05 Sep Pay it forward fitness
Recently I’ve been barking out loud in the office, praising the myriad efforts of many gyms, studios and general fitness brands doing good in the world. It’s something I’m passionate about, and something I believe every single boutique and big box studio and gym in London should be doing.
Raising money for charity through fitness isn’t a new concept, but recently there have been some lovely updates in the industry that reflect a new tolerance and an insightful approach to Philanthro-Fitness (sorry).
Here’s a rundown of my current favourite pay it forward fitness trends:
A key trend seems to be a hyper-local approach to solving and supporting community issues and charities, mobilising local fitness communities to make a visible change to their immediate human or geographic environment. Xercise4Less is offering free admission to recovering addicts following a successful trial project in Burnley funded by the Sport England partnership. Burnley suffers from an alcohol and drug addiction problem, so Lancashire Sport Partnership developed the Challenge Through Sport Initiative (CSI), a collaborative project encouraging adults in drug and alcohol recovery to get involved in regular physical activity. The project is funded through Sport England’s Get Healthy Get Active Fund and the county’s Police Crime Commissioner to specifically target and support its local community issues and activate a tangible solution to the problem. Nice work Burnley.
A really interesting development combining fitness and kindness is Steel Warriors. I’m kind of obsessed with this. It tackles the very prevalent problem of knife crime in the capital by physically melting down several tonnes of confiscated and surrendered knives and using the steel to build calisthenics gyms in London. A programme of training and mentoring for young people involved in knife crime, hosted by ex-offenders, gives them new focus and a way to flex their ego and muscle.
Another personal favourite are the good guys over at Good Gym. Good Gym allows you to join a local run group as well as providing companionship and help to isolated elderly sweethearts in your local area. You can also take part in a community project along the way (I planted veggies at Hackney City Farm…horticultural AND running goals, as well as being able to fawn over a couple of ridiculously cute goats and a donkey…AKA the DREAM).
Pioneering the kindness-through-fitness movement, a gym in Portland, Oregon called Beast Fit Nation is being billed as the world’s first free gym. Anyone can work out for no charge whatsoever, as long as they agree to commit three random acts of kindness after they leave. The gym pays its bills by securing sponsorship from local businesses, if you were wondering. The wonderfully named Barbells for Boobs charity, created by the Crossfit community (whose long record of philanthropy and community initiatives seems to be a natural outgrowth of the hands-off model that gives affiliates the freedom to identify needs within their communities and mobilise to make a difference) raises funds for breast cancer charities in CrossFit teams at your local box. It’s heartening stuff.
It makes sense – doing good things for your body increases your endorphins, as does doing good things for others. A recent experiment showed that doing acts of kindness for others leads to changes in immune cell gene expression associated with disease resistance – so it doesn’t just make us feel good, it actually makes us healthier. Win win.
It seems that a key decision factor in joining new classes, gyms or run clubs in this modern ‘class culture’ age of fitness, is increasingly influenced by philanthropic pursuit, something more fitness brands are recognising and embracing. Feel good fitness in every sense, and long may that continue.
Please do get in touch with me here at Action PR if you have a fitness brand with a good cause that you’d like to chat to us about firstname.lastname@example.org.