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Posted on Jul 21, 2020 by FEED Staff

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A new digital platform helps cancer survivors access health and fitness support right in their own homes

An estimated one in three people will develop cancer in their lifetime, but steady advancements in medical research and technology are improving treatments, condition management, and recovery outcomes. Evidence suggests that a dedicated post-recovery exercise regimen can help survivors cope and reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence.

Staying motivated and on track throughout this process, however, requires encouragement and support, which emerging platforms like MyVictory are working to provide. The company’s mission is to guide and motivate cancer survivors with accessible live and on-demand fitness classes and a social platform where they can share their achievements with family, friends and other survivors.

Glenn Houck co-founded MyVictory with his business partners in hopes of advancing the health and wellbeing of those affected by cancer. “In talking to our friends and family who had survived cancer, we realised that there’s a real deficit in affordable post-treatment fitness options that give cancer survivors the flexibility to exercise safely outside the gym, and we wanted to fill that void,” says Houck.

“Fatigue, weakened immune systems and image self-consciousness can be struggles for survivors keep them away from the gym. Our vision was to create an interactive platform with a good mix of classes that would help keep them moving and motivated from home.”

MyVictory includes more than 500 classes – a mix of yoga, cardio, strength, balance and meditation training – led by instructors who come from gyms that specialise in working with survivors. Content is typically shot in a studio in Norwalk, Connecticut, with 45 to 50 classes produced each week. Behind the scenes, the website is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Elemental Media Services power the site’s video workflow, a combination of technology that keeps content running seamlessly 24/7 regardless of viewer device type or bandwidth. All video content is ingested into AWS Elemental MediaLive for processing and sent through AWS Elemental MediaStore before it’s distributed to Amazon CloudFront for delivery.

At its core, MyVictory is a social platform, allowing caregivers, family members, and friends to join for free as sponsors and take classes alongside a survivor or cheer them on. Users can set goals, rate classes, and as they move through classes, earn badges that are shared and celebrated with supporters and other users.

There’s a real deficit in affordable post-treatment fitness options that give cancer survivors the flexibility to exercise safely

Building its workflow on AWS has enabled these features and more. “Live and on-demand video streams were always a part of the plan for MyVictory, as were class ratings and an interactive live comment feed. AWS gives us the video hosting and streaming functionality we need to support this and more with custom coding and the ability to pay as we go,” Houck says. “With AWS, it’s easy to go in and change streaming settings or make tweaks to add new features. There are so many options and settings that we haven’t even explored yet that I’m sure will play a role in how we shape the future of the platform.”

Content quality was also a key consideration in building the platform.
As Houck notes, “To differentiate ourselves from other online and mobile fitness offerings, we wanted to ensure professional quality, low-latency video experiences for our subscribers. The enthusiasm we’re seeing for the quality of the content and interactive component has been outstanding, and we attribute that in part to AWS.”

AWS provided additional value when MyVictory opted to accelerate its launch ahead of the original target date as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, offering free access to survivors when gyms began to close. It had already produced more than 100 classes, but needed to upload and prepare them for video-on-demand (VOD) viewing. Using AWS Elemental MediaConvert, the team was able to transcode 120 classes, each three to five gigabytes in size, in under two days. “As a small company, we appreciate how simple and quick AWS made the process of getting our launch content staged and ready; we were easily able to scale the VOD transcoding to meet our needs,” says Houck.

He concludes, “With AWS, setting up and managing a workflow is so easy, especially with the drag-and-drop functionality. It’s also incredibly reliable; we don’t have to sit and watch it. Everything just works.”

This article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of FEED magazine.

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