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This Health and Wellness Editor Was an Uncoordinated Mess Before She Took the Philly Mag Job

Turns out she still is. Meet your new Be Well Philly editor, Mary Clare Fischer.


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Be Well Philly’s new health and wellness editor, Mary Clare Fischer (left), at a yoga event with her go-to workout buddy, Chelsea Andrews. / Photograph by Mary Clare Fischer

I do not remember learning how to eat. Nutrition was like language — it came naturally. Or rather, it was one of those things I absorbed quickly because it floated constantly in the background of my household, as ubiquitous as air. My dietitian mother led by example, stocking our fridge with fruits and veggies and whole-wheat bread and religiously cooking dinners despite her single-mom status. Yet our pantry was also full of Jays potato chips and Cheez-Its (although they were whole-grain), and you could find two to four flavors of ice cream in our freezer at all times. Moderation is key, she preached, and cheese is good. I followed the commandments dutifully.

Moving, though, was always a bit of a challenge for me. As a child, I stumbled over my feet constantly, stubbing my toes as I ran from one destination to another. I rode horses instead of joining my friends at soccer practice and couldn’t move past the junior varsity tennis team. It wasn’t just a gawky adolescent phase. When I watch a fitness instructor execute an exercise I haven’t done before, I still struggle to mimic it. Yes, there are certain movements that lend themselves to my thick-thighed body — lunges, say, or squats. But push-ups? Not my forte. Tricep kickbacks? Yikes. Even my downward dog form is lacking.

To be fair, this goes beyond being uncoordinated. I’ve got genetic defects in my shoulders that make it easy for them to dislocate, and they have many times — in a strength training class when my left tricep couldn’t support the bar I was lifting behind my back, on a mountain in Colorado when I slipped and fell on a highly eroded trail. The pain was otherworldly. I might have broken the world record for number of times “fuck” was yelled in an hourlong period.

Because of all this, I am not the obvious choice when it comes to a health and wellness editor. I am not the one you see killing it in a spin class or one of those amazing women proving that females, too, can lift heavy, although I desperately wish I were. I do not receive compliments on my form. (Recently, City Fitness We/Fit director Jon Lyons used me as an example to demonstrate a flat back, and it was maybe the proudest moment of my life. Perhaps I’m growing.)

The point is, if you’re the type of person who bounces around to four different types of classes, has their personal training certification, and aspires to be a health coach someday — I am not you. You are far better at navigating the world of boutique fitness than I ever will be. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more fit. I love to dance, even though I’m awful at it. Spin classes give me an adrenaline rush I can’t find anywhere else. My posture has improved because of barre, and I’m grateful for it. I never feel better than when I’m punching a heavy bag in a boxing class.

And that means I’m going to be telling a lot of stories about the astounding, reverberating, truly life-changing transformations that fitness — in its many, many forms — have helped diverse Philadelphians bring about. There are already so many I’m jumping-out-of-my-seat excited to share with you that I wish I could put them all out into the world at once. However, I think delayed gratification is an important skill for humans to learn in 2019, so I’m going to try to pace myself for once.

But I also want to hear about the nontraditional ways in which you’re cultivating wellness, outside the gym. One of my favorite Be Well stories so far involved sitting down with Alexis Siemons, Philly’s resident tea expert, and chatting about how to use tea as a self-care tool. Since I started as Philly mag’s health and wellness editor, I’ve been to a sound bath, sipped CBD-infused kombucha, and attended an open mic-meditation hybrid that was one of the more empowering things I’ve experienced. (More on that later.) So, if you’re interested in exploring the complementary world of wellness — while being cognizant of the difference between marketing claims and scientific evidence — tune in.

Most of all, though, I’d like to know how you think Philly’s health and wellness community can improve. We don’t get to revolution unless we’ve chronicled the cracks in the system, yeah? To the woman who sent me an email a few weeks back about not being able to find an 8:30 a.m. fitness class: I haven’t forgotten about you. To the man who commented on Facebook wondering whether Giant Heirloom’s prices will continue to be low once the grocery store’s been open for more than a couple of months: We’ll keep you posted. And, most of all, to those who have asked for more body-positive, inclusive stories: I couldn’t agree more. The health and wellness space should be accessible to all of us, no matter our size, skin color, income level, gender, orientation, age — or, in my case, coordination level. If you’re finding that it’s not, I’m just an email away at [email protected]. If I don’t respond within a few days, ping me again. I promise I am listening.

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