Each class, we make a point to welcome the new teammates in the room. We bring them into the team huddle, say hi to those next to us in the warm-up, and if you have no idea what we’re talking about—stop being an asshole to the rookies!
We have a new coach on the team, and while some of you already took half a dozen classes with him, others might not cross paths with him on your schedule. So we thought we’d break it down to informally introduce you to our new Cut coach, Marcus.
Team on three, one-two-three….
You started your career working in aerospace IT—how did you wind up in fitness?
Growing up, fitness was part of life. My dad was my little league football coach and retired Air Force, always having us doing push-ups during TV commercials. He encouraged us to try every sport, and when football got too cold for me [living in Alaska], I switched to basketball.
I played basketball for the Rochester Institute of Technology three out of four years of college. When I gave up playing to focus on graduation, I gained fifteen pounds. That may not sound like much, but 185 is a lot on a small frame and my closest friends had zero issues telling me I had “fallen off the wagon.” When I moved to California after school, I started training with a coworker to get back in shape.
Why did you ultimately decide to leave corporate?
I was never happy.
I was in a five-year aerospace training program, and within those five years I can’t remember a single day where I was happy (except maybe this one time when I got to cuss a vendor out). Even when I worked from home, I woke up everyday thinking, “I don’t want to ‘go’ to work.”
I stayed because I got comfortable. The work wasn’t hard, the money was great, and in my mind it’s what I went to school for. I studied for my personal training exam while at work. Once I got certified I trained clients and held bootcamps before and after work, challenging janitors to push-up competitions over the lunch hour.
I continued like that for two years, watching my two worlds compete. I told myself when I saved enough money I’d finally quit, but I just kept pushing that number back. After all, if I could train on the side and keep a steady paycheck, why would I ever leave? I was teaching positive affirmations to my clients, yet completely bullshitting myself inside.
I was a project analyst, where my entire job was to cut costs—which really means I had to cut people. One day, I walked into work when fifty people were about to lose their jobs. That was it. I told our boss to keep one guy from our team, then quit so someone else could have my salary.
Who are some of the most memorable clients you ever coached?
The first client I ever coached was my cousin. We lived together when I moved from California to Texas, allowing me to monitor what he ate and how he worked out. We trained together six days a week, leading to a weight loss of 70 pounds.
But one of the most inspirational people I ever trained was a lady by the name of Dina. In a single year, she lost 100 pounds. We started with bodyweight circuits, eventually progressing to light weights and finally strength training.
Dina was successful because she had a strong why: her kids. It hurt her knees to walk, so she couldn’t run or play with her kids. This year, she got certified as a personal trainer herself and hopes to help other women lead a healthy lifestyle.
What was it about Dina that you found so inspirational? Was it just about the weight loss?
The thing that impresses me most as a coach is the person who gets knocked down and comes back. The people who never give up on themselves, no matter where they are in their development or fitness journey, no matter how many times they get beaten down—those people inspire me.
Dina was one of those people. When we started working together, she couldn’t do much of anything. Each week she told me, “Give me five things you know I can do, and one thing you want me to [be able to] do.” Those first five exercises gave her the confidence to keep going. But never once did she break down when faced with the one thing she couldn’t do.
Who made an impact on you within the fitness community?
I’d have to say my first coach at Orangetheory—she made it less about being a boss, and more about being a coworker. She told me, “I never want you to be anyone other than Marcus. There are four other coaches here. If [an athlete] doesn’t like your style, f/ck them—they can go see another coach.” That was the first time in my career a boss gave me permission to just be myself, that what I was doing was what I was meant to do.
Her words reminded me of something my dad used to say while growing up. He always told us, “Be you, because the real you will eventually come out anyway.” If you try to be someone you’re not, everyone will notice when the real you inevitably comes out.
What do you try to bring to class as a coach?
I don’t like to waste my workouts, and I don’t like bullshit classes. I believe a coach has the opportunity to challenge each individual person, even in a class setting. Don’t expect an insincere, “Great job! Excellent work! That’s how you do it!” from me as a coach. That’s not who I am.
And you know what else? It should be fun. A lot of people don’t like working out. But every class can have personality—especially based off the people in the room with you.
What was your first Cut Seven class like?
That shit was really hard.
When I workout, I want to feel like I conquered something. If I try a workout and it doesn’t challenge me, why would I come back? I already know I can do it.
But that first Cut class? I did not conquer it. It was Heart Day and since I used to coach CrossFit and Orangetheory I thought, this is my jam. Then after class all I could think was, “Is every day like this?” I like working out alongside people who go hard, and here, everyone goes hard.
[For those of you wondering, I didn’t “conquer” my second class either. Ask Katie about the rocket sled story—I’ll let her tell it.]
If you could teach your athletes one thing, what would it be?
Can I say three?
One, always be true to yourself. Two, never say, “I wish I would have…” I wish I would have quit my job earlier. That was five years of my life, wasted. There’s nothing worse than a regret-filled coffin.
And lastly, know that progress is better than the goal. When you hit a goal, what do you do? You don’t just stop, do you? No—you set another goal. So why not enjoy yourself? Rather than stare at fitness models on social media wishing you looked like that, why not be glad you’re better than you were yesterday? Focus on the process, not the results.
Five fun facts you might not know about Marcus:
- He’s one of five kids
- His biggest/favorite cheat meal is cookie dough ice cream with butterfingers mixed in
- His trademark is wearing funky socks
- He loves Animal Planet documentaries
- His girlfriend consistently beats him in fitness competitions