Fit Feminist Challenge Group Update

One of Christine’s lovely graphics that she designed for our Fit Feminist Challenge Group.

Hey everyone. Remember way back in September when Cate, Christine and I started the blog’s first “Fit Feminist Challenge Group”? Well guess what? The first iteration of three month challenge group is winding down this week and it’s been a fabulous experience.

We kind of jumped into it not knowing exactly how it would go or even having a clear idea of what we planned. We were firm in our commitment to try different things and see what worked and what didn’t.

Most of all we wanted to create a supportive community where people could get ideas, focus their goals and strategize how to meet them, and feel the motivational and inspirational force of being in a group where people are happy to cheer you on. And in keeping with the blog’s feminist principles, we encouraged people to shift their focus away from dieting and weight loss and looking a certain way.

I’m happy to report that we mostly did that. Though not everyone who joined at the beginning stayed plugged in as a major presence (and there may be things we can do to prevent that next time), the community remained supportive and encouraging to the end, and we really didn’t need to remind people to steer clear of weight loss and dieting as conversational topics in the group.

For the first couple of months we stuck more or less to themes for each day of the week: Motivation Monday, Try This Tuesday, Workout Wednesday, Tag Thursday, Fun Friday, Sum Up Saturday, and Strategize Sunday. Cate, Christine, and I took turns posting to the group on the theme and invited people to share in the comments. Christine designed some colourful and fun images to go with each day, and things rolled along with one of us taking responsibility for a couple of days each week and rotating through every third Sunday.

Over time, we got more inventive (or maybe we felt the themes were getting old), drifting away from the set script and being more free with our posts when we felt like it.

We also tried a few things that didn’t work well. The main thing that didn’t work as we thought it might was breaking people up into small groups that were asked to check in with one another on specific days of the week. So there was a Monday check-in group, a Tuesday check-in group, etc. We thought this would give people a chance to bond with a smaller group, but instead it resulted in many people being confused about whether they could post outside of that weekly check-in, and hence they felt alienated from the larger group. That had never been our intention, so after we felt it not coming together, we did a little poll that confirmed our suspicion. Out with the small groups!

We also have determined that three months might just be a little too long to keep the momentum and energy going unless the facilitators have a lot of time and energy to doing just that (and even then, you really do need to switch things up regularly to keep everyone’s attention). The next versions of challenge groups will be shorter in duration and more focused in purpose. 

Overall, as I said in my post to the group for this morning’s “Talk about it Tuesday” (we morphed into that from Try This Tuesday after we thought it unreasonable to have people try something new every single week!), my greatest insight from the challenge group experience was how much I enjoy being accountable to and a part of a supportive group. It’s super inspiring to gain energy from the energy and enthusiasm of others.

Do you like the idea of online challenge groups as a way of incorporating more consistent fitness practices into your life? Have you had any experience with this type of support environment? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Fit Feminist Challenge Group Update

  1. So are you doing it again?

    I love online groups. I’ve really enjoyed the 218 in 2018 group, also Fit Fatties.

  2. So I liked the concept of a challenge group and really love the messaging this blog promotes.

    I liked the subgroup concept. I took the time initially to search and read the introductory comments from each in my subgroup. I was looking forward to getting to know them more, to be connected with them more, thinking that would inspire my own accountability. But it was hard to find and follow their posts, and then the small subgroup concept was abandoned. I then became less engaged, but still gained from the daily posts of encouragement and reading of others successes and challenges. I so appreciated reading others struggles to maintain a regular fitness routine. So often fitness-related social media posts come from athletes and routine mongers for whom a daily routine seems not to be a struggle. This was a nice break from that. So many aspiring to better themselves was inspiring!

    If you go back to the concept of creating groups of 10 or so people, I suggest creating an actual separate Facebook group for each subgroup of the whole, so that when a person signs up for the overall challenge group, they really are signing up for 2 Facebook groups – the overall and their subgroup. That would make it easier to follow posts. But I get why you would not walk back to that idea. More work!

    Shorter duration is good. And more focused while possibly more excluding, could be more interesting.

    Overall, thanks so much for doing this. This is a wonderful public service. And having tried this once, I will certainly seek another opportunity for an online exercise accountability group.

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