I coach and train at a CrossFit gym. Like many others, our community is diverse. We are new members and folks who have been keeping the lights on since day 1; we are fitness enthusiasts and people for whom getting to the gym takes much more effort; we are young and old and in the middle. Our community is strong but we’ve been on cruise control.
This week, two women dropped in while vacationing locally. Immediately, the gym energy shifted. Members who have never spoken before were cheering for one another, fully 50% of the class PR’d the deadlift on Friday, and new friends were making plans to hang out outside of the gym. We all mourned their last workout. They left with many offers for guest rooms to stay in and cars to borrow the next time they visit the island.
I was deeply impacted by the whole experience. Just seven days before, I had not known that these humans existed. They had absolutely nothing to gain from pouring into our community. Yet in just one week, they made a bigger impact on our community than I had in two years of programming and coaching.
They did not consciously set out to impact our gym’s community. Rather, this is just a natural gift, simply a byproduct of the way they treat people and act in the world all the time. For example:
- They connected with every single person in every class they took
- They took videos and pictures of everyone’s lifts, sharing them via text message after class
- They learned and remembered the names of every new friend
- They gave people specific call-outs for their efforts and small victories during workouts
- They organized a group photo after every workout
- They were vocal about how much this community was impacting them
All of this led me to a hard realization: We really do have a good thing going. And I do not appreciate or contribute to our community nearly as much as it deserves.
This week, I am going to be more deliberate about the ways in which I contribute to my gym community. Even ones that seem to self-sustain deserve our attention. Here are some ideas to try this week if you are ready to pour into your own gym community:
- Mix up your routine. There is nothing wrong with exercising at the same time, in the same location, and with the same people most of the time. But this week, make a point to step outside of your habits and try a different class time.
- Learn names of everyone you regularly see at the gym. Using someone’s name is a simple way to show respect. We all like to be seen!
- Before class, introduce yourself to new faces. Building communities that are truly welcoming requires warmth from staff and members alike.
- Drop in at a local gym other than your own. Building community between gyms is just as important as within gyms. By learning what others are doing well, we can all build stronger communities.
- Spontaneously invite everyone to brunch after class on Saturday. Really, everyone! Our communities thrive when connections exist outside of the gym as well. Even if only a few people make it the first week, it’ll be well worth the effort."