Latest News "I Tried A New Sport Just SO I Could Go To The Olympics. And It Worked!" “I Tried A New Sport Just So I Could Go To The Olympics — And It Worked!”

What You Should Know About The Staff Fitness Challenge, From The Boss

Posted on: by Susan Barrett

The best part? You get to join us…

Ed Danielle Weakley says…

It’s the kind of statement that strikes terror into the hearts of what I will henceforth refer to as Normal People: The Staff Fitness Challenge. Roll it around your mouth. Wrap your tongue – and your head – around it. For the past three years, the team at Women’s Health gets together in a fug of winter-fuelled inspiration and sets itself a 12-week fitness challenge. The idea is that it gets us to move our arses through the coldest season, proves that one can meet a goal over the course of just three months and it gives us an excuse to be competitive. So, really, it just gives us an excuse to be competitive.

To make it legit, we all undertake a barrage of fitness assessments (more lite than it sounds, Normal People) so that we have comparative results – and then we hit the gym.

READ MORE: 5 Insane Body Benefits Of A 40-Minute Spin Class

Thanks to the fact that I love yoga – both the sweet, stretchy vinyasa kind and the so-hot-and-fast-you-can’t-tell-your-sweat-from-your-tears-from-your-neighbour’s kind – I aced (if I say so myself) the flexibility bits of the assessment. But, the push-up? No amount of chataranga has changed how utterly crap my push-up form is. On the watt bike – a dastardly device that transforms your, erm, sit bones from petals to biltong in ten minutes while also measuring your cardio fitness – my cardio level was determined to be ‘intermediate’. Bastards.

So I’m going to be hitting Virgin Active The Silo for some major aerial yoga love to get my core cracking and my push-up pulling its weight – and I reckon I’ll throw in the extra sweat thanks to Pound if I need the cardio points.

Choose your fave sport, follow your fave teams and jump on their chosen sport. Don’t forget to use the hashtags to share your progress!

READ MORE: Exactly How To Burn More Kilojoules On The Treadmill

The teams

Challenge: Swimming (#WHSwimTeam)
Team: Deputy Ed Wanita Nicol (@wanita.nicol) and Art Director Michelle von Schlicht (@wh_michellevs)
Goal: “Neither of us is swimming fit at all, so it’s a skill we’re both looking to master. And we’re coming off a low base!” says Wanita.  She used to swim fairly often, but last time she ventured into the pool she was devastated to find even 200m challenging. “I hate losing a skill I worked hard to acquire,” she says. “I’m determined to get it back.” With her usual focus being bodyweight strength training, Wanita’s also keen to up her cardio game. Michelle likes a challenge and reckons getting into cold water throughout winter is about as challenging as it’s going to get. Plus, she’s excited at the prospect of fitting a total-body workout into a short period of time, while also learning good breathing technique. “Using breath work in exercise is not something I’ve ever focused on before, so I think it will be a good skill to learn,” she says. Join the team! Hit the water and tag #WHSwimTeam on Instagram and Twitter.

Challenge: High-intensity functional training (#LeighGetsFit)
Team: Copy Editor Leigh Champanis-King (@leighchampanisking)
Goal: “I’ve chosen to do high-intensity functional training and will be taking The Grid and Twenty Four classes at Virgin Active, both of which focus on six core moves: push, pull, lunge, bend, twist and squat. I chose these two classes because, having taken up S.W.E.A.T. 1000 recently, I’ve developed a love of high-intensity training. In my fitness test, I was rated as ‘average’ and I want to improve that drastically. I definitely want to be better than average. Any added perks that come along with getting fit will also be welcomed.”

READ MORE: 5 Workouts That Burn More Kilojoules Than A Spin Class

Challenge: Pound!
Team: Beauty Ed Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini (@gotangoma), Intern Zinhlezonke Zikalala (@zitchzikalala), Digital Intern Megan Flemmit (meg_flem15)
Goal: It’s all about putting the fun back in fitness for this team! Gotlhokwang chose Pound because she’s stopped exercising and needs the motivation to start again. “I need fun motivation,” she says. “I’d fallen out of love with exercise because I got too busy, I got stressed with life and I got tired with my past exercises. I don’t want exercise to be a chore or something I feel guilty about. My aim: To become totally besotted with sweat and the pounding of my heart!” Zinhle says: “I was told I needed to up my cardio game. In all honesty, I hate cardio… but I have to do it for my fitness’ sake. And so, to balance my dilemma out, I had to choose a fitness regime that’s fun. Pound is a regime that will not only will get my heart rate up, it’ll also strengthen my core.” Megan agrees: “I’ve always been a fan of rock ’n roll. So a workout that promises to sculpt my entire body while I listen to my favourite kind of music – what’s not to love? My fitness levels are at an all time low. Other than looking like a fun workout, this cardio-packed routine promises to help me build endurance, so I’m not tapping out after two minutes.”

Challenge: Triathlon training (#TriHard)
Team: Junior Writer Michelle October (@michelle_october) and Digital Ed Gina Beretta (gina_dionisio)
Goal: Michelle has done pretty much every other training, so she thought it was time for something different. “Now that I’m a lifeguard, being able to be a faster swimmer is more important to me than ever before – but I also wanted to up my endurance and speed. Together, this kind of training should give me the best of both worlds. At the end of it, I want to shave off at least a minute from my swimming time trial, and complete my first triathlon!” she says. For Gina, taking on a triathlon is all about pushing herself out of her comfort zone and taking her training to the next level. “I’m fit, but I want to be faster and stronger.  As a runner, lacing up doesn’t phase me… but I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike or swum a length since school (and that was a LONG time ago)! Oh boy.”

READ MORE: 4 Easy At-Home Moves To Flatten Out Your Tummy

Challenge: The Strong Body Movement’s Body Fit Foundation Programme (calisthenics) – #StrongWomen
Team: Senior Designer Leigh Cann (@leighcann) and Digital Managing Ed Susan Barrett (@susanjbarrett)
Goal: “We chose this because we want to build strength and muscle tone, using our own body weight instead of heavy weights. My personal aim is to achieve a pistol squat!” says Leigh. Susan is all about taking fitness outside and exercising in a way that’s as natural as possible, so calisthenics just makes sense. “We’ll be learning proper form and building that strength indoors – then I’ll be taking it every jungle gym I can find. Children be warned!” Up until now, Susan’s focus has been her arms, back and core (paddling, climbing) so she’s aiming to make a typewriter pull-up her party trick, but she’s hoping her legs and bum will benefit from all that extra attention too.

Challenge: Flexibility, muscle toning and core strength
Team: Fashion Ed Anja Joubert (@anjajoubert) and Fashion Assistant Teresa Agnello (@teresaagnello)
Goal: Anja and Teresa want to focus on flexibility (yoga) and strength training in conjunction with the running and cardio they’re already doing. “We’re going to commit to four to five hours a week at the gym,” says Teresa. “The gym is a foreign place for both of us – we enjoy outdoor running and therefore want to give the gym a go and explore different activities for the first time. The Barre 180 class sounds ideal for this,” she adds. “As Anja and myself are both runners, we only focus on cardio exercise during the week. Running causes muscles and joints to become tight and rigid very easily. So we want to focus on flexibility, muscle toning and core strength.”

READ MORE: Which Is Actually Better: Cardio Or Weights?

Challenge: Cycling
Team: Food & Managing Ed Amy Hopkins (@amy_hoppy)
Goal: “After running the biggest race of my year, Two Oceans Ultra (56km), I wanted to set myself a goal that would be as physically and mentally challenging, but that did not involve slapping my feet on the tar. I’d been toying with the idea of getting a bicycle for a while – to cycle to work – and then thought, Why not make this into a challenge? But go off-road too! So I got myself a mountain bike and I’m starting from scratch! I know absolutely nothing about this sport, but I’m super-keen to learn and challenge myself in this new sport. I’ve entered the Dr Evil three-day MTB stage race in the Garden Route, followed by the 100km Karoo2Coast MTB race from Uniondale to Knysna. It’s going to be tough, but with all the spinning training I’m going to do at Virgin Active, combined with off-road riding on the weekends, I feel like I should be ready by end September. Wish me luck! Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ll stop running… I’ll just hold off on marathons until Soweto in November.”

Challenge: The Strength Zone Programme #TeamToneUp!
Team: Commercial Content Producer Alice Paulse (@allypaulse) and Men’s Health Deputy Online Ed Chelsea Geach (@chelseageach)
Goal: “We want to get stronger, leaner and faster – and we want it to show!” says Chelsea. “We’re going to be tackling high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with some weights thrown in the mix – and a sneaky side of low intensity steady-state cardio (LISS), because we both love a good jog. We’re going for the ultimate cross-training experience, because if you want to look toned, you have to hit the double whammy: build muscle and cut body fat. We’re not going for fitness-model levels of shredded here – we’ll leave that to the pros. But we are so ready for some glute growth, a lil thigh pop, a bit of arm definition… and we’d both really love to meet our abs!” How are they going to make this magic happen? “We’ll be hitting up HIIT classes at Virgin Active like The Grid and 24, along with toning classes like Shape. Outside of the studio, you’ll find us spiking our heart rates on the rower and pretending we aren’t complete noobs in the weight room. You’ll also find us stuffing our faces with veggies, protein and lots of green stuff – because bodies are built in the kitchen, not just the gym! If you want to level up with us, follow us on Insta! We’ll be posting our workouts and recipes, but not so often that it’s annoying.”

Follow the team individually and @womenshealthmagsa on Instagram. Also check out the hottest, fat-blasting workouts and video tutorials – and make this your fittest year ever!

Got something to say?