What does the latest update from An Taoiseach mean for Slimming World groups and our members??
Well last nights update - it wasn't entirely unexpected but it was more than a bit sobering for us. Here's my thoughts on it.
The phased reopening of society as we know it is a long term thing. As we knew it perhaps a more accurate description. How does Slimming World fit in?
Physical Groups: Schools not reopening until September is a critical point given that most of our groups run within community centers attached to or directly in school venues. Even at that point away from school venues phase 5 of the road plan (which all going well and on schedule) kicks in for the middle of August still requires social distancing to be implemented for the foreseeable future with anything other than small gatherings very much discouraged. This would mean an exceptional challenge for our physical groups to operate as we know / knew them. And indeed you'd have to wonder how many members would be in a rush to join back in with a group in those first few weeks of restrictions lifting. My personal opinion and I must stress personal is that our physical groups are unlikely to be in a position to reopen until next year.
Virtual Groups: I think that virtual groups are our new normal for the rest of the year and perhaps beyond. Over the past few weeks we've been fine tuning these, learning as we go along, and building that same great support and group feeling online instead of in physical company. It's not 100% the same, it's a bit different obviously BUT it works! It works well! And it's working better and better every week.
Those are some of the awards given out in our Slim With Pat groups over the last few weeks. From new members losing their first half stones to existing members getting their 6 stone awards and new target members too.
Some of the recent feedback to our Facebook page ....
"I love the zoom group, it feels like group but just a little bit different. I look forward to our session every week and seeing familiar and new faces joining and it helps me focus for the week. Be absolutely lost without it to be honest."
"I prefer the virtual group!"
"It's different. But different is okay. Life is different now. Comfort of your own home for class, so you can concentrate on class or run around doing your jobs. Whatever you need. And Pat is fierce fancy with his screen sharing! "
"Oh I would 100% recommend it. If it wasn't for the virtual group I'd have put on half stone rather than losing it. I also finds that aside from the mltivation to eat right and move more it gives great structure to the week and a social outlet between following the plan, being active on the Facebook group and attending the zoom meetings."
"I always had trouble making the group due to childcare and dh on shift work and I’d be demotivated for the week cause I knew I was going to miss the weigh in. No excuse now.... I hope it’s kept up as an option to attend class and weigh in virtually some weeks with physical attendance required once a month or something once we’re back. A bit of a challenge technically but we’re all getting more used to zoom cause we have to anyway to connect with friends."
"Absolutely would recommend it 💯 % it is great catching up with all the usual faces and seeing some new members joining in as well with unbelievable results... it is defo keeping me focused during these crazy times"
"I need a group, otherwise I'd definitely be well off track. Its great to be able to keep the contact with people and the inspiration and motivation provided is amazing. 10 out of 10 would recommend."
So as sobering and worrying as the fact is our physical groups are a long way away from reopening I am very comfortable and happy with how our virtual groups have been able to step up to fill the void!
What does still worry me though is those members who are in limbo,who decided for whatever reason that a virtual group wasn't for them, and who are now waiting for groups to reopen.
To our recently lapsed members: I know some members have had reservations about the new virtual world but I can put my hand on my heart and say our virtual groups are the best way to get your support, encouragement and help. If you've been waiting for our physical groups to return - the question really is how long can you wait or should you wait. Will you wait until next year? How much damage could you do to your success so far? Please consider giving it a try! Even if you don't feel comfortable with a virtual group or the technology I'm here to help! and there are ways to be a part of the group without ever needing to be on a camera or speaking up! Please get in touch if you'd like to chat about coming back! You'll always be welcome!