A Race to the Top: How the Jacob’s Ladder Challenge Brought Two Strangers Together

There are all sorts of ways to meet a workout buddy – in the gym, outside of it, or even online.

But what about a workout buddy that starts out as your competitor? That’s what happened to Megan and Bobby, two members of Anytime Fitness in Springdale, AR. It all started with a Mount Everest Jacob’s Ladder challenge. To complete the challenge, members had to cumulatively climb 29,035 feet on the Jacob’s Ladder machine – the same distance as summitting Mount Everest. The club created a spreadsheet for members to log their miles, and on October 21, Megan had taken the lead with 550 feet climbed in a single session.

When she returned to the club the next day, another member, Bobby, had logged 652 feet. Not one to be reckoned with, Megan logged 1,004 feet that day: double her original count. To make sure Bobby knew she was taking the challenge seriously, she left him a note, saying “Dear Bobby, I now see you as my nemesis. What else you got, kid? With love, your mortal enemy, MP.”

“Even though this isn’t a competition between people, you gotta let them know who’s top dog,” she said.

Not even 24 hours later, Bobby had returned and logged 1,616 feet, leaving a note for Megan that said, “Dear Megan, I’m 45 years old and barely have anything left in the tank. Just trying to keep up with you young people lol. But I’m coming for you lol. With love, your old mortal enemy. Thanks for that push today my friend. I gave it my all so I can push you now. Have a great day!”

How did Megan, two decades younger, respond? “That was the cutest thing ever! I don’t want to beat him… but I have to.” She logged 1,772 feet and left Bobby a note to praise his PR and thank him for encouraging her: “I wasn’t going to come in today but I wanted to see if you responded, so thanks for the motivation.”

After that, the gym manager added another piece of paper so the two could exchange notes. Megan and Bobby went back and forth for a few days, each pushing the other to climb higher and higher. In one of her notes, Megan said, “Dear Bobby, I just want you to know, I really appreciate you. I would have never been able to push myself to this limit alone.”

Eventually, Megan wrote that she’d created a TikTok video documenting their competition, and that it had over three million views, with viewers either cheering for Team Megan or Team Bobby. This prompted Bobby to respond by creating his own TikTok account with videos of the challenge.

On October 27, Megan had logged 3,033 feet, but after that, the competition drew to a halt. While they’d been going strong for almost a week, Megan hadn’t recorded her count in two weeks. On November 11, Bobby made a video to motivate her, saying, “Looking at this chart, Megan, I don’t see you on there yet this month! We still gotta keep pushing each other, still gotta keep putting in a little bit of work on that Jacob’s ladder! It’s all on you Meg, it’s all on you. So come on Meg, show me what you got!”

If she logged 2,000 steps in the next week, he challenged, he would give her his Superman t-shirt – the same shirt in which he had climbed over 3,600 feet during a single session.

The next day, Megan was back in the gym. She explained her absence in another TikTok video, saying, “I kind of relapsed into my depression. I’m not sure if it was this blowing up so fast… or if the fact that a ridiculous amount of people were now expecting something from me overwhelmed me. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again, but I can say I’ll try my best to create habits in order to not allow myself. I’m grateful enough to have Bobby challenge me with the Superman shirt! I’m gonna get that right now.”

That day, Megan logged 4,519 steps on the Jacob’s Ladder and left a note for Bobby: “I’ll take my Superman shirt now,” and offered him Superman Band-Aids in exchange, “To heal that wound I left you.”

The next day, Megan and Bobby met up to exchange the shirt. Since then, they’ve met a few times at the gym, and they’ve even had breakfast together and met each other’s families. Thanks to a Jacob’s Ladder machine, a Mount Everest competition and a sheet of paper, they not only formed a unique friendship but were able to support each other in reaching their goals. What’s up next for the pair, once the Mount Everest challenge is complete? Bobby plans to teach Megan how to lift weights.

We love hearing stories like Bobby and Megan’s, and seeing our members inspire, encourage, and motivate each other – and become partners in each other’s health journeys! If you’ve got a story that you want to share, send it our way at memberstories@anytimefitness.com.

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