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Melissa Wood-Tepperberg on Building a Brand the Authentic Way

The fitness instructor talks amassing a wellness empire, creating community and navigating COVID-19.


While some may think Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, the fitness and lifestyle influencer, was an overnight success thanks to the increased need for virtual physical and meditative practices during the pandemic, she doesn’t see it that way. For her, the journey actually began seven years ago when she purchased a $24 tripod on Amazon and began filming instructional fitness videos on her phone.

At the beginning, Wood-Tepperberg didn’t intend to create a business, she said, during a wide-ranging conversation with WWD and Beauty Inc senior editor, Kathryn Hopkins.

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“I started sharing this work, because I noticed a difference in myself,” she explained. “I started to really transform before my eyes, and I knew I had to share this. I really didn’t know how, but I used the pillar of social media as a resource to share.”

In December 2019, Wood-Tepperberg continued to grow her reach by officially launching her website and digital fitness platform Melissa Wood Health. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and with that, everyone was looking for a virtual way to remain physically and mentally fit. Melissa Wood Health was already set up in the digital space to address these needs. “Without a doubt it expanded numbers for me across the board,” she said of the pandemic. “I already had that deep rooted connection to the consumers and my community. A lot of people in this space weren’t sharing things virtually at that point. Being set up and being able to reach people across the globe during a global crisis was really a massive silver lining.”

Through sharing on social media and her fitness app MWH, Wood-Tepperberg has created a strong community, proven by her 1 million Instagram followers and organically active Facebook group. When it comes to creating an engaged community on social media, Wood-Tepperberg said “there’s really no strategy.” Instead, she attributes her growing community and following on social media to authenticity. “People want a human connection. They want a real experience. It’s ever changing and ever evolving, but at the foundation of it all, I’m very intuitive when it comes to strategy. It’s just documenting my life and sharing things as they are and as they happen in as real time as possible,” she said. 

However, she was still “craving a deeper connection” with her community, so she took her brand a step further by launching a podcast titled “Move With Heart.” Through this new platform, her goal is to speak with her followers even more candidly and to share things she never has before. “I think there’s only so much that you can actually share when it comes to social, to Instagram, to Tik Tok, and I wanted it to be this stripped back layer of who I really am,” she explained.  

While the Melissa Wood Health universe continues to grow, there’s one question that often comes up: “Will there be a physical studio?” While there currently aren’t plans to introduce in-person classes, Wood-Tepperberg said she’ll “never say never.” And to feed the desire for offline interactions, the company will be hosting more in-person events in the future.

While Wood-Tepperberg continues to navigate the ongoing expansion, one thing has always remained the same: her mission. “I never got into this business to make it a business or make money. I really think that that is what helped me focus on the purpose and the incredible realm of possibility when you believe in something so fully and you just embody that and bring that forward. That’s truly how it’s become what it is because I have never lost sight of that,” she said.