Put athletes head-to-head, and amazing things can happen (remember that little movie Miracle?). If you’re not on a pro hockey team, motivation may be hard to come by at your local gym. To encourage a little friendly competition, Under Armour has created an updated online forum and app urging women to share their fitness goals (I want to be an IronWoman!) and accolades (check out this crow pose!) — not only to win awesome prizes, but also to motivate thousands to get moving and fitter than ever.

Under Armour

What It Is

Under Armour launched the third iteration of their What’s Beautiful social competition earlier this week, the company’s largest female-focused challenge since its inception two years ago. The friendly competition challenges women to set and exceed training goals (I want to run my first half-marathon, for example), documenting their progress all the while through pictures and videos, then gaining support from others in the community. The goal: redefine both beauty and what it means to be a female athlete.

To complement the campaign and motivate competitors, Under Armour plans to host several pop-up workout events around the country. After eight weeks, the brand will nominate ten inspirational finalists who demonstrate dedication to health and fitness through their photo and video submissions. Three winners will be named — two by the Under Amour selection committee, and one by public vote. This year, the three most inspirational women will win a fitness excursion to Costa Rica — surf and yoga retreats included.

So what’s Under Armour’s role? The sports apparel brand provides participants with gear giveaways from its Run, Train, and Studio collections, and motivational content (pop over to the site, and we dare you not to drop down and give somebody 20). The What’s Beautiful site resembles a Pinterest board of women pushing their bodies in all sorts of ways, but also giving each other props for it. By competing, these women are inspiring others with their own goals, as well as pushing each other with kind words of motivation in the comment section of each video or photo — “<3 woot woot,” “Woohoo, get it. Get it!”

The coolest thing about the What’s Beautiful competition is that it’s way less about rivalries and a heck of a lot more about community. So far participants have shared over 50,000 snippets of inspiration, from emotional pleas for guidance to impressive headstands and other extreme yoga poses, as well as before-and-after transformation updates. What makes What’s Beautiful 3.0 different than previous iterations is the inclusion of a mobile app to help users track goals. Users can also check out what other competitors are up to, whether it’s getting better at one-wall handball, running personal records, organizing the first ever indoor ultra marathon, or getting super fit after a baby.

The Takeaway

What’s Beautiful is just one of many friendly competitions connecting women (and sometimes men too!) through fitness communities. The 2013 CrossFit Open, for instance, was one of the largest fitness competitions ever with around 140,000. Novice athletes all the way to elite CrossFitters (anyone can enter) took part in weekly workouts through March and April, and their results were then put up against each other online. For yet another example of the growing online fitness competition trend, check out Reddit, the social news and entertainment website that draws on user submitted content including before and after fitness transformation photos, and challenges like the summer fitness challenge.

The athletes in competitions such as What’s Beautiful and the CrossFit Open are competing, but there’s a whole lot of camaraderie.

While the Internet can sometimes help make us wildly lazy (exactly how many hours did you spend last night trolling Pinterest?) it’s pretty cool that web communities can also inspire people to take on some serious health and fitness triumphs.

Are you competing in the What’s Beautiful competition? Tell us your story in the comment section below!

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