Ray Algar discusses Gymtopia, a newly launched digital ‘story telling’ platform for the global fitness club industry capturing the social impact projects that are taking place.
How and why did you start to think about Gymtopia?
For many years I have been thinking about how the fitness club can become an important and valued part if its community. Valued in the same way that the community view the local school, library or football team. In other words, a fitness club that is embedded into the centre or ‘heart’ of the community rather than seen as sitting on the edge and perceived as simply ‘taking’ from the community.
The idea for Gymtopia came to me when I was speaking with Richard Bilton, President of Companhia Athletica at the 2012 IHRSA Fitness Brasil Conference in Sao Paulo. Richard was telling me about a shoe collection project their clubs had started. The simple idea was to ask members to bring in their old gym shoes when they were about to replace them. The shoes were laundered, bagged and passed to Symap, a Brasilian charity providing running training to individuals who could not affords to buy specialist training shoes. Companhia Athletica collected 700 pairs of shoes to kick-start the project and is now collecting just under 4,000 pairs each year. I was fascinated by Richard’s project for several reasons…
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