26 jun 2016
MFF is literally overflowing with Ninjas who have overcome some incredible obstacles on their way to health and hotness. We believe that telling your story will inspire others to triumph over their own challenges. Meet lady bad-ass, Rose Marie Rupley!
Why do you feel compelled to tell people about our weird little gym?
Mark Fisher isn’t just a gym. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I often feel uncomfortable trying new things, and from the moment I walked through those doors (even though I was so terrified – I made a close friend accompany me out of fear), I felt safe. I have found a home at Mark Fisher Fitness. Over the last year, I have committed serious time and energy to my health and hotness, and I have been guided by a group of people who are almost mythical in nature. I never would have believed this was possible a year ago.
You nailed the shit out of your Snatched experience. What did you learn from those six weeks?
I came to MFF seriously lacking in self-esteem. Through Snatched, I learned that I had the willpower for the changes I wanted to make, but that my body is a beautiful work of art already. As a woman so disgusted by who stared back at her from the mirror, a woman who could only see the blaring imperfections, not her body as a whole, I think that change in philosophy was one of epic proportions. And because I had begun to develop this love for my body during Snatched, I then yearned to make it stronger, not thinner, but stronger. I wanted to know, I needed to know, what I was capable of doing.
What was your life like post-Snatched?
The hard part was when those six weeks were up and it was time for me to take more responsibility for my progress. Snatched was great, but the time after is what has defined me as a person. It’s a little harder to get to class, to be disciplined in your diet, to show up for yourself every single day, day after day. Yet, with the amazing staff to greet me every time I walked in, and the trainers always there to answer questions and push me, I was able to do just that.
So you’ve heard the call of the unicorns and answered by diligently honoring your health and hotness goals. How have you been able to keep this up for the last year?
I find comfort in the mantra “1% better every day.” Slow, steady, and consistent is the name of my game. This was the polar opposite of every other time I have tried to “get in shape.” I have tried every crash diet, I have worked with nutritionists, I have been to many gyms, and I was always looking for the “quick fix,” and food always felt like my enemy. But today, I have a better relationship with food, and my body, and I believe it is because of MFF. I am able to embrace who I am right now and work with a growth mind state. All the times I wanted to quit, all of the times I back slid and gained a pound or two back; I never gave up, because all of those times paled in comparison to the days of choosing 1%, to the days of showing up and getting better and that's because each day I was walking into my safe space. Now, I look forward to going to the gym… which is something I never in a million years saw myself saying!
What have you gained from your MFF experience, aside from your obviously amplified hotness?
This Clubhouse has taught me more than how to get a good sweat session in. It taught me how to let go of perfection; I’ve learned about balance, and perseverance, and acceptance. I still can't believe this place is real. This gym is truly one in a million. I love every person who is a part of this Grand Unicorn Experiment. I love the fuck out of this place, and I am eternally grateful that I made my friend walk with me to the weird gym he worked out at, so I could ask about Snatched.
Any parting shots?!
Here’s to BELIEF, and UNICORNS, and getting 1% better, because that 1% adds up over time to GLORY.
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, Story of Glory
22 jun 2016
By Harold Gibbons, The Steward of Strength
Originally posted 6/20/16 on HaroldGibbons.com
A note before we begin: Of everything I’ve written since joining the team at MFF, this is the most Ninja-specific piece yet. While this is directly related to the new class cycle I’ve prepared at Mark Fisher Fitness, there are benefits for everyone reading.
At MFF we follow a four week long class cycle, during which classes become progressively more challenging. Today marks the first day of our 7th class cycle for the year, and it’s one I had the privilege of writing for the Ninja Army. The previous classes, Cycle 6, was written by Amanda Wheeler, and it was one of the most well written, well received class cycles ever. In writing Phase 7, I was heavily inspired by Wheels’ Phase 6.
As I worked through our new classes, I realized something: I believe it’s possible to take Superhero Strength, with only three kettlebells, and Kick-Ass Conditioning with only two kettlebells. Here’s why:
In our last round of Superhero Strength, Wheels’ built us a set that included a heavy 2KB Squat, and an Alternating 1-Arm Pendlay Row with Pressdown, both for a consistent 35 seconds all four weeks. Many Ninjas used the same pair of kettlebells for those two exercises, and I sought to maintain that balance in the new class cycle.
Our new Superhero Strength pairs a 2KB Squat with a 2KB Bent Over Row, and this time around, those sets grow from 40 seconds to 60 seconds over the course of the month. Rather than progress by using heavier kettlebells, the workout load increases by adding time over the four week cycle.
I’d very much like to see us using the same two kettlebells used for both the squat and the bent over row. Here’s a demo:
Later in the class, I expanded upon a set that Wheel’s wrote, and that’s 10 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest. This 10:20 work/rest ratio allows us to put a premium on power and strength, while keeping heart rates at a moderately high level. It’s power and aerobic work combined!
During this set of exercises following the 10 on, 20 off timing, two of them are loaded: Kettlebell Swings and 1-Arm Pendlay Rows. This is a great opportunity to challenge our pulling power by attacking a heavier-than-normal kettlebell for this great bent over row variation.
If you take this opportunity in class at MFF, Superhero can be done with a pair of moderately challenging kettlebells for squats and rows, and a single heavy kettlebell for swings and 1-arm Pendlay rows. The strength is there for you, Superheroes!
Just as Superhero did, the new round of Kickass Conditioning borrows heavily from Wheels’ wisdom. The beginning of class follows Amanda’s lead on density work first, a section of swings and core-control variations, a return to some of my constant tension strategies, and then a kettlebell combo section.
The new round of classes changes one exercise in the kettlebell combo used in Phase 6. Amanda had us doing 2 one-arm swings, 2 one-arm cleans, and 2 contralateral reverse lunges. I’m such a fan of this combo that I wanted to change it the least amount possible.
The ‘new’ version of this swaps the reverse lunge for a contralateral loaded lateral lunge. In addition to being a tongue twister, this allows us to include some movement through the frontal plane, moving side to side. These three exercises happen in a sequence, so they’re best done with one appropriately sized kettlebell.
Included in the constant tension section is an alternating reverse lunge during which you hold a partial squat in between steps backwards. I tried to honor our culture at MFF with the word “Demi,” as in it’s a half or partial lunge, but I wasn’t able to put that name on it… so this specific version of reverse lunge is the “Lovato Lunge.” I cracked myself up with this one. Here’s a demo of the Lovato Lunge:
If you were to load your Lovato Lunge with the same kettlebell that you’re swinging, that means you can complete this entire version of Kickass with only two kettlebells. A lighter bell for the one-arm work, and a larger ‘bell for the swings and Lovato Lunges.
Limited ‘bells, great. What do we do with that?
As always, we should do whatever is most appropriate for us in the moment. If the ‘bells that you’d normally row, squat, swing, or lunge are drastically different, the first priority is always to “run your own race.” And, should working towards being as efficient as possible with your ‘bells be an opportunity you’re interested in, I believe it’s a great practice in strength for us all to embrace.
Categories: Fitness, Science Nerd Alert
19 jun 2016
By Geoff "Mr. Wonderful" Hemingway, Ninja Trainer and SFG Level 2 KB Instructor
I'd like to talk about CHALLENGES.
Now, when I say challenges, I'm not talking about how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning, or how tough that six-hour road trip with your in-laws was. I'm talking about taking on a physical or mental task that is outside your comfort zone for a finite period of time. Some examples: two-minute plank challenge, food journaling for a month, Dan John's 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge, trying to crawl for 10 minutes a day, etc. You get the picture, I'm sure. (If not just look at Facebook, these things are EVERYWHERE.)
Now, I've done a TON of these. I'm a bit of a challenge expert. Every October, I'll do the 10,000 swing challenge because it's the 10th month. I also do the Pat Flynn 300 swing-a-day program in March, because it's the 3rd month. In April, I had a goal to track my food EVERY DAY, which is a BIG one for me personally. I've also participated in the Velocity Diet (only made it two weeks), a daily pull-up challenge, and many others. FOR ME, it's the best way to make your personal goals interesting. Challenging yourself to explore something new for a week, month, or any extended period will teach a person a whole LOT about themselves.
Since July begins soon, and the first of the month is always a great time to start a new challenge, I wanted to give you, dear reader, my three main guidelines on how to choose the correct challenge for YOU. To make this easy and accessible, I've boiled these down to three A's! ALLITERATION WINS!!
Now… the HEMINGWAY TRIPLE A!!
First of all, your challenge should be ACCESSIBLE. What do I mean by this? To put it as simply as possible, make sure you can actually DO your challenge. If I challenge myself to do 20 pull-ups a day for a month, I'd better be DAMN sure I can do a pull-up. You laugh, but you'd be surprised how many people approach me about doing a 300 kettlebell swing-a-day challenge, and then ask me to teach them the KB swing, or ask me where they can find a kettlebell to use when they aren't at the gym. In my experience, for your challenge to succeed, you need working knowledge of the basics, and you need all your equipment accessible at ALL times. TRUST ME. When you're 15 days in, you're not going to wanna worry about tracking down a bell to get those swings in. In that scenario, you're more likely to just give up and start feeling like you've failed. I want you outside your box a little, but don't build a new box just to step out of it.
SECOND criteria. How will this challenge affect your life? How is your life going to change during and after you perform this mighty feat of physical and/or mental prowess? This is a big one not just for you, but for those around you. The Velocity Diet is an extreme fat loss program where the subject drinks nothing but protein shakes 6 days a week, and then has ONE meal on the 7th day for a month. You can bet your SWEET BIPPY that anyone who undertakes the Velocity Diet needs to take a hard look at how they will adapt to these massive changes in their daily structure, and how it will affect their loved ones and co-workers. Eating out is going to be NO FUN. This is just one example. If you're undertaking a Squat challenge, you're gonna be pretty sore and irritable on some of those days. Also, examine how your life will be different post-challenge. Are the results sustainable? How long will you need to recover? Are the results just a step in the right direction for a lasting life change? This is another great tool in determining if a challenge is right for you.
LASTLY… and I bet you KNEW IT...
Yes dear reader, this is EVERYTHING. Without accountability, when your challenge gets tough, and it will, you will most likely just walk away. And why not? No one will stop you, you took this on yourself, right? NO WAY MAN! Put that challenge out there. Talk about it on social media, tell all your friends you're in the middle of keeping a food journal. Shout out that you're doing five pull-ups a day from the rooftops! Ask your friends to join you in your meditation challenge, whatever it takes to have those around you checking in and keeping you on track with your accountability. Not only will this keep you honest in your challenge, it's a wonderful way to build an intentional community around something that's going to benefit you and those around you in the long run.
So my friends, you now have three great guidelines to determine if a monthly challenge is the right thing for you. And in reality, trial and error is the very best guideline of all. Taking that first step and choosing something that will challenge you for an extended period of time is a wonderful way to stay fresh and add new skills to your already expanding AWESOMENESS.
Categories: Ninja Challenges, Personal Development
5 jun 2016
By Emily Fletcher, Winning Human and Founder of Ziva Meditation
If you knew me 10 years ago, you would never guess that I would end up traveling the world speaking about meditation. I wouldn’t have guessed it either. I was on Broadway at the time, understudying three of the leads in A Chorus Line. I was also suffering from anxiety, had been struggling with insomnia for eighteen months, and was going grey at the tender age of 26. So here I was living my dream on stage, but backstage I was rocking myself in the fetal position listening to Eckhart Tolle praying I wouldn’t be thrown on with a moment’s notice. I was desperate for a solution, so when a fellow castmember told me she swore by meditation I thought, what do I have to lose?
After the first day of the course, I slept through the night for the first time in 18 months. I realized that this practice was something special, and it has since up-leveled my performance and my life so dramatically that I felt inspired to share it with others. I left Broadway in 2009 and went to India, where I began a three-year training process to become a meditation teacher. Since then, I have taught over 2,800 people to become self-sufficient meditators with a practice to take with them for life.
When I tell people what I do for a living, they often say, "Cool. Exercise is my meditation." Or "Cooking is my meditation." What they are really saying is that these activities relax them. But exercise and cooking are not the same thing as meditation. Cooking is cooking. Exercise is exercise.That is why they have their own words. As any MFF Ninja can tell you, exercise has a seemingly endless list of benefits. Meditation does too, but they work in different ways. Exercise excites the nervous system which is good enough to get rid of the stress you accumulate each day, but if you want to get rid of the lifetime of stress that has been building up in your cells we need to give the body deep rest. That is where meditation comes into play.
The style of meditation that I teach at Ziva allows you to access a verifiable fourth state of consciousness which is different from waking, sleeping or dreaming. In this state, your nervous system is de-excited and your body is getting rest that is two to five times deeper than sleep. This is significant, because when you give your body the rest it needs, it knows how to heal itself. One of the things the body heals itself from is stress. The less stress you have in your body, the better able you are to perform at the top of your game.
The benefits of meditation are both spontaneous and cumulative, but it’s also important to note that the practice isn't magic. Just like working out, it takes a bit of training, commitment, and most importantly consistency in order to see results. It doesn't matter how amazing a tool is if you don't pick it up and use it. And this is where a lot of people run into snags. They download an app and use it once, or they follow along with a few YouTube meditation videos but then get tired of it, or they try to sit still but “can’t stop their minds from thinking” and give up, making the assumption they are a meditation failure.
If any of this sounds familiar, you are NOT alone. Here’s the thing: there are different styles of meditation for different kinds of people. The style that we teach at Ziva is meant for people with busy minds and busy lives. If you have a job and kids and “stuff” to do, it’s going to be pretty challenging to try to practice a type of meditation that was designed for monks whose entire lives are a meditation.
There’s also a lot of misconception that the point of meditating is to clear your mind of any thoughts. But really, telling your mind to stop thinking is like telling your heart to stop beating. You’re going to have thoughts while you’re meditating. The technique that we teach at Ziva isn’t about trying to control the thoughts or bat them away, it’s all about surrender and letting go. We acknowledge that our meditations will sometimes be sloppy and thought-filled, and that is totally okay. We don’t meditate to get good at meditation, we meditate to get good at life.
Speaking of getting good at life, let’s talk about some of these sparkly benefits of meditation that I mentioned. Basically, when you remove stress from your body through meditation, you improve your physical and cognitive abilities. Some of the most commonly reported side effects of starting a meditation practice (based on what my clients tell me) are:
- Waking up feeling like a rockstar, even before coffee
- Not getting sick
- Unlocking their creative genius
- Become less of a dick
- Better workouts
- Sixth sense gets stronger
- Less anxiety
- Less depression
- Better parking karma
- And most importantly… better sex.
No, seriously, meditation improves your sex life. You can hear all about it in my interview with Huffington Post here.
The truth, though, is that I can spend hours telling you all about how meditation will make you better in bed, and will improve your immune functioning, and will give you more energy in day-to-day life… but you won’t know until you actually experience it yourself. If you’re interested in starting a practice, I’d love to have you at the MFF Intro to Ziva Meditation Talk on June 14 at 7pm in The Snatchery, RSVP here. Spots are already filling up fast, so if we end up reaching capacity, I’m also offering the same talk on June 21 at 7pm at my studio, RSVP here. If you’re not in NYC or LA, you can learn the Ziva technique with our online meditation training zivaMIND. And, just because I love the MFF community so freakin’ much, Ninjas get a special rate to learn with me in person or online. What do you have to lose except stress?
Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation and the creator of zivaMIND, the world’s first online training for people who want to learn to meditate. Ziva’s mission is to make meditation attractive and accessible to modern people who are ready to up-level their performance and their lives. To learn more about Emily, click here.
Categories: Health, Personal Development
29 may 2016
If you've been around the Clubhouse lately you've probably felt the infectious energy of Eddie Jones, a champion Ninja who has nailed his way through three rounds of Snatched. Prepare to be inspired by this stud's incredible journey...
You’ve clearly always been a stellar human being, but what was your life like pre-MFF?
During my first six months at Mark Fisher Fitness, Brian Patrick Murphy said he’d once heard that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” I took a look at my Facebook feed—filled with lots of things I love like Dolly Parton Buzzfeed lists, pictures of drunken nights in Hell’s Kitchen, and 1,000 ways to pack booze into any dessert. I didn’t have a fitness or health community at all. I had a social community, a work community, family, friends, people I “networked” with, but no one was talking to me about health and hotness.
What inspired you to answer the glory-filled call of the unicorns?
I’ve always been kind of average. No one calls me fat, but I just never felt comfortable in my own body. My whole life, I’ve struggled with taking my shirt off in public. It’s never been my M.O. to drool over muscly guys, and I never wanted a six-pack or crazy muscles. For me, it’s always been about taking care of myself.
What is one of the most important areas of growth you’ve had as a Ninja?
I took a look at my eating habits. I was eating like a total asshole, and wasn’t even KIND of mindful about what/how much I was putting in my body. Watching my dad suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and COPD really hit home. Let’s face it, change is hard, but it is a hell of a lot easier to change my life now, in my 30s, than it will be when I’m in my 70s.
We’re pretty sure you’ll still be smokin’ hot at 70. #dzuh How do you think your life has changed since becoming a Ninja?
Prioritizing MFF and making sustainable changes in my life hasn’t been easy. I have to say “no” to some social activities because I need to get to bed early. It costs more to eat healthy, actually go the gym, and buy all the new clothes I need for this hot body. I’m not the over-achiever I used to be at work because I put in my time and then leave to cook dinner at home to actually use all the groceries I’ve bought.
During my time at MFF, I figured out what my deal with taking my shirt off was. It wasn't that I thought I was fat or ugly, it was that I KNEW I wasn't taking care of my body. I KNEW that my stomach and saggy titties were the visual representation of that lack of self-care. It was all about shame, the shame of other people seeing that I wasn't taking care of myself. When I take my shirt off now, even if there is a little fat and no six pack, I still know that I'm taking care of myself, doing my best and running my own race.
Fess up. Why are you so obsessed with MFF?
When I think about why I’ve taken to MFF so well, I have to assume it’s because of the community. My Facebook feed has changed pretty dramatically. Now I get updates with recipes, new healthy eating spots, workout ideas, and even invitations to make vision boards with other ninjas. It still baffles me that I had a membership at a gym ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY HOUSE for more than 5 years and never went, yet I trek to MFF from Astoria 3-4 times a week with no problem. At the same time, I see my friends from outside the Clubhouse tracking their food, or starting to make healthier choices—and telling me that my journey inspired them to jumpstart their own journey to health and hotness.