I have a running list of goals that I want to achieve. I’m not great about the when particularly, but they’re there and I make sure to check that list pretty frequently to see how I’m coming along.
One of those goals was that I wanted to have events of some kind. I believe the exact wording was “have get togethers about wellness and shit.” I’m quite eloquent with my goals.
In May of this year I decided that it was time to check that goal off my list. I decided that I wanted to host workshops that aligned with the content I write about here on the blog, which is something I felt would set these gatherings apart from others in the city. Many events involve a workout and gift bags, which is great, but I felt like they were a dime a dozen and wanted to offer a more comprehensive look at wellness.
I came up with a 90-minute workshop that combined a physical activity with a group discussion of a different topic every month. I wanted to connect with the community face-to-face and talk about things that I often write about, but don’t always get to connect about on that level.
I knew nothing about planning a workshop, but I had the idea to finally pull the trigger after having a meeting with a studio owner earlier that month. I felt like the location would be great for bringing people together and the wheels started turning.
Planning the workshop was less stressful than I thought it would be. I reached out to different vendors to donate to the gift bags and many of them said yes, which was a large part of my worry around putting it together. I had a venue and just had to worry about bringing in people to instruct different physical activities, which was also manageable. I promoted them on social media and that was that.
The first workshop was in June. I held three subsequent workshops, each with a different first 30 minutes and a different discussion topic:
- June: yoga + our relationship with food
- July: bootcamp workout + self-care
- August: functional movements from physical therapy + body image
- October: meditation + mental health
Following the first 30 minutes of activity, I would share my experience on the monthly topic. I typically shared a personal story or anecdote, which was always followed by what I learned about that topic. For the first workshop I shared about my past issues with food and how I had come into the current food philosophy I hold (HI DONUTS). From there I opened up the discussion to the group to share their own experiences and tips.
I was terrified that no one would talk and we would sit and stare at each other for 45 minutes, but the opposite happened. One person started and it was like a chain reaction of stories and support. It was amazing.
I learned something from every workshop that I hosted, but the biggest things I learned are here for me to share with you:
We are more alike than different
This is something that I’ve found time and time again, but something about being physically present with others really makes it stick out. People came from different parts of the city with different educations, different backgrounds, and different ages, but there was always something that people could relate to. The conversations never stalled out because someone would say something that spurred a thought in someone else, and by the end we all felt connected to each other even though it was the first time many people were meeting.
Size doesn’t matter
Some workshops were bigger than others. I was worried that the ones with a smaller turnout would somehow fail and no one would enjoy themselves. What I found was that sometimes the smallest groups had the most to say. I’m not sure if it’s because the setting seemed more intimate, but I think for some it was easier to talk when they weren’t surrounded by a larger group.
I found that no matter how big or small the group was, there was always enough conversation to go around.
We need to talk more
It doesn’t have to be in a workshop setting; it can be with our friends, family, or even at work, but we need to talk more. A lot of the feedback I got after the workshops revolved around the fact that people just don’t talk about these things like they should. They’re often viewed as taboo or stigmatized topics that carry a lot of emotions around them, which makes them scary. It’s easier to ignore or select topics that are more superficial and don’t actually allow people to connect on a deeper level.
The workshops are taking a break until January because of holidays during the end of the year and because I think it’s smarter to space them out a bit more. Right now my current plan is to hold them quarterly, so stay tuned if you’re in the area for the start of 2018!