How To Run A Nutrition Challenge In Any Fitness or Wellness Facility – A Step By Step Guide!

featured image nicole holding sign

A nutrition challenge is a great way to kickstart your clients health and wellness goals. The problem is that often times, a few months after the nutrition challenge is over, clients lose all their “gains” and end up worse off than when they started.

Read on if are the owner or manager at a globo gym, CrossFit or functional fitness gym, cycling studio, personal training studio, doctors office or chiropractors office.

In this article we will discuss how to run an effective nutrition challenge in your fitness or wellness facility. Additionally, we will talk about “the challenge trap”, and what happens after the challenge is over.

What Is A Nutrition Challenge?

At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we define a nutrition challenge as a 28 day program used to spark or kickstart a clients nutrition and wellness goals using the holistic framework necessary to promote healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

healthy steps nutrition framework pie chart

Why Should You Use A Holistic Framework When Coaching Nutrition?

Nutrition is one of the most important things to consider when wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. With that said, so many things impact a clients ability to make nutrition decisions. Over the years we have learned that making nutrition decisions goes way beyond just telling someone what to eat or how many macros they should have in a day.

Our Healthy Steps Nutrition Holistic Framework encompasses all aspects of wellness including:

  • Nutrition – Teaching clients how to consume whole foods first while reducing added sugar is key. Unprocessed foods such as sweet potatoes, whey protein, and frozen fruit are the way to go but helping clients with tips on cooking for taste and texture is key.
  • Stress Management – So many people go to food for comfort. Helping clients identify productive ways to manage their stress will lead to a mindful approach when heading to the kitchen for comfort.
  • Sleep -Prioritizing sleep and establishing a sleep routine is paramount. Lack of sleep impacts hormone levels of cortisol, ghrelin and leptin, which in turn effects mood, energy, food cravings, and metabolic health.
  • Support SystemClients need support from more people than their nutrition coach. Helping your clients identify positive influences to help support them on their journey is a great first step.
  • Lifestyle – Our weekend makes up 43% of our week. Creating daily actions that lead to healthy habits will reduce the fluctuation of being “perfect” during the week and then binge eating during weekends.
  • Exercise – Exercise is a stress management tool. Clients should aim to exercise 3-5x per week.

Key Considerations For Running A SuccessFul Nutrition Challenge

  • Keeping it simple

    Keeping it simple is so important when running a nutrition challenge. It’s very important you structure your challenge so your clients are set up for long term success. Going into the challenge with a long term mindset will ensure participants are implementing one new habit each week rather than trying to change everything at once.

    We recommend setting up a weekly calendar with 1 habit based theme per week.

    Here is an example of a 28 Day challenge Weekly plan that helps break old habits and create new healthy ones:

    • Week 1 – Try Eating 1/2 plate of fruits and vegetables at two meals each day

    • Week 2 – Drink 60-80oz of quality H2O each day

    • Week 3 – Prep one meal with a balance of protein, carbs and fats

    • Week 4 – Try a NEW nutrient dense recipe

  • Avoid the challenge trap

    Avoid the challenge trap by having a long term option for nutrition coaching available to your clients after the challenge is over. Too often we see facilities running multiple challenges in a year because they don’t have a long term solution to help their clients. Most people gain back the weight they worked so hard to lose and then wait for the facility to run another challenge so they can start their journey all over again. Worse than this, some clients find alternative programs to take part in outside of the facility.  They know they need something beyond a challenge to keep them accountable long term, but because it’s not offered where they are at, they go elsewhere.

    It doesn’t have to be this way!

  • Make it easy for your clients to continue with you!

    If you already have an ongoing nutrition coaching program, make sure your pricing and options are structured for clients to easily continue with you.

    • Charge more than your ongoing nutrition coaching rate for the challenge.

    • Have package options ready at the final check out meetings so your clients can sign up and schedule their 1st official nutrition coaching session immediately.

    We would LOVE to see 50% of challenge participants convert to your ongoing nutrition coaching program!

    If you don’t currently have a long term nutrition coaching program, we can help you set one up! 

    Book a free call to find out how an ongoing nutrition program can set your clients up for success and bring more revenue to your fitness or wellness facility!

  • Not only does this help your clients with a long term sustainable plan, but it also ensures your nutrition challenge sets you up with an ongoing revenue stream for your facility.

Step By Step Instructions To Start A Nutrition Challenge

woman viewing power point about nutrition

Now that we have the key considerations covered, let’s talk about the actual tasks you need to do in order run an effective nutrition challenge. It’s important to follow an SOP so you can assign tasks to your nutrition coaching team to ensure that everything gets done on time!

( Access some free help here with a complete guide and checklist for your challenge! )

Step 1 - Choose Dates

Dates need to be chosen for these tasks.

  • Official start date of the challenge

  • Marketing date ( marketing needs to start 6 weeks out )

  • Staff meeting date ( all staff other than nutrition coaches need to be informed and on the same page for the challenge)

  • Client goal setting sessions (for current clients of your facility)

  • Nutrition Talk Date ( pre challenge virtual seminar for marketing and hype)

  • Kick off seminar date ( Friday or Saturday before the challenge start date)

  • Initial meetings and biometric appointments for challenge participants

  • Mid Point accountability meet up for the group

  • End of Challenge meeting dates ( 1-4 days after the challenge ends)

Step 2 - Staff Meeting

At this staff meeting you will discuss with your current nutrition coaches and your other team members:

  • Roles and expectations

  • Explain the challenge details to non nutrition coaching staff

  • Encourage all staff members to join the challenge which will excite your clientele and provide social proof for your program

  • Talk about your sign up goal and how each team member can play an integral part in helping meet that goal

Step 3 - Market The Challenge

Marketing the challenge is the only way to let the world know about it! It is a very important part of the process and should be started 6 weeks prior to the actual start date of your challenge.

  • Establish sponsorships and partnerships for the challenge with other local businesses

    • Ask for prizes, a short intro at your kick off seminar and a sponsorship for the nutrition talk

  • Place flyers in your facility and local community boards with a QR code to sign up

    • Bathrooms, your front desk, above lockers and above drinking fountains are a great place to put flyers

  • Email current clients and call & email 2-5 past clients each week; let them know about the free nutrition talk coming up and also the challenge. Incentivize the talk by doing a drawing for a free challenge entry for participants and a double entry for people who bring a friend!

  • Set up short wellness goal setting sessions for current clients to discuss implementing healthy habits & goals. Invite them to the nutrition talk and nutrition challenge in these meetings.

  • Add a sign up link to your newsletter, gym software app or members app so it’s easy to sign up for both your nutrition talk and challenge.

  • Nutrition coaches should make 2-3 posts per week on your social platforms using stories, main feed posts and reels. Require your staff members to share these posts on their social media.

  • When people sign up – post a Canva templated highlight with their name and picture on your social platforms. Tag the client and say something like “Join >>>> before it’s too late! We have X number of spots remaining!”

Step 4 - Get Everything Else Together

  • Determine prizes for the challenge winners & come up with prizes for little weekly mini challenges to help keep engagement high each week

  • Make sure all your links for scheduling meetings and joining the challenge are live and posted

  • Create folders for each client with your nutrition challenge handbook and sample meal and food choices

  • Weekly review forms highlight highs, lows, and overall feelings. Create these forms and make sure you are ready to check in with each client individually at the end of each week of the challenge using this form.

  • Plan a Mid Point Accountability Meet Up for the entire challenge group. This can consist of a nutrition talk and Q&A, a group workout, and a potluck.

  • Get ready for the Kick Off Seminar by arranging any vendor setup for sponsors, and finalizing the power point and speaking notes.

Step 5 - Pre & Post Challenge Individual Meetings

Nicole Aucoin measuring a nutrition client
  • Send a confirmation 24 hours prior to the meeting

  • Conduct an individual pre and post challenge meeting with each participant. In these meetings:

    • Assess their goals and understand their why

    • Ask them what success looks like over the course of the challenge and also about long-term success? Some will want to lose weight, others will talk about losing fat, and some will talk about meal planning. Regardless – this one sitting helps builds rapport and trust with the nutrition coach.

    • Test biometrics and body composition after the conversation

    • Schedule the post challenge meeting

Step 6 - Kick Off Seminar

Nicole Aucoin holding poster

Take Your Nutrition Challenge To The Next Level

If all this information sounds amazing to you, but you are still unsure of your capabilities to execute a nutrition challenge on your own, you should consider joining our next Challenge Training Intensive happening on December 8th, 2022.

Our free help is great, but what it doesn’t give you that all of our HSN Mentoring clients get and what you will get in this Challenge Training Intensive are all the client deliverables such as:

  • Challenge Tracker Sheets 

  • Weekly Emails to send to your clients

  • Marketing Timeline 

  • Sample Meal Ideas & The Client Handbook 

  • Individual Meeting Templates 

  • Marketing Templates (Including Emails & Social Media Graphics)

  • Kick Off Presentation

In addition to the live training and all these deliverables, you get an individual mentoring zoom call with an HSN Nutrition Business Mentor to help you tailor this challenge to your facility.

Are you overwhelmed? If speaking to one of us at HSN before you purchase the Nutrition Challenge Intensive would help answer some of your questions, we would love to hear from you! 

Frequently Asked Questions

In the Nutrition Challenge Intensive live training, how much time is spent on teaching nutrition coaching and healthy eating?

During the challenge intensive, we will cover the Professional Nutrition Education Resources needed to deliver habit-Based nutrition & health coaching tips to challenge participants. This will include cover the included sample meal ideas resources, recipes and the weekly engagement emails.

If you are looking for advanced nutrition coach training  – click the HERE to learn how!

When Running A Nutrition Challenge Why Don't You Suggest Counting Macros?

At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe in a habit based holistic approach to nutrition coaching. Macro counting is a very complex habit to learn and because of this doesn’t fit into our framework of learning one healthy habit at a time. It’s hard enough to learn how to incorporate a single nutritional habit into your lifestyle let alone having to learn to weigh food, measure it and track it on an app.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Launch A Challenge?

So many people are hyped up to make a change at the beginning of the year. We have had the best turnout and engagement when we start our challenges between the second and 3rd week in January. 

How Long Should My Nutrition Challenge Be?

Our experience is that people can stay really engaged for about 28 days, so our suggestion is to run a 28 – 30 day challenge. 

Additional FREE Help Related To
Building A Nutrition Program In A Gym


    3 Steps To Launch A Successful Nutrition Challenge & Build An Ongoing Nutrition Coaching Program HERE

  • LISTEN: Turning Your Nutrition Challenge Into A Recurring Revenue Stream & Ongoing Nutrition Coaching Program HERE
  • LISTEN: 3 Strategies To Market Your Nutrition Challenge HERE
  • LISTEN: How To Run A Successful Nutrition Challenge HERE