My goal is to take on one of the biggest preventable health epidemics of out time — obesity — with a positive, practical approach that will not just help make people fitter and stronger physically, but also mentally.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Marcellus. Andrea is the founder and CEO of ANDREA MARCELLUS, a lifestyle brand with the mission to help busy, driven people maximize their lives. For more than 25 years, Andrea has expertly guided clients in New York and Los Angeles to personalized health, utilizing her own unique, actionable set of principles to ramp up every area of their lives. Andrea is also the author of the new book The Way In: 5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong and Lift Your Life, and the creator of the popular fitness app, AND/life, named top fitness app of 2019 by Women Fitness.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Andrea! What is your “backstory”?
I started my career as an actress, and I spent the first 16 years doing all the “right” things… and yet I still felt chronically sluggish, hungry, bloated and riddled by extra pounds I could honestly never shake. So 10 years ago, I took a flying leap and stopped being so “good.” No more relentless judgment about wellness “rights” and “wrongs.” No more working out like crazy, counting calories or restricting foods in unsustainable ways that cramped my social life. No more unattainable goals. No more comparisons to others. No more inner critic.
The result: an unparalleled level of fitness, strength and a super-lean body that I have maintained through two pregnancies and into my 40s… and which has become the transformative, customizable method I use with my clientele. It also became the reason why I created the ANDREA MARCELLUS brand and wrote my book– I wanted to share, with a wider audience, all that I had learned about how a holistic approach to fitness can help you lose weight and become healthier. It’s not about a one-size-fits all plan, it’s five actionable life strategies that anyone can use to guide them to the right, personalized course of action.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
- Eating portions in line with your actual energy needs on a regular schedule
- Activating your life with standing and walking
- Valuing consistency over intensity and duration in terms of workouts
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When I was 20, I taught my first step class in NYC to a packed room of about 75 people… and about 67 of them left. Keeping my head up and seeing that class through to the end was one of the hardest things I ever did. After the class, I was absolutely devastated and couldn’t have been more ashamed to face the club manager. But her response wasn’t only unexpected, it was one of the greatest lessons of my life: namely that, perspective is everything. The manager said that she needed to elevate the club, but didn’t have the budget for high-level instructors — until my audition. She said I could absolutely hold my own with the best in NYC but, since I had no experience, she could afford me. It was pretty funny. Then she gave me the best piece of advice ever — she said believe in yourself and never “teach down.” If people don’t get it, slow down, but never “dumb down” what I have to offer. Give people the opportunity to catch on and ramp up — and when they do, they’ll love you for it. It was confidence-cementing, life-changing advice and I truly wish I could remember her name to thank her.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Overtraining. And subscribing to the trending fad of the time (1993) that eating fat makes you fat. As I developed bigger and bigger muscles under a layer of “dough” that was somehow also getting bigger despite my considerable efforts to be strong and lean, I knew something had to be wrong with the theory. I spent years trying to figure out the “formula” for fitness and finally I did — and it starts with helping people tune out the noise and tune in to their own bodies. Through my own personal trial and error in addition to working with so many different clients, I learned to trust my experience and the conclusions I was drawing and develop healthy, helpful skepticism about whatever current diet or workout fad was happening at the time. Instead, I started to find scientific research to support patterns I was noticing in clients, which eventually led to the fitness lifestyle philosophy found in my book The Way In and my AND/life app.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My permission-based approach is easily accessible by everyone. My goal is to take on one of the biggest preventable health epidemics of out time — obesity — with a positive, practical approach that will not just help make people fitter and stronger physically, but also mentally.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have the deepest respect and gratitude for everyone who has ever taken one of my classes, trained with me or shared their story in asking for my help. I wouldn’t be where I am without the trust they show me in sharing their goals and challenges. Every person with whom I work gives me the opportunity to learn something new and increase the base of knowledge and experience I have to offer guidance to others.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The Moderation Movement — I think a moderate approach to food and fitness is the most effective.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide! )
Martha Stewart isn’t in wellness per se, and I know she gets bagged on for ideas that raise the domestic high bar to unattainable heights. But the fact is, she sparks people’s imaginations and gets them to try things — and when they do they feel an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment. As a coach who has spent my life working to instill the “can-do” spirit in people, I appreciate Martha deeply. To me, she is the original mastermind of developing doable ways for people to elevate their lives across many arenas. For this reason, Martha Stewart was a significant role model in creating my brand. My 5 Life Strategies, the foundation of my brand, are applicable to everything — exercise, food, style, relationships, career… I truly hope I get to meet her one day and thank her for being such a tremendous inspiration — both throughout my life personally and, also professionally, in working to empower people and create opportunities for accomplishment.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health issues touch everyone at this point, yet in terms of research, we’ve barely scratched the surface — particularly for women. I’m heartened to see attitudes changing and initiatives gaining momentum in the area of mental health. To live our best lives, we must think of our health more holistically, with mind and body as one.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@andrea_marcellus on Instagram is the channel where I let my hair down the most.
But I try to put different, great content everywhere:
AND/life by Andrea Marcellus on Facebook
Andrea Marcellus on Pinterest
@AndiMarcellus on Twitter
Thank you for these fantastic insights!