10 Year Body Challenge (Note: Longer than 4 weeks)

"Fitness" has become very fucking twisted.

Somehow being healthy is synonymous with breaking your soul in the gym and eating only celery sticks for 4 weeks.

Current Fitness Trends

Just look at the most popular styles of training right now, they put all of their focus into three things:

Calorie Burn
This is fairly short-sighted, and perpetuates the idea of exercise as "punishment for eating choices."
From a psychological and behavioral standpoint, I can hardly think of anything more twisted than turning movement [which should be a fun and good thing] into a punishment for food [which should also be a fun and good thing].

High Intensity Only
Your body has different energy systems. It's beneficial to work them all. If you don't, you end up with a lot of gaps in your overall well-being.
When you are in a high-intensity cardio zone constantly, you don't have time to address many of the other qualities important for health. Such as mobility, strength, speed, coordination, balance, vision, etc. Not only this but your body responds to stress, and doing a high intensity workout can actually jack up your hormones and INCREASE your overall STRESS. As weird as it sounds, many people would be better off taking a walk than doing one of these high intensity "fitness" classes. 

Short-Term Weight Loss (and a lot of it)
One of the most popular chains advocates a diet of less than 1100 calories per day (some days as low as 700) and many high intensity, high-stress workout punishments per week.

This is ridiculous, and not sustainable. This strategy will have a very high rate of quitting, and those who do complete the challenge are highly likely to rebound to an even higher weight (and body fat).

For the last time, exercise should make you feel better, not feel beaten down.


Q: What looks great in marketing materials and also destroys a person's metabolism and endocrine system?

A: DING DING! It's these rapid weight loss challenges.



Focusing on these 3 things, is the LAST THING you should be worried about when it comes to healthy living.

Really it comes down to ONE THING...

Come back and hit it again tomorrow.

Being healthy isn't a competition. You just have to make sure you can stay in the game.

It actually doesn't even matter as much what that "it" is. It's more important THAT you are doing SOMETHING.

Every day.

Ask Why? 

It's not what you do, it's how you do it. But taking it deeper, WHY you do it.

Simon Sinek has a great book called "Start With Why." It's a great read and I highly recommend it.

When it comes to exercise and healthy living, find your why (your reason) for achieving your goals.

If you have a truly compelling reason, you'll stick with it 100%, especially if you can make it fun and rewarding.

Don't discount the value of fun--all of your movement should be fun. If it's not, you need to find a different option--and believe me, there are plenty of great choices that will give you the results you want.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear here; being healthy is not a 4 week plan. It's not an 8 week plan. It's not a 12, 16, or even a 36 week plan.

You get one body. It's got to last you up until you clock out--so you better learn how it works, and how to take care of it.

You are NOT going to have a thorough understanding of how your body responds to what you do in 4 weeks. It's going to take years and years--and that's actually half the fun.

You're never going to find THE ANSWER--it doesn't exist. What you CAN DO, is find effective tactics [fun things] through self exploration.

You never know what you're going to enjoy until you try; maybe you'll want to swing kettlebells, or learn how to do a perfect handstand

There isn't a right answer here--try things and see what you like! These fun things will keep you in great shape throughout your entire life.

This all ties back into a concept that I am clearly obsessed about...

Physical Freedom: The ability to move uninhibited, confidently, and without fear.

This is the keystone to a healthy life. Physical freedom gives you options to explore all the activities that life has to offer. Without it, sustaining any plan is going to prove very difficult.

Navigating the Obstacles

At one point or another, all of us will experience some roadblocks.

1. Lack of motivation
2. Pain or Immobility

The first point, motivation, comes back to finding your "why."
Physical activity will make your body feel good, strong, and it will even improve your energy, mood, etc. There are a lot of "reasons" to stay active--but find the most compelling one. Maybe it's being able to play tag with your grandkids someday? It could be anything, but make it meaningful.

The second point, physical pain or immobility, can be the most frustrating roadblock of all. In fact, I personally have experienced physical pain and felt trapped--even lost without being able to stay active.

My experience was not an isolated one either--over 100 million people in the US (a third of the population) experience chronic pain.

Out of that huge number of people, 77% feel depressed because of it.

This is actually what drove me to develop the Simple Shoulder Solution and 5 Minute Flow Programs. I was so tired of seeing people broken and unable to exercise--something had to be done.

The beauty is that once your body is working as it should, everything just falls into place. Your energy is higher, your movement capacity is higher, and you WANT to move. That's really the secret--you want to look forward to your daily movement--whatever form that takes.

Take the Challenge!

Then do it again tomorrow. And the next 10 years.

And really, who's going to stop at 10 years? This is a life sentence baby.

Better every day,

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 thoughts on “10 Year Body Challenge (Note: Longer than 4 weeks)

  • Max Shank

    Thank you Fabian! I am never too busy to hear something like that! Making a difference for people like yourself is what energizes me and keeps me going. Hope to meet you someday!

  • Fabian Salazar

    Super Max
    I truly enjoy what you do and what you stand for brother. I cannot express how you’ve opened my eyes to a lot of things. I will make this short because I’m sure you go through a lot of these haha! I hope to meet you one day! You da man!

  • Max Shank

    Hell yeah! Really happy to hear that Tom.
    I love training 50-60+, it’s so rewarding. What you focus on becomes reality so focusing on what you enjoy is a great way to go!

  • Steve

    Awesome Max!

    As a trainer i agree wholeheartedly. It puzzles me whenever i see gyms or coaches selling “28 day transformation” programs. I mean, how does 4 weeks transform anyone?.
    Sadly, its hard to sell training packages now unless you’re making outlandish promises which makes me very uncomfortable and something i just wont do.
    Keep bringing sanity back to the fitness industry Max!

    See you again.


  • Tom Wilson

    Excellent article, Max. My brother sent me the link for this one. I have read some of your other articles and have always been impressed. As an over-50 athlete, I have found out a lot of these principles the hard way, but to have them written down and accessible, AWESOME! Rather than focus on a goal that is now probably unobtainable, consistency and doing something I enjoy is the focus. Just got certified as a personal trainer 2 years ago and having a focus on the older client, this is great content. Thank you.

  • Max Shank

    Hi Zach!
    Thank you for that!
    You are correct though, that arguably ANY catalyst that propels you forward is the “correct” one.
    Keep enjoying this ride!

  • Ryan Hopkins

    Unbelievable write up Max, thanks for this. I’ve been doing the fitness thing now for about 8 years (found cf in 2009) and I have learned the hard way multiple times many of the lessons that you preach here. Having experienced burnout multiple times and some level of adrenal fatigue along with it, you begin to gain some perspective and realize 1) you can’t compare yourself to others (especially those on IG) or even yourself when things were good and 2) you have to be motivated by positive reasons and ones that lead to a long healthy life in which you can move freely, as you say. These 4 week challenges and high intensity low calorie programs are destined to fail, or (and maybe worse) give people the results they THINK are healthy until one day they crash and burn. It’s frustrating to watch but good to know that you’re spreading the good word. Thanks!

  • Zachary Petruso

    I am loving the content you deliver Max, keep up the great work! I am glad I signed up for your email newsletter, thank you!

    Although I agree with the rapid weight loss programs being a little extreme, I will admit that’s what helped me start getting my health back under my control. Now that I am much more educated about my body and the training effect, I understand that consistency and sustainability is paramount for long term success, not just in fitness, but in all things. Thanks for the book recommendation, I just ordered “Start With Why” and am looking forward to reading it!

    thriving, not surviving

  • Lee Bacchi

    Max– This sound like something I could do. I am trying to figure out where to go. I plan to recertify RKC in 3 years, but looking at other things as well (FMS, OS) which teach me and others how to move. So many options, which is not a bad thing, as you pointed out to me in FB response, but trying to figure out what is best for me between now and 76.

  • Stefan

    I really like the way you portrait fitness. It’s not something you do for the sake of doing it. It’s part of a healthy lifestyle. Just as is balanced food with healthy dishes and a occasional pizza with extra cheese.

    Thanks for putting it out there. I’ve got to figure out a few things at the moment but it’s great to see that one is not alone on the holistic healthy lifestyle 🙂