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!