Snap! and PIVOT

Ask a Millennial: what should I do for fitness?

My millennial gurus, Alyssa and Freddie, count steps. I live in NYC and don’t own a car. I walk all the time. I hit 10K steps a day easily. My body is used to it. I’d have to increase my daily steps by at least 5K if I wanted to see any change, but I’m so bored with step-counting. I’ve also joined gyms (so sick of the elliptical) tap dancing (fun but not good cardio), couch to 5K apps (working out alone is a drag!), pilates (not my thing), on and on. I’m STUCK! I need something new.

To mix things up, I turned to another millennial for inspiration: Chandler Massey, a/k/a Will, the other half of the fabulous (sadly, now-defunct) Will and Sonny supercouple on DAYS. He recently posted on Instagram:

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LONG POST WARNING My weight has been an obstacle for 3 years. The left picture is me in 2016, 191 lbs & 30% body fat. I had been off Days for 2 years, and had utterly let myself go. I rationalized my lifestyle by telling myself that once I started working again, I could easily shed the weight & be “camera ready”. The next year, I got the chance to prove myself right. Will Horton was back baby, and he was going to be lean, mean, & better than ever. But there was a problem. The fat that I had assumed was going to melt off my body like butter on a hot pancake refused to leave. I tried everything to get my fat cells to f*** off. Fasting, paleo, whole30, cico, keto, juicing, low carb, no carb. I tried to appeal to my vanity, pride, anger, shame. None of it worked. If you watch Days I’m sure you noticed I looked different the 2nd time around. There was a reason they gave @mrchristophersean the shirtless scenes while I chilled in plaid flannels. Some nights after crushing a box of lucky charms I told myself that this was just the journey of getting older. I was never going to be fit again, so why continue this pattern starving & binging, of quietly throwing up in the kitchen sink after my roommates fell asleep & trying to slap some willpower into me. I gave up 100 times during those 3 years. I tried again 101 times. I can’t point to a specific moment that was a turning point. Rather I believe it was the gradual process of learning from each failure. Instead of clinging to a fad diet I began to critically examine my relationship to food. I realized that my crappy eating habits were tied to negative emotional states. When I learned to recognize & deal with those emotions, I saw food for what it really is: a tool, not a bandaid. This was not a smooth journey. Just last Sunday I ate a family size pack of Oreos bc I was upset about GoT. But after each step backward I manage to forgive myself and take 2 steps forward. The picture on the right is me yesterday. I now weigh 160 lbs & have 12% body fat, reaching a goal that I wrote on my bathroom mirror 3 years ago. I’m not ashamed of the person on the left anymore, but damn am I proud of the man on the right.

A post shared by Chandler Massey (@therealcmassey) on

Isn’t he a sweet pea? Baby bunnies fall out of his pockets all the time too. I swear, it’s true!

Chandler does CrossFit. Great! CrossFit it is.

I booked a Fundamentals class at CrossFit NYC on New Year’s Eve Day. I’d heard that CrossFitters can be on the cult-y side. Maybe it’ll be the cult for me!

There was only one other person in the class, and the trainer was super nice. He showed us the proper forms for squats and jerks and lifts. Then we moved on to the Push Jerk.

Trainer: You’re hinging your hips. That’ll make your arms swing out. You don’t want to do that. (Stands 4 inches away from me.) Try again.
Me: I might hit you.
Trainer: No you won’t. You’ll do the jerk properly, right through the space between us. Try again.
Me: I might hit me. (steps back)
Trainer: (steps towards me) Try again, you got this.
Me: (steps back again) You don’t understand. I just visualized popping myself in the chin.
Other Newbie: You visualize, you materialize. (also steps back)
Trainer: …

To his credit, he was creative: he got a PVC pipe and held it in front of me instead. To my credit, I didn’t hit it or me.

Overall, it was a good experience. The positives were attentive trainers who listened and adjusted to help me, and the space was really cool. The negatives were a lack of showers and class times that didn’t quite fit my schedule. I wasn’t totally sold on CrossFit yet.

A couple of Gen-X friends raved about OrangeTheory Fitness so I signed up for a January 2 class near my new office. It was called Run n’ Row (I think) and we spent 30 minutes either frantically running on treadmills or rowing on rowers. I wasted a lot of time trying to not kill myself starting and stopping the treadmill. The next 30 minutes were strength training, but using small weights and doing variations of planks. The music was fun and the coach was enthusiastic, which was contagious.

There have been many articles about CrossFit vs. OrangeTheory. Basically, if you want cardio, go with Orange. If you want mostly strength training, go with CrossFit. Orange classes are the same across all locations. CrossFit gyms tend to have their own personalities. Both gyms gave me pause because of my clumsiness.

I’m not clumsy in a cute rom-com-protagonist way. I’m bloody-nose, break-a-toe, shatter-a-jar-of-mayonnaise-on-the-kitchen-floor clumsy. I wasn’t comfortable with the Push Jerk, and I felt spastic bouncing between the treadmill and the rower. Both gyms had great trainers willing to help. CrossFit had a bro feel, and OrangeTheory had a cheerleader vibe. I could see myself making it work at either gym… but I didn’t want to “make it work.”

I wanted to join a place that I actually wanted to go to! Where I felt like I was with my people. Where it would be okay if I was a spaz while giving it my all.

I looked for a unicorn.

Five weeks later…

My unicorn, Mark Fisher Fitness! (photos courtesy of Mark Fisher Fitness)

They’re “CrossFit-adjacent.” (Thanks again, Chandler!) Their staff and clientele are mostly working actors, which are TOTALLY my people. As soon as I walked in, I felt at home. And not just for the cool Hey Janet welcome sign! Their silliness is the right vibe for me. Their dedication to fitness is what I’m looking for. And I haven’t laughed that much with a stranger-turned-friend in a long time. This was the cult for me!

I not only signed up for a year’s membership, I joined their bootcamp Snatched In Six Weeks, starting this March. Stay tuned.

Fitness goal: in motion!