“Sometimes you wanna go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came…”
If you have ever watched the TV show Cheers, you can probably carry on with the theme song lyrics from there.
Now, I am dating myself with this but the reality is, almost everything “vintage” on TV is now available via streaming so there are plenty of kids today who will understand the reference.
Those lyrics have a really impactful message right now. We are in a pandemic that has gone on for far longer than almost anyone suspected. Never in any of our lifetimes has an event like this occurred and I think overall, we have done a good job adjusting and pushing forward.
But our “new normal” is:
– being out in public with a mask on
– occasionally not recognizing someone you know when you are at the grocery store
– struggling to understand what someone said through the mask
– finding it difficult to comprehend someone’s tone without non-verbal facial features visible
– AND sometimes feeling like you are trapped in a world where everyone is just stuck.
I am a person that likes to smile at a stranger, lend a helping hand when someone drops something on the ground and just provide random acts of kindness. Making someone smile that might be having a sh!t day fills my cup. So does getting appreciated by someone who is having a really good day after I just helped make it better.
And what I am noticing, day after day, month after month, is that those that are having a really good day are fewer and farther between.
So, how do we find our Cheers in 2020?
Well, to start out, we know outbreaks have happened in bars, so the “Cheers” scenario isn’t the safest way to go. PLUS consuming a depressant (ie alcohol) when mental health is becoming an increasingly more prevalent topic doesn’t make sense either.
But, we still need that 3rd place, the place besides home and work (which right now for many is the same!), that we spend our time to keep ourselves balanced, healthy and well.
It’s something we talk about regularly at FIT as a staff. We want to be our Athlete’s 3rd place.
Now I am for sure biased and I recognize that. However, I see things on a daily basis at FIT that I just don’t see in the general public.
We have people who seek out opportunities to get out to parks, trails, secluded natural areas and MOVE. Athletes of ours come in and get the chance to engage with friends they have made at FIT or friends who came with them to FIT. We have Athletes making NEW friends, learning about each other, finding common ground and even scheduling times to go out and be active in a safe manner. They build sweat equity together: putting in the time, challenging themselves and pushing their friend to improve, leaving with a sweat drenched shirt, smiles on their faces and a level of satisfaction not achieved anywhere else.
And now, more than ever, we have Athletes who get completely walloped by their duties as a parent/teacher/professional, trying to make all three work at home.
They come to our Gym for their release. It’s their time to get the anger, frustration and sadness out. That way, they can go back home and be the best version of mom/dad, wife/husband/partner and friend they can be.
It’s our job as coaches to recognize that, find ways to channel their emotions into physical effort and help them leave feeling MUCH better than when they came in.
Basically, we as coaches get to do more of what we enjoy doing, helping people live a better life.
I think of the Gym as our version of Cheers for 2020.
Why is this so necessary?
Our reality, for the foreseeable future is one of parent’s juggling work responsibilities remotely, managing teams they know but haven’t seen in person for quite some time and monitoring students who are required to be doing virtual learning for less than a full day of school.
So our social circle, meaning in-person REAL interactions, is limited to the people in our household. For many, they have expanded that bubble but there are families that have one or more of their loved ones that are immunocompromised and haven’t.
We, as humans, are built on social interaction. And not exclusively with our families. That is the theory of how we evolved to become homo sapiens. We exited our caves, developed a more robust cerebellum and became capable of higher brain functions. We learned how to interact with others like us, communicate and ultimately learn that more could be accomplished working together than individually.
Basically 1 + 1 > 2
But that was, in large part because we didn’t have an agreed upon language of words.
Non-verbal facial expressions and gestures likely drove the vast majority of communication.
The proponents for remote teamwork argue that task management tools and video conferencing makes up for that. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. However, that just doesn’t feel the same.
I would make the argument that there is something about being around others, actually in their presence, that we are currently unable to explain, which itches a scratch in our pleasure centers that can’t be accomplished any other way.
It would explain why our clients come into the gym after spending months doing virtual training with us stating, “I just like coming here WAY more than seeing your face on the screen! No offense.” 🙂
Our people get to interact, safely, with their friends and coaches at the gym. It might be the only opportunity that day that they get out of the house and go to a place where, “everybody knows their name.”
Making a case for “Gyms” in 2020
Gyms have gotten a bad rap in the midst of the shutdown and re-opening.
And to be honest, I get it. I have heard horror stories from people going to other big box style gyms where not much has changed to accommodate the anxiety some people experience while attempting to be social.
More importantly, even at big box gyms before the pandemic, most people put headphones in and kept their head down while they trained. It wasn’t a social atmosphere.
But then there are colleagues of mine that I would refer an Athlete of ours to in a heartbeat.
They have taken all the precautions, done everything in their power to make their Gym a safe, anxiety diminishing place.
We used to classify ourselves as a Training Facility.
It’s not a sexy sounding name but it embodies what we do. We provide solutions so that our Athletes can train: to improve, get out of pain, and find new ways to challenge themselves. All within a safe space where they put trust in their coaches and friends who are going in a similar direction resulting in a supportive, family like community built on physical fitness.
So I want to strip the surname “gym” from the big box facilities, they don’t deserve it.
They are more equipment rental facilities. Or low value subscription providers. They have thousands of members who they bank on never stepping foot in the gym. And the only time members receive communication it to be notified when their credit card expires.
We are a Gym, capitalized.
We embody everything you think of when you think of an old school boxing gym: a great training atmosphere, passionate coaches and the feel that you are a part of the family when you walk in the door. We have just updated ourselves from the sweat soaked grunge of the past.
The real Gyms out there take care of EVERY client they work with. A real Gym probably has under 300 clients but knows everyone’s name and makes sure they feel valued every time they come in to train.
Real Gyms educate, develop and provide skill sets that can be applied far beyond the training floor.
And that is what we are all in need of right now. Real, honest person to person interaction where you leave better than when you entered. We need a real Gym!
Gyms are the Cheers of 2020. Go join one, start getting better each time you show up and pretty soon everyone will know your name!