With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing in 2021, health is still the top priority for people around the world; especially when it comes to the elderly.
While most of the concern for senior citizens is placed on protecting their bodies from a virus that is potentially fatal, current efforts for social distancing and at-home quarantines neglect their needs for physical fitness and mobility.
Fortunately, Eric Levitan, 49, founder and CEO of Vivo, an Atlanta-based online interactive strength program was able to develop a program for adults 55 and over, focusing on helping them to maintain their physical strength and overall functionality from the safety of their own homes.
Taught in small groups of six people or less, Vivo analyzes the needs of each individual and provides personalized plans that focus on building strength by integrating stretching, balance, cognitive, and resistance exercises delivered through Zoom.
“Most digital fitness products are not designed for seniors,” Levitan said. “They are either livestream classes where you’re an anonymous participant or you’re watching a video and following along. Neither of these work very well for people who may have chronic conditions or just have pain that day.”
“Older adults need a solution that can individualize for them on a day-to-day basis, and create a sense of community and support. That’s what Vivo is all about.”
The program currently serves 80 people across the country, with the help of nine trainers, who participate two-to-three times a week.
According to Harvard Medical School, as adults age, they begin to lose muscle. After reaching 30-years-old, most adults begin to lose as much as three-to-five percent of muscle per decade. Most adult men will lose approximately 30 percent of muscle mass during their lifetimes.
With less muscle, adults get weaker and lose mobility, increasing the risk of falls and fractures.
Age-related muscle loss is also a factor in disability, hospitalization, and death in older adults, according to a 2014 article written in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Journal by doctors Rita Rastogi Kalyani, MD, Mark Corriere, MD, and Luigi Ferrucci, MD.
The article goes on to further point out that age-related muscle loss can contribute to obesity, diabetes, hypogonadism in men, growth hormone deficiency, hyperthyroidism, hypercortisolism, vitamin D deficiency, and osteoporosis.
Through Vivo, participants not only get a safe at-home workout but also get real-time feedback that helps with form correction and adjustments that can make the program either easier or more challenging depending on the needs of the individual.
Additionally, participants receive assessments every eight weeks that track their progress.
Levitan originally created Vivo an in-person personal training program back in 2019. His motivation was his parents who are currently in their upper-to-mid 70s. At that time, he only had two trainers working for him.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Levitan was able to transition his program from in-person to virtual, allowing him to reach seniors across the country. Naturally, this switch caused an increase in participants.
“Not having geographic boundaries to limit where customers or trainers are is pretty amazing. There’s a real opportunity to impact a large number of people,” he said.
One of the unexpected outcomes from Vivo is the effect it has on bringing people together and helping with their mental health.
The pandemic has made it almost impossible for a lot of people to see their loved ones and interact with them. Instead of a weekly check-in conversation, adult children and other friends are able to interact with their seniors by doing the online interactive workouts with them.
Even Levitan enjoys doing the Vivo workouts with his dad, who lives over 700 miles away in Philadephia. He says that approximately one-third of Vivo members do the program with someone else they know. Most likely that’s a relative who is their adult child in their 30s or 40s.
“Participating in Vivo with my dad has been a profound experience. Not only am I helping increase his quality of life, we’re getting closer as a result of this, which was unexpected,” Levitan said.
Through the program, people can bring their entire families onboard and create teams, increasing the time they get to spend together doing something productive and interactive.
Vivo is currently offering free trials for people thinking about joining. While Vivo classes are offered throughout the day, 6 days per week, free intro classes are only offered on certain days and times. For more information or to sign up, visit https://teamvivo.com/.
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