Wellness Tech: Essential to Building a Fitness Community



CATEGORIES: Consumer Innovation Group
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Full disclosure: This is all fairly new to me, and I love it!

Now I need to back up a bit. I was an athlete growing up. Team sports were a prominent part of my grammar and high school years, and even into college, I always played sports. I loved playing, and I was good at it. Staying in shape while exercising with my teammates was fairly easy. The trouble, for me, was when the team sports opportunities gave way to adulthood. Full-time work and children took precedence and gave way to a lifestyle that was the least active I had ever been in my life. Without team sports, I truly had no idea how to remain active and in shape.

About five years ago, I decided that it was a great time to get back in shape. I explored options, but ultimately chose the easy route and joined a gym. Almost immediately, I disliked going there. I’d actually look for any excuse to avoid it. I quickly recognized that the draw of exercise for me was the community, the team sports mentality. The friends that you looked forward to seeing every day were the reason I loved exercising in the past. How could I duplicate that in my adult life? Classes were the answer! And, in addition to going to those classes, being connected online to the community was the tackiness I needed to make a commitment and stick to it.

I’ve adopted (and come to love) apps that help me do just that. My Fitness Pal helps me with nutrition logging, and signing up for assorted classes through my favorite studio apps is quick and easy. I’m currently addicted to a weight/tread bootcamp, spin at The Handle Bar, yoga at Yogaworks Back Bay and running at MYSTRYDE – but I’m open to trying new things. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve found instructors I love, like @jillykauf and @candicepeak, and started following them online. Once you do that, the entire world opens up to you. I can listen to their motivating music playlists on Spotify and see when and where they’ll be teaching. I’ve connected with the people in my community that also take their classes. It was truly eye-opening that all of this was out there – I had no idea!

I’d also like to disclose something a bit more personal – at first, I was intimidated to become part of those communities. I’m an older person. Well, I’m not ancient, but certainly not in their normal demographic. I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in, or the instructors might not want me to become a part of the community. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I’ve never seen such a group of amazing people who work tirelessly to encourage everyone – and I do mean everyone – for every class they attend (I recently celebrated my 500th spin class), every weight they lift, every attempt at a handstand inversion in yoga.

For me, the technology around social media and the apps I use to sign up for classes have given me an entire new way to keep healthy and make friends I would have normally never met. I’m so grateful to have access to all of it!

Postscript: It seems disingenuous not to mention the recent social distancing measures that have been taken here and around the world. This, of course, has impacted all gyms and group classes. However, the response from the instructors has been truly amazing. Again, through technology and social media, they’re offering live Instagram and Facebook Live classes. Most are free or pay as much as you can on Venmo (these are people who get paid by the classes they teach from the studios they teach at, so this is extremely generous). The outpouring of love and community support has been overwhelmingly good-spirited. It’s amazing how close we can feel – with the use of technology for wellness – in a time when we are cautiously isolating ourselves. So much good in the world!

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