For Episode 8, I travelled back to the US to meet Meredith Oppenheim. In January, Meredith created the Vitality Society, dedicated to people 60 and better. Little did she know how her business was to become truly vital to this age group. It is no wonder her business beat all expectations only a few months into launch. I was psyched to get to know more about the business and, in fact, I even asked my mum to join the platform as an investigator!
Be the Best of Yourself
The Vitality Society is a community for people 60 and better. Meredith spent 30 years dedicated to the wellbeing of older people as she “wanted her grandparents to live forever“. As an industry, she realized that so few older people wanted to leave their homes. Mostly, they wanted to remain well, independent, but home. As such, she unbundled the experience from the senior housing into an online offering. This includes a community and content in the area of fitness, wellness and enrichment.
The platform is based on 8 principles, and the first one is BE, which is what most motivates people – to be the best versions of themselves, having positivity and purpose in their lives. Vitality helps people become the best version of themselves by tapping into their vitality, creativity and curiosity.
A busy generation
There are members that take 1 class a week and come for that class religiously. But there are also members on the opposite extreme who come every day. The reliability of the platform provides members with the comfort and planning of how they will fit the platform into their own lives, under their own terms. Zoom has also added to their flexibility and removed a lot of the judgment off the table.
This is a busy generation. Many of the members had careers and a desire to be active. The Vitality Society focuses on giving people a time and a place to retreat and treat themselves.
The time was never more urgent
There was always a need for Meredith to create this business. She knew people wanted to stay home and stay healthy. However, with Covid-19, the need was greater than ever and the pressure of speed was there. The worry of how to get people into the platform quickly vanished and the platform reached 1000 members in May, only a few months after launch. Whilst the competition was everywhere before, with dinner clubs, fitness clubs and different wellness classes, the offline option was no longer available when lockdown kicked in.
“I do not know what I would have done without Vitality Society in my life during this crisis”Vitality Society Member
At this vital time, they have invested in being very reliable as a platform. Most members know Meredith and her concierge. I was impressed with the story of one of her members, who used to attend every single class. The day she did not attend Meredith reached out, only to find out she was in hospital. However, she happily reported that she had been given the green light to continue with her classes. The following days, she joined every class from the hospital. And they celebrated together when she went back home. Her mental wellness was just as important as her physical wellness.
While doing fitness, the platform adds years to peoples’ lives. But by doing enrichment, people add years to their own lives.
Meredith is not short of ideas. They are adding birthday parties on the platform, where the members can bring their friends along. In terms of content, Mental Health is an area that is unanimously important for its members, so the platform is developing an offering in this space. Beauty is inevitably growing as well, especially as people were limited by what they could get outside the home during the lockdown period. Meredith believes they can be, not only the creators of content but also curators of products and services for their members through partnerships.
What about when the world is no longer Covid-19? Hard to figure out, right? The #1 area that members are excited about is to go on a vacation and travel together. At some point, Meredith expects she will be able to create a retreat. Creating local chapters in the different communities where membership gets critical mass can also create huge potential for the business, both online and offline.
And who knows, perhaps in the future, to think of a new sort of senior housing as the definition of home changed after this crisis?
Living a dream
For lockdown, Meredith moved to her parents’ house, in the place where she grew up. Her own daughter is now having the privilege of living with the grandparents. All over the place, inter-generational living went back into fashion. And I must say I think Meredith was slightly jealous of her daughter having this unique opportunity. In a time where Meredith was working non-stop 7 days a week, the support from the broader family was essential.
Despite some ups and downs, Meredith tried to focus on staying sane and safe. With the support of the family, Meredith was able to push through growing her business. We talked Mental Health, as we always do in the podcast, and Meredith feels art plays a critical part in the mental sanity of the members. Creativity is key in fostering this balance, whether people are more or less artistic.
People staying physically well and feeling strong has also certainly helped with their mental health. Many members saw this crisis as an opportunity rather than a crisis. Many came for physiotherapy and ended up staying for more. I think they would like this podcast!
Meredith’s Lockdown List
- Book: From the Desk of Zoe Washington
- Sport: Swimming
- Technology: Her Laptop
- Lesson: Strive for excellence, not perfection
- Word: Stamina
Connect with us
- Check out Meredith’s LinkedIn profile
- Visit The Vitality Society and follow them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook
- Join our free community online and on Facebook
- Follow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter