Fitness Hack: The Free Throw Challenge
Want to increase the frequency in which you go to the gym while also having fun? Then say hello to The Free Throw Challenge, a Fitness Hack I’ve been doing for the last 11 years that gets me looking forward to working out.
I’ve been going to the gym at least four times a week since 2006 (when I was 26 years old.) I had just got out of a relationship and since I was now back on the market I had to step my game back up so that I looked good. It was at that moment when I had a mindset shift about fitness. It became less of a chore and something that was now part of my everyday life.
Despite being committed, getting to the gym can still be a challenge even for the most motivated of us. That’s why I decided to life hack myself into always making the experience of going to the gym good, thus increasing the chances that I consistently go.
The way I did this was through my love of basketball.
I’ve been a rec league baller since I was a kid growing up in Pittsburgh idolizing Michael Jordan. This continued through my Freshman year at Miami University when myself and friend Jeff Ewan would shoot hoops at the nearby gym. As part of our hoopin we would see if we could make ten free throws in a row. Sometimes we’d get it quickly, sometimes it would take thirty minutes, other times we wouldn’t get it at all.
I always enjoyed shooting free throws because it was the one facet of basketball that was the same for everyone. Plus, as a pickup hoops baller, we always shoot for teams and the better I am at free throws the more often I get to play.
Fast forward to 2006 and the gym I went to in Cincinnati had a basketball court. As a warmup I’d shoot hoops for fifteen minutes and then I’d go lift.
During those fifteen minutes I had to make ten free throws in a row and I wouldn’t leave the gym until it happened. Because of that it was always the first thing that I did, that way I could get it out of the way. Once I hit ten in a row I would then see how many in a row I could make until I missed. Once I missed I was done shooting free throws for the day and was now free to shoot around (time permitting) or go lift.
It was by dangling the carrot of something that I like to do, shooting hoops and free throws, that I was able to make the task of going to the gym less daunting and thus increasing my frequency. Instead of, “aw man, I don’t want to go to the gym, it’s cold outside” it became, “I can’t wait to shoot hoops.” Once I was at the gym the hard part was over with and I could enjoy doing what I love while also accomplishing my fitness goals. After doing it for a few weeks, and then months, and then years it became part of my routine and is now second nature.
If you are looking to increase your frequency of going to the gym or working out then I encourage you to try out the free throw challenge and/or create your own free throw challenge. Find that thing that gets you excited to be physically active and constantly having fitness part of your lifestyle. When you do you’ll feel better and have a happier mindset. Also, make sure to hit me up on Twitter and let me know about your free throw challenge journey.
Two years ago I decided I would track how many free throws I made in a row in an Evernote doc and then I’d post my daily number on Snapchat. That way I could quantify my efforts better plus be more accountable by sharing my journey.
Ever time I stepped up to the line I was shooting for a magical number: 106 free throws made in a row. That’s the most that I had ever made in a row, which happened at a Lifetime Fitness in Cincinnati. Since I’ve done it once I believed that I could do it again. With that in mind…
Here are some next level stats on my 2016 free throw challenge performance:
- Total free throws made: 4156
- # of times shooting the free throw challenge: 177
- Average # of free throws in a row made: 23.88
- Most free throws made in a row in one session: 95
- # of times I only made 10 free throws in a row: 5
- # of free throws in a row that happened the most often: 11 – 21 times
- # of times I made 50+ free throws in a row: 13
- #of times I made 60+ free throws in a row: 6
- Three highest free throws made in a row totals of the year: 78, 84, 95
Here are some next level stats on my 2017 free throw challenge performance:
- Total free throws made: 2696
- # of times shooting the free throw challenge: 117
- Average # of free throws in a row made: 25.37
- Most free throws made in a row in one session: 131
- # of times I only made 10 free throws in a row: 8
- # of free throws in a row that happened the most often: 11 – 13 times
- # of times I made 50+ free throws in a row: 10
- #of times I made 60+ free throws in a row: 5
- Three highest free throws made in a row totals of the year: 71, 96, 131
2017 was an amazing year from the free throw line as I broke my record of 106 free throws in a row by making 131 in a row. I was at XportFitness in Old Town (Chicago) on Thursday, October 4 wearing a Steelers t-shirt (freaking yinzers) and it took me 27 minutes.
I ended up shooting fewer free throws this year because I trained for three months to run the Tough Mudder (I share my experience about it HERE.) As part of that I was doing more running which meant less time in the gym. None the less I’m very happy with my year in free throws.
I’m looking forward to 2018 being an amazing year from the free throw line and I look forward to all of you who play the free throw challenge hitting me up.