Community journalism is so rewarding. I’m honored to interview caring individuals and businesses and the tremendous benefit of volunteerism. Below is an interesting article about just that!
Article by Melanie Saxton
Photography by FITNESS PROJECT
Originally published in Conroe City Lifestyle
CEO Bryan Murphy recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of FITNESS PROJECT after evolving as a Gold’s Gym owner for 25 years in Montgomery and Harris Counties. He won every award imaginable and would still be with the Gold’s Gym brand if not for a life-changing and profoundly moving mission trip to Guatemala.
He and his wife visited a Guatemalan orphanage filled with hundreds of children, all yearning for a home of their own. The journey led to the adoption of their son, Matteo, and a sense that they could do more.
A Different Kind of Fitness Club
“Sitting with my family during a Sunday service, it hit me: What if we could benefit others while experiencing the benefits of the gym? says Murphy. He brainstormed ways to align personal health goals as part of bigger community projects, especially charities that help families and children.
Murphy decided to make changes in his gyms with community service in mind. He chose the name FITNESS PROJECT because everyone has some sort of “fitness project” going on, whether mind, body, or spirit. He also felt that people have a bigger purpose in working out that extends beyond just getting in shape. He wondered what outreaches to support and asked members in his Conroe, Humble, Magnolia, Kingwood, and The Woodlands clubs for ideas. They suggested Habit for Humanity and CASA, among other great nonprofits.
Real People Doing Real Good
Habit for Humanity and CASA make a tremendous positive impact on families and children, and FITNESS PROJECT features each in its club and digital communications. Habitat for Humanity, a four-star charity, believes in building strength, stability, self-reliance, and shelter for those in need, and its volunteers help build places people can call home. It brought to mind the Guatemalan orphanage and the notion of home — four walls, family, and safety — and biblically and logically fulfilled the good Murphy hoped to achieve.
CASA’s goal is to provide a Court Appointed Special Advocate® for every foster child in need. When a child enters the foster care system because his or her home is no longer safe, a judge may appoint a committed volunteer to help them. The mission is to help break the cycle of abuse in our community, one child at a time. This, too, brought to mind the plight of orphans in Guatemala and was another opportunity to help disadvantaged children locally.
The Project Wall
Murphy installed a “Project Wall” at each FITNESS PROJECT location as a platform for awareness, information, and an invitation for members to get involved. It is updated regularly with multiple opportunities to serve or donate online to support various charities. Experiential initiatives are available in any capacity, with additional nonprofits rotating in, such as Go Red for Women for the American Heart Association and Heart Walk Fundraising.
“FITNESS PROJECT is intentional about making community projects appealing to everyone without any pressure to donate or attend. We’ve created an environment that showcases opportunities and celebrates community goals and achievements,” says Troy Wise, VP of Marketing. “If a member wants to contribute, they are welcomed with open arms. We even waive start-up fees or offer special promotions if members provide a discrete contribution of their choosing to support one of our local efforts.”
The clubs have raised more than $150,232 (and counting) in contributions for Habitat for Humanity and CASA, and other worthy causes.
The Health Benefits of Helping Others
Murphy, Wise, and the FITNESS PROJECT team are firm believers that doing good is good for you. Helping others through a crisis and performing regular acts of kindness boosts physical and mental health. Helping to build a home, volunteering at a food pantry, or raising money for a charity like CASA can also lower stress, lower blood pressure, lessen depression, and result in greater happiness and satisfaction. It can even cause bursts of euphoria called “the helper’s high” when dopamine and endorphins are released in the brain. The FITNESS PROJECT blog covers these types of topics with fitness tips and more, and an abundance of useful information can be found on the company’s website.
“The bottom line is we rise by lifting others,” says Wise. “FITNESS PROJECT puts the unity in community and brings its members together for positive social impact. We are building a culture of health, engagement, and connection to help people transform their lives inside and outside of the gym. We believe there’s power in purpose and that we should focus intentionally on a desired outcome. Combining community causes with exercise offers people a greater purpose than personal health alone; it offers fitness for the whole self. The result? Fulfillment in ourselves, strength in our communities.”
FITNESS PROJECT invites everyone to visit a nearby club and enjoy top-of-the-line fitness equipment, expert-guided group classes, studio & team training, premium amenities, and the opportunity to give back. While you’re there, check out the Project Wall and the many ways you can serve. There is no downside to getting fit and bringing positive change to ourselves and others. Learn more at fitnessproject.us.
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