A decade ago, Robert Putnam caused great concern when he released his groundbreaking research documenting the decline in American civic activities. Putnam’s book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, drew on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews to show how Americans had become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures. He noted that Americans were bowling more than ever, for example, but not bowling in leagues.
Much has changed in our social structures since that time, but I believe that many of us are now more eager for connections than in years past. At Holly’s Pilates Village, we consider ourselves a community focusing on wellness through exercise. What does that look like and sound like in practice? Here are just a few examples:
Students who regularly attend the Wednesday evening Strength & Stamina class often go out to dinner after the class. They have built enduring friendships, and their laughter and shared experiences echoes warmly throughout the studio.
Clients leaving our Restorative and Yin Yoga classes occasionally tear up from the release of stress and emotions, and then they thank us for providing a safe and supportive place for them to be vulnerable.
The mostly male students who attend Deep Stretch Pilates class on Wednesday evenings arrive early so they can sit on the bench across from the check-in desk and trade friendly barbs with Casey Emrich and Barry Holland. The students also make sure pillows and props are carried to the workout areas for any latecomers.
In every class, regular participants notice when someone is missing. They engage newcomers in conversation, share their own stories of injury and rehabilitation, and explain why the positive environment and great teaching at the village keeps them coming back.
Students routinely tell us that they feel “like family” at the studio. As Jenny P. remarked recently when she returned after traveling during the Christmas holidays, "It's good to be back home."
In a community, people work together towards common goals, rather than stress competition. At Holly’s Pilates Village, we are all striving to gain better health and conditioning, but we understand that the path to wellness will be different for every person. Progress, not perfection, is our mission.
Experience shows us that it is not only possible to create community through exercise, it's also so much more fun than bowling alone!