By Alex Gallagher
Meredith Chen has always had a love for fitness and being active.
She enjoyed working out with her mom and brother. Going on walks and doing aerobics to VHS tapes were at the top of her list, too.
As she grew older, she morphed from fitness enthusiast to coach.
“I loved seeing them have results and feeling good about themselves,” the Scottsdale resident says about her friends. “I had that same feeling as well.”
Once she found her footing as an instructor, Chen carried her talents to her YouTube channel in February 2019. A little over a year later, the channel exploded and became her only way of encouraging people to work out. She now has 27,000 subscribers.
Last August, Chen and her Senior Fitness with Meredith partnered with SaltboxTV, a free streaming service. Her videos appeal to students of different skill levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Most workouts begin with low-impact cardiovascular exercises like marching and then ease into the day’s primary workout. They conclude with stretching.
While Chen nailed teaching, she says it’s awkward to teach fitness to a camera held by her boyfriend.
“When you talk into a camera, it’s not the same as talking face to face with someone,” she says. “But I will listen to constant comments and take Zoom calls with clients and participants which helps me stay engaged with them.”
Flexing her muscle
Chen’s first fitness endeavor was a business that she ran out of her home. A client who worked for a senior living facility floated the idea of her teaching fitness classes for seniors. Chen was intrigued and gave it a whirl.
“When I went into a senior living community, I realized how much I enjoyed working with seniors,” she says. “It gave me the validation that I loved doing fitness for people and I saw how much they appreciated and needed it.”
With a newfound passion in her field, Chen became certified to become a fitness coordinator for a senior living community.
She admits that there were challenges to adapting her workouts to an older demographic of students.
“I had to watch, learn and listen to the people at the community about how their bodies were different and similar from a younger demographic and gauge it from there,” Chen says. “I know everyone is going to be different when they sit in front of the class so, my biggest thing is listening to people. I want to know what their ailments are, what they’ve been through and what their restrictions are.”
Because of this, Chen stresses her classes are not just for seniors.
“It’s not just for seniors. It’s adaptive care. It is for beginners and people who are obese,” she says.
Chen, who attended Glendale Community College, says she has come full circle — from a kid working out to VHS tapes to teaching via SaltboxTV.
“It brings me back to the time when I was a kid working out to recordings with my mom and brother,” says Chen, who enjoys success stories.
“I’ve had students tell me that these videos have gotten them moving, made them feel healthier and one student has lost 100 pounds since she started the workouts. These stories motivate me by letting me know that I’m doing good for so many people.”
Senior Fitness with Meredith