on a Saturday sounds like the worst way to spend your morning, but it's really not that bad if a few of your friends are joining you.
Sometimes all the motivation you need is someone by your side, sweating through the motions with you.
2. You become way more conscious of what you're eating
There's really nothing like writing down your daily food intake to put your food habits (and lack thereof) in perspective. You won't feel too great about your cheat meals if they are right there in black and white in front of your face.
3. Everyone's body reacts differently
Results are all personal. Just because you and a friend did the same exercises and essentially followed a similar food plan does not mean your results will be the same. You can't assume someone else's specific results will be yours.
4. You will still want to drink
Unfortunately your craving for going out and drinking will not really subside. To combat this we actually found ourselves turning down plans during the week because we really did not want to lose the amazing results we were seeing.
This had us changing our initial mindset of still remaining just as social.
5. Cooking is key
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the challenge is the importance of cooking your own meals. This really puts you in charge of creating your own results.
6. You will buy all of the studio's clothes
If you were in a sorority or part of a team, you know the pride you feel when you are repping their letters and phrases. This same sense of pride will definitely be felt within the four walls of the fitness studio, so much so that you can't resist rocking it once you go outside.
7. Saying no to plans so you can workout sucks... at first
Once you've found the will power not to succumb to peer pressure, you have really made strides in your fitness routine. You'll realize you don't actually miss out on THAT much if you opt out of a few events, and it turns out it feels nice to stay sober during the week.
This is one aspect of the challenge that will most definitely transcend the 28 days.
8. You can't live by numbers on a scale
You undoubtedly will gain muscle during the challenge, which will affect the numbers on the scale. The most effective thing I learned was not to focus on the scale but instead to focus on my new body composition and the way I looked.
Numbers don't paint an accurate picture.
9. Consistency is crucial
The key to staying motivated is being consistent with your workouts and meal prep. The more days that pass in-between classes, the more likely you are to give up.
I tried to spread my classes so I never had more than a one-day break, which also meant I wouldn't have to do all four classes in a row.
10. Developing a relationship with your instructor can help in ways beyond the gym
Once you develop a relationship with your fitness instructor, the comfort levels you feel in class will only skyrocket. Also, the better you know each other, the more personalized the mid-class corrections can be because you're both aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
Also, the better you know each other, the more personalized the mid-class corrections can be because you're both aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
11. We've all got to start somewhere
Even if you don't keep track of your results during the entire challenge, it's amazing to see the difference from start to finish. Taking before and after photos can be a good way to show yourself how much your body is changing.
12. Indulging once in a while keeps you sane
When you deprive yourself, you only want the thing you crave more, so if you cut yourself some slack once in a while it's more likely you'll stick to the overall plan.
Our challenge's meal plan actually included having a (small) treat every day after dinner.
13. You need to find a way to be accountable
Whether that's telling a friend or family member what you did that day, keeping a food journal or having a private social media account to track your progress — finding a way to hold yourself accountable will keep you motivated and on track.
14. Music and atmosphere make a huge difference
When the instructor knows your name, you have perfectly-timed music to hone in on each muscle, a personal exercise mat and mirror access, it's way easier to lose focus of everything outside the room and get 100 percent into the moves you're doing.
15. You will be stronger than when you started
At the beginning of the challenge, both Claudia and I couldn't make it through every exercise without stopping for breaks. By the end, although breaks still occurred occasionally, they were much less frequent and there were tangible changes to different muscle groups.
The fact that you can totally remake your body in as little as 28 days is enough motivation to keep your results going through the next coming months. Once you're stronger and more fit, you'll feel so good you won't want to quit.
And the best news? Flywheel has another challenge coming up on January 25, just in time to help us keep on keeping up those New Year's resolutions!