We had the good fortune of connecting with Marissa Hamera and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marissa, is there something you believe many others might not?
“Traditional education is not the way.”
David Epstein in his book Range said “If we treated careers more like dating, nobody would settle down so quickly” and truly the only reason we do is because that’s just the way our system in the U.S. tells us to.
As someone who absolutely loved school and excelled as a 4.0 student, I took an unconventional route after high school. Rather than attend college, despite having many scholarships, I decided to focus on my dance career. This helped me discover my passion for teaching and empowering people to understand their bodies through movement, which is what I do today.
Our society pushes a very specific system in order to create 9-5 workers. Everything from joining corporate America or becoming a doctor or lawyer is laid out. Which is great! If you know that’s what you would love to do for the rest of your life – go for it!
BUT If you’re looking to work for yourself, build your empire and do something you’re truly passionate about which is outside the box, pursuing a traditional education is probably not for you.
Understanding who you are and learning what will drive you every single day to fulfill your purpose may not come at the young age of 18 when we’re expected to have the rest of our lives figured out.
Rather than being trained to study and pass a test the way traditional education does, I think the recipe for success is more comprehensive than that.
Traveling, learning how to problem solve, and taking action when no one will push you are the things school won’t teach you. You can enroll in courses specific to your desired industry paired with courses that will help you become a well rounded entrepreneur and just get going.
I believe it’s more important to learn through experience rather than studying theory in a book. This is the key to entrepreneurial success.
You can’t learn to swim by standing outside of the pool. You just have to do it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a movement specialist who believes fitness is about more than just looks. I use exercise science and biomechanics to help my clients perform, function, and reach their goals while preserving longevity.
Initially I was aiming for a career as a professional dancer where I could travel abroad and dance, which I accomplished.and Dancing from ages 3-24, my body got beat up and like so many dancers, I was injured. I knew I was passionate about movement and wellness so I decided to work in a boutique fitness studio in NYC as a manager while teaching dance classes. At the studio, I watched this trainer Jason who was studying at the Gray Institute work with clients to get them out of pain. I dumped my pay check back into the gym and hired him as my trainer. He not only got me out of pain, but he taught me so much about my body and movement that I should have learned through all of the years in dance. No one had taught me any of this new information!
One day, a trainer didn’t show up to teach her class and it was go time for me! Having no prior experience teaching a fitness class, I actually got great feedback and I LOVED teaching. The owner of the studio wanted me to continue so she paid for me to begin my education with the Gray Institute.
Through all of this, Jason and I fell in love, got engaged and we’re married today!
As a manager and trainer I worked very closely with the owner of the studio Vanessa Packer who was incredibly transparent about the business, finances, and taught me so much. I owe a lot of my business knowledge to her. She had Jason and I go to LA to help open the new studio where I got to see the ins and outs of construction, hiring and training a new staff, and marketing to new clients.
Eventually, Jason and I both outgrew our positions at the studio and decided to take the leap of faith to go out on our own. With a passion for helping our clients but limited time, we developed our own trainer education with the thought that if we can help the trainers, they can help their clients and reach more people than the two of us could on our own.
We became bi-coastal between NYC and San Francisco to expand our network. We lead our own educations and started traveling internationally teaching for a fitness product. Every country taught me something different about people, and has shaped the way I communicate. It also helped me gain an appreciation for numerous cultural differences people have around fitness. Being open to new experiences in other places taught me many lessons I am grateful for. I’ve become fearless (for the most part) and a good listener to really understand people. I am in the people business after all.
While being out of NYC, we kept our NYC clients online virtually and started to gain clients throughout the country by word of mouth. Eventually, we moved to Phoenix because we wanted a place to call home and settle down. In NYC which is where I’m born and raised, there’s a hustle that works for some but I was becoming burnt out. The nature, weather, and lifestyle of Phoenix has been incredibly inspiring for us to develop, grow, and push forward. I learned that changing your environment is one of the best ways to transform. Today, I work online one on one with clients on Zoom or FaceTime and I teach group classes that I record as I teach live and upload later for those who can’t make it.
An important lesson I learned … Jason and I built an online program during COVID called ‘Stronger In All Planes’ that focuses on brain body and behavior. We combined fitness, psychology, and brain health – three things we are passionate about and put it out there for people to buy. We learned that most people only did the workouts but not engage in the other content. This demonstrated that we built a program for us – not truly for others. It was what we thought people wanted and we should’ve asked them and learned our customer first. Survey and listen and don’t let your pride get in the way. You have to give people a mix of what they want and what you know they need. We’re currently revamping this program after listening to the feedback we have been given. I am even more excited about it now knowing what people want. It will be the workout infused with the psychology and habit building in it so rather than 3 videos, you’ll get 1 with the workout as the main focus!
One of the hardest lessons I learned that I believe we all do at times …
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt. Working in a household with Jason who also has his own clients led me to compare my day to day to his. When I saw he had more clients and brought in more money than I did, I began feeling inferior less and not enough. I realized that my comparison to Jason was no longer inspiring me which I felt early on in my career. Instead of feeling inspired I felt debilitated.
After talking my feelings out and digging deep, I found that my self esteem was low. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t because I didn’t believe enough in myself. I felt like I needed to be like him because I was not enough. I took on Jason’s goals and had ignored my own. I became inauthentic in the game of comparison. Once I reevaluated my goals, I realized it was about connection with my clients and keeping them out of pain. In the time I had free from working, I took on new hobbies like enrolling in Spanish for a year and now I’m basically fluent. I became so much more confident and felt like myself once I began doing the things I wanted rather than he wanted.
Comparison will happen but we need to use it to create benchmarks, not to get ourselves stuck in ruts. What we need is good self-esteem and belief in what we can accomplish as long as what we want to accomplish is authentic to us. Think about the area of your life you compare yourself to the most and if the comparison is not serving you in a positive manner maybe your self esteem is low. Make sure you’re being authentic to you in who you are comparing yourself to and that they are lifting you up.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ok if I didn’t work in fitness, I would totally work in hospitality so this is exciting. Actually, my latest venture is in Air bnb in Phoenix and Cottonwood because I want to share the magic of Arizona with others!
Just staying in Phoenix for this ..
Coffee : Provisions ! Fantastic Cold Brew
Hike : Camelback Mountain if you’re adventurous OR Piestewa Peak
Breakfast : Snooze. Don’t skip out on a pancake !
Afternoon : Walk around old town Scottsdale and shop
Drinks + Snacks : Jade Bar for before sunset incredible hospitality, views, incredible cocktails and food. I love the little leaf cocktail – it’s basically a healthy cucumber juice .. oh and with some mezcal 😉
Dinner once the sun goes down: You can stay at Elements OR go to Taco Guild for a very unique Mexican food experience
Wake up the next day
Coffee : 4 till 4 (hope it’s a Sunday so you can see all of the cars)
Hike : Get lost in the Superstition Mountains
Brunch : Maple & Ash. Get a cocktail to drink no matter what time it is !
More drinks : Bitter & Twisted but make sure you make a reservation
Pre dinner : Hole in a rock for sunset
Dinner : Flint ! They have a fantastic grill and Brittany who works there always gives the best service
After dinner, head to their upstairs for cocktails
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Gray Institute is the basis of my training in biomechanics and human performance. They have not only taught me about the body but truly a process of how to question, think. and execute. The PST thought process – Principles, Strategies, Techniques not only applies to when working with a client but to all aspects of business. If you fail with your strategy or technique, you always go back to your principles and let them guide you because those never change. The mentorship of Gary Gray and Dave Tiberio has helped me grow tremendously, to not be afraid of failure, and with that the growth never ends.
Books / Authors :
Range by David Epstein for making me feel proud about my wide range of interests and helping me see how applicable they are to my success
Brené Brown for teaching me the meaning of leadership
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Nikki Dalonzo David Dickey Jr