Pride month draws to a close today and if there's one thing it's lacked before now, it's personalised workouts. Well… not anymore.
A couple of weeks ago – sorry we're late to this one, it's been a very busy month – iFit trainer Jesse Corbin released a new virtual workout via the platform’s Heart-to-Heart series, which highlights the trials and triumphs of his personal coming-out journey. As you follow Jesse through the Bonneville Salt Flats of northwestern Utah, he opens up about his venn-diagramming multiverse of fitness, faith, family, and personal self-worth – all while torching through a few calories, of course.
In recent years, fitness and mobile tech have become intertwined in ways most of us could have never imagined, but this is something really new – an emotional journey, on top of an actual one – albeit on a smart treadmill.
I actually met Jesse six years ago on top of a mountain, and if there’s one thing I know about the man, it’s this: he’s genuinely passionate about every single step – and leap – he takes. He’s also got a magnetic energy that’s hard to miss, and if you already have an iFit membership, I can’t recommend his live running and cycling classes enough. That being said, our interactions have always been pretty professional; as his colleague, there’s never been any context for him to personally share his coming-out journey with me. Until now.
And that’s where bleeding-edge fitness tech comes in. I reviewed the iFit-friendly ProForm Pro 2000 treadmill a few months ago, and truly appreciated the dynamics of each live class via the built-in touchscreen. iFit’s Heart-to-Heart series digs much deeper, though. As my literal-yet-virtual trek across the salt flats with Corbin the Coach began to escalate, so did my understanding of Jesse the Human.
So how does it work? iFit uses state-of-the-art video and streaming tech to put you in the presence of top PTs. That doesn't necessarily mean being like Peloton+, which is the market leader in virtual fitness. But iFit can also put you in the great outdoors, tracking top athletes from around the world.
The Bonneville Salt Flats of northwestern Utah are not a glamorous or lush setting, and Corbin deliberately designed this 30-minute personal training experience to mirror his own journey – starting out slow as he recounts the loneliness from his past, then picking up speed as he touches on the experiences and advice that helped him gain momentum and confidence. It's a truly uplifting finale as Corbin scales an outcropping at the edge of the Flats.
The benefits of this workout are two-fold: you get an insight into someone else's struggles, and you get to burn a load of calories.
Corbin worked directly with iFit’s head of content and the iFit Mind team to create an authentic fitness experience that could genuinely be appreciated by everyone – not just members of the LGBTQ+ community. “To get to [talk about pride] in the context of my personal journey made it, in my mind, so much more impactful because regardless of a person’s belief system, regardless of their personal opinions, I have the opportunity to connect with them on this amazing technological fitness platform...At the end of the day, you’re allowed to believe whatever you want, you can think whatever you want. I still love you, I still care about you, I just want to let you in on my journey.”
And I’ll tell ya, I could feel the love as I strolled along the salt flats, coconut water in hand. My opinion is hardly objective in this case, but Corbin’s calorie-counting constitutional comes with a message virtually anyone — from any walk of life — can appreciate. The walk itself isn’t too challenging, but the subject matter sure is, and regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or creed, you’re bound to appreciate this mobile mini-Ted Talk.
For the uninitiated, here’s how an iFit running class works: my treadmill is outfitted with a brilliant 10-inch touchscreen, which connects me to trainers from all around the world – and to on-demand classes like this one. As I strolled side-by-side through the desert with Corbin, it felt like I was catching up with an old friend; the treadmill automatically adjusted my speed and incline/decline based on Corbin’s pace and Utah’s rocky terrain. Spoiler alert: while most of this walk is gentle on the limbs, Corbin pushes you near the end; you have to earn that beautiful view.
So, what’s it like sharing your coming-out journey with complete strangers around the globe? “It feels amazing!” Jesse says, citing class members he regularly interacts with through iFit’s software.
Jesse’s take on personal fitness and mental health is positively grounded, and his main mantra is simple: “Lead with love, live authentically, and expect the bumps. People talk about the positive sides of embracing your authenticity or embracing your truth, but I think it would be unhelpful and misleading to not also accept that part of acknowledging your truth — part of transforming and evolving — also means a certain level of opposition or difficulty, or even having to mourn the fact that you’ve spent so much of your life living a certain way or being a certain person that doesn’t feel like who you really are.”
Jesse’s journey is far from over, but he has some choice insights for anyone preparing to come out to their nearest and dearest: “As hard as it might be, try to leave room for them to maybe not receive [the news] in the exact way you want, because you can’t control how they’re going to react. So be prepared for that. But at the same time, do not apologize as you’re coming out. I think too often we lead from a place of shame and guilt, and you’re already putting yourself in the seat of the victim, as opposed to saying, ‘You may not like this, you may not love this, I’m not sure how you’re going to react, but I’m standing in my truth, and I’m excited about letting you know who I really am.’
"How they choose to react is on them, but how you choose to present yourself is up to you. So present yourself in strength, in your power, not in a place where you’re defeated or apologetic. Because that’s not what ‘coming out’ means. It doesn’t mean coming out into a place of shame. It means rejecting the shame and coming out to a place of power.”
• This meditative workout is available via the iFit app – a free 30-day trial is available for new users. It's also available via iFit-powered treadmills and ellipticals from NordicTrack, ProForm, and Freemotion. These premium machines automatically adjust your speed, resistance, and incline during each workout, allowing you to focus whole-heartedly on Corbin’s core message.