Inspiring People

Meet Marnie Alton: The Fitness Instructor Who Gets Drew Barrymore Into Her Best Shape

 Marnie Alton founder of M/Body barre studio

Six years ago, Los Angeles based fitness trainer Marnie Alton opened her own studio, teaching a signature 60-minute workout class that combined barre, yoga, and dance cardio. During the first year, she was a one woman show: she taught every class, answered every email, and scrubbed every toilet herself. 

Alton, who initially pursued acting, hadn’t planned on opening a fitness studio. And she certainly never imagined she’d start one as successful as M/BODY℠, which has become one of LA’s hottest fitness destinations, replete with celebrity clients (more on this later). 

“When I first had the idea to open a studio, I had zero [business] background at all,” Alton recalls. “I went to a performing arts college. My mother is a crazy hippie. We could never pay our bills. Nobody understood money organization in my world,” recalls the Alberta, Canada, native.

With limited resources, Alton turned to friends of hers that had MBAs, who then suggested she develop a business plan. Creating a formal blueprint proved stressful, so Alton broke her plan down to essentials. “I thought, I'm going to need some money. I'm going to need a space. But, I can build the space. I can fly my friend in on [airline] points and feed him pizza, and he'll help me build it’,” says the resourceful 42-year-old.

“Everyone told me it was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Alton says. Thanks in part to her resourcefulness, it ended up being closer to $50,000, which she spread over multiple credit cards. Within five and a half months, doors opened. 

Her lesson to other aspiring founders is rooted in the moral of the story. “Sometimes we can get bogged down in the planning,” she says, “but sometimes, it’s easier than you think.”

Speaking of ease, when we sat down with this dedicated dog-mom, she couldn’t have been easier to talk to. She’s calm and uplifting, in a grounded manner that doesn’t feel forced. Her enthusiastic energy is not only inspiring, but it’s the kind of attitude that makes her students  amped to complete 16 more pulses of low squats — even when their rear ends are burning. One such student is Drew Barrymore, who recently lost 20 pounds by training with Alton’s feel-good, results-oriented approach.

Read on for our one-on-one chat about mantras, meeting Drew, shifting careers, and Alton’s beauty regimen, including what she uses instead of deodorant.