Meet Mark and Fay, husband and wife and hard HITting FHIXers. We chatted with them about how they found Fhitting Room, what keeps them coming back and why they love being in different spots in the studio. Read on to find out how Fay tricked Mark into attending his first class, and how she learned to exercise her biggest and strongest muscle, her heart.
When did you start coming to Fhitting Room? How did you hear about us?
Fay: I started coming regularly in March of 2016, but my first FHIX was in August of 2015. Emily Cook Harris used to train me and she recommended I take class. She said I would like it because I always needed to know what was coming next. She explained to me that Fhitting Room had the day’s program written on a white board so I could know what to expect. At first I had no intentions of going, but my very good friend (and also a frequent FHIXer) Kristen Siebert was raving about it and promised me I would like it. After a couple of months of her and her husband Kyle talking non-stop about Fhitting Room, I finally agreed to go. I wasn’t hooked right away – I needed to have my “aha moment” which happened in March.
Mark: Spring 2016 – Fay made me go to a class in exchange for letting me do something I wanted to do (she totally lied).
Tell us about your lives outside of Fhitting Room. What do you each do for a living?
Fay: I cast television commercials. I have my own company called Grande/Morris Casting. Like most people, I used my job and schedule as a reason/excuse not to workout on a regular basis. Casting and Production can be a very unpredictable business and very deadline oriented. It is hard to maintain a consistent schedule and structure. That has been one of the silver linings at Fhitting Room. Taking class has become such a huge part of maintaining a consistent schedule in my crazy day-to-day work life.
Mark: I lead development and production at Rumble Yard, a Sony Music Entertainment Company. Essentially, I come up with music inspired ideas for TV shows, sell them to digital platforms like Verizon, Hearst and YouTube, and then produce them with our roster of artists.
What do you remember from your first FHIX?
Fay: I remember being nervous and anxious and then relieved when it was over. My first FHIX was on a Monday night at Penthouse with Dennys and Farouk. After the warm up I started to think it wasn’t so bad and I was going to be fine, then we moved on to the circuit and Dennys demonstrated the box jump. Being 4’11”, I thought there was no way I was going to be able to do it. I started with step ups and after watching everyone in the class do the jumps I thought to myself “the worst that could happen is I fall on my face” so I tried it and nailed it. I was so proud of myself!
Mark: I remember thinking to myself five minutes before class began, “This is going to suck; just don’t die.”
Did you come here with specific health or fitness goals? If so, have they changed over time?
Fay: I was born with a congenital heart defect and have had 3 open-heart surgeries throughout my life. My last surgery was to replace my aortic valve, which has left me on blood thinners and with a large scar down the front of my chest. Mark says it is my badge of honor. When I was a kid, I was very limited in any sort of physical activity. I had to sit out during gym class and couldn’t participate in most recreational and after school sports. The fear of overexerting myself stayed with me into adulthood and kept me on the sidelines. After my third surgery I had been cleared to participate in almost all athletic activities with the exception of contact sports. I was 23 years old at that time. Fortunately, I was blessed with a good metabolism and that kept me in shape…until I hit 30. Being a NY Foodie and a lover of wine didn’t help either. Mark proposed that year and I decided I was going to start to exercise and get in shape for our wedding. I lost 15 pounds. The day after we got married I stopped going to the gym. It didn’t take long for me to gain back the 15 pounds I had lost (and then some).
My original goal back in August of 2015 was to just lose weight. It was strictly for vanity reasons. In March of 2015 I went to a new cardiologist and she explained to me that my heart is a muscle and it is imperative to keep it healthy and strong. That was my “aha” moment. I thought to myself, I didn’t go through 3 open-heart surgeries and beat the odds to be lazy and neglect my body. I was a fighter as a kid and I am a fighter now. My goal quickly changed from looking good to feeling good. I went from going to Fhitting Room once or twice a week to four to five times a week. It not only keeps me in physical shape, but it keeps me in mental shape as well. I use getting my FHIX as a source of therapy now. I am also happy to report that I have lost a total of 25 pounds and am in the best physical shape of my entire life at 35 years old. I am also pretty sure I am stronger than Mark.
Mark: Pretty much not dying is my goal. As an old man in comparison to most of the FHIXers, not dying or vomiting all over everyone is the fitness goal. In other words, I’m crushing it.
Any specific moves that can you do now that you struggled with in the beginning?
Fay: Kettlebell Cleans and Figure 8s. When I first started, I couldn’t figure out how to do them and ended up with bruises all over my wrists. Being on blood thinners probably didn’t help that either. Each instructor had different tips and finally something just clicked.
Mark: Things I never had reason to do before I started Fhitting Room: touch my toes, anything with a kettlebell, jumping…all of those things I can now do because of the Fhitting Room.
Do you do any sports or work out outside of Fhitting Room?
Fay: Yoga and running. I try to do yoga at least twice a week. I think it really helps with muscle recovery and flexibility.
Mark: I love gaming, golfing and softball…any sport you can do with alcohol 😉 I used to snowboard all the time, but then I got married.
What are your favorite FHIT moves?
Fay: I really like the circuits. The fact that we are constantly moving distracts me. I don’t have time to think about the fact that I am out of breath, sweating or just plain tired. As soon as I feel like I can’t do any more reps of something, it is time to switch!
Mark: The stretch, the moment I escape the studio after class (definitely a move), and any activity involving lying down.
What are your favorite instructor combos?
Fay: That is a hard one. I honestly think all of the instructors have such great energy, knowledge and ability to motivate me. It is really hard to pick. Some of our favorite classes that Mark and I take together every week are Tuesday 8AM with Ben & Mat, Friday 8AM with Eric & Mat and Saturday 9AM with Amanda & Dennys.
Mark: Dennys and Amanda (a 9AM Saturday morning social outing with yelling) and Eric and Matt (8AM Fridays – A Tasmanian devil and his cooler younger brother). However to be fair, Ben, Carlos, Farouk, Mark, Jason, and Daury are all dope too.
Do you have specific spots in the room that you guys prefer to be in?
Fay: Yes! I love to be spot 4 or 5. I like to have a mirror spot so I can make sure my form is correct. I also like the front row because I don’t feel as crowded. Mark ALWAYS takes spot 24. Back corner with no mirror. He says the sight of himself working out is a sight he never wants to see.
Mark: 24 – I like my back to a wall. I’m Italian and watched too many mob movies growing up, (plus I hate watching myself workout…wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy).
Do you often compete with each other in class?
Fay: I usually compete with Mark and he is in his own world. Sometimes he will look over to see what weight I have and then sigh and go get a heavier weight. I also always make sure I tell him how great I did in the FHIX just to rub it in his face! It is my way of getting back at him for never wanting to partner with me or be in my group. He says we are partners in life but not partners in fitness
Mark: If by compete you mean looking at the weight she’s lifting and praying to god it’s not more than what I’m lifting, then yes (it often is).
Do you have any advice for people nervous about trying their first FHIX?
Fay: Go at your own pace and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Just because you THINK you can’t do something, doesn’t mean you CAN’T. Try to go with a friend if you can. I love the classes that I take with friends, it gives you accountability and some friendly competition.
Mark: Try it once, I guarantee you won’t die…I’m living proof!
Spring has sprung and we have three studios in full swing! With no signs of things slowing down, check out just ten of our past month’s FHIT highlights.
1. We’re open on the Upper West Side! Our third location, at 88th and Columbus, is shaking up the neighborhood and we couldn’t be more excited. After a weekend of sold-out sneak-peek classes, we officially opened our doors on Monday, March 20. So far – SO GOOD! We will begin offering 6AM classes on Tuesdays and Fridays starting this week, and our new schedule will continue to expand in the coming weeks.
2. Try this sweet potato pad thai recipe from Well + Good. The sweet potatoes and peanut butter are satiating and warm (not to mention delicious), and the edamame and veggies add the spring punch we’ve been missing.
3. This goop article addresses the reality of cancer, and how to try to ward off an unwanted diagnosis. Nutritionist Adam Cunliffe advises on 5 cancer-fighting foods plus what foods to avoid.
4. Wondering where your favorite trainers train? Answer: here. We are happy to be included in Well + Good’s round up of the NYC fitness studios tough enough for top trainers.
5. Four years after opening Fhitting Room, we’re thrilled to share news of the arrival of the first baby to join our FHITfamily. One of our original FHITpros, Daury Dross, and his wife Nelissa welcomed a beautiful baby boy to their family (and ours). A huge congrats to the whole Dross family! We can’t wait to have Daury back! His first class back will be 8:30am Wednesday, April 5th at our Penthouse location.
6. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic suggests HIT may reverse the signs of aging. Yes. You heard correctly. Read more here – then sign up for your FHIX!
7. FHITpro Lacee Lazoff created a total body workout for Harper’s Bazaar. Watch the video and give it a go yourself!
8. Wellness in the Schools is paving a healthier highway for more than 50,000 public school students. See how the non-profit turns schools into a place that teaches not only math, science and literature, but also wellness.
9. A home gym used to mean a treadmill in the corner of your bedroom or living room. Today, residential buildings are acknowledging tenant’s desires for wellness and including out-of-this-world health amenities.
10. In case you missed it, we have been rolling out our trainer biopics. Watch the videos here to get to know a little more about all your favorite FHITpros. We release a new video every Friday morning at 11am.
Meet Brooke, she is a registered dietitian, author, founder of a private nutrition counseling practice called B Nutritious and one of the hardest HITting FHIXers we know. Read on to learn about this FHITspiration.
In my private practice, I do one-on-one nutrition counseling to help people reach their nutrition goals including weight loss, pre/post natal nutrition, sports nutrition and more. I’m known for my honest and to-the-point advice, but I also make healthy eating very realistic for everyone. My ultimate goal in my practice is to get people to love the food they’re eating while achieving their goal.
I first tried the Fhitting Room a couple of years ago. I had just finished writing my second book, The Sugar Detox, and during my research I learned the positive effects of high intensity interval training, so I wanted to give it a shot. I wrote The Sugar Detox after I saw many of my clients struggling with sugar addictions and how it impacted every aspect of their lives – weight, sleep, skin – really everything. HIIT really provides an edge, not just in achieving a FHIT body but also in helping maintain a healthy blood sugar level, which is the single most important thing you can do for your health. With that in mind I knew it was time to try Fhitting Room! I still remember how sore I was the day after my first FHIX, and initially I ended up sticking with my regular spinning and pilates classes.
After my second daughter was born, I was really struggling to find my fitness “mojo” again. My spin classes weren’t doing it for me (or giving me the same positive effects as before}, and I just couldn’t find a rhythm again with my workouts. Even worse, is that while I had very healthy pregnancies, it took me years to fully recover from each one, mainly because of a pretty serious back injury that I got when I was a teenager (more on that below) but also from a weight loss perspective. While I love my job as a dietitian, it’s difficult being a weight-loss expert while struggling with my own weight. So I decided to try Fhitting Room again.
My first class back was a mess. I couldn’t do a burpee to save my life, and box jumps were enough to make me want to quit. But, it’s hard to quit when you have a large tattooed man standing next you, telling you that you can do it. While I didn’t believe in myself, I decided to trust Daury and keep trying. Slowly I started to find my rhythm again; I had my favorite classes, my spot in the room, and I made some lifelong friends with fellow FHIXers (Hi Tracy and Karin!)!
As a former athlete it was nice to have a new focus when it came to exercising. I was a swimmer through my teens and an equestrian through college. After college I did triathlons and loved mud runs too. I decided to focus less on the numbers on the scale and more on getting stronger. Daury, Simon and Dennys are my go to guys every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and even having Dara take class with me is a huge motivator. I have these amazing trainers whom I feel lucky to know and they push me harder than I would push myself. I have never been this fit (or FHIT!) since becoming a parent 8 years ago, and every class reminds me that I am so much stronger than what a scale could ever tell me.
The backstory on my injury and how I’ve overcome it:
I was in a bad horseback riding accident as a teenager where I was crushed underneath my horse. Through physical therapy and staying in shape, my back injuries were under control. But each pregnancy and labor would trigger my disc problems all over again. At the Fhitting Room, I would always let each instructor know that I had back problems and they always made great modifications for me before I attempted anything. Then they slowly pushed me to go past the modifications and to try to do all the moves. I trusted these guys enough that I was able to push my fear aside and try. Without their pushing me, I never would have thought my back could support half the things I can now do!
The scale doesn’t lie – it’s always correct but it’s not always the whole picture. It doesn’t show that I kick butt on the rower or the ski-erg. It doesn’t show that I can do a box jump with 6” extensions. It doesn’t show that my body gave birth to two beautiful human beings. So while the number may be accurate, there is so much more to what my body is than simple pounds. I really believe that Fhitting Room has helped me become grateful for my body even at a point when I was in serious doubt about it.
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.
Just because February has a shortage of days does not mean there’s a shortage on fitness! Check out ten of our favorite FHITness moments this month.
1. Harper’s Bazaar asked FHITpro Lacee to share 4 Kettlebell Basics for Beginners. Show this video to your friends who are feeling intimidated before their first FHIX.
2. We like keeping things efficient over here! That doesn’t just apply to our workouts. For the ladies who HIT life hard and love the idea of getting their beauty FHIX quickly, check out MB45, a new salon that provides a manicure and a blowout in just 45 minutes.
3. Nothing messes with your workout routine like traveling. From limited healthy food options in airports to losing access to your favorite gyms and classes, a two-day work trip could sabotage everything you’ve worked so hard for. Here are four new apps and services hoping to make traveling work to your advantage.
4. What’s a February round-up without some mention of chocolate? You can treat yourself to a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates year-round so long as you keep this guide in mind.
5. In a time when protein powder is a key ingredient in several of our favorite recipes from smoothie bowls to pancakes, it’s obvious we’re being very mindful of our protein intake. However, are we being mindful of how we prep our protein? Men’s Fitness sets us straight on whether or not freezing or cooking your protein powder can denature it.
6. The restaurant industry is notorious for high-stress situations that can wreak havoc on their employees’ mental and physical wellbeing. Now several NYC restaurateurs are trying to change the stigma by providing services like in-dining room yoga classes and energetic walking meetings to their employees.
7. Meal prep can be a lifesaver for those looking to eat clean consistently, but prepping vegetables five days out can lead to wilty, unfulfilling meals. Greatist has all the tips and tricks for successful meal prep.
8. Many people are rocking wearable tech like Apple Watches, Nike FuelBands and Fitbits to track their FHIT activity and encourage them to keep moving throughout the day, but how much of a difference are these accessories really making? This New York Times article shows it may be less than you’re expecting.
9. Sweatworking is gaining popularity and for good reason! Find out why combining business with burpees is an incredible option.
10. Two months in, and we are still feeling strong and optimistic for 2017. Not exactly on our page? Here are ways to stay on track with any resolution, big or small.
2017 is already proving, in many arenas, to be a buzzworthy year. Just four weeks in, and we are already seeing new workout trends, new healthy foods and other exciting new FHIT bits!
2. While we’re welcoming our two newest female FHITpros – let’s take the time to acknowledge them along with every other lady in this world. In the spirit of the passionate Women’s March in Washington D.C. and the Sister Marches held across the country on January 21st, we celebrated our FHIT female trainers and all they do to inspire us daily. #strongisbeautiful #womenempowerment
3. New year, new research! This New York Times article claims that, contrary to nearly everyone’s belief, running may be good for your knees.
5. Ever wonder why we build rest into our workouts or why we often emphasize a max effort in our FHIXes? SHAPE Magazine recently shared new research from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that supports the benefits of short bouts of high intensity training.
6. HBFit, the popular health, beauty and fitness blog by Hannah Bronfman and her team, featured FHITpro Lacee Lazoff. Check out the interview to see how Lacee fuels her body for a hard HITting FHIX and for life in general!
7. Run for Your Bun is a U.K.-based café that recently linked up with an English gym chain to become the first café that takes exercise for payment. Yes, you heard correctly – you can row row row your boat (or your erg) all the way to that grilled chicken salad. We’re crossing our fingers for Juice Press or Sweetgreen to take note.
8. Ginger, chicken noodle soup, Ricola cough drops… the list of things we try to use to cure the common cold goes on and on. But have you heard nachos can do the trick too? Nutritionist Lee Holmes told Well + Good what she eats to stave off contagious bugs.
9. Got some traveling for work coming up? FHITpro Melody Scharff wrote a full body workout for Well + Good that any boutique fitness class junkie will be able to HIT at any big-box gym.
10. We are feeling the FHIT love this month! Bloomberg Pursuits named us in a list of Cult Gyms Where New Yorkers are Shredding Their Bodies Right Now and The Wall Street Journal featured FHIXtreme at Fhitting Room as a fitness “Class Too Tough for Most Mortals”.