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.

Oxygen - - Contents - By Lara McGlashan, MFA, CPT / Pho­tog­ra­phy by Cory Sorensen

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

Height: 5’8”

Spon­sors: Tar­get, C9 Cham­pion, CoverGirl

In­sta­gram: massy.arias

Face­book and Twit­ter: mankofit

Fa­vorite say­ing: “But did you die?”


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