A kindness challenge sounds cute. Cathy Miller kicked a 28-day challenge off in February with the instructors and members at InCycle, a Carmel, Indiana-based cycling studio she owns.
Participants would ask to speak to a server’s manager with a compliment instead of a complaint. They’d pass out little cards reminding people to pay it forward if they offered some kindness in a given day.
It’s an admirable challenge that passed around the good vibes and warmed up a world that can be too mean and cold.
But, in InCycle’s case, the challenge blew right past cute into the realm of some serious people-helping-people stuff.
“One of our clients decided that for her act of kindness, she was going to take in foster babies,” Miller, who opened the studio in 2013, said. “She actually takes these babies until a home can be found for them.
“They may only be two days old, three months old, and she may only have them for a few days or a week. It’s not like she’s keeping them. It’s a transitional thing. But [the kindness challenge] prompted her to start doing this.”
From the good daily deeds to the transformational human assistance, Miller’s kindness challenge took off.
It began it as a response to a desire by Miller to do a little more with the community she’d fostered at InCycle.
“I had a thought about a year ago that I wanted to add another aspect to InCycle because it’s very, very community-based,” Miller said. “We have a lot of repeat clients, and a lot of them feel there’s a bond when they come to the studio.”
Fostering that connectedness supports a customer’s spiritual wellbeing, Miller said. (Spiritual wellness is recognized as a key component of overall wellness in Mindbody's 2018 Wellness Index report).
In Miller’s search for inspiration, she met an acquaintance who issued a mindfulness challenge to her children, asking them to think about how their actions impacted others. That led Miller to issue her kindness challenge.
Internally, the studio started hosting kindness rides, where instructors found uplifting videos and music to pedal to. Externally, they started performing acts of kindness in their community.
The acts soared well beyond the walls of InCycle. Local TV news stations covered the movement InCycle inspired. Miller has no intention of letting up.
Recently, Miller challenged the studio’s members to bring in pet food and supplies for a local shelter, and plans to help that shelter with an adoption drive. In the future, she’s hoping to partner with a food bank.
“It’s just those simple little things,” Miller said. “You don’t need to write a big check or spend a week building a house for somebody. Small things can impact people’s lives in a big way. So that was the purpose and basis behind what we’ve done.”