17 Jun Alex Morgan On The Tokyo Olympics, Her New iFIT Series And Creating Space For Female Athletes
When 2020 first began, Alex Morgan had what seemed like a flawless plan for the year: give birth to her first child in the spring, spend the next three months training like she’d never trained before, compete in the Tokyo Olympics on the U.S. Women’s Soccer team in the summer, and of course, take home gold. It seemed an impossible feat to most, but if anyone could do it, it was the World Cup champion, whose very name had become synonymous with accomplishing every goal she’d ever set for herself and shattering all obstacles in her way.
As Morgan neared the final months of her pregnancy, everything seemed to be on track, even as the logistical details of having a newborn while playing in the world’s most competitive athletic arena remained unknown. But then, on March 24, her plans were upended when the International Olympic Committee announced that the Tokyo Games would be postponed until 2021, in the wake of the rapidly spreading Covid-19 pandemic. Overnight, all that the soccer star (then eight-months pregnant) had been working towards was gone, yet, she couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of relief. “I was excited to try to get back last summer, but the delay certainly helped me take the necessary time to recover in a more measured way and return to play at a more optimal time,” Morgan recalls. And getting to spend time with her new daughter, Charlie, after she was born last May didn’t hurt either.
But beyond the longer recovery and opportunity to enjoy her new role as a mother, the year-long delay also offered the 31-year-old athlete the chance to expand her focus to other projects. Morgan recognized early on just how detrimental an effect the pandemic was having on health and exercise for many people and felt compelled to do something about it. With public interest in her own training stronger than ever—especially following her impressive post-pregnancy return—she joined forces with iFIT, an interactive fitness platform the soccer player had long been a fan of, to create the “Train Like a Pro: Alex Morgan Cardio & Strength Series.”
“I chose to partner with iFIT because all of their workouts are designed as a series and with progression in mind, which is how we, as professional athletes, approach training,” Morgan says. The series, which launched June 3, is divided into two parts—Cardio and Strength—and is designed to mimic the Olympian’s real-life exercises. “What I love about this series is that it’s a realistic snapshot of how I train on my own, whether for practice or a game,” she explains. “As a soccer player, I need speed and strength to achieve my goals, so this series includes both elements that can be done on their own or combined. And all of the workouts are scalable and built on progression, which means you continue to build and develop skills that ultimately make you more confident as an athlete.”
Morgan worked alongside the iFIT team to ensure that her training was not only captured in this series but captured in a way that would resonate with the platform’s community and their goals. “I wanted the everyday athlete to feel excited and confident in learning new skills while also honing familiar ones,” she says. “Each workout is designed to emulate a pro-level program while still being flexible enough for you to complete at your own pace and level, and the ultimate goal is for users to feel proud of their success and confident that they can attack another series.”
Helping others, particularly women, find success and confidence has been an obvious priority for Morgan, who was one of five players to file an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 alleging gender discrimination by U.S. Soccer and played an integral role in the 2019 suit brought on by the entire team against the federation. She’s become an undeniable icon in the the ongoing fight for equal pay and has empowered millions of women and girls around the globe, but for the World Cup champion, that wasn’t enough.
“I think a lot about legacy—not just in sport but in what I can help build for future generations of girls and women,” Morgan explains. “There’s such a hole in the media coverage of women’s sports as well as a huge pay gap, so when I saw other media companies being created, I realized how much of a blank space needed to be filled with empowering stories around female athletes.” Tired of waiting for someone else to do something about it, the soccer player decided to team up with fellow athletes Sue Bird, Simone Manuel, and Chloe Kim to launch TOGETHXR, a sports and lifestyle media company exclusively for women.
Growing up, Morgan and her cofounders didn’t have posters of female athletes on their walls—and it wasn’t because they weren’t sports fanatics. “We want to provide women with the community and platform that we didn’t have and tell the untold stories of female athletes,” she says of the company’s mission. “We want to change the fact that even though women make up 44% of all participants in sports, they receive only 4% of sports media coverage.”
TOGETHXR is ushering in a new era for these athletes by focusing on stories where representation and gender equality are both expected and required and by using sports as a prism to reflect the broader culture that surrounds it. The brand tells such stories daily on its various channels, but it also has several long-form video and audio projects in development, including a podcast series about the 1996 Olympic Games. “I want this to live on much further and be bigger than my athletic career could ever be, and I truly see that for TOGETHXR,” Morgan adds.
The soccer star knows that there’s been important progress made for women in athletes in recent years (in large part thanks to her and her teammates), but she believes there’s still a long way to go. “Ownership is an important next step, and we will not see real significant change until women have more ownership in sports teams and properties,” she notes. “And in addition to access to more resources (financial and support services), we need to make sure that our voices are not only heard but valued in a way that allows for real growth.”
As she prepares to head to the Tokyo Olympics this summer, Morgan hopes that the long-awaited Games will mark even further strides for women in sports, and she’s determined as ever to bring home gold. “It’s so exciting to share this journey with my teammates and closest friends,” she says. “We really look forward to these big events where we can compete at the highest level of our sport and hopefully add to the incredible legacy of the US Women’s National Team.”
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