Heather Parisi is a fitness junkie that truly loves living a healthy life, and that lead her to create the first ever fitness board game that has turned into a top seller globally!
Heather’s award-winning game, Flip2BFit (http://flip2bfit.com), is a fitness driven game that promotes yoga, cardio, stretching and strength activities, while building self-esteem, confidence, and leadership abilities through the discovery method of learning. In simple form: You get to stay fit while playing a game!
And while Heather’s game is one of the most talked about items – with countless Hollywood celebs and their families playing along – Heather has also started a charity organization entitled Fitness For Africa (https://fitnessforafrica.org) that believes in giving back to organizations both in the US and in Uganda to help low income children find a means to learn about fitness and healthy lifestyles. Heather’s games are placed in several schools in Uganda and are being used as a means of organized fitness instruction promoting healthy lifestyles through education and fitness.
The Levity Ball sat down with Heather to learn more about her incredible journey, entrepreneurial-spirit, products and charity ways…
•How did you first get the idea to create the Flip2BFit game?
It was just before I turned 40 that I noticed a distinctive change in my body and how my body was reacting to exercise. It just wasn’t maintaining the same way as previous years and I knew I had to do something about it. Always being a fitness enthusiast – competitive athlete and someone that had a good sense of nutritional foods and healthy eating I started paying much closer attention to what was going on around me … Childhood obesity was all over the news and it was effecting over 15% of todays children under the age of 6 and more than 30% of children up to the age of 18 … It was this that truly triggered a spark and lead me to Flip2BFit. Always loving card and board games as a kid I first started off by flipping cards with different exercises on them to assure my routine was mixed up … While this was effective, I myself was getting bored and I couldn’t even get my niece and nephew to play with me … They just didn’t understand why they needed to do an activity just because a card was flipped over. They were right … They needed a reason and a motivation. What better way to motivate someone to do something than to give them a chance to WIN! Hence – A board game combining Fitness and Nutrition was born.
•Who were some of your role models growing up and one’s today?
Growing up I was inspired by Olga Korbit and Nadia Comaneci two young gymnasts that truly demonstrated what a level of commitment and dedication to a goal and a passion will allow you to achieve. Today I don’t really have a role model to speak of… I live my life from my inner being and just always try to be the best person I can be and to bring to the world a presence of honesty – openness and trust. I try to surround myself with positive people of all kinds and to rid myself of any negativity.
•Self-esteem, confidence, and leadership skills are learnt throughout this game besides just fitness. Did you have these qualities growing up or is it something you had to overcome throughout your life?
This was a process of development and a great deal of inside work that I needed to do. Being bullied and teased for the better part of my teen years and into my early adult life truly created an inner being that need to fight the good fight to learn that I was worth as much as anyone else in every way. It was a journey of the physical to have surgeries to correct my leg as well as the emotional to overcome the years of emotional and inner strife. It was this journey that brought out the best individual that I know how to be today and one that has inspired my own life to give back and assure that I do my part to provide the knowledge to as many people as possible to gain their own Self-esteem – Confidence and Leadership abilities.
•What do you hope people take away most after playing this game?
That fitness and a healthy lifestyle can be FUN and that it is within their reach. I really hope that the game opens their minds to the concept that they have the right to live healthy and that it’s a process achieved with knowledge and the decision to make the right choices.
•What is the best advice you have ever been given?
To believe in myself and never give up on a dream or allow anyone else to take that dream away from me. I live my life and only I can determine what is right for me.
•What is your advice to others looking at starting their own board game?
My best advice would be to truly understand the market and make sure that there is a NEED and a SPACE for the game you want to bring to it.
•You are also the founder of the Fitness For Africa organization that provides education scholarships to vulnerable families across Africa… Why is this so important to you and how did you get this started?
Fitness For Africa is a calling that has lived within me since I was a child.
As one girl I traveled to Africa several times looking for the answer as to what was drawing me there … It was during a vacation to Uganda that that calling was answered … I met a child survivor of the LRA – Kony Rebels and was forever changed and touched by his survival story and the stories of thousands of others that went through the same ordeal … It was then that I knew what I was put here to do. Provide the power of knowledge and education assuring that a Healthy Lifestyle was within reach.
It’s a belief that everyone has the right to live a Healthy Lifestyle – They just need to be provided with the knowledge so that they can make an educated decision. The best way to assure that this knowledge is clear is to start with the youngest members of the community – Opening Pearl of Hope Nursery and Primary School was a dream come true in February 2013. With a simple bamboo hut my school opened to bring in 30 young children aged 3 to begin their journey of education and being literate and viable members of their community. I truly believe that the power of education – being able to read and write is the core to assuring that all those that I touch become viable members of thei r community and have the ability to make an informed decision … whether about local politics or the foods that they cook and eat. Knowledge is power.
•What would you personally like to be remembered for?
Being a selfless individual that provided opportunities, knowledge, education and heart to change the life of at least one individual that will change generations to come.
•What does the future hold for Flip2BFit and Fitness For Africa?
The future of Flip2BFit is very exciting ….
3 new products slated to be in the market in 2016 –
Level 2 of Flip2BFit
Sadiki – Nutrition Card Game
Tendaji – Toddler Fitness Game
We are looking at expanding beyond the US Market and to be able to include the Spanish Market with Translated versions of our games and continuing to look at new product development to further enhance and bring more Fitness alternatives to as many people as we can!
Fitness for Africa continues to grow and this year we expanded from 30 students to 60 students and by 2017 we will be fully expanded to 90 students educating students in K1 – K2 and K3 with full capacity. Permanent structures and additions of a variety of sustainable projects are all in the work to be completed by the end of 2016. Chicken Coop with a sustainable capacity of 500 eggs per day to be created and a Goat Project providing nourishment as well as income for the School.
It’s an exciting time for both organizations and a time that I am honored to be exploring and living.
Both organizations will continue to grow and expand upon their strong foundation to ensure that Healthy Lifestyle opportunities are continuously provided to as many people as possible!
•Our final random question: What is your favorite candy?
Dark Chocolate – Anything Dark Chocolate!