Sunday, March 29, 2015

The woman behind the 'abs challenge' that's sweeping Facebook

Robyn Mendenhall Gardner created a fitness challenge for herself and a few friends. Now almost a million Facebook users are signed up.

The woman behind the 'abs challenge' that's sweeping Facebook

So what did you do on your holiday weekend?

Robyn Mendenhall Gardner of Kalispell, Mont. was planning a relaxing few days with her husband and eight children before a business trip this week. But Ms. Gardner, who recently turned 40, has dedicated herself to fitness in recent years. So before bed on Friday night, she logged onto Facebook to create a fitness-related challenge for herself and a few friends.

“Honestly, I found it online,” admits Gardner. “It’s not really my own. I’d tried this challenge myself, but I quickly lost interest. So I decided to invite some friends and family members to keep me motivated.”

Fast-forward to Tuesday morning, when Robyn awoke to find that the “30 Day Ab Challenge for those who need some motivation” had attracted almost 600,000 people across Facebook. By lunchtime, the number was almost 850,000.

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“It’s a little overwhelming, but very exciting,” says Robyn. “I was hoping to motivate others—and therefore, motivate myself—but this is beyond anything I could have expected.”

The explosion of social media over the past decade is often lamented, but the 30-Day Challenge is a perfect example of the power of sites like Facebook. Gardner works as an independent ambassador for Plexus Worldwide—whose products she credits for helping her lose almost 60 pounds over a nine-month period. However, the 30-Day Challenge isn’t sponsored by any company—rather, it’s a testament to the idea of motivation among people with similar goals.

“We went camping over the weekend,” says Robyn, “and I got a message from a friend who told me ‘Your Facebook is blowing up!’”

“I know other events like this have been created—I’ve seen them,” she continues. “I can’t explain it, but this one went viral.”

The 30-Day Challenge isn’t too complicated—beginning on June 1, participants will complete daily series of workouts and exercises targeting the abdominals. Sit-ups, crunches, leg raises and planks are the movements at the heart of the challenge, occurring in increasing numbers up until June 30. The challenge follows a strict three-days-on, one-day-off schedule for the balance of June.

If you’re interested in joining up with the wildly popular challenge, the host page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1426424270959723/. Robyn posts on the page herself, and participants are invited to share photos or videos of themselves completing the challenge or ‘before-and-after’ type photos of themselves. Along those lines, Robyn Gardner pointed out something for the hundreds of thousands of followers she’s gained.

“No, those are not my abs at the top of the page,” she says. “People should know I did not start this challenge with rock-hard abs. That’s my motivation picture—every time I’m eating something I shouldn’t be, that picture reminds me of where I want to be.”


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About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

J. Ryan Bair, PT, DPT, SCS Founder and Owner of FLASH Sports Physical Therapy, Board Certified in Sports Physical Therapy
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Partner at Symetrix Sports Performance
Ellen Casey, MD Physician with Drexel University Sports Medicine
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Head Team Physician for Phillies & St. Joe's; Rothman Institute
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Justin D'Ancona Philly.com Health
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Head Team Physician for Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon for Flyers; Rothman Institute
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director of The Center For Sport Psychology; Sports Psychology Consultant for 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Team Physician for USA Wrestling, Consultant for Phillies; Rothman Institute
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer, The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician for Drexel, Philadelphia Univ., Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Julia Mayberry, M.D. Attending Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon, Main Line Hand Surgery P.C.
Jim McCrossin, ATC Strength and Conditioning Coach, Flyers and Phantoms
Gavin McKay, NASM-CPT Founder/Franchisor, Unite Fitness
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales and Hatfield, PA
Kelly O'Shea Senior Health Producer, Philly.com
Tracey Romero Sports Medicine Editor, Philly.com
David Rubenstein, M.D. Sports Medicine Surgeon, Rothman Institute
Robert Senior Event coverage, Sports Doc contributor
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Athletic Trainer for US Soccer Federation; Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute
Thomas Trojian MD, CAQSM, FACSM Associate Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at Drexel University
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