Gyms, fitness centers, health clubs, and other similar facilities do a lot for their members and clients. They help transform bodies into leaner, healthier shapes. They push individuals to meet personal goals and overcome limitations (the self-imposed sort and other kinds). They boost confidence, provide fun social settings, and introduce new modes of movement. But one of the best things about such organizations, to my mind, is that they can produce large-scale change that benefits whole groups of people.
Take, for example, the recent Cycle for Survival initiative at Equinox. Designed to raise money for cancer research, Cycle for Survival events in February and early March at Equinox clubs in 10 cities around the country drew 13,000 people who raised $13.8 million. That money will fund clinical trials and research studies led by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Since Cycle for Survival started in 2006, the event has raised more than $31 million. There’s no counting how many people have been helped, and how many will continue to benefit as findings emerge from the funded trials and studies
But you don’t have to be a mammoth operation like Equinox to make a difference. Last fall, Pearl’s Fitness Studio in North Bergen, New Jersey, held a Zumba party to raise money for a local shelter that serves victims of domestic violence. In January, Carozza Fitness in Stamford, Connecticut, raised funds to benefit the families of Newtown who suffered from the horrific killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Last month, the Student Fitness Center at Illinois State University hosted a volleyball tournament to support the American Heart Association. Whatever a health club’s size and scale, there’s a way to serve local or larger communities.
As for the participants who work up a sweat to raise the money, they benefit too. First, of course, they reap physical perks. Also, they gain from the emotional and mental rewards that come with working hard on behalf of others.