Do you remember your first week in LA?
I remember when I first toured the University of Southern California campus. I fell in love with it right away. I just love a mix of cultures and the University of Southern California seemed like the right fit in that way. And, obviously, the weather was gorgeous. So that was my first experience of LA.
I had just moved from Ohio and that was a shock in terms of what I was used to—I mean the traffic here is awesome. [Laughs] But there's so much more going on here than in the suburbia of Cincinnati, so I moved here and never looked back. I don't think I could live anywhere else.
What did you study at college?
I ended up with a marketing major and a web design minor, but what really helped me get the most experience were all my social media internships.
Did your marketing or web design studies point you toward social media?
I kind of just fell into social media as I was pursuing internships in marketing. Social media as a career was just starting to grow when I first started looking for work In 2011.
My first-ever internship was as a Showtime ambassador on campus and we used Facebook heavily to market our events. This opportunity then turned into an internship at their headquarters, which touched on different aspects of marketing and social.
I then moved on to intern at Atari. They were developing a social media team with a few interns and I had a total blast.
Social media is so new that some people don’t think it could be a “real job.” When did you realize you could turn this into a career?
I first realized I could fully commit to a career in social during my Atari internship. I remember the marketing director at Atari telling me that I was pigeonholing my career by sticking just to social media, but I saw big opportunities in this industry. Since the industry was so new, I’d already added skills quickly to my resume with just one of year experience…. unlike other marketing job opportunities, which usually require an MBA for a full-time gig.
I saw the upside to starting my career in a new industry—it’s easier to become a “veteran” worker in an industry that hasn’t been around for too long.
How did you show the company you work for now, Beachbody, that you had the chops?
I’m constantly working on my content creation skills and strategy ideas. I don’t approach my job as, “What can I show them to prove my worth?” It’s more about being so passionate about my work and the brands I’m working with that I’m always trying to push the edge. Plus having a kick-ass team and amazing coordinators helps push our work even further.
What does the work consist of?
At Beachbody, I do everything from strategy to content ideas. My work can vary from testing out Facebook’s new ad platform, to coming up with ideas for Snapchat, to always creating helpful and valuable content for our fans. I’m decide what to put out every day across the different channels, and then executing that content. So one day we might be shooting recipes, and another day sharing tips.
I think we have the luxury of knowing that our audience has our product, so it's all about supporting them. What I love about the health and fitness community is that it's really easy to put out valuable content to help people. We don't really have to shove products down your throat.
I definitely love being able to blend creativity with strategy and analytics. It’s fun to discover efficient ways to drive revenue that don’t take away from our social content. This is what being a social media manager is all about.
Beachbody is known to be very social-savvy in their marketing, especially the way they encourage their customers to share “before and after” photos online. Did you have a hand in that strategy?
The social media team has a hand in driving success stories and helping get the word out about how to enter. However, Beachbody has wonderful incentives like a free t-shirts just for submitting your BnAs—“before-and-after” shots—and daily cash prizes for amazing transformations and stories.
Our products are no good if they’re not giving people the results they want! That’s why we make sure there are many different ways and incentives for submitting your transformation. We have a whole team at Beachbody dedicated to just BnAs called the Success Stories Department. The Beachbody Challenge Team does a great job in managing and promoting incentives.
Do you have a sense of what kinds of content will perform best?
It’s always changing and varies by brand. For example, blog posts and videos are much more engaging on Facebook than pictures for our brands right now.
I know our 21 Day Fix fitness community is obsessed with all things nutrition and recipes. They consume recipes like nobody's business because they need food ideas that help them succeed with their program, while other Beachbody communities might prefer more motivation or exercise examples. By staying in tune with your brand communities and thinking about what type of content provides value or motivation to them, that’s how you create content that really works.
If you keep the mentality of adding value and helpful information to your community and think less about sales, your content is going to win and eventually you can create more products that the community will be hungry to buy.
Figuring out what works on social can often be “learn as you go.” Was there ever a time when you posted something that got a negative response?
Usually if something doesn’t perform as well as expected, it just means people aren’t engaging with it. But sometimes people try to comment on our transformations and say that we Photoshopped the person or that it’s not the same person in the “after” shot. I always defend those people because 1) we never Photoshop any of our images, which would be so illegal, and 2) just because someone changes their hair color or gets a tattoo doesn’t mean it’s not them! I think it’s crazy how quick some people are online to judge someone or not give them credit for the hard work they deserve.
Overall, though, I think the fitness community as a whole can be super positive and encouraging.
Did you always want to get into a health-oriented industry?
No, I never thought about it. My first job was at a video-game company. It was fun but not necessarily true to me. Then I started working at a startup fitness apparel company, which no longer is around, but that's kind of how I first got started. We were sharing motivational tips and recipes and I was like, “This is so fun. This is authentic to me.”
I love the idea of motivating people to live a better life—whatever that is for you, obviously. It's funny that even fitness apparel can get you started.
Were you always into fitness?
I did sports when I was younger. Now I love working out. I'm kind of addicted to the feeling and the endorphin rush. Right now I'm really into hot yoga. I'm actually going to get certified. It's hard for me to sweat, so I love that feeling of sweating. Also, because I work for Beachbody, I try all of our programs.
What about your meal regimen? You have a very popular Instagram that follows your meal prep.
Once you realize how much food is processed, you start to pay attention to the ingredients. There shouldn't be 20 things in my loaf of bread. It’s like you're not eating food. So I’ve just developed a mentality that I'd rather eat real food.
That's kind of how I look at healthy eating and that's what works for me. I think “diet” has a bad connotation. So a healthy eating “lifestyle” is usually easier for people if they follow some rules. I always try to encourage people to think about what they’re eating and how it makes them feel afterwards.
Working at a health and fitness company makes it so much easier for me, obviously, but there are still moments when people have birthdays and someone brings a cake. I just don’t eat it.
You never eat it?
Rarely. You shouldn't be doing it just because it’s an occasion. Do you know how many occasions there are? I want something that’s pure, that’s made with all the freshest ingredients and I know what's in it.
That's amazing. Do you have any goals for what you'd like to do with the fitness stuff?
I'm not sure yet. At the end of the day, I want to help educate people because I feel like education is a huge issue in terms of what you put in your body.
I remember when I was younger, I'd look at magazines and think, “How do I look like that?” When I was younger I just thought I needed to eat less. That’s how you get eating disorders. You just don't understand how to eat healthy. It’s not about eating less, it’s about eating the right types of food.
Along with education, my other goal would be to motivate people. I think being online is the easiest way to have a really huge impact on people, but also getting my yoga certification and other certifications will work towards that goal. So that's my long-term plan.
You touched on an interesting point about eating disorders and the misunderstandings around food. Do you have personal experience with that?
I don't know if everyone goes through this phase, but when I was really young I had some issues with eating. I'm not always open about this. I had an anorexic phase where I just started eating less and less, and the next thing I knew I was eating crackers and cheese and that's all I'd eat that day. Luckily, my parents stepped in and they talked to me about it.
Do you remember what got you started down that path?
I was very active as a child, so I could literally eat whatever I wanted and I wouldn’t put on weight. So then when I was getting older and going through puberty, I gained some weight—not a lot, but I think looking at those magazines didn’t help. I just started eating less and realized I was losing weight so I just kept going.
Did you feel awful?
I think I was just so focused on losing weight that I didn't even think about how I felt. I got stress fractures from running and I'm sure that not being properly nourished didn't help.
Like I said, I was lucky that my parents got very involved and made me see some doctors. I wasn't stuck in that rut for too long and I got out of it.
Do you think there’s been a change in how the media portrays women’s health?
I think it's starting to change. We need to be accepting of all body types—and there’s a lot of “fat shaming” out there. I don't think hating on anyone is good, but I think you do need to educate people on being healthy. You want to be healthy and feel good, so how do we weave in the message that every body size is healthy, too?
People think fat equals unhealthy.
What does “fat” mean to someone in Hollywood versus someone in the Midwest? The focus should be on maintaining a healthy weight and feeling good, whatever works for your body type. It's definitely moving in the right direction in terms of holding the media accountable.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give?
I'm such a health and fitness nut, so I think making your health a priority would be my biggest piece of advice. If you're getting the right amount of sleep, eating right, and getting some exercise then you’re going to feel so much better and have a better attitude about life.
My other piece of advice would be to love your job. Find a job that fits with your passions and is authentic to you.
What does LA mean to you?
LA to me is the land of opportunity.
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Photography by Magdalena Wielopolski ©