Massy Arias’ summer-ready circuit
Authentic, ambitious and altruistic, cover girl Massy Arias — aka Mankofit — is on a mission to change the world, one social post at a time.
an estimated 350 million people
worldwide suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization. But despite its pervasiveness, there is still an unambiguous stigma attached to depression that makes it an unmentionable subject of conversation, no matter your race, creed, country or age. In fact, more than 50 percent of Americans don’t seek treatment for the condition, and even fewer admit to having a mental health issue at all for fear of judgment, shame and discrimination.
“Mental health is taboo everywhere, and in my country, we never talk about these things — people just get labeled as crazy, even if they are only depressed,” says the Dominican-born Massy Arias. “But I think we should be open about it, and depression should be treated the same as any other health condition.”
Exercise as Medicine
Arias is the voice of experience. She suffered from severe depression for years, hiding away in her room, sleeping for avoidance and even losing her hair. She tried everything short of prescription medication to assuage her condition, including meditation, hypnosis, herbs and cognitive therapy. Nothing worked until a friend suggested exercise. Arias had never played sports or been to a gym, but she was willing to give anything a try. Within six months, she was a new person.
“When I say fitness saved my life, I mean it,” she avows. “Movement puts you in a very positive hormonal state, changing the chemistry within your body and your brain. I was also occupying my mind with new challenges and was meeting people who were holding me accountable and making me feel good about myself. I had something to look forward to, and my life completely transformed.”
However, feeling those feels was a temporary condition, and within hours of leaving the gym, Arias would come back to earth — hard. “I ended up overtraining because I started craving that feeling of happiness — a feeling which I only felt during exercise or right afterward,” she says. “But once I started building a routine and collected a team of people and friends who helped me over that hump, things got easier. I got certified as a trainer and started teaching group classes, and everything fell into place.”
Sharing and Caring
Wanting to share her experience, Arias opened an Instagram account — a new platform at the time — and regularly posted raw and personal accounts of her struggles, failures and successes in her journey toward wellness.
“When I started exercising, I couldn’t do a lot of things, and people saw that process on Instagram and watched me go from not being able to do a push-up to doing clapping push-ups, not being able to run a full block to running a 5K,” she says. “My social media is not a bunch of curated pictures that look pretty; I don’t sell dreams — I sell reality — and you will find inspiration to keep on moving forward in everything I do.”
Providing a refreshing break from the typical narcissistic and vapid content of social media, Arias’ vulnerable authenticity garnered her rapid popularity, and she soon amassed a global following of millions, helped in no small part by her bilingual posts.
But depression was still lurking within, and after having her daughter, Indie, in 2017, Arias experienced postpartum depression, which renewed her advocacy of exercise as a defensible and valid prescription. “It was tough, but I used the same approach to help treat it as I did before — using movement and healthy food as medicine,” she says. “As long as I continue moving and eating well, I will continue to rise above my depression.”
Using this all-natural prescription, Arias once again prevailed, and a year later, she is beyond thrilled to be a mother. “Being a mom is tiring and it’s hard, but it has also made me an overall better person — a little more regimented, a little softer, more compassionate,” she says. “It also made me a better trainer and a better motivator because I can relate to so many more women who have kids. Now I have an understanding as to what women all around the world have experienced and what struggles they face with health and exercise and family.”
On the Horizon
Today, Arias juggles several sponsorships, and she is kept busy making appearances for companies such as Target, C9 Champion and CoverGirl. In fact, at the time of this writing, Arias was en route to Dallas to do an engagement in the inner city hosting workshops, an exercise class and a meet-and-greet. This sort of athletic philanthropy is her current MO, and Arias is ardent about reaching out to those with little access to exercise and healthy living.
“I never played any sports growing up, but I strongly believe that if I would have started at a young age doing what I am doing now, I probably would have been a great athlete,” she says. “That is why I am passionate about a project I am working on in the Dominican Republic: I am teaming up with a retired Olympic hurdler — a gold medalist — to build an athletic academy for performance training and nutrition. Hopefully, we can also integrate the Olympic committee and the government to be part of this initiative to help inner-city kids who don’t have the resources they need to play sports.”
She also continues to be an Instagram inspiration by living her fitness truth for the world to see, continuing to set and break goals. “Right now, I am working more on building strength and endurance, trying to be a beast!” Arias says. “I want to be able to jump higher, lift more, be more explosive and beat all the guys I train with. Be a ninja. I want to live my life in a way that changes lives positively every day. If my story can give people the confidence and reassurance that they can reach whatever goal they have or overcome any obstacle in front of them, then I’m fulfilling my purpose in this journey.”
Full name: Massy Arias
Birth date: November 23, 1988
Hometown: Dominican Republic
Current residence: Glendale, California
Sponsors: Target, C9 Champion, CoverGirl
Facebook and Twitter: mankofit
Favorite saying: “But did you die?”
“CIRCUIT TRAINING IS A GREAT WAY TO GET YOUR CARDIO AND YOUR STRENGTH WORK DONE ALL AT ONCE. IT SAVES TIME AND BURNS CALORIES AND FAT.”