Mark Fisher Fitness (MFF in short). Many New Yorkers (especially those in show business) know about this renegade gym on 39th Street, which has been helping people get/stay in amazing shape. Their motto “Ridiculous Humans. Serious Fitness.” only hints at their unique approach to redefining the gym experience. To get a better sense, watch this video (warning: mature language and themes with a very amusing tone).
MFF is branching out with a new venture: MyBroadwayBody.com. We talked to co-owners Mark Fisher and Michael Keeler about how they’ve developed and grown their vision and more about their future plans.
How did you two first meet?
Michael: We’ve actually been friends since high school. We grew up together at the South Jersey shore and we were both HUGE theater nerds. Our friendship actually blossomed doing a community theater production of Godspell in which Mark played Jesus and I was the choreographer. I think we might be the first gym in history to be born out of a friendship made during a production of Godspell!
Tell us about the lightbulb moment that launched MFF.
Mark: It was actually more gradual than people think. I graduated with a BFA in
theater from Syracuse University and spent many years as a working actor. I was a super skinny dude, so in my free time I learned everything I could about strength training. At first it was just for me so I could play more diverse roles. But my love for training grew and I slowly transitioned to being a personal trainer. It was my “survival” job between acting gigs. In 2011, to keep up with client demand, I started training my clients in groups, which is when I developed our Snatched in Six Weeks program. Snatched is a six week total body transformation program that took off like a rocket ship! People were getting great results and it spread like wildfire among my friends in the Broadway community.
As my best friend, Michael noticed that I was having a blast as a personal trainer and offered to help me make it a business if I wanted to go in that direction. I said “no” for a few months, then I said “yes.” With Michael’s business background and my unique take on fitness, we quickly created a business plan and launched MFF on 39th Street in Hell’s Kitchen in November of 2011.
Your gym experience seems to speak particularly well to the theater community. Is that because of the inherent theatricality with which you train or are there other reasons?
Michael: I think there are two reasons. The first reason is that most of the MFF community started as friends of friends. Most of our earliest Ninjas (a.k.a. clients) were Mark’s peers from the theater community. From the first day we launched, we were a community comprised primarily of performers, theater professionals, and theater nerds like me. The other reason is that our approach to training is really theatrical is by design. Our motto is “Ridiculous Humans. Serious Fitness.” We leverage our audacious sense of play to create a fun and memorable workout experience. When your trainer or class instructor is dressed in a costume, dancing and singing to the overture to Gypsy, it’s easy to forget how hard you’re working — you get lost in the fun and forget all about the effort. We often say that our theatricality and ridiculousness is the sugar that helps the medicine go down!
We understand that, several times a year, you help people “Get Snatched.” Should we be afraid? What exactly does that entail?
Mark: LOL. You should be VERY AFRAID! No, Snatched is our bad-ass six week total body makeover program. During this magical six-week intensive, the MFF team will give you the keys to unlock your own health and hotness with our special blend of ridiculousness and proven serious fitness techniques. This quick start program has helped hundreds of Ninjas make the lifestyle changes necessary to live a life of fitness dreams! Practically speaking, we ask you to workout five times per week during Snatched and focus on a few proven nutrition strategies to help you get quick results, safely. Whether you are already in great shape or haven’t worked out in years, Snacthed is a great way to find the next level of success in your health and hotness journey. You can see the 2015 schedule and check out our incredible before and after pictures here at markfisherfitness.com/get-snatched.
You seem to talk a lot about the whole person, not just the physical being. Why do you think this is especially important for performers?
Michael: Great question! We believe that everyone’s health and hotness goals don’t exist in a vacuum. If you’re trying to lose weight, but you’re really stressed about an upcoming performance, that mental stress will impact your ability to get results. If you’re trying to get more muscle tone and definition, but you’re currently in a show that is really hurting your body, that physical stress will impact your ability to get results. Our bodies don’t know the difference between physical and mental stress and both create an environment that makes our body resistant to change. When your body thinks it’s at “war,” it’s going to hold onto fat and water weight because it’s trying to protect you. Convincing your body it is at “peace time” with meditation and plenty of recovery activities (like foam rolling) is key. As performers (and for regular “muggles”), managing your physical and mental state as a whole person is scientifically proven to be a key factor in making meaningful change to your body.
Mark: We have been very fortunate to train some of Broadway’s most famous and talented performers. The MFF team has more experience than any other gym in the world training people who need their bodies to do extraordinary things for eight shows per week. We couldn’t be more proud to be Broadway’s go-to fitness destination here in NYC, but we really want to be able to help performers no matter where they live. That’s why we created MyBroadwayBody.com. For folks who live in NYC, nothing will ever replace the hands-on coaching you can get at Mark Fisher Fitness. But for people who are on tour, or doing a regional gig, or living anywhere else in the world, we now have a way to help them reach their health and hotness goal too. For less than the price of one lunch per month we’re giving performers access to a huge library of HD workout videos, expert nutrition coaching, exclusive articles, and practical industry tips from some of Broadway’s most successful performers. It’s a one-stop-shop for every performer’s fitness and nutrition needs. We’re so excited to be sharing it! We encourage people to get on the pre-launch list now at MyBroadwayBody.com because we will be limiting the number of users that get early access!
What else is on the horizon for MFF?
Michael: One of our driving values is “get 1% better every day.” So, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve what we’re currently doing and expand our capacity to help even more people. Most recently we launched our own non-profit foundation called The Uprising (UprisingNYC.org). We see this organization as the next step in the growth of our community at Mark Fisher Fitness. Oftentimes we see Ninjas (clients) who come to MFF and are able to make great changes in their lives, physically and emotionally. They get to a place where they feel strong and sexy and powerful, and then they ask themselves, “What next?”. Once you reach a certain point in your personal development, the next organic progression is to give back. So The Uprising exists to empower an army of everyday superheroes to rise up and make a difference in the health and vitality of New York City. Participants do that by making a habit of making a difference – giving financially and volunteering. When we reach outside of ourselves to help others, we start to connect with our own personal sense of gratitude and abundance. That’s really the next phase of MFF’s growth — to continue developing programs that truly help each person in our community to live their best life!
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