How This Pack of Locally Made Playing Cards Helped Me Make Positive Changes

Jen Cohen Crompton, of Ardmore's Fuel Cycle Fitness, recently released cards with suggestions to ease into a healthy lifestyle.

playing cards

These handy playing cards, created by Fuel Cycle Fitness founder Jen Cohen Crompton, prompt you to make small, positive changes in different areas of life. / Photograph by Kris Kelley Photography

I am big on daily affirmations. Growing up, my mother had a little book of quotes and poetry that a family friend had made — one for every day of the year. She flipped it over and read each saying religiously, frequently viewing them as a meaningful reflection on the forces at work in her own life. When I went to college, she gave me an identical copy. While I’m not as diligent as her, I’ve always found it to be a nice reminder from the universe that someone else is listening.

So, when Jen Cohen Crompton, co-owner of Ardmore’s Fuel Cycle Fitness studio, reached out about her new deck of motivating playing cards, I was all ears. The deck is based off of the studio’s 90-day challenge, which Crompton says “is not about weight or inches. It’s about making small changes and trying new things to improve your life overall and ultimately fuel the cycle of fitness.” For instance, participants might be prompted to call a friend they haven’t spoken to in a while or complete 10 sit-ups.

When a client asked whether Crompton had any material to continue the work in the challenge, Crompton came up with the cards. (She’s also developing workbooks.) She streamlined the categories from five to four — Sweat, Live, Laugh, and Give — and handprinted them on cardstock at home to create a prototype. “I’m a very visual person, and I like tangible things,” she says. “I like to feel them and touch them and see if they make sense.” A few iterations later, she’s now working with a printer in Florida to produce them, and then she ships them in adorable little tins.

She sent a pack to me, and I decided I’d try choosing one card a day for a week and see how the process impacted my life. Every morning, I turned off my alarm, opened the tin, and picked a card. The first one was “Breathe. Reset. Relax.” I had plans with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time that day, so I figured that counted. But when my anxiety started to make my stomach upset at work, I also thought back to the card and did some diaphragmatic breathing exercises that calmed me down more quickly than if I’d just stewed in the panic.

Over the course of seven days, I told jokes, danced, and turned off my phone. Some prompts were easier than others; walking 10,000 steps a day, for instance, took longer than sharing a smile. None of these actions seriously governed the way I lived my life. But when the opportunity arose, I remembered the daily mantra and, I’d like to think, made the world a little bit of a better place as a result.

The last card, and my favorite one, was a blue “Live” card that read, “Enjoy the moments.” It seemed to cover all the things I’d done over the past week. But, even so, I made some tea, sat down at my kitchen table, and basked in the here and now.

The cards are $15 per deck and are available to purchase from Fuel Cycle Fitness by request via Instagram direct message. And, 20% of the proceeds will benefit Boxing + Brunch, a half-day event with nonprofit affiliations which works to help teen girls gain confidence through boxing.

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