I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m not great at commitment. I don’t make new resolutions every year, and I generally avoid activities of a repetitive nature for fear of being forced to commit to something I’ll either hate or possibly fail at. So I was shocked when I decided completing a two-week fitness challenge would be my next quarantine venture. Fourteen days isn’t very long, but two weeks of one particular activity—a particularly intense one—seemed like a stretch to me. Since the beginning of quarantine, I’d been dabbling in home workouts from Yoga with Adriene to (attempting) running. But with not many options for exercise outside my apartment, I needed a change, and Chloe Ting had just what I was looking for.
One could say Ting is taking over YouTube. With almost 17 million followers, the Australia-based fitness star is dominating the wellness scene with her free challenges, each of which ranges in duration and targets various goals. Her community sticks together, posting before and after images using #chloetingchallenge. The hashtag went viral in late 2019 and made Ting a finalist for a Shorty Award for Health and Wellness. After watching tons of reviews, I opted for her 2 Weeks Shred Challenge. It’s one of her most difficult challenges, but I figured I’d plunge right into it. I had just completed a different four-week challenge and felt ready to test my strength.
The 2 Weeks Shred Challenge consists of three to four videos, each around 10 to 15 minutes long. They're meant to be completed on a 14-day schedule (with a few rest days in between). Ting shines with her development of sequences: They don’t get too monotonous and they focus on specific areas like abs and legs. While the program simply reuses the same few videos in various orders, the time seems to go by more quickly since you’re not repeating the same sets. Through this, she resolves what has been one of my biggest complaints about working out: lack of range. I need variety, or I’ll get bored. And I figured if I’m going to try to commit to working out, it may as well be fun.
While the variety is nice, it should be stated that this challenge is not for the weak of heart, something I learned the hard way. Ting offers more than a dozen different programs, but the 2 Weeks Shred is regarded as one of the most arduous. Her longer challenges, which stretch between three and four weeks, offer a slower start, and each day’s workout ultimately builds up in intensity.
With the challenge I chose, the intensity starts high given the shorter time frame. Thankfully Ting offers substitutions in most videos, which can be a gift if you’re not feeling particularly strong on any other given day. Plus, she also includes optional pre- and post-workout videos to help you stretch out and mitigate any potential aches. Though these videos are optional, they are not to be missed.
The videos are a mix of HIIT and cardio Pilates that are explicitly focused on core, arm, and waist-nipping routines. Ting developed it as a "shed" program to help participants lose weight, though my goal was simply to feel good in my own body. While mountain climbers and burpees aren’t new to me, the thought of working through them for more than 10 seconds usually pains me. But Ting acts as a friendly personal trainer. She makes sure that your form is correct, your core is engaged, and you don’t give up.
I opted to cycle through the videos on mute, but the tips are beneficial if you’re confused about what you’re doing. And at the beginning, I often was. Though I didn’t go into the challenge with any particular goals beyond feeling confident, I could tell my mistake was not eating well throughout it. I felt stronger, and the moves got easier over time, but I didn’t see a ton of results, especially compared with the reviews I’d seen online.
My busy workweek makes eating clean and regularly more difficult (I notoriously skip breakfast). Plus, with my mindset focused on the fact that I had to workout, it all became just another item on my to-do list. And the truth is, it’s not undoable. Each video sequence is only 35 to 50 minutes long, with the longest clocking in at 60 minutes on the last day. But to go through a day of work, tackle other responsibilities, and cook? She was asking a lot.
Pretty quickly, I began to see the challenge as a chore and found it more difficult to complete each day’s routine. My attitude didn’t help. Full disclosure: I started this challenge twice before I completed it. Mind you, it is only two weeks long. But it is hard. And the difficulty level, plus the commitment of actually finishing on time, was a challenge in itself for me.
Pretty quickly, I began to see the challenge as a chore and found it more challenging to complete each day’s routine.
While my strength certainly built up throughout the program, I began to feel my energy deplete over time. This is because the workout is not meant to be done for more than two weeks consecutively. Exercising can stress and break down muscle fiber as it grows (that’s what makes you so sore). Repeatedly attempting high-intensity muscle-building routines began to take a toll on my body and my mind.
Funnily enough, when I reached that last day, I felt more motivated than ever throughout those final 60 minutes. When I finally completed the challenge, the realization that my body had the tools necessary to carry me through felt like enough of a win, even if I didn’t see a huge difference in the end.
During each session, I made sure to gently remind myself to take breaks or move a little more slowly if I had to. In truth, the challenge taught me to listen to my body and be grateful it can move in this way at all. Being able to move my body is a blessing, and completing such an endeavor is a timely reminder of how thankful we should be for our bodies and their strength.
Though the workouts are effective, my inability to stick to the schedule or a healthier diet ultimately impacted the final results. While I noticed some definition in my upper abs and a more defined waistline, it didn’t seem to give me the same hourglass effect many of Ting’s fans report in their reviews. While Ting's community is strong and inclusive, I found it difficult at times not to compare myself with what I saw online. That being said, I had to recognize some of my faults in being lazy and unmotivated. As I mentioned before, I’ve never been the biggest fan of commitments, especially working out.
Being able to move my body is a blessing, and completing such an endeavor is a timely reminder of how thankful we should be for our bodies and their strength.
In the end, I capped off what ended up being an almost monthlong journey, ready to jump into the next challenge in time. The few results I did see encouraged me to keep at it and integrate working out regularly into my lifestyle but on my own schedule. And while I may not be joining Ting on her next endeavor just yet, I am committed to focusing on nourishing my body—whether that means resting, trying the latest fitness trend, or just drinking more water and eating more veggies. That’s a commitment I can make.