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Survival of the FHITTEST 2017

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Saturday March 4, 2017 marked Fhitting Room’s 4th Anniversary. We celebrated the best way we know how – by HITting it hard with our entire FHIT community. Our second annual Survival of the FHITTEST Challenge left us inspired, and our green hearts are bursting with pride. Challengers pushed themselves, and all the FHIT friends and family cheering on these FHITspirational athletes left us breathless.

We racked up tons of mileage via rowing and skiing, performed over 2,000 kettlebell swings and dropped chest to deck for nearly 2,000 burpees. And the best part of all of this high intensity exercise? The high intensity energy that came along with it. Check out our Survival of the FHITTEST highlight reel.


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FHITspiration: Molly Forsyth

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Molly Forsyth is the founder of 8 Point Wellness, a boutique acupuncture practice based in Flatiron. She is certified as a Diplomat of Oriental Medicine by the National Certification for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and a board certified herbalist. Her business offers acupuncture and Chinese medicine practices. Molly is also an athlete, a runner and a frequent FHIXer at our Flatiron studio. We recently got a chance to speak with her about her business, fitness and where the two intersect.


How long have you been coming to The Fhitting Room? How did you hear about us?

The Fhitting Room had been on my radar for a while. I was looking to shake up my routine from one-on-one sessions with a trainer, and I wanted to have a little (competitive) fun in a group setting. I had my first FHIX with Ben and Farouk in May of 2016 and I was immediately hooked! I have been attending class at least twice a week ever since.

What keeps you coming back?

I love that class is never the same, and I love the positive energy the FHITpros and fellow FHIXers bring; the environment encourages me to give it my all. I love to be challenged by something new each class.

You’re a runner. Have you noticed TFR has changed your performance as a runner? If so, how?

Yes! Well, as you know, a significant portion of power is in the stride, and proper posture comes from the core and upper body. The explosive and timed nature of many FHIXes helps to encourage strength and speed. Cross training is key for building muscle, and avoiding boredom from other repetitive strength workouts is an important factor for me; TFR is also a great counterweight for the sometimes lonely long runs.


Tell us about your practice and what services you provide.

I practice Chinese medicine, which encompasses acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas, cupping, and gua sha. My clients are motivated, health conscious people just like those at Fhitting Room.

What got you into holistic/natural healing?

Chinese medicine literally and quickly changed my life. I moved to NYC for what I thought was to be a long-term career in fashion. I found my way to Converse during their apparel start-up phase and worked in the planning department (a whole lot of spreadsheets, systems and factory communication) for 6 years. Three years in, I started giving a lot of thought to finding a career that felt more meaningful and impactful. At the same time I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition, Crohn’s disease. Within a few months of starting weekly acupuncture and herbal treatments I was able to wean off steroids and immunosuppressants.

There was a silver lining. My illness allowed me to find my true calling; I love helping people maintain or regain wellness. I entered the 4-year graduate program and slowly exited the world of apparel. My only medication for the last 8 years has been Chinese herbs (and acupuncture).


Can you explain cupping and its benefits towards recovery?

Cupping is great; I use it on patients for chronic and acute pain, muscle soreness and muscle fatigue. It can help speed up muscle recovery by increasing circulation and blood flow and realigns fascia. It’s also great at the initial onset of a cold or when someone feels like they are coming down with something or to relieve congestion in the lungs. You can read more here.

What is your best or favorite natural remedy?

This time of year I’m talking a lot about bone broth. Winter is the time to nourish the kidneys, and in Chinese medicine the kidneys govern the bones. Bone broth is a great way to warm and nourish qi (also known as vital energy in our bodies) and blood, as well as to help prevent and promote healing of bones and connective tissue. It’s very collagen rich too, which means it’s also great for skin and for healing digestive irregularities.

Ginger tea is another favorite this time of year. Ginger (Sheng Jiang) is a Chinese herb that is incorporated into many digestive herbal formulas. It warms the middle and not only settles the stomach, but also nourishes sluggish digestion. In the cooler months it’s very important to keep your digestive fire stoked.


Many of our instructors visit your practice and take advantage of your services. Why do you recommend using holistic practices after your FHIX? 

Think of it as part of your wellness recovery plan. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help speed up your recovery post workout, help your body build muscle, strengthen your immune system, balance hormones, and regulate sleep and digestion. Wait, there’s more! But seriously, acupuncture has numerous health benefits. Pregnant FHIXers can benefit from acupuncture, too.

How would you suggest adding this to your regimen in a consistent way? How do you feel about your practice as preventative? (Rehab vs. Prehab)

Maintaining wellness is an ongoing journey. In most cases, patients begin acupuncture for rehab reasons – they have an ailment or some type of imbalance they want me to remedy. At a certain point in treatment the focus will switch from rehab to prehab.

Effects of treatment are cumulative — like building muscle, so it’s most ideal for clients to come weekly for a short period of time. As the body learns to hold the healing, treatments are spaced further apart, and eventually clients come in periodically for maintenance or prehab type sessions. Sometimes the periodic prehab sessions correspond with the change of seasons to avoid that oh so common cold.



Learn more about about Molly’s services by visiting her practice.


Molly Forsyth, MS, L.Ac.

8 Point Wellness | 928 Broadway, Suite 1001, NY, NY 10010

646 480 2542  |

Instagram: @8PointWellness  

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FHITspiration: Kristen & Kyle Siebert

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Kristen & Kyle Siebert are expecting their first future FHIXer in a few weeks and they have been HITing it hard together throughout Kristen’s pregnancy. We are a bit FHIXated on how amazingly strong the Siebert’s are. So, we had to ask them a few questions about this FHIT pregnancy and HITing it together.


How often do you both come to The Fhitting Room and do you make it a part of your weekly regimen to do it together? If so, why?

Kristen: I come to The Fhitting Room 6 days a week (Monday through Saturday). I actually used to come 5 and would go 1 day to the gym in my building, but since being pregnant I prefer all my workouts to be under the supervision of such great instructors at TFR. Since I go to the same class everyday, the instructors really know me and what I could do pre-pregnancy, and now while pregnant, they always check in to make sure I am feeling well. Kyle and I make it a priority to come together as often as our schedules allow, which at a minimum is Saturday morning. We love to see each other’s progress, from when we first started coming together to where we are now. We encourage each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, whether it’s increasing weight on kettlebell swings, getting more meters on the rower or SkiErg, or simply feeling like we kicked butt on the FHIX. When we aren’t in class, we find we are talking about TFR and what that day’s workout consisted of. It has become such a huge part of our lives.

Kyle: As often as I can. I work in Greenwich but spend a day or two in the city each week. If I’m working out in the city, I make sure to fit TFR into my schedule. Same thing on the weekends – if we’re in the city I’m always there Saturday mornings. Depending on the week’s schedule, Sunday usually serves as my rest day.

You both have been HITing it hard throughout Kristen’s pregnancy… FHITspirations! What is the best part about working out together while Kristen is working out for 2?

Kristen: For me I think it’s been surprising myself that I have been able to keep coming 6 days a week.

Kyle: Watching Kris kick butt. She got me back into working out after two years away and she continues to be a #FHITspiration for me. When we’re not working out together, we’re talking about the class and how each of us did, so it’s always fun for us to be there together. It’s such a positive community and the support she has gotten from everyone has been awesome.


You are both very frequent FHIXers, how did you find TFR and what keeps you coming back with a growing family?

Kristen: I first heard about TFR from Emily Cook Harris, who I personally trained with back in 2009. When she started teaching at TFR she kept encouraging me to try it out. She knew I would love the energy and class dynamic. I’ve always admired Emily and her philosophy on fitness and wellness and felt I had to see what the hype was all about. I was hooked from my very first class back in June of 2015 on a Monday night with Dennys and Farouk. I remember standing in the front and feeling nervous about what it would be like. When the class ended I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next one!

Kyle: Emily Cook Harris. We both started training with her back in ’09 so we have been following her around since. She’s a total rockstar like all of the instructors at TFR. Their dedication and commitment, along with their constant positivity is contagious. It doesn’t hurt that HIIT workouts also show meaningful results when you stick with it. There’s no question that an active/healthy lifestyle impacts the rest of your life in a very positive way.

Kristen, do you feel like you still get a full workout when you work out while pregnant? What’s changed for you now that you are pregnant?

Kristen: Definitely! Working out while pregnant has honestly been the best thing for me, both physically and mentally. During the first trimester it helped with the fatigue and nausea. The walks in the morning for the 6AM classes would sometimes be a bit rough, but as soon as we started the warm-up I would forget about being tired (and even pregnant) and feel so much better by the end of class. It has also helped with my overall energy. It can be difficult to lose control over your body, but knowing that I was staying in shape and doing everything I could for a healthy pregnancy helped with my overall state of mind. I’ve had to modify certain exercises since being pregnant, but because all the trainers are so attentive, they always make sure the movements are safe for both me and the baby, but still challenging.



Kristen- you like to take our FHIXtreme classes, can you tell us about that?

Kristen: Kyle hasn’t taken a FHIXtreme class yet but I go every Wednesday morning with Eric and Mat. I have loved that class since before being pregnant and wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep going while pregnant. It’s definitely gotten harder but I love the strength and competitive component of the class. It’s mainly the same group of people each week and we have all grown to really appreciate one another, encourage each other, and push each other to go faster, beat our last time, or get more reps in. Both Eric and Mat always check in with me and give me alternative options where needed, but I am still able to get through the class and feel a huge sense of accomplishment at the end of it. Also, everyone in the class has been so amazing to me and have made me feel great about still being able to come each week and push hard with them. TFR isn’t just a workout class; it’s a community of FHIT people who love pushing hard but also love seeing others accomplish their goals.

Kyle: Kris hits the FHIXtreme, but I am still working my way up to that.

Do you think that regularly getting your FHIX before and during your pregnancy has made a difference for you?

Kristen: For sure!! I had a rough go getting pregnant, but since being pregnant I feel very blessed with how I have felt. People always ask me how I’m feeling, did I have morning sickness, am I exhausted, etc. I can honestly say that I have felt great the whole time. Yes, a bit more tired here and there but never to the point where I didn’t feel like getting out of bed or couldn’t make it out to dinner with Kyle and friends on a Friday night. I attribute a lot of that to continuing to get my FHIX 6 days a week at TFR.

Are you competitive with each other while working out?

Kristen: I’d say yes! Not anymore, but when Kyle first got back into it, I was using the same or heavier weights than he was and was loving every second of it! He’s definitely gotten a lot stronger though from when he first started coming, but I love seeing him hit new PRs (personal records). I don’t think I’ll be swinging the pumpkin any time soon, but at least I still have him beat on the FHIXes :)

Kyle: She crushes me on the FHIXes – EMOMs, AMRAPs and chippers. I can keep up for maybe the first two rounds. Thankfully I’ve got her on the strength portion now. We both give it everything we’ve got every class so I would say we go in there as a team just looking to get after it; AKA we both know she’s got me beat.


What’s each of your favorite exercise movement and why?

Kristen: I have a love/hate relationship with man makers. When doing them I hate them but they are such a great workout as they work all parts of your body. I have also grown to love cleans and they are a big component in most FHIXtreme classes. I also love all of the FHIXes because they combine both strength and cardio and really get your heart rate up.

Kyle: Burpees, but it’s definitely a love/hate relationship. Once the music starts, it’s chest to deck. It’s an explosive movement that also requires lower half mobility, so it’s been fun to see the improvement over the last 16 months.

Kristen, what’s your advice to FHITmoms who want to HIT it while pregnant?

Kristen: You will learn very fast that everyone has an opinion about what pregnant women should and shouldn’t do, but if there is anything anyone can learn from my experience, it’s that if you have done it before being pregnant; you can definitely do it while being pregnant. It’s important to listen to your body and the amazing instructors, but overall my workouts at TFR are just as intense as they were prior to being pregnant. I said it already, but I truly believe that having stayed active throughout my entire pregnancy has helped with how smooth the whole experience has been.

Getting pregnant can also be an emotional roller coaster that will differ for everyone. I have met so many amazing people, made new friends, and found such phenomenal support through the TFR community. Having a positive outlet, separate from the rest of your life, where everyone is encouraging each other has been amazing for me. Everyone is fighting his/her own battle, but TFR is a place everyone comes to fight together.

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365 Days of FHIT- 2016

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Some of our FHIT highlights from the year.


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FHIT Marathoners

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Now that the New York City Marathoners have had time to rest and recover, several of our FHIXers who are marathon finishers, as well as a FHIXer who just completed her first Triathlon in Miami, shared how incorporating The Fhitting Room into their training helped them prepare for their races.

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1. Describe your marathon/triathlon experience in three words.

Alicia Lee: Love-letter from NYC. (If that counts as one word, then also celebratory and grateful!)

Shu Jin Rankin: Inspirational. Love. Journey.

Peter Lee: Really fun day.

Shirel: Challenging, fun and the single most REWARDING thing I’ve ever done


2. How important was cross training in your marathon/Olympic distance triathlon preparation?

Alicia Lee: Cross training at TFR was just as important as long training runs each week. Challenging leg workouts mimicked hill training, which gave me the strength and confidence to tackle all of the bridges that are part of the course. I often took class the day after a long run when my legs were already tired. While that added an extra degree of difficulty to that day’s program, I knew it’s exactly how my legs would feel 20+ miles in and those Sunday classes definitely helped to increase my endurance and stamina. I’m so much stronger and FHIT thanks to taking class a couple times a week, which isn’t just a benefit for marathon training but all aspects of everyday life. Not only did TFR prepare me for the race physically, but each class helped to strengthen the mental toughness needed to complete a marathon. Each week, I pushed myself FHIX after FHIX, and gave it my all until the clock hit zero. Building up that “you got this, you can do anything for 20 more seconds” muscle in my brain paid dividends come race day. I channeled that same grit, determination and confidence from each FHIX, every mile of the race, right down to the finish line. Cross-training at TFR also led me to my running squad! There’s no way I would have made it through marathon training and the race without them. The #FHITfam community is real and I’m so grateful for it.
Shu Jin Rankin: So important! I integrated TFR into my marathon training after getting PR’s in both half marathons I ran earlier this year. TFR has made me a better athlete and improved my overall stamina.

Peter Lee: I’ve used cross training a lot since the middle of 2015 which has really helped me strengthen my legs and core. I think cross training is a large part of what has enabled me to increase my mileage so that I can run a marathon – and actually enjoy it. The workouts at The Fhitting Room challenge my muscles differently than running which allows for areas that may be neglected from running alone to develop.

Shirel: It was incredible just in terms of my body strength and endurance. I utilized so many things I learned at TFR during my race. For example while swimming I started getting a bit tired so every 200 meters I did some Tabata-like drills. 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off for 200 meters then a 200 meter recovery swim. This allowed me to power through while also controlling my heart rate during the swim portion. As a general note, I believe that cross training allows you to really build serious muscles and improve your efficiency as you work certain muscle groups that don’t get as much attention when strictly running or biking.

3. What TFR movement was most helpful to your 26.2/ Olympic distance triathlon?

Alicia Lee: Most helpful physically – jumping lunges. As much as I hate them, it’s one of the best moves to build quad strength, which is so important for runners. And burpees – they really are a total body exercise that just makes you better at everything. Most helpful mentally: a 400m run. Especially when Farouk would sneak an extra run into the program. When I saw the “800m to the finish line” sign during the marathon, all I could think about were those 400m runs. I knew I crushed those runs in class and could do it one more time; that gave me the boost I needed to finish strong.

Shu Jin Rankin: I hate to admit it, but probably my least favorite move, the burpee!

Peter Lee: Toss up between several different leg exercises which require me to keep my core engaged. Goblet squats, kettlebell swings, suitcase lunges. The hundreds of burpees probably help too. 😉

Shirel: THE ROWER. This is by far the best cross training tool anyone could utilize when preparing for a race. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do some serious 60 minute rows with Ben at TFR. When using this machine correctly, you create a tremendous amount of strength and power from your legs and core. You are also able to learn proper breathing techniques and increase both endurance and efficiency. My life motto is “More rower, less everything else!”


4. We sure hope you indulged after crossing the finish line! What did you eat?

Alicia Lee: My dad and sister had a pretzel croissant from City Bakery and hot tea waiting for me after I got my poncho! Almost every one of my long training runs ended with a burger and I wasn’t about to break tradition. We celebrated with my favorite burger in NYC, a cheeseburger with cottage fries at JG Melon, then cupcakes from Two Little Red Hens.

Shu Jin Rankin: A double cheese from Five Guys and too many Cajun flavored fries.

Peter Lee: A large order of Panera mac and cheese.

Shirel: I had a glass of wine, blueberry pancakes and a veggie burger with fries. I literally wanted to eat everything and it was all amazing.

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5. What was your marathon mantra or song that kept you going?

Alicia Lee: When it got tough, I just told myself to put one foot in front of the other and that my only goal in that moment was to just keep moving. The cheers from spectators were amazing! Hearing my name made me feel like such a rockstar and that was the best motivation to keep going. Also, part of the Sunday Funday 4pm Penthouse crew came out to cheer me on at the park so I told myself I better hurry up so they could see me and not be late for class!

Shu Jin Rankin: I like to repeat every single exercise and run that has lead me to that moment, so I am often saying, “every burpee, every KB deadlift, every Sunday long run…” to myself, and I match the rhythm of each thought with each foot strike. It helps!

Peter Lee: Since I was running it for fun, I didn’t experience as much discomfort as when racing a marathon, but my friend and I did often repeat “just keep running” since we were dressed as Dory and Nemo.

Shirel: Fun fact about triathlons that I didn’t know going into it was you cannot listen to music on the run. If you do, you get a time penalty. At first I was willing to take the penalty but after the bike ride when I realized I could finish the race sub 4 hours, I decided to forego music and just started running. The one thing I kept repeating to myself (out loud at one point when I hit a wall at mile 5 of the run) was “No one can do this for you, no one can finish this race for you. Do this for yourself.” This is something that had been said to me so many times so I pictured all the people who were rooting for me and I just kept repeating that to myself over and over until I crossed the finish line. It’s incredible how strong your mind needs to be when you hit the wall of exhaustion. And it is even more incredible how the people in your life can be the greatest drivers and motivators for your personal success. This one was definitely as much for all of them as it was for me.

Thanks to Alicia, Shu Jin, Peter and Shirel for sharing your FHITspiration stories with us. Congrats on your FHIT achievement; you have inspired us to HIT it hard in every single FHIX!

Want to share your FHIT story with us? HIT us up at!

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Take a look at ten of our favorite health and wellness moments of September 2016.


1. Everyone knows that post-workout protein is necessary for building a FHIT body, but what should you eat when you HIT it so hard that your muscles are not only stronger, but also oh-so-sore? The Cheat Sheet recommends these 6 foods that can soothe sore muscles.

2. New Yorkers will never (ever ever) break their coffee habit, but we have seen a big spike in popularity for matcha, the antioxidant-packed green tea. You’ll find the best matcha NYC has to offer on this list including lattes, cappuccinos and cookies!

3. Want to find your Zen while watching your favorite football team play? Now you can purchase a $1000 yoga mat made of the same leather as NFL footballs.

4. As much as we all love a good ol’ bag of chips or box of gluten-free crackers, we know they aren’t the healthiest snack option, nor will they keep us feeling alert throughout the workday. Chalkboard Magazine worked with a nutritionist to round up the 7 best healthy snacks for work.

5. Searching for the perfect protein powder? Follow this infographic for some guidance on which option will work best for you.

6. Dining out can often mean eating meals that are calorically dense but lacking in nutrition. Some chefs are fighting these standards and using their kitchens to serve up not only some of the tastiest, but also some of the healthiest dishes in restaurants.

7. New York City developers have taken note of just how much people are willing to spend on wellness. Read on to see which luxury residential buildings provide the most out-of-this-world health and wellness amenities.

8. Eat. Sleep. Get FHIT. Repeat. It’s easy to fall into the go-hard-or-go-home mindset, but recovery and renewal are just as important for living your FHITtest life. Read these ultra-athletes stories of staying motivated and avoiding burnout.

9. Check out the best ways to treat your body – inside and out – after a tough workout.

10. Apple released the latest version of the Apple Watch, and fitness is one of the gadget’s main focuses.

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We love to see how our FHIXers HIT it and #liveFHIT in their daily lives in and outside our studios! We will be sharing our favorite Instagram posts hashtagged #liveFHIT on our blog every month to create a FHITspirational collection!

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@MichellePark- 11 weeks ago, I took my first class @fhittingroom and couldn’t do a seated box jump or seated kettlebell rope pull (it was too heavy yo). Fast forward to tonight – I did countless seated box jumps & rope pulls with a 14 kg kettlebell. I’ll go even heavier next time, @fftstrong! I was def breathless, but it feels amazing to be able to finish class strong!

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@Ksaitowitz- Representing for the amazing @dangiordanodpt and @bespoketreatments today. So excited to prioritize recovery after way too many weeks of neglect. #recovery #bespoketreatment #liveFHIT 

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@fit_and_nutricious- The fitness industry in NYC is smaller than you would think. That’s why you can’t forget a great fitness instructor no matter where you go. For me,@erocfitness was the first @fhittingroom coach to truly kick my butt. Thanks for the amazing #NYCFitWeek class today with @emcookharris#FitForGood#NYCFitness #HIIT #FhitFhix #LiveFhit#CharityWorkout

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@DougLipsky- Kettlebell swings in the Serengeti? Of course.

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@chichililifenyc- {fitness + fundraising} the joining of these two amazing worlds literally make my heart so happy. it’s been an honor to serve as a#NYCFITWeek ambassador for @empoweredfitweek w @emcookharris ✖️ had a blast yesterday sweatin’ it out w these rockstars @fhittingroom. don’t worry you still have a chance to support @donorschoose + @shesthefirst over $10,000 raised to date.

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@DaraFayeTheo- Another @spartanrace in the books!! #killington was pretty awesome – LOTS of uphill – @jennawolfe is a great motivator so I owed her this leg up!! #bucketbrigade #logcarry #barbedwire #wallsandmorewalls #monkeybars #atlascarry #burpees #livefhit

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@shirelgz- Teamwork makes the dream work. Crushing a 60-minute endurance row and over 12k meters with my #mce @benwebejammin #livefhit #killingthegame #sweatAF #sundayfunday #fhitfam

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@Daria_Michele- Me up front on the drum! Lol We borrowed some of the Melville Maniacs paddlers bc we didn’t have enough girls…so they borrowed me to be their drummer! Tricky, important job… but their team captain rocked and helped me get the hang of it! #melvillemaniacs #dragonboatrace #dragonboatfestival #dragonboat #portjefferson #portjeffersonharbor #portjeffersondragonboatfestival #hopeforthewarriors #h4w #livefhit #getoutside

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@Kris_Siebert- #tbt to bumpin in Bermuda #babymoon #fitpregnancy #livefhit#halfway on Sunday

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@caseyrunsnyc when you see your family @ mile 26 & know you have a crazy PR in the bag 🏃🏻‍♀️🎉❤️🙌🏻 shattered my sub 4 goal with a 3:39 & apparently that qualifies for Chicago & London…who knew?! Looks like I may need to start planning a trip or two 😉 📸 by the spectacular Papa Harr🤗#steamtownmarathon #runhappy#beatyesterday #irunthisbody #livefhit#findyourstrong

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@jewlz_in_nyc @fftstrong and @babalos are the reason I have so much love for the NYC fitness community. Few people motivate me to be my very best both in and out of class quite like you guys do. Love y’all! 💚💚💚💚💚

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From FHITpro to Spartan Racer- Dara’s FHIT Journey

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FHITpro, Dara Theodore shares how doing an impromptu Spartan race ended up being one of the hardest things she has ever done and how getting her FHIX prepared her for it more than she thought possible.

Prior to July 17, 2016, my greatest physical challenge was giving birth. I won’t bore you with details of my birthing story (you’re welcome), nor will I be that mom who thinks that giving birth is the greatest accomplishment ever because while it is pretty awesome, there are plenty of non–mom women who conquer incredible feats of fortitude daily. But, I’m the author here, so I will say that for me, it was my greatest physical challenge before the aforementioned date.

The Wednesday before Sunday July 17, 2016, I received a text from my new friend Jenna Wolfe. Yes, that Jenna Wolfe, formerly of the Today Show and currently a frequent FHIXer herself. Jenna has taken my class several times, and we have bonded over many things – we are close in age, we share a passion for fitness, we are both mothers juggling work and child rearing. Jenna kinda blew me away during her first FHIX with me—she has an energy, drive and a competitive spirit that I felt when she was in my class. Jenna is a very generous person, loves to work hard and even more so loves to motivate those around her to work hard with her.

So while it wasn’t unusual for me to receive an occasional text from Jenna to check in about a class time or a workout, this text was most unexpected. “Hey Dara, how are you? I’m just going to cut to the chase here—I’m sure the answer will be no but I’m going to ask anyway. I’m running a Spartan Race this coming Sunday, July 17th. Steph [her wife] would normally run with me but she got called away on assignment [she’s an investigative reporter]. Would you ever consider running this race with me?”

Pre-Fhitting Room Dara would have immediately said, “I’m so sorry” followed by a bevy of excuses. Current day-Fhitting Room Dara wanted to say “I’m so sorry” followed by a bevy of excuses. Instead, I paused, thought about how we, as FHITpros, encourage our clients to push harder, step outside their comfort zone and embrace hard work. How could I say those words and not live them? So instead of a bevy of excuses, I texted back, “I’M IN!”

Ok, so it wasn’t THAT simple and direct – I had some small obstacles to overcome (how appropriate given it was an obstacle race I was signing up for) – convincing my husband it was a great idea and that he should watch the kids all day, convincing my mother that I wasn’t going to get hurt, convincing myself that I could actually do this and not embarrass myself in front of/disappoint Jenna who has run a couple of races before and is a stellar athlete.

Here’s the thing. I thought I was prepared for childbirth. I had 9 months (give or take) to read, study, obsess, talk to people and take a birthing class (it was my first kid, we all did that at the time). And of course nothing went as planned, so despite my best efforts at preparation, the actual experience of passing a human was completely unexpected, unanticipated and way out of my comfort zone.

And then there was Spartan. For the race, I had 4 days to prepare, and my work schedule is pretty packed from Wednesday (time of text) to Saturday (day before race). So aside from some mental prep, discussion and deliberation over what to wear taking into consideration the 90+ degree forecast and the obstacles involving barbed wire and ropes, I felt pretty unprepared to say the least. But I was doing it. 4:00 AM wake up and 2 hour drive included, I was doing this.

Yup, the race was on a Sunday and 2 hours away – oh, and did I mention we were signed up for the COMPETITIVE HEAT? Spartan Races are run in heats – Elite, Competitive and Open –designed to distinguish between those running for time, those for fun and also to keep a sort of even distribution of athletes so as not to bottleneck at the obstacles. The competitive heat started at 7:45am (Jenna told me I should thank her for NOT signing us up for the Elite heat). This meant leaving the city by 5am just to get there in time. Here’s my first shout out to Jenna – after years of being a morning anchor, 4 am wake ups are no big deal to her—to me, only 2 plus years into my career as a FHITpro, they are still a big deal. Needless to say, she drove the whole way.

We arrived with little time to spare, which was probably a good thing. Second shout out to Jenna – being JW comes with some well-earned perks, such as parking in the VIP lot and being greeted by the head of PR for Spartan who escorted us to the starting line. All the while I’m thinking, “are they all wondering who the heck is this average athlete running with Jenna?” I tried to look as fierce as possible while ignoring the flock of birds having a party in my stomach. Let me remind you that I had NO clue what was to come – short of a tiny bit of prep from Jenna as to an obstacle or 2 she had previously encountered, neither of us really had any idea what this race would hold.

Straight out of the gate was a 1-mile uphill jog/sprint/walk depending on who you are. Confession: I will attack any strength workout with gusto-I feel pretty comfortable in my weight lifting space. Stamina or endurance based workouts, not so much. I admire my marathon running friends because I’m in awe of their ability to sustain for that long. So as I walked (eventually we were all walking) straight up what seemed like a vertical wall, I was already thinking – what have I gotten myself into?? 90-degree heat, black diamond slope – it felt like my version of purgatory. But when I got to the top and Jenna said “turn around and look at what you just did”, I have to admit, I was starting to feel like a Spartan—and it was only obstacle 1.

I will extend the same courtesy I did above with respect to my birthing story and not go into detail about every single obstacle (though I certainly could!). Of the 24, I missed 4, which amounts to a penalty of 120 burpees. The fact that to me doing 120 burpees is no big thing isn’t the only testament to how much my experience/history at The Fhitting Room actually did prepare me to run this race. As I pressed myself over walls and climbed unstable ladders and crawled under barbed wire and traversed monkey bars I realized that every interval, every swing, every press, every push, pull and jump I’ve done as a client and instructor at TFR over the last 3 years…it was all the perfect preparation for this race. I climbed a rope. I climbed a rope! I haven’t climbed a rope since I weighed 50 lbs. in grade school. Thank you kettlebell weighted rope pulls. And thank you burpees. Who would have thought that there would come a day when I thought 120 burpees were no big thing!

But it wasn’t just the physical challenge of the race that The Fhitting Room prepared me for. I wasn’t quite aware of the mental fortitude we FHIXers (and I’m one of you) acquire through tough workouts like ours. That feeling we’ve all had during a FHIX when we just want to quit because we can’t imagine working for 2 more minutes – but we don’t quit because we’ve learned how to push ourselves past our perceived limits and work until the clock stops—that is the feeling I summoned when carrying a 65 pound bucket of rocks up a hill. You better believe I wanted to drop that bucket and just run for the finish, but I didn’t, because I’ve learned over time that my mind is a hell of a lot stronger than my muscles.


The race took me 2.5 hours. I wasn’t first but I certainly wasn’t last. But that doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that I accomplished something I never ever thought I would, and I have The Fhitting Room (and Jenna Wolfe) to thank for that. Jenna was the perfect racing partner- she lies well when she says I didn’t hold her back– but the truth is we were there for one another. And The Fhitting Room was the perfect preparation for Spartan. The race brings people together—we ran with first timers, old timers, competitive athletes and casual timers –but everyone is there to cheer each other on. As a mom of 2 in her 40s, I realize that anyone can do this, and I would encourage anyone to try. Just come take a class or 2 at The Fhitting Room with me first!

PS – I signed up for another race on September 18th.

Dara and Jenna recently did a Facebook Live of a workout they did to prepare for their Spartan Race this weekend, watch it here.

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Instructing Group Fitness vs. Personal Training 

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Many of our FHITpros spend part of their time personal training clients when they are not teaching classes. For some of our instructors, they appreciate working one-on-one with clients to balance out the time they spend teaching groups of FHIXers. One of our FHITpros, Dennys Lozada, breaks down the similarities and differences between the role of a group fitness instructor versus a personal trainer.

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All clients comes into a workout with specific needs, wants and goals. As a personal trainer, you can dedicate a full hour of attention solely to that client and his or her goals. Over the course of time you develop a relationship and learn how to most effectively push them and understand what makes them go. Personal trainers also know there are days when you need to pull back on the intensity of a workout as well as how hard to push each client. Due to the one-on-one attention, results can come a bit faster and all movements are executed with close attention to mechanics (form). The programming evolves to meet the client’s changing needs, fitness level and ability. There comes a time when the trainer and client both know it’s time to turn it up. In a successful trainer / client relationship, the trainer starts to see an inner athlete and competitive drive shine through the client. Workouts become more intense, the push becomes tougher and the trainer becomes a coach to an athlete, rather than a trainer to a client. What usually starts as a business relationship often becomes a lifelong friendship and bond.

Instructors get the privilege to coach hundreds of people in a week. Instructors must bring energy and motivation to not just one person, but to twenty-four athletes simultaneously in a class setting. Some are just beginning their fitness journey, while others approach fitness as a part-time hobby and others are “hardcore”. Some clients have injuries, some are pre or post-natal; there are always case-by-case situations that need to be attended to and modified for in every class. As an instructor, you will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can earn the respect and trust of all as a professional. Although you cannot program individually for every athlete in class, you can accommodate everyone by providing a level one option for beginners and a level two for intermediate and advanced athletes. During class we try to give each client personal attention and corrections to perfect their form, but it’s not always possible. In that case, we try to correct the first thing that leads to improper form and address the class as a whole with general cues.


The beauty of seeing so many people in a week is that you get to see their progress as a whole class (many clients come to the same classes each week). Another great thing about being an instructor is seeing other athletes motivate and push not just their friends and spouses, but also complete strangers. You get to be leader of fitness community, rather than nurturing just one relationship at a time. When clients come regularly to classes, you do still develop an individual relationship with each athlete and gain their trust in the process; you start to get an understanding of how to push them – whether it’s a playfully judgmental look at the weights they grabbed or standing right next to them and encouraging them to push harder. The beauty is that high five or sweaty hug you get at the end of the FHIX. Yes, they gave you the finger, side-eye, or dropped the F-bomb throughout class, but it’s so worth it for their appreciation in the end.

Personal Trainers and Instructors have much more in common than one may think. One important thing that all fitness professionals should preach is safety first on all movements. We should all be teaching proper mechanics and form so athletes can enjoy the workout and continue to progress without injuries. We both motivate our clients, pushing them to a limit they never thought they could reach and then past that. We bring out the inner athlete and boost clients’ confidence so they can walk tall with their heads up and feel proud of themselves and their bodies. We play a significant role in the lives of so many who are looking to start a fitness regimen, from couples looking to get in shape together to those who want to take their fitness to another level. We all strive to make working out fun and approachable for our clients, and to build strong relationships with each athlete whether it’s one-on-one or in a class of 24.

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Athlete FHITspiration: Ian Lerner

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Frequent FHIXer, Ian Lerner, recently crushed his second New York City Triathlon. In the sweltering summer heat, it was a challenge for his body and mind. Ian was more prepared than ever, thanks to cross training at The Fhitting Room! We caught up with Ian before his race to learn how he was training and what inspires him to keep livin’ FHIT.


How long have you been coming to The Fhitting Room?

My first FHIX was after my first Triathlon last year. It’s been about one year.


How did you hear about The Fhitting Room?

I was at a wedding in Austin, Texas; my best friend’s fiancé was there, and she looked amazing. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was getting ready for her wedding by going to The Fhitting Room two or three times a week. I thought, “alright I need to try that.”


What are your favorite exercises that you’ve learned at The Fhitting Room?

I’m a big fan of box jumps. I play a lot of basketball, so I really like them. I try to max out and do the depth box jumps. One time in class I saw Mark jump over the boxes instead of jumping on them, so I tried doing that and really liked it.


Who are your favorite instructors?

As far as instructors go, Ben is my guy. I like his classes and I go to them a lot, especially since he teaches FHIXtreme (my favorite class) on Thursday mornings; it’s a great way to start my day.

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Tell me about your background in athletics and sports.

I’ve always liked to work out and be active. I’ve played softball and basketball recreationally ever since I moved to New York City. I used to lift weights a lot, but I never really liked it and found it very boring. About five years ago I got injured and found out I had a herniated disc in my neck. I ended up needing surgery. All I did for a while after that was yoga and basketball. Then I started looking into things that would make me a better basketball player. I started working out with a personal trainer, boxing and interval-training. A few years later I found The Fhitting Room.


What made you interested in doing a Triathlon?

I never had an interest in doing a Triathlon, but a co-worker came up to me one day at work and said “I just signed up for a Triathlon, you should do it with me.” I said “sure,” not realizing how much training was required. It was a spur of the moment decision.


How many races or competitions have you done?

This was my second triathlon and I’ve done two half marathons before. Before my injury, I was never a runner. I used to hate running. A few years ago I started working out with a personal trainer and he would force me to run. Eventually, he turned me into a runner. I remember going for a run the first time on my own; I ran three miles in the summer heat and I was so excited to accomplish that. Again, a buddy of mine suggested we run a half marathon together and that’s how it all started. I’m very spontaneous that way. Of course I didn’t realize we would only sign up for the race together; we wouldn’t exactly run next to each other the whole time since we run at different paces.


What are your general health or athletic goals?

My general goals are to be healthy and to constantly get better. Having an injury and going through surgery made me realize how much I really enjoy exercising. The time I was not able to play basketball or work out after my injury was a dark period. As soon as I could get back into the gym, I did. Now I constantly strive to be better and more FHIT. Those are my general goals. Even in areas unrelated to fitness, I am always looking to be better and improve.


So would you say you are a competitive person?

I am absolutely competitive. That’s just my nature. I work in a sales role, so I always try to be the best at my job. That’s why I play basketball – I love that competitive spirit. I hate losing. I guess that’s what I love about group fitness classes, there’s always that group mentality and friendly competition. The competition is not necessarily with the person next to you, instead everyone is competing against themselves to better themselves; that’s what I like about it. Especially in the FHIXtreme classes, the workouts are always timed and you want to be faster than you were before. You want to get better and use heavier weights. I did the Survival of the FHITtest challenge earlier this year, and that destroyed me in the best way possible. It was so much fun. It was my first experience doing a competition outside of races, and I had an amazing time. It challenged me in a great way; I loved every second of it.


So what was your training like for your previous Triathlon?

Last year was a mix of only swimming, biking and running. They gave a race workout and then one day a week I worked out with a trainer. But the workout that was given to us was very standard; it only consisted of swimming, biking and running with no real weight training (which is so important in these type of races). What’s different this year is that I added in getting my FHIX. I’ve been doing FHIXtreme classes for about a month now, I still see my trainer once a week and I swim, bike and run regularly.


How do you feel The Fhitting Room has helped you prepare for this year’s triathlon?

I feel my biking has gotten stronger because there’s a huge difference in the strength of my legs; between the squats, thrusters and lunges and everything in between. Getting my FHIX has absolutely helped my cardio and endurance. I attribute that to the intervals and the intensity of a TFR class.


What inspires you?

I always try to have a positive impact on people. I recently became interested in educating other people on nutrition and fitness. If money wasn’t an issue and I could do any job, I would teach children about nutrition and fitness. I have a nephew now and I want to teach him the importance of eating healthy and working out. He’s not very confident; he’s pretty shy. I think if he became interested in exercise or sports that would help his confidence.

I will say that my trainer is very inspiring. He teaches boxing to troubled youth, and what he does for these kids is very inspiring. Even his personal level of fitness inspires me to always be better. I would like to be on his level some day.


How would you describe The Fhitting Room?

I love how the instructors always make an attempt to learn everyone’s names. They do a great job of tailoring the workout to each specific person and they always modify the moves if anyone is recovering from an injury. Like I said before, the group fitness setting is so inspiring to be around. You’re surrounded by people who are always striving to push themselves harder. It’s a great community of people and awesome workouts.


Do you train with anyone?

Most of my workouts I do by myself. I have one friend that I convince to go on runs with me, which is great because I’ll wake up at six in the morning. We like to go up to Central Park and run the Central Park loop together. I met him through basketball. We forged our relationship over our love of playing basketball and fitness. We motivate each other to be better in life and fitness. Besides that and my classes at The Fhitting Room, I do most of my training alone.


What do you have planned after this triathlon?

Nothing yet. To be honest, most of my summer has been spent training, so after this I’m going to focus on enjoying the rest of my summer while I can. I want to go to the beach and travel. I just completed a twelve-week training program so I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of the summer!


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