22 may 2016

The Importance of Being Awkward

By Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner, MFF Kaiju Hoarder, Master RKC, OS Lead Instructor and Master DVRT

If you’re awkward and you know it clap your hands!

There are many definitions of the word awkward. Here are three that resonate with me:

awkward (from Merriam-Webster) 

  1. lacking ease or grace (as of movement or expression)
  2. lacking social grace and assurance <an awkward newcomer>
  3. causing embarrassment <an awkward moment>

For as long as I can remember, I have felt awkward. While I always had friends and an evolving sense of self, I never felt like I fit in the way I perceived others did. I never cared about being popular, but I always felt like I lacked the social skill set that allowed others to become popular. How do people know the right things to say and do?

Have you ever wondered to yourself what the hell is wrong with me? Well I have.


Very often.

Very, very often.

I know that I’ve missed out on things as a kid, as a young adult and as a grown-ass man because I was AFRAID of being embarrassed by saying/doing the wrong things.

Looking back, I missed out on things in life because of a self-fulfilling fear that I wasn’t going to live up to some imaginary social standard. Well F that! There is nothing wrong with being awkward. In fact, I now think of being awkward as a lifestyle. I embrace and fight against it in equal measure. My take on awkwardness is a two-phase war.

Phase 1: Screw fitting in.

Be yourself. Be unique. Be awkward! While it may be a tougher mountain to climb, you will find people who love you for who you are and not the person you believe they want you to be. Too few understand (fewer share) my love for Godzilla movies, but those that do, totally get it and me. That’s a genuine connection.

Phase 2: Fight through awkward situations.

I’ve started to challenge feeling awkward as if I were training in martial arts. I purposefully started creating and placing myself in awkward situations to see how I would react. This is my form of awkward sparring practice. I relish awkward pauses, overambitious clapping and bad jokes that bomb hard.

The Ninjas at MFF have been part of my awkward theory experiments as well. I’ve programmed things like awkward dance parties (ADP son!), Star Wars-themed crawl games and African Anteater Ritual Burpees into classes.

Why do I explore this sense of awkwardness?

If you practice being comfortable in awkward situations, something special happens.

You become socially fearless.

When you become socially fearless… you are free!

Free to be serious. Free to be ridiculous. Free to be yourself.

Mark Fisher Fitness is the PERFECT example of finding a place where awkward breeds awesomeness. Whether it’s teaching a class in a Mad Max Warboy costume, or leading an RKC certification in another state with people I haven’t met, I am able to fully be myself because I am not scared of being awkward. As that fear wanes, your confidence grows. It is liberating, my friends. You know what else? People will dig you for being balls out. You may not connect with everyone, but that’s an impossible goal anyway. Find the people who relate to what you have to offer and hang on tight to them. Awkward folks will fight valiantly side by side.

Here are some action steps to help you embrace your awkwardness.

  1. The next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable silence at a party, live in it. Feel no pressure to say or do anything. See what happens.
  2. Wanted to wear a costume to MFF but have been too afraid? Do it!
  3. Say hi to someone you haven’t officially met, but see often, at the gym or work. Better yet, have coffee with them.

Keep me posted on your progress.


Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner’s superhero headquarters is Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC. Fury’s also a Master RKC, and Original Strength Lead Instructor and a Master DVRT. He is available for classes, semi-privates, instructor training and programming at MFF. Check out, Instagram@iamcoachfury and Twitter @coachfury for more info.

Categories: Human Interest, Personal Development

15 may 2016

Stick it in Our Box: Ninja Suggestions

It's that time again! The sexy Siren here to give voice to all your amazing suggestions. Here we go:

"I need to leave a ticket / book / sex toy for my Ninja-friend. Can I leave it at the desk for them to pick up later?"

  • Head’s up! If you need to leave an item of any kind for another Ninja, you may store it in a combination locker and let your Ninja-friend know the locker number and combination. The item should be picked up on the same day, otherwise, we’ll place it in the Lost & Found.

"I can't book a semi-private this month because they're all full. What's up with that?"

  • We heard you, so we added additional semi-private slots for the month of May earlier this week. And of course, June availability goes live today, so be sure to check out the schedule ASAP to nab your sessions!

"I left my water bottle in the Clubhouse / Snatchery. Is there a Lost & Found?"

  • Yes! Ask the Front Desk for details. MFF's Lost & Found is donated to the Hell's Kitchen Street Fair the first Saturday of each month. Any item with a name on it will be kept an additional month and the owner will be notified if possible by email.
Categories: Suggestions

8 may 2016

Fit and Forty: “Unsexy” Training Methods are the Fountain of Youth

By Artemis Scantalides, Honorary Ninja and Co-Owner of Iron Body Studios

Did you know that we have the potential to lose 5 lbs. of lean mass per decade starting at age 25? That means that by the time that we are 65 we could potentially lose 20 lbs. of lean mass.[1]

Did you also know that we have the potential to experience a 2-4% decline in our Resting Metabolic Rate per decade starting at age 25? (RMR is the energy or calories required to sustain the body’s vital functions at rest.)[2]

HOWEVER, did you know that “unsexy” training methods – such as regular strength training; high intensity activities like kettlebell training and other types of interval training; and a healthy diet filled with nutrient dense, unprocessed foods – can prevent this from happening?

Why are lifting weights, kettlebell swings, and eating real, nutrient dense unprocessed foods considered “unsexy” training methods? Because most people don’t realize that sexy results year after year can be had just by following this simple plan.

“It’s so simple and unsexy, few can appreciate it.” – Dan John

Most people think that they need to follow some “sexy” fitness and diet trend like the Tracy Anderson Method, barre classes, and juice cleanses, to achieve their sexiest body ever; something that tells them that they will drop 10 lbs. in a week (only to gain it back in the same amount of time) and give them “long, lean, sculpted, toned, muscles” or make them “skinny ripped.”

People tend to resort to the “sexy” fitness and diet trends because they promise quick results that not only go against the science of strength training and nutrition but also are not sustainable. The “unsexy” takes some effort and planning; it’s so much easier to take a diet pill, make a shake, or follow a juice cleanse (even if it doesn’t work in the long run!) instead of to prepare a healthy meal with real foods and follow a regular exercise routine that includes strength training and some high intensity interval conditioning.  People say they “don’t have time,” and don’t want to put forth the effort.

Renaissance Periodization on detoxes, cleanses, body wraps, magic pills, and drinks:

“Our best advice; save your money and invest in proper diet and training instead. Use that money to buy something you’ll actually like, unless you plan on wearing body wraps to your next social outing.”[3]

Not only were you born with one body (and one body only) to live this life in so you should seriously consider making the time and putting forth the effort, BUT also the truth is, it’s the simple “unsexy” training methods that produce those oh-so-sexy results at ANY age.

Still don’t believe me?

Once upon a time, when I was 29 years old, before the rise of Facebook, and when flip phones were still in existence and actually “cool” to own, as I approached my 30th birthday, I heard about these horrors of aging…

I was warned that, physically, I should be prepared for a downward spiral… “After you turn 30 it’s all over! Your metabolism starts to slow down, you can’t eat the things you used to eat… and after you turn 35, forget it! You don’t have the abs you once had when you were in your 20’s. There’s no stopping the aging process and your slowing metabolism!”

At the time, by day I was working for a large, well-known consulting firm as an IT consultant, and by night training towards my black belt in kung fu and teaching spin classes part-time at a commercial gym. Naturally I thought these irrational fears and warnings about the supposedly unpreventable facts of aging were just that, irrational. If these tales of aging were true then I should expect to wake up on my 30th birthday with a gut and a head full of gray hair.

Instead, when I turned 30, I decided to prove these naysayers wrong so I put on a tiara and a feather boa, threw myself a big ass party and embarked upon a journey to be in the best shape of my life.

I went on to obtain my black belt in kung fu at age 32, discovered kettlebell training, got really serious about lifting HEAVY weights and about being really damn strong, completed the Iron Maiden Challenge at age 38 (a strength challenge which requires women to complete a 24 kg / 53 lbs. weighted pull-up, strict kettlebell military press, and pistol squat), and most recently at age 39, four months before my 40th birthday, I decided to start powerlifting.

But first I went on vacation and took this picture of myself in a bikini to show everyone what age 39 can look like if you put forth the effort to make “unsexy” training methods part of your lifestyle.

After I took this picture, I started powerlifting and one month before my 40th birthday I went on to compete in my first powerlifting meet and deadlifted 300 lbs. at 117 lbs. bodyweight.

I know what you’re thinking, am I crazy?? Who the hell do I think I am trying to defy the inevitable facts of aging? XENA??

Actually yes I do and you too can be your superhero of choice at ANY age if you follow “unsexy” training methods.

Then this year I turned 40.

I know, FORTY! It’s all over, right? I can fight off the slowing metabolism through my 30’s, and throw 2.5 times my bodyweight around as long as I’m under the age of forty, but then what happens at FORTY???

THIS is what happens at 40…

At age 40, you continue to follow “unsexy” training methods, and as a result you will be in better shape at age 40 than you were at age 20 or even 30.

THAT is what happens at 40, and BEYOND. You keep kicking life in the ass and you do it better and stronger every single subsequent year.

Artemis Scantalides is a former ballet dancer turned Kung Fu Black Belt, “Iron Maiden,” and powerlifter, and ReebokONE Fitness Ambassador. Artemis is co-owner of Iron Body Studios in Boston. She is author of the blog Iron Body By Artemis and creator of the strength workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift.

[1] Precision Nutrition Certification Manual, Second Edition p.125

[2] Precision Nutrition Certification Manual, Second Edition p.125

[3] Renaissance Woman (Case, Davis, Israetel) p.253

Categories: Fitness, Health

24 apr 2016

Story of Glory: Jennie Geoffroy

Jennie Geoffroy is one of literally hundreds of Ninjas at the MFF Clubhouse who have amazing stories to tell. She just completed her fourth (!) round of Snatched and took some time to share her journey. We hope she inspires you as much as she inspires us!

"Mark Fisher Fitness has changed my life and I have changed my life too.

In 2014, I walked into MFF for the first time. I was nervous and had never committed fully to a gym or routine when it came to fitness. I had done countless crash diets (half-assed them) over the years, but had heard about Snatched and signed up on a whim. The first round was fun and inspiring and I did see noticeable changes. I maintained some of what I had learned and carried it into my everyday life, but I wasn't ready to fully make a big change.

After being on the road with a national tour, breaking my foot and gaining a ton of weight, I was feeling pretty low. I had recently gotten engaged and wanted to get back in shape for the wedding. I signed up for Snatched again and loved it. Doing it for a second time really helped me focus on nailing every aspect. I also was able to take what I had learned at the Clubhouse and apply it to Snatched.

I decided I was finally ready for Snatched II. I signed up and was lucky enough to be in a class with a lot of the genius people that work at MFF. So I immediately felt safe and an instant connection to my class. On the very last day of Snatched II, I woke up, got on the scale and was under 200 pounds for the time in 11 years. I shared this success with the class and that I had a realization that I was scared of losing weight. Up until this moment, it had felt like I was pulling a part of myself along. I had spent all of this time on the diving board but hadn't quite committed fully to everything, I was afraid to take the plunge. But sharing out loud to my class lifted that fear. All of a sudden, I started to really see the progress I had made and jumped off the diving board head first.

I recently completed Snatched II again. I am thinner than I have been in at least a decade but, more importantly, I have fully committed to myself and my health. I have been breaking habits and patterns that I have had for a very long time. It didn't happen overnight and no one could do it for me. I made major changes and got myself to where I am today, but there is no way I could have been this successful without the support system I have found at MFF.

The other weekend, I donated two huge bags of clothes that no longer fit. I have lost 40 pounds over the past nine months. In total I have lost 8.5 inches from my waist, 4.5 inches from my hips and have gained confidence, strength and have taken control of my health. I have finally jumped in headfirst and committed myself to seeing how healthy and fit I can become. I still have a long way to go as far as my goals, but I have come a very long way.

Change doesn't happen overnight, it takes a long time and a lot of work. No one can do it for you, but having an entire army of Ninjas and sherpas sure as hell helps. And admitting your fears can be a huge release. Smiling and enjoying yourself and singing along while working out burns more calories :) Thank you, MFF team, for showing up 1000% everyday. You have led me to the path of success and given me the tools to succeed."

Are you a Ninja who has a kick-ass MFF journey to share? We are literally wet with anticipation to hear your story. Tell us here!

Categories: Ninja Stories

10 apr 2016

Goal accomplished. What's next?

By Harold Gibbons, The Steward of Strength

Original Post on

Alright, riddle me this: How often have you accomplished something big, that goal that you were all-in for, only to finish and be slammed with the slumps?

Weights feel heavy, diet isn't the best, we feel drained thinking about foam rolling, let alone getting under the bar. Show of hands if this has happened to you!

Recently one of our most badass Ninjas at MFF shared that she was feeling this way, and it resonated with me immediately. Sarah asked,

“Hey guys, do you ever go through phases where your workouts just feel crappy? I finished Snatched [MFF’s six week transformation program] and it was AMAZING, and I was feeling VERY STRONG AND GOODLOOKING.

"I pulled back a little last week, but the last three times I've lifted it has felt AWFUL. Every rep is a grind, and I don't seem to have the work capacity that I did when I was working out 5x/wk.

“I've been going over other variables, and I can't figure it out. I am sleeping fine, I haven't changed my diet, not trying any new and crazy supplements...I am not sure why my workouts feel so terrible when I am less tired??


So many other people experience the same thing, and I've experienced it myself, so I shared two particular “options” for explanation with Sarah. Let's appreciate that a binary explanation rarely works in the “real world,” and it's likely that there's some combination of both a Mind explanation and a Muscle explanation. It's likely somewhere between these two ideas that our reality sits.

Mentally, it could be that the “high” of the six-week program is subsiding, and the purpose of the workouts has now changed. For six weeks, training was all about following the set program balls to the wall, and now it doesn't have that particular framing.  Now it's about lifting weights. Sometimes when we complete one mental task and move on to the next one, we might not be performing as well without that framework of purpose. This could be the case after a 5k, a marathon, a powerlifting meet, or a ballet recital.

I had this after the two bike races I've done. A week after each race, I've gone from 4 or 5 rides per week to maybe one. Purposeful pedaling is replaced with unintentional apathy. If we don't set our intentions, training is hard!

From a muscle perspective, coming off a phase of high-intensity exercise could be pushing us to the edge of our abilities, and if lighter weights seem mysteriously heavy, it could be your body kindly asking you to take it easy.  In this case, MFF's Snatched II, a follow up 6 week program, is pretty intense, so perhaps Sarah's body is saying, "YO, take a chill-pill!"

If we get into some classic exercise science, after an intense training period our abilities would decrease.  Following up with the second 6 weeks of Snatched II could fit within the "training" block below, after which taking it easy actually lets the body recover beyond the initial performance level to a new found ability.  That's the supercompensation, or improved abilities, that develop when following progressively more challenging workouts.

If we're considering a muscle explanation for not nailing it as much as you'd like, allowing for more recovery work could give the body time to recover and adapt.

Recovery work might mean you take a day off, decrease your training volume, swap out higher-intensity intervals for aerobic-style work, or any combination thereof.

As Kyle Langworthy noted, that could be as simple as adding a walk in the soon-to-be warm NYC weather, or "exploratory movement exercises that are easy and lend variety." For example, I've really been digging this row variation from our friend, Kevin Carr.

Again, I don't believe that this is only a mind or muscle approach, but rather a blend of our bodies getting tired while our brains are fueled by our goals, then our brains feeling a bit "stuck" without something to work on while our bodies sit back and say, "Wait, why did you do that to me?!?"

As I consider everything I've learned from Coach Stevo about habits and psychology, I'm driven to think that finding the next goal to practice is a great way to get refocused and ready to rock.  I'm keen on asking:

What's next on your list of things to practice?

What accomplishments do you see in your future?

It's natural to feel this way after accomplishing something big like Sarah just did. After you finish something that require lots of mental and physical effort we need to take time reset our mind and our muscles before we tackle the next project.

Taking a moment, be it 90 seconds or a week, to consider what's next can allow our mind and muscles to have the recovery time to carry on to our next opportunity. The ability to feel and decide that for ourselves is what makes us all human.

Categories: Fitness, Health, Ninja Stories