Imagine this; you've been following someone for months, reading all of their posts, imagining and hoping they're just as wonderful IN person as they seem online.. and then you finally meet them. Eight times out of ten, at least in LA, the influencer IN person rarely matches their online persona...but lucky for you (and me), Melissa Eckman is even more extraordinary IN person than we could have ever imagined.
We had the opportunity of chatting with Melissa about her online success and how being a Yogi influencer has not only changed her life, but the lives of many. With nearly 200k followers on IG, Melissa's sunny outlook and warming personality are undeniably authentic, and after finding out that she's been using Instasize for years now, we knew we had to feature her. Sit back, stretch it out, do whatever you need to do, but prepare yourself for inspiration, because it's headed your way.
On October 2, 2013 I taught my first exercise class. I posted a photo and captioned it "Taught my first pure barre class this am! Never too late in life to do something you love...be your own inspiration!" ❤️👉🏼 My whole adult life I had been an accountant. I went for my undergrad and masters in accounting, got my CPA and worked for 6 years in that profession. I thought that was going to be the rest of my life and couldn't help but feel like something was missing. When I decided to teach exercise classes at 6 am before work - I didn't realize I was setting off a passion that had lived inside of me for years. I would get to the studio even earlier than my 6 am class, prop up my phone, video myself and screenshot a photo to post on my instagram. I wanted to share with the world my fitness journey and taking those photos & teaching those classes meant the world to me. Almost 3 and a half years later I look back and can't believe trying something new, that seemed so small, changed my life forever. Never be afraid to try something new and from the bottom of my heart I want to thank every single one of you that is with me on this journey. I never in a million years thought that MelisFit would hit 100K and I'm truly honored that you're here! 🦄 Yesterday @fashionista_com shared my story and the story of some inspiring amazing women who inspire me everyday on their article "The Business of Being a Fitness Influencer"👉🏼👉🏼 I placed the link in my bio so you can go read more!! Happy Friday! Love you! Melis ❤️
Instasize: What got you initially interested in Yoga and Fitness? When did this happen for you?
Melissa Eckman: For 6 years I worked in Corporate Finance and Accounting full time as a CPA, I was working anywhere between 60-80 hours a week and didn’t have time for much else besides work, but always made my health and fitness a priority. After transitioning to a new job with a more flexible schedule I appreciated the free time in my day more and began taking Pure Barre classes every single day after work. One of the managers approached me and asked if I would be interested in becoming a teacher. Conveniently enough, they needed a 6:30am instructor, which would be the only time I could fit in my schedule before work. Becoming a Pure Barre Instructor unlocked a passion I had no idea was inside of me and I was doing something I genuinely loved. After teaching my first class I realized what an impact teaching fitness had on people’s lives – and I was instantly inspired. I always felt I needed some sort of professional career to feel successful, but I was starting to learn that wasn’t always true! I began to video myself before my Pure Barre classes and would post them on my personal Instagram – I began building a community in the Pure Barre world, and connecting with people all over the country. Shortly after, a friend from Pure Barre took me to a yoga class and I found it to be an incredible outlet for me during a difficult time in my life. I began to practice yoga on the beach every morning and loved the mental benefits and positive changes I began to see. My Instagram page became more Yoga focused and I started to seek out more people in the yoga Instagram community because I was so inspired! I found the online yoga & fitness community to be so supportive.
IS: Did you set out looking to grow an Instagram following, or did it happen naturally? If yes, what strategies did you adopt to grow your IG following?
ME: I never looked at growing my page from a numbers perspective. I loved seeing the engagement on my photos, but only because I was so excited to be a part of this amazing community. My focus has always been more of building a community of people who are positive minded and truly supportive of one another. I wanted to create a safe and fun space where people could join in on my journey and support one another along the way.
My favorite part about Instagram is the connections I have made. I talk to my followers every day through comments and messages! I don’t think it’s about the number of followers you have, but it’s knowing the possibility of positively impacting other people’s lives.
You know it’s a successful day at the outlets when you leave with a new jacket, shirt and pair of shoes on (I couldn’t wait to wear these pieces!!)!! 😂😂💖 I had so much fun shopping at @deserthillspo today (I can’t believe how many amazing stores they have here!) and can’t wait to come back for more holiday shopping!! p.s. do you love the color of this jacket as much as I do?! 😍 Happy Friday!! 🎁💞 #deserthillspo #premiumgifting #premiumsavings
IS: When someone comes to your page for the very first time, what do you want them to take away from your page and online presence?
ME: For me it is so important to be authentic and true to who I am. I am very open with my followers, and I want them to personally get to know me. There is so much good and positivity in each day, and I do my best to showcase that through my page. I want people to come to my page and always feel like it’s always a bright sunny day and to leave feeling better with a smile on their face. Of course I have my bad days too, but I truly love to show how you can always see try to see the best in any situation.
"My focus has always been more of building a community of people who are positive minded and truly supportive of one another."
IS: How have you utilized Instasize to spread your message?
ME: Instasize is a great way to edit my content and spread my message. I love using it to write on my photos, make memes, collages, and filter photos.
I am very attached to the content I create. I put a lot of heart and soul into my posts and sometimes get nervous when I share content that I have worked so hard on. When I am creating content I love knowing that Instasize will help me deliver quality content to my followers. Having an app support you in sharing your message, is amazing.
#CreateHope through YOGA! 🧘♀️ Could you imagine 512 kids practicing yoga?!! That is how many kids @children International had participating in their Yoga Unmesh Program in 2017! 😱 👉🏼The Unmesh program teaches children life skills through yoga and teaching yoga as a meditative state (not just physical) and utilizing basic postures that are accessible for children of all ages. 💓The life skills being taught are caring for others/empathy and valuing group work. Also, the Unmesh program is strengthening the following 5 personality traits: 1️⃣Confidence 2️⃣Preservance 3️⃣Focus 4️⃣Dedication 5️⃣Accountability As you can see, sponsoring a child with @children creates a whole world of opportunities for them!! 🙏🏼Our goal is to help 20 kids get sponsored by midnight today on World Health Day! 😍😍 I am sponsoring a beautiful girl in India named Poonam and I am so happy to be investing in her future. 👉🏼Click the link in my bio to learn more, make an impact on this world and to celebrate World Health Day! Xo Melis 💓 #CI_Partner #MelisFam #Yoga #Yogi #GiveBack #LosAngeles
IS: How has Yoga/meditation benefited other parts of your life?
ME: Yoga has changed my life completely. The biggest principle I have learned is to not compare yourself to other people and be secure with who you are. Yoga is not a competition, it is a self-journey and a self-practice. Before I started practicing yoga I would always feel the pressure to be the BEST, and I quickly realized that comparing myself to others was actually only hurting me. I have learned to accept my path and am happy where I am at on my journey. Being present within yourself is one of the main principles of yoga and at the end of the day you need to be happy with who you are.
IS: How often are you creating content? Do you have any tips on content creating?
ME: Every week is so different for me. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to creating content. I try to create content every day because I love to post new videos and photos. If I hold onto a photo for too long, it most likely won’t get posted. I love to post how I am feeling that day and the image usually portrays that feeling! Having someone you’re comfortable with help you take photos and create content is also important. My goal is always to get as much good information out there as possible.
IS: We know a lot of Yoga and meditation practice is centered on disconnecting and being in the moment, while social media may completely contradict that ideal…how do you manage to find the balance between the two?
ME: I view my page from a teaching and sharing perspective. When I work out and when I’m practicing yoga, I am usually not creating content for my social media. I find the balance because my social media shooting time is more planned throughout the day. I typically wouldn’t expect to shoot content when I go to my daily yoga class. I view my daily practice and my content I am shooting that day as two different things. Sometimes I’ll set up my iPhone and film my practice at home, but I don’t let it affect me. I don’t believe in practicing and stopping to see how the video looks. When I am off my phone and not working, I try to be present and enjoy the moment!
I’ve created the most delicious vegetarian charcuterie tray that I am calling 👉🏼👉🏼 The California Summer! ☀️✨💕💛 All you need is: 1️⃣ Cheese 👉🏼 The only brand of cheese I will use (and eat!) is @dorothycreamery! The cheese is incredibly soft, delicious, and I love the flower shape of how the cheese comes. 🌸 It is also beyond important to me that the cheese is made from Rbst-free milk (NO HORMONES added) and is sourced from local farms in Illinois! It’s available all over the country, but if you live in LA you can get it at Gelsons, Vons, & Pavillions! 2️⃣ Fresh fruit 👉🏼 I love grapes, strawberries and blueberries 🍇🍓 3️⃣ Nuts 👉🏼 I used almonds & pistachios 4️⃣ Ripe Avocados 5️⃣ Gluten Free Crackers Would you make this at your next summer gathering? What would you add?? 🙏🏼💘 Xo Melis! #DorothyCreamery #DorothyPartner #ad
IS: We notice that all of your content online is very positive & you are constantly providing value to your audience, we love that about you, where do you find your motivation?
ME: What inspires me is using my platform to affect people in a positive way. With social media, I have the opportunity to share knowledge, and what I am truly passionate about is that I am providing knowledge and content to people that can help them or make their day better. I don’t think people share experiences and knowledge on social media as much as they should! I have found sharing with others is what helps us grow together as a community and brings us together!
"There is no right or wrong way when it comes to creating content."
IS: In closing, what advice would you give someone trying to build their own brand online?
If you are looking to establish your own brand, here are a few of my top tips:
- Make sure you love and are passionate about what you’re sharing. I always say If I could just post a yoga pose and an inspirational quote everyday for the rest of my life, I would be the happiest girl in the world. You have to live and breath what you are sharing, otherwise it will be hard to continue to create content.
- If you can make your brand more niche specific at first. It is easier to build a community around something more specific than something more general.
- Don’t focus on follower count, focus on growing your community. This will ultimately help with establishing your brand, who is in your community and what kind of content they want to see.
- Work hard and be consistent! You have to care about your page even if nobody else does. Don’t be discouraged, your hard work will pay off!