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Meet FRÉ Ambassador Marisa Jo Merliss, Registered Nurse, Fitness Model and Mom To Be 

by Jude Jacob Kayton April 30, 2020

Meet FRÉ Ambassador Marisa Jo Merliss, Registered Nurse, Fitness Model and Mom To Be 



About me: I was born in Meriden Connecticut and I live in New York on the Upper West Side. I’m a pediatrics and neonatal nurse, dancer, fitness trainer and model. I’m currently in my third trimester.

Working with preemies in the NICU

I’m a registered nurse and work in Pediatrics, Neonatal ICU and Postpartum Units at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, the largest hospital in NYC. We have babies from 23 weeks to full term, so we work in a high stress and very emotionally sensitive area. We do anything from medical interventions, oxygen, tube feedings, medication, tube or feedings by mouth. Often there are feeding complications.


"The pandemic has had a big impact on our work. All pediatric patients have been transferred uptown to the NYP Children’s Hospital."


The Impact of Covid-19

The pandemic has had a big impact on our work. All pediatric patients have been transferred uptown to the NYP Children’s Hospital. The three pediatric units have now been converted to specialized Covid-19 units and most of the pediatric nurses are now taking care of adults suffering from Covid-19. The whole hospital system has changed. You receive a mask as soon as you enter. 

There’s a real shortage of PPE in New York, in our wards there were some mothers who had a false negative Covid-19 test and several others who tested positive. Sometimes we’d be taking care of their babies without PPE and find out that the mothers tested positive after the fact.  Nurses from all over the hospital have been transferred to work with Covid-19 patients. They are burned out and many are staying in hotels away from their families. With the exception of parents allowed to visit the babies in the NICU, there are no visitors in the hospital right now so in some ways it feels like a war time hospital but it’s also very quiet. 

"Although my skin stays really fresh, clean and clear with my daily FRÉ routine, DETOX ME really takes things to the next level"


Self care

I’ve been doing a self care afternoon every week, I use every FRÉ product I have along with a deep conditioning treatment for hair and I give myself a pedicure although it’s getting hard to reach my feet over my belly! I love 123FRÉ and the body line but my favorite is DETOX ME. Although my skin stays really fresh, clean and clear with my daily FRÉ routine, DETOX ME really takes things to the next level, removing all the dirt and dead cells, leaving my skin extra soft and smooth.

My fitness journey

I moved to New York to dance professionally, but when I suffered several intense injuries I could no longer perform on stage so my agents sent me out for modeling jobs and TV. I ended up finding an wonderful niche in fitness modeling. When I recovered I worked a lot for Beachbody and several other big fitness companies. I was lucky to be exposed to top celebrity trainers in the US and internationally. These people became my mentors. 

When I exited my dance career I knew I didn’t want to be a full time nurse and it was important to focus on fitness and wellness. At the time I was suffering from residual pain from 3 back surgeries and that was when my dance partner introduced me to  BodyART Functional Training, it’s a wonderful mind and body workout that stabilized my back. It focuses on how the breath coordinates with movement.


The MELT Method

After discovering BodyART I had one of my most successful career years doing shows in New York, fitness videos, modeling, and also working per diem as an RN. Then I had an accident. I was attacked while waiting for a bus, I injured my hip and neck and had to have hip surgery. Months later it still wasn’t better. After a year of chronic pain I found the  MELT Method, which is focused on pain relief. A friend connected me to the creator, Sue Hitzmann, who needed someone to be on camera for a Nightline Segment who was suffering from incurable chronic pain. 

Within 3 months my pain was gone and 3 months after that I felt strong again and could finish out my dance career on my own terms and get back to fitness modeling. I went through all of the MELT Method training, and currently teach MELT as well as BodyART, Pilates and Barre. I work at the Lifetime Fitness, Body & Pole and the Institute for American Musical Theatre. I specialize in working with dancers, aerial artists, and athletes. The current situation has forced me to move everything online and do something I wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable doing. It has been an amazing opportunity to train people across the world from my living room, especially being 8 months pregnant.

Rapid Fire:

    • Favorite exercise?  Dance. Although I no longer dance professionally, I still love it.
    • What does sweat mean to you?  Endorphins, shedding a layer of stress and energizing. 
    • What comes to mind when you think of FRÉ?  Good people! Yes the products are amazing but for me what stands out is that it's run by and surrounded by amazing people and it’s focused on giving back.
    • What are you most excited about in life right now?  Having a baby in 6 weeks! 
    • What’s something you’d still love to learn?  Another language, and on a practical level getting better at letting go of things that are out of my control.
    • If you were a hashtag, what would you be?  #zenvibesonly
    • What is your mantra?  “Take good care of your body, it's the only place you have to live.”
    • What is an issue that you wish we spoke about more often?  Fertility. For a long time it has been taboo although it’s slowly being talked about more. I’m currently writing a blog about my fertility journey.
    • What does women’s empowerment mean in 2020?  Speaking up for equality and also women empowering women. We must stand together, not just to forge ahead, but to support each other along the way. 

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