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This Workout Banished My Gymtimidation With Ninjas, Unicorns

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Kettlebells, protein, sexual innuendos, and unicorns. That's what I took away from my friend's description of "Snatched in Six Weeks," a workout program at the Hell's Kitchen gym Mark Fisher Fitness he participated in to get in better shape. And after seeing his ripped results, I thought I could use a little unicorn help myself.

At the introductory "Foreplay" workshop, we get the rundown on what to expect, which was three classes per week along with two independent workouts. Everyone at MFF seemed extremely happy and excited about this. It was a little off-putting at first, but I could tell that they love what they do and really care about their clients, also known as ninjas.

There are two types of ninjas here: Ninjas looking to add muscle, and ninjas looking to lose weight (I'm in the latter category). There are lots of references to unicorns and dragons and sex in this workshop. It's all kind of silly and the ninjas seem either excited or confused and a little scared about what's to come. Again, I'm in the latter category.

Week 1

There is an optional before-and-after contest, and if you win, you get your entire program fee refunded. I figure it's worth a shot, so after getting next to naked at our first class for the photo, I'm ready to begin. There's a lot of information and the instructors, Mark and Staci, seem to know what they're talking about. Instead of using big scientific words, they make it easier for us ninjas to understand by using fun names. We learn moves and positions like "Sad Dog," "Care Bear Stare," and "Porn Star." I'm noticing the instructors here like to wear crazy workout outfits, which helps lighten the mood.

Trainer Staci's badass tights

Nutrition is also a big part of this journey, and I've been given a customized set of numbers to hit every day with regards to protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake, along with overall calories. We use an app to track our numbers and the MFF team has access to our accounts to check in from time to time.

On the first day of the program, I'm with a group of friends who want to grab dinner. I try to talk my way out of it, but they aren't having it and we end up at an Italian restaurant. I want to order something covered in cheese, but I think about my journey and end up getting a salad with some grilled calamari. After dinner I get an email that the MFF team will be checking our numbers for that day. Thanks to my smarter dinner choice, I come really close to hitting my numbers.

Week 2

The kettlebell intimidates the hell out of me—I'm worried I'm going to hit something or myself. Staci eases my fear by teaching us about beauty in the perfect form and how having proper technique can be more glorious than being able to do it with more weight or reps. I'm asked to smile more, since my workout face is far too serious, and that's when I learn they call this place a "fun camp" instead of a "boot camp." During the workouts, I keep hearing, "Mickey, more pornstar!" Screw the before-and-after contest—my new goal is to hear, "Mickey, less pornstar!"

My new obsession? Cauliflower rice.

Also, it turns out I don't eat enough carbs. Weird. Thanks to a Ninja Cooking Class I attended, I learn how to make cauliflower rice: All you have to do is throw the cauliflower in a food chopper, get it down to a rice-like size, and heat it up in a pan until tender. I have always hated cauliflower, but this rice preparation thing is super easy and helps me meet my carb goals without adding too much fat or calories.

Week 3

We've been warned about what's to come. So far we've been training with Mark and Staci, but now we finally get to train with Brian Patrick Murphy. I went to college with Brian and have known him for years, so I'm not worried. One of the first things Brian does is take away my kettlebell and replace it with a heavier one. Thanks, "friend." Turns out that it feels easier to swing a heavy weight than a lighter one—but then Brian points out I might be bending too much in my swings, which is affecting my pornstar.

Left, Murphy in last summer's hottest trainer contest (photo by Sean Gomes for Racked); Right, Murphy in his "long shorts" during my class

We have our first check-in this week, where we compare measurements now to those taken when we first arrived. So far, I've lost seven pounds and dropped an inch off my waist. I expected more, but Mark says not to worry so much about the numbers. As much as I don't want to listen to that—numbers show progress, right?—my body does feels stronger and my clothes are looser. Even though I don't see it in myself, my friends are noticing a difference.

Week 4

The workouts have gotten harder. We're resting less between sets and more exercises are being layered on. Staci said it's okay to flip the bird while doing some exercises, and it seems like my middle fingers are all for getting in on these workouts. At times I feel like I want to stop, but us ninjas are all rooting each other on. Even the class coming in after us is cheering during our final sets, when we're literally on our last legs.

Finally starting to conquer these things.

But on the other hand, this food thing has gotten easier. I feel like I know what I can eat without having to plan it all out the night beforehand. However, I'm really craving ice cream one night. I look at my numbers and realize that's not in the cards that day, so I wolf down two cookies-and-cream protein bars instead. It might not have been the best solution, but I'm happier with my choice and I still hit my numbers.

Week 5

Praise be the day! During class, Mark commented on how good my pornstar looked. Finally! While this wasn't technically the "less pornstar" comment I strived for, I'm still beaming with joy. After class though, I really want to vomit. Like, stop in the street and hurl everywhere and not care who sees. But this feeling is awesome! The MFF team has a term for pushing yourself to your almost-maximum that's called "tickling the dragon's balls and not getting cum in your eye," and I think I finally reached that. I don't think I've ever pushed myself this hard.

Mark Fisher, in all his glory.

Food just keeps getting easier and easier to navigate outside of the kitchen. If I'm at a restaurant, I'm looking at protein options rather than what comforts my Southern tastebuds. I'm ordering salads with extra meat and drinking more water than I ever thought possible. and when I do have a sweet craving, I'm now picturing a single scoop of ice cream instead of an entire pint. Each morning, I feel better about myself and my body.

Week 6

We're encouraged to take some clothes off during our final week of classes because it will help empower us. I don't believe it, but the MFF team has proven me wrong before, so I layer up with some short shorts under my sweats. Halfway through class, when I want to die, I drop my pants. Oddly enough, it does feel freeing and gives me an extra boost of energy. And I don't want classes to end.

I didn't win the before-and-after contest but I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. I lost ten pounds, dropped two inches from my waist, gained muscle, and I finally have a noticeable ass. I'm actually angry this is over—I'll miss my fellow ninjas and the MFF team.

Mark Fisher Fitness and Snatched isn't for everyone—specifically, those who don't like fun. But if you're looking for a jumpstart to a better life, you should check it out. Just be prepared to give more pornstar.

Mark Fisher Fitness

411 W 39th Street, New York, NY 10018