Home / What We Learned from the 2024 GPO Walking Challenge

What We Learned from the 2024 GPO Walking Challenge

We just wrapped up the 2024 GPO Walking Challenge. Here’s what we learned.

In May 2023, we completed the first-ever GPO Walking Challenge. The goal? To collectively log enough steps throughout the month to “travel” between our three major cities: Austin, Nashville, and Colorado Springs. While we didn’t quite reach our goal, we had so much fun during the challenge that we decided to bring it back in 2024 — with a few changes. 

  1. We adjusted our goal from distance-based to an overall step number. Traveling between cities with our steps was a fun goal, but we can admit we may have been a little overzealous. 
  2. Last year, we were divided into teams, each working toward the company’s goal of walking between cities. We removed the smaller teams this year and worked as one giant GPO team. 
  3. We only allowed true steps last year. But since the Walking Challenge is more about movement and exercise than literal steps, we switched things up and allowed folks to convert other activities into steps. 

Over the past 31 days of walking (or biking or gardening or golfing), our team learned a lot — about the challenge, ourselves, and physical movement. Here are seven of those lessons. 

1. Flexibility Is Crucial

Last year, not everyone was able to participate in traditional walks and step-focused activities, which made getting into the challenge difficult. We wanted to adjust our guidelines so everyone could fully participate this year — despite personal circumstances. Shifting our focus from a STEP goal to a MOVEMENT goal helped increase participation and provide a better sense of inclusion. 

By allowing activity conversions, more GPOers felt welcome and like they could be involved. Anyone who couldn’t walk long distances could still get “steps” in with other forms of activity. Maybe this meant getting steps from a ride on a stationary bike because stormy weather made an outdoor walk impossible. Or maybe someone worked their butt off during a HIIT class and was empowered to count that activity toward the challenge without needing to worry about fitting in a walk later. This slight tweak created a sense of inclusion that was missing last year. 

2. Movement Can Be Creative

While activity conversion was definitely big for anybody with physical or time limitations, it also encouraged GPOers to get more creative with how they moved. Exercise didn’t have to mean going for a run or lifting dumbbells. For example, some team members picked up line dancing during the challenge — a great way to have fun and get in movement. Another GPOer went more adventurous and used river rafting to contribute to the step goal.

downtown austin skyline taken from across the water of the river

3. Working Together > Competition

Some people thrive on a competitive spirit, but removing teams this year took away some pressure and encouraged everyone to move for the sake of movement. Nobody had to feel like they were letting their team down by not getting in “enough” steps, and it was nice to work toward a goal as a single entity. 

4. Walking (or Moving) Every Day Does Make a Difference

Adding an extra walk, bike ride, or golf session into your week might not seem like a big deal, but our team noticed a difference after a month of increased movement. Some people have felt more energized after adding a walk in the morning or during their lunch break, and others have noticed better overall well-being. In fact, we have GPOers committing to continue their walking despite the end of this year’s challenge!

“I’m already pretty active, but the Walking Challenge encouraged me to add different movements to my days. I kept my usual morning workout routine throughout the month but added a walk in the afternoon or evening. The afternoon walks provided an energy boost that helped me end the workday productively, and the evening walks helped me wind down.”

Holiday Newton, GPO Content Operations Manager

5. It’s a Joy to Have Team Members from All “Walks” of Life

The Walking Challenge has a surprising benefit: It allows us to learn new things about our teammates and be inspired by their interests. Throughout this challenge, GPOers found their own ways to get in exercise and happily shared their adventures on Slack. From deer watching around the neighborhood to an awe-inspiring 142-mile bike ride, we got to see how we each enjoy spending our time and the people we like to spend it with.

mountian bike in front of Victor Pass elevation sign

6. There Are So Many Opportunities to Opt for Walking

Increasing movement doesn’t always have to be a workout. GPOers found new ways to do things on foot, like walking or biking to a nearby destination instead of driving. You can even get steps in during your daily routines by walking in place while brushing your teeth or doing a few laps around the kitchen while waiting for dinner to finish in the oven. 

“The walking challenge reminds me how many opportunities there are to do things on foot, and encourages me to get creative. Groceries, errands, even reading! It also helps remind me that every bit of exercise doesn’t have to be intense. I’m not a morning person at all and don’t like to workout in the morning, but a short walk right after waking up eases me into the day much better than scrolling in bed for 45 minutes!”

Kelsey Conner, GPO Web Content Writer
light, spotted dog on hiking trail overlooking a mountainous view

7. Sometimes It Really Is About the Journey, Not the Destination

Yes, it’s a cliche. But cliches exist for a reason — they hold some truth. We’re not ashamed to admit we didn’t quite reach this year’s goal (we love to be overambitious) because we had just as much fun with the 2024 GPO Walking Challenge as we did last year. We came together for a common goal, got moving, learned about each other’s hobbies and interests, and picked up some positive habits. All of that is far more important than reaching a specific step count. 

This year’s Walking Challenge was a major success. We can’t wait to do it again next year — although with a more realistic step goal this time (maybe). See you again in May 2025!

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