How Did SwingMove Come to Be?

The Story of SwingMove Nation and the Man Who Saw the Future

At 80 years of life, most people retire, taking a break from decades of hard work. But one octogenarian in Dallas, Texas, is spending his eighties birthing a new visionary movement, The SwingMove Nation.

“Life is motion, and motion is life.” Thus, lifestyle inertia is causing a pandemic of poor mental and physical health. Compassion and concern for people caught up in the rising tsunami of sedentary lifestyle ailments, Russell Cleveland, a successful business executive venture capitalist and supporter of the fine arts, stepped up to the plate.

Active in sports all through high school and college, Russell graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business in 1961. Transitioning into the working world of office life, he began experiencing back pain and stress from inactivity and extended hours sitting at a desk.

“I was an active athlete in college, playing competitive tennis and constantly moving around,” says Cleveland. “But I was suddenly having to deal with sciatica and several other health issues once I was sitting more. I couldn’t imagine having to live with these ailments for the next fifty years.”

“I can do more good with SwingMove than with any other thing I’ve ever done.”

A business associate recommended that Russell try a couple of movements with Eastern roots. In no time, the movements reduced stress levels and relieved his back pain. That was the start of his pursuit of alternative fitness and exercise programs.

Over the next several decades, Cleveland developed special movements (“I don’t like the term exercise.”) derived from sports including swimming, cross country skiing, rowing, basketball, boxing, and more. He shared his discoveries with coworkers and business associates, even convincing conference hosts to lead attendees through his movement routines between sessions or at the beginning of the day.

In 2019, Cleveland had a new vision to turn his movements into a program called SwingMove Nation. “It’s a program for everyone, young or old, anywhere, anytime, standing, sitting, or even lying down.” Totally easy and accessible. The idea came from a rush of information about the epidemic of the “sitting disease.” Mayo Clinic studies show that people who don’t participate in modest regular activity are more likely to experience weight gain, low energy levels, and increased health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Cleveland believes the best investment you can make is in your own health.

So, Cleveland went to work chronicling his movements and reviewing them with fitness experts and medical professionals. One such professional, Dr. Theresa Oswald, says, “Doing ten moves in ten minutes could make you feel ten years younger.”

But how to convince a sedentary nation to get up and move?

Cleveland likens it to brushing one’s teeth. Around the time of World War I the US Army noticed most soldiers had unhealthy teeth and gums. It was so profound that the military considered the dental problem a national health crisis. What changed people’s thinking? Information and education. Soldiers who returned from duty told their family and friends about how to save their teeth. And eventually, Pepsodent toothpaste hired a marketer, Claude Hopkins, who had made Goodyear Tires and Quaker Oats household names, to create advertising. His genius on radio and through newspapers and magazines convinced the general public of the easy-to-obtain benefits of this daily activity. Within ten years, 65 percent of Americans bought in to daily brushing—a massive increase from a mere 10 percent before 1919.

This is what Russell Cleveland wants to do with SwingMove Nation. He believes this is a global cure for sedentary caused diseases. Even with a successful lifetime of business, SwingMove may be his greatest legacy. “I can do more good with SwingMove than with any other thing I’ve ever done.”