Survival of the Fittest

Those holiday pounds aren’t going to lose themselves. This January, jump-start your fitness routine with one of these high-octane challenges.

Illustration by Eric Palma

Ever woken up on New Year’s Day reeling from weeks of feasting and splurged on a gym membership, only to lose steam after a few turns on the elliptical? This year, set yourself up for long-term success by committing first to a short-term fitness project. “Challenges keep people focused and motivated to stick to their goals,” says Mark Partin, cofounder of B/Spoke studios. “Once you’ve finished, you’ve actually repurposed your schedule and you have a new system of habits.” Another upside? You’ll feel smug right through to spring.

If you prefer a self-guided challenge…
Fit University Live Fit Initiative

Led by Sarah Gaines, the dynamo founder of the online wellness community Fit University, this monthlong program begins on January 15 and is open to anyone with an Internet connection. Daily posts amp up your strength training and help maintain your mindfulness. You won’t have to go it alone, either: Attend the four in-person meet-ups at the Reebok collective in the South End, where Gaines will lead workouts and meditations.


If you want to try barre…
Barre & Soul 30-Day Honorary Membership

Curious about the dance-inspired fitness craze that adherents call the best workout in the city? Try it this January at Barre & Soul. New members pay just $79 and have unlimited access to the studio for 30 days starting on the date of their choosing. At the end of that month, barre converts receive a deal in pricing if they become full-fledged members. Considering that a single class typically costs around $23, this is a win for your waistline and your wallet.

36 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge, 617-902-0761,

If you’re looking to join a gym…
Equinox 30-Day New-Members Fitness Challenge

Walking into a brand-new gym can feel like trying to find a place to sit as the new student in a crowded cafeteria. The team at Equinox recognizes that new members might be intimidated, and designed this year’s challenge to encourage them to continue to show up: If you join in January and work out at the gym 12 times in the first month, they’ll refund your initiation fee. That meant hundreds of dollars back in victors’ pockets last year—motivation enough to strengthen your muscles and maybe even your social skills.

Fees vary by location;

If you’re a runner…
Tracksmith No Days Off

Lifestyle brand Tracksmith understands that running through ice and snow isn’t exactly pleasant, so every January it launches the No Days Off program to encourage New Englanders to stay active. Interested runners of all abilities can get Tracksmith’s poster-size calendar starting December 26, free in-store or online. While the goal is to run daily, the main idea is to develop consistency, moderation, and patience by doing one healthy thing every day. If you want to go with the pack, Tracksmith hosts runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday to help hold participants accountable.

285 Newbury St., Boston, 781-235-0027,

If you love to spin…
B/Spoke Studios 20-Class Challenge

The team at B/Spoke studios knows that working out several days a week often means giving up evening plans or extra hours of sleep in the morning. To encourage cyclists to continue to make those sacrifices this January, the studio will give three free classes and two free “buddy passes” to those who complete 20 workouts. Participants must take at least one R/DE class—the signature spin session—and one Train class, an off-the-bike, strength-building session.

$270 for one unlimited month; 101 Federal St., Boston, 617-951-9900,

If you’re a yogi…
Stil Studio 30-Class Challenge

Who says yoga can’t include some healthy competition? Sign up for Stil Studio’s January challenge and your name will be added, along with your fellow yogis’, to a giant poster on the wall. Each time you complete a class, celebrate your success by drawing a big circle around your name for all to see. Complete 30 yoga classes during the month and receive a February membership for free. Bragging rights, however, will last all year.

$99 per month with a minimum six-month commitment; 227 Legacy Place, Dedham, 781-407-9642,

If you want a killer core…
North End Yoga 21-Day Challenge

Those who desire a little variety while strengthening their core will appreciate the 21-Day Challenge at North End Yoga. From January 1 to 21, take 15 yoga, Pilates, and/or barre classes in 21 days, and be entered into a raffle to win three months of unlimited classes. Each additional class taken will earn you another entry. So roll out your mat and up those odds.

$165 for one unlimited month; 256 Hanover St., Boston, 617- 227-9642,