A CHECKLIST TO HELP YOU START A FITNESS SUPPORT GROUP

9 Jan

DEFINTION OF FITNESS SUPPORT GROUP

A support group is a gathering of people who share a common health concern or interest. A fitness support group focuses on helping its members achieve their fitness goals which typically include physical, emotional and mental aspects. Formats for support groups can vary. They can include in-person meeting, online sharing and / or telephone support.

BENEFITS OF SUPPORT GROUPS

  • Provides motivation for members to accomplish their personal goals,
  • Increases optimism, a sense of empowerment and hopefulness,
  • Improves access to information needed,
  • Increases opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities with others,
  • Introduces variety into each person’s fitness plan which keeps it more interesting,
  • Offers accountability for those who need it,
  • Increases the possibility for bonding with people with whom you share specific life challenges!

PLANNING STEPS

  1. Answer the question: Why create this fitness group?
    1. Is it to help people who need to lose weight?
    2. Is it for people who like to socialize while exercising?
    3. Is it only for people who are having trouble achieving their fitness goals?
    4. Is it open to any and all?
  2. Answer the question: What are a few goals for this group?
    1. Group goals
      1. Possible weight loss goals
        1. Decreased inches
        2. Decreased pounds
        3. Decreased body fat percentages
      2. More?
    2. Individual member goals
      1. More?
  3. Write out some possible ways to accomplish each goal
    1. In-person meetings
    2. Online sharing
    3. Telephone support
    4. More?
  4. Determine meeting structure.
    1. Welcome
    2. Check-ins including individual and subgroup goal progress, partnering needs, informational topic planning and group activity planning
    3. Review group goals and guidelines including brainstorming next steps as needed
    4. 10 minute exercise “take-home” demonstration
    5. Informational presentation
    6. Resource information presentation
    7. Review next steps
  5. Determine ideal group size.
  6. Devise ways to promote your group membership.
    1. Create a poster which is distributed to community center, local clinics, supermarkets, faith based organizations and other high traffic areas.
    2. Post meeting announcements in free online sites such as Meetup.com, Craigslist.com, etc.
    3. More?
  7. Find a location for your group meetings.
  8. Schedule dates and times for meetings.
  9. Define different roles for group members.
    1. Logistics for ongoing meetings
    2. Fitness partnering coordination
    3. Logistics for special activities
    4. Note taker
    5. New member welcome person
    6. Coordinator for guest speakers
    7. Keeper of email / telephone list
    8. Meeting facilitator
    9. Flyer creator
    10. Online poster
    11. Topic presenter
    12. Photographer
    13. Resource researcher
      1. Blogs
        1. www.fitnessbeyondexpectations.wordpress.com
        2. More?
      2. Online weight loss support groups
        1. www.weightwatchers.com
        2. www.caloriecount.com
        3. www.sparkpeople.com
        4. Overeaters Anonymous
        5. More?
      3. Local activities
        1. Use free gym access for people on Medicare
        2. More?
    14. More?
  10. Brainstorm discussion topics
    1. Exercise
      1. Weight resistance
      2. Cardio
      3. Flexibility
      4. More?
    2. Healthy eating
      1. Portion control
      2. Superfoods
      3. More?
    3. Mind / body skills
      1. Mindful eating
      2. Guided visualizations
      3. Self-talk and mantras
      4. Stress diary to understand emotional eating patterns
      5. Understanding relationship with food
      6. Relaxation techniques
        1. Yoga
        2. Meditation
      7. More?
  11. Brainstorm activity possibilities
    1. Exercise related
      1. Visit other member’s home gym
      2. Join national contests
        1. Biggest Loser
        2. Create local contest which can be promoted on local public radio
      3. Hikes
      4. Skating
      5. Cycling
      6. Climbing
      7. Walking
        1. Trail
        2. Mall
      8. More?
    2. Other
      1. Movies
      2. Cooking a healthy meal together
      3. Group discussion of fitness related book read by all
      4. Theme park
      5. Meal at healthy food restaurant
      6. More?
  12. Brainstorm incentives.
    1. Prizes for those who successfully accomplish a specific goal
    2. More?
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