tips & tricks

How to create a themed step challenge

blog author
Sep 19, 2019

Challenge themes create a constraint, which actually makes it easier for you, the admin, to get creative.

There are a lot of reasons why creating a theme or topic for your step challenge will make the experience more enjoyable for you and your participants.

Themes give purpose and focus the attention on something specific. This piques participants’ interest and sparks curiosity, leading to higher challenge participation and engagement. Which of these sounds more interesting? An Apollo Lunar Space challenge or a more generic Summer Step challenge?

Themes keep things fresh and interesting. If you’re running multiple challenges a year, make each experience feel different by changing more than just the challenge mode.

Themes add an element of entertainment or education to your challenge that allows users to engage with something other than just their activity stats. Why does this matter? Not everyone at your organization is a super stepper. They may be more motivated to keep moving if they can also learn something or be entertained along the way.

Themes create constraints for you, the admin, which allows you to narrow your focus and produce more creative ideas. It’s true! There’s a real science behind using constraints to boost creativity. Your theme gives you a starting point for when you have to decide things like: challenge name, what content to post, or what kind of prize to give out. With a theme, you can focus your decision-making to a narrower field of ideas that will inspire you to look more creatively at the limited options at hand.

“Constraints give us a starting point and some building blocks to work with—a problem to solve, an innovative twist to be revealed, or a person to please.”


Follow these steps to create your own constraints and work more creatively within the MoveSpring platform:

1. Select a theme or topic

  • Be inspired by a specific health, fitness, or wellness topic such as sleep, mindfulness, eating more vegetables, meal prep, stress-free living, mobility, bone health, memory, breaking bad habits, smoking, dealing with tech addiction, etc.
  • Be timely with a seasonal theme related to holidays, weather, seasons, etc.
  • Inspire professional growth with workplace topics such as productivity, ways to work smarter, managing stress, communicating more effectively, how to appropriately regulate emotions, creativity, teamwork, etc.
  • Make it really matter by focusing on a charitable cause or topicsuch as skin cancer, youth education, veterans, environmental sustainability, taking care of our elderly population, building homes for the homeless, etc. Run an entire charitable campaign on our platform and donate directly in the MoveSpring app.
  • Bring attention and build excitement around an organizational event such as tax season if you’re an accounting firm or a big, team bonding outing that happens every year.
  • Tap into pop culture that your organization would relate to such as local sports teams, festivals, food, music, etc.
  • Go for a throwback by picking a historical topic to inspire learning that is relevant to your location, the present time, or your organization’s industry/service.
  • Get nerdy with science themes that inspire learning and curiosity through topics such as nature, animals, the environment, technology, space, etc.

2. Determine challenge details

Pick your challenge type. Your theme can help dictate your challenge mode. For example, a challenge theme about the benefits of curiosity pairs well with our Journey mode, which feels like an adventure and makes users curious as to what will happen next. An Olympic-themed challenge would work well with a team leaderboard mode, mimicking the nation-teams that participate in the real Olympics. Is your challenge theme related to building new habits? Try out Streak or Stick to it! modes, which have users consistently achieve a daily goal.

Determine your challenge goal

  • Can you find a factoid related to your theme that can be repurposed into a challenge goal? For example, the moon is 238,855 miles away from Earth. Make your moon-themed challenge goal 238,855 steps.
  • Look at your users’ daily step average and determine a realistic, but challenging movement goal.

Set your challenge duration. We recommend challenges last somewhere between 2 and 6 weeks for maximum participant engagement.

3. Curate your content

The best part about MoveSpring is being able to do so much more than just track your steps. Our super flexible content feature allows you to upload articles, videos, and posts to your step challenge.

Now that you have a theme, it makes picking your challenge content that much easier. Find interesting articles or videos from around the web that are related to your theme.

Let’s say your theme is all about the importance of a good morning routine. You can find content about how to wake up earlier, the habits of morning people, tips on how to transform your morning routine, and stories about how successful people structure their day.

4. Pick your prizes

A creative incentive goes a long way in motivating participants. Resist the temptation to only reward with money. This can lead to high levels of cheating. There are much better, scientifically supported ways to motivate people. Intrinsic motivation, such as recognition or a fun experience, is highly effective and can lead to stronger, longer-lasting engagement.

Your theme can help you pick nontraditional, interesting prizes that may even include a fun experience!

For example, if you’re running a challenge all about curiosity, consider prizes such as a book about curious thinkers, tickets to a TEDx talk, a subscription to the MasterClass online learning website, or even an in-person class to learn a new language.

A blank canvas can be terrifying. Embrace constraints and watch your step challenge creativity flourish!

If you come up with a super cool challenge idea, let us know! We’d love to share it on our website and inspire other admins like you.

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