Here is how fitness businesses can help support mental health within the wider community
When you hear the words ‘Mental Health’, what comes to mind?
See, for many, it’s a struggle to put exactly into words what mental health is. Or, how we are expected to interact with the information surrounding it.
In a way, that’s why it’s so important to keep talking about it. If we don’t, it often gets swept under the rug. The same holds true for many other aspects of life that are partly intangible.
After all, mental illness is not a personal failure. In fact, if there is a failure to be seen, it would be found in the way that we have responded to those actually suffering.
That’s why as a global fitness community, we have a large part to play in supporting mental health within our wider communities, ensuring that physical fitness is not the only operational focus.
So, what are the best ways that your fitness business can help?
- Host a class
- Offer a gift that counts
- Start a conversation
- Design a fundraiser
The importance of fitness businesses in the fight for good mental health
Whether it’s intentional or not, you’d be surprised just how big of an impact your gym, club, studio, or centre can have on your members mental fortitude.
So, even if you decide to not implement any of the coming recommendations, know that in a way, you’re still part of the solution.
Well, we know how good exercise is for our physical health but many are surprised how good exercise can be for your mental health too!
1.) It promotes the release of feel-good chemicals (Endorphins and Serotonin)
2.) It helps you sleep better at night
3.) It provides added benefits of a social connection
4.) It delivers a strong sense of accountability and accomplishment
5.) It helps boost confidence and self esteem
Now you could question whether this was enough? To that many would say – “Ah, well… not particularly,”
But, we will tell you it’s a big start!
See, in order for these positive effects to take place, you rely on the tenacity of other people. Some of which really do need a boost to stay active. Others that rely on someone (Like yourself and your business) to go above and beyond to help them step out of bed.
Otherwise, they get caught up in the habit of not exercising – missing out on all of it’s associated benefits.
That’s where you come in! A shining light that can put processes in place that can support people who need it most. Not just directly through your services, but also indirectly through group initiatives.
Great! If not, don’t stress… We’re about to go through it in detail.
On that note, here are some things your business can do to support mental health (Both directly and indirectly).
Trust us, they’re easier than you might think.
Host A Class
Now this might seem a little askew. After all, many fitness businesses around the world host classes on a daily basis.
If this is you, keep going. If not, maybe think about it!
Hosting classes is not only one of the best ways to maximise member retention rates and improve the overall experience at your gym, but it also forms a strong sense of community that can act as a critical support network for anybody who is struggling.
These findings have even been reported across a range of different academic studies, with group class participants seeing 12.6% more mental benefits, 24.8% more physical benefits, and 26% more emotional benefits than those who exercise alone.
So, if you’re not already, think about implementing some group workouts that can continue to pay dividends for you and your members over the coming years.
Class Ideas Include:
- Cycling Class
- Yoga Class
- Group Boxing
Offer A Gift That Counts
When we think of ways to help support others, our minds often go into the depths of extravagance. Meaning, we think about grand gestures that we feel could really make an impact.
While this is good in theory, there are two issues.
- It often leads to inaction as grand gestures play out to be too difficult or time consuming.
- It leads to over-delivery which can eventually end up being counterintuitive as expectations start to gradually raise.
That’s why, when this article talks about giving a gift that counts, we’re talking about small things that seem insignificant, but can make all the difference.
Example One: Free Trials – Though it’s likely to already be something that you offer, you’d be surprised how impactful a free trial can be. Not only does it provide a clear pathway for people to start their fitness journey, it also facilitates a risk-free environment where someone can open themselves up to a fitness community for the first time.
Example Two: Referral Programs – Again, while it’s a system that you may already have in place, referral programs can lead to a range of benefits. Firstly, they force people to engage with your business which makes them more invested in their own health. Secondly, depending on your program, they have the potential to score discounts or free membership. This makes your gym more accessible and more affordable for those willing to immerse themselves as an advocate. Again, this not only makes them more invested in their own wellbeing, but can also deliver a strong sense of community, belonging, and achievement. Three essential pillars of good mental health.
Example Three: Member Awards – One aspect of a fitness business that is almost essential, is the sense of recognition for those who invest in themselves (Or try to). Offering monthly member awards for those who visit a certain number of times or achieve their fitness goals can act as an extremely effective way of supporting their mental health. It not only helps flood their system with feel-good chemicals, but again, it delivers a strong sense of belonging and community.
Essentially, offering ‘A gift that counts’ is all about reducing the risk for people to start their fitness journey. Offering ways for them to become more involved as they progress toward their goals. Then keeping them coming back as they become a core foundation of your community.
Design A Fundraiser
Sometimes getting involved can be a scary thing. Setting up your own processes and systems to help support mental health can be intimidating. Especially if you’re concerned about getting it wrong.
So, if some of the simple tips above are too much, or just not viable for your business, here’s one for you.
A fundraiser… Sounds simple right?
Well, that’s because it usually is.
In fact, for many, support doesn’t get any more original as a fundraising event. An opportunity for your entire community to band together and tackle something bigger than themselves.
So here’s all you need to do.
- Choose a mental health charity that you’d like to support (And let the experts do what they do best)
- Plan an activity or group event that can act as the basis for the fundraiser
- Invite people to come and bring a small donation to participate
- Donate the proceeds
That’s really it.
The most popular events we have seen are things like: 8 Week Challenges, Beach Days, Bootcamps, or just every day classes.
People come, give a small donation, and all proceeds go toward the charity.
The impact of this doesn’t just revolve around money though.
Aside from funnelling funds into renowned charities who professionally support those struggling with their mental health, these events do something else extremely special.
You guessed it… They help build a community and involve people who really need it most. Plus, those feel-good chemicals that you get from working out. Well, you also get A LOT of them from giving to a good cause (Especially if it’s one you’re passionate about).
Start A Conversation
This last paragraph honestly might be the easiest to implement out of everything mentioned throughout this article. In saying that, it may also be the most important.
Starting the conversation.
Now this can happen in many forms, and not just in the ways you think.
Naturally, trying to talk to members about mental health or randomly asking if they’re ‘ok’ can sometimes feel out of place.
If you notice someone is down or their mood is changed, maybe consider having that conversation. Otherwise, you can start a conversation in a different way. A more indirect way.
We’re talking about something as little as a “We Miss You” email for someone who hasn’t been back to the gym in a few weeks.
Have too many members? You can automate these points of contacts via Email or SMS.
Don’t think an email saying “Hey, noticed you haven’t visited in a while,” is enough? Then give them a gift that counts.
Offer them a free class. Tell them they’ve won a free PT lesson. Anything to get them back into the club.
After all, when motivation is lost, it is often a steep decline. You’d be surprised just how much your members count on your services.
Once they’re back working, start small again. Watch them set goals, restart their routine, and flood their bodies with all the wonderful endorphins that come with exercise, achievement, and community.
All you need to know about supporting mental health at your business in a few short sentences
If you’ve managed to read the whole article, then you’re well on your way to making a huge impact in your wider community.
If you’ve just scrolled to the bottom in hopes of getting a quick overview, then touché…
Here’s a quick and very brief takeaway.
- It’s the small things (That you’re probably already doing) that can make the biggest difference
- Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that are scientifically proven to help improve mental health
- Finding ways (As mentioned above) to get members to remain an active part of your community is essential to improving their own mental health, and the mental health of those around them
- Starting a conversation can make a huge difference
- Supporting established charities or professionals can pay dividends in more than one way
If some of these takeaways don’t make sense, please re-read the article from the top. Otherwise, congratulations!
You are well on your way to making a difference in the lives of many.