Debbie Completed 1,000+ Openfit Classes and Reversed Her Pre-DiabetesMar 1, 2021
During grad school, Debbie Weiser found a trick to help her stay on the fitness track: Exercise with a buddy. So when she finished her doctorate and got a job, she joined a gym in February 2017 and, for the first time, sprung for a personal trainer nine months later. That connection helped her commit to workouts.
But she wasn’t making a concerted effort with her diet, and an annual physical in January 2018 showed the cost: Blood work revealed she had pre-diabetes. Her blood sugar levels were higher than normal, meaning if she didn’t make some changes, she could develop type-2 diabetes.
“Diabetes runs in my family, so it wasn’t a shock,” she says. But instead of being discouraged, the diagnosis made her determined to prevent diabetes.
“I want to be able to travel throughout my life, enjoy time with my family and friends, and not be encumbered by my body,” she says.
Committing to a New Lifestyle
The first step was a program Weiser’s insurance offered for free because of her diagnosis. She got a fitness tracker, smart scale, education around healthy living, and monthly check-ins with a nutrition and fitness coach.
When that ended, she looked for the next thing to help her keep up her commitment to being healthy. In December 2018, through a friend, she got a free month trial of an online streaming workout service. “I fell in love with the trainers,” she says. “They all have their own brand of enthusiasm, calmness, encouragement, expertise, and warmth.” She also appreciated that, with live classes, they could correct her form.
When her trial ended, she signed right up for the program for a year — and did three workouts the first day. “I was elated to finally find something that motivated me enough to do it without a workout buddy,” she says.
Eventually, this virtual workout service evolved into what is now Openfit Live, which offered plenty of live and on-demand classes to fit her busy schedule (she’s a geologist helping businesses and local governments prepare for natural disasters like earthquakes).
“Without Openfit, it would be really easy to sit at my desk all day,” she explains. “Instead, I usually take at least one walking class per day and sneak in some other exercise throughout the day. I love ending my day with stretching, but sometimes I’ll start my day with it, depending on how my body feels and the live schedule.”
How does she manage to do this while working? “I have perfected the video call outfit,” she says. “Business-y enough on top and workout pants on the bottom.”
After a morning workout, she’ll switch tops (by now, she knows which work-appropriate shirts don’t show her sports bra) and throw on some jewelry if she needs to look dressier. Luckily, though, her company tends toward casual, so it’s OK to wear a T-shirt to internal meetings.
Discovering Two Communities
Weiser’s absolute favorite workouts are the walking classes. “I love the sense of community we have and when the trainers share our cumulative distance or steps,” she says. “I think it’s really cool that we are all part of a collective experience to better ourselves and our health, and hearing how far we have gone really drives that home.”
She also enjoys engaging with her teammates, checking out photos of where they’re walking, supporting those who share something vulnerable, and checking in on her “fitness family.”
At the same time, the walking classes helped Weiser learn more about another community — the new neighborhood she moved to in July after living in the same apartment for 11 years.
“The first few weeks in our new home, I explored as many new routes as I could. One of them is now a go-to for 40-minute weekend walks,” she says. One day she walked up the stairs of a big hill near her house and was rewarded with a gorgeous view of the entire valley. Another day she found a wild limousine wrapped with rainbow colors, skulls, and butterflies, as well as a tiny lending library where she picked up Where the Crawdads Sing, a book she had been wanting to read for some time.
Feeling Like a New Person
With almost 1,200 classes under her belt, Weiser has reversed her pre-diabetes. Even better, she experiences real-world benefits of being a dedicated exerciser.
“One of my most striking accomplishments — and a proud non-scale victory — was only about a month after I started using the app,” she says. “I went downhill skiing for the first time, and I could feel all of the squats paying off! I know that I would have really struggled even a year earlier.”
For the first time in her life, she finds that she looks forward to working out (and might even love burpees), is more aware of what she eats, and chooses healthier options. Oh, and she’s lost about 35 pounds in the last 13 months.
“The trainers, the community, and the way my body feels when I exercise keep me coming back!” she says.