An Interview with Brooke Emory
BY EMMALY WIEDERHOLT
Photos courtesy Brooke Emory
Brooke Emory is a former professional backup dancer, fitness consultant, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the founder of BeYou Movement, an inclusive global wellness community inspired by the mental and physical health challenges she personally experienced within the dance industry. BeYou Movement is a wellness hub offering individual and enterprise memberships with a percentage of proceeds donated to mental health awareness organizations. Here, she describes her journey to her purpose of helping others by giving them access to wellness practices through BeYou Movement.
Can you share a bit about your personal dance and fitness history so folks can get a sense of what shaped you?
I began my dance journey at the tender age of two. Growing up in the small town of Solon, Ohio, ballet and the competitive dance scene were the mainstays of my early life. By the time I was eight years old, I had already stepped onto the competition stage, immersing myself in the world of ballet. However, as time went on, I expanded my training to include jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical, modern, and Broadway styles.
Around the age of 12 or 13, a significant turning point occurred when I took my first hip hop class with the late Stephen “tWitch” Boss. It happened during a convention where I found myself in a room with around 500 dancers. To my surprise and excitement, tWitch singled me out from the crowd, asking me to be his assistant. This experience marked my introduction to hip hop and the commercial industry. I had the privilege of assisting tWitch for notable gigs, such as So You Think You Can Dance and the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and traveled alongside him to various conventions.
At the age of 15, I signed with a professional dance agency and made the leap to Los Angeles. Starting my career at such a young age, I had numerous opportunities to dance in commercials, live performances, TV shows, movies, and more. I had the privilege of touring and backup dancing for acclaimed artists, including Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, the Pentatonix, Ariana Grande, Soulja Boy, Vanilla Ice, and many others.
Despite the successes, my journey through the industry presented its fair share of challenges. Being judged based on my appearance rather than my skill became a constant struggle. I faced body image issues as I was often asked to wear revealing costumes, leading to an unhealthy relationship with food and my body. The industry’s demands made me battle with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and extreme underweight, ultimately eroding my love and passion for dance. Additionally, being a young female assisting male choreographers, I sadly experienced physical abuse, a pervasive issue in the industry. It took me considerable time to come to terms with and acknowledge these painful experiences.
A blessing in disguise occurred when I was on a break from touring with the Pentatonix. I felt a sharp pain in my calf, assuming it was just a muscle strain. However, the pain persisted, and upon returning home to Ohio, my doctor discovered two blood clots in my calf. This resulted in hospitalization and the need for blood thinners. I was instructed to refrain from any physical activity until I fully recovered.
This unexpected health setback left me feeling lost and questioning my purpose. Dance had been my entire life, and suddenly it was taken away from me. I turned to the world of fashion, which brought me to New York City and provided a creative outlet. However, deep down, I knew it didn’t ignite the same passion within me. It was during my healing process that I discovered fitness, and boxing became my gateway back into movement. Transitioning from ballet to hip hop and finally to boxing, I realized that movement was the true source of my happiness. While I still pursued fashion on the side, I began teaching at boutique fitness studios and embraced livestreaming and recording sessions for international at-home fitness apps and platforms. This gradually led me into the realm of fitness consulting, ultimately guiding me back to California and settling in San Diego.
However, my journey was not without its dark moments. I had neglected to give myself the opportunity to heal from my body image issues, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. Eventually, I hit rock bottom and experienced my first panic attack, setting off a downward spiral. It was during this challenging period that I found solace and strength within my incredible support system, which helped me navigate the darkness. Through this process, I embarked on a path of seeking resources and a community that would aid in my healing and growth. It was then that I discovered my purpose — to help others by sharing my own transformative journey. Thus, BeYou Movement was born, allowing me to make a meaningful impact by supporting and empowering others through their own healing and growth.
How would you describe BeYou Movement to someone unfamiliar with it?
We are an inclusive global wellness community on a mission to become the best version of ourselves. We are a wellness hub with a percentage of membership proceeds donated to mental health awareness organizations. We take pride in being the first all-encompassing, holistic wellness hub that brings together a range of services and resources on one platform catering to busy professionals, health enthusiasts, and anyone committed to personal growth and well-being. Within our hub, we have a variety of benefits, including on-demand workouts, podcasts with top global wellness professionals around the globe plus Q and A, a discount marketplace to the top wellness brands, group coaching, community chats, live experiences, and gear. We provide individual memberships as well as a Corporate Wellness Program tailored specifically for companies.
At BeYou Movement, our main focus is ensuring that you are never alone. We are dedicated to creating an inclusive global community where you can find support and belonging. Our primary objective is to provide you with a wide range of resources, support, and guidance to help you navigate any challenge you may face. As the founder, I am personally committed to being accessible and approachable. I have personally experienced and overcome many of the issues you may be going through, so I can genuinely empathize with your journey. I am here to listen, offer advice, and provide comfort whenever you need it. Remember, you’re not alone – we’re here to support you every step of the way.
What was the impetus for founding BeYou Movement? Was there a specific model or inspiration for it?
In the vast sea of wellness options, you’ll find countless platforms catering to various needs. From on-demand workouts and insightful wellness podcasts to diverse wellness retreats, the choices are abundant. However, what I personally yearned for was a singular platform that could seamlessly bring together all these elements while fostering a nurturing community that I could truly consider my ‘family.’ A platform that could equip individuals with everything they require to blossom into the best versions of themselves, encompassing the five fundamental aspects of wellness: physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Drawing from my own transformative journey, I embarked on the creation of a comprehensive wellness hub. Today, we stand with immense pride as the exclusive platform that provides a unified space for all these aspects to flourish, seamlessly integrating the resources that once guided me to my current position. We are dedicated to fostering a supportive community that empowers you to embrace your journey towards becoming the best version of yourself.
How is BeYou Movement organized, both from the back end and the front end?
I feel immense gratitude for the incredible network of wellness professionals who have become not just my colleagues, but also dear friends and family. Additionally, our partnership extends to encompass a range of high-quality wellness products. Within my podcast, I am privileged to feature esteemed global wellness experts, including my own therapist, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and many others. Moreover, my cherished friends Matt D’Amour and Linwood Paul lead our group integrative wellness coaching, a transformative experience in itself. To further enhance our offerings, we have curated a discount marketplace featuring the finest wellness products worldwide. Each product has been carefully vetted and personally used by me and my team, as we strive to share these invaluable resources with our community.
If you’re a member, you’re able to experience all the resources, and you have your own membership hub. Within that hub, you’ll see all our on-demand workouts, podcasts, discount marketplace, and events, which include group coaching, community chats, and live podcasts plus Q&A. However, if you are not a member, you are still able to listen to our podcasts on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Along with this, anyone can attend our live experiences and purchase our gear!
What organizations does BeYou Movement donate its proceeds to?
Right now, we’re partnered with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), located in San Diego. A little backstory: three years ago during COVID I launched my own nonprofit bakery called Brooke’s Bakery. I wanted a way to give back and help people in need. I decided to drop off cookies to hospitals in San Diego. They kept asking for more, so I tried to figure out a way to spread the love across the US, I launched my website and shipped cookies and truffles to hospitals and our “Sweet Squad” around the US. The profits went to NAMI. I chose NAMI because a big part of their work is specifically with females who struggle with body image. I’ve often done speaking engagements through NAMI to speak to young females, and specifically dancers. Brooke’s Bakery has become an integral part of the BeYou Movement; at all our live experiences, attendees have the opportunity to enjoy delicious treats from Brooke’s Bakery.
Have you seen BeYou Movement positively impact your community?
I have seen people change their lives solely by the community itself. The amount of messages, posts, and motivation our community gives each other is like none other. It’s not about the body image or weight you lose. I don’t take note of calories burned. What I take note of is people leaving me posts telling me last year they couldn’t run five minutes, and now they’ve ran a 5k. I’ve had people with eating disorders their whole life who are now on a path of healing and growth and haven’t binged in a year. I’ve had people who have drug issues who exert their energy into the community to help them break their addiction. I have seen our community connect internationally; we have folks from 15 different countries. The fact that they are able to connect on one platform does wonders.
What’s your demographic?
Our community is quite diverse, but we primarily cater to individuals between the ages of 25 and 50. While we don’t have a specific target market due to the variety of offerings we provide, we’ve noticed some trends among different age groups. Younger individuals are often drawn to our engaging community chats and group integrative wellness coaching sessions, where they can connect with like-minded peers and receive personalized guidance. On the other hand, we’ve found that our podcasts and Q&A sessions tend to attract a slightly older demographic seeking in-depth discussions and valuable insights. However, it’s important to note that our community truly encompasses a wide range of ages, and we embrace the diversity of perspectives and interests within BeYou Movement.
How do you create fitness classes that are body positive and inclusive?
I don’t call it working out; I call it wellness movement. When I taught classes in NY, it was so toxic. People would take three classes a day. I was injured all the time and I wasn’t eating enough. Since that experience, I’ve made my classes solely about movement and intention.
We offer three different classes. We have the BeYou Method, Low Intensity, and Recovery classes. The BeYou Method classes are a culmination of boxing, flow (a dance component), high intensity, weights, strength, and functional movement. I start all my classes with an intention. I have participants say one thing they are grateful for that day. We’re not there just to burn calories and sweat. I’m making sure my educators and I are highly educated about the body and are coming from a point of strength and internal power inside out. Low Intensity classes include everything in the BeYou Method classes but without the high intensity to protect the joints, ligaments, and muscles. You still get the benefits of movement without having to blast your body. It’s great for people who are older or working through an injury. Finally, the Recovery classes are about making the body feel good. That includes stretching, mobility, and foam rolling to make the body happy.
Are you seeing any positive changes in the dance industry?
I’m more immersed within the fitness scene now. However, when my physical abuse within the dance industry was exposed, there were a lot of other female choreographers and dancers who shared their story. I think it protected others from that happening to them or at least got people to talk and hopefully not feel as ashamed or alone. Especially after COVID, there has been less stigma on mental health. More people are taking the time for self-care. Joining a community makes you stronger.
In the hip hop scene at least, females have stood up for themselves in auditions. They are demanding to get booked for their skillset, not just for their look. I’ve seen backup dancers demand not to wear a sexual outfit. Artists have also changed and affected the industry. Singers are putting themselves out there as being more accepting of their bodies.
Any other thoughts?
At BeYou Movement, we deeply understand the importance of never feeling alone on your journey. Creating an inclusive global community where you can find genuine support and a sense of belonging is at the core of our mission. Our ultimate goal is to empower you with a diverse range of resources, unwavering support, and personalized guidance to navigate through any challenge you may encounter. As the founder, this mission is deeply personal to me. I have personally experienced and triumphed over various obstacles, which allows me to wholeheartedly empathize with your unique journey. It is my heartfelt commitment to be accessible and approachable, ready to lend a listening ear, offer valuable insights, and provide comfort whenever you need it. Remember, on your path to self-discovery, you are never alone – we are here with you every step of the way, dedicated to supporting and uplifting you.
To learn more, visit beyoumvmt.com or follow Brooke on Instagram @brooke_emory or @beyoumvmt.