And now, a Story of Glory from the inimitable Amanda Maxwell!!
We’ve all had that moment. That moment when friends ask what it is you’ve been doing because you look so great. And then you get lost in the glow that is your attempt at finding the words that come close to accurately depicting the magical madness that is Mark Fisher Fitness. I have had the pleasure of having this exchange quite often over the last few months and still have yet to arrive at a worthy description. Saying it’s filled with glittery rainbow unicorns is too gay. Saying it’s kind of like Crossfit is too butch. Saying it’s a bit cultish is too off-putting. There are no treadmills, we use kettlebells, and always play a name game. Too foreign, too fancy, and too silly.
Those descriptions might tip the big badass iceberg that is how we train at MFF but it doesn’t justify WHY our training is so damn successful. Yes, we swing kettlebells, bang out burpies, and squat like champs. It’s given me a flatter stomach, a smaller waste and a killer butt. But the greatest and most influential changes are the ones that happen on the inside. The ideals and attitude promoted at MFF are the true keys unlocking and discovering true potential. When I was introduced to the awesomely simplistic power of the “Get Better” mantra, my mind was blown and I was forever changed. THAT is what’s truly difficult to describe to non-ninjas: the value and power in simply getting better.
My first introduction to MFF was with Snatched in July of 2012. I remember the frustration I felt with trying to find a clearly defined “why.” I then realized that getting better WAS my “why” and that’s when I really started to feel changes within myself. It allowed me to get out of my own way. I could feel myself improving, in some way or another, every single day. And that was all the motivation I needed. With the never-ending inspiration supplied by Mark, John, and Stacy, I started to own my movement, felt for the first time in a long time that was I worth it, and started getting better.
Seven months later, I’ve lost 25 lbs, almost a dozen inches overall and grown stronger than I ever dreamed possible. I’ve had to take a small hiatus from MFF due to travel this month and its given me amazing perspective on my journey. I now have an even deeper appreciation for the gift that has been the philosophies bestowed upon me throughout my training at the clubhouse. One that keeps returning to me in my time away is that good ol’ philosophy of putting quality over quantity. As I’ve returned to the throngs of “normal gyms” I grow increasingly grateful for knowing the value in this. I find myself surrounded by people aimlessly jogging on treadmills, over-extending their movements, and counting out reps as their form deflates. Rather than judge others for this, I choose to focus on the appreciation I have for my own knowledge. The knowledge that propels me into staying healthy, growing stronger, and getting better. The knowledge that transformed me inside and out. The knowledge that I gained at the bad ass, glittery rainbow unicorn jizz-filled, kettlebell swinging, cultish, ever-inspiring place that is Mark Fisher Fitness.
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Modern times… it’s fucking hard out here for a pimp. It seems every day we all get busier and busier. Does anyone reading actually work a 40 hour work week? And let’s talk about your cellphone. Do you ever turn that mother off, or are you constantly getting texts, emails, and social media notifications? When was the last time you actually took a for-real, whole day off where you didn’t think about work?
While I can’t give you more time, I can offer some solutions for your health and hotness goals. When time is short, narrowing in on the big rocks is the key to using your time effectively. By focusing on big full body movements and minimizing rest periods, you’ll be able to get that heart pumping and provide the training stimulus necessary to keep your fitness on track.
Let’s say you’ve only got 30 minutes. Let’s look at our 30 minutes like a delicious piece of pie. I fucking love me some pie. I’ll eat the shit out of some pie. (Particularly… Ninja Spinach Pie.) Let’s slice it up and dig in, shall we?
MFF’s 30 Minute Workout Pie Is Fucking Delicious
Even when short on time, we still want to prep the body for movement. While we love it when our Ninjas have time to do 5 to 10 full minutes of foam rolling or soft tissue work, in a pinch you can keep it to 3 to 5 minutes. Every once in while it won’t be the end of the world to leave it out entirely, just be careful you don’t make it a habit. Skipping foam rolling is a bit like skipping brushing your teeth; probably not gonna kill you once in a while, but if you do it all the time it’s gonna catch up to you. Plus, it’s kinda nasty to not brush your teeth.
Let’s say you work in an office, so you know you need to prioritize that shit. You’re not gonna skip your foam rolling because you know it’s super important for your particular situation. BAM! 3 minutes down.
While foam rolling is awesome, we need to do a bit more to get the body ready to kick ass. Again, if and when you have the time, we’d love for you luxuriate with as much as 15 minutes of mobilizations for areas like the hips, shoulders, and ankles, and activation for work for the upper back, glutes, and core. As noted Dungeons and Dragons expert John Romaniello has pointed out, warm-ups are like foreplay. Shit just goes better when you get the equipment warmed up.
But you know how sometimes you’re at the beach and you and your love nugget are all warm from the sun and sleepy and oiled up and you have dinner plans but you know you need a nap and you put the lights out and you only have like 52 minutes before you have to be up to shower but then all of the sudden you’re like… “hmm…”?
That’s kind of how you’re gonna roll with the 30 Minute Workout Pie. It’s like that summer afternoon quickie. So in this case, while we know we generally want more elaborate warm-ups, we’re gonna cut those 15 minutes down to 5 minutes. For your five minute general warm-up, you can just cycle through a few integrated warm-up drills like jumping jacks, Spiderman lunges, inchworms, bent over t-spine rotations.
(Not sure what the fuck those warm-ups are? Check out THIS Video!)
BAM! 22 minutes of Workout Pie left!
We know we want to end things off with 5 minutes of cuddling… er… cool down, where we foam roll and reset our breath. This allows our nervous system to have an entry ramp back to real life (and most of us need to chill the fuck out in general anyway; I myself haven’t actually taken a breath since 2006).
This leaves us with 17 minutes of Workout Pie.
For the main course, I recommend starting each exercise on the minute. You’re gonna pick three exercises; a core exercise, a leg exercise, and an upper body exercise. Because of our time constraints, minimal warm-up prep, and laziness with racking and unracking weights, we’re gonna leave our friend the barbell out of this. This also means this type of workout is perfect for hotel gyms when away on work, or when you need to minimize your gym time because you’re on vacation.
Here’s what you’re gonna do: starting on the minute, you’re gonna go 5 rounds of the 3 exercises rotating back and forth. While I often like doing things for time when training like this, I think counting repetitions is actually gonna be simpler as you won’t need to look at a clock and torque your head while completing the exercises. You want the work set to last around 15-40 seconds based on the intensity and your current level of fitness. Depending on your fitness level or what exercises you choose, 8 to 20 reps will do the trick.
Remember, we’re not going to total failure here. This also means you shouldn’t need much in the way of specific warm-ups (lighter load warm-up sets of the exercises themselves). You’re just trying to get the heart rate elevated, but as always, safety first; don’t get yourself so gassed that your technique goes to hell. You want it to be challenging, but you don’t want to feel like you’re having a seizure, shitting blood, and trying to get your spleen to pop out of your ear.
“OMG OMG OMG… I think I’m actually shittin’ blood!”
“Good! That means you’re nailing it, KEEP GOING!!!”
Tweet That Shit »> Don’t train to get tired. Train to get better. «< Tweet That Shit
My personal favorite pairing here is kettlebell swings, push-ups, and hanging knee raises. You could also do goblet squats, bent over dumbbell rows, and plank walk-ups. Yet another flavor would be jump squats, overhead dumbbell presses, and straight leg sit-ups. If you have no equipment, you can always pair three bodyweight exercises.
Putting That Shit Together
So now that we’ve assembled our delicious pie, it breaks down like this:
3 minutes of foam rolling
5 minutes of general warm-up
15 minutes of getting it done (5 rounds, each exercise starting on the minute)
5 minutes of cool down
2 minutes of optional poetry composition or drawing awesome pictures
There you have it! Your very own easy, cheezy 30 minute workout template. For those of you who seem to be too busy to make it in for marathon workouts, I hope you see you really don’t need more than 30 minutes to clock a win for your fitness goals.
And as a final thought, I encourage you to embrace the reality that life only finds it’s balance on the macro; which is to say it’s a myth to think that each day (or even week) will have an equitable proportion of fitness, career, relationship, sleep, relaxing, and whatever else you know you need to live your best life. There will be seasons where you can focus a bit more on each of these elements than the others, but anything that’s truly important will require some upkeep and maintenance.
Now go eat some fucking workout pie!
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In celebration of Women’s History Month the MFF Team gives a big shout-out to some seriously bad-ass females in fitness. Just a few of our favorite lady Ninjas…
Andrea Ducane is a bad-ass kettlebell mamma who has more than 20 years experience in the fitness industry. She travels around the world granting kettlebell certifications and is the embodiment of a true Ninja. Plus, she does fierce splits with kettlebells! Come on!
Possibly the most literal Ninja on the list is Wojdan Shaherkani. She represented Saudi Arabia in the 2012 London Olympics, competing for the gold in judo. Not only could she kick Kyle Langworthy’s ass, but this 16-year-old was the first female Olympian from Saudi Arabia EVER! No doubt she had to overcome an insane amount of adversity to represent her country. So much glory! #strongwork
At the Ninja Clubhouse, we fondly refer to glute bridges as “Jane Fondas” but there is no joking around when you consider the big steps Jane Fonda made in the fitness industry. After breaking a foot during filming a movie, Jane Fonda took up aerobics to stay fit. She ended up releasing a book and 23 workout videos, connecting lots of women to working out through their VCRs. Her videos sold a total of over 17 million copies worldwide. She single-handedly made fitness accessible to millions of baby boomers across the country. Have you seen her lately? She still looks fabulous.
Elise Serafin Luftmann
We plucked this one from the history books. From the German-speaking region of Bohemia, Elise performed weightlifting all over central Europe. Famous for her ability to lift heavy weights and to juggle cannonballs in the early 1800’s, she helped to challenge the idea that being a female was synonymous with being weak. Elise is featured in a new book on the history of muscular women called Venus with Biceps that might find its way onto the Ninja Book Club reading list.
Girls Gone Strong
A longtime friend of MFF, Neghar Fonooni is a co-founder and writer for Girls Gone Strong. Offering fitness and nutritional advice and inspiration, GGS has started a national movement of women who like to lift heavy and are walking examples of the amazing results. A constant source of inspiration to lady Ninjas at MFF, the Girls Gone Strong are changing the way women perceive working out and integration of fitness into day-to-day life. #nailingit
This list could go on for days and days because so many incredible women have contributed and continue to contribute to the world and health and hotness. Who are your favorite female Ninjas? What women have been role models or inspiration for you?
~ The MFF Team
In honor of Women’s History Month we ask that you share your stories on Facebook and Twitter — tag MFF so that we can share your inspiration with the world! #ladyninjas
Ladies, gentlemen, and baby unicorns, I present to you a man who embodies the holistic, far-reaching way that MFF’s fun and seemingly frivolous culture can transform your life. The epic tale of my friend and yours, Brian Bogin.
A little over a year ago I walked into a place called Mark Fisher Fitness. This was a foreign land to me – with people speaking a strange, foreign language comprised of words like Ninja, Unicorn, Dragon’s balls, Sad Dog, Porn Star. I was terrified! I’ve been overweight my entire life and I grew up with poor eating habits and little to no physical activity outside of required gym class. Many of my “friends” used to call me Twinkie (and not the gay kind—those jokes didn’t come until later). All of this carried over to my adult life as I began to play the yo-yo game of weight loss. I despised going to the gym. Not only did I not enjoy working out, but I also didn’t really know what to do! I hired trainer after trainer and did every diet from Weight Watchers to Atkins—all with moderate and, most importantly, short-term success. Some of the trainers helped a bit, but because I never got my diet under control, I never saw significant long-term changes. I would always say to myself, “Sure, I can have McDonalds, I worked out today!” But as MFF says, “You can’t out-train your diet!” (Boy, are they right about that one!) And what did I really learn from the trainers anyway? Only how to kill my body (because if I hurt really badly after, I must be doing it right!). My partner introduced me to this strange land, and as I researched it I discovered several people that I knew had seen significant results from working out here so I decided to give it a try!
There are three main reasons for my success:
The first is that I now had a BIG WHY. When I started, I was about a year away from getting married on a beach. Changing my physique is certainly important for many reasons related to this event. And honestly, if I wasn’t emotionally and mentally ready, I wouldn’t have been able to commit 100%. And if you don’t commit 100%…well…you can’t expect 100% in health returns.
Second is DIET. You can’t out-train your diet and this can’t be stressed enough. In fact, I myself had been training for a couple months before I really attacked my diet head on using Mark’s tried-and-VERY-true nutritional coaching and it was only then that I started to see dramatic results.
The third reason is simply MARK FISHER FITNESS. When you are embarking on such an epic fitness journey it’s important to have a support system. Luckily, I had that in my partner. But almost more importantly, you have it in every staff member and every Ninja at MFF.
From the minute you walk in the front door, you are made to feel welcome and that you belong. It’s not called a “gym” but a “clubhouse.” This is a very important distinction: a gym tends to be a place of judgment, and there is no judgment in this clubhouse. You are one of the “cool kids.” And best yet, you are all there to get 1% better every day. You run your own race, and everyone there becomes your extended support system. Your fellow Ninjas are as much your support as is the entire MFF team. There are people who are at all different levels of fitness, ranging from those who have never lifted weights in their life, to people who are very physically fit. Because EVERYone can get 1% better. And this positive attitude starts, like everything, at the top. Mark has created an environment that is so welcoming, friendly, fun, and devoid of negativity and judgment. You can’t help but feel good walking into the building, and you leave feeling great about yourself and what you have accomplished that day as you train (not exercise – that’s “boring,” Mark points out – but TRAIN). And these feelings are infectious. The environment that they create is fun, silly, and over-the-top, but they take your body (our bodies) and our physical health and well-being VERY seriously. Their Functional Movement based training programs are healthy for every person and every body. But equally (if not more) as important, they are committed to the success of every person who walks through that door, whatever their fitness journey may be.
Since beginning my journey at MFF a year ago I have lost close to 50 pounds, 9” off of my waist, 8” off my hips, dropped 4 pants sizes, cut my body fat percentage by more than half, and gone from size large to size small shirts. This was not because of another yo-yo diet or exercise program. This is a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.
And not only have I made huge changes to my body, but to my attitude ABOUT my body (to quote another Ninja, Jeanine Tesori). One of the greatest lessons I learned at MFF was about perseverance and patience. These are changes that do not happen overnight. Yes, Snatched gets you GREAT results in a short period of time. And yes you can do a cleanse and starve yourself and drop 10 pounds like that - but it won’t stay off. I think my success is because of long-term commitment to my health and hotness. Mark says you have to pay rent to your body every single day.
It has taken me a long time to let go of all the pre-conceived notions I had about diet, exercise, and weight loss and put my trust and faith into the expertise of Mark Fisher and his team. You have to take the time, every day, and make conscious choices that are good for your body and mind. By committing to health and fitness, you make small changes that have huge everlasting effects on your mind, body, and thus, all aspects of life. Changing by body has made all sorts of changes that I never knew possible. I am happier now than ever before. I am less stressed and feel more in control of myself. I am significantly more productive and successful in all areas in my life. My journey is not over – it never will be. Every day I will strive to get 1% better, and I will – because I now know I can. I can never go back to before, because I am in control of myself. None of this would have been possible without Mark Fisher Fitness. I am forever indebted to all of them!
As one of the fastest growing “gyms” in the history of the fitness industry, Mark Fisher Fitness is always on the lookout for new talent for our training team. If you’ve toyed with the idea of running away and joining the circus, you may just be the ridiculous human we’re looking for!
While we prize fun and joy as an end unto itself, to be clear, the MFF is also some of the hardest working folks around. Although we enjoy occasionally wearing underoos and capes at work, we are also a culture of hustlers. We fully admit our work ethic and discipline is sickening, and it’s not for everyone!
We are inspired on a daily basis to create the best possible home for our Ninja Army and we seek to get 1% better everyday. We are obsessed with working towards becoming our best selves, and we are obsessed with providing the best care of our beloved Ninjas and setting a new standard of service for the fitness industry. We love each other, we love our Ninjas, and we fucking LOVE our work.
MFF prides itself on creating a happy, magical, mystical working environment. (We think of it more as a playing-and-being-silly environment; working in an Enchanted Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.) We know we’re only as good as our team, so we invest heavily in both continuing education and personal development.
And as hard as we work, we’re passionate about our team having a life/ work balance! We don’t think we can help the Ninjas unless we’re taking time to take care of ourselves. If you’re part of our team, you are part of our family, and we want a full life for you that includes time for vacations and loved ones, and resting and recharging.
We’re looking for smart, hard working, and ridiculous humans who want a career with Mark Fisher Fitness. Please note, if you need a day job, we think you’re rad, but this is NOT the gig for you! We want passionate people who fucking BURN to be part of a revolution and create a positive and nurturing home for our Ninjas. We are not a typical gym and this isn’t your typical “trainer” position; as a young company with big dreams, we want folks who can grow with us and collaborate in the birth of a mystical unicorn out of our collective bunghole.
If you think we could be a love match, check out two opportunities below to take the next step!
(Previous interviewees are welcomed to apply for the internship or for future positions)
This is perfect for folks seeking a career change or with less than 1 year of experience in the fitness industry. You will learn the in’s and out’s of making people healthy and hot. We will guide your education through required reading from the MFF library and national certifications, train you in the most progressive strategies in training and nutrition, and work our asses off to help you become the best fit pro possible. At the end of the internship, you will have the opportunity to be considered for future positions at MFF and join the family!
Please note the MFF Internship requires a 6 month commitment and is designed to be done part time so as to allow interns to maintain employment elsewhere (gotta pay those billz, we get it). For more details and to apply, fill out this form here ==> CLICK ME BITCHES!
FUTURE TRAINER POSITIONS
If you’re working in a box gym and it’s eating your soul, or you’re struggling to run your own business, and you crave a family that will nurture you and allow you to do what you do best… look no further!
Our trainers don’t do sales quotas or work off commissions or any other salesy bullshit. You just be the fucking BEST trainer possible; be brilliant, be nurturing, and be RIDICULOUS.
Our team is driven as hell, so we often put in long days. However, this is only because we are self motivated to spend so much time doing continuing education. It is NOT because folks have to work from 530am to 830pm just to make ends meet. We don’t schedule or ask you to work 15 hour days of training, because we don’t think you can do that and still blow people’s minds. And if you’re on the MFF team… then providing the best possible session or class EVERY TIME is the only life you know.
Interested parties with at least 1-2 years of professional experience can email us a cover letter and resume at email@example.com.
If you KNOW in your heart the above sounds like you… we can’t fucking wait to meet you. So what are you waiting for? Your family and the unicorns await…
Ladies and gentleman… allow me to show you yet another SHOCKING transformation form our Snatched in Six Weeks program. WARNING: You may want to put on clean underwear… because you might just shit your pants.
I give you one of the greatest heroes in all of Ninjadom…Christopher Sieber! Chris absolutely hit it out of the park. Over the course of the Snatched in 6 Weeks program, Chris committed himself to the Snatched principles, and whoa boy, did he get some amazing results!!
“I wanted to press the reset button on my life after years toiling away at the gym with no real direction…I decided to do Snatched. Mark Fisher and his team WILL NOT LET YOU FAIL! They are there 24 hours a day for you with support and knowledge, and nothing is a dumb question.
“Working out with my group was like family. We supported each other and looked forward to seeing each private victory we all made. The results….amazing! I have a new outlook on my life, and a fucking hot body to go with it!! So I not only pressed my reset button, I smashed it to bits!!
“Thank you Mark, Brian, Staci, Kyle, and Landen!! I love you!!”
Congratulations Chris! You have not only blown our damn minds, but you’ve filled our hearts with love and appreciation for you. On a personal note, I want to thank Chris for finding an eloquent way to sum up one of our most important Ninja values…
“At the Ninja Clubhouse, we ALL sit at the cool kids’ table.”
If you think you’re ready to ride that unicorn and finally attain your healthiest, hottest self, then NOW is the time to come to Mark Fisher Fitness. No more waiting. Spring is just around the corner and you deserve to see your best body.
We’re gonna nurture you so hard, yet so gently. Gently hard.
A missive on mitigating menstrual maladies by your maven of menses, Super Ninja Jennifer Frankel.
I love being a girl. Especially a girl Ninja. There’s so many things that are awesome about it. Except when Aunt Flo shows up, unpacks her luggage, and tries to destroy my week. And just when I was in the middle if nailing it. Booooooooo, Aunt Flo. For some of us our period doesn’t present much of an issue, but for other of us less fortunate females, it really impacts our lives. Here are some fitness tips that I’ve found keep me on track with my workouts during that time of the month.
I hope these suggestions are helpful! Always feel free to reach out with specific questions. Here’s to the ninja ladies rocking it!!!
And now, another tale of Ninja Glory! Evelyn Somerville is one of the greatest Ninjas of all time. Evelyn started with us when we opened up our beloved Clubhouse in the beginning of 2012. In addition to doing classes and training, Evelyn took the plunge and dove deep into the October Snatched. To say her transformation has been remarkable is an understatement. Evelyn has been a team favorite since we’ve had the pleasure of her company, and we are not only in awe of her hard work, but we also feel lucky to have her kicking major fitness ass in our presence. SHE IS A HERO!!
“Ev, you look good.” Me in response: “Thanks, I feel good.”
I’ve been hearing that I “look good” for about the past six months or so and I have to say it doesn’t ever get old. My stock answer always seems to be “I feel good” because it’s true. I really do feel good. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even felt better in my life even when I was a high school jock playing soccer all year round.
Evelyn before being manhandled by the MFF team
I didn’t have confidence then, but I definitely do now and I realize that part of that has to do with age and maturity (I am in my thirties), but I also know that it is mostly because of how my body and mindset have changed over the past year. And I only have Mark Fisher and the amazing team at Mark Fisher Fitness to thank!!
When I walked into MFF a little over a year ago for my Functional Movement Screening, I did so thinking in the back of my mind that this gym membership would end up like every other gym membership I’d ever signed up for – a waste of money down the drain, and short-lived. I’m so happy that I was wrong!! My decision to keep going absolutely has to do with the fact that MFF is not a traditional gym with treadmills and stationary bikes that are as boring as watching paint dry. MFF works for me because it is a clubhouse and has the supportive atmosphere of a clubhouse, like when we were kids…
My clubhouse didn’t have unicorns, asses hanging out, and so many references to porn stars, dildos, and cumgutters (my personal favorite), but I’m talking in the fun-loving, can-do-or-say-nothing-wrong sense. At MFF, unlike traditional gyms where you are slogging away on your own on an elliptical machine, you know the name of the person split squatting and swinging next to you in class. It motivates me to see someone next to me and all around me working their asses off. It tells me if they can do it, I can do it. And, even more so that if they can do it, maybe I can do it better?
In addition, and let me preface this by saying that this may be a little sickeningly sweet, but I feel as though I’m part of this cool group that are in on something that people are only starting to learn about — Mark’s phenomenal fitness philosophy!! I really do hope that Mark spreads his word around the world because it works! When people ask me how I’ve lost weight, I even get excited telling them about kettlebells, protein, and Ninja Essentials…
Speaking of philosophies: Snatched. So, I signed up for the last round of Snatched last year because I wanted to see what it was all about and really because I wanted a challenge, and a challenge it was! And, even though I had been working out at MFF for 10 months doing semi-private training and classes and had lost about 35 lbs, it was a challenge! Adding that extra day or two a week of working out with the food/nutrition plan of high protein and counting every calorie you eat is not easy! It took me about 2-3 weeks to get the hang of hitting my calorie and protein goals, so that was frustrating, but a fantastic learning experience. I may not have lost much more weight doing Snatched (maybe 5 lbs), but my body definitely became more toned, and the biggest thing I got out of Snatched is an understanding of what I’m actually putting in my body. Awareness. Awareness, and that I actually do have will power. I can have a bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and not eat them. But, if I do eat a bowl of them or just one, I have a really good sense of what I really just put in my body. Not too shabby.
Evelyn’s October 2012 Snatched in Six Weeks before and after pics
This is not to mention that the other Snatchers I have met are all incredible people and help keep you going through the process because it’s not easy for anyone. Just simply bouncing off an idea for a protein packed dinner that doesn’t involve eggs makes Snatched that much easier, more fun, and doable.
I wasn’t liking my thirties very much until my friend, Danielle (Super Ninja), introduced me to Mark and MFF. Now I can honestly say that I’m happier than I have ever been, have more energy, enjoy dressing up, laugh easier, and have had the most productive/successful year at work ever. All of these good things are solely due to having MFF in my life. I hope to work with Mark and all of the other caring, funny, knowledgeable, and inspirational trainers and wonderful people at MFF for as long as I can swing, squat, and row those motherfucking kettlebells.
There you have it, America. If you’re looking to make some serious health and hotness victory in a loving and supportive environment, we think we have just the place for ya! Click here for info on how to get started on the road to Ninja Glory, or find out more about our mega-popular educational intensive Snatched in Six Weeks!
A guest post from one of our most esteemed SuperNinjas, the inimitable Stella Kaufman.
As we waited for the vet to come into the room, I squatted to comfort an anxious bulldog. I stayed in that position for around 10 minutes. Feeling comfortable. My knees weren’t caving. My spine was neutral. And I realized. 18 months ago, I couldn’t have done that. Squatting was uncomfortable back then, and was not about a neutral spine, but about an awkward movement for hips and legs. I remembered how in the last few years I would sit on the floor, and get up feeling stiff. I accepted it (albeit unhappily) as something that just “happens” as you get older. Seriously, there is nothing to make you feel old like feeling stiff and inflexible when you get up.
Now, the squat did not come easy to me. It took months of Kyle Langworthy convincing me that the squat was necessary. I believe he referred to it as “the king of all exercises.” I argued that perhaps it was just something that I couldn’t do, and that surely there must be another exercise that could yield the same results?! Kyle chose to endure my frustration and complaining, and eventually, I was able to do a squat. Still not well, but I could do it.
So fast forward to the following year of thousands of squats and constant reminders from the gurus at Mark Fisher Fitness about “neutral spine.” Something must have sunk in. How I moved around the city, how I lifted things — not just in the gym, but in everyday life — became something that I paid attention to.
I felt like I could move with ease and with (my version of) grace. I started to notice all the things I could do better than I could the year or so before. I had been working out 5 times a week for over a year—I mean, it made sense that this would happen. But I was just there to lose some weight. And then to get fit. And although I genuinely tried to improve my form, losing weight and getting fit was what I focused on. Moving better was just a “fringe benefit” of all this.
So as a squatted in that vet’s office, I came to realize that, in fact, a neutral spine has become a metaphor. When you move with a neutral spine, you feel…centered. It just feels “right.” Like you are, at that moment, living life calmly. I can’t really account for why all that zen is a result of the neutral spine (and really, who can say which came first, the spine or the calm?), I just know that when I am experiencing a visceral reaction from something that stresses me, I think to myself, “Neutral Spine.” I automatically stand up straighter, I take a deep breath, and I feel as though I can move forward from a place of centered calm. Chi flows, chakras are opened, and order is restored to the universe. I swear that happens. I invariably will take on the task with a new attitude. It’s as if a sort of spiritual cosmic alignment takes place with a neutral spine.
In spite of my penchant to over-dramatize (moi?) I am starting to think that maybe—just maaaayyybe—moving well is of grand importance on the health and hotness scale.
As an aside, I am also convinced that they tricked me at Mark Fisher Fitness. While they were teaching me about kettlebell swings and pushups and burpees, they were secretly teaching my body to move in a way that offers me a better quality of life. A life where you can sit cross-legged on the floor for hours. A life where you squat to reach the book on lowest shelf. And yes, a life where you can comfort a nervous bulldog.