Gyms don’t have to be defined as places where community members gather to get fit, and that alone. In fact, some become much more than that to members. Some gyms serve as true cornerstones of the communities in which they reside.
O2 Fitness, a club chain in North Carolina, recently showcased a spirit of community when it donated $4,000 to the Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo to help it reach its fundraising goal. Without the donation, the event might not have occurred.
“Supporting the community in our markets is something very important to us,” said Michael Olander Jr., the owner of O2 Fitness. “Last year this event brought over 10,000 people to Raleigh’s growing downtown, and events like this are an opportunity for residents to get together and strengthen our community and the bonds that create it.”
Olander Jr. explained that community involvement is a top priority of O2 Fitness’ that’s extremely important to both members and staff. This priority is something that Olander Jr. believes any club can benefit from.
“Fitness centers can be the core of any community,” said Shanna Kane, the vice president of marketing for O2 Fitness. “Our members are actively involved in the community and often ask us to get involved in their charities and community events, which we always do. It allows us to be part of the area we do business in and make our community better — whether through a donation or through supporting an active lifestyle. Not only are you helping, but you often get free advertising in return.”
Kane offered a few simple things clubs could do to get more involved. “Go to 5Ks and hand out passes,” she suggested. “Make donations to local charity auctions or raffles. Host a ‘lunch and learn’ at local businesses or at a local school. Organize a free weekly run group. There are endless options as to how you can give back.”
One of O2 Fitness’ most popular community events is Shape Up Downtown, which brings free outdoor fitness classes to residents of downtown Raleigh, N.C. The event is in its third year, and has continually attracted a good number of participants.
“The energy of this event is awesome,” said Kane. “We get a lot of media coverage and that helps us bring awareness to the event and in turn, more people are attending classes. We have had between 50 to 60 attendees at each class so far.”
This year, O2 Fitness partnered with Inside Out Sports, which leads a walk or run after classes, and Happy + Hale, a local juice company, which passes out free juice samples. “It’s a fantastic way to get our local community active and give back by doing what we do best — exercising!”
Both Shape Up Downtown and the club’s recent donation to the Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo exemplify how clubs can make a major impact in their communities — an impact that won’t easily go away.
By Rachel Zabonick