For U.K. gyms—in lockdown for a total of eight months this past year—the pandemic was taking a serious toll.
Lisa and David Palmer, co-owners of Gas Station Fitness & Nutrition, sensed their clients were run down. And they weren’t the only ones; their 4-year-old daughter was also feeling overwhelmed.
“She hasn’t been in school since the beginning of September,” Lisa said. “Her manner is changing … . She is reacting in ways she otherwise wouldn’t have reacted. It really brought home to us that these kids are really struggling in the current situation.”
So the Palmers decided to do something about it.
They made a plan for their gym to host a virtual throwdown on Feb. 26. All the money raised would go to support Place2Be, a charity dedicated to improving children’s mental health.
“Everyone is sick of Zoom,” Lisa said. “But the one thing that you can’t really do … is have six boxes compete against each other in one competition, just like they are on the same floor.”
With about 10 days to plan, the Palmers joined forces with five other Two-Brain Business gyms scattered throughout the United Kingdom: CrossFit Murrayfield, Ulysses Fitness, Intouch CrossFit, Your Tribe London and KCT CrossFit. The collaboration happened organically.
“I know quite a few of them anyways through regional meet-ups,” David said. “The Two-Brain U.K. gyms are actually quite well connected. We know (each other’s) focus. We speak the same language. And the U.K. has been hit hard in terms of lockdowns, so we knew they were struggling a lot.”
Lisa added: “It was about helping out others who might need a little motivation and focus.”
With a special kids event, prizes and leaderboards, the event stirred up considerable excitement among the first-timers: new clients who had never done a competition before. In total, the event drew 75 participants over the course of a couple of hours. With a target of raising £200, they ended up collecting more than £1,800—about US$2,500.
“That means some 250 children will have the opportunity to speak with a qualified counsellor,” Lisa said. “It hit home for us, as it does so many parents at the moment … just to help out some of those kids who need it.”
Overall, the event was a win for everyone who was struggling through a very tough period.
“When we did it, we were helping our members, helping other boxes and their members, and then we helped with the charity as well. It felt really good. We’ve been so immersed in our own community for so long, so when the opportunity arose to look outwardly a bit more and go to the wider community, it felt really refreshing.”
As for the next event, the Palmers want to do it bigger.
“Maybe I should ask (Two-Brain Founder Chris Cooper),” David said, “and see if we can do a worldwide!”