5 tips on creating and managing a Body Thrive book club
Leading a Body Thrive book club has been an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience. Out of this experience, the opportunities to follow my path or as Cate would call it, my dharma, just keep coming…like being asked to write this blog post on how to create and manage a thriving book club!
I discovered Body Thrive through listening to one of Cate Stillman’s webinars on ways to engage my yoga students. One of her suggestions was to start a book club to help students along their wellness path. The idea of helping my students while improving my own wellness was a bonus! So, I dove right in and started planting the seed by mentioning the idea of this book club to my yoga students as well as my friends and family. Eventually, my first group naturally formed and evolved to include just over 25 participants. Yes, I had a big group, but not everyone has to start with that many, even doing a book club with one or two friends can get you on the right track.
I was excited about leading a book club for Body Thrive, but I had no idea how much I would learn along the way. Through this process I’ve been able to achieve habit changes and wellness goals that I spent many years dreaming about and often falling short of. Dropping my morning coffee, making time for me in the morning, loving my body, whaat?! Yes, the list goes on and on. Even more rewarding is witnessing and getting to play a little part in the habit evolution of my peeps. So, now here I am to share with you my top five tips in leading a Body Thrive book club.
Keep it real
You need to be willing to do the work, as you can’t expect any of your participants to do what you are unwilling to do yourself. As a recovering perfectionist, I fully understand the desire to be a shining example of a thriving leader. However, the more perfectly you present yourself, the more your book club peeps will compare themselves to that unattainable ideal and feel like they can’t measure up. It is much more effective to show as the real you, warts and all! Instead, set an example- a realistic one! Why? Because, when you communicate from an honest place, you allow others to do the same. We all started this journey for a reason and that reason has something to do with improving our current state, because guess what – we aren’t perfect! So, be willing to share your accomplishments, as well as your failures. Also, make sure to be clear about your expectations for the group and make sure your participants know what they are signing up for. Be clear on how much of a commitment your book club will be.
Utilize Social Media
For my group, I broke us up into 2 weekly in-person book club meetings, as well as a Facebook group. I gave my participants the option of attending one, or both of the meetings and/or using our Facebook group. If you have people in your book club that live far away as I did, using a Facebook group is ideal. Set the Facebook group as private so people can feel comfortable sharing. In the group, you can post the dates and times of the book club’s meetings, as well as other items such as the workbook PDF and other resources. If you’re not on Facebook, there are other online forums as well, such as google hangout that could fit your needs. On a smaller scale, creating a group text/chat for your book club may be useful. Then, you know everyone is getting messages and participating in real time. To keep my group up to date, I also used mailchimp to send out info about the habit of the week, what to read, workbook activities, videos, and other resources. I use mailchimp for my yoga classes so it was easy to create another email group for Body Thrive.
Maintain one-on-one interactions
Participants can get lost in the shuffle, especially if they are not natural self-advocates. As the weeks go on, your book club members may struggle with maintaining motivation, causing them to go silent and stop participating. Make sure to check in with your book club participants regularly. When you show that you care in a non-judgmental way, you can help your peeps to keep working towards their goals and find their breakthroughs. This was a lesson I learned with my bigger group because I wasn’t able to check in with everyone on a regular basis. I did notice that when I did check-in individually, good conversations happened naturally and we were able to encourage each other to keep going. From this, came an idea, I plan to employ in my next book club-creating an accountability buddy system. I like the idea of assigning each member a buddy, one that will help the book club member stay on track and maintain accountability. This way the responsibility of checking in does not solely fall on you as the leader.
Use your resources
Take advantage of the workbook and Cate’s videos. These resources will make your job as a book club leader easier. Another idea- take advantage of networking. For those of us in the wellness field, we already know that networking is key. Within the 10 habits of Body Thrive, there are many opportunities to bring in experts that can contribute to the individual habits. For example, I invited a meditation teacher to lead us through a meditation during our meeting for the habit of sitting in silence. For the self- massage habit, I asked a natural product retailer to share with us her handouts about toxic ingredients in skin care products. Fostering relationships with like-minded practitioners will help your business and theirs. Most experts are happy to come in and share at no charge because it helps their business grow. They will also be happy to recommend you as well – bonus!
Keep a beginner’s mind
Step outside of just being the leader, you need to be a participant too. I often find that I learn just as much from my yoga students as they do from me, and the Body Thrive book club was no exception. If I was stuck on the idea of needing to stay in the role of leader all the time, then I would never experience the growth of learning from others. Showing up and listening intently allows you to see when adjustments need to be made in the functioning of your book club. More importantly, it enables you to learn things that you can incorporate to continue evolving as a leader. Listening helps the pursuit of your own habit evolution. With a beginner’s mind, you create a strongly bonded and powerful community of body thrivers and that may be the best gift of all!
I hope that you found these tips to be useful. Now get out there and create that thriving book club of your dreams! I’ll be leading my second round of Body Thrive this summer as a small group and envision many more rounds to come. Maybe you’ve already lead a Body Thrive book club or similar self-improvement group, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned! And please know that these tips can be extended to lead other self-improvement groups as well.
Guest blog written by Jen Churchill. Make sure to check out her podcast interview as well!
Jen Churchill is a yoga instructor, doula, and proud mother of 4. She has been a dedicated yoga practitioner for over 10 years. As a teenager she was introduced to yoga and began practicing in a quest for physical fitness and personal growth. As she practiced she found that yoga offered her body and mind so much more and she began to incorporate it as a vital part of her life. Jen’s goal is to share the power of yoga and mindfulness with her students through all stages of their lives so that they can find strength inside and out. During the school year she teaches classes to the New Hampton School community and in the summer she teaches in Onset, MA. When she is not teaching yoga she enjoys dancing with her little ones, various domestic arts, sprint triathlons, and breathing as much fresh air as possible. Check out here website and like her page on facebook.
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