*On My Mind: Is an opinion piece, not necessarily factual*
By: Mike Collette
Since the Covid pandemic, things have been different. It’s been a weird 2+ years which feels honestly a lot longer ago than it really is. I did a Google search before writing this to sort through my thoughts but stopped… Partly because it was hard to get granular, when you Google search “how has Covid impacted community” you get a lot of vague articles that mainly talking about public health impact as a community.
The bigger question I have is how Covid has impacted smaller communities. Communities that once were thriving. Communities that were created around similar interests and beliefs and relied on in-person interaction (so not talking about online communities).
At our 3rd annual Row For Crows event, I gave a brief introduction speech to kick it off. If you were there you may remember what I shared about the event and community.
RFC is one of the biggest philanthropic events we host and run at Prototype but it’s also a culmination of what community means to us as a team. Where you can eat together, drink together, listen to music together, dance together, sweat and work out together, these are all things that we missed dearly during Covid and what weirdly brought people together while away… a shared experience.
This is my opinion and I’m sharing some vulnerability when saying this as I’m the owner of Prototype, but I feel the sense of community here has even changed. I say this because I feel it but also know it’s true at other gyms, we aren’t alone. I’m fortunate to be in several networking groups with gym owners all around the world and it’s been a common topic. There are questions along the lines of “how do I get my community back to pre-Covid levels?”.
My visceral reaction is even though we aren’t wearing masks every day, there is a new normal… but it may seem like we are back to what “normal” used to be.
Let’s think about what’s changed… work has become more convenient, we live in a virtual/digital world. Most companies have moved to a hybrid model, allowing you to work out of the comfort of your home. We’ve adopted new habits and have adjusted our schedules for modified commutes. We’ve got comfortable with new routines that shifted over night due to the pandemic but those behaviors have been maintained. This could be sleeping in later, working out less, eating out more as it’s a way to get out of the house… It’s become easier to make things that were once important, less of a priority. Some people have gotten dogs during the pandemic, had kids (guilty!). We may have even gotten more comfortable with isolation… we’ve gotten more comfortable not getting uncomfortable. I think we’re all guilty of it in some capacity.
Now this is my observation and I know there is lot more complexity to it as well, but these are all real things and when putting them into perspective. It makes comparing what life was like before COVID not an apples-to-apples comparison to what life is now. As a new dad and I’ve heard this from several people that there is “life as you knew it before kids and life after kids”. I guess this is a similar adjustment, but a bit fuzzier.
I’m sharing all of this because I’m having conversations about the impact this community has made on peoples lives over the 10 years we’ve now been open. From changing their health, creating passion around fitness, building long lasting relationships, finding their spouse, new best friend… found a community. There is quite the history there to reflect on and a lot of lessons learned for sure.
But as we go into year 10 and beyond, something that is on our mind is how to solve for the new normal.
How to innovate in this new environment? How to provide greater value? What does this new community look like and how do we make the same impact?
Quite frankly it’s something we obsess over.
We’re currently experimenting quite a bit at Prototype to innovate on community (Fermentation Fridays, truth reps, CDC workouts, development programs, young coaches internships, free kids programs, family workouts, team training, fundraising events… etc)…
So I guess some questions I have for you is what’s changed for you? How is life different now? What part of the community attracts you to it? What do you want to see?
I’m curious because we want to solve for this and make Community something we crave and look forward to.
P.S I appreciate you reading this! If you got down this far, shoot me an email with your thoughts, I would love to hear from you. Here is my email address: Mike@prototypetraining.com