On the 8th Day of Broadway (4 more to go!!), I’m so grateful to share someone who has been a beacon of inspiration in the last few months for me. I was introduced to Marisa by way of the Melt Method through my sweet buddy, Meagan, and I knew instantly Marisa was the perfect fit for the blog. She’s a catalyst for healing through foremost, her teaching of the MELT Method but also her ability to be an open heart at all times. Thank the heavens for healers like Marisa who live and breathe their work as a way of life!
Restorative, healing practices are a tough habit for me. Ask me to take a HITT class every single day and I am there! No excuses. Or even mediation has become a really consistent habit for me. But for whatever reason, body healing and restorative practices really challenge my body’s patience and dedication. I’m so relieved to finally discover a method like MELT with Marisa to help light the way towards habits in healing.
I highly encourage all of my New York pals to give MELT a try in the new year. It basically feels like a full body massage and you reap the benefits for days and days so worth. it!
I’m officially setting one of my intentions for 2017 to focus on healing habits like MELT with Marisa to make sure my body is getting the same healing I give my heart and mind! Because of Marisa’s background in performing, injury, and health, she’s sharing a wealth of knowledge about performer’s bodies and how to give yourself the gift of longevity! Something we all could use in 2017 and beyond! NOTE FROM MARISA: Hi Everyone! My name is Marisa and I come from a background as a professional dancer, actor, fitness model and Pediatric RN. I gradually transitioned a few years ago from performing to being in fitness/wellness full time and sharing the healing benefits of the MELT Method with dancers, Broadway performers, and aerialists. My most recent adventure has been hosting Fitness/Wellness Retreats in beautiful destinations around the world (including Bali and Mexico so far), www.reviverestorativeretreats.com. I’m originally from Central Connecticut and I have an awesome husband named Michael, who is a Broadway performer. 🙂
Q: Marisa, I’m so grateful to have your inspiration and light in my life through Melt and the few times we’ve gotten to see each other. Always a blessing to find friends who are so in alignment with you 🙂 (Shoutout to Meagan for introducing us, We love you Meagan!!)
I’m so excited to dive into your amazing work through MELT but want to start at the beginning and hear about your performance background and what led you to fitness?
A: I’ve worked in many facets of the entertainment industry including musical theatre, TV, commercials, print, voiceovers, and an eclectic list of other gigs. I booked a Broadway show soon after moving to NYC and wasn’t able to go into it because of a previous injury being dropped during a lift on a cruiseship job that caught up with me. It was devastating and ultimately resulting in multiple low back and foot surgeries. In an attempt to stay in NYC when I was too injured to dance or work as a nurse, I started acting and modeling and found a niche in fitness modeling (ironically, since I was only able to do Pilates at the time). After a long recovery process I started doing workout video shoots for Beachbody and several other fitness companies. Being exposed to some of the top trainers in the fitness industry inspired me to want to create my own workout (plus I wanted to be Jane Fonda when I was a little girl). Unfortunately, it was a rocky road after back surgery and I couldn’t workout or dance consistent without frequent bouts of terrible back pain until I was introduced to bodyART Functional Training (by Robert Steinbacher). After years of PT this was the first thing that really stabilized my spine and allowed me to pursue my performing career without interruption. I got certified and started teaching a few classes a week shortly after. Then…….(see the next question)
Q: I feel like we’re bonded over the organic transition out of performing into a calling that was even more in alignment with our truest selves. How was your transition to MELT and how did your relationship to fitness evolve?
A: I loved our conversation about our organic transition out of performing, I always feared it would be a tough ending for me and the transition has been so empowering. Soooo, unfortunately a few years after my spine was consistently strong and healthy, I was violently mugged waiting for the bus on Central Park West. (this story has a happy ending, I promise). The injuries I sustained resulted in chronic compensation and pain patterns throughout my body. The pain was so debilitating I was barely able to work for over a year. I was completely desperate when my mentor introduced me to Sue Hitzmann, the creator of the MELT Method. After 5 months of working with Sue and practicing MELT regularly at home and in classes I was finally pain free and back to full activity. This profound healing experience inspired me to become a MELT instructor so I could help performers prevent and recover from injuries to avoid the type of pain and heartache I struggled with throughout my career. I currently teach weekly MELT and bodyART classes at Core Pilates, Body & Pole, Lifetime Sky Athletic Club, the Institute for Musical Theatre and weekly “MELT for Broadway” class. I’m looking to expand the MELT for Broadway/Dancer Program in 2017. It’s been such a gift to bring a purpose to the physical struggles I went through for years and years, and help so many performers find their way out of pain. Big shout out and thank you to the cast of Matilda for letting me practice teach on you when I first became an instructor!
Q: What’s your advice for finding mind, body, spirit balance?
A: Find time for YOU each day, it’s ok to be a little “selfish” about this. Even if it’s only a few minutes to take some deep breaths in a stairwell at an audition, a little goes a long way. Find things outside of performing that bring you joy and surround yourself with positive people who believe in you more than you might believe in yourself somedays. They’ll remind you to jump back on the confidence train on the days you lose your way.
Q: Top 3 tips for keeping the body in optimal performance mode?
A: Ooooh that’s tough, I could rattle off way more than three. 🙂
- SLEEP! Try to get at least 7.5 hours and if you can get to bed before midnight, even better.
- Drink plenty of water, sipping frequently no guzzling. The body can only absorb so much at once.
- Find ways of working out that bring you joy and bring balance to your mind, body, spirit. You’ll be less likely to skip it if you love the way it makes you feel.
- (bonus!) Just one more, focus on eating nutrient dense foods. If you’re eating empty calories, do it sparingly and they better be delicious! 😉
Q: Let’s dive into MELT. I’m obsessed with it. Can you explain what it is for anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet? (My buddies in NYC, make sure you get your booty into MELT with Marisa! You’ll thank me later!)
A: The MELT Method was created by cranial sacral and neuromuscular therapist, Sue Hitzmann, as homework for her clients to emulate her hands on bodywork. Through a carefully coordinated series of movements using specially designed balls and a soft body roller, MELT rehydrates the connective tissue (also known as fascia), rebalances the nervous system, restores space to compressed joints, enhances muscle activation, improving flexibility and recovery time. MELT heightens the body’s restore mechanism so it helps you sleep better too, major bonus!!!
Q: What makes MELT different from other healing techniques?
A: The biggest differentiator is that it’s a self care technique, meaning you can do it on your own or in a class without relying on a therapist, acupuncturist, doctor, etc. You can address pain, soreness, tightness as it comes up before it becomes a bigger issue. The other nice thing about MELT is we don’t cause pain to get out of pain, because who wants to cause more pain when you’re already in pain, if you don’t have to! For more info check out my website at www.marisamerliss.com/melt
Q: I always struggle scheduling in fitness classes like MELT that tend to be more preventative, restorative, and healing (as I feel a lot of people do!) How important is it to be regularly taking classes like MELT as a compliment for dancers and fitness enthusiasts?
A: It’s really important for longevity. Think of it as working smarter not harder. Because of the improved recovery time, balance and enhanced muscle activation, you’ll get much more out of the dance classes and workouts you’re already doing. There is a great rebalance sequence in MELT that helps to reestablish full diaphragmatic expansion which is fantastic for singers and dancers to improve their lung capacity and breath control.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring performers who have their sights set on Broadway or performers who are interested in teaching fitness?
A: Work hard and forge ahead CONFIDENTLY. There will always be someone out there who’s path appears more seamless or ideal but you get to create your own story and your own journey. Trust that what’s unfolding in front of you will lead you down the path you’re suppose to be on.
Q: Quote to live by?
A: “Go CONFIDENTLY in the direction of your dreams.” “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” and “You are enough!” (when I saw that this was the motto for Fit for Broadway, I knew I wanted to meet you and see what this was all about).
Shoutout to Sierra Boggess for spreading the mantra You Are Enough! Grateful it’s a part of the messages shared on FFB! -J.