Why a sheStrength app?
Why a sheStrength app?Well, it’s an easy sell if you want female focused training in an easy to use app that comes with a supportive online community! Check out the sheStrength Sisterhood of Steel that our good friend Anna Woods is building rep by rep!
Anna, when we first spoke last year, you told me that sheStrength is your unique combination of Beachbody and Crossfit programming in a way that’s designed to empower women. Fast forward to now and you stepped it up a notch with a sheStrength app! Tell me about what led to creating the app.
So for a good year, I ran test groups and I would email people the workouts that I had designed and I would make quick YouTube clips to send them to explain what to do. Word started getting around because people wanted to be able to lift at home with dumbbells, my mom’s age group didn’t have programs— she’s a physical therapy assistant so she and I worked together to on a lot of functional fitness, and it fit in with my special needs and wheelchair clients— so we kind of created this program that was functional for all abilities and could be modified but was strength focused. That developed into adding mindset training because in my experience the majority of my clients that did not continue with me could not get the mindset part right. They were focused no weight loss only, frustrated when they didn’t lose weight right away, didn’t understand the time and how strength training works, and didn’t have confidence in themselves. Unfortunately, most of the women that I work with come in very not confident in themselves. I used a lot of Brene Brown, her TEDTalks and I created this seven day mindset training that we call sheThinks. It became a lot of work, trying to keep up with emails, I had more response than I thought of people wanting to do it and I just couldn’t keep up. Talking with some of the people in the industry about how mobile is the way everything’s going, you hear about how Amazon has passed Walmart—and so they were why don’t you just take the plunge and make an app?
Tell me about the sheStrength app and how it works.
Basically you get two fifteen week templates: sheMASTERS for women 50 plus who just want to lift safely in their home and sheSTRENGTH BASE, you get a five week template and at the end of those five weeks you get another template that builds on the one before and that continues for fifteen weeks. But to get access to any of those you have to complete the seven day sheTHINKS.
Why did you choose to create your own app rather than just plugging into one of the other popular workout apps like Wodify?
I actually approached all of those and some of them couldn’t accommodate the mindset portion. Also you could only post so many workouts ahead of time and my main focus with this app was leveraging my time. I’m a mom; my main focus was my family. Like I have set coaching hours in my online group, they know when I’m going to be in there coaching and watching their videos, so I run it like a business like I would at a gym. I just had some things that I wanted that none of those places could accommodate. I know one of them said, “Man! You’re really onto something, this would really be something that we should really look into but they couldn’t accommodate it any time soon and I was ready to roll!
How long has it been since you launched the sheStrength app?
I looked into it and at the time it was way out of my budget and I wasn’t that sold on the concept yet. My program continued to grow— I’d prayed a lot about it and felt that God kept pushing me towards this app so I approached the app guys again; and they were running some promos because they wanted to get fitness people in there so he offered me the deal for half of what he originally quoted me if I would work with them. So for a good four or five months we worked on getting it perfected and then we launched in mid-May.
What’s been the response from users?
I don’t know if I had a predetermined expectation— those that were in the test group had to re purchase the app once I launched it and some of them moved on to other things, but right now I think I have forty.
Okay, that’s pretty good! Because there’s a technology component, it’s not like these are kids. Most of them are as you said, mature adults. So they’re not necessarily going to be like, “Oh great! Let’s use an app!”
Yeah, and I do have on the app where you can print off the sheets of the workout.
It’s funny but what we think of as being old fashioned, using email for example, I’m like that’s not old fashioned! When we were growing up email didn’t exist! But it’s just what people’s perceptions are of what’s easy to use.
And some people, once they watch the videos are like, “I don’t need the videos anymore!” So there’s an option to just pull up the workouts each time and you can print those worksheets off. Because some people don’t want to have to look at their phone and I encourage that because there’s a tracker sheet to track your weights and everything.
Does the sheStrength app come with access to private Facebook groups or members only YouTube content?
Everyone who’s a part of it we coach through an online community which is through Facebook right now. They get meal plans, we have a Paleo plan, we have different calorie bracket plans. At least once a month, I bring in guest speakers who speak in my Facebook group and we’ve had holistic nutritionists, dieticians, a paleo dietician, we’ve had a CrossFit Games veteran, Masters athletes, we’ve had a lot of life coaching, integrated leadership, mindset training, counselors, psychologists, kind of trying to cover all different aspects of wellness for women. The only requirement is that they post videos of their lifts, especially when they first start out and I coach them on the movement. Show them where to make some changes, how to adjust, maybe a better modification— so it’s very much like training, just virtually.
I know you’re giving feedback through video coaching but because the physical education level of many adults in America is fairly low, they haven’t educated their muscles, some muscles are asleep and they don’t know how to activate them, a lot of times you have to do a kinesthetic thing so what’s the workaround for the fact that you can’t just touch somebody and say, “Right where I’m touching you should feel this?”
I guess a lot of consistent cueing. I’ll ask people a lot of questions like, “Right now where are you feeling this? If you’re sore today, where are you sore?” It’s more of an interview process. I also have women in their who are skilled in coaching and have weightlifting certs—you know how it is I can give someone a cue a thousand times and someone else says one thing differently and that’s what they needed to hear. So I have other people in there who are helping me with that. The lifts aren’t super advanced to where they’re maxing out; a lot of it is core control, learning how to brace, learning how to breathe, lateral movement.
We do mini challenges in there, like right now we’re running a virtual 5k next week that we’ve all been training for. We’ve done nutritional challenges, mindset challenges but I’ve had a few requests to get in some more of a powerlifting focus. I’m working on next quarter’s template so it might include more of that, we’ll see.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Is there a way in the sheStrength templates for you to adjust their planned numbers week to week based on performance?
We have an energy scale on there that they keep track of, “How did you feel today? What were your energy levels?” that they can record in there too and self-assess. That’s my main thing. Like you said, most people are really unaware of their bodies and how they feel and move. That’s one of the first things that I talk about. You tell me. How did you feel? How did you move? Because most of the mindset for people is, “I might not feel good today, I’m tired but if I don’t do it, I’ve failed!” And that’s not it at all! That’s the beauty of lifting and adjusting your nutrition, it’s not all or nothing. We can adjust and put today’s workout off until tomorrow, it’s not a major ordeal—
Oh definitely! Especially since you’re at home!
Yeah, but they don’t know how to do that! That’s what I’m learning; they think you’ve failed if you don’t do it as is. And that leads them into believing that they’re not going to get the results and that leads again into the mindset training that I have to really address before I do anything else. And I try to make the environment of our group really conducive to that; so they feel that they can open up if they have questions that may be embarrassing or that they wouldn’t say out loud to somebody.
Like a sisterhood. I get it.
And I have all ages in there so the older women mentor the younger ones.
I’m a nerd honestly; I’m really into comics— there was a comic book series years ago, the Sisterhood of Steel by Christy Marx and what you said just reminded me of that.
Do you have reciprocal agreements with local coaches to give in person coaching or do you pass on seminar info to your members who might need hands on attention even after the cueing?
I do that a lot. I actually live really close to Glenn Pendlay and so I’ve referred a lot of my gals who have, “graduated” out of my programming to train with him a few times and a couple of them have gotten powerlifting coaches in the area and I have no problem with that; and that’s part of why I get to know people because I’ll just tell them straight up, “I don’t think this program is for you,” for whatever reason. I’m usually pretty honest.
Old to the New
You’ve already made some updates to the app; what are some differences someone might see in the updated version versus what you put out first?
You can get the five day free challenge, for people that want to try it out; I have a five day free trial that they can do five days and get some lunch meal plans, .if you message me and ask me for it or want info on it. What I was running into was that all of these people loaded it and were doing the five day challenge and I had no way of knowing who was using it. I needed to collect info somehow. The guy that builds it put an email responder on it that collects your email and then I send you an email with your login.
Does the free trial give access to everything that paid members get or is it like a demo on PS4, just enough to whet your appetite?
They don’t get access to the online community or anything, but it just gives them a taste of what some of the workouts are like that they might be doing. Because all of them are doable with dumbbells or bands and a mat at home; a lot of my gals have progressed to buying their own barbells and have moved to their garages—
Oh there you go!
Yeah, it’s kind of fun to get pictures of look at my new barbell or we bought a bench at a garage sale or something like that! It’s fun to watch the process of them falling in love with being strong and being able to do it at home.
I’m a Woman; How Can I Be Down?
Say someone tries the five day sheStrength challenge and is sold on day two, how do they upgrade to the becoming a paid member?
There’s a tab in the app. You click which program you want and it takes you through the PayPal checkout. And then I will send you the follow up information for all of that. I email the login, the waiver, all of the liability stuff, we go through an interview process to make sure there’s no pre-existing conditions I need to know about.
What are the plans for the future of sheStrength as a whole?
I kind of have endless possibilities with this. At some point, I would love to have an adaptive fitness program for caretakers who take care of people with special needs— the programs that I do with my special needs clients— that a mom at home or a caretaker at home could take her client through. I work with several corporate wellness companies here in town and I would really like to offer an option for that. Possibly some retreats, for some reason people want to work out in my barn all of the time. Ha ha!