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The Bodfather, Geoffrey Hemingway and Mark Fisher Fitness

Geoffrey Hemingway and Dan John

Dragon Door: From your bio, it sounds like you didn't originally start out in a fitness career at all...

Geoffrey Hemingway: That's true! I used to be an actor and I did a lot of musical theater. That was my first love. I'm from Salt Lake City, Utah where musical theater is a hot gig. We love the Osmonds and all that singing and dancing. So, I came to New York to pursue acting—and I did some unremarkable things. But, I met my wife, Rose, on the national tour of the Broadway show, Mamma Mia. And then we came home to New York—and my phone stopped ringing.

But during that same time, I stumbled into Mark Fisher Fitness which is where I work now. I saw they had kettlebells and said, "Hey you guys have kettlebells, my brother in law does a lot of work with kettlebells!"

They asked me who my brother in law was, and I said, "Dan John."

They lost their minds. Mark had just come from his HKC workshop with Dan. And that’s actually what Mark is talking about in his foreword for Dan’s HKC book. So, it was really a perfect storm in a really small world.

I’d been fed up with being an actor, and decided to take some time and go back home to Salt Lake City. I spent about three months training with Dan learning how to pass my snatch test and the kettlebell basics. Sadly and unwisely, I first got my SFG, and then started working for Mark Fisher. Then just recently, I got my RKC which was a very proud moment. I'm very pumped to be part of Dragon Door—I just love it! So, that's the brief history. I was an actor for about ten years and then decided to hang it up. Well, it was kind of decided for me!
Dragon Door: How long have you been working and training at Mark Fisher Fitness?

Geoffrey Hemingway: Four and a half years,since May of 2013. And it's been amazing. Dan John really loves our clubhouse—that's what we call the gym, the Mark Fisher Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams. He loves to pop in and shows up all the time. It's like having Dean Martin or Bill Murray randomly show up—he comes in and works! We call our clients ninjas, and all the ninjas go crazy for him. He even has a nickname. We call him "The Bod Father."

Dragon Door: That is so great! What’s your role at Mark Fisher Fitness? Are you leading classes?

Geoffrey Hemingway: We do group classes and semi-private training, three ninjas per one coach for an hour. The group classes are about fifteen people and run for an hour. We do a ton of those classes, and they’re kettlebell and bodyweight based. We glean a lot from the RKC, Dragon Door movement catalog. The RKC/HKC and the PCC side have been very useful for us.

Dragon Door: What do you like the most about working in fitness, especially after coming from an acting career?

Geoffrey Hemingway: I really enjoy the variety, especially with the different implements out there now. It used to be you got a barbell or some dumbbells and that was about it. But now there are so many great calisthenics courses you can take like the PCC with the Kavadlos—I worship those guys. I love the PCC program and think it's so cool and so accessible.

I also love all the stuff from Dragon Door, including the early kettlebell books like Return of the Kettlebell and just making kettlebell training a lot more accessible. There's so much you can do with just one kettlebell—I love that part of it. I like to do fast movements the most, but I don't love the grinds. I'm kind of a scrawny guy so I like to move, and I like how fast kettlebells move.

I like gamification too, I feel like it’s a way to stay young.
Geoffrey Hemingway Kettlebell

Dragon Door: How are you using gamification in your sessions?

Geoffrey Hemingway: Personally, I use a lot of pop culture ideas. I'm a big movie and music buff, so I design workouts around specific movies or create certain playlists for the hour. If the people in the class are specifically musical theater inclined, we'll even do little dance breaks for active rest just to keep things fun.

We also designed a spinning wheel of finishers that’s in one of our classrooms—the Dragon Lair. So, you'll spin the wheel of finishers to find what your destiny holds. Whatever the wheel lands on, that's what you're going to do. It’s really fun because there's a battle ropes finisher, a loaded carry version, and all kinds of things. I like that part a lot, it’s kind of like a physical challenge from Double Dare.

Dragon Door: Now, how did you get the nickname "Mr. Wonderful?"

Geoffrey Hemingway: I'm naturally a very friendly and effusive super nice guy. When I started working at the gym, everybody was like, "He's so wonderful!"

We all have little nicknames at MFF, and my nickname became Mr. Wonderful because I'm just a really sweet guy... until you get to know me. But, initially I’m super sweet!

Dragon Door: Thanks for the warning! What are you working on right now in your own training, now that you've gotten your RKC?

Geoffrey Hemingway: I'm trying to fill in my gaps. I need barbell experience, so I've been working on a lot of barbell work lately. I had devoted a ton of time to train for the RKC to get really great at the basic kettlebell movements, and to pass the snatch test. Overall, we use a lot of kettlebells at MFF. Now I want to work on getting really great at crawling, calisthenics, handstands, and chin-ups and all that stuff.

So, I've added barbell work and am working a lot on my barbell Romanian deadlift and my back squat. Just trying to get my maximum range of motion. I’m not doing anything crazy with the load, I’m trying to spend some time under the bar. I want to really understand it in a way that I have yet to figure out!

Dragon Door: What did you like the most about your RKC experience?

Geoffrey Hemingway: My RKC weekend was wonderful. It's really hard to pin down one thing. Dan John, my brother in law who I've known since I was nine years old was there and so was "Fury" who I’ve know for four years and who is like a brother to me. It was like my two brothers were running this RKC workshop. John Du Cane was there and it was neat to meet him because I am familiar with his work.
Geoffrey Hemingway Steve Holiner Danny Kavadlo

Overall, my favorite thing was the sense of family that pervaded the whole thing. You really don’t get that at other certifications. Danny and Al Kavadlo showed up to talk. And everybody on the Dragon Door staff was so ready to mix and mingle. No one was being judgmental, standoffish or not wanting to hang out. At other certs, you get a lot of coaches who think they’re better than you. Or they they’d rather work with special forces or professional athletes, not personal trainers.

We all had such a great time at the RKC, and it was a big group, which can be stressful. As you know, the testing days can be crazy, but it was just so laid back and there was such a sense of community. I felt like that made it stand above all the other certs I've been to. I’m really looking forward to assisting at the one coming up in October. I want these new candidates to have the same feelings about their cert.

Dragon Door: That's really great to hear. Since you've worked with kettlebells for quite a while, were there any particular techniques that stuck out this time?

Geoffrey Hemingway: Not in particular. Though I will say, this was the certification weekend that I was most prepared for—and that made a huge difference. I've never been this prepared for a cert before and it made a gigantic difference. But, what really stuck out for me was how Dragon Door runs their certs. Instead of a terrifying, militant "if you don't pass the test, you're not good enough, you’ve disgraced the iron" kind of thing, it was an inclusive, "We're learning the best technique and having a couple a couple of beers or a sandwich afterwards."
Geoffrey Hemingway RKC Certified

The atmosphere was a game changer, and you were not sweating to death the day of the test. We weren’t afraid to explore new weights in the press, and we weren’t afraid of looking stupid in front of everybody. We felt loved and supported which was huge—the support network is gigantic.

Because my boss, Mark Fisher, trained at his first HKC with Dan, we've carried that idea over to the clubhouse. We like to give people a comfortable place to explore their potential. We want to make people feel safe enough to explore their capabilities. And I think that's so rare. At Mark Fisher Fitness, we bill ourselves as the island of misfit toys in fitness. It’s a gym for people who don't like going to the gym.

I think we've all had an experience with a bad coach in the past who made us feel ashamed and then we've walked away from a sport or an activity that we could have been really great at, just because some closed-minded asshole was a jerk to us. I think it’s invaluable to find a place that will give you the space to really explore your potential and build your skills. I feel like Dragon Door does that for so many people on a global basis. That’s what I’ve seen when working with them, and it's incredible.

Dragon Door: So what are you doing next, now that you’ve earned your RKC?

Geoffrey Hemingway: I need to get my PCC cert and I also want to do my RKC-II so, I am working on those skills. The leg raises for the PCC are brutal. I like having my RKC and want to get my RKC-II because occasionally I’d get to travel with Dan or assist at an RKC. I’d get to spend time with my family while spreading the word about the very beneficial stuff I love and think is really fun. It’s kind of like a dream job and I never thought a fitness job would be a dream job for me!

I also want to say that if anybody is in New York and you want to come by and check out Mark Fisher Fitness, you should do it. It's really worth seeing. It's beautiful there with all sorts of rainbow colors, people are really sweet, and we'd love to have you. Any RKC, or any friend reading this is absolutely welcome. We're on 39th street in Manhattan, so come see us, swing kettlebells, and feel the love. You are loved and supported no matter who you are there.

GeoffreyHemingwayDanJohn thumbailGeoffrey Hemingway, RKC leads classes and small groups of ninjas at Mark Fisher Fitness