I started coming to the gym and I quite liked it. The more I came, the more I liked it. Then I noticed on the website there was a ‘become a member’ option. Hmm, a co-op member, that sounds kind of cool. I wonder what that means. I suppose if it means I get to be more ‘part’ of the gym, that would be nice. I’ll give it a go. So I pressed join.
I’ve tried a ‘being a member’ of a few things before, and I’ve tried involvement of a few co-ops before. I even tried to set one up. I’ve mostly ended up feeling guilty or stressed or wanting to escape. A wonderful thing (and why I’m writing this) is that I haven’t felt like that as a member of Bristol Co-operative Gym, I think because I’ve really been able to do as much or as little as I’ve wanted and make the role just right for me. Very cool.
To start with I went to two co-op members meetings, and enjoyed listening to people talking, having some opinions which I wasn’t really sure about, and eating some really nice food.
Then I realised that I didn’t have as much maths or as many spreadsheets in my life as I needed (wanted?), and that getting involved with gym finance might be a good way to address that. So, I asked if I could do some financey stuff. Without any knowledge, or experience, and requiring a lot of explanation of what had already happened, I was warmly welcomed in to the little finance sub-group of two – now three.
Being involved in finance meant going to meet some lovely people called Brian and Hilary, who were mentoring us in all things accounts. Three of us sat in their house, looking at a huge screen with an even huger spreadsheet, getting confused, laughing, debating, making up funny names for different cells and membership types, and (ultimately) trying to work out whether the gym could, or might, make enough money. Turns out it can. Pretty great.
It was really fun to see a spreadsheet whizz in action, to join in the action, and feel I was playing a role in all this ‘behind the scenes’ stuff. Fun to combine some mathsy thought with some political thought, and to concentrate on something that wasn’t connected to my job, or a boss.
Since then, the three of us have spent some time working out where next, how to keep data, and exploring all the different online records (I mostly got confused and asked silly questions, but that seemed to be accepted. I think. You’ll have to ask the other two).
It’s been pretty exciting to start to make sense of these things, and to be part of something which feels pretty damn cool. And even more exciting to see the gym move from strength to strength. It’s like seeing your baby grow. And not even having to give birth to it.