Blog 12 – Back to the Forepl…shadowing
In the last blog, there was a short bit on the team challenges followed by a shorter bit on what the coaches want, which went something – or exactly – like (Yes, I am just jumping to the point. So much for the foreplay.):
…We want balance. We want to be there for you in good and bad times. We want to communicate realistic expectations. We want to build a great community with great people. We want to be here for you as you need – which might not be as a coach. None of that really has anything to do with working out. That just gives us the excuse.
Right now is hard. We are here to help navigate this with you. We don’t have all the answers, but want you to know we will be here regardless of slower times, less motivation, or even if you don’t work out at all…
As some of you know, my other job is in recreation and program planning. I regularly read books about the theory of recreation or infrastructure planning, community/individual development, and the like – hence some of my previous blogs and often wild statements at the gym. Currently, I’m reading a book called The Great Good Place (If you by chance are the person waiting for this book at the library, please forgive me for the time it’s taken me to return the book and do not use this blog as its cliff notes.).
The Great Good Place is a reflection regarding the community gathering spaces that have made neighborhoods and micro-economies great, and their bastardization through the creation of suburbs and strip malls in the latter half of the century in the US. These places can be thought of as English pubs, French cafes, and German turnvereins. You see them being recreated recently in places like microbreweries, coffee shops, food cart pods, and boutique fitness studios – you know, like one PDX Strength.
The things that all these places have in common, or that the author says must be present, are things like creating neutral ground (look at the diversity of professions and belief systems within our community), centering conversation (wonder why I hold the Question of the Day in such high regard?), holds a low profile (you know, like down under a bridge, around a corner, on a street that may or may not just be an active train track), and exists as a home away from home (this would be what the author refers to as a Third Place).
I’d like to submit that this is actually what we are all missing right now. Not the gains, not the intensity, not the fitness. We’re missing the opportunity to exist on equal ground, as ourselves, answering a nominal question about what’s your favorite pen. Because “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; you want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name.”
I’d further submit to you that the role of a coach in a place like this is more of a bartender; a facilitator, really. Because, if folks feel welcome and they feel at home, does it really matter how the drink tastes? The answer is, no. And this, my friend, is the point of the weekly challenges that we’ve created. We don’t care if your “fitness” goes down (what does that even mean anyway?), we don’t care that you might be taking more days off (some of us could take even more), and we don’t care if you’ve decided to eat more or different types of food (I’ll refrain here from writing an entire other blog post within a single ellipses). These 10 challenges are about consistency and a way to engage with the folks within your Third Place without the need of the funky floors and cartoons on the wall. It doesn’t matter if your score is 0 or 10. You are part of this community, and “I’ll be there for you when the rain starts to pour. I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before. I’ll be there for you, ‘Cause you’re there for me too.”
See you soon! – D
P.S. To show you how important just showing up and being you is. We’re adding an extra point to the challenge for attending the weekly Happy Hours. Grab a drink (delicious or not – alcohol not required), pop on, say hello, maybe answer a question of the day, and shoot the shit. That’s what fitness is all about.