The Exercise Challenge

Do you remember that old thrill of earning gold stars?  Maybe it was in your piano book or fourth grade classroom, but either way, there was just something about that metallic shine broadcasting your success to the world that gave you the motivation to do your best and keep your eye on the prize.

I don’t think we ever really grow out of that thrill.  Even my high school English students would cheer for joy when I awarded them a “rave review,” building toward their pizza party.   A chart tracking your wonderfulness, one gold star at a time…what can get better than that?

So, when Mark and I were strategizing our plan to get healthier by being more intentional about exercise, we knew what we needed to keep us on track: a chart and some metallic stars.

Our system is pretty simple and personal to what we want to achieve.  We wanted to start with a reasonable goal: 3 days of exercise per week (at least half an hour per day).  And to give us a little incentive, we decided that four consecutive weeks of reaching our target would result in the reward of a professional massage!

So far, we’ve completed two weeks of our chart:

Exercise Challenge Chart with stars to track progress

In my head, the “Exercise Challenge” is always read by the voice of Rex of Rex Kwon Do from Napoleon Dynamite.

We recently joined our local YMCA, and after our first workout, we went to Hobby Lobby and picked out these gold and silver stars: gold for Mark, silver for me.  Mark turned to me in the car on the way home and said with a grin, “I feel like a little kid again.”  And you can bet, though we might forget to water the plant or to take the recyclables out to the curb on Thursdays, we never forget to add a star to chart when we get home after a workout.

Star Storage and Key for the Exercise Challenge Chart

Every decent chart needs a key!

We decided each small star would represent 1/2 hour of working out.  But you only needed one per day to get the credit.  The big star would be awarded in the margin at the end of a week of three days of working out.  4 biggies = massage time.

Exercise Challenge Chart with Fitness Class Schedule

We posted our chart, stars, and YMCA class schedule on the side of our pantry, right by our front door.  It inspires us in our comings and goings.

One week down, three to go.  Small steps toward healthier living.  We really like this planet and hope to be here as long as God will allow us.

Lovely comments so far...

  1. Marmie says

    I need to make a gold star chart! I think it would be motivating!! However, I would probably go ahead and have the professional massage whether I met my goals or not!! :-)
    Good for you and Mark!!

  2. says

    :) “We really like this planet…” I love how you put that. And Go YMCA! I can attest to the awesomeness of the organization–at least the one that I’m at. They really support their staff. Hoping to go with you to the hip hop class one of these days.

    • says

      We are becoming HUGE fans of the Y. Many of the trainers and teachers already know us by name – – and they’re so quick to offer help in a non-pressurey kind of way. Mark is doing free “Coach Approach” sessions with one of the trainers (do they have that program at your Y?), and I’m thinking about doing the same. Glad you feel supported by them. And yes, I’d LOVE it if you could come with me to Hip Hop sometime and if I could attend your Zumba class! That’d be a dream…..

  3. says

    hey, i am so glad you linked up!! and yes i loved the gold star reward! awesome idea. i also think 3days a week is a great goal! you can totally do it:)

    • says

      We’re well on our way! Halfway through our second four-week stretch. It’s great to really start getting into an exercise routine. Who knows, maybe we’ll increase our goal in the future, but for now, we need do-able. 😉 Thanks for stopping by.

  4. says

    I know this is an older post, but I just saw it in your Project Gallery and had to check it out. Adorable! Are you guys still using it? Nothing like the lure of a gold (or silver!) star to get your moving!!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I’m so glad you did check it out! And you can definitely tell it’s an older post from the quality of my photos. Eeska! But to answer your question, yes, we are still using it! There have been a few weeks here or there where we’ve fallen off the wagon, so to speak, but then we see the metallic stars flickering in the corner of our eye and we realize we MUST PRESS ON and MUST EARN MORE STARS! It’s amazing the power they wield. 😉 Ha ha. Have you ever done an exercise chart like this before?

  5. says

    Lauren – I love this idea! It would be an excellent reminder of your successes or lack there of. Especially displayed in a location easy for your review. Don’t see a whole bunch of stars for this week? Then you know you need to go do it! What kid didn’t love the gold star system? It’s such an easy system to work into any age. From potty training to high schoolers! Now it can be used for adults too! And what a wonderful reward for adults! It’s not an unhealthy reward, as I would be so tempted to make it a food reward. Thanks for pointing me to this older post of yours! I hope you are keeping up with it.

    Have a great weekend! Yay, three day weekend! 😀

    • thethinkingcloset says

      It’s funny, just today, I created a chart in Word that we can easily print out and tape on top of our old grid to start afresh (rather than re-creating it by hand, which I’ve been doing for the past few rounds). So, tomorrow starts a brand new set of 10 weeks of The Exercise Challenge, and both Mark and I are motivated to make exercise even more of a routine than it was the past few months. In fact, I’m contemplating coming up with specific days that I usually go to the gym. Right now, I have hip hop on Tuesdays, but the rest is up in the air. Why couldn’t I decide that Wednesday will be weights and Thursday will be elliptical? Then, it takes out the guesswork, and I’m much more likely to stick to the three days a week of exercise…and hopefully amp it up to even more than that!

      Anyway, thanks for all of your encouragement both here and on your blog with these health-related topics. We definitely need to spur each other on! (I feel the spurring from you, my friend. And I hope you feel spurred on in return!)

      Yay! Enjoy your holiday Monday!


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