Social Media Week: Massy Arias Talks Fitness And Being @Mankofit

Thanks to Instagram, fitness has become a 24/7 lifestyle. You can pull up a quick routine with a double tap on your smartphone, or gawk and stalk your favorite social media fitness gurus. One of the 'gram's most sought-after: Mankofit, the personal trainer and Dominican Republic export (she moved to New York when she was 13), who's now followed by nearly 1.5 million strong.

Besides her chiseled physique, the Instagram goddess (real name Massiel "Massy" Arias) also boasts a quirky post-workout dance, informative captions and a positive aura that sticks out in a sea of memes and thirst traps. After struggling with depression two years ago (partly because her brother suffered from, then eventually beat, cancer), Mankofit opted for a healthier lifestyle to get both her body and mind right.

Once the poster child for "skinny fat," she says she was 5’8'', 114 pounds with a borderline obese body fat percentage (over 25% for men and over 30% for women). Now, she's working out and working hard daily to be a role model for people (not just the ladies) and maybe even start a charity for cancer and train Oprah. No sweat.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

How did social media become part of your fitness journey?
Mankofit: When I was going through [depression], I was in a very dark hole of my life. I evaluated myself and asked myself which people, activities were contributing to me feeling this way, and I literally changed phone numbers and erased all of my social media. I isolated myself to try to start a new life. I decided to open an Instagram account just to socialize with different people because it was very intriguing to me how you can connect with all these people from around the world, and because my circle became so small. It was just sharing my journey, little by little, and people started adding me.

I created a mini-community where people were sharing their stories. Back then, I was just a very skinny girl who didn’t know much, so now I’ve transformed and people have seen my progress with time. I feel like that’s how I’ve managed to have such a huge following. It’s not like I came out of nowhere. It’s been a very personal journey for me and I’ve been very open with my life because I’m trying to help people who are in the same situation as I was before. It’s a little bit harder to be more personal now that I have such a huge following because I run all of my social media and I only have two thumbs, and there’s only 24 hours in a day.

You actually carry two Instagram accounts: @mankofit and the other is @mankofit_challenge. Do you personally write all the captions?
Yes, I write all the captions. I run my Facebook, I run my Twitter, and finally I have a little help with YouTube, but all the content, I do on my own.

When did you start incorporating your happy dance at the end of your videos?
I believe last year I started [doing it]. I was in Gold’s Gym. I remember one of my friends and I were trying to do a crunch on a punching bag, and I was nervous because I’ve never did that before, and I just suddenly started dancing in the beginning of the video. Before, [the dance] was in the beginning then I made it the end. All of a sudden, one of my friends said, "That’s your thing. Look at you when you’re done with a workout, this is you, this should be it," and I just started. People loved it.

Is this the same friend who records your videos?
It’s different people. My brother records my videos, my boyfriend records my videos, random people if I’m in the gym. Not random, but I usually workout with someone in the gym so whoever is around me.

Has your popularity gotten to the point where you’re at the gym or out in public and people recognize you as the girl from Instagram?
Everywhere I go, I feel like someone knows me or knows who I am. I no longer go to commercial gyms. Because I don’t get a workout in and people don’t understand sometimes that I’m in the gym to workout. People just want to say hi to you and talk to you. Only when I’m in California, I go to Gold’s Gym. If I go to a gym or anywhere, someone happens to know me and they do ask me to dance sometimes [laughs].

Does it surprise you at all?
Before, when I started getting recognized in the street, it was kind of like , Whoa. Now I’m getting more used to it, but it’s still a little off-putting because you don’t have privacy. I [can only] imagine how big celebrities really feel because sometimes I’m out and it’s like, "Oh my God." Maybe I don’t want to talk to them, or maybe I look like a mess, but I can’t avoid it.

I’m pretty sure your popularity skyrocketed even more after you were a part of the Trey Songz video. How did that cameo come about?
He just contacted me via email and it went from there.

How was the experience of working on a music video?
That was a little exhausting [laughs], but it was fun.

Are there any plans to do more music videos in the future or possibly your own workout videos?
I have online coaching and a subscription website that’s going to be launched very soon. Just like you see on my Instagram, I’m going to try to help people on a larger scale. I haven’t monetized my account or made any type of money other than the supplements that I use, so right now I’ve been working on a project to actually do it on a larger scale. With music videos, I don’t think so. I don’t know, I’m not a model like that. I wouldn’t want to get off track of what I’m trying to do. I don’t want to be known as a video vixen or "Yeah, that’s the girl that did a video." I have goals. It’s very hard when you’re a female, young and look a certain way to be taken seriously. When you’re 25 years old and most people say, "You’re a pretty girl with a nice body," I’m trying to get away from that and really go towards the route that will get me to where I need to be. I want to be on TV, maybe have my [own] show that really educates people on how to eat, and how to exercise. I always say and I always tell people my body is a result of my lifestyle change and not [just to get] slim for the summer. I didn’t start working out because I wanted a six-pack or because I wanted a nice body but because I needed to be healthier mentally and physically.

When you first started, did you look to magazines, books or any fitness role models that you wanted to emulate?
It really just happened. Honestly, when I first started, I didn’t think I was going to be able to inspire so many people. I never thought I was going to make this my career. It just happened that I was very good at it. Instead of me wasting my time, I sat down and studied and prepared myself. I promised myself that I was going to be the best I could be because after you reach a certain point, say on social media, I felt like I had a responsibility of giving people the right information. I can’t just post irrelevant information or misguide, or misinform people. If I’m going to inspire all these people, I need to educate myself.

Are there any fitness books in particular that you recommend?
There are different books, but the information is out there. Wikipedia or These are articles being written by normal people so it’s like where is the real information? You can’t just say, "Oh because I saw it on Google or the Internet, let me believe it." You just have to find a reliable source. There’s different styles of training, different diets and nutritions. I don’t believe in diets. I believe in healthy eating, but whatever you believe in, go for it. For example, the Paleo diet is a diet that most CrossFitters follow. I don’t follow a Paleo diet. I don’t really like CrossFit because of the rate of injury, so it doesn’t really apply for me and I don’t really believe it, but there’s people that love it. You have to find what works for you and what you really like.

Describe a typical day for you. What time do you wake up? What time do you workout?
I usually wake up very early, around 6, 6:30, 7. I do my morning routine, then go train my clients. I’m working 24/7. There’s not one minute of the day that I’m not working because I have to create content. Sometimes, I stress out because my social media is very close to my heart. That’s where I get the motivation. I have 1.5 million people watching me constantly and I cannot fail. I have a goal to change the world even if it’s one person at a time, to give people the same feeling I get because I feel amazing inside and out. I’ve been posting for almost two-and-a-half years, posting every single day and it’s different information, and that is very hard to do. It is very hard just to manage and every single day from the moment I’m up to the moment I go to sleep, my day revolves around people and fitness.

Everything is planned out.
I don’t have a social life right now, but when you’re focused, that’s what you need to do. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice certain things. I sacrifice a lot. I sacrifice a lot of time with my family and friends. I have dreams of building a brand that is built through integrity and based on getting the respect from people, from personalities that I looked up to. I still look up to them, but people that tell you, "I respect your work" and it’s very hard as a female of color and also, people sometimes look at me like, "Oh yeah, you’re just a pretty girl." No, I want to be taken seriously.

It’s not about the money for you.
No, because I make my money training one-on-one. I don’t make my money through Instagram. I’ve done maybe a couple of collaborations with certain companies. I did a JBL event, but I believe in the product. I’ve been using the product. I bought the product before I was even introduced to it.

You just want your collaborations to be organic.
Yes, everything you see, I believe in it. You have no idea. Everyday, I’ve been offered something from all these companies and a lot of money but I choose not to because I’m not looking to make a quick buck.

Like fitness products?
Everything, anything like weight loss supplements, watches, headphones, yoga, equipment and dresses from companies that see me anytime I post a picture of a dress. It’s incredible how much money can be done through social media. And people tell me, "You’re wasting that, you need to monetize, you’ve created something huge." It’s not for me. My page was created for the community and yes, it’s about me, but not only about me. It’s about my journey, trying to help other people.

If you could train one of your favorite celebrities or personalities, who would you choose?
I would love to train Oprah. I’ve been approached by my fitness idols already, just hoping that I… Every time I think about it, I get the chills because I feel like, don’t get me wrong, I feel like the fitness industry is going a different route. It’s going more towards sexy like, "Oh my God look at me," and fitness models taking their clothes off. I’m not a model. I just take pictures randomly for whoever wants to shoot me, but I feel like, now, the fitness industry is more about other things besides health and wellness. I would love to have the chance to train Oprah because of who she is, what she represents, what she went through because she’s an idol and a role model for a lot of women. One of my clients is La La [Anthony] and I tell her all the time that I respect her because she’s the wife of a great athlete and she can sit down and just go about her life [if she wanted]. She does not do that. She makes her own money, she’s a great mother, she’s a great friend, she’s a great daughter, and she’s been doing her own thing.

What would you say is your favorite body part to work out and why?
My legs because I restrain myself from doing a lot of heavy upper body lifting upper. Apparently, I have really good genetics so I build muscle quick, but my favorite part I think it would be glutes and my legs. I can tell you this: I had no butt [before working out]. I’ve been able to grow the little booty that I have right now.

What would you say are the common misconceptions about women and bodybuilding?
That if you lift weights you’re going to look manly or bulky. Say you’re a larger person, you need to do cardio first and then focus on the weights later. [Another misconception] is that squatting is the only way of getting a booty. Squatting is very important, but it’s not the exercise that everyone’s talking about that’s going to give you a butt, because that didn’t give me a butt. Other exercises gave me a butt so I think the squatting is very overrated.

What exercises did you do?
Exercises that focus on that particular muscle only. For example, I have very large quads. Sometimes it’s not about we don’t have enough. Sometimes it’s that we have so much more in other areas that that other area looks smaller. I have very large quads that overpower everything. It was just that my legs were so big that my butt looked so small. Exercises that actually isolate that particular area, those are the exercises that you want to do. A squat doesn’t only work your butt, it works mostly your quadriceps. If it’s a back squat, it works more of your hamstrings. If it’s a front squat, it works most of your quadriceps and your core. I don’t do core work. I got my abs squatting, but it usually works other areas. For example, a weighted glute bridge is an exercise that isolates the glute. A kick back, that’s an exercise that targets the glute area only. There’s different exercises. If you really want to work on that muscle you need to do a specific exercise that isolates that area.

What's your favorite pair of sneakers to work out in?
That depends on whoever gives me a deal. [Laughs] There are different sneakers for different things. This is why you never see me rocking a particular style of shoe. Anytime you see me wearing my Supras or my Converses it's because I’m doing legs. Anytime you see someone working out legs, squatting in running shoes, it’s wrong because running shoes are for running. Running shoes push your toes forward. Usually when you’re doing a squat or a lunge, or when you’re doing most of the lower body movements, you want to stay on your heels. You don’t want anything pushing you towards the front of your feet, your toes. Anytime you see me wearing something super flat like the shoes that I told you before it's because I’m working out legs. I want a stable platform, something flat that is enabling me to stay grounded on my heels. My favorite shoes are the Nike Frees.

What’s your favorite Dominican meal?
I just love food. That is so hard. It’s a dessert, the name is sweet beans. It has sweet beans, coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, butter, raisins and sweet potato inside.

Now you’re making me hungry.
It’s so fattening it’s ridiculous. Just looking at it you’ll have a heart attack.

Which artists do you currently have on your workout playlist?
Childish Gambino is on my playlist, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey. For my workout, Major Lazer is there, the Black Eyed Peas, A$AP Rocky, Trey Songz, Drake, Rihanna, pretty much all the good stuff.

What can we expect from Mankofit in the future?
My subscription website, my online coaching, and boot camps around the country.

For more from on Mankofit, visit her official website, Twitter and Instagram.

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P Diddy promotes his new Diddy Dirty Money single 'Coming Home' and his headphones DiddyBeats at HMV, Oxford Street on January 20, 2011 in London, England.
Photo by Matt Kent/WireImage

'The Last Train To Paris' Turns 10: Revisit Diddy's Aug./Sept. 2010 VIBE Cover Story

YOU EVER WATCH a control freak mellow out? It’s fascinating. When said micromanager is Sean “Puffy” Combs, it’s an enlightening ordeal altogether. Sitting at trendy Asian eatery Philippe Chow in New York City, two days before LeBron James announces that he’s taking his show to South Beach, Combs has talking points: impact and legacy. “This ain’t a regular run,” says Combs of his two-decade laundry list of accomplishments. “I’m saying that in the most humble way possible. I’m me and I’m seeing it. Most times the impact of what you do you don’t even live to see it.”

He’s the only patron seated for the evening, lounging at a table that comfortably seats eight. This is clearly a Sean John zone. His voice remains even, but the arrogance skyrockets. “It trickles over into sports. It goes into the way the free agent negotiations are going. [Athletes] have that belief. But that level of confidence as Black businessmen wasn’t really there. Unforgivable swagger. That shit wasn’t there.”

Translation: Sean believes that his ambition has been infectious. In his “humble” opinion, his drive has taught the have-nots that not only can they have, but they can be gluttonous and acquire wealth rather than riches. Will it ruin his day if people don’t agree? Not really. But he’d still like the legacy to be accurately documented. His reactionary reflexes have given way to him thinking long term, which could be why he’s unfazed by trivial shots like 50 Cent’s claims of having nude pictures of his artist Cassie. He’s more interested in guiding careers—Rick Ross, Red Cafe and Dirty Money, among them. And really, he’d like to do square biz and have your kids’ kids respect him like his contemporaries admire Warren Buffet. That would truly be money in the bank. In the meantime, he wants to mellow with a plate of chicken satay and talk Diddy legacy.

VIBE: You have said that rap’s heavyweight class consisted of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Drake. Do you still believe that?

Diddy: Definitely. I feel like Drake is somebody that entered professionally in the heavyweight division. He didn’t come in as a middleweight, he didn’t come in as a light heavyweight, he came in as a heavyweight. He’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with for a while. He is the definition of a new age musical rapper . . . going forward a lot of rap artists are going to have [singing and rapping] in their repertoire.

What’s the ranking in that heavyweight division?

Jay, Kanye, Wayne, and Drake.

Jay still No. 1?

Hands down as far as worldwide impact and due to this last album [The Blueprint 3]. He’s moved up in the rankings.

People don’t realize that you two are friends and not just industry acquaintances.

Over the years as we’ve grown, Jay and I have needed each other. We’ve needed to be able to pick up the phone and call somebody that can understand what each other was going through. We needed each other to motivate each other; we needed each other to push each other. We needed each other to support each other and also to challenge each other. He’s definitely been a great friend to me. There’s never been anything that I’ve asked him to do or he’s asked me to do that we really haven’t done for each other.

Give an example of when you had to pick up the phone and call Jay for assistance.

I wanted to do something game-changing with Sean John. And I just picked his brain. I did [a fashion line] before him but I think that business-wise he did a lot of things better than me. He picked the right time to get out and get his check, to sell his company. We sat on the phone and talked about itŃput our egos in our pockets. I didn’t see Sean John versus Roc-A-Wear. I just saw that my man over here is doing it [and I had] a couple of offers for Sean John. It was a beautiful conversation, ‘cause we’re sitting down at this restaurant and we’re talking about apparel. We’re not talking about music. It was a beautiful moment. Two quarter-of-a-billion dollar companies—just getting advice from your competitor. It was something that you heard rich White boys do.

Dr. Dre said that the last beat that floored him was “All About the Benjamins.” How does that make you feel?

It’s humbling. I was in the studio with Dre the other day. He started working on a record for me. Watching him as a producer is watching greatness. We had a lot of similar traits. It was like looking in the mirror. He would ask questions like, “How you feel about this?” People don’t really understand true producers want to know how you feel about things. We are some of the most observant people on the planet.

You’re a lot more into the music now than the last time we spoke.

I was waiting to get a lot of inspiration from the outside and it just wasn’t coming. And I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle that’s out there. I just come from musical history that musically people gave more of themselves . . . I was able to go back and listen to all the great records that I made. I ain’t do it on purpose. Like sometimes I’d be in a club and the DJ was just throwing tributes and would go deep in the crates. I would be like, “Damn, I forgot that I made that one.” It just gave me a deep connection and another level of confidence for me to do me.

Are you feeling more comfortable writing on your own?

Yeah. I learned a lot more. I feel a lot more confident and free. On this album, I wrote like maybe two or three records by myself. But I still like writing with somebody. It helps me. Not using it as a crutch, but I get better results from co-writing; having my own feelings and thoughts, and, you know, getting some help with it. I love the feeling of collaboration, community in the studio. I don’t like being the mad scientist and being in the room by myself.

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Desus & Mero Bless A Bronx Bodega With A Year's Worth of Rent

You know them as the hosts of the hit Showtime series Desus & Mero, aka "the greatest show in late-night history, featuring only illustrious guests." These days you might catch them chatting with President Obama, but  Bronx natives Desus Nice and The Kid Mero have never lost touch with their roots as the Bodega Boys.

"On our first podcast me and Mero used to have to ride the train back afterward," recalls Desus. "And basically our conversation on the train sounded exactly like the podcast. And somebody was like, 'Yo, they sound like two guys you hear in the bodega.' Which was true, because when you hear guys in the bodega, they talk very passionately about things. They may not have all the facts, but they're talking with their hearts."

"Their confidence is strong!" adds Mero with a laugh.

"That's just us," says Desus. "We're raised in bodegas. Probably 90 percent of the food we grew up eating was either our mother's cooking or chopped cheese sandwiches."

"Facts," Mero confirms.

Ever since the pandemic hit, New York City's community bodegas have served as a lifeline by providing New Yorkers with daily necessities, especially in neighborhoods where door-to-door gourmet food delivery is not an option. But staying open hasn't been easy—the daily risks of doing business under threat from a deadly virus—not to mention a spike in robberies and violence—has made running a bodega very challenging, to say the least. But day in day out, in good times and bad, they find a way to keep their doors open.

"If your block is the solar system, the bodega is the sun," says Mero. "The hood orbits the bodega."

So when the makers of Pepsi cola decided to give back on the bodega owners who provide life-giving sustenance and ice-cold soda to NYC's five boroughs, they reached out to the Bodega Boys as their official goodwill ambassadors. Today Desus & Mero appear in a short film called The Bodega Giveback, which highlights the way one Bronx bodega overcame extreme hardship—and the way Pepsi is helping them keep going after 2020 comes to an end.

For Juan Valerio and his son Jefferson, the proprietors of JJN Corp Deli & Grocery in the Bronx, 2020 has been a horrible year. Juan still remembers when he came to America with his father in 1990. "To buy a bodega at that time was well over $100,000," Juan recalls in the short film, which you can watch above. "It was a dream that seemed unreachable. I never thought I would achieve it. And now this is what I do. My whole life is here."

Then in April 2020, tragedy struck when Juan's father lost his life to COVID 19. For the first time in three decades, the bodega had to close its doors down briefly. "It’s something very powerful to lose what you love the most in a split second," Juan recalls with emotion as his son comforts him with a hug. "Life goes on. And I decided to come back because he always taught me to work. To stay closed was disrespectful to him."

"He had to shut down for a little bit," says Desus. "But then he reopened cause the community needed him. Cause the lockdown a lot of stores closed down. And in the Bronx, you can't really get stuff delivered. And he's the hub. We heard stories of what he did, so we were like, how can we give back to him? Shout out to Pepsi with the Bodega Giveback. And just giving him a year's rent—that's the most amazing thing you can give a bodega owner. Shout out to Juan and his son. The look on their face when they really get it—you see the appreciation."

"It really hit home," said Mero. "Cause it's like, we're children of immigrants. So that could have been us—if we didn't get seen by the right people and put in the right positions, we coulda been workin' alongside our dad at a bodega. And then watchin' your grandfather pass away and then comin' back because you know how important you are to the community. Like, that's really selfless. It's just a dope story. And those stories occur all over the place, it's just people don't see them. Cause they don't get exposed on a national level. But a brand like Pepsi can put that on a national stage and be like,  "Yo, look—this is a mom and pop establishment for real. And these are the small businesses that you supposed to be supporting."

The release of The Bodega Giveback kicks off a larger holiday giveback from Pepsi this season that includes cash gifts to bodega owners and consumers across NYC's five boroughs.  “Pepsi has so many longstanding bodega partners in New York City,” said Umi Patel, CMO of North Division, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “They are not only pillars of the community, but they have gone above and beyond to take care of their loyal customers during the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have worked around the clock to stay open, filling shelves to ensure their customers, friends, and family have the essentials they need to stay home and stay safe. They have even shifted their businesses to meet the needs of the community, offering new delivery options, adding crucial items like masks and gloves, and more, all while dealing with their own personal challenges of the pandemic. We are proud to do our part in giving back to these unsung heroes.”

From now until December 20, Pepsi will also be surprising customers at local bodegas across the five boroughs by gifting pre-paid credit cards of up to $100.00 per customer.

As Juan says in the film, "one hand washes the other, and with both, we wash our face."

Check out our full convo with Desus & Mero above and the short film, The Bodega Giveback.

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Level Announces Their 'Best Man 2020 Awards' Featuring Entertainment Elite to Everyday Kings

It is a hard feat for media brands to survive the content landscape these days. To pull off the incredible undertaking of informing an audience as a new publication in the digital space is damn near impossible, yet the team at Medium's Level has done just that. To celebrate making their mark as a one-stop information shop for black men with their one-year anniversary this week, the team of bright and witty editors has launched their first annual Best Man Awards 2020.

The plan to honor the brand that started in December of 2019, focused on the interests of African-American males, has expanded into encompassing the efforts of a few good men during this mess of a year that is 2020. In doing so, those that broke through barriers of personal pain, new business frontiers, and support of others are highlighted and given the rightful pedestals to gain well-deserved props.

Of the 12 awards, esteemed gents like Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, and D-Nice are saluted as Quarantine Kings for their Verzuz and Club Quarantine (respectively) social media music creations that entertained the masses during the dogged days of our universal shut-down. There is also a heroic soul of a man who protected a black woman and her family from the surrounding presence of racist neighbors on his own time and dime. They have an award for Father of the Year, where former NBA all-star and champion, Dwyane Wade shines as a glowing example of understanding and ushering in new ways of parenting in today's society.

With the awards being a noble move towards giving Black men some much-needed praise in 2020, Level made sure to round up the last 365 days with themes on "The State of Black and Brown Men" as well. Essays that cover the realms of political ideology, coping with covid among Blacks health care workers,  how Black men fell short of protecting Black women, and exploring what Black men see when they look in the mirror (a piece that is a user-generated content driver/audience-led convo). All hard topics that need to be detailed, yet are rarely in a space for deep-dive convo.

Helmed by former VIBE editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall, Level's editors explain their thoughts on the special coverage and celebration of their one year old brand:

“With the Best Man Awards, we wanted to lean into people who are doing incredible things to support society and publicly thank them. Anthony Herron, Jr is a hero. He stepped up to protect someone he didn’t know because, as he saw it, harassment is unacceptable. LEVEL wanted to make sure he received a nod for his heroics. But there are also several celebrities who are doing things outside of their jobs. D-Nice, Swizz, and Timbaland helped us cope through music. And it wasn’t a paid gig for any of them. They responded because people needed help healing so they provided care. That’s a strong attribute of the LEVEL man. It’s certainly is the definition of men being their best selves."

Click here to read about these individuals and learn more about the Best Man Awards 2020. Excelsior to Level.


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