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Innovate. Elevate. Connect: The Inception of The Second Act Fit Pros Community and the Vision for Our Mountain Retreat

Updated: 5 days ago

Imagine spending three days in the serene beauty of the Colorado Rockies, surrounded by fellow health and fitness professionals who share your passion for serving older adults. The Second Act Fit Pros Summit of Awesome is your opportunity to reconnect, recharge, and reimagine your approach to fitness and wellness in a breathtaking natural setting. This isn’t just another conference; it’s a retreat designed to inspire and rejuvenate you, both personally and professionally.

How did this inspiring community come to be? Here’s the story of the Second Act Fit Pros community and our vision for the retreat.

At the Functional Aging Summit in 2022, I had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Linderman from Fierce After 45 and Holly H. Benson with Moving Strong, and we joined forces with my career coach, Lynn Jordan, the creator of Joyful Boogie, to form a transformative mastermind group known as the OATS: Older Adult Training Sistas. Recently, we welcomed Becky Harkema from Fit 4 Life with Becky to our group, boosting our collective creativity and knowledge.

Our mastermind group has proven to be a game changer in our personal and professional lives. Through open discussions, brainstorming sessions, and mutual support, we have tapped into our collective knowledge and experiences, enabling us to elevate the impact we have on our communities and individuals we serve. This group has served as a charging station and a place where we can come together and continue to be inspired and supported in the work we do.

After a year of twice-monthly Zoom meetings, the OATS had a chance to gather in-person at the FAI Summit in 2023. Jen Winters and Lisa Witler, who were pivoting to careers in fitness and wellness, also joined us. We rented a house together in Salt Lake City and attended the Summit together. While we had been meeting regularly on Zoom, it was the first time many of us had the opportunity to meet in person. What we discovered was truly remarkable.

Despite the beautiful blend of expertise within our group, what truly bonded us was our shared interest in the well-being of elders. We also found that the most inspiring and beneficial moments of the Summit didn’t occur at the actual conference, but rather during our exchanges at the house. Each individual's expertise was a source of inspiration, and we were able to pick up tools and techniques that inspired and enhanced our own practices. Topics ranged from nutrition to the use of music to innovative movement approaches – and we didn’t only discuss these ideas, but demonstrated and enjoyed them together in our shared house.

After the Summit, we hosted a fun and playful event for a local over 60+ Meetup group called "Laugh, Move, & Boogie.” Lynn shared her Joyful Boogie program, I led a PK Silver session, Patricia took the group through a Laughter Yoga sequence, and Lisa and Holly attended to support facilitating the event. The experience left us feeling deeply connected to one another and filled with a sense of purpose, knowing we had made a meaningful contribution to the local older adult community.

This mastermind group has been one of the greatest joys of my life over the past two years. I felt compelled to share this gift of peer connection and support with others. In March 2023, I launched the Second Act Fit Pros podcast as another way to connect with inspiring colleagues in the field. I didn't want the one-hour conversations with my guests to be the last contact we had. Inspired by the success of the OATS mastermind group and the expanding network of professionals I met at the FAI conference, I asked my podcast guests about forming an online community of dedicated and innovative professionals.

In October 2023, I launched the pilot group, and by June 2024, we opened our doors to other health and fitness professionals serving the over-50 population. Our network grew further by partnering with the Dare2Grow Collaborative, becoming part of a larger network of fitness and wellness professionals fostering new connections, collaborations, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

Having an online space to meet and connect is invaluable, breaking us out of our silos. But we wanted to create an in-person experience that mirrored our memorable time in Salt Lake City. This year, we're excited to launch our inaugural Second Act Fit Pros Summit of Awesome, taking place September 27th-30th at Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado. The OATS have served as the planning committee for this event.

Our vision is to spend a restorative three days breaking out of the isolation we often feel, sharing ideas and innovative practices, and exploring cutting-edge questions in the field of health, physical fitness, and wellness for older adults. We'll do this not in conference rooms, but in relaxed spaces set in beautiful natural surroundings. We'll demonstrate fun and innovative activities for each other, cook delicious natural foods collaboratively, and make time for reflection, restoration, and deeper conversations.

Some questions we’ll explore:

• How can we bring more fun, joy and play to our work, our clients and our communities?

• How can we reach under-served populations and support well-being for the full diversity of individuals across the lifespan?

• How can we actively combat stereotypes, bias, and stigma around age, appearance or abilities?

• How can we collaborate to increase our positive impact on our clients, communities and societies?

We have a few more spaces available for the event. If you’re interested in attending the 2024 event or future events, be sure to sign up for the Second Act Fit Pros newsletter, where I share all upcoming events. I will continue to bring together dynamic and dedicated people in the field, both virtually and in person, so professionals can find support, increase their impact, work together, share new ideas, and change the conversation around aging today. The journey we've embarked on with the OATS and the broader Second Act Fit Pros community is just the beginning, and I am excited to see how we will continue to grow and inspire each other in the years to come.

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