Personal Style: Marlo Fisken (part I)
Ah, the Marlo. The American Pole Fitness Champion 2010 and Aerial Pole International winner 2011. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
I think that Marlo holds a lot of mystique for pole dancers that I’ve met. I announced a while back that I would be interviewing her for my blog, and asked people if there were any questions they’d like me to ask. BY FAR, the most common question was along the lines of “can I have her babies” and “what on earth is her fitness regimen?” She has strength, flexibility, technique, dynamic movement, creativity, and years of dance training– all of which combine to make her, in many people’s eyes, one of the absolute best in the world. A complete package.
Her musicality is stunning- when she dances to a simple dancehall song with a repetitive beat, she finds the undercurrent and rides it with tiny accents that are surprising and exciting to watch… and her booty popping abilities are BEYOND REALITY. Her lyrical style is breathtaking and emotive. She performs every routine or freestyle from the tips of her fingers all the way to every pointed toe. I don’t think it’s possible for her to take a bad picture– she is ridiculously photogenic, and creates angles and lines with her body that you didn’t know were possible.
But what many people don’t know, is that she is completely down to earth, straightforward, really well spoken, and absolutely hilarious. I’ve been working with her for a few years and have respected her as an instructor, and mentor, and friend, for just as long. My goal in interviewing Marlo was to try to give you all an idea of how she has gotten to where she is, and to share some of her unique perspectives on dance and movement. To start this little mini-series (the second half will be posted on Monday), I’ve asked her to provide us a little peek into her life with a 2-day training and eating diary….
Two days in the life of Marlo:
8:00am Wake up. Large Glass of water and a pear immediately.
8:30 Three Large Organic Cage-free eggs scrambled with a little aged Parmesan, cooked in coconut oil. Sea salt, Organic Kimchi, hot Sauce + 1 slice of Sprouted Grain ezekiel bread smeared with 1 Tb. coconut oil. Coffee with cream to go…
10:30 an apple before teaching a private lesson
11:30 (Pre-training) 1cup Full Fat Cottage Cheese with Strawberry Puree
12-2pm TRAIN (Coconut water and almonds during)
-1hour of Barre Work (extension, lines, balance, flexibility and conditioning). Plies thru Develope on Releve
-45min of handbalancing and pole conditioning circuit
-15min of free-form video taped pole freestyle
2:30 Lunch @ Chipotle. Burrito Bowl: 1/2 serv brown rice, 1/2 serv of pinto beans, Double chicken. Peppers, tons of salsas, a dribble of sour cream, guacamole and lettuce. Basically double protein, half carbs (Ate 1/2) +a nibble of super dark chocolate
4-9:30 Teach. Snack on a G.T Daves Kombucha, a few bites of lunch, unsweetened coconut milk
9:30 Remainder of Chipotle for Dinner
10:30 at home bedtime snack a small coconut macaroon with 1/2 cup coconut milk
8:00am Wake up. Large Glass of water and a pear immediately.
8:30 Three Large Organic Cage-free eggs scrambled with a little aged Parmesan, cooked in coconut oil. Sea salt, Organic Kimchi, hot Sauce + 1 slice of Sprouted Grain ezekiel bread smeared with 1 Tb. coconut oil+ apple “cider” tea (not juice, tea) + 1 slice Organic pepper bacon Coffee with cream to go…
10:00 Ten almonds and an apple
11:00 Casting for Fitness Magazine
12pm Lunch, Organic Cobb salad, Chicken, avocado, Hard boiled egg, mixed greens, blue cheese with Olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a small butternut squash soup
1:30-8:15: teach 2 classes and 3 privates. Periodically Snack on a sweet potato, a G.T. Dave Kombucha, and Organic whey unsweetened protein shake, a few slices of dried mango
8:30: Out to dinner at Hillstone: Branzino fish grilled with Greens and roasted potatoes, A few pieces of a sushi roll, some dark chocolate)
MOST of my training is off the pole.
1-2 strength based workouts a week, 1.5 hours each
1-2 flexibility training sessions a week, 1.5 hours each
2+ Dance and yoga classes a week
2 days pole training, except when preparing for a performance, 4-5 days
I teach 20-24 classes and privates per week.
Well, I was always dancing when I was young but it wasn’t very serious, just because I loved to. I was in recreational dance classes from age 5, but I had a serious passion for dance, everyday I choreographed, free-styled, or taught friends. I spent a lot of time at Jean Wallace Dance Studio in Virginia Beach, VA, with my first teacher Miss. Lisa. I became more serious in a high school when I joined the Governor’s School for Arts, a 5days a week, several hours a day magnet program where I studied ballet, modern, jazz and folkloric dances.
Throughout high school, my mom would bring me to New York (Broadway Dance Center) and LA (Edge, Millenium) to get exposure to the professional dance scene and I would go to dance conventions such as New York City Dance Alliance, and Tremaine I would do these scholarship auditions just to get practice auditioning and taking class with famous teachers–like Mia Michaels and Brian Freidman. I was really moved by getting to work with both of them this year for pole related work (Americas Got Talent and Rock of Ages). They both remembered me from 12+ years ago when I was a convention teen.
The conventions and trips were pivotal in my dance education because each time I went I saw the talent thats out there, I learned how to push yourself, and fight to get noticed. I could feel myself becoming stronger after each one. But… when I think of people who had serious training when they were younger, that wasn’t where I came from. It wasn’t very formal. If you are an apprentice at a ballet company, they have you on a strict schedule and you just train train train. Or if your’e a gymnast. It’s so much more more structured than what I did. I was kinda my own captain. Dance was clearly my life but it wasn’t rigid training, I just couldnt live without it.
By the time I was leaving HS, I was addicted to Hip-Hop and Reggae dance. I lived for it, and it came naturally. I choose to go to the University of Miami and I wanted to teach dance classes at their gym, so I got my first fitness certification basically the day that I turned 18. I sent a ridiculous audition video of me teaching “Funk Aerobics” to the wellness center and they hired me.
All throughout college I taught group fitness, the classes were huge–50 people–at 10pm. I started to make a living as a professional dancer, working consistently for Latin artists, shows on Telemundo, Nike gigs, and the MTV VMAs were in Miami then. I even choreographed for the caribbean student association and led UM to win the Florida Dancehall Championship. That was so much fun, the energy of Miami really fuels me.
In 2005 I moved to NYC and started developing the fitness/dancer/athlete chapters of my life.
You’re saying you didn’t do that much with fitness until after college but even still you put in that time much earlier in terms of teaching, group fitness classes, putting together your own curriculum…
Yeah, I started teaching dance (officially) when I was 15, before college I knew how to lead a group of people– bedsides the student wellness center, I taught at the Crunch on South Beach and presented at my first fitness festival when I was 20.
Dance led me to fitness, and with time I became more interested in mind-body exercise, and holistic wellness. When I moved to NY I pursued my own wellness education of seminars, certifications and studying with masters of various disciplines.
So what have you gotten?
I majored in PR and anthropology, with a focus on the evolution of human movement. I completed a year long anatomy of yoga program with Leslie Kaminoff, a Pilates Mat and Core Anatomy program at the Kane school, 3 personal training certifications, 3 group exercise certifications, plus a handful of specialty certs like Myofascial Release, and Animal Movement. I am a huge fan of Paul Check and the teachings of the Weston A. Price Foundation and look forward to training more with them.
So you sort of downplay your dance training and say it wasn’t formal and really recreational but then you drop in that you went and trained with Mia Michaels in NY….
I guess I compare it to a classical ballet training program where militant teachers…. It wasn’t like a dance mom situation. But I am trully appreciative for the free dance education that I got at the Governors School.
So you there’s a reason that you knew you were going to go to a performing arts high school, and there’s a reason why your mom was willing to trek with you to New York to take you to classes. So what was it that even led you to your path from high school on?
So the whole reason I started dancing was because my friend had a dance team jacket and I really wanted one that had my name on it. I actually asked my mom to call the studio and ask if I could buy one of their jackets. They said I had to be a member of the “Company” so I got determined. I was a free-willed dance machine.
But when I went to high school I actually wasn’t sure if I wanted to go for dance, art or music because I was accepted for all three. I played woodwinds and I was in accelerated art through middle school, but dance had my heart.
Marlo, are you serious? You played the oboe?
Yes! I played many of the woodwinds.
So you just casually said that you did all these things that is so far from my elementary school life, so even from a super young age–I mean, Marlo at 2 years old in her diapers, you were doing stuff, weren’t you?
My mom was an artist, that’s how she made her living when I was growing up, so yes during my early years I was mixing colors, painting, and working with clay… My mother is very creative so that’s where she led me. She put me in a very creative world, full of possibility and sent me to a Montessori school, it’s a very holistic school.
Music came later, I started piano at maybe 8 years old, then played drums and the woodwinds. When I was in middle school I actually went to band camps and played in the regional orchestra… I really enjoyed that but it fell to the side when I started to dance 6 or 7 hours a day.
Thanks for tuning in! Come back on Monday to catch the rest, including how Marlo found pole, and some of her training philosophies!
Monday’s post: Personal Style- Marlo Fisken (Part II)…