Peoplehood: The Workout Making It Easier To Form Adult Friendships

In school, you were taught how to use a graphing calculator and how to make a DIY volcano, but you probably weren't explicitly taught how to build relationships. Sure, you may have not needed social skill explainers back then — friendships in childhood often required little more than sitting next to each other at the lunch table or sharing a jump rope at recess. But creating new, lasting friendships as an adult can be much more challenging than it was growing up.


And not to be the bearer of bad news, but the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't exactly helped promote social skills. The National Society of Leadership and Success argues that young adults' soft skills have taken a hit, including people-oriented skills like networking and public speaking.

With a little practice, it's possible to strengthen those skills and make friends more easily, and that's where Peoplehood comes in. Self-described as a "practice designed to improve our relationships, starting with ourselves," it might be the lesson in socializing you always deserved, but does it really work? Possibly — depending on your goals.

What Peoplehood offers

Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler may be best known as the founders of SoulCycle, but their latest venture, Peoplehood, is all about flexing your social muscles, not your legs. "In a world that is more digitally connected than ever, there's a human connection crisis, and studies show healthy relationships are the number one way to improve our overall physical and mental health," Cutler explained in a press release (via PR Newswire). Peoplehood is a service built around 60-minute guided group conversations, called "Gathers," which include time for practicing breathwork, taking turns speaking, and actively listening to others (participants are discouraged from interrupting or giving advice and are told to respond with specific gestures instead). There's a format for individuals, as well as one for romantic pairs, called "Couplehood." Currently, in-person Gathers are only available in New York City, but virtual Gathers are also available for those located in other cities.


The Peoplehood website explains the company's purpose: "Our mission is to equip people with space, support and skills to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with others and themselves." It doesn't go as far as offering textbooks on relationships or presentations on small talk. Instead, Peoplehood relies on its "Guides," or the people facilitating discussions on people pleasing, burnout, and other personal topics (and FYI, they aren't therapists and shouldn't take the place of one, as Rice told The New York Times).

Peoplehood Gathers help you forge connections, even if they're sometimes short-lived

If you're feeling a little lonely or just want to feel more at ease interacting with strangers, Peoplehood could be worth a try. "What we're doing here is really using a lot of that SoulCycle playbook to help people connect with themselves and with each other," Elizabeth Cutler shared with The New York Times. Just like an exercise class, you're encouraged to attend Gathers regularly to really see results.


What are those results, exactly? That might depend on your personal goals and what you hope to get out of the service. It's no surprise that expressing your emotions and personal struggles with others could be good for your mental health (as research backs up). And hearing others talk about their challenges can serve as a helpful reminder that you're not alone.

However, Peoplehood Gathers aren't meet-and-greets for making friends. You aren't paying for friends, nor are you paying for step-by-step instructions on how to meet people in the real world. You may never even see your fellow participants again. This doesn't negate the benefits, though. "Research shows that just chatting with strangers like your barista, or your Uber driver or your neighbor makes people feel happier and more connected," happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky explained to Insider. And if you don't feel comfortable telling your Uber driver about your workplace burnout or family stresses, Peoplehood is there to listen.