She just finished the Fly Feet Running 21 Day Challenge, and she’s here to tell you all about this awesome program!
Fly Feet 21 day Challenge
“Give us 21 days, and we’ll give you the tools to get in the best shape of your life”
As I ate & drank my way through the holidays this year, this statement from Fly Feet Running really appealed to me.
Fly Feet is a new boutique fitness studio in Minneapolis, using high intensity interval training on a treadmill and strength to condition all athletes, but especially runners. But not just the running part of runners – the whole runner.
Fly Feet opened in November 2016. I took a few free classes during their soft opening. I liked the workout, liked the coaches, support small businesses, and the location was convenient for me – so I became a founding member.
Aaron Leventhal is the brains behind the workouts. Google him. He’s legit. In fact, google all the coaches – you’ll find an Olympic boxer, UoM 10k record holder, and a D1 rower, among many other impressive accomplishments. Their intern just ran a 4:38 mile. I’m telling you – these are people that know a thing or two about athletic performance. (You can also check out their bios here.)
What is the Fly Feet 21 Day Challenge? The 21 day challenge is a program created by / hosted by Fly Feet Running (FFR) in Minneapolis MN.
The 21 Day Challenge “is a commitment to start and change the way you live your life.”
Which builds on this part of their philosophy statement:
MORE THAN A WORKOUT. A MOVEMENT.
Fly Feet is a coalition of fitness faithful uniting to uplift our bodies, our minds and our world. We feed you vital information inside our studio and out — everything from nutrition guidance to recovery support — and get you in gear to feel, perform, and look your best. More than a workout club, we’re paving the way to a happier, healthier life. All together now.
In my own words, the challenge was an opportunity to try out some lifestyle tweaks that could not only build better athletic ability, but also upgrade my life – physical, mental & emotional. Everyone wrote down their “why” and put it on the big chalkboard at FF before the challenge started. This is also where we recorded our weekly points & the coaches would put pictures posted about the challenge that they thought were funny, inspirational, etc.
Challenge Details: The “challenge” itself has 7 categories –
1. Nutrition: This challenge is to “Eat Clean” – high level, this includes meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, some nuts & fruits, sprouted beans. This excludes grains, soy, added sugar, MSG, and processed foods. There are lots of ways to do the nutrition “right”. Organic as much as possible.
2. Work Out: Do 16 high intensity workouts in 21 days. The core “tread & shred” class at FFR covers you quite well in this area!
3. Recover: 5 recovery days built in. These can be total rest or 30-50% effort. 4/5 of mine were total rest.
4. Sleep: 8.5 hours per night. SO HARD. 50% success rate here.
5. Hydrate: Stay hydrated! Rule of thumb: Drink half your body weight of pounds, in ounces of water. (for example: At a weight of 150 lbs, drink 75 ounces of water per day). I knocked this one out of the park.
6. Social: Interaction on social media was part of the challenge! This was motivating and encouraged all of us to stay committed to the next 21 days – it’s always easier when you’re part of a team! This speaks right to my weakness, (which I am so abundantly aware of!) which is motivation. It’s not that I won’t do a workout, I just won’t go as hard. Or maybe I’ll take more breaks. Or maybe I’ll just have one glass of wine. You know how this goes – it’s a slippery slope!
If you want to see what others were saying about the challenge, you can check out the #ff21dc hashtag on Instagram. Here is my favorite post:
7. Bonus points –
a. Fly Lab – these are hour long workshops on things like Running Mechanics and Mobility / Recovery. Suuuper informative and topics that are commonly overlooked!
b. Bring a Buddy – I managed to get 1 person to come with me during the challenge. I realize how uncool this makes me look.
c. Intermittent Fasting – a 16 hour fast, which helps reset the hormones in your body. The first time I did this was an accident, the second time intentional, and not that hard. Pro tip: Plan these overnight! Helps when you’re sleeping for 8.5 hours or more of it!
Progress is measured! They run the exact same workout (called the TreadMighty) the weekend the challenge starts and the weekend it ends, to show tangible progress. Here is what the workout looks like & the data points recorded:
Nothing earth shattering here, but small improvements across the board were fun to see! And this was only 3 weeks! They sprinkle this workout into the regular schedule so you can gauge progress from time to time after the challenge.
2. 35 lb KB:
I have no idea what I was thinking when I took a 35 lb KB for this class. I have absolutely no business swinging that weight! I stuck with it for consistency in TreadMighty #2, to show true progress. But man, wish I’d been more realistic at that beginning!
3. TreadMighty #2:
I was in Key West on the last day of the challenge (1/31) for a wedding – bummer, I know! I took my “End of Challenge” TreadMighty class when I got home. Let’s just say I didn’t stick to challenge details #1, 4 & 5 very well during my trip & that probably impacted my performance. I would have loved to have taken the class the last day of the challenge, before I poisoned my body with “just a few drinks”, but that’s just the way it goes. You have to fit in life! No Regrets!
4. Relevant Data:
They have you track objective data (numbers) along with subjective data (how you feel). This isn’t specific to the challenge – I have heard the coaches say many times that you need to bump your feelings up against some objective data before you make a decision. For example: You are on your 4th day in a row of Tread & Shred workouts, feeling a little sore, but really want to get back in for a 5th day to show Aaron that you really CAN do a squat without buckling your knees. WAIT. Take your resting Heart Rate. If it’s 10-15 beats faster than normal, you should think about a recovery day. (might be a real life example, might be hypothetical. You be the judge!)
5. Did you give it your all?
This is a tough question for me – did I give it my all? But really? Could I have gone faster? Done more reps? This is the reason I will probably never color in the 5 bubble. I can tell you I feel like I’m giving my all in class! But if I’ve learned anything in my time at Flyfeet, it’s that I can go harder than I think. And my edge is out there if I just put on my big girl pants and go chase it.
If pre-21 day challenge Monica could have a heart to heart with post-21 day challenge Monica, here is what she would say:
1. Food prep takes a lot of time, but it is worth it. Buy a food processor. Watch your fingers with the immersion blender.
2. Fat is so delicious. Don’t be such a scaredy cat about it! (good fats of course)
3. Sugar is very sneaky. There are so many ingredient names to watch out for – I took a list with me to the co-op.
4. You’ll spend a lot of time in the bulk foods aisle at the Co-op.
5. You’ll have annoying conversation at restaurants, such as:
“Do you guys have a coconut milk latte?”
“Can I see the ingredients of the coconut milk you use?”
“Ok… could I see your almond milk ingredients?”
“That’s cool, I’ll just have a venti dark roast”
6. There are some pretty cool people at Fly Feet and they are a lot like you. You’re going to have fun getting to know them!
7. Your co-workers are going to test you. I swear like 10 people had birthdays during these 3 weeks.
8. You can totally do this!
Even in just 3 weeks of eating clean, high intensity workouts, intentional rest & recovery, there were vast improvements. I’ve always known all of these things are important, but had a tendency to focus on one at a time, like: I’m going to follow my training plan perfectly, but eat whatever I want. I’m going to restrict calories, but never hit my times in my workouts, etc., etc..
My plug for this plan is that it gives you a real life experience of what these changes can do for you. It’s not just from a physical performance standpoint, but also mental and emotional. One side effect that I wasn’t expecting was that I did not have my normal 2-3pm slumps at work, and my ability to focus was much better.
The future: I’m taking many of these habits into my everyday life – reading food labels, avoiding sugar – refined & totally fake, intentional rest days, high intensity workouts, to name a few.
I’m not going to be perfect. No one is perfect. Well, maybe Aaron. I actually heard him referred to as the “Jesus of Fitness” the other day. Pretty sure he’s Jewish …. But so is Jesus. And that is how a Blog Post gets sidetracked.
The point is that I learned a lot about myself and how my body works during this challenge. I have just scratched the tip of the iceberg though! My next big thing is the Hot Dash 5k on March 18. I’m going to continue to #treadmighty until then, and I can’t wait to see the results!
Let me know if you have any questions about the challenge, or just FlyFeet in general!
Thanks Monica for sharing your experience!