Being the Change

Taz Barber Coaching Development, Culture

For us, WUWO has never been about just fitness.

That’s why we give a lot of our time to talking about empathy, emotional intelligence, othering, the power of human connection, and stuff that has nothing to do with functional movements executed at high intensity.

Yes, we want your people to be fit, and to eat and have access to nutrient-dense foods.

But, also, to have the skills needed for navigating conflict or difficult conversations.

To have the tools necessary for nurturing themselves and their relationships.

To have the courage to be the change they want to see.

We want people to live lives that are meaningful and joyful to them. And for the world to be better because they lived.

Fitness is one tool in the kit for this kind of impact. It teaches you about resiliency, makes your body more capable and powerful, and can change your outlook on so many things.

To stop there, as a gym or coach, would mean ignoring all the other ways you could positively impact someone’s life. Coaches are agents of change, and that change shouldn’t only be about pounds or PRs. (Though for us, fitness isn’t about those metrics anyway — it’s about being healthy enough to live fully and do the things you want to do.)

If we want to help our members be more loving partners, parents and people, if we want our friends to witness our pain instead of trying to solve or diminish it, if we want to be in a community where people can live in peace even though they look, think and feel differently, then we have to get serious about the skills that make all that possible.

And for us, that’s communication — how we speak, how we relate, how we connect.

We all need training and practice to strengthen these muscles.

Which is why we’re committing to a year-long course on communication: The Compassion Course.

The name isn’t great. We’re somewhat allergic to new-age-y sounding things. But the resources and materials we’ve studied on the course are legit.

Here’s a sample lesson: What Empathy Is…And Isn’t

You get 50 lessons in total, one lesson every week of the course.

These lessons will cover topics like:

  • What to do when judgment and blame show up in conversations
  • Power-with vs. power-over dynamics
  • How to be more aware of your needs and desires
  • How to have less painful, more effective conflicts
  • The difference between requesting and demanding
  • How to stay connected and empathetic in an anger-fueled conversation

Plus a whole lotta other stuff.

As people intentionally place themselves in echo chambers so they don’t have to interact with people who don’t believe as they believe, as people become more and more obsessed with labeling themselves “right” and others “wrong,” as we feel more threatened by those who are different than us — be it they look differently, worship differently, love differently, parent differently, believe or think differently — we grow more isolated, more alone, more afraid.

If a gym wants to call itself a community, then it needs to function as a community, which means more village-mindedness and less “difference is dangerous, sameness is safe.”

The fact is, people are labeling differences of opinion or belief as a threat to their existence.

We don’t know how to respect someone whose values are not in alignment with ours, so to other them, to put them beneath us, we diminish their humanity.

We take the few breadcrumbs of a story we know, and we fill all that negative space with “facts” and stories that confirm our own biases and prejudices. Because they’re Poor. Middle-Class. Rich. Christian. Muslim. Atheist. Californian. Southern. A mother not breastfeeding her newborn. A mother breastfeeding too long. White. BIPOC. Hetero, cis-gendered. LGBTQ. A Democrat. A Republican. The assumptions never end. And you know what they say about assuming…To assume makes an ass out of u and me.

That’s granny wisdom.

We believe that if we’re responsible for the energy we bring into a room, then we should also be responsible for all the judgments and baggage we bring to conversations.

So, we’re committing the next 50+ weeks of our lives to learning and unlearning.

These lessons build on each other, and there will be video conference calls offered by the course leaders. (We’re not affiliated in any way.)

We’re also going to host a discussion group for WUWO members so that we can explore the material together.

If you’re interested, the course starts June 24, 2020. Regular enrollment closes on June 23rd, extended enrollment closes on July 1st. Pricing is scaled at $36 and $72 for the full year, but they also offer a free option. (Read more about that in their FAQs.)

PS — This isn’t the ONE and only thing you can do right now, as growth comes in many forms. That said, this communication methodology could be a stepping stone we could use as we create a new path through the woods.


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About the Author
Taz Barber

Taz Barber

I’m the one you love to hate — I am the session planner here at WUWO. #Sorrynotsorry. I’m also a CrossFit coach, an outnumbered mamma (3 boys) and wife to Pat. My other true loves are the ocean and cooking tasty meals inspired by our travels.

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