Challenge Accepted


Reebok CrossFit Bare Cove approaches nutrition challenges like the Open. Affiliate Mike LeJeune said a member can’t be associated with the Box and not know a challenge is underway.

“We make sure it just takes over the gym. Like gyms will do with the Open, we talk about it just as much. I kind of joke with people saying, ‘You may as well sign up because you know I’m not going to leave you alone until you do,’” said LeJeune.

Since opening in 2011, CrossFit Code Red has always done weeklong nutrition challenges. But starting in 2016, Affiliate Jake Maslin decided to change from the challenges to a full-year nutrition program. He noticed while the challenges had the ability to gain members’ attention, the changes didn’t stick. As soon as a multiple-week challenge ended, Maslin noticed people would soon revisit their old eating habits. He also observed less and less members were signing up for the challenges.

Andrea McDaniel saw the same pattern at CrossFit South Bay, where she was the Box’s nutritionist until 2015. McDaniel and the Coaches decided to also implement a yearlong program, introducing specific challenges each week. “This week, we’re going to focus on water. This week, we want you to find the best recipes. This week, we want you to avoid grains. So we were trying to achieve more of a long-term effect as opposed to just a short, 30-day [challenge] where [members] are left high and dry with nowhere to go next,” explained McDaniel. “We’re trying to develop more habits with just a short-term approach.”

The biggest hurdle LeJeune saw at Reebok CrossFit Bare Cove was members dropping off before the end of the challenge. He is constantly looking for new, creative ways to implement challenges at the Box, and he realized a scoring system best motivated his members.

With their latest challenge, LeJeune explained members were broken up into teams, preferably paired with someone they didn’t know. “I tell my wife, I don’t mind disappointing her near as much as the person I don’t know quite as well. So there’s a little bit of that accountability,” said LeJeune.

Their latest nutrition challenge was also incentivized. Each week, first-place winners received a prize pack, like nutrition supplements or workout gear.

And the winners were decided upon by a wide variety of measurements that did not include the scale. Instead, the winners were determined by benchmark workouts and body measurements.

However your challenge measures success, McDaniel said to keep it simple. It’s easy to ask members to keep a nutrition journal, but the more work members are asked to do, the more likely they are to drop off, which is why she decided to introduce challenges each week of the yearlong program. When a new challenge starts each week, like drinking more water, the member has to maintain drinking that same amount of water for the rest of the year.

To keep his members excited and on track, Maslin implemented nutrition workshops at CrossFit Code Red. He plans to host a seminar every three months to touch on a different area of nutrition, such as recipes and the best times to eat, as well as allowing members to be accountable for each other.

But athletes can’t sign up for a program or a challenge unless they know it’s happening. While LeJeune treats each challenge like the Open, Maslin and McDaniel approach members about their nutrition one-on-one. Plus, CrossFit Code Red Coaches announce new programs at the beginning of each class.

McDaniel sees a place for both yearlong programs and weeklong nutrition challenges in the world of CrossFit. It’s up to the Affiliate to decide what works best in the culture of his or her Box. “You have to cater to all the different needs and personalities to as many members as you can. Some people sign up, and that’s what they’re looking for, a lifestyle change. Other people, something shorter doesn’t work really well just to get them started,” said McDaniel. “Offer different ones throughout the year so people can pick what works best with what they want and what they need out of being a member at the Box.”

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.