#53 – West Kept Secret

West Kept Secret is a boutique gym that combines cardio with pilates and strength training in a High Intensity Interval (HIIT) format.  In this interview John interviews Marissa West and Heidi Hillman.  They discuss how Marissa parlayed her experience as a Panthers cheerleader into doing personal training and then partnering with Heidi as a client.  The two talk about why they work well together and how they’ve scaled the business. They also dig into specific fitness and nutritional advice.  They discuss opening a gym in a pandemic and how the pandemic forced them to rethink digital/virtual/streaming.

00:52 Founders Intro – Jump to section in transcript
20:37 Before West Kept Secret – Jump to section in transcript
37:16 Unique Challenges Female Founders Face – Jump to section in transcript

Full Transcript
Ep #53 West Kept Secret

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JOHN ESPEY: We are live. All right, here we go. Hello folks. And welcome to the podcast. I’ve taken a couple month break as we moved our defiance ventures office and the podcast studio with it as well. It’s good to be back after three or four months. Not doing it. Hopefully podcasting is, is like riding a bike today should be a really fun one. I’m a big believer in personal fitness and especially in high intensity interval training. My guests today created West coast West kept secret. It’s a woman owned boutique gym here in Charlotte. I’m joined by MARISSA:  and Heidi Hilman ladies. Thank you so much for joining me remotely today.

MARISSA WEST: Thanks for having me. Thank you for super excited to be here.

JOHN: Great. So Marissa, can you tell the guests what wet West kept secret is?

MARISSA: Absolutely. So what’s kept secret is a high intensity interval workout. We fuse together three different modalities of fitness, which includes Pilates strength, training and cardio. And essentially we take those three different workout modalities and we combine them all into a high intensity circuit circuit to truly deliver in my opinion, the best results that you can find, not only in Charlotte or the U S but in the world.

JOHN: That’s awesome. And what, what is a typical customer or client of yours look like at this point?

MARISSA: Really? It’s it’s anyone and everyone. So we have clients that are truly expert professional athletes, kind of top drawer who are looking to take their fitness to the next level. And we have all the way down to people who have never stepped foot in the gym, truly novice exercisers, and then everyone in between, because our workout is modifiable or provides advancements for every level.

JOHN: So, so I’m, I’ve been a CrossFitter for five or six years. And the, the format there is that we have as, as you’re, I’m sure you’re aware, we have a workout of the day and some gyms will have a fundamentals workout for, for people who are getting started or foundations, but generally speaking, everybody’s doing the same workout and then maybe they layer in something that’s a little bit more cardio, intense or bootcamp. Like, do you have a single workout of the day, but you just are able to modify that for each of your clients, or do you find, do you do separate workout plans depending on the level of, of, of a fit of fitness?

MARISSA: That’s a great question. And so I’m super familiar with CrossFit. I’ve done it many times in the past. I think it’s a great workout. We do have essentially a watt or workout of the day. We don’t call it that, but it’s the same workout that we’re doing from the 5:30 AM class, all the way up to our evening class and in between. And then we are again, able to modify or advance those specific movements for each individual who comes in. So if you think about our workout, we’ll have anywhere from six to eight stations. And from there, the trainer is knowledgeable on how to advance each of those movements or modify each of those movements based on what you’re seeing with the clients. And we have right now, especially due to COVID, we have three pieces of equipment at each station right now, our capacity is 30% capacity, which is only 12 people in class.

MARISSA: So at each of those six stations, for example, you’re seeing two people at each station. So if we have two people on a treadmill, two people on a blazers, Blumberg, two people out of boxing bags, so on and so forth. What’s really cool is again, the trainer will, for example, just using the plot is reformer is a great, great example. If they see someone doing a plank movement and they are ready to take it up to their toes, they can run over and say, Hey, you look like you’re ready to give it a whirl top on your toes. Hey, your back is dipping. Let’s take it down and put you down to your knees. Maybe we even take you down to the floor. So that’s just a quick example of how our trainers are able to modify clients down or advance them and everything in between.

JOHN: Very cool. I love that you combine or combining Pilates on one hand with a boxing bag on the other. Hopefully we get into some of these, some of these combinations, but before we do, before we go any further, can you just explain for the audience, what high intensity interval training is? I take it for granted that everybody knows what it is, but there probably are some people out there who aren’t as familiar with this style of working out.

MARISSA: Absolutely. And that is a great question. I think we do, especially as kids as professionals, just we say it on Instagram, or we have that on the website and we just assume what, you know, people know what that means. And in addition, I think it’s different for every fitness professional. So some fitness professionals deem high intensity interval training with very hard periods of work with long or medium periods of rest. For us, it’s hard periods of work for about 50 minutes straight with minimal rest. So we have different intervals that range from more of a Tabata style interval where it’s one minute all out max effort, and you’re doing that six rounds. And then you’re multiplying that by six pieces of equipment, that’s going to be close to about a 40 minute workout. And then we have a five minute high intensity warmup where you’re essentially doing five different movements at a quick pace.

MARISSA: And then of course, a very quick, you know, minute or two cool down. But then we also have more of a durability style intervals that are a little bit longer where our work to rest ratio is a little bit longer, but in general, what we kind of train to our trainers and teach them is 90 to a hundred percent capacity at all times throughout the, and the rest breaks are around 10 seconds to rest and rotate. Now, of course, if somebody needs a longer rest, we always tell clients you’re going to get 10 seconds to rotate from the treadmill to the Pilates reformer. That’s not enough time. What we recommend is getting into the movement, trying to do one or two reps and then taking your break so that your body can get accustomed to the short breaks that you’re going to get and it’ll get smaller and smaller. And then your cardiovascular endurance will improve. So essentially it’s 90% effort for 50 minutes up to a hundred percent. So they are core.

JOHN: And, and I think a lot of people don’t really realize because they very rarely operate in that 90 to a hundred percent range. What the, what the effort is. I tell people, if you do an all out sprint, I think you really need five to one recovery to really be able to maintain your pace. If you’re actually going even 98%. I, I did a Tabata sprint, which for the listeners who don’t know, it’s 20, 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, times eight. So a four minute workout. And I did an echo bike sprint with one, a couple of days ago. And my first sprint I was able to get, I think, 21 calories. And by the fourth sprint, I’m eking out six calories. It drops off pretty quickly when you’re resting half as long as you’re working. So I just point that out because it sounds like an ass kicking of a workout if you’re going that high intensity for that long, with very short, short rest periods,

MARISSA: For sure. And the reason that, how it works is, and why it works and the mechanics behind it, and kind of some of the little bit of the geeky stuff is you’re able to essentially our hope is that, you know, clients are able to do that 90 to a hundred percent because they’re there typically for one minute up to two on that one machine, and then they’re moving to a totally different style of fitness. So they’re going from cardio on the treadmill one minute, all out spread. And then they’re popping out into a lot of these reformers for, for example, some kind of lunging series, 30 seconds, right? 30 seconds left, they’re able to catch their breath, kind of switch over from the fast-twitch muscle fibers, moving onto the slow Twitch muscle fibers. And it gives that nice kind of balance and recovery. And then boom. Now you’re back to the boxing bag, for example, all out on a four ball burpee punch, and then you moved to the bar that we have, and now we go back to plot, he’s moving into the slow Twitch muscle fibers. So it works in that sense and not your not doing cardio all out for six stations. So it’s, it’s a pretty cool way of looking at it. Sometimes it’s a pretty cool way of still allowing your body to go all out, but getting that little bit of recovery, they’re switching the

HEIDI HILLMAN: Muscle fibers that you’re focusing on.

JOHN: Yeah. That, that makes a lot of sense. That sounds like a really cool workout. So, so Heidi, do I have this right? Did you start out as, as a client of West coast, West coast secret? Can you talk about what attracted you to the concept as a client and then what you do for the business now, and just kind of talk about, just talk about that dynamic of transitioning from client to, to, to, to, to help him to run the place.

HEIDI: What, what does it hide everything? So, yeah, I started as a personal training client. I actually looked this up in a day. It was August, 2017. Okay. And the, what drew me to MARISSA, because at that point it was just her doing personal training. That was what the business model was. I was a trainer at another studio that focuses solely on like a Pilates based workout and Merissa would come to that studio. So I would be a teacher when she would take class and she didn’t come every single day. So I was always kind of wondering, like she looked so great. I could see like her ad lines on the machines. And I was kind of like, what else is she doing? Because all I was doing was that workout. And I didn’t feel like I was seeing results. And I was, you know, younger in my mid twenties and I’m thinking like, I, I should be able to be, you know, getting to that point.

HEIDI: Why is it not working? So after just talking with her after class, a couple of times, that’s when I found out that she was a personal trainer and owned her own company in the neighborhood. And, you know, I had reached out actually in January for information and it wasn’t until July that I was, you know, innovating suit in the summer. And I was like, what the heck is going on? Like, I work out every day at this potty style studio, but I’m not getting the results I want. So finally I committed in July. I started August 1st and that it was basically just saying, okay, as a client, you’re going to look for a trainer who’s body type and style that you want to emulate. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think if someone sees them with big muscles and they want big muscles, that’s probably something that you should be working out with if they’re fit or they’re cut or shredded or thin or whatever.

HEIDI: And that’s what you want your body to look like, then it’s like, okay, how can I train? Like she or he is training. And then they obviously can do that for you, especially if they’re a certified personal trainer. So I was excited to join on when I did become a personal training client in August. I basically did everything where so told me to do from the jump because it’s expensive, you know, it’s an expense in your budget, so why waste it? And I did, I was seeing her twice a week. She had mapped out my perfect workout week, which included a lot more cardio than I was used to that’s when I started to kind of shed the weight and then the Pilates element and the strength was Toni me up. And by Thanksgiving I had not had a sip of alcohol. I had eaten and done all the workouts she had said, and my body just completely transformed.

HEIDI: So I would say like by mid November, I was like, wow, this works. This is amazing. And you know, at that point I took like her last spot on her PT calendar. I mean, to where she could at least still have a break, eat lunch and get her own workouts in every day. So from there, I was kind of on the treadmill one day when we were warming up and I said, you know, you need to be doing more and more people, you know about this. Do you need to do this more on a massive scale? Because you know, if you’re only helping 30 people in a week for five years, you’re missing out on, you know, 30 people in one class. So eventually she was like, well, I’m tapped out and tired. Do you want to teach group classes? Because it worked for you.

HEIDI: You’ve been doing it and you’ve taught a group class before. So it really, you know, made me feel passionate and motivated to get my certification and do that with her. I didn’t technically start. I shadowed her a lot through the end of that year, into the next spring. And then it really started to really teach her on April, 2018. And we were just doing five to six people in a small group setting at the Plaza Midwood studio, which is all that it fit about 500, 600 square foot space. And then from there it was like, how could this on a bigger scale, you need to be looking at commercial space. And Marissa just was, I mean, amazing till this day, just, well, why don’t you come with me to look at spaces? Why don’t you become this, do that, and ultimately becoming an equity partner. And now I actually am still a personal training client of Morris’s.

HEIDI: I see her once a week and I pay for it to hold me accountable. I do get a little bit of a discount, but don’t tell anyone that. And then as far as what I do for the business, I think the best way to say it is Marissa is our chief executive officer chief exercise officer. As you heard in the first couple of answers, she gave you, it’s all programming, all intervals, all exercise and all the time that is her bread and butter. She’s so good at it. I’m kind of the chief operating officer. So managing our trainers, hiring social media, the website, the streaming, I mean, the list goes on, but I’m just more operational stuff on the backend. And then both of us still teach classes weekly at the studio on the mic.

JOHN: That’s awesome. And how many people, and I know you mentioned that you’re constrained because of, because of COVID and social distancing right now, what do you think, w what is a typical class do the off 12 of those spots fill up and how many classes do you do per day? And where I’m trying to get at is how, what you’re talking about now is scalability, right? Like it started out as Marissa can do only so many hours in a day of personal training. So now we go into a group format and then we have multiple classes, and I’m curious how, how it scales. And maybe even if you could talk about how that starts to scale beyond COVID and do you go to multiple locations and you mentioned streaming, so that’s the ultimate scalability. We all know a digital solution that can scale to millions of people, if necessary. Can you maybe talk through that, how you guys think about all of that?

HEIDI: Absolutely. And I I’ll try to be quick, but basically when we started out having five to six people in at the pasta, that’s how many stations we had. So the, the goal was how big of a space can we find in a place that we want, or we can just triple or quadruple, or at least even double those stations. That was kind of what we laid out on the bread and butter of like three per station is manageable for the trainer to help and give modifications and advancements. So when we wanted to open the sander, at least in January, 2020, and then we were, you know, obviously we were excited, we were looking for builders and then COVID hit, but we’d already signed our lease. And our landlord was really great about letting us kind of draw it out until it seemed like we would be able to open.

HEIDI: Once we kind of got through all that started the build in July, and we’re able to open in October, we thought, okay, we’re opening in a pandemic. And so the governor had said, gyms can operate at a 30% capacity. So for us, that means 14 people technically, but that didn’t equate to the six stations and we’ve got six terms. Two is 12, we’ll keep it at 12 for now. If the governor were to say that North Carolyn can operate at a 50% capacity, that would actually cover a full class for us because our capacity is so large because our space is 2200 square foot that we can have 18 to 21 people in class if he were to go up to the 50%. So we were like, you know, at 12, good, it’ll actually give our trainers practice and give us practice to get around the room and see like, is this, like you’re saying scalable, can someone do this?

HEIDI: Can only one trigger handle? Do we need more than one trainer in the class, et cetera. And so that’s where we started and it’s been great. We laugh all the time. Whenever we do get to have more people, it’s going to be buck wild in here, but it’s been really fun. All of our classes, thankfully have been filling as time has gone on. We obviously have the mask mandate. And so I think that deters people a little bit, it is hard, but as, especially January one, leading into these few weeks in February, even through the end of the month, all of our classes are completely booked on wait. And we’re really thankful for that. We hope soon we can open up going back to streaming when COVID hit Marissa was in Seattle and the epicenter of where it all started. No, she was like out in the woods in the actual.

HEIDI: And so when it was going down, the, you know, her and her eyes were like, we have to get back. And so I’m in, we’re killing. And Marissa’s like, we have to, you know, we have to start thinking about streaming or zooms or something virtual. And I was like, let’s just, you know, everyone, you know, COVID had no idea. And I was like, let’s just wait a second. Because I knew as far as my operational role, how much toll that was going to take on me. And I knew how all the programming and doing all that for this was going to take on her. And there was just so many other items, you know, finding music, the technology behind it, all the things by the time she was in the air for five hours and landed, Steph had taken a turn with COVID like in those lab hours.

HEIDI: So when she landed and called me, I was like, you know what? I think you’re right. I think we are going to have to do this. And it wasn’t what we wanted to do. We wanted to open first, then scale it with streaming and get that following up to then send it to other cities. But we kind of did it backwards and don’t regret it. It was able to give our Charlotte clients something to sink their teeth into and hold onto during quarantine, we launched it on March 27th, which was about 10 days after we had to close our doors, which is insane. I mean, I rarely give ourselves props out, you know, in interviews and media, because I, you know, I think that’s a little distasteful sometimes, but on streaming, I will Pat ourselves on the back because that was a super bad-ass. In my opinion, we were recording videos day and night, editing them, getting them on the website. We had our developer, we hired who was able to put it onto the site. And then we just kept recording, recording. And now we still recording once a month. And we have as of last week, 70 videos in our library, 49, 99, a month unlimited on demand. We have body part focuses total body. And we really hope that is going to be what helps the expansion into other cities because people will have done our workout Friday.

JOHN: Yeah. And with that kind of content and the right content based marketing strategy, and not only what you sell subscriptions, but it’s just drives, it will drive foot traffic. When people are back in the mode of coming onsite. It was interesting. I had a lady named Lauren Maccabi on the podcast and she has a very, very successful yoga studio that had maxed out its capacity and she was starting to look right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, and it, it was interesting because I asked her, I said, did you, you know, did you think about virtual before the pandemic? And she said, yeah, but I’m a perfectionist. And I had to, like you said, it’s, it’s a lot, it’s a lot of energy. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it. You want to do it perfectly. And you’ve got to have video equipment and you got to have a cloud solution provider, and you’ve got to have all these things.

JOHN: And she, she didn’t feel like she was going to put the energy into it, to do it the way that she wanted to do it, but then COVID forced her hand. And she was routinely at the time getting 150, 160 people coming onto these zoom sessions and paying a monthly fee. And it occurred to her. She’s like, I can scale this as far as I want to. There’s really no limit. I don’t have to worry about just my, my studio size, but it is interesting because to me, that’s a sign of, sometimes we let perfect be the enemy of good enough. Like she came up with a solution. That’s good enough, right?

HEIDI: Yeah. Oh yeah. Definitely. The I’m more of the optimist versus more of the perfectionist. I think we’re both realist. And after streaming was up and running, we too were like, we need to do the zoom because what had happened was we hired all these trainers in February to help us. We wanted to get them trained up for the opening of the studio, which at that time was supposed to be like may or June. So we were like, we need to give them something to do. So we launched them and we were doing multiples in classes a day and having, you know, you can have up to a hundred and that was cool because they were interacting with us. They were seeing us, we were like letting them into our homes. They were letting us into their homes. And a lot of our zoom people who we had never met her number was that our studio. And it’s so funny to see them in person.


That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So I want to come back to the workout, but I want to make sure I cover a couple of other bases as well. So Marissa, can you maybe speak to what you were doing before you launched West kept secret? It sounds like you’re doing personal training and using that brand or maybe a different brand, but how you, what were you doing prior to all of this?

MARISSA: So tell him the first brand name. Oh, goodness. Yes. The original, well, let me, I’ll back it up a little bit further. So I, when I graduated from college, I moved to Charlotte and my sister lives in Charlotte and actually it works at the studio and she’s our studio client experience manager. So it’s pretty cool, but she was actually my very, very, very first client when I moved down here. But I wanted to pursue my passion for dance, which led me to audition for the top cats, Caroline Panther cheerleaders made the team and was trying to figure out that’s a part-time gig. What can I do full time? My major was in communications and Spanish as a minor. So it’s like, okay, where do I go from here? And first thing I found was, you know, something on LinkedIn and it was like recruiting it, recruiting, you know, I feel like everyone has a hand in something that’s maybe not their dream, but it’s like, I’ve got to pay the bill.

MARISSA:  So I did that for a few months and was sharing for the Panthers and got my personal training certification on the side because I always had a passion for fitness and health. And so at that point I decided, all right, how can I pursue fitness? In addition to these other two jobs? And I found his local studio in Charlotte that no longer is in business, but worked for them for about a year teaching different spin classes, curating different workouts and kind of experimenting with, with things that I found to be beneficial to clients. And over time eventually decided, you know, what the it recruiting is not for me. The fitness is great, but I think I can do it better. I think I have a handle on the programming and the back end business side where I can just do this on my own. So there we go. So at that point I decided to quit the it recruiting still was chairing and started doing one-on-one personal training out of my apartment complex in South end. And I also was doing home visits to local clients around the greater Charlotte city.

JOHN: Now real quickly just does the, does the cheerleading, like, are you, are you able to parlay networking opportunities there to land clients for the personal training business? Or is there no. No, no. Real, okay.

MARISSA: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, it was great because you know, there would be times where the Panthers have a signed contract with different trainers, but that was, you know, they were coming in once a month and the girls were like, Hey, you’re a PT, can you assist with me? Can I come on as a client? Can we do group workouts before practice? So it was an amazing opportunity to network. I’d still been amazing on connections. There it’s a great organization and it’s really like a family dynamics. So that was a huge part for me to be able to feel confident to pursue that. And also it’s one of those things where I think when you audition for a team like that, you know, it’s, it’s like one in a million people. Aren’t, you know, you go in thinking I’m not really going to make this, I’m going to try you make it.

MARISSA: And it kind of, it it’s everyone who makes that squad. I think in any professional athletic setting, whether it’s football or dance or basketball from there, you, you kind of say, you know what, the sky’s the limit. I can do this. And you have people who believe that and push you in that direction. So when I would say, you know what, to other girls on the team, you know what, I’m going on doing my own business. They’re like, hell yeah, we support you. What can we do to encourage that? Because we believe in you. So it was definitely kind of twofold in that I had a good support system, a good connections to help me to help me do it. And then from there it was, we branded the company. It was personal training by MARISSA. Very great. I created, this is why I don’t do any branding and marketing.

MARISSA: And then from there over time, I think I was, you know, driving from a client’s home and, you know, out somewhere like in mint Hill. And I’m like, gosh, I really need to get creative on this name because it’s like, I’m trying to create branding materials. And it’s just, it’s just not hitting. It’s just not sticking. And I just gotten married. And with the last thing was, I’m like, it’d be really fun to have a play on words. And it just hit me one day and I’m like, that’s going to be it. And therefore it was born.

JOHN: Yeah. I tell people, naming a company is harder than, than naming a kid. Cause like when you’re naming a company, it has to be a name that you like. It has to be a name that you can get. And it has to be a name that you can find a URL for as well. And it’s easy to get one or two, but getting all three of those is very difficult

MARISSA: For the record. There is a furniture store in Arizona named West kept secret and they actually had the g-mail that we wanted years ago. And people still email them to this day. They bought it. And it was funny because when I had kids, when I came up with the name, I didn’t even know that that existed. I go on Google, my darn there’s a furniture company. And, but luckily the attorney who I worked with the trademark and she’s like, you’re good to go. If it’s not in your industry, it’s not in fitness. Let’s do it. Let’s trademark it because somebody else might come along and do it.

JOHN: That’s awesome. I’ve been involved in three companies that went through a renaming exercise to where, because of rebranding one was because we didn’t have the attorney look up a name that was genetically very similar to ours and it wasn’t competitive with what we did, but it was in the same industry. And we ended up having, and we ended up coming up with a better name for that business, but it’s, it’s, it’s definitely great highlight the point of talking to the attorney. They help with legal things, but they also can give you background on, well, this is, you know, this is from a business, you know, business perspective, what you should be thinking about. This is what we see in other industries. That’s, it’s always very helpful. There’s very rare that I feel happy about talking to an attorney beforehand, but I think on measured on,

MARISSA: We don’t really it’s all, every time we have, we’re like, not again, here we go. I know the answer, but

JOHN: We call right now,

MARISSA: You know, when we have other young entrepreneurs reach out to us and how did you do it? We’re always like, listen, get your ducks in a row. Here’s who we can recommend locally. But if you’re in a different city, we know it, it’s a pain in the behind, but you gotta do it because you know, you learn, you live and you learn. And that’s definitely an important key. And, and you know, a lot of times every time it’s so funny. Cause every time we have a call with them, it’s like we have these great ideas and we’re, we’re, we’re hiding our ready that it’s like kind of deflating or, or, you know, you can’t do that or it’s going to be really expensive or you have your idea for your, your, the name of your company and, and, and they, they tell you all the reasons why it’s not going to work. And you’re like, man, you just crushed my dream. But I do think it’s important to kind of bring you back to earth and help you navigate the business waters in a safe way. Yeah. Well,

JOHN: It’s cheaper to catch those kind of mistakes earlier than later. And in our case, we had put a lot of equity in that built a lot of brand equity. We had six or seven clients by then, and we’d really built around the brand. And even for us to just wave the white flag and say, Hey, we’re going to change our name. We racked up $20,000 in legal fees. And if we had just paid an attorney probably $1,500 upfront to really explain the, the, the, the search that had been done on the name, we, we, we could have avoided that. And so I think it’s always more expensive to address a problem upfront than it is to when it becomes a real problem.

MARISSA: We’ve learned about ourselves. We have, we have a good story on that. Yeah. What’s the touch on it next time? Yep. A long way.

JOHN: Definitely. Cause there’ve been so many, so many things that I do want to cover, and I know, I know we’re on a little bit of a time constraint here. So was there an exact moment when you knew you were, we’re pursuing this Marissa where you said, Hey, you know, you’re cheering, you’re, you’re doing some personal training you’re and then you realize, and you want to start scaling it and, and, or did you all along think this is going to be a full-time thing for me? Or was there a moment where you said I can turn this into a scalable business?

MARISSA: It started out, it was simply just, can I turn this into a full-time business with just me to just live and pay my bills? That was kind of like the start. How do I survive with this being full time? I have the work ethic. I I’m starting to build a clientele base. That’s the goal. And then kind of when I got there and I’m like, all right, I’m comfortable. I’m in a bruise. The slowly, it was about price increases and finding more continuing education to validate those price increases with clients over time. But to be honest, I never dreamed it would be a scalable business where we would move into a brick and mortar space until Heidi came along. So it was always about getting by once we got by just

HEIDI: Finding a good quality of life, that I could enjoy what I was doing and make it a full-time career. Then when Heidi came on board and she really helped me believe in myself, believe in what we were doing as, as a company, it was like, all right. She believes in me and she is really truly a realist. And I’m like, wow, she believes in me, we need to do the damn thing. And so I, that was really a moment with when Heidi came on board and we had these discussions that the light bulb went off that we need to, we need to not only expand to Charlotte, but we need to get this thing going because we are going to be the next berries and the next soul cycle.

JOHN: That’s awesome. So there are plans what, not the specifics, but a franchise type of thing, or a licensing type of arrangement where, where other people can help you scale, scale the business. That’s great.

HEIDI: Yeah. I mean the thought, I think at first, because we’re a little bit of control free is that we would actually like to open other locations ourselves and own them and run them and hire for them and get management in place and a few key cities. And then I think, you know, once we’ve done the rat race in that, and we know what it takes to open multiple studios, we would then consider based on traction if we would be willing to franchise and sell to other franchisees. Otherwise I think, you know, it’s something that we would like to do together.

JOHN: That’s really cool. And this question is for either of you since really the, the, the moment the real founding was when the two of you came together, which highlights, I think an awesome point of find a, co-founder not just, don’t just surround yourself with employees, but find a real, co-founder a real partner in a business. But what has surprised either of you most in this process, other than COVID that, that surprised everybody and what things that you’ve discovered along the way, would you say surprised you the most, that you might not have expected

HEIDI: In terms of bringing on a partner and just expansion in general?

JOHN: Yeah. Just building the business out and being out on your own and creating a scalable business. And you, you know, you’ve made that transition from personal trainer to now a bricks and mortar location and employees and, and, and thoughts about how we go and start to expand this and to other cities, just what, are there surprises along the way that you just would not have envisioned when you were starting out?

HEIDI: Sure. Yeah. So what I would say is my personal biggest surprise is that when I got involved teaching at that other studio, you know, I had a corporate job. So I was like, you know, I want to do more. I want to do more. And that was not an option there. So teaming up with MARISSA and it was funny, you know, obviously this is her baby. She worked on it for so long. I kind of thought, am I ever going to be able to penetrate that circle of trust, that relinquishment of control, how can I really get in with her so that she knows that like, I want to take this to the next level. I’m here for all the right reasons. I have her best interest in the business, best interests at heart, even though I haven’t been around it that long, I just found this passion for it.

HEIDI: And when I go into something, I go full in, there’s no half ass, anything it’s not full ass. So I think what surprised me is once I was able to get in with her, in that sense, she truly valued my opinion. And to this day, like the dreams that I have, like she has, or if I say like, I think we should do this, or we need to hire more people. She was like, let’s do it like two years ago that wouldn’t have been her response. Now. I feel like she trusts me. And she looks to me for certain things as I do, which was natural with her. And so I think it was really surprising that I went from a client to a trainer, to someone that I feel like she leans on an Eileen on, of course, within such a short amount of time.

HEIDI: I think these extra relationships can take 10, 15 years. You went to college with them. You’ve been childhood friends, but we just became fast friends. We’d really get each other on a personal and professional level. And I think what has surprised me the most is how much she let me in and leans on me to help make decisions and push the brand forward. And of course I’m extremely thankful, but, you know, I just never know until I try. So I always ask or send a message and just see what she says. And yeah, I’m really daily. I’m still surprised, like, okay, we’re going to do this. She said it. And she liked it. So I think that was what surprised me the most. Yeah.

MARISSA: That’s really cool. Yeah. And I think for

HEIDI: Me, what surprised me the most is similar, but I think I’ve learned so much about what it takes to be a leader. I think that has changed over the years. You know, I, I really have a intense, somewhat of a ball Buster attitude. And it’s like, if it’s not done this way, it’s not my way. It’s the highway. So you’re, you’re, you know, that’s really was my,

MARISSA: A nice way to call that is that you’re results oriented.

HEIDI: There we go. When I started using, I like that. That’s good. And so that’s kind of been, was my approach. And when Heidi came on board, it really taught me a lot about stepping back relinquishing control, being an active listener, taking into consideration other opinions, because your way is not always right in the way to move the brand forward is by collaboration. And that for me has been the biggest surprise because it’s, that has always been

MARISSA: My mentality of, you know, I know what I’m doing. This has been the way it’s always worked and truly changing. That perspective has been very eye-opening for me, has really taught me how, how the both of us can collaborate and, and create a team that feels safe, that they feel comfortable coming to us, that we can foster and help grow instead of, you know, telling them this is the way it needs to be. We really foster that, Hey, if you have, you have ideas, we’re open to it and really creating that collaborative environment. And that’s been a huge shift for me personally and professionally. Yeah. I think that’s

JOHN: A lot of the entrepreneurs I talked to that don’t end up scaling their business when you’re a very good individual contributor. It is nearly impossible. If you’re an elite individual contributor to make the jump to how do we build a team and make the sum of the parts, you know, make the whole more than the sum of the parts as they say. So congratulations on being able to do that. And again, this highlights for me, why I stressed it to, to a lot of in, in all sorts of different industries. I always stress. If you can have a co-founder or a partner, cause it is lonely at the top. And if you don’t have somebody that you trust at that level and you can’t find them, it’s just going to be that much harder and that much less fun. And it leads to personal growth too. Once, once people are able to let go of that, need to control everything and to really focus on building the team that, that that’s, that’s the biggest thing that I see that, that entrepreneurs get stuck and ended up being frustrated and not scaling their business.

MARISSA: Absolutely. It is. It is. We were actually having this conversation about feeling very lonely and not feeling understood by everyone else around you. And that’s, I think why we work so well together. It’s like, wow, how could, so-and-so not understand, you know, the stress that this is bringing on to both of us or individually. And it’s like, we really connect on that. And having that go to person is just beyond important for personal growth and business growth. Yeah. We joke all the time and say that we speak to each other the most out of any one else in our life on a daily basis, but it’s true. And sometimes it’s just like, she gets me.


Yeah. That’s awesome. You can, you can definitely sense the chemistry, even, even through this, a zoom, zoom recording. So I’m curious your perspective, do you think there are what we know that there are, but what are some unique challenges that women founders face in any business in your mind?

MARISSA: That’s a long list. Yeah, I would say number one, I think specifically in fitness, our industry is very male driven. You see a lot of the successful brands, a lot of them are, you know, male founders. And I think that a lot of times it’s it isn’t a somewhat of a, of a sexist industry and that, you know, we are, women are not given as much cloud or as much respect when we create an idea around fitness. And you think, I think when people think of fitness, they think of, you know, professional athletes and then there’s just, again, it’s just a very weightlifting CrossFit, a very male dominated.

JOHN: It is. But it’s funny because I would argue on the local level in Charlotte, all the, the celebrity CrossFit athletes are female.

MARISSA: That’s very true. I agree with that too. Like we have trouble getting men into our studio because they’re like, Oh, I’m not going to do like Pilates reformer and like a treadmill,

HEIDI: But what a dude comes in, we absolutely whoop his ass and it’s humbling in the best way, but we’re like, you know, everyone can do this workout. I mean, why it went to just women? I have no idea. We love our clients. We’re happy, but yeah, it was it’s, you know, it’s interesting to see why that happened. Right. And I think we even did a change of our logo when we opened our studio, because our, our team kind of said, our design team was like, Hey, you know, this could create a little bit of a feminine vibe. Let’s try to switch it up as we take this to the masses and see what we can deliver, but that’s been a big barrier for us is bringing men in and having them understand the importance of the cardio, the strength and Pilates kind of all feeds together.

HEIDI: So that’s definitely been a barrier for us that we’ve been trying to break down and create on social media, showing all body types and especially men as well. Another challenge I feel that we face, and I think just fitness professionals in general face is how saturated the industry is. I it’s so funny because until I was in it, I just thought, Oh, I’m a member at this gym. Or I went and worked out here end of story. But once you’re in it, you really start to kind of have a pulse on what’s going on around you in the city you’re in, or when I was traveling for business, the know studios that they offered on different apps and stuff, when I would go and visit. And it is funny because there’s so many offerings just in Charlotte alone, that it’s like, what are you doing to stand out?

HEIDI: How are you going to have that one it factor that makes them give you their fitness budget of money to you every month instead of X, Y, and Z outside of you, and to further the challenge, the pandemic kit. So then it was like, Everly’s doing zooms, everyone’s doing on-demand and streaming Peloton Rose. I mean, I just regret not even investing in them prior to COVID, but I mean, then you’re competing with a massive brand that can send a bike to your house, and you can just walk out to your garage and get your workout. And so it was like, I think one of the biggest challenges is fitness is bigger and better than ever right now, but especially in this last year or so, when we’ve been trying to open, so we’re continuously inventing the wheel in the sense of what can we do next? How do we portray ourselves? What’s going to give us that it factor that no other fitness company in the world has. And while I think that we have it, there’s certain parts of our editable and the methodology that we’ve trademarked that have it. We have to constantly be up with that because, you know, you just can’t sleep on it or the next person’s going to come and pass you by.

JOHN: Absolutely. And it remains to be seeing what’s going to happen with CrossFit. There was obviously a lot of fallout in 2020 related to some statements that were made. And, and also they’ve been kind of, there’s been a lot of confusion around the CrossFit games and what’s happening there. I think anytime you have a recession, I think somebody is out there that’s hungrier and has a better way of, of competing inside of an industry. But I think, especially with the opening right now, in terms of all the turmoil within CrossFit, I suspect we’re going to see three or four, the next berries or burn boot camps or orange theory. I feel like there’s going to be a handful of those, those coming out. And I agree with you. Fitness is amazing. I mean, I, I went and did a bar workout for the first time a year ago.

JOHN: And like you just described the only guy in the class and got my ass kicked, then you had never felt before. Yeah, exactly, exactly. But I feel like there’s so many of those concepts that are out there at a small level, it will be interesting to see what the next three or four of these things are five years from now. What am I going to be asked? I believe that I believe that for sure. So I know we’ve only got a little bit more time here, but I’d like to get back to the, you know, exercise, health, fitness realm of things you’ve talked about combining cardio with strength and with, with Pilates, you mentioned hitting a bag. Do you do introduce weights in the form of dumbbell or barbells or, or resistance bands or what, what, what is, what is the strength component typically of what, of what you do?

MARISSA: Absolutely. So we have, so w what we kind of break the categories into so real quick, I’ll just kind of break it down. So the cardio component would be the treadmill, and we also have the rogue echo bike as well, which we love. Oh, good. So good. Okay.

JOHN: I said, it’s quite the torture device.

MARISSA: And I was like, it’s literally saves tricycles. So, you know, so we’ve got the treadmill, the air runners. Then we have the rogue echo bike, and then we have bodyweight cardio, you know, burpees, the roadblock we’ll do bodyweight cardio on there. So that’s kind of like our cardio component. Our strength component is considered the boxing bag. We consider that more strength and cardio, and we consider the TRX also a strength-based piece of equipment. And then we have our Pilates pieces of equipment, which would be the Pilates reformer, the ballet bar, and then the Pilates springboard. So those are kind of like our three machine categories that fall under the cardio strength bodies. And then of course we have bodyweight props that we would fall into specific categories. So for example, we have hand weights that are used for some of it’s for cardio, some of it’s for strength, some of it’s for Pilates. Like if you’re on the Pilates reformer doing a lunch series, we’re going to add eight pound dumbbells that you’re holding overhead. So, you know, we’ll throw those props into different categories. Then we have bands, there are infinity bands that have two loops on either side that typically fall into our bodies category. There are balls for abs support. We also use AB mats. We use traditional resistance bands, you know, that you’re wrapping around. And so

HEIDI: We basically think about every body weight prof that falls into a specific category. How are we using it? Are we using it more and apply these component and more of a strength component or more of a cardio component. So we’re kind of using a little bit of everything and then we’re dialing them into those different three categories. And if you’re coming to the workout to lift weights, you wouldn’t come to our class. I mean, there’s just so much more to it, but our weights go all the way up to 10 pound hand weights, and then we have kettlebells as well, no barbells or anything like that.

JOHN: Got it. Got it. Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting. I like lifting things with big barbells, but I I’m increasingly wondering can, is it really, if you’re trying to squeeze the most amount of people in to get the most benefit with the least chance of injury w you know, what can’t you get out of kettlebells and lighter weights, and, and there’s a, it’s a real limited, a number of things. I think, you know, a lot of guys lift more out of ego than anything myself included.

HEIDI: I couldn’t agree with you. I agree. I agree. And I think I get, you know, financially, it doesn’t make sense in the space wise. And I do think the, you really have to have a background to be able to functionally teach, and we just don’t have that one, that background or two that, you know, th the ability with clients to break it down, how do you perform a back squat correctly? That is like

JOHN: Overhead squat, right. Or a snatch, or

HEIDI: Right. Like you literally needed Howard to break that movement down and continuously practice it. And that’s just not where our methodology falls in. And we would say, Hey, go, go check out crossword or a fundamentals class, because that’s not going to be our jam. And like, I’ve been to Barry’s where, you know, there’s 50 people in class and the instructors like, all right, everyone grab a 20 pound, you know, hand rate. And you know, this hired into the snatches go, and I’m over here. Like, I do not want to hurt myself, but I’ll try it. But there’s just not that hands-on helpful. How can you modify, how can you advance it style? It’s just like, here’s what it looks like. You have five seconds go. And that’s just, we’re just more in the safety slash toning, shredding, cardio, leaning out the muscles. If you want to.

HEIDI: I like when you’re saying the ego with men, I think to myself, how often can a guy go to like a Gold’s gym and lift weights and like your body, do you do it every day? You do back day or leg day. And then it’s like, okay, you have 3% body fat and your muscles are huge. So where are you going to go from here? What are you doing? What’s the point? And one thing that I think is a benefit for our workout and very different is with the, with all of the different intervals. You’re always hitting the miss, the six machines, six to eight machines. You’re going to hit them multiple times anywhere from three to six times. So we always tell clients, we’re like, Hey, the first two rounds, this is just feeling the movement. You’re getting

MARISSA: Comfortable with it. If you’ve never planked on a reformer before, or a pilot springboard, this is your chance. Feel it out. We’re going to adjust you. We’re going to find those hands on hand on corrections. Then by round three, you’re an expert. You know, what the heck is going on. You’re able to really take up those corrections that we gave you and really implement them. And so it’s almost like a progression throughout the workout. They’re getting more comfortable. And by the end, they’re like, all right, I’m a rock star at this center plank on the reformer. I feel good. And now when I know I come back next time, I’m going to be able to execute even better. So it’s not like it’s a one and done you’re one time on that. And you never get a chance to hit it again. We always tell them multiple chances. And it’s going to allow your body to find that mind, body connection, because that’s really what it is. And most people who don’t have enough athletic background, they aren’t able to do that in one round or one opportunity, you know?

JOHN: Absolutely. And sorry, I’m taking a few notes here because I wanted to try something with you here. I want to talk about to come to things that I could choose between a workout. And if you could just give me your thoughts on how I should be thinking about them. Not that there’s one that’s better than the other, but how should I be thinking about incorporating? Maybe the answer is both, but in different different settings. So you mentioned that you have single arm weights, or I’m guessing typical dumbbells, and then you also have cattle Bell’s house. How should one thing about dumbbell training versus cattle belts raining and in the context of your overall approach to high intensity interval training?

MARISSA: Absolutely. Honestly, in my opinion, they’re for our specific workout, they’re very interchangeable. And the reason being is it’s simply for us, the ease of our quick rotations, what can the client pick up quicker? That’s going to be safe for them on the machine that they’re executing. So for example, if you’re on the roadblock doing a split block job, and you’re holding two, five pound weights that have more of a chance to potentially slip out of your hands for us, it’s going to make more sense to hold a 10 pound kettlebell in your hands. And there’s less chance, and there’s more fluidity with the movement. So for us, it’s there a hundred percent interchangeable. There’s not a major difference unless of course we’re doing kettlebell swings. I mean, that’s going to be a little bit more fluid than dumb bells. You can still do both, but it’s just the fluidity and the transitions that are going to make sense in our workout. Weight is weight. So it’s a matter of what works to get from station to station quickly.

JOHN: Yeah, it, it’s interesting because a lot of times we’ll use kettlebells for, for farmers carry. And it seems, I mean, I feel like I can kettlebell carry a dumbbell much more easily. And so I feel like I’m better off with, with the kettlebell, but for a lot of things, they’re, they’re quite interchangeable.

MARISSA: Absolutely. Yeah. For example, like when we do like, we, we don’t do the full Turkish get-up we do Turkish roll up just like a half version that we do. That’s more poor driven. We found this might seem silly, but people with their Apple watches and flipping it over is uncomfortable. So it’s like, you know what, we’re gonna use a 10 pound dumbbell. It’s going to be just as great, no big deal. So we’ve experimented with the different movements and what makes sense, based on just general feedback from clients and from us trying it together with trial and error, I’m trying to choose making me try it. She’s not trying it. I was kidding. She tried something, but then she threw it too.

JOHN: So how about same kind of question, but with burpees and kettlebell swings, since we talked about kettlebell swings, so like where, where do you think about those two? Do they solve the same kind of problem or is one more core or do th the, the two compliment each, each other well, or how, because to me, they’re both exercises where if I want to just do one movement and just, just go do just that only that movement. Cause I’ve got a short amount of time. Like I could do it to Bata interval of either and, and get a great, almost total body workout plus cardio. Right?

MARISSA: Yeah. And I want Marissa to speak to the way that it was kept secret, does burpees versus like how a CrossFit gym would do burpees because we feel that our burpees are more than just kind of like that quick worm cardio. There’s a lot more technicality to it and get a little bit more upper body. Yeah. It’s funny because we have a lot of people who do come from CrossFit or we have a lot of trainers or clients they’re like, Hey, I’m bringing my boyfriend. He’s a big CrossFit guy. And you know, we start on the mic. If there are burpees in the workout, we always say, this is the West kept secret way. You’re going to start with distance. You’re going to squat down, plant your hands, pop back to a plank from here, you’re doing a full chest to ground. Push up with the nipple line, touching thighs and hips do not touch, which is completely different.

MARISSA: It’s a much more of a strict pushup driving up and then popping up, adding the explosive hop at the top. And you know, a lot of times the guys are repping out. I’m like, Whoa, Whoa, slow down guys. Aren’t touching hips. Aren’t touching. We want more of a strict pushup then speed. But in terms of kettlebells versus kettlebell swings versus burpees, depending on what the focus is. So if I’m programming burpees in for more of a cardio approach, I might take out the pushup and just have clients doing a half burpee or a plank, bur B or a plate or B with boxing punches. We have a plank burpee tuck jump, and we have hundreds of burpee variations that we have, or if it’s more of a strength driven body, weight exercise, I’m going to, and it’s more of an upper body focus. I’m going to program that and that’s going to be the focus.

MARISSA: So I think it burpees either more in a cardio aspect or of a upper body slash core total body, body, weight exercise. I kind of break it down into two variations, kettlebell swings. I think of it kind of the same way. I, my going lighter weight and I’m repping it out quicker for more cardio or I’m like my going heavier and focusing more on a total body burn, upper body core focus, a little bit more of that hands, deadlifts style I’m working my hamstring. So I think for me, it’s all about the way I’m thinking about it. And then I gauge where that falls into our workout. I think both are great, but I think they’re very different based on the way that you planned a program.

JOHN: Awesome. Now that, that all makes sense to me. And I agree with all of that. What about you mentioned that you have an echo bike and then you’ve got the, the, I forget what it’s called again, the air, the treadmill, which that’s quite a torture device too, but how do you think about those two differently? What are the benefits of one versus the other, in your opinion?

MARISSA: Sure. So first we originally only had the treadmill. We didn’t have the bike in our workout and the bikes were coming in more as a bit of an injury piece of equipment. Hey, if you can’t run, you’re afraid of hopping on and off the treadmill. It’s, you know, self power. I know for a lot of people that can be like, Whoa, that’s a little bit scary. Hey, the bikes right there, go for it. That was kind of our initial thought. And over time it’s like, damn no, we’re going to add this in as double cardio. So we’re going to throw the treadmill in, and then we’re going to focus on adding the bike in midway through the workout to keep the heart rate up and give a little punch of a little something extra. So they’re both cardio components, but of course they have different focuses.

MARISSA: The treadmill is more about just, you’re going all out hard and peat, burning calories and getting that heart rate above, you know, around a, a one 71 80 so that, you know, you’re burning calories. And then the bike is more to me of a lower body, upper body and core kinda like a total body machine. But it depends on what you’re focusing on. So I’ll walk by the bike and I’ll kinda, I’ll kinda tell people for the next 30 seconds, we’re gonna, we’re gonna pull your arms off. You’re just gonna go hard. And Pete for your legs, or I want you to kind of use a little bit more upper body, or I want you to think about engaging your core more than anything and focus less on the RPM. So it’s again, depending on what the focus is, do we ha is it more of an AB day that we’re looking at all of our different machines are kind of focusing more on the core? Okay, well, we’re going to go 30 seconds of legs on the road, bike, 30 seconds of arms, and we’ll switch it up and we’ll have a focus on the bike, or is it more of just an overall cardio focus where we want you to see arms, legs, tabs, go, let’s get your, your speed up to a 25 or a 30. You know what I mean? So it really depends on what the focus is for the day based on inappropriate.

JOHN: Very cool, same kind of question, Pilates and yoga, for instance, cause some, some people that I used to think somehow they were related to each other before I actually did both of them and then realized they’re almost nothing to do, but they seem to be like, they, they seem to both be workout forms that are much more popular with, with women than with men for one.

MARISSA: Yeah. I think that polite has started as well. I’m not in his brain, the guy who founded it, but I do think that a lot of men found Pilates

HEIDI: To be a more of a rehab resource if they were bodybuilding or had an injury from a sport, just kind of moving in that slow and controlled way on a Pilates reformer is helping to rehab that body part or whatever it is that injury that you’re trying to fix yoga is, you know, the pulling apart of the muscles, the lean, the stretching, the recovery, but it can get intense if you’re doing it in a hot room or you’re maybe moving through it more in a powerful, faster way. So I can see how people see it as not interchangeable, but it’s very similar, but we just feel that the strength and the building of the muscle is more beneficial on a reformer. And you know, we’re just not, you can even tell from our personalities, having a yoga component just wouldn’t make any sense for us or for the method itself.

MARISSA: Sure. And eventually we do, we have talked about adding a potentially a recovery based class in, onto our schedule. We actually do recovery on our streaming again, coming from a dance background and a stretching background. I do have that. I think it’s very important. It’s very overlooked. So that’s something we want to add. It wouldn’t be yoga because we’re not yoga certified, but it’d be more of a recovery deep stretch for based on what we work that week from our method. But in terms of plot is yeah, definitely came from Joseph. <inaudible> created Pilates in terms of rehab. It was a machine was created in world war II for people who had lost their legs or lost limbs. And they were trying to rehab their muscles. Then for us, how it kind of integrated into the workout is I feel like so many workouts and I’ll use berries.

MARISSA: For example, you go to a class, you do cardio for 20, 30 minutes and you’re doing strength for 20, 30 minutes. And it’s like, Hey, let’s get on this block and let’s do some crunches. That’s your abs. And it’s like lackluster. And so I felt like the cardio and the strength of like the upper body or the legs were really great, but that polite is component of the foundation of everything starting from your core. I felt like overall in the fitness industry that was missing into a workout. So it’s like, you know what? Let’s keep the plot springboard. And the plot is reformer as the foundational core pieces of equipment that are going to engage your core in addition to potentially working other muscle groups. So when we have the Pilates reformer and you’re working a plank, it’s way harder to do a plank on that machine versus on the floor.

MARISSA: So now you’re actually able to truly engage your core muscles and then an extra bonus. You’re getting a little bit of inner thigh and leg. You’re getting a little bit of shoulder by set back, but the foundation starts from your core and that’s truly what makes us different because anyone in my opinion can do cardio can do strength, can do Pilates. They can kind of fudge it and integrate it together. But if you don’t have those machines, you’re missing out on the fundamental star of your core. And I mean, I, again, no disrespect to CrossFit, Hey, I’m a big fan, but I think it is. I don’t think it’s, I don’t think that saying you’re doing an overhead squat or you’re doing a burpee or you’re doing a kettlebell swing only. Yes. And engages the core. No doubt, no question in terms of functionality, but are you really engaging the specific muscles that you want to hone in on, on a burpee?

MARISSA: Probably not. So how do we do that? And that’s what we do at best kept secret. Let’s add in specific areas of the core that we want to focus on while using those machines. That’s a note to CrossFit, but that’s, if there’s like an element of like shocking the body, like if you’re going to go from, for example, if the rotation is like treadmill to reformer, et cetera, like you’re sprinting on the treadmill for a minute, then you have to come to the reformer, catch your breath and then work at a very slow way. Yes. We had tempo often into our workouts. Then you go to, let’s say like a bodyweight app, and then you’re trying to like pulse it. And then you go to the bike. It’s like carp, fast, cardio, slow abs AB fast cardio. And then it changes every single day. So it’s like, your body will never get used to it. People come into the class, they have zero idea what to expect. They don’t know the interval. They don’t know the moves. They don’t know how hard they have to go. And so every time someone steps in the class, they have no idea what they,

JOHN: That mental challenge is what I mean, I, to me, that that’s so huge in terms of keeping you engaged. And it’s just a benefit of exercise outside of looking better naked or losing weight or getting stronger. I think that mental challenge for me, it didn’t work the same way as what you’re describing, but the mental challenge of every CrossFit workout for the first year that I did it, I would get halfway through it and say, I don’t know if I can finish. And I had to mentally get tougher to do it. I think there’s a lot to that for sure.

MARISSA: Yeah. What I think is funny is our classes start at 5:30 AM and there’s a 12 hour cancellation policy. So even if your friend got done at six 20 and texted you and you were in the 6:00 PM and you didn’t want to take that interval, you got to show up, are you going to get that late fee? So we definitely try to keep it under wraps. We have people that texts or DM all the time. What’s the interval tomorrow. I just want to see. And we’re like, Nope, you got to show up to find out. Yeah. And I do think what Heidi was saying that the other key feature that really makes us different is adding in the tempo. So we’ll, we’ll we clarify that in the demo, you know, again, like with cross, I’m sure you’re showing all the movements up front, how to do it.

MARISSA: And then it’s like, all right, we’ll go in three, two, one, we do the same thing. Introduce ourselves, go over COVID protocols, go through the stations and go through the demo. And we’ll say treadmill, because we’re doing six rounds. It’s only one minute. It’s all out max effort. We want you to start at, you know, your challenging pace. And then every 30 seconds increased by 0.5 or whatever that looks like to you for what your PR is. And then we’ll say we’re moving to the reform. The reformer is slow and controlled movements. Then we’ll say, Hey, we’re going to the bag. We’re back to heart and the paint all out. What? And then we clarify what the template looks like. In some workouts, the temple might be a focus on every machine except for cardio. And what I mean by that, we might say, it’s going to be full range where you’re doing all the way in of a movement, like full range squat, all the way down, ask them to graph all the way up. And then we’ll say for the next round, it’s going to be pulsing just down an inch, up an inch. And we have those temporal James workouts as well. So it’s kind of a mixed bag, meaning you’ve got to come try John.

JOHN: I do. That’s what I was just thinking. I have to, I have to try this, try this workout. Yeah.

MARISSA: I think with, with, again, coming from a, your background and like loving CrossFit, I feel like you’d come and be like, wow, this has some of that like competitive nature. It has some of that, you know, and there are some crossovers and some similarities, but I think you’d be, you’d be shocked and humbled just like we would be with we’d go in and do across the class.

JOHN: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I like being humbled. I like going into something new and that not, not that I’m feel like I’ve at all mastered CrossFit, but it isn’t the same mental challenge. It’s I can kind of work on my fast brain, but I love new things where I’m so awkward and so bad at it and kind of getting to improve at it.

MARISSA: Yes, yes. That same. It’s like, I want to go. And that’s kind of part of what it was with creating the workout is I want to experiment. I want to see everything that’s out there. What do I like from this workout? What do I not like? And how can we pull those together to create the best kept secret methodology?

JOHN: Very cool. I know we’ve only got a couple more minutes here. So I was hoping to talk a little bit, maybe you could just speak a little bit to nutrition. How important is nutrition to overall fitness and health in your mind? And are there specific diet plans that you recommend your clients look into or certain approaches?

MARISSA:  Well, I mean, first of all, she’s going to say definitely a good 30 day reset, no alcohol. Cause that’s what she hit me with back in 2017. That’s just one of the many things, but yeah,

JOHN: It is cruel in a pandemic 30 days without alcohol.

MARISSA: It is tough. It is tough. I think. So I do have a nutrition background. I think it really depends on what the client is trying to accomplish. So ingest. So we do have one-on-one personal training where we do do food journaling and we, we, we do do tailoring on, on all of those things. And we look at macros and so on and so forth. But for our general group classes, people will ask us, you know, in passing, Hey, what do you do? And it’s like, well, you know, you really shouldn’t be a PT client. Cause a lot of work out what to tell you what we do. But in general we say Heidi and I, this is what works for us. Feel free to take that approach. And if it works for you great. But my is what we found is high protein, low carb, low sugar works for our bodies, works for what most of our clients want to achieve there max, as setic appearance, in addition to max energy throughout the day, because that’s what it’s all about is fueling your body for the next workout or fueling you for your day.

MARISSA: So that’s our approach, but I, I don’t think, I think that people get so stuck on this one, one style of, of nutrition works. Like I know CrossFit was married with paleo and in, you know, for a very long time. And it’s like, that might work for somebody. Whole 30 might work for somebody, but in general, if you can have a high protein and a relatively low carb, low sugar approach that in general and keep it clean. And what I mean by cleaning, right? A good 80, 20, and a good rule of thumb and clients are like, what does clean mean if you can fish it, if you can farm it, if you’re going to hunt it, gather it, gather it. And you’re pretty much in a good, safe spot. So I think we, we really take nutrition and we over-complicate it when it really doesn’t have to be so complicated. And we’re an 80 20 approach. We eat a lot of shit on, you know, a couple of times a week. And we, we do, we, we’re going to go get Thai food tonight. Yeah. We just, all the bad things, but you got to live, but if you want results, you have to find structure on a kind of accountability period.

JOHN: Very cool. One last question. A lot of what I’m hearing and seeing, and a lot of what seems to  become popular is less about what you eat and when you eat. So do you, do you yourselves do much intermittent fasting? Do you see success with your clients? And I’m guessing it’s going to be a similar answer to, it really depends on the person, but

MARISSA: Absolutely. Yeah. Again, it really depends on the person, but we love our approach is definitely, Hey, this is what we do. This is what works for us. Give it a try. I think it’s really important when you say that to somebody, to, you know, I’m not going to hit them with, Hey, last week I did an 18 hour fast, go try it. I mean, that’s going to be very, you know, tough and just really discouraging to hear. It’s like, she can’t do that. So yeah, I’ve done it kind of every intermittent fast in between I’ve done 12, 14, 18, 24 played with it with my body. So what I typically will tell people is what we do every day is just a good, old, easy 12 hour fast. That’s what most people are doing in general. And I’m a big fan of eating earlier in the evening, eating earlier in the morning.

MARISSA:  That works for me, that it hides a little bit on the later she’s a little bit later and it’s great. Cause we each have our own, I’m typically dinner at five 30, four 30, and then I wake up breakfast at four 30, five 30 and that works just a good 12 hour fast. But absolutely, if you feel like you’ve kind of been on a, you know, a binge or it’s been the holidays, me kind of like a hard reset, a good 14, 16 hour fast is definitely a good thing to try, but I always recommend to people, if you’re not doing a 12 hour fast, try moving your, your eating up maybe a little bit earlier, try to 12 hours. If that feels good, let’s push it to a 1314, see how your body responds and go from there that has been really successful for the general population. Who’ve asked us that who aren’t PT clients, where we can be modeling, monitoring them every step of the way and you can do it in your sleep, right. So we’d go to bed and then just don’t eat for the first couple of hours that you’re awake. And that’s your 12 hours.

JOHN: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve read a lot lately about the benefits of extending your fast, a couple of hours past your workout. Even there’s just a lot of great things that they think happened with your hormones when, when, when you are fasting after work.

MARISSA: Yeah. And what, what I kind of tell everybody like a great easy analogy to use is if you’re constantly just shutting your laptop screen and you never actually restarting that’s, that’s a great analogy for your metabolism. Sometimes you just need a hard reset to get things moving and not having that, you know, the Mac circle of echoing and you just need that hard reset and that’s going to get things going and moving at a good, quick pace. That’s going to get you back on the track.

JOHN: Good. Well, thank you. We we’ve covered everything that I wanted to cover.

MARISSA: I was like, this is actually probably been one of my favorite podcasts because it’s not just about us. It’s actually diving into some of the exercise sides, which I’m very passionate about and trying to get people to understand the methodology, how it was developed in and how and why it works. This is really fun for me and for us to definitely

JOHN: To come do a workout or two, and then maybe we do a follow up and you explain why I got my ass kicked so badly.

MARISSA: Let’s do it fresh so that you’re still very sore.

JOHN: Okay. Very cool. Well, I’ll definitely take you up on that. Thank you so much for joining me today.

MARISSA: Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is so wonderful and great. All right. Take care. Have a good day. Okay.