Alexia Brue is the co-founder of Well+Good, a lifestyle media company devoted to health and wellness that reaches over 15 million people a month across its website, email newsletters, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and various other channels.
She officially joined the Wellness in the Schools Board of Directors in early 2020, after years of supporting our organization. Her extensive experience in content creation, marketing, communications, and partnerships makes her such a valuable member of our team. The following is a lightly edited interview.
WITS: Please share with us why you entered the wellness space.
AB: We started Well+Good in 2009 as a media company focused on the wellness lifestyle that was emerging around that time. Before the wellness movement really picked up steam, healthy eating was thought of as punitive, not as delicious; working out was to get a flat belly instead of working out to make yourself feel great, and for your mental health. So, we were a part of that paradigm shift of wellness being seen as a fun, social, joyful, and accessible lifestyle.
We know that food is a huge part of feeling energetic and focused. Nutrition is the bedrock and foundation of a healthy lifestyle. You can be exercising, sleeping well, meditating, doing all these different beneficial practices, but if your nutrition isn’t serving you well, you don’t get the full benefits. With my own children, I really see first-hand how from a young age there are so many cultural and societal forces at work making it hard for children to eat nutritiously. We’ve seen how making the healthier choice has become more convenient and more affordable, but we still have a long way to go.
WITS: Did you have this intuitive sense that ‘wellness’ would become the booming industry that it is today?
AB: My cofounder and I had been covering wellness–all facets of the lifestyle, from fitness and food to financial and mental wellness—and the experts in this space for so long, so it didn’t seem as niche to us as it seemed to other people. I still think the wellness industry is in its very early early days and ultimately it’ll just be synonymous with life. Nancy [Easton] talks about how at some happy juncture in the future WITS will be obsolete because everything WITS teaches will be part of the system. We feel the same way about Well+Good.
WITS: The “business of wellness” has been criticized in the past for seeming like it’s catering to a certain demographic. We’d be curious to know – what does wellness mean to you?
AB: Like you are saying, wellness is a $4.5 trillion dollar industry. It has been commodified in a lot of ways. But for us, from the beginning at W+G, wellness was always about practices, not products. Practices such as walking, yoga, running, all types of exercise, meditation, sleeping well, cooking. These are all accessible practices that create a wellness lifestyle and are financially accessible. It’s as simple as having a pair of running shoes and a yoga mat. Wellbeing is someone’s birthright, and wellness is how we get there. The other stuff is window dressing, you know? No-one needs to go to SoulCycle. No-one needs a $12 green juice.
WITS: How did you get involved with WITS?
AB: Nancy and I have friends in common, and we met four or so years ago and I immediately fell in love with her and wanted to help the organization however I could. I was really familiar with Wellness in the Schools already; there was a lot of overlap in terms of core values between W+G and WITS.
Also, children’s nutrition is an area that I feel increasingly passionate about. And as my kids have gotten older, I’ve gotten more interested in how food is at the center of what it means to be healthy. I love what Wellness in the Schools is doing, and seeing how the WITS Programming intersects with Scratchworks. And I love the holistic vision of nutrition and fitness together.
WITS: You recently got to see our video work in-person at the Met, right?
AB: Yes, it was really awesome and inspiring to see the team at work! COVID-19 hit right when I was about to go to the schools to see a Lab, so, it was great to get to go to the Met and finally meet Marion and see the content being created. Chef Ricardo was making a cauliflower soup that looked amazing, and I can’t wait to try the recipe.
WITS: What is one thing that excites you about our work?
AB: I love how WITS celebrates school chefs, and gives them the support and recognition they need and deserve to do their jobs well. And, of course, the WITS Labs. I love how the Labs take wholesome ingredients and unpack them nutritionally, and then include hands-on education of how to cook and create something delicious with them. It’s education that doesn’t come up in the regular curriculum. In my opinion, we should be teaching kids nutrition the same way we’re teaching history.
WITS: What are your favorite ways to stay active?
AB: I enjoy hiking, running, paddleboarding and weightlifting.
WITS: Favorite healthy snack?
AB: Air-popped popcorn with nutritional yeast!