Jims kicks off the new year with free gym sessions on Blue Monday and ‘Gym dating’ 
on Valentine’s Day

Jims kicks off the new year with free gym sessions on Blue Monday and ‘Gym dating’ on Valentine’s Day

The positive impact of exercise on mental well-being and togetherness

Friday, January 12, 2024

Jims, Colruyt Group’s fitness chain, saw a continuous doubling in the number of sports subscriptions in January compared to December. Twenty-five per cent of all subscriptions are actually taken out in January and February. To help motivate people who want to exercise more, Jims is organising two inspiring events during the dark winter months. Their goal is to increase people’s awareness of the positive impact of exercise on mental health. Blue Monday is the perfect day to focus on the relationship between ‘body & mind’, while Valentine’s Day is an ideal way for people to meet now that ‘gym dates’ are gaining popularity.

Impact of exercise on mental well-being

A healthy mind in a healthy body: that is Colruyt Group’s goal, which Jims is actively working toward. The big picture covers nutrition as well as sleep, exercise and mental health. In 2021, search engines were used to search on ‘how to maintain mental health’ more than ever before. And, in March 2022, about one in four Belgians had an anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder. Moreover, the NielsenIQ Global Health & Well-being Study of 17 markets (2021) shows that 47% of women worldwide feel that psychological well-being will remain important in the coming years along with 38% of men. Clearly, mental well-being is more than just a momentary hype.

The positive effects of exercise on physical health are well known. However, the effect of exercise on the brain has received less attention in the past. Nonetheless, numerous studies, including recent ones, cover this subject. Exercise apparently makes us happier, less stressed and more resilient. Scientific research shows that when people exercise, their muscles produce the substance myokine: a substance that improves mood and reduces anxiety and depressive feelings.

Pieterjan Nuitten, managing director at Jims, explains: “Research confirms what we have emphasised for ages at Jims: exercise plays an essential role in mental health. In fact, it appears that systematically combining mindfulness and physical activities is even stronger than when both are performed separately. This is something we want to encourage in our ‘Body & Mind cubes’. At Jims, we keenly emphasise the positive impact of exercise on mental health and integrate it as much as possible into our programmes and initiatives.”

Enjoy the effects of exercise for free during Blue Monday (15 January)

Blue Monday is often described as the most depressing day of the year. Although the day once got its start from a marketing campaign, it is a symbolic moment to reflect on mental health and help people. The ‘Body & Mind cubes’ are a first step to structurally integrate the interplay between body and mind into Jim’s offer. The cubes are places where people can mentally unwind and find out about the latest trends in yoga or Pilates.

On 15 January, Jims is opening its clubs’ doors for everyone to exercise for free. To do so, visit our website and apply for a Blue Monday pass. Jims will also provide greeting cards so exercisers and staff can write positive and encouraging messages to each other.

Story image

Dating in the gym: from romantic duo workouts to sweatbands that indicate relationship status

Over 36% of Belgians live alone today (Statbel 2023). This is 50% more than in 1993. By 2070, nearly 41% of Belgian households are projected to be single-person households. It is not always easy to get to know people in these tense times. Nonetheless, according to dating app Bumble (research from 2023), ‘gym dates’ are an increasingly popular way to get to know people. More than one in five Gen Zers and millennials are said to have already had a first date in the gym. Thirty-two per cent of Brits would even go to the gym with the hope of meeting someone there. And almost half of those surveyed would rather meet someone at the gym than on a night out.

So, Jims reasons that Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to choose to exercise together. On 14 February, anyone can apply for a Valentine’s card to take someone to a Jim’s club for free. Potential couples are then motivated to take part in one-off ‘very small group training sessions’. These are classes that people can do in pairs… perfect for a date. Finally, with Valentine’s Day, Jims is also providing sweatbands in its clubs so that both singles and couples can indicate whether or not they would like to work out with someone. It is an ideal, albeit subtle but effective way to indicate that someone is open to a new relationship.

Pieterjan Nuitten summarises: “We want people to easily experience what exercise does for them during these dark winter months. Although we understand the strong correlation between exercise and mental health throughout the year, we also actively pursue this within our offer. With initiatives like the Valentine’s campaign and greeting cards, we want to boost the community feeling in our clubs and really offer people a place where they can unwind and meet. In any case, we are going to continue to work on these themes.”


Other notable insights:

  • More and more people are choosing a subscription that includes coaching, something Jims is actively pursuing with as much personal guidance as possible. So, small group workouts are by far the most popular. These are small-group training sessions where the trainer pays attention to the needs of each individual and adapts the exercises as needed.
  • Recently, more and more men are also choosing yoga and Pilates at Jims.