Relational Fitness Coaching: An Antidote to the Loneliness Epidemic

Relational fitness coaching is a trending new coaching niche that supports others in building meaningful connections in today's increasingly disconnected world.

Editorial Note: In this podcast, the word "Schadenfreude" is used in place of "FreudenFruede". This word was used in error and we apologize for any confusion.

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The Rise of Relational Fitness Coaching: Connecting in a Disconnected World

In today's fast-paced and technology-driven culture, meaningful and sustained connections with others have become increasingly rare. With the combination of technological advancements, the pandemic, and divisive politics, people are seeing each other less than ever before. 

A 2022 poll revealed that 25% of people now feel anxious about socializing. This is especially true for young adults who were in college and high school through the peak pandemic lockdown years. (How We Learned to Be Lonely, The Atlantic, January 5, 2023)

In short, as a society, we’ve forgotten how to talk and be friends.

The Decline of Connection

Recorded rates of empathy have been steadily decreasing since 1979, with a significant 48% drop in global empathy by 2009. In a recent poll, 25% of people expressed anxiety about socializing, and 29% cited the fear of not knowing what to say or how to interact. 

This struggle is particularly prevalent among younger generations who have missed out on critical social exchanges due to the pandemic. The ability to talk and be friends with others is central to our humanity and contributes to human flourishing, according to positive psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman's PERMA model.

The decline in empathy and the fear of socializing have become prevalent. As a result, the need for relational fitness coaching has emerged as a rapidly growing niche area for coaches. 

“We spend upwards of 16 years in school ostensibly learning everything we need to know to be successful humans, yet we are never taught the skills we need to communicate, connect and build meaningful relationships…In the broader view of wellness, it doesn’t make sense to leave out such an important pillar of a person’s health and happiness.” - Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, co-founders of SoulCycle and Peoplehood

Relational Fitness Coaching to the Rescue

Relational fitness coaching aims to help individuals connect more meaningfully and empathize more deeply. In this coaching approach, a key focus is developing effective communication skills as adults seek ways to engage in friendships.

The societal need for connection is being addressed in articles like one recently published in The New York Times titled "How to Make Friends as an Adult."

Additionally, books and trainings on practices like schadenfreude (finding joy in another's fortune) are gaining popularity, offering positive mental health benefits. Coaches can also promote active listening, a science-backed practice that contributes to building strong relationships.

Various trends are emerging within the realm of relational fitness coaching. Peoplehood, launched by the founders of SoulCycle, offers guided group conversations centered around active listening. 

The concept of circles, intimate group conversation models focused on sharing and listening, is also gaining momentum. Initiatives like Spoke Circles in Brooklyn provide supportive "circle gatherings," while women's circles foster honest sharing and connection.

As the co-founders of Lumia Coaching, John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux have witnessed the transformative power of relational fitness coaching. John, in particular, has worked with people in small groups and has experienced firsthand the benefits of creating a safe space for open conversation and genuine connection. We have seen what works well in facilitating meaningful connections and what we wish we had known earlier in our coaching journey.

At Lumia, we are dedicated to promoting relational fitness coaching as a vital pillar of wellness. Through coaching, we can help individuals develop the skills needed to navigate and thrive in a disconnected world. Join us in prioritizing meaningful connections and creating a society where empathy and authentic relationships flourish.

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