3205 W Skippack Pike
Lansdale, PA 19446

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The Meadowood Brotherhood

The Meadowood Brotherhood

The Meadowood Brotherhood

Here at Meadowood, an effort is afoot to provide more opportunities and activities for men to meet, interact, and perchance to bond.

One of these activities was the recent BROlympics, a veritable round-robin of sort-of sporting events aimed at bringing together the Meadowood Brotherhood in various contests of skill and nerve.

Forget gymnastics and diving. Instead, our Bros sharpened their pool cues and gussied up their dart-throwing skills. 

Shotput? Javelin? Running? Nah. Think cornhole, indoor putting, and ping pong. And in a real test of temerity, the Nerf basketball competition allowed the crème-de-la-crème to rise to the top.

Personal training and fitness instructors Mike Wagner and Jon Sovocool conceived of the idea based on a community event where Jon lives. They spent weeks picking activities and carefully crafting the rules.

“The men tend not to come out to exercise classes as much as women,” said Wagner. “So we thought of this idea to create a spirit of brotherhood. A sense of camaraderie among the men that will allow them to form connections and a build a sense of community. The games were designed for everyone to be able to participate in them easily.”

While the BROlympics may have been all fun and games, the importance of social connections to a person’s well-being is serious stuff. Forming friendships is critical to physical and mental health. It’s no secret that men can sometimes have a more difficult time creating those connections than women.

Although the amount of research is sparse, in studies examining men’s social connections and mental health it’s clear that developing and nurturing friendships is just as important for men as for women. The most commonly reported difference is that males place more emphasis on social connections that provide practical support, whereas women tend to seek more emotional support.

Surely social connections can lessen the impact of stressful or negative life events on mental and physical health. But the other side of the coin is that social connections add a dimension to life that no one should have to live without. Just sometimes, these efforts need a little nudge.

The list of opportunities for men to meet and form friendships is growing here. 

Take, for example, Men’s Group. The exercise class, started by Jon Sovocool, has grown from about four die-hards to a group of more than a dozen guys. The class offers resistance training and balance exercises along with fifteen-minutes for breakfast and social time. Twice a month, the class meets in the living room of the McLean Memory Center where some of the male residents living there can join the group. 

Sovocool says, “We do trivia, talk about books and movies and cars, and I tell a joke. I work clean, but whatever others in the group want to share is okay. I say, ‘What goes on in men’s group stays in men’s group.’”

Resident Frank Tiano participates regularly in Men’s Group, and praises the effort to bring men out to exercise. He also took home a bronze medal in the BROlympics. He called the games “a joy.”

He said, “The interaction was great. Loads of fun. I can’t tell you how many stories we shared about it across the dinner tables in the dining room.”

Tiano agrees that forming new friendships with other men can be a challenge, even in a close-knit community like Meadowood.  “You’re in a strange new environment so trying to create social interactions can be a strain. This was a great way to meet other guys who live here.” He said all-male activities “allow you to let your barriers down and talk about the things you want to talk about. Some men have a hard time opening up with women around.”

He mentioned, too, the annual Father’s Day Picnic where men chow down on hot dogs and beer, and maybe play a friendly game of water volleyball. “Lots of laughs. That’s a hit,” he said. 

With reviews like that, the Fitness and Wellness team will continue to find new ways to grow the Meadowood BROtherhood, providing opportunities for men to meet, talk, play, and possibly form lasting, supportive friendships.