Mark Fisher's Ninjas
Mark Fisher is changing the bodies, and lives, of New Yorkers and the Broadway community with his 6 week intensive “Snatched”that has made such a huge impression on several of my friends. I had to check out his studio on my trip to New York in September. My dear friend, Happy McPartlin, took me along for a “Kick-Ass Conditioning” class with Amanda. This strenuous hour long class of kettle bell swings, burpees and what felt like miles of bear crawl variations flew by with dramatic lighting, timed sets and, of course, Amanda’s dynamic energy. It was easy to see what all the hype was about.
Happy summed it up perfectly. Acting in New York (or working in any profession, really) can make even the most confident person feel down on themselves, and Mark and his team work to build you back up even higher and tell you what a bad-ass you are, even for just “showing up” on any given day. Mark’s studio encompasses what fitness should be about: making our bodies, minds and spirits stronger to take on our daily challenges. Staying fit and feeding our body well not only helps us cope, it helps us to find love in all aspects of our lives.
One-on-One with Mark Fisher
The City Skinny: It felt like I had known every member of your staff I encountered for years. On the phone, your instructors, people at the front desk. Good energy obviously attracts good energy, but is there something special you look for when you hire someone onto your staff?
MFF: When we're looking to bring someone onto the team, the most important element is cultural fit. This means LOTS of things of course; being comfortable with you (and your personal weirdness), believing in the value of kindness, and a genuine desire to contribute to a uniquely inclusive approach to fitness. Skills can be trained, but intrinsic values are harder to budge!
CS: What formula would you give to someone looking for success in weightloss?
MFF: Weight training plus appropriate nutrition plus consistency.
Cardio is fine, but weight training will generally be more effective, particularly when combined with a cardiovascular component like MFF classes, sometimes called "metabolic resistance training." The nutrition element is often totally missed, so it's important to appreciate you just can't out-train your diet. There are lot of people applying Herculean effort in the gym with little to show for it!
And lastly, consistency. Fat loss just takes longer than seems fair, so it's important to set expectations up front that are realistic. Sustainable fat loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Mentally preparing for a lifestyle change is key!
CS: How do you hold people accountable? They are obviously working hard in class, but is there something special you do to keep clients on track outside of the studio?
MFF: Happily, at MFF the community itself is a large factor in accountability. People notice when their friends are not showing up (haha.) As we've grown too large for anyone on the staff to be able to catch that stuff on their own, we're also in the process of institutionalizing certain reports and data that let us know when Ninjas go MIA or start to drop off from their historical averages. Then we can nudge them with phone calls and emails to get them back on the unicorn!
CS: Who is your inspiration, fitness or otherwise? What makes you continue this journey and who challenges you?
MFF: I'm inspired by Cirque de Soleil, Tony Hseih, and Richard Branson.
Cirque inspires me because they create such a complete experience, and when they really get it right and all the pieces come together, it's a completely transcendental thing. That's actually what I want MFF to be. It's harder to do that when people are coming several times a week, but that's what makes it interesting. It's also why I happen to like transformation programs. They provide something of a narrative structure that can be both fun and meaningful.
Tony Hseih is the CEO of Zappos.com, and the work he's done creating a corporate culture is amazing. His book Delivering Happiness was a tipping point for me in deciding I wanted to create a business. As soon as I saw business could be dedicated to creating happiness of all of it's shareholders, I was sold.
And Richard Branson because he's had success on such a huge level by leveraging massive amounts of smart people to do great work. I appreciate not only the scale of his success, but also the way he's done it. I often see myself as talent manager. I'm looking for the best people in the world so I can give them an amazing work environment where they're free to do what they do best, and the organization can fill in skill sets they need help with.
CS: Is there any one specific client or situation that has really moved or changed you, that you could talk about, anonymously, of course?
MFF: In all honesty, I don't even know where to begin haha. The past few years of my life have been an embarrassment of amazing heartfelt stories. For me, the entire point of fitness, and possibly life, is about reclaiming the power that we all give away to the outside world at various times in our life. It never gets old seeing someone remember who they REALLY are and watch them use fitness as a platform to live their best life.
I will speak to one situation; recently one of our Super Ninjas has been undergoing chemotherapy. Everything is going well, and we have every reason to believe they'll continue to go well, but it's still not something you'd wish for. However, the open-hearted way the community has rallied to take care of one of our own is such a testament to the caliber of human who hangs out in this Clubhouse.
It's one thing to be able to help people lose some weight. It's another thing to be a part of community and a culture that is really there for each other through all the ups and downs of life.