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In the 14 years we’ve been doing them, the contests have had many different formats, scoring, and structure, but all had one absolute in common: those who go the distance and finish – not necessarily win, but show up and make the effort – experience a deep satisfaction with both the process and the results.

Recovered from Summer – Recap

This Autumn saw the completion of another in our popular series of fitness contests: the Recover From Summer Fall Detox + Fitness Challenge. This contest generated additional excitement due to our having made significant format changes. The first was eliminating the partner scoring format used in previous contests and scoring the contestants as independent competitors. It’s worth mentioning that individual scoring does not mean training on your own. On the contrary, camaraderie and mutual support of the partner/team model continued, as the training sessions were in small groups, and most (but not all) contestants trained exclusively with a single trainer.

Small Groups!

“My contestants were a mixture of members I either personally train or had never met before,” explains trainer Liz Keller. “For example, Kathryn Oak (whom Liz trained to a First-Place finish) falls into the latter, for she is friends with two of my clients who recruited her for the contest. Kathryn was great to work with. She was a part of my 6 am group on Wednesdays and Fridays, which was my most talkative group since they were all friends outside the gym. Although they were the most talkative, they were very successful, with four out of the six finishing in the top ten contestants. Each one of my groups had different dynamics, and I am so proud of the hard work they put in. I had another client not participating in the contest try to complete one of their workouts, and that client was physically unable to complete the workout. These women may not understand how awesome they are and how hard this training can be.”


Another change involved appointment flexibility. Where previous contests saw teams trained according to a series of scheduled workouts with assigned (or chosen) trainers, with this contest, modeled on our PTX small group training model, trainers made themselves available for several workout appointments per week, and contestants signed up for the sessions that fit their own personal schedule. 

“For this contest,” confirms trainer Theresa Christensen, “the clients selected both the time and trainer that worked best for them. For example, Kasandra Gerlack (whom Theresa trained to a Second-Place finish) chose my group because it was at 5:00 am, which she needed owing to the demands of her schedule.”

Trainer Jackie Niciforo had a similar experience with the new format. “Karen Calder (whom Jackie trained to a Third-Place finish) came to me with a few of her family members for my 10:15 sessions,” she says. “I totally enjoyed the family camaraderie with that group, and obviously Karen did really well!”

“I had three separate time slots for this contest,” says Liz, “so while there may have been 1 or 2 different people in those groups, from my perspective, I had 3 “teams.” The positive of this setup was that no one depended on someone else’s schedule. If someone had to miss a session, they weren’t preventing anyone else from being able to work out that day. Depending on how you look at it, the team dynamic could bring more of a competitive feeling, with the accountability factor of knowing your partner’s score could be affected by not staying on track. However, I enjoyed switching things up for this contest, and the feedback I got from my contestants was that the larger group dynamic made it fun, and the sessions flew by.”


The third change had to do with the detox aspect (the term is, after all, right there in the title). Summers are brief in our part of the world, and we Long Islanders tend to make the most of them. A period of recovery and detoxification from summer partying? Yes, please! Of course, the benefits of detox extend far beyond the remediation of warm-weather excesses; they are an essential part of any approach to health management. Certified Nutrition Specialist Liz Keller, who, in addition to being a trainer, runs the Well Choices program at Fitness Incentive, was the architect of this aspect of the contest.

“The detox diet consists of removing specific inflammatory foods from your diet to allow your body to ‘reset,'” she says, “and to see what foods might be a potential issue individually. For this contest, I met with every contestant separately to discuss their diet and provide them with a caloric recommendation to follow. Everyone received two weeks’ worth of meal plans, and some members purchased plans for the remaining weeks of the contest. Every week during the contest, I hosted a live webinar, which was recorded for people who couldn’t attend (more flexibility!), to discuss different topics about nutrition that would help contestants stay on track during the contest and take away some information for when the competition ended. I enjoyed the group webinars and hope the contestants found them informative.”

“The detox was a great addition to the contest!” says Jackie. “It was a great way to start everyone on their weight loss and also a good way to get everyone engaged in the nutrition aspect of fitness. The detox aspect was a tremendous motivator and a great way to get everyone excited for the contest.”

“For me,” says Theresa, “the detox aspect has always been an important part of the contests and part of my approach. I have put my clients through a detox in every contest I have participated in. I feel a detox is necessary whenever an individual aims to change their body composition through diet and exercise, so the detox aspect was familiar and welcome.”

Feedback: Positive!

When we change the format of something as popular as our fitness contests, there’s a certain risk that you might disappoint some people. And each iteration has indeed garnered a spectrum of responses, from mostly enthusiastic endorsement to occasional disappointment. So it was with the Recover from Summer Challenge – the vast majority of feedback was very positive, and we look forward to bringing it, or something very much like it, back next fall. We appreciate all the feedback, as we are constantly trying to improve our members’ experiences and provide them with the best fitness environment possible. 

The Best You

In the 14 years we’ve been doing them, the contests have had many different formats, scoring, and structure, but all had one absolute in common: those who go the distance and finish – not necessarily win, but show up and make the effort – experience a deep satisfaction with both the process and the results. That’s why we keep innovating and challenging you to be the very best version of yourself. 

About The Author

Paul Smith
  • Paul Smith

Paul Smith manages member communications and graphic design for Fitness Incentive and Incentives Spa. He is a frequent contributor to Fit to Print.

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