The greatest entrepreneurs don’t look inward. They cast their gaze outwards.
They identify needs. They identify pain points. And then, they work to remedy them.
Such is the philosophy behind Emily Johnson’s online certification program, StrongerU Senior Fitness.
“I am from the Windsor area originally,” Emily explains. “I completed my Bachelor of Kinesiology at the University of Windsor. After I graduated, I took off to Calgary to start my career. Eventually, I became a Regional Manager of Recreation. I was overseeing about 49 different retirement communities.”
After undertaking her new role, Emily began to notice a need for better fitness programming among retirement residences.
‘Wow I hardly recognize you! You’ve got this new lease on life!’
“I saw a need for programming that could keep the seniors we were serving in these communities healthier and stronger,” Emily states. “I had seen it in past roles, when we have people that would move in who were pretty frail. Then, they would take part in our fitness programming and after a few months they would be standing up straighter! They would have more energy! People would say to them, ‘Wow I hardly recognize you! You’ve got this new lease on life!’”
Unfortunately, Emily noted a certain lack of resources when it comes to senior fitness. Most available programs left would-be instructors feeling uncertain and unprepared.
“Instructors would say to me, ‘We did the course, but we’re still not sure what to teach,’” Emily recalls. “They didn’t understand the what. So, that was the springboard for me to create StrongerU.”
StrongerU Senior Fitness empowers instructors through an online instructor certification course and 30-minutes of new pre-choreographed content every month. The program bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical implementation by giving instructors everything they need to teach a safe, effective and engaging senior fitness class.
“Emily came to us with the same challenges any new start-up faces,” said Adam Castle, Director of Venture Services for WEtech Alliance. “We knew we had an amazing product on our hands, the challenge becomes how do we maintain quality and scale, and how do we build a strategy around making the right connections to reach our target market wherever they may be in North America.“
Emily set out to ensure her product sits in a whole new class of its own.
“Through no fault of their own, I found that the senior fitness education sector wasn’t giving instructors the tools truly needed to teach quality classes,” Emily explains. “You are in the classroom for two days. You will learn all these complex topics. And then, BAM! You’re certified. But then, they have to go through years of trial and error in order to fill in the gaps. Essentially, all your class participants become your guinea pigs. If I can just give you that tried, tested and true content then we can skip all that and you can be teaching quality classes right away.”
And the benefits of an airtight senior fitness program cannot be understated.
“With that aging population, there is a big need to help them stay fit,” Emily stresses. “Fitness helps prevent chronic conditions, falls and hospitalizations. What we think of as senior—that image that we have in our mind—has nothing to do with age and everything to do with inactivity. As we get older and older, society starts telling us to slow down. We say things like, ‘Grandpa, you’re 86! Take it easy!’ But all the research in all the science tells us no, there is no age which you need to slow down. It’s really important that we stop seeing seniors as China dolls. If we can help them exercise in the right way, then we can start removing those chronic conditions.”
Throughout her years of working with seniors, Emily has witnessed some dramatic turnarounds firsthand.
“We had a woman who was dealing with end-stage heart failure,” Emily recalls. “She was given three months to live. And then another three months to live. She just kept coming to fitness classes! She was supposed to pass away, but she was full of life!”
StrongerU focuses on four pillars: Cardio, Strength, Stretch and Circuit. In order to graduate, instructors have to submit a practical video to ensure that they’ve grasped all the concepts. And the education never stops. Every month, StrongerU releases new content in those four formats.
“This is what sets us apart globally,” Emily states. “No other organization releases ongoing content in four formats.”
StrongerU currently has licensed instructors in 8 provinces across Canada, 11 States and New Zealand and Australia.
You can learn more about StrongerU Senior Fitness at www.strongeruseniorfitness.com.