There’s a funny thing that happens when you tell people your darkest fears: they start to not seem so scary. Secrets and feelings that you assume would make people think less of you actually make them respect you more, and problems that once seemed insurmountable look more like opportunities for growth.
Fay Marzuq trusted the Onnit Tribe, our private Facebook group, with her struggle to have a child at age 49—and they didn’t let her down. With the support of newfound friends, she ended up changing her body and her life over the course of her first Onnit 6 Challenge, and has been committed to fitness (and her healthy daughter) ever since. This week, she’s the subject of our Onnit Story—a live interview we do with people who have made positive life changes with Onnit’s help.
See below for video of the interview—conducted by Onnit’s Director of Fitness Education, Shane Heins—as well as an edited transcript of the highlights. You can stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears every other week.
Shane Heins: How did you hear about Onnit, and how did it come into your life?
Fay Marzuq: Around March of 2020, I was starting to get back into fitness. I had started working out with a personal trainer at that time, but as everybody knows, things shut down due to the pandemic. I couldn’t access my gym or see my trainer. So I started looking into things that I could do in the comfort of my home.
I saw Eric Leija, one of your trainers, on Instagram, and he was doing some kettlebell flows. That kind of drew me in, and then that led me to Onnit’s website. It happened to be when the company was doing one of its Onnit 6 Challenges. I wanted to do a challenge of some kind, and here was this six-week program that came up. It happened very quickly.
I didn’t have much in the way of weights at home, so I signed up to do the Onnit 6 Bodyweight program, because that didn’t require any equipment. So that’s where it started, and what a journey it’s been.
You’re a busy professional, so tell us how you find time to stay fit.
Initially, I thought I would just do something for six weeks—the Challenge. But then once I got into it, I noticed you guys had a lot of different programs, and they offered me the structure I needed. They let you do what I wanted to do, which is get in and get out—the workouts are very concise.
In my job, I travel a lot. At the time, I was traveling back and forth to my office, or to the job site. The Challenges allow me to work out at home whenever I want, so I can fit a workout in whenever I need to. My needs have changed throughout the last year, but I’m lucky that I haven’t had to think too hard about it, because there are so many Onnit workout options that can suit them.
There’s something for pretty much any stage you’re in. If you really want to work on strength, there are the kettlebell and barbell programs, and I’ve done those. At other times, I needed to focus more on recovery, so I did the Morning Mobility Onnit In 30 and Durability programs.
I feel that when I’m working out using your programs, the coach is in my corner. He’s there, he’s giving you very good instructions, and on top of that, you have a Tribe that supports you. Both you and [Onnit Chief Fitness Officer] John Wolf are in there quite often, making posts and interacting with the members. It’s pretty amazing to have the people that design these programs actually be involved and engaged with you, helping you along. So I’ve never felt alone.
Let’s take a step back. You mentioned that you wanted to get back into fitness when you found Onnit. So why wasn’t it a consistent part of your life before? What made you set out searching for it again?
There were times in my life where I was active. I did recreational sports, and I went to the gym. I did group fitness classes, things like that. But I never had a structure to follow, and I didn’t know enough to guide myself. As time went on, I was noticing that it was much harder for me to maintain my weight. It was also becoming important to me to have health and fitness as part of my life. Not only to be able to spend time with my family and do things with my daughter, but to be healthy. There’s a history of diabetes in my family.
When I was pregnant, I was told by physicians that one of the keys to a successful pregnancy is managing your weight. If I hadn’t controlled it, I would’ve experienced complications. Thanks to Onnit, because of all the programs you offer, I’ve managed to stay involved, and working out now has actually become fun. I find that Onnit is always looking to serve its customers, and making sure that you’re fulfilling our needs.
During your experience with Onnit, you got pregnant, and I believe you were 49 at the time. Do you mind sharing what that experience was like for you?
I had been trying to get pregnant for a while, since 2013. I had tried IVF’s and other treatments. There were many things about getting pregnant that were not within my control, but I tried to control the areas that were. Being fit was something I could control. I had experienced a miscarriage previously, and I knew I had a very short window in which to try it again.
Initially, I was a little reluctant to open up about what I was going through. I don’t think I mentioned much about it to anyone during my first Onnit 6 Challenge. But as time went on, the Tribe became a great support. You see people from all walks of life going through different challenges and situations in there, and I can assure you they get a lot of support.
When I started talking about my pregnancy struggle, I felt less burdened. I felt I had a safe space in the Tribe. Between the Tribe, the working out, and the structure, Onnit gave me a place to kind of just evaluate, to think about things. It was my little space. That hour that I spent doing the workout every day, if I wanted to shut things off and not think about them, I could do that. I feel like I’m a different person today because of that, and I’m happy everything worked out.
It was amazing to watch you become more comfortable sharing, and recognize what you were going through. You continued to do the Onnit 6 Challenge and all the workouts, and I was thinking, “Wow, Fay’s pregnant, and she’s still going.” The Tribe was cheering you on, and as long as you felt good and your medical team kept giving you a thumbs up, there was no reason you couldn’t continue.
When we look at the challenges that people in the Tribe have faced as a whole, we see this through-line. Even though your struggles looked different from this person’s or that person’s, you all saw the Tribe as a place you could share them and feel safe being vulnerable. You realized you would be respected there, and that helped you find the confidence to be your fuller self in life in general. That is so beautiful to me.
How cool is that? Today I can say that being able to communicate and be more vulnerable and share, not just within the Tribe, but even with this audience on social media, has given me that confidence—that freedom. I think it’s changed me from who I was when I came into my first Challenge. I feel like I can go and conquer the world now.
I’m able to live as my authentic self. I don’t have to hide anything. People can know about my struggles, and that’s OK. I hope that my experience helps other people along in theirs.
While our viewers are preparing their questions, I’d like to ask you about any Onnit products that have helped you on your journey. It’s one thing if a company says, “This is the best product for X,” or, “You will be amazed if you use this.” But to actually hear about our products from the mouths of people who use them is much more powerful, so we like to let our interviewees do the talking. We have four major product categories: supplements, nutritional foods, fitness equipment, and digital products—the fitness programs. I’d love to hear from you what, from each category, you like most.
I really like your Total Human®. I like that because everything’s all curated—you have a morning pack and a night pack, so it’s easy for me to know I’m getting what I need. I also like HYDRATech™ Instant. I think that’s helped me, especially over the summer when it becomes really hot and you struggle to balance your electrolytes.
What is your favorite go-to unconventional tool?
That is a tough question. I like the steel clubs—that’s the Challenge I’m doing right now. But I also like the kettlebells. In terms of digital programs, I loved the Onnit 6 Bodyweight, and I find the steel clubs program has a good mix of swinging weights and bodyweight moves, so it’s a good balance.
We have a viewer asking, “If you could only do one Onnit 6 program the rest of your life, what would it be?”
The one that I often come back to is Bodyweight. It’s a tough program, and it’s the one I could do without any equipment, but it also is the most challenging, because it tells me where I’m at. As you get older, there are mobility issues. I know if I can progress my mobility, things are working for me.
There’s one more question, and I can help answer this one, but I thought it would be interesting to hear your experience, because you’ve been through the Onnit 6 programs enough to know how to balance work and rest. “I’m doing a running challenge against my friend in October—total miles run. How should I manage my rest days?” Do you mind taking a crack at that?
Definitely do take your rest days. One thing I’ve learned through the various Challenges is that you should take your rest days seriously. Don’t try to do too much, because you do need to give your body that time to recover. Then, basically, you come back and you end up performing better. I find that sometimes people don’t take rest days, and that can lead to injuries.