Women Created Their Own Fitness App To Put Community Before Calorie Counting
Thanks to social media, it’s pretty much impossible to go a day without coming across a trim, toned influencer promoting the latest 30-day detox or workout that promises to target belly fat.
Being in good shape is a positive thing for general wellbeing, but there’s a fine line between being happy and healthy, and being obsessively focused on health. With Instagram fitness accounts and mouth-watering food adverts offering constant reminders about our body shapes, and preinstalled step counters silently judging our every move, it can be hard not to stray towards more harmful habits.
It must be said, there are influencers and body coaches out there who promote good approaches to wellbeing, offering recipes for healthy, filling meals and simple ideas to get your heart rate pumping. People looking for quick results, however, often fall victim to fad diets and unrealistic calorie goals that are ultimately unsustainable in the long run.
Melanie Berry and Holly Woodford, from Nottingham, recognised that many mainstream fitness apps ‘don’t educate women to truly understand nutrition and what works for them’. Speaking to UNILAD, the pair explained that ‘all calories are not equal’, and that, simply, diet plans that promote quick fixes ‘don’t work’.
We call [these types of diets] the ‘quick fix pedallers’ as many women want a quick solution but this is not the approach you need to change your life. The industry preys on women to make them feel like it’s all their fault and continues to up-sell.
With the aim of helping women find a more sustainable approach to healthy living, Mel and Holly set up Her Spirit, an app that ‘talks to a woman across all areas of her life’, allowing users to improve their wellbeing not only by focusing on their bodies, but also their minds.
Holly and Mel acknowledged that rather than pushing belly-busting workouts and dinners designed for losing weight, you ‘have to look at a woman as her whole self’. They based the app on three pillars – Mind, Body, Fuel – that they use as a basis to give women the information they need to make their own changes.
The app also encourages women to realise that no matter how many trim and toned people they might see online, they are far from the only ones looking to generally improve their fitness. Community is key for Her Spirit, meaning users can go through their journeys together and access a support system whenever they like, with the founders establishing the mantra of ‘Together, we’ve got this.’
Through this support system, Holly and Mel managed to encourage 30 strangers to complete the London Triathlon in July 2019. One of those women was Kerry White, a 35-year-old graphic designer from London who couldn’t swim the front crawl before joining the Her Spirit community.
Upon joining the app, Kerry had a Zoom call with Mel and Holly that allowed her to feel an instant connection ‘with the team and also the other women involved’.
Kerry told UNILAD:
With the Global Community page I felt confident to share my journey, I felt like everyone was honest with how they were doing, offered support and motivation where needed.
Through the support of the Her Spirit team and the community I was able to achieve things I never thought was possible. I never expected to become such a strong swimmer and to go on to not only complete the London Triathlon but to swim two miles at the Swim Serpentine.
I couldn’t have done this without Her Spirit and the other women I developed a strong friendship with as part of this training programme.
It’s no secret that the promotion of diet plans and images of ridiculously fit people can be detrimental to the way we perceive ourselves, so Her Spirit is keen to focus on mental wellbeing as well as physical.
The app offers tools such as mediation and weekly podcasts to help users focus on the importance of being happy in yourself, and Kerry praised the Her Spirit community platform for allowing people to ‘support each other, offer advice and most importantly just listen’.
It’s a great space for women to understand how to fit health and fitness into their busy lives… the community itself is a great space to learn from others, get inspired and to share and celebrate your successes.
Her Spirit never judges anyone and it very much feels like a strong friendship group who you can lean on for support and encouragement.
Another user, Marie Moss, admitted she had ‘lost faith in the industry’ after years spent in the gym and with personal trainers, but found that Her Spirit was exactly the kind of platform she’d been looking for.
You certainly won’t find a photo of a middle-aged, chunky woman on their social media. Her Spirit popped up out of nowhere… and it just sits so rightly with what I believe. A space where women can feel safe and supported while doing their best to be health.
Her Spirit was set up using Disciple Media’s self-serve software in 2018, and over the past two years it has gained 4000 members.
During the coronavirus outbreak, Her Spirit launched the ‘Every Minute Counts’ campaign, which encouraged users to be active every week and ‘donate’ their active minutes to the community. For every 500 minutes donated, the founders gift free subscriptions to women who can’t afford to buy their own.
Holly and Mel added:
[As a result of the pandemic], 70% of women are still anxious about exercising with others and indoors. We give them a safe solution with daily classes they can do in the comfort of their own home
Through the app, women have access to personalised coaching that caters to women of ‘all shapes and sizes’. It’s designed to help women ‘find their mojo’ and build ‘weekly Mind, Body and Fuel routines’ that help them achieve their personal health goals and reach their full potential.
At a time when we’re encouraged to stay indoors and catch up with friends and family through technology and social media, having access to a supportive and uplifting platform is more important than ever. Her Spirit promotes fitness without sacrificing mental wellbeing; a balance that is essential, but not always easy to find.
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