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Marnie Rich
Stories of positive change by Life Time and HOKA

After attending one of Marnie Rich’s group fitness, Pilates, or cycle classes, you’ll probably find yourself feeling sweaty, energized, and confident. Throughout the 25 years she’s worked as a fitness professional, Marnie’s enthusiasm for empowering others has attracted thousands to her sessions — many of whom come back for more. Repeatedly.

While Marnie’s journey hasn’t always been easy, her resilience and optimism shine through everything she does. She finds strength in uplifting those around her in professional roles, but most importantly, in her personal life.

“My family and my children are my greatest joy. Everything I do is for my children,” Marnie says. “My goal as a mother is to teach them to be able to handle life’s struggles, to be independent, to be strong, to be decision makers.”

As a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, Marnie is inspired by opportunities to support people seeking healthier, happier lives, too. “It brings me so much joy to meet people where they are, to watch them thrive and grow, and to see their confidence build,” she says.

The Right Motivation

Marnie attributes much of her fitness journey to her mother, who led an active lifestyle and encouraged Marnie to do the same.

When Marnie was old enough, her mom signed her up for gymnastics — it was the perfect outlet for Marnie’s boundless energy. Her passion for the sport continued through grade school, but it began to wane when she started competing in high school. “My first coach was a negative motivator,” she recalls. “I felt like nothing was good enough and no matter what I did, it was never going to satisfy my coach.”

Though the lack of encouragement was discouraging, Marnie stayed committed. Her determination paid off when she joined a new team in college, with a coach who encouraged her and fostered a positive team culture.

“My college gymnastics coach was so different. I thrived under this different attitude, mentality, and culture of the team,” she recalls.

As part of her training for the sport, Marnie was formally introduced to strength training, where she discovered a new passion. She made the decision to pursue fitness in her education, and eventually became certified as a personal trainer in 1995.

As Marnie began training and leading group fitness classes, she was driven by her desire to be a positive motivation for others — much like her mom and college coach had been for her. She’s remained committed to this ideal throughout her career.

Every day, Marnie makes a conscious choice to create a motivating, you-can-do-it space for her team and class participants. “I think people need to hear that they’re doing a good job. That’s enough,” Marnie says.

Ride for a Reason

In 2016, Marnie’s commitment to supporting others found a new outlet when Life Time announced a partnered event with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event, known as Ride for a Reason, was designed to raise money for the hospital, which researches and treats childhood cancer and other diseases.

Marnie jumped at the chance to get involved. She had a close friend whose son had died from a rare cancer, and after supporting her friend through the devastating loss, Marnie had become inspired to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.

As she learned more about St. Jude, she realized that she had an even closer connection. When Marnie’s daughter was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can affect the skin, brain, blood vessels, joints, lungs, and kidneys. After struggling to find an effective treatment method, Marnie and her family found a doctor whose unconventional methods worked — that is, until he changed his practice, discontinued treatment, and refused to share his protocol.

While working with St. Jude, Marnie was struck by their openness. “They started talking a lot about how they share their research and that they want every child in the world to have access to their findings,” Marnie says. “That hit close to home for me because my daughter’s doctor would not share the treatment.”

Her dedication to the cause, coupled with her motivating energy, helped Marnie become the top fundraiser for the event for three years in a row. “I want to make a difference for these kids. I know that we can make a bigger impact if we come together. Like I say in my classes, ‘As long as we’re together, we can’t help but win.’ Every year we make a big push to help these kids win their battle against cancer.”

Looking Ahead

As much as technology has made it convenient for people to work out at home, Marnie is a firm believer in the undeniable energy and connection that is found in a live class. “Last year reminded us that we need people. We missed being together, hugging, and giving the high fives and fist bumps. Our members are a vital part of our team and we can’t wait to be back with them. We aren’t just surviving here at Life Time — we are sur-thriving!”

She adds: “My hope moving forward is that we apply the lessons we learned — that we take the time to show gratitude and honor the people who are making positive contributions to our lives.”

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