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Gymtopia. A place where clubs do social good

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A group of men and women taking part in the Dancing Parkinson’s YYC programme taught by Decidedly Jazz Danceworks using a Dance Education model from the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada -

Dancing Parkinson’s YYC programme Calgary, Canada

Launched in 2013 as a pilot project, Dancing Parkinson’s YYC provides dance classes to people with Parkinson disease, their spouses, friends and care partners. It is based on the simple belief that ‘dancing is good for us’. With live musical accompaniment and a focus on rhythm and musicality, body awareness, muscle development, coordination and socializing, Dancing Parkinson’s YYC brings together the style of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks with a Dance Education model used at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  The program is dedicated to enhancing people’s quality of life through the arts.



The fitness brand has so far raised US$100,000 for the EquiCenter charity

Movement, Community, Service – Midtown Athletic Club Rochester, New York State, USA

This is the story of how Midtown Athletic Club located in the American state of New York has for more than forty years used generosity to build strong community connections. It is written by Ray Algar, founder of Gymtopia.

I have long been interested in how connected and rooted a club is within its immediate community. When a health club opens in a neighbourhood, it plugs into both its infrastructure and community of people. It can be likened to a symbiotic (from Greek – ‘living together’) relationship as found in nature. When I look at some of the world’s most remarkable health club brands, I often discover a strategic intent that they play a proactive part in the prosperity of the community; they are not just there harvesting its resources. They forge a reputation for compassion and generosity and over time become an influential, valued and integral part of the community. So this month, I want to share the story of how Midtown Athletic Clubs in the United States has embraced a strong sense of corporate citizenship and a wider definition of community to enable its clubs to flourish even as the competitive landscape intensifies. In just five years time, this privately owned business celebrates its 50th anniversary so I believe there is a lot we can learn from this mature brand.

Lovely pictures showing staff and young children dressed in red Santa Clause costume

Genae Fitness Club Christmas charity event Across France

The idea started in 2004. We wanted to share the Christmas spirit by organising a charity event and giving back to the community. Every club creates a relationship with a local cause and shares all the benefits of the Christmas Fitness Marathon. Local associations and individuals receive 100% of the entrance fees and exposure in all club communications.

Adult special needs group exercise class underway at the Franco's health and fitness club in Louisiana

Franco’s – The remarkable health club that never says no Mandeville, Louisiana, USA

This is the story of how Franco’s Athletic Club located in the American state of Louisiana is using generosity to become one of the world’s most admired health clubs. It is written by Ray Algar, founder of Gymtopia.

I first met Sandy Franco, one of the co-owners, when she was presenting at the 2013 IHRSA European Congress in Madrid. Her message was a simple one: Invest in your community and the community will invest in your club. Sandy and Ron, her husband, have consistently pursued this strategy for 26 years.