The 75 hard challenge: transformative or troublesome?

Dive into the debate behind this fitness frenzy. If Alix Earle is doing it, we should too… right?

The online wellness community is buzzing as the 75 Hard Challenge continues to garner attention from influencers and fitness enthusiasts worldwide. Created by author and motivational speaker Andy Frisella, this mental toughness program promises life-altering changes over a grueling 75-day period. 

However, as the challenge’s hashtag on TikTok gains popularity, boasting more than a billion views since its debut in 2019, a crucial question arises: is it a path to a healthier lifestyle, or does it border on glorified eating disorder behavior?  

The challenge lays out six stringent rules that participants must adhere to for 75 consecutive days: maintain a strict diet with no cheat meals, abstain from alcohol, consume a gallon of water daily, complete two 45-minute workouts and read 10 pages of a book each day, and take a daily progress photo. Failure to comply requires restarting the challenge from day one, adding an extra layer of pressure. 

I know, right? Exhausting. But influencers across social media are doing this challenge so it must be good for us… right? 

Social media “It Girl” Alix Earle’s account has blown up this year, racking in over six million followers on TikTok. On Jan. 2, Alix embarked on her truncated version of the 75 Hard Challenge, which she calls the “30 hard,” sharing to social media that the standard 75 days was too long for her. 

After completing the challenge, Earle made it clear that exercising twice a day was draining, and not something she planned to continue in the future. 

Skepticism about the practicality and impact of the challenge persists. I spoke to Alexandra Tverdokhleb, a first-year sociology student at Concordia, who first heard of the challenge last year and wanted to give it a go to kickstart a healthy new year.  

“I tried to do the 75 Hard Challenge and I think I lasted two days because I realized it was so unrealistic with my lifestyle,” Tverdokhleb said, a sentiment shared by many students with demanding schedules.  

I also got to chat with Michelle Itzcovitch, a spin instructor at Le Spin for the past six years. With a decade of experience in the fitness industry, Michelle had plenty to share regarding the 75 Hard Challenge.  

Itzcovitch emphasized the importance of fostering a positive mindset in fitness, advocating for exercise as a choice to feel good rather than a restrictive endeavor.  

“I don’t want [working out] to be something that we dread or don’t look forward to,” she explained. “I find when you have something that gives you that restrictive mindset like the 75 Hard Challenge, if you don’t meet these standards, it’s like you failed.” She believes the 75 Hard Challenge is “glorified eating disorder behavior.”  

Michelle’s opinion is a common one amongst people who criticize the challenge online. Yet the challenge’s reach continues to grow as popular influencers on TikTok and YouTube post about it left, right and center. 

Still, the lingering question is: can anyone really tackle the 75 Hard Challenge successfully, or is it all just harmful habits disguised as a health kick?


The use of instant replay in sports

Are video reviews and instant replays good for sports?

The implementation of instant replays in sports has been a subject of debate for fans and leagues since the technology was first industrialized for sports in the 1960s. Today, every major league uses video reviews to varying degrees, along with coaches’ challenges, to aid officials in making the right calls.

As technology continues to evolve, video replays will only get better at deducing what the human eye cannot, and reduce the number of controversial outcomes in games. Supporters of instant replay will justify the need for review by pointing to key moments in sports where the wrong call stood, and a winner was mistakenly crowned.

The most notable recent example came in the 2018 NFC Championship game in the National Football League (NFL), when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime.

While post-game banter should have been focused on the Rams’ achievement in reaching their first Super Bowl final since 2001, the outcome of the match was mired in controversy following an unpenalized pass interference committed by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis.

The dramatic play would later be notoriously dubbed the “NOLA No-call,” and the NFL would respond by making pass interference reviewable in its future seasons.

Nowadays, all games are officiated with the extensive use of instant replay reviews, whether it’s the deciding minutes of a championship game or an unassuming regular season matchup.

In theory, minimizing the number of referee-related mistakes is a notion worth supporting, but not all sports fans and athletes are in favour of the current replay system. Gabriel Guindi, who co-hosts CJLO’s sports talk show the Starting Rotation, is one such enthusiast who cannot get behind the excessive use of video reviews in the National Hockey League (NHL).

“Hockey probably does it the best compared to the other major sports leagues,” Guindi said. “But most of the time it does more damage than good. They might review a play for a few minutes and, if anything, I’m left more confused than when I saw it live.”

Louis-Vincent Gauvin, a second-year guard for the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team, is an avid fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA). When the league made the transition towards more reviews by adding coach’s challenges in 2019, Gauvin worried it would have an undesirable effect on the quality of games.

“Basketball is at its best when the play doesn’t stop and there is a constant flow,” Gauvin said. “Stoppages for replay reviews and coaches’ challenges can ruin the natural rhythm of the game.”

Gauvin believes that the intention to review close calls makes sense, so long as they can be accomplished in a timely manner.

“The referees’ mistakes are part of the sport, so I can accept incorrect calls here and there if it means preserving the natural momentum and pace of the game,” Gauvin said.

While instant review can prolong games and make them tough to digest for some spectators, it doesn’t stop the NBA from achieving peak entertainment value, Gauvin believes, thanks in large part to the sheer amount of talent in the league today.


Things I wish I had known when I started climbing

Everything you need to know about indoor bouldering

When I decided to delve into the world of bouldering, I was merely hoping to keep myself busy amidst troubling times. Coming off a summer in which I looked to broaden my activity spectrum by picking up new hobbies and habits, I carried that positive momentum into the fall when I obtained an indoor climbing membership. Bloc Shop, a bouldering centre in the greater Montreal area, was to be my fitness getaway until further notice.

In my first session, I completed beginner bouldering routes (also known as ‘problems’) but couldn’t wrap my mind around anything beyond. Over the course of two hours, I did nothing but fall and fail. Yet, I was unmistakably hooked.

The sport I initially considered a temporary pass-time quickly became a genuine passion. Fast forward to today and nothing has changed; I spend most of my time in the gym laying on my back, staring at a looming problem, speculating what went wrong and how I could better approach the problem in the future.

After three months of regular practice, I have a solid grasp of the basics, but I am pridefully inadequate compared to my skilled peers. During my journey thus far, I’ve received valuable feedback from fellow climbers, tips that I regret not knowing from day one. Whether it’s to avoid injury, conserve energy, or break down a physical or mental barrier, here is the information I wish I knew from the start.

Don’t be embarrassed to climb in front of others

This is an issue I continue to struggle with today, and it’s something that’s frankly easier said than done when you’re first picking up the activity, and it feels like all eyes are on you. When I started, I avoided areas of the gym that had experienced climbers around because I feared their judgement. As a result, I hindered my improvement by limiting the routes I had access to.

The truth is, people are hardly inclined to pay attention unless you are actively demanding it. In addition, experienced bouldering athletes understand the hardships of the sport, and can be reliable sources for advice.

Speaking of which…

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions

I went through a period in which I went completely autonomous in my training. At the time, my philosophy led me to believe I would become a fundamentally better climber if I could solve problems independently. For over a month, I would spend entire sessions on a single challenging problem, failing repeatedly, learning nothing, and ultimately building bad habits.

When I got stuck on a particularly demanding route, I shamefully caved in and asked my experienced friends for help. They pointed out a couple of minor technical issues I had become accustomed to and within five minutes, the problem that had taken over my week and psyche was completed without a sweat. Moral of the story: leave your ego at home, and be willing to listen.

Attempt harder routes and don’t be afraid to fail

It’s very common to attach oneself to a completed route for numerous sessions because it makes us feel accomplished and can build self confidence.

However, attempting bouldering problems beyond one’s climbing level builds mental fortitude that makes for better athletes in the long run. Challenging obstacles can also help target weak points in one’s abilities that lower-levelled walls will often mask. The best climbers are all alike in that they are constantly seen emphatically failing only to get back up and try again.

Try to complete problems in a manner that leaves no doubt

Beginner climbers tend to overuse their muscles by tensing up, which can lead to the improper usage of leverage, technique, and momentum. In the short-term, this can result in success, especially at lower levels. However, once one gets highly acclimated and invested in the sport, “powering” through routes can hinder one’s progression significantly and can have negative ramifications on the body from an injury and recovery perspective.

In my early experience, if a problem was difficult or physically demanding, but I managed to get the job done, I would pack my supplies and make sure I never acknowledged the problem again. Now, I try my best to be honest with myself and only receive credit for a route when I’ve completed it confidently and efficiently. As a result, I fail and learn a lot more than I used to.

Warm up to prevent injuries

This is applicable to every sport and it’s no different for climbing. Whether it’s by actively warming up or carrying out simple problems before tackling the focal points of a given session, it’s crucial to get the body warm and loose in a sport that leaves one easily susceptible to injuries if approached incorrectly.

Every time I’ve gotten hurt in my three months of experience, it’s been due to my lack of discipline when I enter the gym. Blisters, bruises, and general soreness can all be mitigated with a proper emphasis on warming up prior to climbing.

Most importantly, have fun

This idea sounds trivial, but there were periods of time when I was so caught up in my performance that I lost sight of the joy. When I am needlessly worked up, the negative atmosphere takes its toll on my technique and routine. Once I dig myself out of the senseless hole, though, the outcome is typically a productive, enjoyable, and wholly unique workout.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

Student Life

Jad Does Things! One album a day

Hi! I’m Jad Abukasm, News Editor at The Concordian, and in this segment, Kayla runs my life!

[Upbeat music] 

Before you rant on how this is no challenge, let me explain. I never listen to full albums. I spot the only song I like and play it on repeat, hence my list of Spotify-liked songs including Oum Kalsoum, Joe Dassin, Billie Eilish and Pop Smoke. I never feel the need to go through a whole album if I don’t hardcore love all the songs. I’m also that detestable person that skips songs after three minutes, NO MATTER WHAT.

So without further ado, here are the albums I listened to.

Day 1: African Giant by Burna Boy

Day 2: Black Messiah by D’Angelo

Day 3: Negro Swan by Blood Orange

Day 4: I Had a Dream that You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser

Day 5: Blonde by Frank Ocean

I initially thought I was going to get bored really fast. I feel that listening to a 50-minute album seems different than listening to 10 five-minute songs—but I was quickly proven wrong.

The fact that I was listening to new albums I never even heard of made me want to stick to my headphones and get the most out of the experience. I was so surprised by African Giant that I listened to the album a second time before going to bed.

Now, not all albums necessarily fit in with my type of music, but I still really loved exploring new genres. And yes, I added many songs to my Spotify-liked list.

I learned two things from this challenge. Firstly, only listening to your favourite songs from an artist will quickly make you lose interest in them. Secondly, artists offer albums with songs in a specific order for a reason. Okay, call me Mr. Oblivious, but I hadn’t realized it before. At the end of the day, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I will definitely start listening to full albums from now on. I think this will make me explore the potential of every artist. I also really look forward to listening to albums from artists I already listen to, with the exception of Oum Kalsoum…my Arabic friends will understand the reference.

Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Jad Does Things! Cold showers

Hi! I’m Jad Abukasm, News Editor at The Concordian, and in this segment, Kayla runs my life!

[Upbeat music]

When it comes to being comfortable, I am the pinnacle of sassy. Some might say I resemble Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man. In other words, I am a lazy bean that is fully satisfied with all the superficial stuff I own. Laying on the sofa with hot tea and a warm blanket all day? YES PLEASE! So, when I heard Kayla tell me the next challenge is ice cold showers for a week, my first instinct was “EFF THAT!” 

Results from thorough online research showed me the benefits of bathing in freezing water. Apparently, cold showers promote blood circulation, better focus, better immune response and increased alertness, to name a few.

As a lazy person with the attention span of a goldfish, this sounded like a crazy good solution for me. But were the costs that beneficial? Let’s find out.

Day 1 and 2:

The first two days were horrible. I jumped into the challenge by starting under the lowest water temperature which resulted in my skin turning red and hurting for the next few hours. Other editors told me to stop the challenge, but my ego took over. I couldn’t stand this challenge. I was kind of pissed all the time. I kept counting the days remaining, already looking forward to the challenge being over. 

Day 3 onwards:

After my first two failed attempts, I took a new approach. I started under a slightly uncomfortable temperature and slowly reduced the heat every 10 or so seconds with the last minute at the coldest setting. This changed my whole perspective on ice cold showers. Just like that, I felt well awake, ready to tackle the day full of energy and, as weird as it might sound, I felt empowered. 

I think the fact that humans created their habitat with comfort as their bedrock made us rationalize comfort and despise everything else. Forcing me to put myself in a situation of discomfort made me appreciate my surroundings. I kept repeating to myself, it’s just cold water. It’s not like I’m being chased by an enraged mammoth, under a snowstorm with splinters all over my feet. After all, this was what our bodies were originally meant to do.

I immediately called Kayla and said: “Change of plans, I’m doing ice cold showers for two weeks!” I wanted to push myself to find out how I was suddenly loving something that I hated only a day before. 

A lot of things changed. The most noticeable was my relationship to the cold. Prior to the challenge, I couldn’t stand it one bit. However, I quickly realized that I was now enjoying the feeling of cold air breezing on my shaved head and little tingles in my fingers. I wasn’t as cold as before, and I hardly felt uncomfortable outside, even for long periods of time. My runny nose and sore throat went away for good. I started feeling way more focused and mindful of my surroundings. Finally, my recovery time from training reduced quite a bit. 

My takeaways from this challenge are that, as much as we like our everyday comfort, regularly inducing slight discomfort can go a long way. We learn to appreciate the little things that have become second nature.

I highly recommend taking ice cold showers to anyone who wants to give it a shot. Go at your own rhythm and find your groove and get informed before starting the challenge. Many people quit after their first attempt because they do not proceed properly and get discouraged—like my first two attempts. Who knows? You might add it to your daily routine like I’ve started doing!

Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Jad Does Things! Quitting coffee cold turkey

Hi! I’m Jad Abukasm, News Editor at The Concordian, and in this new segment, Kayla runs my life!

[Upbeat music]

This week, Kayla challenged me to quit coffee during my midterms. Here is how it went down.

It’s important to note that I love coffee. There’s nothing better than the first sip of liquid gold on a chilly February morning. You feel your senses wake up and a rush of energy shoot through your veins. In short, I love coffee, and I’m addicted.

Day 1:

I never really understood what people meant by “I have a headache because I didn’t have my coffee yet.” Well on Monday, I learned the hard way. After a long weekend of studying on about five to seven coffees a day, on Monday I crashed like a truck on a highway. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, felt nauseous, sleepy, and mostly, I had the worst headache of my life. Popping Tylenol and Advil every few hours, I was just looking forward to going to bed.

Day 2-4:

I feel AWESOME. From then on, I might have become a superhuman. My attention span (of usually about three seconds) drastically increased. For the very first time during my undergrad, I was able to multitask on more than two basic things at a time. I felt happy and full of energy. I became way more productive; instead of downing cups to battle the daily lows, I took the time to breathe, take a break and actually rest for a bit before I kept going.

Day 5-7:

Maybe the first rush mellowed down since I wasn’t as excited all the time, but I was still feeling great. The only issue was that I craved the taste of coffee. I was at my friend’s place on Friday morning and he made coffee for everyone. I found myself sniffing everyone’s cup for some kind of comfort. 

Overall, I realized that coffee is not necessary in my life, and really shouldn’t be. Why drink something that gives you short-term benefits, and only troubles in the long run? But things aren’t all-or-nothing either. Instead, I will start drinking coffee in moderation whenever I’m craving it for the taste! After all, we all have our weaknesses and mine, when coping with stress, is drinking coffee. So, my early February resolution is to take time for myself whenever I need to, consume stress-related foods and drinks in moderation, and think twice before brewing a hot cup of Joe.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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