Fit Minded is a women’s book club that promotes physical activity and wellness. That’s right–a book club! Not an exercise group. Not a weight loss program. It’s essentially a book club in which members either read and discuss books or watch and listen to podcasts and webinars about health and quality of life.
Fit Minded is a program that empowers you to take charge of your health by learning about yourself and cultivating your self-worth. It’s a book club in which you read and watch or listen to inspiring material then discuss them with your peers in-person or online. The meetings and discussion boards are facilitated by a health promotion professional.
Fit Minded is very different from other programs because it’s based on the theory that we first have to change our minds about physical activity before we can change our bodies. If we can change our minds, we can change anything—including our motivation for physical activity and our ability to stick with it. Fit Minded is also different because it started in a university setting and is based on ongoing scientific research.
Founder Dr. Jennifer Huberty is an Associate professor of Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University. She was reading a book while exercising on a stair-stepper one day when it occurred to her—women love to read and talk to other women about what they read. That’s why book clubs are so popular. Why not combine the concepts of physical activity and book clubs? So Jennifer started Fit Minded and has since published a number of academic papers on the program’s success. Jennifer’s work has also gained national attention in popular publications such as Self and Prevention.
No. Our meetings are very much like other book club meetings you might have attended except that they’re facilitated by a health promotion professional. You either join us in the comfort of your own home via a discussion board or you sit in a circle around a table and talk about the chapters or handouts we’ve read that week or what we have listened to in the podcasts. As we share our thoughts and feelings about the material, we’re also supporting each other and thinking and talking through the individual barriers that often prevent us from being active.
As we discuss the books or podcasts/webinars we’ve read or watched, participants support one another in revealing and breaking down our barriers. Fit Minded enhances feelings of self-worth, which motivates women to be more physically active, which in turn leads to better health and quality of life–and even more self-worth!
Whether we realize it or not, as women we carry a lot of social, emotional, cultural and familial baggage about our self-worth—which in turn affects our ability and motivation to be physically active and take care of ourselves. Some common messages we often carry inside us include:
- I don’t have time to take care of myself. I have to take care of my family.I don’t like my body.
- I shouldn’t spend money on myself.
- I’m not physically strong.
- I’m uncoordinated.
- I don’t like to exercise by myself.
- Aging makes me more unattractive.
There are also more practical barriers to physical activity to overcome. These include:
- Inclement weather
- Childcare costs
- Access to fitness facilities
- Pain/injury/physical challenges
As participants discuss the books they’ve read, they support one another in revealing and breaking down both kinds of barriers. Fit Minded enhances feelings of self-worth, which motivates participants to be more physically active, which in turn leads to better health and quality of life—and even more self-worth!
Our goal at Fit Minded is to help women become more physically active, which can mean lots of simple things. If you park at the far end of the parking lot when you shop or take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, you’re choosing to be physically active. Exercise, on the other hand, is a structured, planned session of physical activity. We hope Fit Minded participants will eventually do both, but our main goal is to promote physical activity.
We don’t focus on diet and nutrition, although the topic does come up sometimes at book club meetings and or may be discussed in a podcasts. We know that if women can support each other and learn to think of themselves differently, they’ll start to take care of themselves better—and that includes both physical activity and diet.
Fit Minded is for adult women who know they need to be more active and want to be more active—but need support getting started or staying active.
This is the really exciting part.
Because Fit Minded is based on a four-year research study in which we collected and analyzed data, we know a lot about what works and what doesn’t. We continue to collect information from participants who volunteer to allow us to include their data in our ongoing research.
After completing the six-month program, our alumni:
- increased their level of physical activity.
- learned to think of physical activity as a priority.
- found ways to make physical activity fun for them.
- developed strategies to overcome barriers to physical activity.
- learned to use self-monitoring tools (such as a physical activity tracker and diary) to make physical activity a habit and to set and achieve goals.
- gained confidence in their ability to become more physically active and take responsibility for their health.
Many also lost weight, although we do not focus on weight loss.
The book list changes each year, but generally includes both non-fiction and fiction about physical activity and women’s health issues. They range from informative to entertaining and funny. (Our book list is top secret. We hope you’ll become a member so we can share these wonderful books with you!)
How large are the groups?
Most groups have 15-20 members.
How long does the program last?
The program consists of approximately 16 meetings over 4 months. Meetings are held once a week for the first half of the program, then once every other week for the remainder of the program.
What will I be doing at home, between meetings?
Each week you’ll be asked to read a portion of a book and do some thinking and writing about what you’ve read. We’ll also give you a Fit Minded workbook that contains reflective activities such as goal setting and barrier busting. Participants wear a pedometer and start tracking the number of steps they take each week, too.
This is also a good time to practice what you’ve learned and participate in regular physical activity on your own. You can then discuss your experiences when you come to your next meeting.
What if I have to miss a few meetings?
We encourage you to attend all of the meetings, but if you miss one or two, that’s OK. We send out e-mail updates to participants after each meeting to summarize what happened at that meeting. And, because all Fit Minded meetings are recorded and provided on the Website, you can listen or watch (depending on the level of membership that you have chosen) any of the meetings at your convenience.
What if I get behind on the required reading?
We realize that sometimes participants get too busy to stay caught up with the reading. We still want you to come to the meetings and participate in the discussion and activities.