Emily Ambery | staff writer
Nov. 11, 2021
Machaela “Mac” Simmons is a fourth-year physical therapy student at Duquesne dedicated to helping others navigate physical and mental health.
Beginning her collegiate athlete career as a walk-on on the basketball team, Simmons described the imbalanced value that college level athletics place on performance in a sport.
“A lot of my identity was wrapped up in the success I had in my sport,” Simmons said. “I had to find a new identity for myself that was independent of my status on a team.”
Simmons explained taking time to reflect and accept guidance to identify equal value both on and off the court.
“I began to find some of my passions, [for example], I started Ballers 4 Black Lives Matter during the summer of 2020, to provide a way for athletes to stand up for those affected by police brutality and our justice system,” Simmons said. “As an athlete who comes from an underprivileged community, it was very important to me to find a way for all athletes to use their talents and abilities to drive change.”
Simmons also suffered an ACL injury in 2017, which caused her to think more introspectively about her physical and mental health.
“My injury was a major wake-up call. Not only did it remind me that my physical status can change at any time, but it forced me to stop and be still long enough to recognize the mental aspects of my health that I had put off for so long,” Simmons said. “Instead of rushing my recovery to return to play, I chose to use my recovery time to learn how I could be a better athlete and a better person.”
Using her expertise from her physical therapy studies and experiences with mental and physical health, Simmons created “GetMactive.”
Started in September, GetMactive is an Instagram page in which Simmons shares fitness content and collaborates with professionals certified in training and mental health to motivate and spread awareness for holistic fitness.
“The goal of creating GetMactive was to create a platform where college students can learn to stay engaged in the present moment, using fitness as an opportunity to connect with yourself in the present,” Simmons said. “With mental health advocates, certified trainers and coaches on board helping to produce content, GetMactive is going to highlight the mindfulness aspect of fitness and how it can be applied to our everyday life, while, of course, providing great workouts and tips.”
GetMactive shares workouts and finishers, health and fitness tips, injury prevention tips, recovery information and “Mactivities” of the week. GetMactive features infographics detailing a wide variety of tips for users, ranging from “Being Present” to “8 Sleep Tips.”
The account also features Instagram reels of Simmons and other collaborators demonstrating workout sets and specific techniques. Each reel is accompanied by a detailed caption of the video and additional tips.
“[GetMactive] is useful to me because it’s Mac using her knowledge and experience to help me work out more efficiently and effectively,” said Drew Lutterodt, a PY1 Duquesne pharmacy student and a follower of GetMactive. “Some of those workouts are really crazy and you can see and feel the results really quick. No one is doing it like Mac right now.”
Given Simmons’ positive experience with holistic fitness, GetMactive provides balanced content for both mental and physical health.
Simmons entered the Unpack U Uprize 2.0 competition and won the competition’s grant to expand GetMactive’s reach. Along with funding, UnpackU also connected GetMactive with mentors and alumni of the competition to facilitate creating GetMactive’s brand.
“UnpackU awarded me with funding to get the resources I needed to grow GetMactive and produce quality content, as well as connections to people who will help me develop a logo and design apparel,” Simmons said. “On top of that, the exposure from Pitch Day put me in contact with some really great people who are willing to help GetMactive grow.”
“Balancing my mental and physical health became way easier for me after I realized one simple fact: My body will only go as far as my mind,” Simmons said. “I believe that everything I do first starts with my thoughts, so I take time every morning to reflect on how I’m feeling and meditate.”
To stay up to date on the latest GetMactive content, follow @GetMactive on Instagram.