Medicine in Motion’s Derek Soled, Logan Briggs, Chase Marso and Mike Seward
Chase Marso remembers the moment he realized Medicine in Motion, the fitness group he and three friends started during their first year at Harvard Medical School, had truly taken on a life of its own.
It was August 2019, and Marso and 18 other members of the group had just finished Bike to the Beach from Boston to Newport, R.I., an annual ride benefiting autism awareness and research. Their team raised more than $15,000.
“We had so many people that had very little biking experience on our team, and they committed to this 100-mile bike ride,” Marso said. “To see so many different people with varying levels of fitness going into the summer, commit to training together and to fundraising, that was a moment where I thought, ‘What we’ve been doing is worthwhile and worth continuing to grow to have more moments like this.’”
It had been a long journey to that Newport beach from the gym at Vanderbilt Hall.
That’s where the students—Marso, Logan Briggs, Mike Seward and Derek Soled—met in the fall of 2017. What started with informal group workouts grew into a student group called Docs Who Lift, and the four recruited other HMS students to register for endurance events, like Spartan Races and triathlons.
Medicine in Motion at the Buzzard’s Bay Triathlon in Sept. 2019
They had all been athletes before coming to HMS and had personally experienced the benefit of regular, intense physical activity.
“For me, working out is the only thing that offers a mental respite from my other responsibilities,” said co-founder Briggs. “Activities like watching a movie or playing video games just leave this nagging thought in the back of my head that I should be doing something more productive. So, working out is really the only time where I feel liberated from all the other tasks on my plate and comfortable that I’m doing something productive for my body and my mind.”
Co-founder Soled also sees regular physical activity as central to a balanced life for busy medical students and health care professionals.
“A lot of people wrongly look at physical activity and they say, ‘How do you have time to work out? You have these long days being a student or being a doctor,’” Soled said. “But it’s not like you’re adding this time; it’s that this time for physical activity is so integral to my day, and it’s what I need to flourish in all my other activities.”
In the summer of 2018, they, along with Katie Lantz, Seward’s girlfriend and fellow Harvard College alum, signed up for the Pan-Mass Challenge. Together, they biked 200 miles over the course of two days, despite Briggs being the only member with any previous long-distance cycling experience.
They also gained fundraising experience as each collected donations towards the $5,500 registration fee to benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Together, racing as Docs Who Lift, they raised more than $30,000.
“When that was over, we said, ‘OK, now what?’” said Marso. “How do we go about doing this in year two? How do we include others?”
That fall, the founders hosted a meeting with other interested students from HMS, HSDM and other Boston-area medical schools to brainstorm ways to combine their interests in physical fitness, health care and philanthropy. Medicine in Motion was born.
Soled says Medicine in Motion has three goals.
“First, we want to promote well-being in health care professionals through physical activity. Secondly, we want to foster a sense of community among health care professionals, at all stages of training and all types of health care. Finally, we want to use this time together to fundraise and give back.”
To that end, Medicine in Motion registered as an official 501(c)(3) non-profit. The group grew to include chapters at HSDM, Boston University Medical School, Tufts University Medical School, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and most recently, the University of Queensland in Australia.
In addition to organizing regular workouts and runs at their individual chapters, members also have also participated as teams in triathlons, long-distance bike rides and other endurance events. Within its first two years, Medicine in Motion recruited 684 medical professionals to take part in events, raising $50,000 for medical research initiatives.
Second-year HMS student Henry Ashworth, who has taken on a leadership role with the group, thinks the group’s focus on community building has been key to its growth.