The Coaches’ Lounge brings people together for support and sharing
In 2011, Kim Frey lost a close friend to suicide, and knew that feelings of isolation and personal struggle were at the root of her friend’s despair. Eight years later, Frey has opened a space that provides a venue and various frameworks for people to connect, especially with those who are facing difficult experiences in life.
Dedicated to “improving life through education and friendship,” the newly opened Coaches’ Lounge in Twisp is part resource center, part community engagement tool, and part classroom, changing its focus depending on which participants are in the space at any given time.
“We’ve created a collaborative of coaches,” says Frey of the Coaches’ Lounge, which is guided by a three-member board of directors. “Teachers, coaches and people with passions book the space and invite participation. We believe that things are easier to learn when you have support, and the Coaches’ Lounge provides a forum for learning and exploring in a supportive environment.”
Located in a bright former yoga studio across from the Methow Valley Community Center on Highway 20 in Twisp, the Coaches’ Lounge is both intimate and airy, centrally located but discreetly screened. It feels a bit like a large, comfortable living room in a well-appointed, clutter-free house. One can imagine curling up on a couch and having a discussion with others, or watching a presentation on one of the large computer monitors in the room.
It’s “coffee-shop cozy,” as Frey puts it, adding “and you can get coffee right across the street at Michael’s.”
Making it happen
Although the Coaches’ Lounge is Frey’s brainchild, she’s quick to point out that she’s not the face of the organization. “The people who use the space are really the ones making this happen,” says Frey, “I’m more of a background person.” And she is, literally, with her bookkeeping/accounting business located in the office space adjacent to the Coaches’ Lounge.
Frey started testing programs in the fall of 2018 and was encouraged by robust participation, despite the fact that the Coaches’ Lounge was not yet a physical space but more just a percolating idea. “We did a fire prevention seminar,” she says, “and a ‘politics for dummies’ group right before the elections, when we held discussions about the items on the ballot. We also did a women’s self-defense class.” When the Coaches’ Lounge opened in February 2019, programs really took off, hosting paying for college classes, moms’ groups, finance seminars, essential oil workshops, and cookie exchanges.
Frey encourages those with a particular skill set to offer programs in the Coaches’ Lounge. Of particular personal interest to her are discussion groups that focus on life topics like dementia, depression, judgmentalism and cognitive therapy. “I’m not a counselor,” Frey says, “but others here are. They have resources to help us become more aware of others’ needs.”
Frey believes that long Methow winters lead to “cabin fever” and seasonal depression, causing many to feel isolated and lonely. “People need to connect with others,” she says. “Around here people appear to have it all together, but then people do things you wouldn’t expect them to. We all still need support. We need to engage with others.”
The Coaches’ Lounge is available for businesses to rent for meetings or classes for a fee, and for support groups by donation. It’s not in the black quite yet, says Frey, “but we’re heading that way.” Frey notes that the Coaches’ Lounge would like to involve more volunteers; in particular, someone who could keep the website updated and give the organization a stronger social media presence.
Although the Coaches’ Lounge is a Christian faith-based organization, the space and its resources are available to non-Christians and followers of other religions. For example, a 12-step program might use the space, but so might a secular person hosting a workshop in public speaking. “Those of us who started Coaches’ Lounge personally acknowledge the role God plays in improving lives,” says Frey of herself and her board members, “but we also fully embrace the fact that faith looks different to different people.”
Mostly, Frey continues, she and the coaches are interested in helping people explore life improvement through a personal, individual lens, which might include setting goals, improving diet or exercise, boosting creativity, nurturing engagement, or simply learning a new skill. To this end, the Coaches’ Lounge has scheduled a varied calendar of offerings in the upcoming months, including art nights, love and respect classes for couples, attachment and bonding seminars, cancer support groups, breastfeeding consultations, Zumba, and other exercise classes.
“I was so drawn in to the concept of ‘learn to live,’” says board member Lisa Whatley. Whatley, who is a nurse, also teaches contemplative yoga, and incorporates reflective journaling in to some of her yoga practices. In terms of personal development, says Whatley, “the Coaches’ Lounge brings together all that we hope to offer our community.”
Despite her “background” role with the Coaches’ Lounge, Frey is deriving great personal joy from the venture. “This has been in my heart for many years,” she says. Frey may crunch numbers professionally, but it’s clear that exploring the complexities of the human mind and heart is more than a mere hobby for her. She speaks of Tony Robbins’ philosophy of the eight categories of life improvement, and has offered multi-day retreats that help participants clarify goals, strategize steps for action, and determine “what voices they choose to listen to.” Participants go home with resources to continue down the path of “awareness about changing the pieces of their lives that aren’t working for them.”
Frey is also entrepreneurial. Looking at the Coaches’ Lounge, she says, “I envision the Farmers Market going on across the street, and a pop-up opportunity in this place during that time. Board meetings could be held here. Teens could gather.” Our community is filled with tremendous resources and people, says Frey; her goal with the Coaches’ Lounge is to give others access to the people with this knowledge and information, and, above all, the reassurance of knowing that they’re not alone.
Find out more about the Coaches’ Lounge at coaches-lounge.weebly.com.