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How signing up for the Transformation Challenge can change your life. No, really.

By Leslie Barker
4 minutes

After the crazy and sad bewilderment of last year, 2021 dawns with almost a desperate freshness. We want change. We want connection. We want to be transformed.

Enter Transformation Challenge, Orangetheory’s annual opportunity to jump-start your fitness regimen, develop accountability and help cement your goals. Members register for $35; requirements include attending three classes a week for at least six of the eight weeks of the challenge as well as having one in-studio InBody scan by January 16 and another when the challenge ends.

It’s a January tradition, but this year comes through with even more of an optimistic whoosh than ever. What better way to shuck the shadows of 2020 than by taking care of YOU?

“Committing myself to it was the best thing I ever did,” says Amy Klein Sandoval, a veteran of two Tranformation Challenges in San Francisco.

“It’s a chance to do something for yourself,” adds Rachelle Reed, Ph.D., Orangetheory’s director of fitness science, “to re-engage with your Orangetheory community and to slowly establish really good health behaviors.”

This year cements one change that started last year, and introduces another one, she says.

First, last year the determination of success switched from weight loss to change in body composition, which has had positive reception, she says. Thus, winners in each studio are now the male and female who have lost the highest relative percentage of body fat, not the most weight. (A caveat: For studios without InBody, percentage of weight loss still determines the Challenge winner).

Second, because nutrition plays an integral role in health, Orangetheory has begun partnering with WW.

“We’re working with their nutrition science team to release social content every week related to making better nutrition choices,” Rachelle says. Plus, members who sign up for the Transformation Challenge receive a free one-month subscription to WW’s mobile app.

Amy especially likes the nutrition aspect. For her, she says, nutrition was a key component for the challenges she completed. “Find what works for you,” she says, and that may not necessarily be the latest fad diet.

Which leads us to more tips for making this Transformation Challenge your best yet — even if it is your very first one.

First and foremost, sign up. Sianita Suwito has been an Orangetheory member for four years. She’d heard about the Challenge, but had never signed up ... until now.

“As our coaches say, you don’t know what you can do if you don’t challenge yourself,” says Sianita, whose home studio is in Clarksburg, Md. “I hope to see positive changes in myself, both physical and mental.”

Connect with your coach. After signing up for the Challenge, members have the opportunity to visit one-on-one with their coach to set and assess goals.

“It’s a huge deal, this 10- to 15-minute private meeting,” Rachelle says. “The coach knows you, so when you’re checking into class, you’re hearing, ‘Hey, I’m so proud of you for being here this week!’ That’s our secret sauce. You want to be going somewhere people know your name and know your why.”

Take advantage of everything Challenge-related. Sianita says the coaches at her studio are offering new opportunities to help members, especially those involved in the Challenge, attain their fitness goals. One, for instance, is a 45-minute Lift Class that will focus on floor exercises.

Additionally, use the OTF mobile app to keep up with your workouts and progress.

Set goals that are challenging, but not overwhelming. Make them attainable and time-bound. “Those have a really big impact,” says Rachelle.

One of hers, for example, is to sit down every Sunday evening and schedule her workouts for the upcoming week. Someone else might decide to progressively add heavier weights in class — during the challenge and beyond.

Consider breaking down your goals into weekly bites. “Setting weekly goals can help you maintain your momentum,” she says.

Have an accountability partner. Plan to meet a friend in class. Go with a spouse or partner. “We know that social support, especially in exercise and nutrition, is really helpful toward changing behavior,” Rachelle says.

Anticipate roadblocks. Sure, there will be days you flat out don’t want to go to class. Take a deep breath ... and go.

“I knew I’d feel way better if I did and regret if I didn’t,” Amy says, “and that I’d feel 10 times better afterwards.”

Be mindful of how you talk to yourself. Instead of being disappointed when a workout doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, or complaining about that third class in a week, change your self-dialogue, Rachelle says.

“Think, ‘I’m so grateful for what my body can do.”

Take your workout out of the studio. Transformation Challenge doesn’t stop once you leave class, or end after eight weeks. Instead, think of it as a springboard, a slingshot, a catapult into a whole new outlook as well as a new you.

“Moving forward in my life,” Amy says, “I have learned so many good skills and lessons from doing these challenges. I honestly know how hard I can push myself. I did this twice and I saw it through. It helped me see what I’m capable of doing.”