When Cut Seven redesigned their website last year, I interviewed Chris on the philosophy behind the programming. He started with, “Destroying people in a workout is easy. People shouldn’t push themselves to the limit everyday, but they should know what that limit is. People should know what they can fucking do.”
Every last one of us goes through a workout we doubt we’ll complete. And when a teammate, coach, or some voice inside our masochist brains convinces us otherwise, we think back to that workout the next time we hit a wall.
That’s what the Cut 21 Challenge does for each of us. It’s not meant to be a standard way to train. It’s supposed to take those thoughts of, “I could never do that,” and prove them wrong. Every single time we hit a goal we never thought we’d achieve, we realize our limit is actually much further away than originally thought.
Congratulations to everyone who completed the challenge. Below, four teammates share their goals for Cut 21, and how those goals changed throughout the past month.
What made you sign-up for the challenge in the first place?
People do challenges for different reasons. For me, this was about setting a goal and seeing it through. In the beginning, all I wanted to do was finish.
If I sign up for something, I want to be sure I can do it. For the last challenge, Chris basically put my name on the board and I was like, “Fine, I’ll do it.” There have been times where I couldn’t finish things—marathons I signed up for and either couldn’t go or couldn’t complete—and I felt horrible because of it. The experience of finishing the last challenge gave me the confidence to complete this one.
If your goal was to finish, at one point did you decide to go 21 days straight?
Things changed because I felt so good physically. I’ve been coming to Cut Seven for awhile, and while the workout will never be easy, you gain confidence and an understanding of what to do. I’m a competitive person, and suddenly a physical challenge turned into a mental one.
I never planned to go 21 days straight. I was planning on coming five days a week, just like I always do. After ten days in a row, I saw this other name on the board tied with mine, and I was like, “If he can do it, I can do it.”
—I know that sounds aggressive, but whatever.
What got you through Day 21?
I know this sounds corny, but having the team. If I see Molly, Ellyn, or Melania in class, I’m like, “Alright. I’m fine.” Having those connections with one-or-two people helps.
It didn’t occur to me that people would watch the board so closely. Other athletes were like, “Amit is doing the same thing! Don’t let him beat you!” The two of us connected and did our last two classes together. It was no longer about the competition; it was about pulling each other through.
What made you want to do the challenge?
Two things happened right before the challenge. The first was health-related: I couldn’t breathe or put any amount of effort into a workout. Honestly I thought I was just out of shape.
I found out my hemoglobin dropped to six. To give you a little context, they automatically give you a blood transfusion when you drop below eight. I went to the hospital every three weeks to get iron infusions. By the time the challenge came around I was finally feeling better and thought, “Why not?”
The second thing was life-related: I went through a lot of new transitions. I got a new job, a new apartment, and the Cut challenge was something I could control. When everything else seemed new, Cut was the one, consistent thing I could check off my list daily.
Were there any particular teammates who helped you push through it?
I thought Cut Seven had a community vibe before, but the challenge added to it. Before I finished, Vika came to me and was like, “What’s your projected last day? I’m taking it with you.” That’s been the feeling the whole way through. Peter, Ellyn, Chris Tassa, and so many others texted me the day of my 21st workout.
Cut Seven just has a whole other level of community. You show up, start seeing the same people, and eventually find yourself texting one another to make sure everyone’s taking. Even when I get off work early, I wait until 6:30 to workout because I’m genuinely excited to see my people.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I wouldn’t have skipped that ONE day—because Vika beat me!
Honestly, it’s crazy how one good habit can play into another. After the past two months, the challenge was my one constant I could focus my energy on. I got more disciplined with my eating. I drank less beer. I was like, “If I’m doing this, I’m going all in.”
What made you want to do the challenge?
I started Cut Seven at the beginning of the last challenge. I live just around the corner, and always wanted to try it. I signed up with my boyfriend and we both loved it, but life and travel eventually took over. This challenge was the opportunity to get back into the habit.
My personality’s been described as A-minus. I’m pretty type-A, but happy to cancel my morning-scheduled class in favor of happy hour. When I signed up for the challenge, I realized I would be out of town for several days and would need to go every single day I was in DC to finish. I’m a naturally competitive person, more so with myself than other people. Once I said I was going to do it, I was all in.
Have you always been competitive?
I was a competitive gymnast when I was younger. Whenever we did conditioning my coaches would say, “We can’t see all of you. Just remember that when you start cheating, you’re only cheating yourself.” I always held on to that inner accountability.
My least favorite exercise is the TRX pull-ups. I forget which coach said it—I think Kasia—but she said, “What if you didn’t take a break?” That stuck with me. I need to stick things out if I want to make myself better.
Do you have a teammate who helped pull you through?
Definitely Judy (I’m guessing a lot of people at Cut Seven call her their “person”) and Megan Peterman. It’s interesting—I ran the gamut between boutique fitness, November Project, and big-box gyms all over Boston, NYC, and DC—and I NEVER had workout friends. Now, I wake up every day genuinely excited to see my 7AM crew.
What made you want to do the challenge?
Just like a race, people walk into a challenge with different goals. Some just want to complete it. Others have an internal battle. My goal was to go seven days in a row.
For me, there’s no reason to do four-or-five classes in a row then skip Heart Day. But Sunday? That’s my day to sit on the couch. I got through the first week without taking a rest day. By the time day 14 came around I was like, “I might as well go for it.”
You never took a rest day in 21 days. Weren’t you…dead?
It was more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Physically, your body can get used to the warm-up, even if you hate it every single time you come in. Mentally, there were days where I’d just look at the schedule and think, “This is going to be hell.” But I thought if I could get through the two toughest workouts that week, I’d be fine the other five.
Physically, I was fine. Before I found Cut, I was going to Orangetheory six days a week. I tore my ACL my senior year of high school, only to tear the other senior year of college. My knee used to act up at OTF, and I started wondering if I should workout, period. But here, running on turf and doing burpees and sleds for cardio, I can honestly say I haven’t had knee pain since February.
What motivates you on those mentally-tough days?
When I see everyone go balls-to-the-wall, it keeps me going. Aaron was one of the first people I got to know at 6AM. Whenever we workout, we’re typically partners—and I know there’s NO fucking around. If he goes through the lane fast, I try to keep up; if he picks up a heavier weight, I’m like, “Oh shit.” Christine and Kelsey are two others I can always count on. It’s a really good crew.
The crazy thing about Cut Seven is there’s so much camaraderie, the moves are so effective, and the programming is that good, you could almost throw a bunch of us in a room without coaches and we’d be fine. Maybe don’t tell Chris I said that.