The foundation of Operation RSF is a community of partnering gyms dedicated to helping individuals with PTSD stay consistent and motivated during their first four weeks of training. Around the 4-week mark of consistent training research has shown that the cognitive benefits of consistent physical activity can be experienced and habits can be formed. In communicating with a number of gyms two questions have surfaced in every conversation that I wanted to discuss.
The first question I get asked from every gym I approach is, "how much does it cost?" The answer, it is FREE. You don't have to pay any dues, you aren't expected to give free memberships to those taking the 4-Week Challenge, and you don't have to dedicate a huge chunk of time towards this program.
The second most asked question is, what do we expect from our partnering gyms?
1. Accountability: When an individual signs up at your gym and brings their 4-Week Challenge commitment to you, all we ask is that you help keep them accountable to coming to the gym. This can be as simple as saying "I will see you tomorrow" which lets them know they are welcome and expected to return, or swap numbers and drop them a line if they miss the gym. It is up to you how involved you want to be. We just ask that you help keep these individuals accountable primarily during the first 4-weeks during their challenge to help build perseverance and positive habits.
2. Encouragement/Motivation: Dealing with the symptoms of PTSD, depression, or anxiety can make it difficult to find the intrinsic motivation or desire to get up and move, let alone go crush the weights. What we ask is that you help encourage the individual through challenges as well as positive feedback. If they don't notice their improvements you can point out improvements in form, strength, speed, focus, or motivation. Let them know that you see how hard they are working and encourage them to stay motivated as they keep growing.
3. Social Scene: One of the things I love most about the gyms I have been to is the social aspect. CrossFit gyms in particular are large families where everyone knows everyone. Help these individuals get tied in to the social web within the gym which can help with intrinsic motivation and has also been shown to increase quality of life (when socially active) for those with PTSD. Being active and included in the social scene can help build camaraderie and increase their desire to continue coming to the gym.
There are benefits for gyms that choose to partner with Operation RSF. First, your gym address and contact information is added to an interactive map where individuals taking the 4-Week Challenge can search to find the partnered gym closest to them. Second, we would like to share about any upcoming events at your gym to increase visibility as well as to help encourage those taking the 4-Week Challenge to get started and take part in the upcoming event. Third, you are opening the door to help individuals change their lives through physical activity. These individuals might be dealing with, on top of the PTSD symptoms, losing their tribe (if they just separated from the military), working through finding their identity separate from their military identity that many of them held for the majority of their adult lives. It is a difficult time that research has shown physical activity can help them deal with. Your gym can be the opportunity they need to change their lives and regain control.
If you are an athlete at your gym and you would like to have your gym partner with us, share this post with your coaches or other gym members. If there are any additional questions leave a comment below or use our contact form.
If you believe in our mission and want to give support please share this post or our website on your social media and to friends. Thank you.