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A Moment with Heather Marks

For Heather Marks, moving her body calms her mind.

The born nature lover—from Calgary, Canada—became a sought-after model, starting at age 14. She quickly ascended to the top of her field, gracing the pages of Vogue and W, the runways of Givenchy and Chanel and ad campaigns for Anna Sui and Jimmy Choo, while working with photographers from Ryan McGinley to Annie Leibowitz, to name a few.

For her, a love of adventure sports and a fascination with the human body has intermingled well with her career, keeping her fit and healthy—and also happy.

Here, the Burton brand ambassador—who retreats every summer to a cabin in British Columbia—explains why consistent time in nature keeps her feeling clear:

Live The Process: How did your interest in adventure sports and nature develop?

Heather Marks: My interest in adventure sports started at a young age: I grew up in Western Canada right outside of the Rocky Mountains, so I spent a lot of time there with my family, hiking, skiing and exploring. I was also fortunate enough to spend summers on lakes, and that's from where my love for water sports (wakeboarding and surfing) came. I am naturally competitive and always up for a good challenge, so I am easily drawn to extreme sports. I also love that it also gives me the chance to connect with nature on a daily basis—something many of us often take for granted.

My love and appreciation for sports and nature is just as strong today as it was growing up in Canada. As much as I love New York, it is a completely different environment than the one I was lucky enough to grow up in. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up living in this concrete jungle, but it definitely makes me appreciate the times I am able to go back home or explore beautiful, natural places around the world. 

LTP: How does your interest in fitness intersect with your work?

HM: In my humble opinion, and from personal experience, fitness and fashion are complimentary to one another. In order to look good, I need to feel good and staying active is my main outlet to achieve just that. I admit it can be quite a challenge to balance at times, but I have always made it a priority to incorporate some exercise time into my schedule—even if it’s a quick 15-minute “feel good” session (stretching, meditation etc.) in my hotel room. I find the human body and its capabilities to be such an intriguing subject, which is probably why I thoroughly enjoy studying and learning more about it.

LTP: Why is physical movement so important for you?

HM: Physical movement, for me, has been even more impactful on a mental level than on a physical one. Moving, in general, has always been the best way to put myself at ease, and it naturally helps me clear my mind. Studies have consistently supported the positive impact physical movement has in combatting stress, anxiety, anger, depression and so on. I agree wholeheartedly. It's amazing what movement can do for your overall well-being!

For example, I have been practicing Pilates for several years now. It is something with which I have fallen in love—so much so that I decided to enroll in a Pilates Teacher Training Program, so I can continue to enhance my knowledge. My experience has been amazing, to say the least. In a short time, I have learned so much about our abilities in coordination, strength, flexibility, posture and circulation, just to name a few. All of that correlates to our overall healthy state-of-mind.

LTP: What are some of your current beauty and/or wellness obsessions and rituals?

HM: Quite a few! From Pilates to other types of classes, healthy juices, essential oils, facials and—as cheesy as it sounds—being one with nature through hiking, biking etc.  Working in this industry, I have been blessed to be in a position to try so many different types of skincare products. As a result, I have become quite passionate about the topic and now love to make my own masks at home. It’s fun; and I use natural ingredients including clay, turmeric and charcoal.

LTP: What does happiness look like to you?

HM: Happiness, to me, is being surrounded by those I love most: my friends, family and my English bully, Otis. Incorporate nature into this and I'm at my happiest! 

LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?

HM: Life is a process, right? We all experience different levels of good, bad and everything in between. It’s a part of growth and, ultimately, it’s what shapes and defines us as human beings. To me, it’s about embracing all of this and learning from my experiences. Most importantly, it’s about consistency—in my relationships, health, habits and all areas in my life.