Trainer Talks: Mark Fisher Finds Success With Unconventional Fitness Approach

Trainer Talks: Mark Fisher Finds Success With Unconventional Fitness Approach

Mark Fisher Fitness finds its niche in the intersection of the industry where Broadway meets burpees and fitness finds fun
Personal trainers looking to make it in the fitness industry have several models to choose from and reference when starting a new business. Most of these choices have been dominated by traditional approaches. Mark Fisher chooses the innovative, non-traditional path.
As the co-founder of Mark Fisher Fitness (MFF), Fisher has distinguished himself not only as a fitness expert but as a transformative figure in an industry often characterized by its adherence to convention.
Operating under the unique philosophy of “Ridiculous Humans, Serious Fitness,” MFF offers a fusion of intensive fitness routines with an element of playfulness and inclusivity. This approach positions the concept as an oasis for those seeking an alternative to the intimidating ambiance typically associated with gyms.
Beyond MFF, Fisher extends his influence through Business for Unicorns, providing strategic guidance to gym owners. He is also an investor in the Alloy Personal Training fitness franchise, which targets the 50-plus demographic, expanding wellness accessibility to a broader audience.
Athletech News spoke with Fisher about his methodologies, which go beyond mere exercise regimens, representing a significant shift in the perception and delivery of fitness services.
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Athletech News: How has MFF’s unconventional approach impacted the traditional fitness industry and, specifically, personal training?
Mark Fisher: I think if people have been exposed to Mark Fisher Fitness, they’ll see how we’ve hopefully expanded what’s possible for a brand. MFF is unique, particularly well-suited for a New York City environment and born from the arts community. It’s clear that this approach isn’t for every fitness business, but from day one, I’ve been interested in how to combine my interest in rigorous personal training and strength conditioning with my community, which initially were Broadway performers.
Now, it’s extended to those in the New York City area who don’t feel traditional gyms speak to them. We aimed to create something colorful and creative, reflecting a preference for not taking oneself too seriously, yet still maintaining serious fitness. My hope is that MFF’s impact has inspired others in the space to think more imaginatively about their brands and to provide quality, serious training products without being overly serious or hardcore.
Although my training was first delivered in a group format, I was adamant about not labeling it as a bootcamp. I’m a trainer who prefers the group format. This approach has been positive for the industry, allowing us to scale the customization and technical mastery of personal training in a business model that’s better for trainers and more affordable for clients.
credit: Mark Fisher Fitness

ATN: What strategies are most effective in personal training to maintain high client engagement and satisfaction?
MF: I’m a firm believer in functional training, which means different things to different people. My approach is influenced by performance enhancement and harm reduction from the strength conditioning world. Functional training is more effective for the general population, focusing on core lifts and movement competence.
Regarding client engagement, it depends on the model. For one-on-one training, the approach might be different, but overall, it’s about creating systems for support both inside and outside the gym. It’s about understanding that different people need different types of support. The basics involve managing client relationships, ensuring no one gets left behind, and using software to help with scaling. Personal touches, like handwritten cards or personalized gifts, are essential.
ATN: What are the key lessons you aim to teach gym owners through Business for Unicorns?
MF: A lot of people initially come to us for help in understanding how to build their businesses; how to let people know they exist, build trust and likability over time, etc., so they can make a compelling offer to hire them, followed by a follow-up and sales process for more substantive engagement. That’s the first half, focusing on acquisition.
The second half, of course, is fulfillment. We need to have the skills to pay the bills. When I think about making an impact with the clients once they’ve entrusted us, I consider client lifecycle, client experience, and coaching.
Keep it simple. Talking about client lifecycle, it includes two things: what happens when you’re not with them, both onboarding and over time. For instance, we discussed having systems for when they’re not with you. Importantly, we also need a thought-out onboarding process to teach people how to work with you, as this will vary based on what people need.
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Then there’s the client experience itself. People are buying workouts. We want them to buy programs, training, all of that. But we must deliver on the core service they hired us for, which has two parts: ensuring it’s a good, positive experience they enjoy and confirming the training is competent.
credit: Mark Fisher Fitness

ATN: What are the biggest challenges facing the personal training industry, and how do you address them?
MF: The biggest challenge in the personal training industry has always been the inherent difficulty of fitness itself. We’re not selling a simple, one-time service like a haircut. We’re offering something that’s difficult and non-intuitive for many people.
Moreover, the results from fitness efforts take time to manifest. There are challenges in selling the idea of fitness to the population. However, by making fitness more scalable and affordable, we can lower the entry barrier for the end user and create models that are beneficial for staff, owners, and clients. This approach helps us impact more people across more locations.
There is no specific data that COVID, in fact, actually motivated more people to take fitness seriously over the past few years. As the population ages, I hope more people do take their fitness more seriously. Outside of the business model, a significant part of addressing this challenge is getting good at marketing and sales. It’s about helping people see the potential future they can create for themselves through fitness, and how it impacts not just them but their families and their overall quality of life. It’s about selling a vision and a lifestyle, not just a service.
ATN: What future trends do you foresee in personal training and fitness?
MF: I  believe there will be more focus on small group training. This model balances affordability with a comprehensive solution. It’s more expensive per session than a class but more affordable than traditional one-on-one training. This model works well for a range of clients, including those with entry issues, older individuals, or those who are deconditioned. It allows for customization to work around injuries and address mobility. I’m a huge fan of this model and believe its positive aspects will lead to its proliferation in the industry.

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