The past two years have sucked big time (especially for but not limited to) young people.
Missing out on parties, outings, and events, not being able to hang out with or even see their friends from school in real life. All this with a looming pandemic hanging over their heads.
Lack of social interaction has played an enormous role in the rising depression rates they are now facing. Who can blame them? As a result of this isolation, they now have a hard time reconnecting face to face with their peers.
Pandemic restrictions coupled with the meteoric rise of social media platforms like TikTok and ClubHouse have led teens, young adults, and everyone else to retract more and more from in-person social settings. Instead they are using social media as a way to connect to their peers.
Like humans do, we all find a way to connect. We want to be together and build a community that we can only get from social interaction.
Emerging from the toilet bowl, they call the past eon of their lives; young people are now slowly approaching social situations like cats when questioning a new brand of dry food.
Interacting face to face is now an option, and we need to be able to introduce new ways to socialize in a healthy and positive environment. Now is time to slowly mend their injured concepts of social interaction while providing the much-needed mental and physical help they need to build more fulfilling and meaningful lives.
We must see the value in helping our new young clients enhance their physical and mental fitness. We need to look into how to build a community where their mental health can flourish and recover from the past few years.
How To Build A Community
Fortunately, becoming a licensed therapist isn’t required to encourage a positive and uplifting Gym environment. Here are a few tips on how you can transform your fitness center into an oasis of positive social interaction for a socially starved Gen Z.
Our happiness is aligned with our ability to connect with others.
Set Common Goals
Building a strong community creates a sense of purpose. Each person playing a role in the big picture sees how their contribution adds value to the whole. Members of a community aren’t just going to the gym and putting in their reps; they are interested in uplifting other members and seeing their community succeed.
How you build a community is by setting a purpose for your younger clients and reminding them why their contribution matters.
As a gym owner, you have the power to create this purpose for your clients so that they are crystal clear about their goals and how their contributions fit into the bigger picture.
Create A Positive Environment
When we create a community, we can feel a sense of belonging and togetherness. We create a sense of trust and safety in which everyone knows that the other members have their backs and will be there for them when they slip up on their diet or skip one too many leg days.
In a strong community, young people feel valued and like each one is looking out for the other and making sure they meet their needs.
As Plato said, the part cannot be well unless the whole is well. All good communities (Gyms) take care of their members, and their members take care of them.
Stay in touch with your clients and encourage them to keep in touch with each other with a personalized app or social media. You have to invest time and energy in creating lasting bonds. Something as simple as sending a thoughtful message or communicating shows compassion and strengthens relationships.
After a class, set up a non-gym-related activity that your clients can join over the weekend or after work or school. Weekly basketball or a gym cinema night can go a long way. We all appreciate feeling welcomed and that our relationships extend past the treadmill.
Hold regular meetings with your team, and create new ways to ensure that your clients are making meaningful connections.
Strong communities become even more resilient as they face challenges together. They take challenges head-on and work through them together as a team. These challenges, when faced down together, create stronger bonds.
Like defeating a common enemy, reaching 100 collective miles walked together as a group can feel like taking down Sauron with the fellowship (Excuse the shameless LOTR plug).
You can build your community by seeking out and learning ways to stretch your communities skills and create formidable challenges for them to face together. Remember to help your group along the way by encouraging them and reminding them to keep their focus on the challenge.
Creating a rewards system is paramount to the success of your community. Sure losing weight, gaining muscle or breaking personal best can be perceived as rewards, but we also need to celebrate those victories. They have worked their butts off (pun intended) to get where they are today, and that deserves a celebration.
Gift cards for the group that collectively works out three times a week for four weeks in a row. Paintball admission or a ski trip for the team that finishes the next annual spin cycle challenge. Ultimately as the leader of your community, you can make this happen in whatever way you or your group decide, and the possibilities are endless.
Rewards give your community something to anticipate. Make the destination worth the journey that it took to get there.
Young people crave community. It’s what makes us human, and we cannot live healthy and productive lives without it. Our physical and mental health depends on being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Being a part of a community reminds us how much we matter and gives us a reason to take action, strengthen, and improve ourselves.