Massy Arias is practically a household name to anyone remotely interested in fitness. The Afro-Latina trainer rose to Instagram fame under her former pseudonym @MankoFit (now, @Massy.Arias) sharing fun and effective workouts as well as nutrition tips after enduring her own struggles with mental health. Massy has never been shy about sharing her personal battles that inspired her to get stronger, both mentally and physically, and led her to having the 2.3 million followers she does today. That was her story and will always be. But, we've been following her for a while and noticed some changes in her life so we had to ask: what is life like now for the seasoned trainer and now, mom, in 2017 where Insta-fitness experts spring up—well—instantly?
Probably the best it’s ever been. On February 28th of this year, the 28 year-old welcomed her first child, a daughter, Indira Sarai Williams with husband and business partner Stefan Williams. Incidentally, baby Indi has a following all her own. To round out this incredible year, Massy also landed a gig as Target’s new C9 Champion brand ambassador (MAJOR), and all while continuing to perfect her signature MA 30 Day Programs. With a whirl wind of blessings that are time consuming, to say the least, her community of “MA Warriors” (yes, she has a fan club) only continues to grow and unlike most Insta-famous personalities. And if you ask Massy, it's not due to strategy. In fact it’s the exact opposite that keeps Massy at the top of her game.
“I think I don’t think about it. I think I’m just sharing my journey and there’s no strategy. That’s the strategy. There’s never been one. The stuff that I post, it’s not like, ‘Let me post this to gain followers,’ you know, even my celebrity clients, I don’t need to like ‘oh post me up.’ You’re never going to see that on my page, because at the end of the day it’s more educational and it’s more of my journey. Obviously, I’m putting my business out there, duh, because it’s how I make my money. But regardless there’s never been a strategy, so that’s why I think I stay relevant. Because it’s my passion and my love for fitness comes from a very genuine place. I feel like people just know. People can sense that…they can…I think energy is really real. The energy you put out, is the energy you’ll get back. So I honestly feel that my journey has been so genuine and full with positive vibes that I think it’s just energy coming back and repeating,” she tells me back on a sweltering day June, when I sat down with her in her home outside Los Angeles.
“Well, obviously Facebook is making it really hard, changing the algorithms and all of that, so you have to stay relevant. Honestly I haven’t and if I did have I would probably see a better conversion of engagement and what not. Like for example, the last couple of days my reach hasn’t been there. Why? Because I haven’t posted. So now you have to post a certain amount of times for your account to remain relevant and you have to make sure that you’re engaging. Apparently everybody knows about this new algorithm but me [laughs]”
It’s true. Well, I can't speak to the whole Facebook thing (I’m still lost on the whole algorithm business myself), but having been a follower since her “MankoFit” days, I know firsthand it’s her ability to be completely transparent with her audience that has secured her longevity. Everything from opening up about her post-partum depression to hitting her signature happy dance at the end of her workout videos, has always been organic. At the end of the day, real attracts real.
in preparation for our shoot that afternoon (which doesn’t take much because she greeted us at her home with an already glowing complexion), she joins our team on a makeshift set in her apartment complex, where we’re noshing on gummi bears, chocolate candies, and a collective team favorite — Veggie Straws, you know, for balance. Well, with a single declaration, Massy shuts that healthy junk fantasy down, “You know, you might as well be eating a bag of Doritos,” she says with her newfound mom-like authority. Then she proceeds to give us mini-lecture about how the Veggie Straws are essentially trash. And although she bursts our “healthy” bubble, she’s coming from a place of wanting to help and she’s totally right, like moms always are.
Everyone makes a quick, subtle adjustment away from catering as we stare at Massy's washboard abs while she’s getting photographed. Indira, or Indi, as she is nicknamed by her parents and to her tens of thousands of followers, just turned 4 months old. I repeat, 4 MONTHS old. And as we look at Massy, it's almost as if she didn't have a baby at all. If you followed her pregnancy, then you know she continued her regular fitness routine with modified workouts and diet, so she put in the work far before giving birth earning her that body. But still, one can’t help but envy her version of a mom bod. However, to Massy “snapback” is loaded a term. She explains that every mother’s journey is different and you never really know what someone, especially a new mom, is going through.
“I found that even though my body was looking a certain way, I mean you guys saw, 9 days after giving birth, my belly looked pretty much small, but for me dealing with postpartum depression right after has been the hardest. It’s just because you really don’t know yourself and now you find yourself living a new life and trying to figure yourself out. It’s like ‘Who am I?’ Now all the attention is for the baby, there’s all this outside pressure, like ‘Are you breastfeeding? You know, if you’re not breastfeeding, you’re a bad mom.’ I think about trying to be a wife, a mother, and also a businesswoman all at the same time. It’s really, really hard,” she admits.
“Nobody told me that breastfeeding was going to be so hard. I thought it was going to be a natural thing. And even though it is, it’s not. They don’t tell you your nipples are going to be bleeding; your nipples are going to be scabbing. They don’t tell you that every time your baby latches on, it’s going to hurt. You know, your nipples have to toughen up. They don’t tell you the emotional changes that happen when you feel like you cannot provide for your child, because it’s supposed to be a natural thing and you’re like, 'Okay, I’m supposed to be providing for my child and I can’t.' They don’t tell you about the mob of moms who make you feel like a horrible mom if you don’t,” she breaks down about the pressures of being new mom.
There she goes again, keeping it real. And while she means every word of it, you can tell none of that matters as she gazes over at Indi in between takes as the team and I take turns “babysitting” on set. I could go on and on about how incredibly adorable Massy’s mini-me is but one look at her Instagram, @GrowingUpIndi and see for yourself. Yes, this indeed is a family of socialpreneurs. In fact, forget Tinder, Massy met her husband on Instagram.
“We met way back, when Instagram was just a photo app and filter app. We were introduced by this gentleman from San Diego who I still haven’t [IRL] met yet. I don’t even know what he’s doing now. He was putting these fitness enthusiasts together as a group like the ‘Avengers of Fitness’. Stefan was a part of it, and [the group] all exchanged numbers and one day out of the blue he called me. I said ‘Why are you calling me?’ And we literally started talking every single day till we started working together and that has been it. We met on Instagram.”
because he reminded her of her brothers but that over time his personality won her over. “I think my husband’s pretty hot, but for me attraction is more than just a look, for me it needs to be more than that. I was attracted to his brain first then came everything else. I was like, ‘Wait a second, let me take a look at you. You’re really handsome, you know that?’ He was playing the friend card and it worked [laughs]” Although, Stefan often co-stars in her partner workout videos, he’s actually NOT her gym buddy. “Steph and I don’t work out together, so he’s not my gym buddy, but it actually works better that way, because when I go work out he’s probably sleeping from being up all night with the baby, so I take her with me and make it work. Then we switch off. That’s how our partnership works.”
So how does a 28 year-old millennial mom and wife on her way to running her own fitness empire deal? There’s two mantras she lives by: “If it has ever been done before, what makes you feel you can’t?” and “Progress, not perfection.” That’s it.
Massy broke down what that means for what’s next on her agenda, “I’m planning my tour which is going to be about finding my purpose, because I need to find my purpose again. I was planning last year before I got pregnant and had to stop, so that’s something that I’m going to take again hopefully soon...I don’t believe in people having to pay to workout with me. I’m going to create partnerships that are going to help me get to where my following is without them having to pay a penny to come and move. So that’s one of the things I have planned to bring to Target, and all of these different partnerships that I have created over the last few months, or years—use their platform to help me go on tour and get people and my community to move. And putting out my programs. So I have two new programs, one for postpartum moms, and just an overall challenge that I’m doing myself, because now I feel it’s time to get back to my usual.”
For Massy, her new normal is doing what she can, and not trying to do the most in a world where just about everyone is trying to do the opposite.