In 2011, Brandon Marshall spent three life-changing months in a McLean Hospital outpatient program in Belmont, MA. He had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and this diagnosis provided insight into why he experienced the emotions that led to so many incidents in life. Even better, she was provided with essential techniques to address and manage these emotions.
When Brandon Marshall went public with his diagnosis, he did so against the wishes of some people he trusted the most. The ad was not just about him. He thought of the everyday people he sat with in a circle during group therapy sessions at McLean as they shared their struggles. He thought about how many others, including other athletes, were suffering in silence and what it would take to bridge the gap and make those conversations comfortable.
Brandon Marshall continued his mental health advocacy after his NFL days with him and his wife [Michi’s] Project 375 Foundationthe media agency I Am Athlete and most recently the Athlete’s house facilities in Weston and Tampa, FL. These are the first of many Brandon Marshall wants to build into cities for professional athletes who live and train in the offseason. House of Athlete focuses on five fundamental pillars: Training, Fuel, Recovery, Tribe and Mental Fitness. The goal is to transform every athlete that walks through its facilities and not only help them achieve peak performance, but also lead an overall healthier life.
Brandon Marshall spoke with M&F on the belief system of athletes who must change to continue to succeed after the end of their sports career. He also delved into the origin of House of Athlete and its vision to bring the resources of the world’s most elite athletes to the masses. The former NFL star, who played 13 seasons in the NFL and is among the top 20 of all time in receptions (970), also shares a preview of the brand’s new app, HOA+.
Brandon Marshall wants to change the belief system of athletes
I think the first challenge for athletes is mindset. There’s no reason we can’t climb a second mountain, but many of us don’t think we have a second or third mountain. So the peak for a lot of our athletes – even just prominent men and women in business or other fields – they just think, “This is my peak.” If you go to parts of China and Japan, they believe in multiple primes. I think what we’re doing here is we’re right in the valley between the first and second mountain, and the second mountain is always bigger. It all starts with a mindset, and we need to get our athletes to think bigger than the sport they play.
You must think that our belief system begins to form around the age of two or three. So it’s not about the athlete, it’s about the environment, which means it starts with the parents. Parents look at these kids and say, “You’re going to be an athlete. They support them, put them in a position, and what they tell them is that they are athletes. Now you have the LeBron Jameses of the world who say they are more than an athlete. Then you have us on the I Am Athlete side saying, “If that’s what an athlete is today, that’s how you define what an athlete is.” It starts at that age and as you get older and you start making decisions for yourself, I think you have to understand that you can love sports and that’s what you do, but that’s not is not who you are.
We hear athletes say it all the time. At the time, we thought that was why God made us and we focused on that. But we don’t exploit the creative side, the business side, or even nature. There are so many other parts of life, many of us struggle after our careers because we don’t take the time to explore those other parts of us and we don’t know those things. So when the game is deleted, your identity is deleted.
The building blocks of House of Athlete
It all started in 2011 at McLean Hospital. With always top-notch performances on the pitch, I always felt like there was untapped potential there. There was more meat on the bone, and I had to pull myself together. I was in this outpatient program, and I looked at the success I was having and started to wonder why I was having this success so quickly. There were people in the group who had the same level of recovery success, but there were people who had been there for six months, six years, who had left and come back.
What I looked at was my whole lifestyle. I wasn’t there just to train my mind and develop my brain. I also approached things in a certain way. With nutrition, I wouldn’t say I had a strict diet. I just knew the foods that were inflammatory for my system. It was raining every day. I would go to McClean Hospital, I would be there from nine to five, and since I was a Reebok athlete, I would go and train at their headquarters. [in Boston]. I was preparing for the season and taking care of myself physically and spiritually by reading and praying. I also had a team around me, so I wasn’t in Waltham, MA, all alone. I had two videographers and my trainer there. It just gave me a sense of peace that at the end of the day I had a few friends I could go to dinner with, talk to, and understand what was going on.
This led to the five pillars that form the foundation of House of Athlete. We need to have a plan with how we approach the plate. One is mental fitness – new movements equal new language. There’s so much stigma around mental health, so the language we’re using is mental form. You have a disability plan, whether you’re dealing with borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression or substance abuse. You also have a performance plan. I’m a very powerful CEO and I have these huge goals. I want more of my brain and more of my body. Then you have recovery. It is important to recover and sleep. At House of Athlete we focus on the fundamentals and a lot of people miss that. Can we see healthier people if we sleep an average of seven to eight hours? Can we see a healthier world if people are hydrated? Performance decreases by 25% when we do not consume enough water. The body is made up of 70% water. Literally, the brain detaches from the skull when you are dehydrated. The last pillar is the tribe. I have never seen a professional athlete reach the top without a team.
Brandon Marshall focuses on mental fitness
About 80% of sports are mental. Being at McLean Hospital, I saw many of us struggle with many things. I was there for three months, but halfway through, I had this breakthrough and transformation. I never thought I could get here. I didn’t even know there were people who thought like me or cared about some of the things I was dealing with. That’s when I really got into sanity and mental fitness and started coming up with this plan that turned into the House of Athlete. On August 4, 2011, I shared with the sports world what I had been through after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and what I wanted to do moving forward. People looked at me like I was crazy and they called me crazy. My publicist at the time told me not to because it would be professional suicide. Now you fast forward 10 years later and we have a phenomenal company, and it starts with a team.
Someone who told me it’s a diminished ability and I’m less so. I took that and built a business around that that helps thousands of people, and one day, millions of people. House of Athlete is not about training. This is a lifestyle and my whole experience when I was at McLean Hospital. I’m a feeling guy, so starting from how it makes me feel, how does this product and brand make me feel? What we want is for people to walk into House of Athlete and come out transformed. The way to do it is you just can’t focus on training and lifting weights. On Wednesdays there is no training and we have mental health practitioners on site. We have recovery rituals whether it’s hot tub, cold bath, contrast, steam, sauna, vinyasa flow using yoga, guided mediation, the same group therapy I was following at McLean Hospital, and it’s on our weekly schedule and it’s marked as mental fitness. Our athletes can book a class to join a group to just talk and that’s what self-assessment is all about, which for me has been the most profound and impactful therapy I’ve experienced – simply sitting in a circle and talking.
Brandon Marshall now trains smarter, not harder
I skipped a beat and that’s why I like the term mental fitness because when you think of that, you think of ebbs and flows, and you have to accept that. As an athlete, I work to achieve peak form every year. I don’t start, finish and stay there. The reality is that many people are discouraged because they are not where they want to be and they feel like there is no way for them to get there. As an athlete who was paid to train and practice, I know that if I dedicate myself for three to four weeks, I’m going to feel some kind of change in my body and mentally until he keeps me going until a breakthrough. six weeks later. Then I finally start to see it and feel it a little more. For me, it’s a matter of routine and that’s how I stay in shape.
I no longer need to jump high or run fast. There are times when I train with some of our pros, and I go out there and have fun. I will jump in some of our classes. Our Wednesday yoga class that we call Flow. Our sculpting class on Monday, Tuesday and it’s pretty cool. Every time I’m in class, our coaches go 10 times harder and kick my ass. They make me hold my boards longer, do an extra lap, and I’ll have to look at the trainer like, “Okay, that’s enough.” Even the members or the athletes, they challenge me. It’s pretty cool to be part of the tribe. I spend more time taking our adult athlete classes than training with professional and college athletes.
Brandon Marshall’s vision for House of Athlete
We will have 20 installations worldwide. We are launching HOA+. Over the next five years, we will likely approach one million subscribers through our subscription plan. We will be a thought leader in wellness. Obviously, we know this is a huge space. Athletes are the healthiest people on the planet, so why aren’t we leading or joining the global conversation in a major way? We will have facilities in key markets, starting with the markets where athletes live and train during the off-season. It was important to us that our professional athletes be the first to adopt our philosophies and methodologies before they begin to evolve into our adult and youth athletes. We succeeded in that in those early years. HOA+ is essential because we won’t be able to be everywhere, but everyone deserves or should have access to the resources we have had for decades. We also want to be there when it comes to the conversation about how to live a healthier, more efficient life.
The reality is that we all want to feel better. Many of us want to look better. The reality is that professional, college, and even youth athletes are the healthiest people on the planet. There is a certain way of eating, of training, and there are a lot of people who just want the information. There are a lot of people who just want to show up and follow a coach, a routine, a nutrition plan, have access to someone they can talk to in real time. It’s a very competitive landscape. There are a lot of small players in the space, coaches, influencers and a lot of stuff there. Some things are good and some things are trendy and more trendy. What we give is what the healthiest people in the world are doing in black and white. When you think of the Serena Williams and LeBron James of the world, there’s a certain way they approach their fitness, lifestyle, and wellness plan, and that’s what the app is going to provide.
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