Enlisting in the Booty Army
"I think the majority of the audience are women because they are often the ones forced to conform to the standards society has put in place for women, mothers and wives," Caleb Marshall said. "I feel as if there aren't many places where these people can go, mentally or physically to break free from all of the expectations and rules."
Caleb Marshall, though you may know him by his moniker, The Fitness Marshall, has been posting cardio concerts on YouTube since 2014, where he uses his platform to motivate viewers to get up, dance and disconnect from everyday pressures. We talked to The Fitness Marshall about what it means to create a safe space for those to be their most authentic selves.
Haley Jordan: Do you think people use your videos for more than just exercise?
Caleb Marshall: Absolutely. I have so many emails I’ve saved from people telling me how the videos have helped them through anxiety, depression, miscarriage, divorce, abuse, HIV, infertility, cancer, suicide etc. I think the majority of people who do these videos do them because they want to escape from reality. It’s less about losing weight or getting fit and more about mental rejuvenation. I always joke and say it’s like going to church but it really is. It’s a spiritual experience for a lot of people. Dance is so powerful and many people don’t feel as if they are (insert reason) enough to participate in dance. The Fitness Marshall gives normal everyday people an opportunity to dance without fear or insecurity. When these people get to experience the power of dance, healing happens.
HJ: Why is it that so many women say these videos give them confidence?
CM: Women are often wearing many hats. They have jobs, husbands, kids, households, clubs, committees, councils, etc. They live in a world where they have to be everything for everyone. A lot of times that means they don’t have time to be there for themselves. Their bodies, confidence and overall well-being get put on the back burner. These videos give women a space to let go and celebrate themselves. It’s a time for them and them alone. No distractions, no judgment, no standards. It’s a place where they are allowed to let their freak flag fly and not feel bad about it.
"It’s very hard to have a clear mind if you aren’t taking care of your body. It’s also hard to take care of your body if you aren’t taking care of your mind. They both feed each other."
HJ: How do you think mental and physical health are related?
CM: I’ll just say from personal experience, I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for me being physically active. I struggle with my mental health a lot. I’ve had generalized anxiety and panic attacks for a few years now, and the only thing that calms me down is movement. It’s very hard to have a clear mind if you aren’t taking care of your body. It’s also hard to take care of your body if you aren’t taking care of your mind. They both feed each other. You can’t focus on one and not the other or you will crash.
HJ: What are some of your favorite stories your subscribers have shared with you?
CM: There was an eight-year-old girl named Maddie who had a brain tumor. She had to go into surgery and was obviously extremely scared. One of their family friends showed Maddie the Fitness Marshall for the first time and it changed everything. Not only did it calm her, it made her laugh. They said the Fitness Marshall is what got her through the 12 hours leading up to surgery.
HJ: How have women impacted your life?
CM: Women have shaped me almost entirely. I was extremely close to my mother and grandmother growing up. I think being gay made me gravitate toward women because I identified more with their feminine energy. I surrounded myself with female friends, teachers and looked up to famous women. I have always been fascinated with female power. Their gentleness, wit, ability to seduce, strength, courage, and resourcefulness. Women are truly magical creatures that know exactly how to adapt to their environment in order to survive. I studied this ability and did my best to adapt it. Women taught me how to succeed in a world that was not built for me.
HJ: What is the energy like during your live shows?
CM: Magic. There is nothing that can compare to the energy of a crowd of TFM fans. Everyone is there for the same reason. Everyone wants to feel validated and comfortable in their own skin. Everyone is there to lift each other up and support one another. It’s the most positive, powerful and courageous energy you could imagine. It’s impossible not to feel.