There's a new fitness expert in town and his name is Caleb Marshall. Now known as The Fitness Marshall, he began with a YouTube channel that exploded in popularity. The openly gay social-media celebrity has more than 800,000 subscribers and been watched more than 124 million times.
Marshall is ready to start a revolution combining large group classes with a concert style set up.
He recently brought in the crowds at Midtown Athletic Club Willowbrook for two sold out classes.
Windy City Times: Where are you from, originally?
Caleb Marshall: Marion, Indiana.
WCT: How did you get involved in fitness?
CM: I have been obsessed with Britney Spears since I was 8 years old. Since then I thought my calling was to be Britney Spears, to literally take over her body. I started teaching college cardio hip hop classes. That is when I realized my calling was to be the Richard Simmons version of Britney Spears.
WCT: Have you met Britney?
CM: No, but I have seen her six times live. I will make everyone around me go see her in concert. We went to Vegas twice and were in the front row.
WCT: You didn't pay over $2,000 for the meet and greet?
CM: No, because here's the deal: If I do that then I don't want to be disappointed. That is so much to ask of someone that you have loved your entire life and to live up to your standards. I just want to look from afar. If I met her I would die.
WCT: Where is Richard Simmons?
CM: They are trying to find him. He's missing in action right now.
WCT: Do you like all of the traveling with this gig?
CM: I get to see so many different cultures. Meeting new people is really fun. I am from a tiny town where nobody leaves so it is nice to go out and see things. I would pay to do that if I was not working.
WCT: Do you have exercise advice for people?
CM: I think doing you and embracing your weirdness is my favorite thing. People should be their most authentic selves. I try to do that as The Fitness Marshall is give people a safe space to be themselves. Things that they thought might not be appropriate are allowed with me and my class. There are so many standards that we try to meet, especially woman, and are told how to be and act.
I want this experience to be freeing. I want people to fall in love with themselves all over again.
WCT: I saw gay fans waiting outside in line.
CM: I love the gays, obviously! Women and gays are my market.
WCT: What is your favorite song to play in class now?
CM: My newest one is "Stay," by Zedd and Alessia Cara. It just came out. All of us have been fighting backstage whether it works in class or not.
WCT: How did you cultivate your following on YouTube?
CM: I was teaching cardio hip-hop for four years at my college. I went to school to be a music video editor, but then realized I couldn't edit other people's videos. I had a complete mental breakdown. The only thing I liked was teaching my classes. It was suggested that I edit my own videos and make a YouTube channel.
I went back to school and was having sake bombs with my classmates and they told me to call myself The Fitness Marshall because of my last name. I thought that was genius. So, within eight months I had 100,000 subscribers, from there it just kept growing. We have been rolling with it.
Last year, he started setting up live shows for us, and now we travel the world together.
WCT: Cameron Moody has become a vital part of this traveling production.
CM: Boyfriend, manager…
WCT: How long have you been together?
CM: About a year and a halftwo years this summer. We started dating right after the 200,000 mark hit.
WCT: Is your goal to have a TV show like Richard Simmons?
CM: The sky is the limit. The Super Bowl is on my list of things to do! [Laughs] I just want to give the most immersive concert experience possible. I want to be the first person to merge a pop concert with a fitness interactive aspect. I want it to be a show.
WCT: That's a good idea. You just have to build your way up to teaming with Britney.
WCT: Maybe Alessia Cara, since she doesn't wear makeup, would be into working out with you?
CM: I would love to get artists to dance in my videos with me. My main goal is Britney Spears to make a video with me.
WCT: How about Derrick Barry, for right now?
CM: I'm so happy that you know who that is. I used to go to Roscoe's and see him perform as Britney. Anytime we are in town, we go to Roscoe's. We Ubered an hour just to go last night!
Visit TheFitnessMarshall.org; more on Midtown is at Midtown.com .