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FHITspiration: Ryan

Community • October 12, 2020

Frequent FHIXer, Ryan Seeram, is taking his fight for equality to the streets of NY by running his own marathon in a heroic quest to end racial injustice. Our FHIT Founder connected with Ryan to ask how Fhitting Room can help. Read on to learn about Ryan’s Fhitting Room journey, marathon history, motivation, and activism. Let’s lock arms as a community and help Ryan drive change one mile at a time.

  • How long have you been getting your FHIX?
    I started coming to Fhitting Room in February of 2016 – so about 4.5 years!
  • Do you remember your first Fhitting Room class? Tell us a little about that experience. When was it? Who were your FHITpros?
    I remember my first class was on UES and my FHITpros were Ben W. and Mark. I had just started getting into boutique fitness and I found Fhitting Room from a video I saw on Sweatlife’s video series so I just dove right in! I remember a lot of the movements being new to me and I could barely swing a 12kg bell – far from the 32kg I was swinging right before pandemic! I loved how attentive Ben and Mark were especially for me being new and having no idea what I was doing – and that is what made me sign up for my next class.
  • What keeps you coming back?
    The Fhitting Room community is absolutely incredible. From the beginning I’ve felt welcome here. The instructors are the secret sauce here. They really care to make a connection with all the clients. I remember the first time I took class with Eric in my early days at Fhitting Room and he already knew my name before I introduced myself to him. That was the first time in any fitness class that happened, but it stuck with me because it felt like a true personal experience. There’s really such a personal experience every time you’re in class. I’ve been coming to Fhitting Room for quite a few years now, but each time I’m in class the instructors are always pushing me to challenge myself to do just that much better than last time – it really helps you progress and drive towards your goals. Apart from the instructors, Fhitting Room has introduced me to an amazing community of fellow clients that I now call friends. And lastly – I typically take class in the evening after work because it’s my way of decompressing from the day – and every time I get in class it’s just absolute blast – you can usually find me either laughing & smiling for 50% of class and the other part focused on challenging myself (with the occasional side eye!)
  • Do you have a favorite FHITpro?
    Oh this question is controversial!!! I love all the FHITpros – I feel like I’ve made a personal connection with most, which is truly something special that you don’t find at most places. Each one brings something different to the table and that’s why I tend to go to so many different FHITpros! If I had to choose, I’d choose my two favorite duos – Daury & Carlos on Sundays at 1pm and Dennys & Farouk on Wednesdays at 6:30pm
  • What was your workout routine before the Pandemic?
    Pre-pandemic, it feels like so long ago! I had a solid routine – training 6 days a week with a mix of running, strength, and HIIT. I was training with Nike’s Running program twice a week (I had 4 races planned from March – May, including the Paris Marathon and 3 half marathons). In addition, I was strength training with Dennys thru Nike Training’s program. And of course I always had at least 3 Fhitting Room classes a week!
  • What have the past six months been like for you personally and professionally?
    While the past 6 months have been challenging for all of us – it’s really proven to me that the most important things in my life come down to two things – the relationships with my family & friends and my health – everything else is just secondary. Things that we thought mattered before, really didn’t. This year has been a reminder that everything in life can change in an instant –  and the one thing we can never get back is time. Some of the smallest things have changed in my life, I used to speak to my mother once or twice a week prior to the pandemic. Now, I don’t go to bed without calling to tell her goodnight – it’s these simple things that have made all the difference.

I also had a packed day, usually leaving home for work around 6am and not getting back home until after 9pm. I really was at home just to make dinner and go to sleep – that’s it. So once the pandemic hit – being home all the time was a first for me but I totally embraced it. 

Although I live alone, I’m on zoom pretty much all day so I feel like I’m with other people all the time.

Professionally, I had a rigorous schedule even before the pandemic hit, but the first few months of the pandemic were especially challenging. I was on a COVID response task force for my firm in addition to regular responsibilities – fast forward to the end of May, we launched a product we’d been working on the last 2 years that had me on back to back zoom meetings for 15 hours a day. This was all happening while the nation was responding to the death of George Floyd – at which point I was asked to lead diversity & inclusion discussions in my organization to build a strategy to drive some actionable outcomes for change.

All things considered, I feel quite fortunate that I still have a job, I still have my family and friends a phone call away, and I’m healthy. It’s really all I could ask for.

  • How has fitness played a role in your life over the past six months?
    Fitness played such a big role in keeping me grounded these past few months. I immediately hopped on with digital fitness and had a regular cycle of online classes including Fhitting Room Live. Continuing to workout with others virtually really kept the sense of community. And you were still 100% held accountable because Daury will call you out in a heartbeat if he sees you on screen slacking! I was lucky enough to get my hands on some dumbbells early on so I was able to continue with a routine not far from what I was doing before lockdown.

I broke a bone in my wrist and also sprained a ligament back in June so I was sidelined from my regular routine, unable to do any upper body workouts or hold any weights in my hands for the rest of the summer. I quickly bought some mini bands and a weighted vest so I could adjust my workouts during this time. While it’s been challenging to not be able to do my typical workouts – I was able to focus more on running.

Fitness has always been an outlet for me, and has proven more so even over the course of the pandemic.

  • Let’s talk about running. How many marathons have you run?
    I’ve run 3 marathons- and I ran all 3 within one year – Chicago in October 2018, LA in March 2019, and Berlin in September 2019. I got into marathons totally randomly! I never thought it was something I wanted to do. But my boss at the time (who is one of my favorite people!) convinced me to sign up for the Chicago lottery. A bunch of us on the team entered the lottery – none of them got in except me (of course) and my boss. One thing I do that’s different than most – while running the marathon I record it on my IG story. People always say running a marathon is an individual sport – but for me it’s about the team of people who got me there, my family, family, trainers, my whole support system from afar all got me there so I want them all to experience it with me. When one of us eats – we ALL eat, when one of us wins – we ALL win! That’s the motto!
  • Tell me about your next marathon, the one you are running on October 17th and your motivation. (Be sure to talk about the National Urban League and why this organization is important to you)
    I’ll be running my own marathon on October 17th here in NYC to fight against social injustice and systemic racism. 

As a black man – I’ve been subjected to acts of racism for my whole life – whether an overtly racist act, institutional/systemic racism, or microaggressions etc. And it was important for me to take action given the state in which we are currently in. 

When Ahmaud Arbery was killed earlier this year – it really hit home for me. I’m a black man, I’m a runner, I grew up in a white community where I was the only black man running through the neighborhood, Ahmaud Arbery could’ve been me. Since the news broke on Ahmaud Arbery – I can’t help but think of him every time I go outside to run. We’ve seen so many of these situations, where black people are doing nothing wrong – yet their lives are taken. And we need to change this.

I’ve spent my life being the “token black man” in the room. And I’ve had a lot of non-BIPOC people ask me what they can do to fight against racism. I usually say 4 things: 

  1. Have difficult discussions – not with BIPOC, but have the conversations with all your non-BIPOC friends and family
  2. Educate yourself – there’s so much material online, there’s really no excuse
  3. Represent BIPOC when they aren’t at the table
  4. Vote – especially in your local elections

I think we’ve all done a lot of talking about racism this year and there’s an election approaching. I’ve also been on the front lines with thousands of fellow New Yorkers peacefully protesting the last 4 months, but I wanted to do more – and also get other people involved as well. So I decided I would run a marathon to raise money for the National Urban League, which is an organization committed to achieving civil rights for black people in education, justice reform & civic advocacy, housing, health, and jobs. The National Urban League has 90 affiliates across the country. I was fortunate to be selected as an Urban League scholar in Rochester, NY so I am a direct result of the impact that this organization has on the black community. 

As part of the marathon, I am planning a route that allows me to highlight black-owned businesses in Brooklyn and Manhattan along the way. And of course, I’ll be livestreaming (at least part of it!)

  • How can our community help?
    Often times people focus on the macro level of change. When we think about reversing 400 years of racism, it’s not going to happen over night – change takes time.

But to scale positive change we need to start at the micro level – and that’s why I’m raising money for the National Urban League. While we have the attention of the whole world on fighting systemic racism – we have the opportunity to drive change, build awareness, and take action ourselves. The Fhitting Room community can help support the change we are looking for by donating to this campaign to fight for justice.

  • You have an impressively meaningful and entertaining IG account. How do you keep such a positive disposition while fighting for equality and anti-racism? 
    I try to approach each day with a positive attitude regardless of what is happening in the world. Everyday there is something that can bring us down – especially right now. Watching and reading the news can be very heavy – you question why we still have to fight for basic human rights in 2020, but that’s the reality in which we’re living. But to me – focusing on the solution as opposed to the “why” is a big driver in how I continue to stay positive.

It really comes down to shifting your mindset. Many times, people focus on what has happened unto them, which may lead to negative thoughts. For me, I try to focus on finding solutions – what can we do to fix what’s happening. I think that’s what really keeps me optimistic.

I could sit here and be upset and angry all day about the injustice and inequality that BIPOC encounter everyday, and to be honest, there are days when I’m frustrated with what’s happening, but you can’t let your frustration stop you from pushing forward. 

  • Before I let you go, everyone is a beginner at one point. Do you have any advice for anyone considering taking their first Fhitting Room class?
    Come with an open mind and a smile! Don’t worry about how much weight you’re lifting! One important thing you’ll learn immediately is that having proper form outweighs everything else!

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ryan. Your perseverance, strength, and hope for a brighter future are truly inspiring.

To support his great cause, please click HERE to donate what you can! Remember, the lasting change we all hope for comes from us supporting one another. Ryan, we are honored to call you FHITfam and we got your back in this and beyond!