Every Thursday at Trufit for the last 5 years, Meg puts Sylvie through a workout that combines strength training, balance and core work. During these same 5 years, Sylvie got back into marathons, triathlons and now cycling--oh and she ran 40miles on her 40th birthday—all without major injuries, and while doing a workout that seems different every week.
Physical Activity to Improve Quality of Life
About a year ago, Sylvie assisted Meg on a training session organized for a group of adults with developmental disabilities. It was an eye opening experience for Sylvie. Sylvie came to see firsthand that people with developmental disabilities are not fully in control of their physical health. They depend on others and depend on the facilities that they have access to. Sylvie also recognized Meg has a gift to get people to move, to laugh, and to feel good while exercising. Meg and Sylvie decided to team up to create something that would make Meg’s expertise and inspiration accessible to more people. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of physical activity for everyone to improve general health and to minimize risks of chronic illnesses. Ok. So how do we get people with developmental disabilities more active?
Brainstorming – talking about it
Sylvie and Meg talked and researched producing a video like P90X, a Hulu channel, or even Wii game. But they wanted something simpler to use for people with cognitive disabilities--something that can be used anywhere. Dr. Beth Marks from University of Illinois-Chicago and the founder of Health Matters suggested using a tablet and the project began to take shape. The question was clear: What could be created to get people with developmental delays to move more with people that care for them? Sylvie holds a Masters in Learning Science from Northwestern and knew that people learn and are engaged when they have a goal--a goal in a realistic context. Meg holds Masters in Therapeutic Recreation, ACE, NSCA-CPT and knew the best way to keep people moving consistently with through motivation and fun.
Light bulb turns on
In Trufit’s hallway, trainer Dave Bush, a former marketing researcher, suggested that Meg and Sylvie simply find out what people liked. The next day, Sylvie was at a Cubs game with Rita Sanders owner of a home for the elderly in Omaha, and she asked Rita just that and Rita replied ‘Baseball... they like baseball.’ Later that summer, Sylvie was visiting Cooperstown for Ron Santo’s induction in the hall of fame. And there she got it – everyone from all walks of life have one thing in common: they love baseball.And, that was the idea--create a workout grounded in a day at the baseball park. Meg was charged to watch a Cubs game with her eyes as a trainer. She documented all the movements happening at the game and in the stadium. Based on these movements, Sylvie and Meg created a workout themed on a trip to a baseball game. They tested it with Meg’s clients at Trufit – no bats, no bases, no sounds, no tickets, just imagination. And it worked. People got into it. People were laughing; they were at the game. Even better, they did not stop moving and clocked an impressive 2000 fitbit steps in this imaginary day at the ballpark.
A Lean Start Up
Over lunch at Penny Noodle’s, Eric Lannert, Director at I.C. Stars, told Sylvie to read “The Lean Startup” to get an idea of where to go with a new product. Now they had a framework and were set to create an MVP (minimum viable product). Before investing too much, Meg and Sylvie sought to prove that the tablet could replace their role playing and script. Confident they were on to something, Sylvie and Meg turned to NogginLabs, founded by Brian Knudson (another alumn from Northwestern) to build their MVP. By April 1, they had an app to test with clients and fellow trainers. And with that, Foov Fitness came to life. Meg came up with the name Foov, combining Fun and Move. The name is out of Sylvie’s comfort zone, which is why they went with it.