Founder of Melissa Wood Health: How I 'visualized and manifested' success as a fitness influencer and entrepreneur

Melissa Wood-Tepperberg: How I built my fitness and wellness business
Key Points
  • Melissa Wood Health founder Melissa Wood-Tepperberg went from waitressing to becoming an online workout pioneer.
  • At first, "I had a $24 tripod from Amazon, I used my phone," she says.
  • Melissa Wood Health's success in the creator economy became a case study at Harvard Business School in 2021.

When Melissa Wood-Tepperberg decided to reinvent her career, she felt like she was at rock bottom: "I was in a place in my life where I wasn't happy with who I was. I didn't love myself," she says. Instead of searching for her next gig as a waitress, she "looked inwards," and decided to study yoga, Pilates and nutrition, she says.

In 2015, Wood-Tepperberg started sharing her personal workout method, called The Melissa Wood Health Method, with others. "The more that I healed myself and started to connect to all of these things that were slowly making me better, I started to connect the dots and share those little things step-by-step so that people who were watching could really feel that this was something that they could do as well."

Now, Melissa Wood Health has thousands of subscribers who pay $9.99 a month for workouts. The first-time entrepreneur has amassed nearly 1 million followers on Instagram. In 2021, Harvard Business School even published a study on her success titled "Melissa Wood Health: How to Win the Creator Economy."

"I started in my living room over six years ago," Wood-Tepperberg says. "I had a $24 tripod from Amazon. I used my phone." At first, "my office was my living room." Now she has a spacious, white-and-beige workout studio and office in the posh Noho area of Manhattan.

"Being able to have a space like this that I visualized and literally like manifested for so many years and having it come to life, is an incredible feeling," she says.

'Give yourself that space to take care of yourself'

The notion that you need to carve out an hour to self-care isn't practical, Wood-Tepperberg says. "I had a background of thinking that if you didn't have an hour to dedicate to a workout, then 20 minutes of a workout? Like what can you get in 20 minutes? That was the mentality that I had."

Her understanding has evolved. Now, one of the pillars of the Melissa Wood Health method is that it's key to prioritize your wellbeing through mindfulness and exercise, Wood-Tepperberg says, even if just for five minutes as a time. "Give yourself that space to take care of yourself, whether that's a walk, a 10-minute flow, a meditation while you're taking a bath."

As a parent, she knows that's not always easy. But it's important, as she learned through experience: "I'm really good at taking care of myself now, because I know what life feels like when you don't," she says.

When Melissa's son was born, she would take "micro moments when he was napping, or when he was in his bouncy chair," to move her body. "I had never felt better in my life. I felt this level of peace and ease in my mind," she says.

Once Wood-Tepperberg started incorporating mediation, mindfulness, and movement into her routine, "I became a very different person," she says.

'I focused on the impact it was making'

Shifting your mindset is a great place for anyone looking for a change to start, Wood-Tepperberg says. "I really do believe that when you believe so strongly that anything in your life is possible, there's just a limitless power that lives within each and every one of us."

When Wood-Tepperberg started filming her workouts and sharing them online, however, she didn't feel that way. "When I started, I was still in in the process of really learning to embrace and own who I was," she says. "So there was definitely this element of self-consciousness, but I was able to really move through that fear because I focused on the impact it was making and other people's lives."

On her first day filming her workouts, "the tripod was angled wrong, it was dark, sometimes I wasn't even positioning my mat where you could see the moves perfectly. I had no mic, you couldn't really hear me, but I didn't care. I really let all of that stuff go," she says.

Getting out of your own way and focusing on how you can help others has helped Wood-Tepperberg find purpose and meaning in her life and career, she says.

To succeed as an entrepreneur, 'trust your gut'

"The most important thing that I've learned being an entrepreneur is to always trust your gut," Wood-Tepperberg says. "There are always going to be people in the room who happen to be smarter than you maybe have more knowledge than you in a particular space, but at the end of the day, the decisions that I make are really based off this inner knowing off a deep gut intuition."

Most importantly, you have to believe in what you're doing, she says. "I know what this way of life has done to me, and how it's transformed me from the inside out. I show up with a different state of being. And I believe so strongly in the work that I share that it will do the same for anyone who has the willingness to give it their all, and to really prioritize themselves."

Instead of using money or metrics like followers, "I would define success by your level of happiness in your life. I think that is the most important thing," Wood-Tepperberg says. "At the end of the day, it's about how fulfilled and happy you feel about doing the littlest things."

More from Grow: