How a muscle gain Ninja used a shift in mindset to change his life—
“There was a lot of shame surrounding my decision to train at MFF and just as much fear, and that same shame and fear accompanied me in most situations in my life, from meeting a new group of people for the first time to walking into an audition room to going on a date.” –Max Kantor
Max was an extremely shy and wiry fellow, with an energy and bounce akin to a misplaced Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. It was almost as if there were an energy, something living within the deepest essence of his being, something he was unsure of how to express. He asked questions with a timid reserve, afraid of experiencing that self-fulfilling prophecy of his trainer scolding him with an answer he had already fabricated in his mind. Fear accompanied his every move, from his awkward entrance into the Dragon Lair to the very last rep of his semi-private training program. He would disjointedly rush through his sessions, hastily dismissing the quality of his training, subconsciously self-sabotaging himself so he could “get through it”. His breathing was increasingly erratic, his physical efforts too labored, his mind, on another planet. Shame and fear of failure seemed to be a driving force of his energies. His own mind was his greatest adversary.
Max was an attractive kid, a skinny boy, an actor that had recently moved to the big city from Ohio. He was an avid yogi and a vegetarian at the time. He was going through a toxic relationship, was missing his life and career as an actor, and was immersed in a relentless concrete jungle known for chewing folks up and spitting them out.
“I think that I found MFF at the perfect time in my life. I had been out of school for a year, I was (am) still very young, I felt completely directionless, I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw when I looked in the mirror, I was in a tricky relationship, and I needed something to help start me down a different path in my life…”
Max’s first encounter with Mark Fisher Fitness was during Snatched in Six Weeks, our six week makeover program, well known for helping facilitate countless physical and psychological transformations. During Snatched, Max made great strides. His movement improved immensely and his results post-Snatched were exceptionally good for a skinny boy trying to gain muscle. He was the frequent talk of many of the MFF trainers. We were very impressed by his results in a mere six weeks. We wondered what he could do in, say, a year’s time? Selfishly, I wondered how much of a lil’ beast he could become if he could harness his frequent inconsistencies and self-sabotaging behavior.
Indeed, Max was different after Snatched, but he still wasn’t completely satisfied with his results. Those old self-sabotaging ways stuck with him. A disheartened expression frequented his posture and gaze—something just wasn’t clicking. You could tell he wanted something else, something more.
One day, exasperated after another rushed set of bench presses, Max had a magical moment. Irritation sewn deep into his furrowed brow, Max asked, “What the hell do I have to do to build muscle? I’m frustrated that I’m not getting very good results.” The truth of the matter was he just hadn’t put in enough time and effort yet. He had been training as a muscle gain Ninja for maybe a couple of months, including his Snatched in Six Weeks Journey. This wasn’t even a fraction of the appreciable amount of time it takes to accrue muscle mass (contrary to what the muscle magazines might lead us all to believe). It was evident that he had been looking for the quick and easy fix. He was expecting something that simply wasn’t possible. In addition, his hasty mindset was affecting the quality of the work in his training sessions.
In essence, he was stuck on the results he wanted and not appreciating the process. This was evident in every single thing he did. We discussed realizing the potential of each moment: each set, each rep, each extra little bit of protein and food. More importantly, we also discussed what HE was worth in those moments.
We discussed some of the variables of muscles gain: slowing down his movements to increase time under tension, possibly incorporating meat back into his diet, and using principles of “progressive overload” to consistently lift heavier weights with every session. I left him with a question: What did the word “strength” mean to him? He confusingly processed all of this, said very little and then went on his way …And that was the last time I ever saw Max—at least that version of him…
“I can say without hesitation that the greatest change for me has taken place in my mind.”
From that moment, the lost boy from Ohio was on a mission to turning himself into a man among men. He came up to the conclusion that the process takes time, so why not enjoy the hell out of the ride?
As anyone who knows him can attest, Max Kantor now exudes confidence in every step, steadiness to every breath, and a sparkle in his ever-present smile. Whether under a barbell or while walking down the street as the peanut galleries whistle at him, there’s an intention behind his demeanor, a meaning in every move. He has learned to experience each and every moment as an opportunity to live his best life, to be himself, to love himself. All because he DECIDED to appreciate the journey. The effect of this on his attitude and outlook has been life-changing and his patience has paid off big time.
Since that decisive shift in mindset, Max has yielded some of the most impressive and enjoyable feats of determination, strength, and training badassery that I’ve ever seen in a Ninja. Max has gone on to easily deadlift well over twice his body weight and has put on almost 20 pounds of solid muscle. He integrated meat into his diet. He defeated an old nagging hip injury, and continues to amass personal records day in and day out. All this within only eight measly months of training at MFF. However, I’m sure that Max would agree that some of his more impressive feats might be the ones that he has made outside of the Ninja Clubhouse.
“Throughout all of this, my shame and fear has diminished immensly. Of course, little gremlins pop up every now and again in the back of my mind, but don’t we all have our little demons to deal with? (#dievampiredie!) Overall I have never felt so comfortable and present in my mind and in my body. Lifting has helped to sync up my active analytical mind, my breath, and my musculature in a very tangible way, and all of the little lessons I’ve learned about myself and how my body works while doing bench presses or deadlifts I have been able to carry with me into other aspects of my life. I know more about my body than I ever did before, and self-knowledge has given me power and confidence. The fact that I did something that I never before thought I could do has adjusted my attitude immensely. I’m singing again, I’m taking dance classes left and right, I’m auditioning…I’ve started to find my stride. I would not have been able to find the power and will in myself to do these things again had I not come to MFF when I did.”
Sometimes we have a tendency to look so far up the mountain that we simply cannot see the step that’s right before us. If we hold our gaze too high, we miss the journey along the way. You can make your best progress towards your own goals, whether muscle gain, fat loss, performance or even general health and happiness. It only takes a mindset shift towards believing that though your goals might take time, longer than you would like, it’s worth it. YOU are worth it (YOU ARE F*CKING WORTH IT).When you find yourself down on the process, remember that it’s the little victories and the inherent joy found within those victories that eventually add up to the bigger ones (TWEET THAT SHIT!). Happiness is found in the process of doing something, of finding and creating opportunities for getting better through process, and not just through reaching an end result.
“This mentality of making progress where you can, of making something about yourself 1% better every day, of finding the good in the worst moments and letting that guide you towards your goals, THAT has been the most unique aspect of my MFF journey.” -Max Kantor
Well said, Max. We couldn’t have said it any better. Congratulations, my friend. MFF is proud of you.