Open Collective
Open Collective
2022 End-of-Year What's Update
Published on December 21, 2022 by RM

Woodbine Strength just celebrated its first birthday earlier this month. The past year has been full of strength gains, growth and learning. Here are some of the things we’ve accomplished in the last year - all of which wouldn’t have been possible without the participation and donations from our community and collective:
  • We facilitated coached weightlifting sessions every week of the year with the exception of one month. 
  • We expanded the hours the gym is open to the public by building a collective of lifters who, after attending coached sessions and committing to their training for months, can now lift on their own and also share their skills with beginners. 
  • The weekly training our lifters engage in together has become a force in bettering everyone’s mental health and physical health. There are many dimensions to what this gym brings to the peoples’ lives who participate in it. Having a free, accessible physical practice as a consistent rendezvous with our friends, new and old, not only builds power in our individual bodies but also builds power socially in our community.  
  • We’ve completed a few big renovations to the space including taking down a wall to expand the gym and replacing the flooring, which included leveling the deteriorating floor, laying down fresh plywood, and covering it all with thick rubber mats for better grip and force output. 
  • Starting an Open Collective allowed us to receive streamlined donations as “gym memberships” which now add up to $305 dollars a month, covering the monthly contribution we make to Woodbine, the larger space our gym is attached to. Our Open Collective page has also facilitated our growth in that it’s acted as our virtual homebase for people to find and learn about us beyond our Instagram page. 
  • We organized a successful fundraiser event in our neighborhood where we raffled off a variety of goods from friends in our community including artworks, personal training sessions, flowers, ceramics, and gourmet pantry items. We raised close to $2,500 dollars and have seen an influx of new lifters since. 
  • With the money we raised we were able to purchase a whole host of new equipment. The centerpieces are our two new Rogue Power Racks with additional J-Cups. Now groups of lifters can simultaneously bench press, squat, or complete any combination of barbell lifts in the power racks at the same time, more than doubling our potential capacity. The purchase of an additional adjustable bench helps with this as well. We retired our standing dip bar which took up a lot of space and replaced it with an adjustable dip station that mounts to the power rack when in use and is easily removed and stored on the wall when it’s not. We purchased two specialty bars from Kabuki: the Transformer (Adjustable) Squat Bar and an Open-Design Trap Bar. Both barbells allow lifters of all shapes and sizes to perform complex movements with better form and with less risk of injury. Our new Bells of Steel Cable Tower allows us to expand our programming to include cable exercises, adding dozens of new exercises to our arsenal. We also ordered more weight plates because more lifters per session means more weight needed on the bars. We also replaced our yoga mats used for warm-ups and stretching that were worn down and ripping.

Many of the challenges we faced this year were organizational; how could the gym layout accommodate more people?; how can we open up more hours if we can’t always physically be there?; how can we strike a balance between keeping the commitment to the gym informal but encouraging people to follow through on the trainings they sign up for?; how can we share the work involved in running the gym beyond the 3 people who started it?
One of the biggest lessons learned for us in the past year is how to delegate responsibility and figure out how to shape what is now a collective of people integral to how the gym is run. In expanding the group of people who take ownership over the space, we’ve been joyfully reacquainted with the fulfillment and potential of a project that includes many different people. The mission behind Woodbine Strength has always been to be a gym built and run by the community it serves. Learning how to share responsibility and open our circle to participation from more and more people has been a rewarding challenge. We feel so lucky to share this project with the people we do and if anything, this space has reinvigorated our belief in the power of what’s possible when an effort is made a collective effort. 

What’s coming up for us: 
We plan to have a celebration for our 1-year anniversary soon and will also hold another fundraiser in the fall of next year as a way to build our funds for continued improvements and as a way for people + businesses from our neighborhood to get involved. We are also in talks about doing some educational weightlifting seminars as a way to keep building the collective knowledge of our lifters and to raise some additional funds. We’ve started soundproofing the gym so that we can expand our daytime hours without disrupting others using the larger space, and this should be completed in early 2023. Other than that we look forward to seeing what growth the gym can foster physically, mentally and socially for our community!