FMS Expert Spotlight: Mark Fisher

Written by Mark Fisher Friday, August 5, 2011 FMS

Hi there!  

            My name is Mark Fisher, and I run a training business based in midtown Manhattan.  Although we train folks from all walks of life, my team specializes in young urban professionals and professional actors and dancers.  In the madness that is life in NYC, people are always looking for ways to maximize their health and aesthetics (or “health and hotness”) in a fun and cost effective way.  The FMS has been of great value as it’s allowed me to do my job more efficiently and take better care of our clients.

            I no longer do much one-on-one personal training because, like much of the industry, I’ve discovered that training people in groups not only makes the experience more enjoyable, but it also makes it more affordable.  Although certain elements of a group class have to be somewhat generalized, the FMS allows me to make sure I’m taking care of my clients and addressing injury risk from the outset.

            Before anyone is allowed to take our 6-week, educational, intensive, total-body makeover, they have to come in and be screened by myself or one of my trainers.  Based on the findings of the screen, we either finish the session by giving them a one-on-one chance to learn the movement technique that will serve them in class, or, if necessary, we take the time to find and teach the appropriate corrections to improve the screen and possibly recommend some more one-on-one time.  

            Not only does the FMS allow me to address movement issues and predict risk injury before training aggressively, but it also gives my team a common language and an objective system of checkpoints when discussing our clients’ progress.  Furthermore, it allows me to break the class up into different warm-up groups based on what screen scores tell us and tailor exercises to each person's particular movement needs.

            Although sometimes it can be hard to sell someone who merely wants to lose a few pounds on taking the time to address some problems in their shoulder mobility, ultimately it’s easy to convince a client that it will be difficult for them to train for health and hotness if they develop chronic shoulder issues.  I’m a big fan of keeping it “as simple as possible but not any simpler” (thanks for the quote Einstein!).

            With that in mind, here are a few other simple tips we employ to keep our clients healthy and hot for the long haul.

- Running for fat loss isn’t always a great idea.  Although running may seem more accessible than weight training, the reality is many people do it poorly.  If you’re running for fat loss, but you’re hating every second and in pain the whole time, it would serve you to use another modality!  Article and silly video here.

- Everybody wants six-pack abs.  And frankly… I’m all for it!  Just not at the expense of your low back health.  Thanks to the work of Dr. Stuart McGill, we know that repeatedly rounding the lower back may not be a great idea as it can lead to disc herniations.  Focus on eating right and getting lean enough while training the core primarily for stability.  Nine times out of ten, folks are super excited about their abs once they actually get lean enough to reveal them!

- Self-limiting exercises are MONEY.  Any student of Gray Cook is aware of the value here from a movement perspective, but fat loss guru Alwyn Cosgrove has done a great job of explaining their usefulness for fat loss.  With a self-limiting exercise, I can have a client train aggressively and trust the exercise itself will prevent them from injuring themselves because they literally can’t do it without decent technique.  It’s very hard to get an over-use injury when doing asymmetrical carries for time with a kettlebell held in the bottoms up position!  Though if they’re really dead set on “pushing through”, their forearms may take a beating before they ultimately submit to the wisdom of self-limiting exercise.

             Hopefully this gives you some ideas about how to incorporate the FMS into your business - even if, like me, you’re mainly dealing with folks who have aesthetic goals.  Remember, we don’t have to give away our professional integrity to placate clients who don’t understand the value of quality movement!  We can educate our clients, not only through logical explanation, but by forcing them to demonstrate and experience their own asymmetries and limitations.  And I believe if you can go that extra mile and look out for someone’s long term well-being as well as they’re short term fitness goals, I think you’ll find you have a loyal client for life!

            Happy FMSing and thanks so much to everyone at Functional Movement Systems for helping us take better care of our clients!  

            For more info about Mark Fisher Fitness, please check out  And for my silly video love letter to the FMS, check out this link!

The video link above is highly recommended by Gray Cook, Lee Burton, and the FMS Staff.

The video below is how Mark incorporates FMS into his training sessions:

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  • author

    Bill 9/13/2011 2:35:06 PM

    While it is not too difficult to estimate with numerous tests, I'd like to point out that the technique used here to do the ASLR test is not correct as the reference point is not mid femur.  In addition the subject is doing substantial extension through the contralateral hip while lifting each leg.  Content and use is dead on, but I think it is important we demonstrate consistent and accurate technique to avoid misrepresentation of the FMS.  Thanks for the video and article.

  • author

    James Garr 8/31/2011 11:49:24 AM

    Very cool video.  Especially the ninja.  

    Seriously though, I don't really understand functional movement yet, I've just started to learn about fitness in the last year after a nastly health scare brought me to my senses, but this is fascinating and I'm looking forward to learning more.

  • author

    Brad H 9/13/2011 2:41:20 PM


    We did notice that stick was not at mid femur; however, Mark did point out that his client already had and existing ASLR issue. Therefore, you are allowed to place the stick at the joint of the knee to give reference to the public the difference between a 1 and 2 on the FMS screen. 
    The extenstion through the contralateral hip would have been limited if there was some object placed under the down knee of the client to provide feedback. 
    FMS Staff