by Michael Plank

Buckle in, friends. This is going to be a heavier post than usual.

Yesterday 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Like so many, I’m reeling. Like so many, I’m heartbroken. Like so many, I’m not surprised that it happened again. Nor am I surprised to see the familiar talking points that always come out after these things: more background checks, more talk about mental health; train and arm teachers; “thoughts and prayers.”

And I always wish I could do more. And like so many, I vote, and I make donations. But there’s another thing we do too. We build community.

Community is one of our Core Values. Community means that we care about building a community of mutual respect, meaning and belonging where you have a place that you are welcomed and valued; one that makes your life better. And so, like Cheers, we work to build a place where everyone knows your name. We build that on a platform of fitness and nutrition coaching, where we help you do hard things and build a culture that supports you while you do that.

But it’s even bigger than that.

Because I don’t know what the answer is to the plague of mass shootings in our country. I don’t know the answer to injustice and oppression and dehumanization. But I do know that all those things can fester and grow in darkness and isolation. They grow when they’re unchecked and secret and anonymous. They grow when they’re never confronted with diversity of thought or experience.

And I know that real community – not just a collection of people, but people who intentionally live life with each other – makes the world better. When you’ve got a Republican cheering for a Democrat to get that last burpee in before the buzzer, or a Black Lives Matter volunteer going to run the final 400 meters alongside a conservative, evangelical Christian, what you have is a group of people who know that it’s not just Us vs. Them, because you know people who are different than you, and you care about them, and they care about you.

And I also know that in real community, when someone starts to stray off course – when they’re so hurt that they get bitter or vengeful or start to veer into dangerous territory – because the community cares about them, the community helps to check them. They offer accountability. They offer sounding boards. They offer help and resources.

I know that being in community makes people better. Not just with blood pressure or cholesterol or muscle mass. Not even just with confidence or mental health. Community helps people be better citizens, better neighbors, better human beings. I know that in these insane times of isolation and division, being in community is a bright spot on dark days.

Obviously, we care about fitness and nutrition and coaching and goals and physical health. But the reason we’re in business at all, the reason that we get up each morning and keep working at this, is because we are bold enough to believe that building communities of belonging make the world a kinder, safer, more beautiful place to live.

Vote. Donate to places that do important work. Find places that will love you and help you grow. And then go love others and help them grow too.