Mobility Duo Is Taking the Snowboard Industry by Storm
If you’ve ever injured yourself while skiing or snowboarding—or if you’ve simply hit that magical age of 30—you know it’s not easy keeping your body in top physical condition as you age.
Bum knees, bad backs, and achy joints aren’t only exacerbated by the cold, but also the wear-and-tear we put on them in our futile efforts to look half as cool as our favorite pro (for me, it’s Forest Bailey).
Making matters worse is that there isn’t a whole lot of information online for the average joe snowboarder to better understand what types of exercises, stretches, and yoga regimens are shown to best prevent injury and maintain flexibility. Outside of a few guided yoga flows and high-intensity workouts on YouTube, you’re pretty much left to blindly search for that perfect stretch or one exercise that alleviates your problem area.
For husband-and-wife team Mark and Sarah Penewit, that void of information specific to injury prevention and rehab for snowboarders has become an opportunity. The pair are owners of Mobility Duo, a physical therapy, fitness, and yoga studio that operates in a hybrid virtual format to help snowboarders improve their mobility so they can continue riding long into old age. What began with a few training videos and some funny Instagram reels has grown into a bona fide business that helps snowboarders embrace their age and conquer injuries.
During the height of the pandemic, the Penewits were just coming off their honeymoon and figuring out their next career moves. Mark had recently graduated from a doctorate of a physical therapy (that's right, he's a doctor) program at Pacific University. He and Sarah—a licensed massage therapist, yoga instructor, and high school teacher—were among the many Americans struggling to find work in a “hands-on” industry during a time when physical contact was hampered by COVID-19 restrictions.
Mark says that, unlike many of his peers, he was lucky enough to eventually secure a job at a physical therapy clinic in Salem, where both had grown up in towns just outside the city. The two met at a different clinic in Salem where they both worked, so returning to the area was a bit of a homecoming after living in Hillsboro and Newberg while Mark finished school.
When they met in 2015, the two immediately connected over a shared passion for soccer and action sports such as rock climbing and snowboarding.
They also like to push the envelope of “extreme." Their first date was skydiving, and within the first year and a half of dating they backpacked for a month through Europe, the Middle East, and India.
“We thought, if we can survive that together, we can do life together” Sarah says.
But nothing connected the pair quite like the snow. They both love to be on the mountain, and that interest provides the basis for their entrepreneurial endeavors.
When Mark started his new job as a doctor of physical therapy, Sarah was still contemplating what was next for her. They knew they wanted to work together, to be their own bosses while combining their skills and passion for snowboarding, but were unsure how to do it or what that business could become in a market that felt overly saturated.
“It was a huge learning curve, and we’re still learning every day,” Mark says. “Sarah was the one who really thought of finding our niche, which was specifically for snowboarders or athletes in their mid-to-late 20s.”
The two began compiling all their knowledge on how to improve mobility and prevent injuries and tweaked it so the training—including workouts, stretching routines, and yoga flows—skewed toward body parts and movements that come natural to snowboarding. They built a website to host training videos and virtual classes where clients can learn either at their own pace or in a group setting.
“Injuries make us realize that we’re not invincible, and now you have this thought in the back of your head saying ‘What’s the consequence of hitting this giant gap or booter [jump],” Mark says. “As we get older, that voice grows louder and louder as we get more responsibility.”
In October of 2021, Mobility Duo made its first $2o. Not long after, testimonials began to pour in from satisfied clients talking about how much their training regimens and yoga flows helped improve their flexibility and overall fitness.
But Mobility Duo had struck lightning long before they made their first buck. In late 2020, they started their Instagram and TikTok accounts and began posting quick tutorials on topics such as good stretches to open your hips before a day of riding, how to pre-load a spin before hitting a jump, or exercises that improve core strength and your center of gravity.
They amassed thousands of followers in just a few months. It helped that the couple also threw hilarious memes and videos into the mix of useful tips that helped boost their social traffic. The couple’s quirky, unabashed, and downright relatable sense of humor quickly earned them millions of likes and tens of thousands of follows.
Today, their accounts combine for a total of nearly 200,000 followers. Their content consistently gets picked up across channels on both platforms that cater to snowboarders worldwide. Their likes and comment sections often contain the names of heavy hitters in the snowboard industry such as Scott Stevens, Snowboarder Magazine’s 2016 Rider of the Year, and Zeb Powell, who became the first Black snowboarded to win an X-Games gold medal in 2020. Not only has Mobility Duo become known as a great resource for fitness and injury prevention, they’re also becoming engrained in the fabric of snowboard culture.
But that online fame hasn’t gone to their heads.
Sarah says that being on Instagram and TikTok came natural to her because in her personal life she’s an “open book.” She enjoys putting herself out there and making connections. Mark says he found it a bit harder.
“I value my privacy. I’m very careful with what I say. I didn’t have social media prior to this company,” he says.
But over time he's become just as involved in the duo's social media presence as Sarah, acting with her in dozens of hysterical TikTok meme sketches. He's also handy—Sarah recently featured him in a video where he builds an Adirondack chair out of old skis and a snowboard he found at the thrift store and used the bindings to create a coat rack. Mark even built his own "state of the art" recovery plunge tank out of an old chest freezer he found on Craigslist.
So far, they haven't encountered too much of the nastiness that inevitably comes with having an online persona. They say that being two halves of a whole makes it easier to tune out the haters, though they do receive rude or degrading comments from time to time.
“We really let it roll off our backs,” Sarah says. “We’re not snowboard coaches. We’re body experts who love snowboarding.”
Mark and Sarah’s focus these days is on making connections and growing their business, which now has several different products including their own patented brand of "SNOGA:" Yoga for snowboarders. Mark has also developed a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout called “SHRED 2.0.” that hits key areas snowboarders need to keep strong and limber. They've issued guides on how to improve movement, strengthen knees, and perform dynamic warm-ups in the parking lot before hitting the slopes. Most of their offerings are still in a virtual format, but they've begun meeting some clients in person. This winter they’re hosting an in-person snowboarding and yoga retreat in Bend where they’ve relocated their home and business.
They’re also actively creating new partnerships within the fitness and snowboarding industries. Burton Snowboards recently invited Mobility Duo to hang out with them at Mt. Bakers’ annual banked slalom event up in northern Washington where Mark got to compete. Burton has also introduced Mobility Duo to other businesses such as Eugene-based Tactics Boardshop and Save a Brain Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Utah which seeks to educate snowboarders about the dangers of concussions. Their goal is to eventually be featured on one of their favorite and one of the snowboard industry's most respected podcasts, The Bomb Hole, hosted by pro snowboarder Chris Grenier and photographer Ethan Stone Fortier.
Perhaps most importantly, Mark and Sarah—now in their third year of business—are continuously focused on improving their yoga, stretching, and workout programs.
“There's no pamphlet that says, 'For snowboarders: do this,'” Sarah says. “We are creating that, so the more we learn, the more we are advancing, and then that makes us have to change what we've created to become better because we're learning.”
Eventually, they say, the couple would like to open a brick-and-mortar near their home in Central Oregon where they can host in-person training and events. For now, they’re happy to be connecting with the snowboard community through their following online and at snowboarding and other mountain events throughout the season.
Their biggest advice to snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts seeking to age gracefully? Just keep moving.
“There are so many benefits to movement, even if it’s just going for a walk,” Mark says. “You don’t have to be the world’s best athlete."