The two men behind MoveU, who built a massive internet fanbase around their quirky wellness videos and Forever Fix program, came to the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) over the weekend.
On Instagram, an audience of nearly 700k watched as the MoveU team did stretches, squats, painted body parts and made physical therapy easy to understand. Even more people purchased the team’s Forever Fix program, a step-by-step guide meant to help customers live pain free.
On the weekend, for the first time ever, the MoveU team came to Dubai, filling rooms at Fairmont The Palm for the MeFitPro summit as part of the DFC.
Like many internet success stories, the experiences of MoveU appears, on the surface, to point to overnight fame. In reality, the process was much slower.
“I like to think we’re normal people. There’s nothing too special about us, other than our experiences,” said Dr. Michael Wasilisin, co-founder. “I’ve been in health care for 17 years. I lived in a tiny town, and the most successful thing I knew was to be a doctor and help people.”
Dr. Wasilisin began teaching at a California university, which was when he met the other half of MoveU’s Instagram fame, Andrew Dettelbach – aka the shirtless guy. Dr. Wasilisin launched CaliSpine, a sports injury rehab clinic. Somewhere along the way, the energetic pair started posting on Instagram.
Everything changed, said Dr. Wasilisin, in a moment.
“One video was this stretch. It was very unique… And some company called MMA Leech, they shared our video. It had four million views in two days. It was that moment when I called my web designer and said to put on the website that we have free lower-back programs.” The web designer did. Hundreds of people started logging on. “I was like: They want it, we’re going to do it.”
“We didn’t have a program, by the way,” interjected Dettelbach with a laugh.
“I did email them all to say we didn’t have a program,” agreed Dr. Wasilisin. “But that they’re first on the list. That moment, that moment I sacrificed everything in my life to grow MoveU. My friends, family, everything. I was all about growing MoveU.”
With single-minded intensity, Dr. Wasilisin and Dettelbach channeled all their attention into the company. Dr. Wasilisin was more of the strategist, focusing on brand image and views. Dettelbach designed the actual online programs people use to help improve their mobility.
“I understand things take a long time to achieve. I knew that we had first 300 followers, then a thousand, it kept growing. It was going somewhere,” says Dettelbach.
“We made a movement program, and there was a community that went alongside it. The community, the sense of camaraderie, this became more powerful than anything else.”
It’s this community that was out in force during the duo’s Dubai trip. Over the course of the MeFitPro summit, the MoveU sessions were packed. Personal trainers and general fans sat on the floor, ready to hop up and squat or deadlift on request.
The sessions were informative and insightful — just like the MoveU Instagram.
After all, Dettelbach said, it was always meant to be about sharing useful information. “We didn’t expect to change people’s lives.
Featured photo: From left, MoveU’s Andrew Dettelbach and Dr. Michael Wasilisin. Photo: Dubai Fitness Challenge
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer