Melissa Eckman, Yogi & Author
Melissa Eckman ever so simply changed my life. This health and wellness superstar not only founded the platform, MelisFit but she is also a fitness teacher, the author of Yoga Poses Made Easy and last but not least, a boss with a beautiful soul. Following Melissa's journey through her Instagram page helped shed positive light during some dark times. Everyone's got them, right? Melissa reintroduced the beauty of yoga and movement to me, which helped with my early on-set arthritis. She even paved the way for thecnnekt to interview the wonderful creators of Komuso Design which ultimately helped me and several community members who suffer from anxiety. Melissa's positive, genuine message is rare to see in such a digital, filter heavy day and age. There was no doubt in our mind that we had to share her message with all of you in hopes that you will leave this piece feeling uplifted. You're welcome:)
Our favorite first question: What did you dream of becoming as a little girl and how did that have an effect on where you are today?
As a little girl I always wanted to be a writer! I would spend hours after school making picture books for my teachers and loved it so much!! As the years went on I went through a few phases of wanting to become a doctor, work in fashion and then an accountant. Looking back it is funny because I feel my career now incorporates elements from each of those professions. I just released my first eBook, Yoga Poses Made Easy (writer), I work everyday to try to help people (like doctors do!), I am always putting together outfits for my social platforms and keeping up with the trends (fashion), and I run a business so accounting is a big part of that!
What sparked your interested in health and wellness? And why yoga specifically? Can you tell us how you benefited from yoga as a practice?
My journey with health and wellness has been so rocky. I always struggled with dieting, exercise and was all in or all out. I would go months on a super strict diet and working out everyday and then I would eat everything and do absolutely nothing. I felt frustrated all the time.
I started going to a Barre studio in my building and I absolutely fell in love. I would go everyday, and for the first time in my life I actually ENJOYED working out! They approached me to teach and I decided to teach at 6:30 am before I would go to work at my accounting job.
When I started teaching it unlocked a passion in me I never knew I had. I loved teaching people to live a healthy, balanced and positive life and it was so rewarding to have a positive impact on how people felt about themselves. I decided that I was going to start sharing my thoughts on a blog and MelisFit (Melis being my high school nickname and added fit on the end) was born. After a while I got into yoga through a friend that I met at Barre. I was always intimidated to find yoga and when I finally did it changed my life. It helped me become more confident as a person, more patient with myself and overall happier. The physical aspect of yoga is just one part of a much larger picture. I really saw a change in my mind, body and soul.
You also started as an accounting. Do you ever experience inequality in such a male dominated industry? If so, how do you handle?
I feel really lucky that I didn’t see this inequality in my experience working in accounting. I started my career off at PricewaterhouseCoopers and felt like there were just as many women working there as me! They were all so smart, inspirational, motivated, and respected. It was such a positive environment. On my first client at at PwC, the team was myself and 2 other women, it was so much fun! Funny enough most of my bosses in the accounting field were women! I love to see so many women paving the way in a male dominated industry!
What about the “jump”? Can you explain the process and your feelings on leaving accounting to pursue MelisFit and Yogsiration full time?
The “jump” was truly the most pivotal moment in my life; I was going into the unknown. I received my undergrad and Masters in Accounting in four years and then went right to working as a CPA for six years, I had never worked for myself or in the digital space.
The hardest part was also moving from South Florida to Los Angeles. I sold my house, quit my job, and left my comfort zone behind. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to survive or make money, but the excited part of me knew that everything was going to be okay. I truly believe that if you work hard, believe in yourself and love what you do - you will never fail.
So to sum it up, you are a yogi, model, accountant, and an entrepreneur. Obviously there are struggles and rewards to all of these parts of your life. But do you ever feel the pressure of “doing it all” , especially someone with a large following as you?
I think one of the most rewarding and challenging parts of building your own brand and working for yourself is that the sky's the limit and you get out of your business what you put into it. I could work 24/7 and never feel like I am done with my work. There is always something I want to accomplish or a new project I want to start. The best way I handle this is to make sure I am using my time effectively and spending time on things that truly make me happy. I don’t feel the pressure of doing it all because I work so hard everyday to get it all done and I love every second of it. What I do never feels like work because my goal was to create a career that I never want a vacation from - and I feel I have that.
What’s the best advice you have received or can share with women and men reading following your inspirational journey?
Always believe in yourself and don’t let failure set you back. There have been so many roadblocks on my path and people who have told me no. However, If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate about, there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your goals. I think we too often seek validation and approval from others to keep going on our journeys, but we truly only need that from ourselves.
Whats next for you, Melissa?
This year I am really focused on growing the MelisFit brand. I have been posting to my YouTube channel weekly and am so passionate about creating videos that my community can find helpful. I am working on my second ebook and just always looking to come up with more ways to spread my love of health, wellness, and yoga with my community. If one person tells me something I put out was helpful for them, it makes everything worth it!
Follow Melissa's fitness journey @melisfit_
Interview by Emily