Thinking outside of the “Box”: Acrylic Pouring at the Gym?

This may seem like a totally odd topic to discuss in an acrylic pouring forum, but I wanted to share an experience I had with a local gym recently.  Some of you may or may not know about the fitness craze called Crossfit.  I wont get too much into it, but it is a pretty extreme (just an opinion) fitness program that is quite popular.  The point to my story is that most of the Crossfit gyms, call the facility a “BOX” vs a GYM, so this is the reason for my title. 

I approached a BOX owner friend of mine recently about offering a paint pouring class at their facility.  I am a certified “Art for Healing” facilitator and we have a specific curriculum around body image issues.  I thought it may be really interesting to offer the women of the gym a painting class that could open them up to some of their deeper issues about body image. It took some convincing, but My friend agreed.  She just asked that we end on a light and fun note. The Art for Healing program ALWAYS ends on a positive note; however, I thought it would be fun to end with a paint pour instead of our typical happy painting.

I teach paint pouring parties often, but this was my first time combining it with an Art For Healing type class.  The result was an amazing success.  Here is what happened:

I arrived at the “Box” on a Sunday which was a day they were typically closed.  We threw down some tarps and set up some tables and the stations.  People began to arrive and there was a lot of chatter around what was going to happen.  I heard a lot of laughter about how the participants didn’t know how to paint, and they didn’t know what to expect… I smiled to myself because that is pretty common in both Art for Healing classes AND acrylic pouring classes or parties that I teach… I introduced myself and told them a little about what to expect.  The participants were still a little skeptical.. WHY am I doing this at the BOX… isn’t this where I workout??? Why are we here????  The owner and coaches were also a bit nervous, but I had a compelling pitch and they were willing to try it. 

Enter the scary “ART FOR HEALING” introduction.  People tend to be terrified of being presented with the idea that they were going to be HEALED by something, so this is always a tricky pitch… I knew how to talk to them, so we made it through and they were eager to start.  Art for Healing encourages abstract art, and we start by doing a warm up to help them get familiar with the materials and tools that we use.  We discuss using shapes that don’t necessarily represent anything real, and to focus on using color to express feelings.  As we warmed up people started to relax.

After the warm up, we dove into a painting where they answered 7 questions with color.  Using 2 colors for each question.  For example “With 2 colors, describe how you are feeling right now, make any shapes you want, use any tools you want, but describe with 2 colors how you are feeling at this very moment”. Then we move on to the next question and so on.  By the time they are done, they have an abstract painting that tells a story.  They then had the opportunity to share their story, by recalling what colors they used and showed us the areas that they painted.   Surprisingly EVERYONE chose to share, and it was a beautiful experience.  The coaches were blown away at how much their students opened up and shared.  There were a lot of tears, but there was also a ton of laughter.  The participants went pretty deep, which showed me that they felt safe within their community and with their coaches… The feedback I was getting was that everyone felt even closer and safer than they had before and they were really happy.  I ended the session with a dirty flip cup pour.  The results were fabulous.  It was the perfect way to end the session.  All of the participants were blown away with the beauty of their paintings and said they wanted me to come back and teach another Art for Healing class for the people that missed out, and some wanted to come back and they also wanted a class on just acrylic pouring! (that’s easy 😉

I agreed not to take pictures at the gym party, but this is a picture of a corporate party I did that captures what it was like

The lesson learned for me, is that there are a lot of people that need art as an outlet.  If we can keep thinking OUTSIDE THE BOX and approaching places that you may not think about normally, you may just find how much art can help people open up and share, and discover something about themselves or the people that they work with, that had been buried or inaccessible.  In this case, the coaches learned a little more about their clients deeper issues of body image, and it may just help them with breakthroughs on how to train them.  To think that ART facilitated that, is pretty incredible. 

Acrylic pouring event paintings

I am going to see about approaching more gyms in my area to share this experience and see if I can get in to work with them.  Doing these types of classes is amazingly rewarding, and the profit is outstanding.  For this particular event I made a total of $445 in profit for 2 hours of my time… It’s hard to discuss the money part when the experience was priceless, but I wanted to help you understand how profitable something like this can be.  The participants didn’t mind what they paid at all and wanted to do it again because it was such an enriching experience. 

To learn more about how I set up for large group pouring party events, I have created a class on Teachable with a 10% discount for those at acrylicpouring.com: The Recipe for a Successful Large Group Acrylic Pouring Party.  We also have a VERY supportive facebook community where we share ideas and experiences.  You will have access to that private community when you enroll in the class. 

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Comments

  1. Virginia…great idea, and article. I am wondering why you offer this process only to women at the xFit Box? I’m a x-fitter & truly believe men would benefit from such artistic endeavor re:body image as well as women.
    Thanks for your article.

  2. Very interesting. I am looking into certification for art therapy and this is encouraging. I look forward to more articles.

  3. i cannnot afford much but am looking forward to teaching small groups. Your program should help me to move ahead.

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