It's that time of the year where we become obsessed with 'love' and whether we have enough of it- whether we will be 'together' or alone, coupled up, or proudly single. This week though, we are celebrating the joy of giving time- perhaps the greatest demonstration of love there is and something, no matter what our relationship status is, we can all do.
Since launch, Ubiety has hugely benefited from the philanthropic efforts of innovative and importantly, kind souls, who have gifted their time to assist their community's charity Dorothy House Hospice Care.
Studio 37 gym, a Ubiety stockist and supporter in Shepton Mallet, is a company that epitomises these values and Erica's project 'Wonder Women' is a fantastic example of how you can run a business and give back and 'love' your community:
'It has always been important to me that Studio 37, my women only studio in Shepton Mallet, gave back to the community. In a world seemingly dominated by money and wealth, power and status, the businesses I love the most are those that do things a bit differently. Initially I imagined that my giving back would take the form of donations to charities who work to improve the lives of women. Then last summer I saw a shocking statistic which changed how I viewed giving back.
'This Mum Runs' posted on Instagram some figures from Sport England. The post simply read "6 million UK mums want to exercise more but lack confidence, time and childcare". I found this figure absolutely staggering and whilst I already knew from my own experience that there was a need for an all women gym, seeing this statistic made me realise that there was much more that I could do because I had something far more valuable than money to give (and in any case as a small business I'd probably only end up being a paperclip fund rather than making a real difference). As a personal trainer I'm clearly someone who enjoys fitness. I'm lucky enough to have made a career out of it and I know first hand how amazing being strong can make you feel.
But more important than any of that is the simple fact that I have time and knowledge and a burning desire to help women feel their best.
'And so the idea of offering some kind of free memberships started percolating. Helping people face to face who couldn't access regular exercise was forefront in my mind from the very first time the thought popped into my head but it was very clear to me that I didn't want it to become solely about money. The value in exercise is, if it's done the right way at least, far greater than its physical cost. Money was definitely not the right way to judge our worthy winners. I bounced the idea around for a while asking my mum and my best friend if it sounded possible. I also asked my members what they thought and what to name it. They came up with the name 'The Wonder Women Project' and I loved it instantly because it reminds me of a slogan I love: "I'm a woman; what's your superpower?". However it wasn't until it struck me that positivity was the key to the whole project, that the idea came together.
'As with any change, deciding to start an exercise regime, deciding to get out of your comfort zone, to get fit and healthy, is only achievable when you're doing it for the right reasons.
Exercise should not be about punishment but should be an enjoyable pastime that makes you want to keep coming back for more.
'So rather than a dry application form or a long list of questions, I simply asked the potential winners to tell me in 200 words what positive impact they thought a gym membership would have on their life. As simple as that.
'The responses to this question were amazing and ranged from mothers who felt like they had lost a sense of self since giving birth, to women whose families have been in crisis. It is unbelievably humbling when people feel able to open up to me, a total stranger, and lay bare the insecurities or circumstances that have been holding them back. Asking for help is hard enough but trusting a stranger with your life story takes a lot of courage. Deciding on the winners was never going to be an easy task.
' I was delighted when Molly from Selfish Mother and Ali from The Positive Planner agreed to help me judge The Wonder Women Project as I could very easily have given places to everyone who applied! In January we met to pick our winners Laura and Tanya and they are now nearing the end of their first month, embracing this new chapter in their lives with a positive focus on their own health and fitness. Already in less than a month the physical and mental benefits are tangible and I am so excited to see how the next five months unfold for these two incredible women.'