Standing with his arms crossed and dressed in a purple T-shirt, gray bow tie, and tiger spandex, the gym’s cofounder nods approvingly at a kettlebell class.
“Fucking ninjas!” Mark Fisher repeats, turning to cross a weight room decorated with disco balls, neon paint, and a wall-mounted unicorn head.
In a fitness culture dominated by six-pack selfies, arduous CrossFit WODs, military-style boot camps, and captain-of-the-football-team trainers, Mark Fisher Fitness (or simply MFF) stands out like a pink feather boa in a Brooks Brothers store. (Want a taste of some of Fisher’s workouts? Check out his Belly Fat Inferno.)
MFF is fun. It’s madcap. It’s Broadway and improv comedy meets barbells, kettlebells, and state-of-the-art strength training.
And Mark Fisher’s facility is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about gyms in the country.
“I was a stage actor who was always a fitness nerd, ” says Fisher as he stops to check the form of two of his “ninjas”: a string bean of a man in his mid-20s firing off pullups like a varsity gymnast, and a curvy 40-something woman in yoga pants and a sports bra banging out hex-bar deadlifts. “I had a lot of success training other performers, especially those who didn’t feel comfortable in a conventional gym, so I left the stage to create a place that catered to them.”
That was back in 2011. Today, the clientele at Fisher’s facility in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen district is an eclectic combination of New York’s theater elite, exercise fanatics, and regular men and women who’ve had enough of the testosterone-infused fitness chains that seem to dominate the national landscape. (Looking for more fun ways to get fit? Check out The Get Back in Shape DVD—30-Minute muscle and cardio workouts that will transform your body.)
“Mark Fisher understands his niche, and his blend of cutting-edge training and undeniable weirdness might be just what the industry needs, ” says Dan John, an elite strength coach in Salt Lake City and the author of Intervention.
“Everyone knows they need to exercise, but traditional gyms aren’t always welcoming. Mark is able to make people who wouldn’t normally join a gym become passionate about fitness.”
At its heart, MFF is an exercise in radical inclusion, a wacky island of glitter bombs and rainbow confetti where “normal” is a fluid concept.
“It’s strange, and that strangeness serves a higher purpose, ” says Harold Gibbons, C.S.C.S., a trainer at MFF. Injecting an element of performance art into the classes and training sessions, he explains, removes much of the inherent self-consciousness from working out.
“You forget to wonder if you look fat or dumb doing an exercise when a trainer dressed in a superhero cape is telling you to grind out reps, ” says Fisher. “Plus, if you make the training a fun experience, you’ll not only be more likely to stick to your program but also enjoy the process more and get more out of it.”
See Fisher’s tips below to refresh your workouts, pack on muscle, and always perform at your peak. No feather boa required.
1. Follow the Law of Opposites
“Charlie Weingroff, former director of physical performance and resiliency for the U.S. Marines, once said, ‘Yogis should do powerlifting, and powerlifters should do yoga, ’” says Fisher. “What’s most unlike your current program will help you most.”
Your move: Think of yourself as a powerlifter. Adding yoga or cardio to your routine will help speed recovery and boost muscle growth, Fisher says.
Related: 10 Exercises that Burn More Calories Than Running
2. Find Your Best Fit
Many guys just join whatever gym is closest. “That’s often a mistake, ” says Fisher. It doesn’t matter how convenient a gym is—if you don’t feel comfortable, exercising will always be a chore.
Your move: Find a training ground that inspires you. “You’ll get in better workouts that lead to real progress, ” says Fisher. Visit
3. Take Five to Thrive
For MFF’s top program, Snatched, you must establish a reason to work out, exercise five days a week, sleep seven to nine hours a night, drink 96 ounces of H2O a day, and consume a gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day.
Your move: Catch the Snatched spirit. “I promise that if you do those five things, you will be snatched [dancer slang for ripped], ” says Fisher.
Related: 37 Delicious Protein-Packed Meals
4. Show Yourself a Good Time
Working out by its very nature is tough, says Fisher. Or at least it should be. So while it’s important to focus on improving, you also need to celebrate how far you’ve come.
Your move: When you nail a goal or set a new PR, reward yourself. “A massive cheat meal, a day off, a big night out—these celebrations are revitalizing and fuel more progress, ” says Fisher.