“Just how many shirts did you rip because of Cut Seven?”
I was sitting in the lobby Sunday night with Chris Tassa, interviewing him for the first issue of Cut Up—a monthly post where we interview a fellow badass.
He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, “Have you FELT a Brooks Brothers dress shirt? They’re super thick. I just rested my elbows on my desk one day and just heard this ssshhhhhhhhh—the sound of ripping thread. My boss asked what happened and all I could do was hold up my arm.”
He ripped three shirts in one month.
That was August of last year, eight months after joining Cut Seven. And while you probably didn’t know that little story, you probably know Chris Tassa for showing up for 6:30PM classes like clockwork, skipping Heart Day on the reg, or muttering, That was so fucked up after walking out of Leg Day.
And if you don’t know him (here’s to you, 6AMers), then this is your chance. To the first athlete we’re throwing in the spotlight, here’s your fellow teammate.
What made you join cut seven? what did you do before?
I was working out at VIDA in July of 2016. I walked out of the single most unmotivated workout of my life and was like, “I’m done.” I had to find something else, and withdrew my membership that very week.
I was skimming POPville a few days later and read about Cut Seven opening two blocks from where I lived. I had no idea who Chris and Alex were—I never went to Union Market or their weekend boot camps. But I texted Peter and was like, “This is it. We’re going. It’s right next to where we live.” We signed up for unlimited memberships without trying a single class.
I don’t know why, but I had it in my head that I would only go to the “official” location. I never stepped foot into the pop-up on 14th Street. Without ever meeting in person, I emailed Chris every single week from July to January, asking about the launch date. I went to SoulCycle while Peter went to the pop-up, and I cannot tell you how many texts I received that went, “This workout is insane. You’re going to die.”
Finally, on January 1st, 2017, I sent one last passive-aggressive email to Chris about my New Years’ resolutions. That’s when I got the reply that read, “Give me two weeks.”
You signed an unlimited membership and didn’t go to a single class for six months? What were you thinking that very first workout?
I don’t remember a single thing about that workout—except turning to Peter and mouthing omigod during the warm-up.
My biggest challenge is endurance. I’ve come to this workout almost two HUNDRED times and the warm-up is STILL the most exhausting part. Mentally, I know the stations are hard, but they’re three minutes. I know I’ll get through it.
If that’s how you feel about the warm-up, then how do you feel about Heart Day?
I cut five times a week and still avoid Saturdays. If you see me here, I guarantee I’m here for Total Body. But if endurance is my pain point, that’s what I should work on—right?
One of my New Years’ resolutions is to figure out Heart Day. Or just get better at it. Or literally just attempt it. Besides, I can’t keep missing it—that’s when all the celebs go!
What did you do for workouts at VIDA? Classes?
You know what’s funny? I hated classes. There is literally nothing I hate more than an instructor telling me what to do. Except an instructor telling me what to do on a treadmill.
When I started here, one of my friends was like, “But you hate classes.” All I can say is that it’s different. When James tells me to give it ten more reps, I give everything I have. At VIDA, if an instructor told me to hold a plank for ten more seconds I’d be like, “YOU HOLD THIS FOR TEN MORE SECONDS.”
What makes this class so much different than the classes you used to take?
The energy makes it different. Remember when Sean wrote that post in the Facebook group, giving a shoutout to the people at his station? I was at that workout.
—And it was a bloodbath. Everyone’s effort brought us up. We had an all-star team sweating blood, and I walked out of that studio knowing we KILLED it. The classes I took at VIDA were double the size and half the energy of that crew.
Half the time, I’m motivated to come to class because I want to see the people. One day, I was leaving class on an endorphin high and yelled, “I love you all!” to everyone in the studio. I laughed at myself afterwards—because who says that at a gym—but there’s just this team camaraderie that doesn’t exist at big, generic gyms.
At work, co-workers become family because you see them eight hours a day and you all work toward a common goal. The same thing happens here. When you sweat with the same people each day, you get to know them with their guard down. You know them at their ugliest—sweating bullets, no makeup, no shirts and ties—yet no one cares. I may not go out to dinner or to these people’s homes, but I still feel close to them, because I’m not buttoned up when I see them.
What do you tell yourself in the studio? What does your mind say when your body says you can’t do one more rep?
“If they’re doing it, I can do it.”
I get mentally competitive. I convince myself that I’m as good as everyone around me, and therefore I can keep going. I’ll look over at B—who comes just as much as I do—exchange an eye roll and think, “Alright, we’re both dying, but we got this.”
What’s your life like outside of Cut? How do you balance working out with your career?
I work for Bloomberg. It’s a small dynamic team, high stress, and high volume. Cut Seven gives me a reason to leave work. I have actually stood up in meetings and said, “Hey, I gotta go.” Just like people have appointments or need to go pick up the kids, this is important to me. Come 5:45—which, let’s face it, isn’t that bad—I leave. I would not be as good at work if I didn’t have this.
Sometimes, things said in class echo throughout my workday. I’ll hear, high-five someone you haven’t yet, when I walk out of a conference room. What if people acted like that at work? What if I high-fived my coworkers after a meeting? Would we put aside all the frustrations, and instead be flying high together?
Why do you think working out makes you better at your career?
Growing up is exhausting. It’s work, bills, and bullshit. This is not exhausting. This is refreshing. Working out gives us something positive to look forward to, and I’m just so thankful I have this as an outlet.
I get really stressed at work. The Sunday 4:30 class is my personal Clarity Class. When I get the Sunday scaries, I’m like, “Alright. Time to sweat.” This is where I get my clarity. It keeps me healthy. I don’t get sick. I feel good—and I look good.
What’s the most motivating thing a coach and/or teammate has said to you in a workout? What gets you out of your own head?
What gets me most is someone saying my name, when I had no idea that person KNEW my name. Today, I was dying during abs and heard Ryan go, “Keep going Chris!”and in that moment I could not quit. I mean, I expected Judy to be screaming at me, but I didn’t know Ryan knew me! There’s something shocking about that, right?
There is something magnetic about this place. It’s the same feeling as starting college, joining a sports team, or moving to a new city. At what other times in your life did you meet so many new people? I lived here for ten years, blocks from the studio, and never once did I meet ANY of you. And now I have all these cool new friends!
Take Adam, for example. We both went to school in Virginia, we’re two years apart, and I never met him in my life. I met James years ago, but we reconnected here. People like Hannah, B, Shimon—I never would have met any of them, had it not been for Cut Seven.
How do you motivate yourself outside of Cut? What’s your personal mantra?
One thing I always strive for is growth. I don’t ever want to feel like I’m in a place where I’m not growing—whether it’s social, work, or gym life. In the studio, I’m always thinking about things I want to improve. Like, “If you want those abs, you better give one more rep.”
I heard a quote recently that said, “The process is part of the purpose,” and it just really hit me. I ALWAYS feel like I’m in process. But maybe that’s not a bad thing. I love learning new things—including new things about me.
Name a teammate who inspires you, or just kicks your ass every time you workout.
I haven’t felt like I was part of a team since eighth-grade track—and I’m thirty-five. Getting my name up on that wall [motions toward the GOAT wall] made my fucking year. It’s fun to be part of something, and I cannot imagine a more motivating group of people.
I could tell you so many stories about the people I met here, but you probably don’t have space. But I have to give a shout-out to Peter and B—they’re my ride-or-dies. Peter can make me laugh mid-rep. I can count on B every single night at 6:30. When I see her I’m like, Ok I got this.
Alright, any famous last words? Anything else you want people to know?
I took one of my friends to the workout at Meridian Hill, and afterwards he was like, “Man, I’m all smoke and mirrors.” This guy is James-Crawford-Cut. He’s jacked. But he could not do what we do here.
I have told friends, “You don’t know what working out is.” If you really want to be strong, standing still and curling a dumbbell a couple times will not get you there. This is a different type of workout—something you’ve never felt.