MADISON, NJ -  Late last year, something big was happening at the Bar Method, a fitness studio located at the corner of Main Street and Greenwood above Walgreen’s. The studio’s competition, “The Fall Friendzy,” not only challenged clients with fitness goals, but benefited more than 24 charities and local businesses. The challenge fostered strong bonds of friendship and provided paths for clients to “be the good” they wish to see in the community.

According to Gina Striffler, owner of the Bar Method and two-time winner of Madison’s “Extra Mile Award,” more than 200 women (and a few men) came together to form 24 teams. Each team was given a bingo-like game board consisting of 16 boxes detailing various goals to achieve over a nine-week period. Some of the fitness boxes included “35 Classes or Bust” and goals to take several of the five different class options. Other boxes focused more on fun, friendship and community by encouraging players to exchange recipes, share personal stories describing the positive impact Bar Method has made in their lives, and wear pink to class to support Tie One On, a local charity dedicated to fighting cancer.

But it was the “Player’s Choice” box that truly surprised Striffler.  “Players were allowed to create their own challenge in this box, and the results were nothing short of amazing,” said Striffler.  “Without hesitation, teams started taking up collections, raising thousands of dollars for more than 10 local and national charities and connecting with 13 local businesses.  It morphed into a local humanitarian movement that left me feeling deeply humbled.”

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Some of the “Player’s Choice” challenges the teams created on their own included:
 

  • Care packages for servicemen and women stationed overseas

  • A shopping event with Stitch Boutique to benefit Dress for Success

  • Halloween candy donations to benefit Autism Speaks as well as veterans

  • Small toy donations for a treasure chest at Goryeb Children’s Cancer Center

  • A combination bar/yoga class to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome

  • Painting pumpkins teal to raise awareness for children with food allergies, making Halloween more fun and safe for them

  • A coat drive for Jersey Cares

One team organized a holiday bazaar (or, more appropriately, BARzaar) that included the participation of several Madison vendors, including Sugar Rush, that raised more than $1,700 for Operation Christmas Child, an organization that brings hope and joy to children in need around the world. Other teams donated to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, St. Vincent Martyr, Jersey Battered Women’s Service and other non-profit organizations.

To promote local shopping, the teams also formed partnerships and alliances with many local businesses including Healthy Italia, Whole Foods, a Madison-area hair salon, a variety of home based vendors, and other retailers.

“My hope is that people, whether they exercise with us or not, know that the Bar Method is friendly, well-managed and well-intentioned.” said Striffler.  “We work hard and we know that other business owners do so too. My goal is to create smart business alliances where we can work together to provide our community with what it deserves – the best!”

In the near future, Striffler intends to further her commitment to Madison by hosting weekly CPR certification classes, a mindfulness class, a social media workshop in conjunction with the Madison Police Department and much more. She is also getting ready to launch another challenge next month called “March MADisonNESS.”

“Madison is a special place with good people who are generous and selfless,” said Striffler. “That positive energy is concentrated and contagious within our studio walls daily. Our clients are genuinely friendly, happy, non-judgmental, inclusive and helpful. The fall challenge was our way of harnessing all of that positivity and giving it an outlet.”

Readers over the age of 15 are invited to enjoy a complimentary class this month. For more information, visit madison.barmethod.com or call 973-410-0550.  Mention TAPinto Madison