Marissa Mayer likes to do one thing at a time. She grew up in Los Angeles, studying dance all over the city, practicing ballet, modern, and jazz every day. Then she moved to Pittsburgh to complement her cursus with musical theatre.
She is now 23 and lives in NYC, pursuing her dreams. In the city that never sleeps, Marissa rarely goes out to party and drink. Rather, her packed schedule includes working at Lululemon, dance, acting classes, exercise and auditions. So much for the stereotype about millennials not being hard workers!
Inside/Out: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
Marissa: Yes!! Dance was, and still is, an integral part of my life. Growing up, I would dance every day after school; it was truly all I thought about. I would wear my dance clothes all day so that I could get to the studio and start stretching as quickly as possible.
I/O: Are you a sports fan?
M: I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey fan. My boyfriend is a die hard supporter and his love for them is truly infectious!
I/O: What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
M: There truly aren’t any "celeb" dancers that stand out… I admired companies like the American Ballet Theatre and Alonzo King’s Lines. To be honest, the people that I distinctly remember were the older students/peers at the studio where I trained, and at the LA County High School for the Arts, where I spent sophomore through senior year at. I was determined to be as good as them.
I/O: Do you ever feel intense emotions during your mind/body workouts?
M: Absolutely. When I’m really in it, I feel it in my muscles. I know that sounds weird. I feel almost tenseness, but it’s really just so much energy that it explodes out of my movement. That doesn’t happen all the time. It’s rare and wonderful.
I/O: Favorite sports moments of the last 20 years?
M: When Misty Copeland became the first African American female principal dancer with ABT - and only recently.
I/O: Do you have a mantra?
M: I don’t. I have a few tools that I use when I feel out of sync. My favorite and most used is self hypnosis. I have a few recordings made specifically for me, by an incredible clinical hypnotherapist and dear family friend.
I/O: How would you define the relationship that New Yorkers have with the active lifestyle?
M: I have only been in NY for about 7 months, so I can’t speak much about how it has developed but currently, New Yorkers and fitness seem inseparable. The variety of studios and meditation centers is incredible.
I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
M: My favorite thing to dance in is a good old leotard and jazz pants. I had this incredible pair of spandex tights for about ten years and I finally grew out of them and can’t find anyone selling them.
I/O: Your favorite activewear brands?
M: I obviously love my Lululemon and wear it mostly to Jazz and Contemporary classes. Sometimes I’ll wear our tights to ballet class. The rest of my dance wear (leotards and tights) is Capezio and Bloch.
I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after working out?
M: After every dance class, I write down what I did well, what I could work on, and any corrections the teacher gave me. Before each class, I look at notes from past classes so that they are on my mind throughout class.
I/O: What about beauty: the perfect hairstyle for training? Accessories? Products?
M: I have a lot of hair… So I try to be strategic with how I put my hair up. My favorite is two French braids and then I pin them on top of my head like a crown. It’s the most secure and out of the way style I can do.
I/O: What activities say New York the most?
M: Soul Cycle and yoga!
I/O: From street to studio, define your style.
M: Baggy. Haha! I love throwing on sweats or an oversized, vintage sweater after class.
I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
M: Boxing!! It’s my new favorite thing. I’ve struggled with finding work out classes that keep my attention like dancing does. The combos in boxing are great because you can go to the beat of the music and it becomes a dance routine!
I/O: Favorite studio and class?
M: Box and Flow in Soho.
I/O: In the city that never sleeps where does mind/body training fit into your life?
M: The city never sleeps because everyone is always working out! For real. I hardly ever go out and drink… I am either dancing, taking acting classes, working out, auditioning during the season, or working.
I/O: Have you ever traveled for wellness?
M: Not really. I’m 23 years old so I just graduated college and am starting my life as an adult. My mom was extremely generous and flew me to Italy as a college graduation present. I got to spend 2 weeks with my best friend who lives there. That’s the extent of my traveling experience.
I/O: When do you feel that you are part of a sports or wellness community?
M: I’m a naturally independent person, so I’m motivated by the idea of bettering myself and seeing/feeling results, physically and spiritually. This is the first time that I’ve felt a part of a community like that and it’s solely because of my job at Lululemon. It’s truly expected of us to immerse ourselves within the fitness/wellness community. Our team takes class together constantly! That’s how I met Alison (Editor's note: Inside/Out co-founder) because a group of us were going to Box and Flow!
I/O: What role does music play in your practice(s)?
M: When I’m dancing, music is vital. Sometimes I forget how calm and focused music makes me.
I/O: Is working out and selfcare the new social/nightlife?
M: I think that depends on your community and personal preferences, but working out and self-care have definitely become the new nightlife within my community of friends. It’s so cool! I hardly ever go out, simply because I rarely enjoy the crazy party scene. I’d rather meet up with a small group of friends, drink wine, and talk about life together.
I/O: How did sports or physical activities impact your eating habits?
M: Oy. Well, my diet has always been all over the place. I grew up with parents who cooked at home more often than not, which I’m very grateful for. When we did eat out, I never had any guilt for eating fatty foods. I’ve carried that general balance over the years.
I/O: Does challenging yourself physically take you out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life?
M: I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression for years so challenging myself physically is absolutely scary, because of course I want to be immediately great at everything, right away. Whenever I have a really difficult time accomplishing something physically, I guess I do tend to let that effect my identity. For example, I’m not a great turner (in dance). So if I have a difficult time turning in class, I have to actively remind myself that I’m not a failure or a bad dancer, or that I’m lazy.
That’s the big one, if I’m not great at something, I tell myself that
I’m not working hard enough.
I/O: How do you strive to find balance between different areas of your life?
M: I try and meditate a few times a week to ask myself what I need. If I feel out of sync, I meditate to figure out where I’m needing a little love. But sometimes I’m really stubborn and only want to focus on one aspect of my life at a time. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t.
I/O: What does female empowerment mean to you? Do you feel that women go further together?
M: Totally! I think women have a special bond that when utilized, can be an incredible force. I also think that any gender can achieve the same connection and power, it just may be more difficult to access. I whole heartedly believe that all humans are inter-connected on a level we can’t consciously comprehend.
TIPS AND ADDRESSES
1 tip to improve performance: Take a breath and sit for a few minutes before every workout.
1 trainer: Boss Body (KG Gundling and Alex Pucci)
1 playlist: The theatre community is going to roll their eyes at this answer haha! "Astonishing” from "Little Women" the Musical will forever be the song I listen to, before a performance.
1 app: Calm—a free meditation app
1 podcast: Start with Why
1 blog/site: thestrangeisbeautiful.com
1 food address: One If By Land, Two If By Sea, "5th Most Romantic Restaurant in the World” - Architectural Digest
1 beverage: Coffee and Cocao from Liquetaria
1 inspiration: Eva Rainforth (voice teacher)—she is wise, calm, compassionate, and perisistent. She built on my strengths instead of focusing on my weaknesses.
1 woman we should interview: Xiaoning Guo Smith