We had the good fortune of connecting with Saara Haapanen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Saara, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I was fed up with doing all the work and someone else taking all the credit and the funds. I also had negative experiences with 2 different bosses in the field and knew that I could do things better.
What should our readers know about your business?
Sitting is a pandemic that is killing us. It is the 4th biggest preventable cause of death. Individuals are sitting all day everyday, on the way to work, after work on the drive home, at home in front of the tv. The average American is seated for 13 hours a day! We are human beings and we are meant to move! In 2017 I did a 30 day challenge and had friends and clients sign up for a 30 day challenge and they each paid $15, I lead them in a 5-7 minute movement videos daily for 30 days. At the end of the challenge, whoever moved the most won all the money. After that 30 days, multiple participants said the concept was awesome and it should totally “be a thing”. Through trials and tweaking it totally is a thing now. I’ve been working with school districts and I help lead hundreds of people in daily movement (or mindfulness/meditation/motivation exercises) at work. My humans are happier and healthier at work and the feedback has been amazing. Participants experience improved or increased focus, less tension and stiffness, increased energy, reduced boredom, reduced stress, increased flexibility, increased productivity, reduced tiredness, less pain, improved mobility and more fun in their day!
Move at work challenge sort of happened by accident but it was and is something that is 100% needed. It has grown organically and school district wellness directors have been talking to each other about the benefits and the great feedback that the teachers and other faculty and staff are reporting. Once wellness directors were reaching out to me I knew it was something that I needed to continue. I truly love helping people move and showing them that they don’t need anything special, they can move at work with just their body and they don’t need excuses. I’ve done videos for my humans on planes, boats, in pools, cars, the library, staircases, in front of the statue of liberty, in classrooms with teachers and students and sitting at your desk. I’m an advocate for movement everywhere and anywhere! Often teachers even do my videos in class with their students.
I’ve learned many lessons along the way. The biggest one being to adapt and listen to your humans. They’ll let you know what they want. For instance, with covid all my teachers were forced into learning a new normal- teaching online. I asked them what they needed. Loud and clear I heard that they were anxious and overwhelmed. So then I added in a weekly “MMM” day to help them reduce their anxiety and be present. MMM stands for meditation, motivation, and mindfulness. My PhD is in motivation and I’ve been studying human performance and working as a performance consultant since 2008 so this was an easy add on for me. I am truly driven to help humans be happier and healthier and listening to their needs. What I think they need and what they actually need can be totally different so I’m always looking for feedback and communication.
My goal is to help a million people move daily at work. If I can help that many people feel better everyday I’ll be a happy human.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d start the morning off with a trip to red rocks for a stroll up the steps and some fitness, often if the visitor is not used to the altitude they will quickly gain an understanding of what it is like in the mile-high city. Then I’d go to brunch, my favorite spot is Esters they have 2 locations and have the best pizza around, a killer beer list and some gluten free options. I’d then enjoy some time in my backyard just relaxing and hanging out in the sun (my husband brews beer so we often have many beers on tap). If my visitor wanted to get out and about and it was the weekend I’d probably take them to a farmers market- old south pearl or cherry creek. If they like shopping we can stroll around cherry creek north, and old south pearl has some super cute local shops. In the evening depending on mood I love the hippie vibe of Vine Street Pub and “uptown” area, and there are many interesting stops along Colfax. Another area that is interesting to explore is the highlands, and often you can get on a rooftop patio with great mountain views.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shout out my husband. He’s the one who encouraged me to get back into training when I was working on my PhD research and was really depressed. He told me to go coach some humans, as that was something that brought me joy. That was back in 2011 and I have never looked back :). It was his words of encouragement that lead me back into personal training and fitness again.