Industry experts share why you need mental health and well-being offerings at your facility that focus on mind, body and spirit.
Mental health is becoming a rising priority in gyms after being named the parallel pandemic to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it’s estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. With this statistic in mind, gyms are offering whole-health programs to their members rather than just physical health options.
“Health is holistic and encompasses not only our bodies but our minds,” said Billy Grenham, the chief marketing officer of Chuze Fitness. “It’s a simple concept but so often overlooked. As health clubs, it’s our responsibility to best serve our members and ensure they leave our facilities feeling taken care of in mind, body and spirit.”
This concept of mind, body and spirit is something Chuze Fitness has always executed on from an operational perspective and will continue to do so.
For instance, each September at Chuze Fitness is Self-Care Awareness Month, a time for members to focus on their self-care and build happy, sustainable, self-affirming habits for the future.
“The response to our Self-Care September has been monumental,” explained Grenham. “As a society, we talk about self-care a lot, but so few of us actually practice it. In fact, most people incorrectly think it’s selfish. It’s so easy to let everyday life get in the way of taking care of ourselves, which is in part why we launched this initiative. By making self-care a month-long focus, we hope to put it at the forefront of our members’ minds so they can see firsthand what a difference a little self-care can make.”
Aside from Self-Care September, Chuze has regular initiatives to help support the well-being of both members and employees. Their iChuze Fitness virtual platform has a gallery of on-demand exercises designed specifically for the mind, including meditation, mindfulness exercises, self-care tips and more. “We recognize mental health is just as important, if not more important, than physical health,” said Grenham.
Another club that recognizes the importance of both mental and physical health is California-based In-Shape Health Clubs. Jacqueline Buchanan, the brand’s director of communications and wellness experience, said the key to making mental health a priority at your facility is creating opportunities for members to connect.
“Have a lot of seniors? Host a coffee hour for them to connect,” said Buchanan. “Our senior socials are hugely impactful on mental health. We also noticed a need for moms to connect with other moms. We created a poolside community playdate for our members with kids to play together and, you guessed it, connect. These are easy to implement and don’t require a mental health expert, but still deliver mental health benefits.”
In addition to opportunities to connect, In-Shape prioritizes well-being with their content marketing strategy — from sleep and hydration to nutrition, stress management, exercise and more. All of it comes together to support members in not just their fitness journey, but also their wellness journey.
Marketing a positive mental health message for your facility is a great way to not only get members involved in programs, but also help break down the negative stigma surrounding mental health.
“First and foremost, there is no shame in mental health struggles, and the more light we shed on it and the more we talk about it, the less power that negative stigma has,” said Buchanan. “As an industry, we can do this through awareness, education, intentionally choosing our language and imagery, supporting our people, and committing to inclusion.”
While adding another project to your plate can seem overwhelming, helping your members feel more comfortable in your facility and with themselves will be worth the work.
“If the topic feels daunting to you or you don’t have the people resources, start small,” said Buchanan. “Start by creating moments of connection and alleviating common stress points like re-racking those weights so we’re not adding stress to our member’s day. Educate your members on the importance of fitness to mental health — it’s a great way to keep your marketing positive and demonstrate actionable steps that can support mental health treatment.”