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Fit for Life: We Do It Better Together…

Sunday, August 06, 2017


I do a lot of things alone. During the day I eat alone, run errands alone, mountain bike alone, and find places to hide so I can work alone. I don’t have business partners, and make many of my decisions by myself. But with all that being said, I strongly support the power of a group. Let me explain, and give you a few examples:

Support Groups

I went to church last weekend. Not because I am a religious person, but because I was invited by some friends, and I wanted to support them and their journey. I went to support them because they were speaking at the mass, and telling their stories about their adversity and setbacks in life. They were all part of a group of people that were recovering and fighting certain addictions. This is a support group that helps people fight these addictions, and get back on their feet. It is a residential program that has had great success for many years, so I was honored to be invited, and happy to support them.

I am the strength and conditioning coach for a public inner city high school. Many of these kids have it rough. Some don’t have parents, some must take care of younger siblings and some must work to contribute to their households. The best thing some of these kids have in their lives is organized football, and being on a team. Last year several of the kids I worked with are going to college in September, and in my opinion, if it weren’t for football, that wouldn’t happen.

I belong to a mastermind group that meets 4 times per year. At each meeting, everyone in the group talks about things that have helped their business, things that have hurt their business, and things they want to do better in their business. This is an extremely helpful and efficient way to see the good, the bad and the ugly. It also helps to know what is working for others, and what struggles others have had, so I can hopefully avoid a few mistakes along the way and streamline my business to success a little faster.

A community of support.

My FBBC clients have a built-in community of support. From the coaches to other members, we are all part of a group. We are a group of people trying to improve our lives through positive reinforcement, nutrition, exercise, and encouragement. We all have the same goal in mind, and we all know how much hard work and discipline it takes to get there, so we support one another to help reach our goals. We do it during workouts, through email, and our private members-only Facebook Group.

I am trying to do the same with my employees. I have a small team, but I know I can’t succeed without them. I am trying to get them to gel together and become an unstoppable unit. From the coaching to the follow up and customer care, I need them to communicate and work together. I can’t do everything on my own, therefore a superstar team is essential, and we are definitely on our way!

Although I am a loner for the most part, I do like being part of something, and that’s the power of a group. Addiction is everywhere, and tough to combat by yourself. On my way to church last Sunday, I get a text from my brother. We touch base daily with a simple “what’s up” text. We haven’t had much of a relationship over the years due to our different lifestyles, but I like to hear from him so I know he is ok. Then while I was having coffee, I overheard a guy at the next table talking about living and dealing with alcoholism. Then I went to church and listened to several heartbreaking stories about folks hitting rock bottom, and needing something or someone to turn to. It was during this time I was enlightened. Not by God, but by the people all around me.

I was looking in their eyes and thinking. I was thinking that everyone has “stuff” going on, and you can’t really predict what’s going on inside someone’s head until you get them talking. When someone opens up and tells you their issues, it gives you a better understanding of how you can help them, and many people will be more likely to tell their story to someone that has lived it and understands the situation.

Power in Numbers.

That’s where the power of the group comes in. I discovered long ago that people will open up more to someone who feels their pain, more than someone that has no idea what a person is going through, and being open and honest is the first step to recovery. When you talk with people who are living in your shoes, you know they can’t judge you, and are more likely to open up. This is why support groups are more successful than trying to go on your own.

Everything from my gym, to my high school football team, to street and motorcycle gangs, make people feel like they belong to something. Something that offers support and the opportunity to reach out to someone with the same goals and mindset that you have. And that works whether it’s good or bad.

When we break the huddle at practice, we yell Shea on 3; family on 6, and it goes like this “1, 2, 3 SHEA; 4, 5, 6 Family”. I tell the kids that during football season they should only be focusing on 3 things. Their family, their school work, and this team. That’s all that should be consuming their time these next few months, and I tell them that if they are not willing to do that, they shouldn’t be on the field. I let them know that they are here to protect each other, and that they are going to battle with the guy next to them and if they don’t do their job, their family member could get hurt. Last year our team meshed like a brotherhood, and it took us to a championship title. We were a family and we played for each other.

In conclusion, I am finding that strength in numbers isn’t some cliché saying. It couldn’t be more truthful. When I am in a group of my peers, it makes me feel like I belong to something.
We only see each other 4 times a year, but when we get together, we all have a big thing in common. It’s reassuring and comforting knowing someone else is doing, and going through the same thing as you.

When someone is doing worse than you, it’s a great feeling being able to help them out. When someone is doing better than you, it’s reassuring that you have the potential to do the same. It works that way with all groups regardless of what they are supporting.

At Providence Fit Body Boot Camp you know that everyone else on the workout floor is on the same journey as you, and that’s better health and fitness. If someone is closer to their goal than you, it makes you want to pick up the pace. If someone is not as far along as you, it feels good to give them a boost, and tell them your story of success. This is what many people need to succeed, and that’s the power of a group.

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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