Home > HCD Bright Spots, Insurers & Physicians > Charter Member: Lisa Hoffman

Charter Member: Lisa Hoffman

“I don’t want to exercise with you – I want to play with you.”

That’s a quote from the Founder of Solo Fitness and Wellness, Lisa Hoffman.  It makes good sense when you realize that she came to fitness and wellness from a lifelong love and a career in modern dance.  Movement, freedom, play and three dimensional exploration is second nature to this “Bright Spot” in the wellness world.

I wondered how she came to include the word “Solo” in the name. Lisa explains, “When I started thinking about the business 20 years ago I wanted to keep a feel of dance and movement. To move you only need your body – you only need that ability to move your body to be well, to be fit and to participate – but the other props and equipment do help keep us engaged.”

The other meaning behind using “Solo” is like in dance and like in one on one connection with her clients.  Lisa is true to customizing her classes and instruction so that each client feels like it is individualized, even in group exercise.

To keep the play alive, one example is the 10 swing dance party used to celebrate – “Swinging into our 10th year.”  It was preceded by  swing dance lessons, again, including creative, fun, 3 dimensional movement to keep people engaged.

The dancer in Lisa at the first forays into “fitness” after her dance career thought that exercise could be boring, need to add playfulness to it.  She likes to “mix it up” all the while being true to safe and correct protocol – science is an art. Lisa has a Masters in physiology, so safe and sound practice forms her foundation.  The passion for connection with her clients speaks volumes about why we consider her a “bright spot.”  “I like to stay with what protocol states, but adjust to styles, needs and philosophy that relate to the individual.”

Staff at SoloFitness is diverse, they all learn from each other. One size does not fit all, and that diversity keeps it fresh.

Pondering  what could be the most compelling thing about her work, Lisa shares that finding what resonates with an individual, what is relevant at that time and creating a program they can understand why doing it today and not necessarily for later on is the path to take is extremely satisfying.  She reinforces the philosophy of not just trying to get fit or lose weight, she helps clients discover something relevant to their present situation (birth, cancer treatment, seniors independent living, menopause and stage of life) works with all ages.

In the early days SoloFitness started with let’s get people fit.  Over time they gravitated toward certain people and those people found connection.  This process has been a successful one as SoloFitness is going into their third decade

Women’s health – Solo Ms program began by focusing on issues of the woman at 40+, including  menopause.   That specialization morphed into what clients were experiencing and what popped up in class.  A client might walk into a session and say – I have cancer.  Dealing with the wellness aspects of those situations helped to build out their program menu.

That started Solo Healing program over 12 years ago (even before Lance Armstrong) –with advisement to stay moving during treatment. Lisa spent many weeks at medical conference where she was the only non-physician or non-medical attendee.  Many times the content was over her head, but over time she began to feel more comfortable in that level of learning and in that setting.  It was so important in the  hard journey and long road to get formal recommendation that a patient was permitted to move after a cancer diagnosis. Exercise is adjuvant therapy – goes hand and hand if there is chemo (even pre adjuvant therapy is useful).

Solo Care – working with home healthcare aides work with their clients to keep them home and as well functioning as possible has been well received by the healthcare aides, the senior and by their families. Independent functioning is a huge support for quality of life.

Challenge is getting the word out to health care providers that when your doctor prescribes a physical activity program  it helps with adherence and gives credibility to physical activity as an “exercise is medicine” procedure. Lisa works with physicians and support staff seeing clients to help spread the practice of prescribing physical activity programs relevant to each patient.

20 years ago at a medical conference where Lisa was trying to learn more about osteoporosis, a physician was there asking questions. Lisa wanted to know the same things.  In a turning point in her career, Lisa was fortunate that a head nurse brought Lisa in to consultations, working with nurses. She went to bone density tests and Lisa started aligning her programs with what a person was actually experiencing with diagnoses like osteoporosis.

She went to ever more medical conferences learning how  to decipher it down to the exercise program and introduce that process to the medical  community so they could understand the connection.

The initiative, “Exercise is Medicine”   is helping grow this philosophy now.  In her own way Lisa made the connection long ago.

Her original path to being a fitness professional stems from the dance world – something to do between auditions.  Over time she feels she differentiated what she does by being OK to go out of the “fitness” field and venture into medical conference and content geared to health care providers.   At first a lot of what she learned was not directly relevant but allowed her to begin to understand the community she wanted to work with.

Lisa says, ” It’s important to understand the perspective of what many different organizations are doing even if you come in through a different door – but you learn other perspectives.” We are thrilled to have Lisa join us in the HCD organization.



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