The Camaraderie Connection

Most of us know that a well-balanced diet and physical exercise lead to optimal health, but do we prioritize social wellness in the same way?

What studies have told us about interaction and well-being.

Most of us know that a well-balanced diet and physical exercise lead to optimal health, but do we prioritize social connectivity in the same way?

With the ongoing pandemic before us, this year’s World Mental Health Day, celebrated last Saturday, took on increased prominence and attention. Public health measures, including long-term social distancing, have taken a toll on mental well-being, with  53% of American adults reporting coronavirus’ negative impact on their mental health. Moreover, women are unequally impacted, with a recent Kaiser study outlining wide gaps in how men and women are likely to respond to the pandemic. The study indicates that women tend to carry more stress about the virus’ potential impacts on their family, and are more likely to isolate themselves socially than men.

Interpersonal connections are proven to help people cope with stress and anxiety. More than ever, social bonds are critical for mental wellness. Research has borne out that the benefits of consistent social connection go far beyond conventional wisdom’s initial beliefs.

Wired to connect. 


As humans, we are wired to connect and born to bond. This need for connection is supported by strong evidence. 

Dr. Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, summarizes years of research to demonstrate that a strong social connection:

  • Leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps people recover from disease faster
  • Reduces the risk of high blood pressure
  • Increases happiness 

Dr. Seppala's TEDx Talk delves deeper into the science behind connectedness and its impact on our health. If you have a spare 15 minutes, it’s worth the watch.

Teaming up for optimal health.

A common way people build social connections while achieving physical health is through participation in team sports. The bande team knows this firsthand. Two of our staff members were college athletes, and the camaraderie, connectedness and shared goals they experienced fueled their passion for bande’s team-oriented values. 


“Team sports were a huge influence on my upbringing; I played volleyball and basketball throughout high school and college,” says Amaya Weddle, bande’s Chief Product Officer.  “When I graduated in 1997, I found myself deeply grieving for my former team family and craving a physical outlet. Thankfully, I soon discovered the missing sense of camaraderie and belonging in my first group fitness experiences: step, floor aerobics, bootcamp, cardio dance: I was hooked. The sense of moving together to music and achieving both personal and collective goals together is addictive and powerful.”

Weddle has kept a regular fitness routine through the years, including five to six group classes a week. She continues, “This year, COVID disrupted everything about my normal routine and I found myself instantly isolated from my workout buddies and forced to find new habits. I soon discovered a powerful feeling of connection in a livestream class, watching others work out together from across the country. With the convenience of being able to work out from home, I knew I’d found a new normal.”  

Rebecca Balyasny, bande’s CEO, also played team sports in her youth. However, Balyasny found herself isolated during COVID and looking everywhere for virtual options that felt engaging, effective and stimulating. She found this in her first live stream class. 

"I remember this magical micro-moment in the beginning of class where I waved to my friend and knew we were sharing the same experience. Then more magic came when the instructor called my name, taking a real interest in what I was doing and helping to push me along and coach me. At that moment, I knew I was onto something that was going to change the way people experience and connect through fitness.”

The joy of collectively achieving goals, camaraderie and connecting by experiencing fitness together were powerful founding forces behind bande’s values and company mission. “bande invites you to be part of a team, providing you with support, encouragement and well-being,” continues Balyasny “This interactivity is a two-way street. Classes provide opportunities for members to engage with instructors and one another, inspiring you to elevate your efforts to match the output of the team.”

Weddle also shared how bande’s product team is looking to further facilitate connection and community in the proprietary bande website currently in development. “The team and I can’t wait to unveil some of our new product concepts that will further facilitate the special ‘bande bond’— further building our community both inside and outside of class.”

bande was built to do more and be more than other virtual fitness offerings. bande goes beyond the surface-level of other online class platforms to serve as a place of social connection, meaningful interaction, wellness and support. 

Whether it’s your first class or one hundredth, bande is designed to help you find solace and feel connected, even while apart.


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