There’s a movement happening beyond the actual exercises, whether they’re virtual or in real life: props and merch.
And for Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, founder and creator of the MWH Method and the fitness startup Melissa Wood Health, creating branded props that take her signature method to new heights provided another opportunity to expand her business.
Wood-Tepperberg had already launched her online platform and app before the pandemic, which gave her a head-start — or leg up — when the fitness industry was forced to pivot from IRL to digital.
And this week, she released her branded prop kit (designed with her digital members’ needs in mind) along with “Melissa Wood Health” merch.
“I have built my business off listening to my members and what they want to see more of, and I knew exactly what I wanted the props to be,” Wood-Tepperberg explains. “So I got to work immediately and started creating the first official MWH Prop Kit. It was designed to help intensify these tiny movements like never before, for anyone looking to take it to the next level.”
On the topic of next level: let’s talk about the exponential growth her digital platform experienced, from last year to today.
“MWH grew 268% year over year from January 2020 to January 2021. The MWH Instagram was up from 220K followers in January 2020, to 750K followers in January 2021. It’s now over 800K,” Wood-Tepperberg shares. “What excites me more than anything about the growth I’ve experienced is knowing I am able to reach more people and make a greater impact in the lives of those that need it most.”
The prop kits and merch are just the beginning of what’s becoming Melissa Wood-Tepperberg’s world — she hints that there are a few other drops to look forward to this year: “I could explode even thinking about sharing, but in the meantime the most important thing for me to continue focusing on is creating incredible workouts and guided meditations for my members.”
I spoke with Wood-Tepperberg about the creation process and why authenticity is so important to her brand.
Karin Eldor: Congratulations on the launch of the MWH prop kit and merch! How did the idea for the prop kit come about?
Melissa Wood-Tepperberg: Thank you so much! I’m honestly so excited that they have officially launched, it’s the most incredible feeling after a year of working on them. I have always known that I wanted to create props for my MWH members at some point, but the feedback I got at the beginning of quarantine really escalated it for me.
I was going live (on Instagram) almost daily at the time to help keep us all stay as sane as possible, and questions came in from my community like never before asking what exact props I recommended to maximize results in my flows.
Eldor: You are super intentional about everything you do and create — it’s very clear that your workout platform and now the prop kit and merch are all very much extensions of you — and authentic to you. Why is this important to you?
Wood-Tepperberg: That authenticity and thoughtfulness is the most important thing to me with every single thing that I do. This incredible MWH community was built off trust and I do not take that lightly. I only share what I love, what I believe in, and what I 100% stand by. People who follow me know I keep it pretty real — and raw — so it’s not always perfect. But neither am I!
Eldor: Can you share some thoughts around the importance of being intentional in your brand and when growing a business?
Wood-Tepperberg: Getting very clear with your ‘why’ is what I believe is the most important first step in building a business. Before I ever realized I was building a brand, I knew that my intention behind everything that I put out was to be honest and share the reality behind the things that aren’t always the easiest to talk about. The thought of making a positive impact in someone else’s life through being open about my own story is truly what it’s all about. Sharing in an intentional way has helped me connect on a much more meaningful level to my community — not to mention my family, friends and team. This also means, with growth, getting really clear with my ‘yes’s and ‘no’s to help me stay true to who I am, and what I’m about.
Eldor: On that note, can you share some details about the design process for the prop kit? For example, was it based on feedback and asking trusted MWH users?
Wood-Tepperberg: The inspiration for my prop kit was fueled by the feedback from my MWH members. I always knew I wanted to create props that set themselves apart based on functionality and aesthetic, to intensify the movements in my workouts.
Included in the kit is a reusable bag, MWH band, MWH ball, and the MWH “faux leather jacket” of ankle weights (when comfort and fashion meet functionality).
It’s also important for me to note that you most definitely do not need props to do my workouts, or get a good workout in for that matter. The MWH Prop Kit was solely designed for those looking to intensify those already intense tiny movements, and to help take your practice to the next level.
Eldor: I know accessibility and doing the workouts from literally anywhere has always been a core value to your brand. I love your tagline of “Long, lean lines for everyBODY, anytime, anywhere.” Can you share a bit more about why this has always been critical for you?
Wood-Tepperberg: This has always been the most critical thing in sharing my workouts because I want everyone to feel they can get something in, no matter where they are — literally anytime, anywhere — and not feel stressed over it. I share standing series for those mamas who are outside waking their babies in the stroller — you can literally use a stroller, a bench or any stable surface to get a little bit of movement in while they nap. Accessibility is key in having people come back day in and day out, so they feel there is nothing standing in the way of moving their bodies. “Long lean lines” came about five years ago when I started sharing my workouts and I noticed this insane muscle definition like never before. It was as if I started sculpting these legitimate lines throughout my body. It’s crucial for me to highlight that this tag line has absolutely nothing to do with weight. No matter what size you are, you can sculpt these lines — muscle tone — throughout your entire body with these low impact movements.
Eldor: You have grown and cultivated a huge following on Instagram and with your MWH platform! It has been a true joy to watch!!! I think you were at around 300K Instagram followers in March / April of last year, and you now have a community of over 800K people on IG.
What are some things that led to this massive growth?
Wood-Tepperberg: Well thank you. Truly. It’s been a wild journey, and without a doubt that growth was the silver lining to 2020 for myself and my team. I believe people needed more than just a workout during such trying times, and MWH has always been just as much, if not more, about mental health as we are about physical health. People know that they’re going to get a great workout when they come to my platform, but what many also learned to understand was that they are also going to walk away from a flow or a meditation with more peace in their minds from the style of movement I share. I do a quick grounding exercise before I begin any workout, and always end with a mini meditation to take in the drastic impact you physically and mentally feel after a MWH flow. I have always tried my best to guide in a very easeful, encouraging tone that makes you feel like you can literally do anything you put your mind to. Because I believe you can. Now more than ever!
Eldor: Considering the shifts of the past year, I love that you have managed to develop a virtual brand, and now created IRL components. It’s all about the MWH lifestyle, and as a brand, it’s about knowing how to create an extension of digital to physical.
Do you have any thoughts on this?
Wood-Tepperberg: For me it’s always been about intuitively listening to myself and my consumers. The beauty about social media is that you can fully engage with your audience. The consumer has the ability to carve out a road map for you in such a bigger way when you understand what they want. This is just the beginning!