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Finding Community During COVID-19: Helping coaches and gyms stay connected

Fear, anxiety, and a rash over-reaction (e.g. buying 6 months worth of toilet paper at once) are causing waves to reverberate through our nation and world faster than ever before thanks to modern technology. People are choosing to social isolate in order to protect their families and to help flatten the curve of new infections which is also isolating them from their communities and support structures. While this can be good as it can help control the spread, it can also be difficult for those who use physical activity and exercise to positively impact their mental health, and it can be difficult for those who earn their livelihood from their business. The question becomes: how do you maintain the community while the community is isolated? The answer is to REACH OUT. Stay in contact with your community and those individuals who are dependent on physical activity and community to assist with their mental well-being.

As I read about the increasing number of gyms taking a hiatus from their usual class schedules I spent some time thinking and discussing with others about ways to answer these challenges in order to provide community and support even at a distance. There is no replacement for a human to human interaction, but at least we can all work together to minimize the gap between one another.

The same technologies that have allowed the news and panic to spread can be used to build unity and support, even for those who are self-quarantined. Let's look at a few ways to do just that.

Get Online and BE ACTIVE: If you have members who are slowing down their exposure to the public and choosing to stay home rather than visit the gym, post a bodyweight "home workout" as well as your regular workout. Sure, it will be additional work but it will keep them active and a member of their community. Multiple studies have shown that you are more likely to see a greater impact from your training and be more active when you have a plan than when you try to make it up as you go. Posting scores on Wodify or your gym's blog can help those at home feel connected through each of the workouts.

Tag it: Set up a social media hashtag for your gym and encourage your members who are at home and those who come in to use the hashtag to share their experiences in and out of the gym. You can easily set up a challenge and offer points for the most consistent fitness related posts or comments on fellow member posts. Encourage your members to be uplifting to each other whether they are in the gym or doing the home-based workouts. A family is supportive no matter the distance between them.

Be there: There is a lot of uncertainty and people are going to get sick and be in need. Let your community know that you are there. This can be by providing blog posts covering methods for dealing with anxiety and the unknown or it can be by helping to organize the support for those who have needs at this time. Dropping off a box of food or cutting the lawn of someone who is sick can be uplifting and let them know they're appreciated.

Show them that you care: I was once told that "they won't care how much you know until they know how much you care" which can be applied to a number of areas of life, business, and faith. Being on lockdown at home and away from your gym family can be lonely and difficult. Show your members that just because they aren't at the daily workouts, they aren't forgotten. Great ways to do this can include sending out individual happy birthday call-outs on social media or via e-mail, send personal e-mails to ask how they and their families are doing and if they need anything. Be supportive, be consistent, be caring. I know this is a pain in the ass, the uncertainty, the changes, the restrictions, I get it and I will say it--It sucks. However, the lessons you learn at this moment can set you up to be successful in reaching individuals who might be struggling with loss in the future or dealing with injuries that limit their ability to be part of the community at the gym. Learning how to reach people who are home, full of anxiety and stress, can help you reach out to people who are experiencing anxiety, depression, or agoraphobia and are not able to get to the gym. This is an opportunity to bring your gym family together and develop the skills needed to support that family with whatever the future holds. If you've found a way to maintain community during his time and you would like to share please reach out at any time and I will add it to this post. Leave a comment or visit our contact page.

Be safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands.

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