When you meet someone on social media, you can’t help but be skeptical. Is the person really who they portray themself to be, or a troll trying to lure you into a trap under his bridge? When Mariana Fuentes-Smith discovered Onnit, she not only uncovered a fitness system that changed her body, she gained access to a community of people that changed her life—REAL people, online, with no agenda other than to help one another get fitter and to make friends doing it. This community, of course, is the Onnit Tribe, our private support group on Facebook and Discord which primarily serves the contestants in our Onnit 6 transformation Challenges.
In this week’s Onnit Story, Mariana reveals to Chief Fitness Officer John Wolf how the Tribe, the Onnit 6 Challenge, and the steel mace have helped on her fitness journey, and led to her making some of the best friends she’s ever known. See the video of their interview below, along with an edited transcript of the highlights, time-stamped so you can find those moments in the video. You can stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears regularly.
Mariana Fuentes-Smith Show Notes
4:50 – How Mariana Found Onnit
Mariana Fuentes-Smith: A year ago, I saw one of the trainers that I follow online—Hannah Eden—working with a steel mace, and I just thought, “Oh my gosh, I wish I could do that.” I started looking into it, and I saw that a new Onnit 6 Challenge was about to start. So I hurried up and bought me a mace and set up for the Challenge. And, well, here we are.
John Wolf: Just to clarify for anybody watching, we do three, six-week lifestyle transformation challenges throughout the year. They cover the first three seasons of the year, but we take off the holiday season at the end of the year because there’s so much going on with everybody’s lives. These are called the Onnit 6 Challenges, and they’re a big community event for us.
8:45 – Meet The Onnit Tribe
Mariana: The Onnit Tribe is the most welcoming community that I have ever been a part of. The people in there are all just so honest and real about their journey, and they make you feel comfortable about sharing your story. I’ve been very active ever since the first day that I joined, meaning I post my workouts in the group literally every day. But during my first Challenge, I didn’t interact with the members—I just sort of watched how everything was. Afterward, I took a little time away from the Tribe. Then, for the next Challenge, I jumped into the group and I was like, “OK, there’s no way I can leave these people.” Now they just feel like family and it’s gotten better and better.
John: For the people at home, if you search Onnit Tribe on Facebook, you’ll see the group pop up. You’ll go through a brief interview to make sure you’re not a bot, and then you’ll be approved to come in. Then maybe you’ll experience what Mariana is talking about, which is this supportive vibe that is the Tribe.
Mariana: I think it’s a really big part of the Onnit 6 Challenge. I know there are a lot of people that do the Onnit 6 workouts but don’t join the Tribe, and that’s fine, but I think if you’re looking for support, you’re definitely going to find it there. And we have a lot of fun.
12:20 – Why Sharing Is Caring
Mariana: One of the reasons I like to share videos of my workouts within the group is that I want people to feel comfortable doing that themselves. I always tell people it’s a good way to check on your form. We ask each other for help in the Tribe all the time—everybody helping everybody is really what it comes down to.
John: I think there’s a lot of power in what you’re saying. “Hey, I’m going to put myself out there in this format for everybody to see. I’m documenting my journey, but I’m doing it in a way that’s public and open and vulnerable.” I think it takes leaders being vulnerable to permit other people who might not feel so comfortable to do the same. That’s a really big part of the growth that our Tribe members experience.
Mariana: When I am able to help somebody else with whatever it is they’re asking about, it really fills me. It makes me feel great. And that helps my journey too. This last Challenge was really hard, and I started asking others for help, and that’s something that I don’t ever do. But I’ve realized that I can ask for help and it’s fine. I mean, it’s really easy for me to try and help somebody else. It just comes naturally. But to receive? That’s like, “Ugh, I don’t know how I feel about this.” But I’m getting used to it. I’m getting better at it.
20:12 – What Kind of Relationships Can You Develop Through A Keyboard?
Mariana: I found my long lost sister through the Onnit Tribe [laughs]. Another member, my dear Yvonne—better known in the Tribe as Bonbon. I actually met her through a different group before I joined the Onnit community, but we didn’t really connect then. Through Onnit, we started commenting on each other’s posts. By the time we did the first Onnit 6 Challenge of this year, we were basically dressing alike. I convinced her to get the same shirt as me, which had a frog on it [laughs].
We started talking more and more every day. I was making a trip to Arizona, and Yvonne lives there, so I was like, “OK, we have to meet.” We ended up spending four hours together, just laughing and talking about everything. We were laughing like crazy. People were walking by with looks on their faces like, “What is going on?” It was amazing, and now I just want to meet everybody in the Tribe.
John: That’s very reaffirming, because these days, with so many interactions happening online, you’re left wondering, “Who is this person, really?” You see them post things about themselves, but that doesn’t mean you’re seeing the real version of that person. I think, even in the Tribe, we aren’t all always the person we show up as in the community, but we’re all aspiring to be that person—the best version of ourselves.
Mariana: Yes, and that’s why in this last Challenge I really tried to share as much as possible about how I was feeling so people know it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. We all go through stuff, and sometimes we don’t feel like working out. We don’t always feel our best, but we’re always showing up to support each other in the Tribe.
23:50 – How John Used The Tribe To Cope With A Family Tragedy
John: A lot of us have shared a lot of our harder experiences in the Tribe. Personally, I leaned on the Tribe recently after the loss of my younger brother—a 29 year-old young man with two children, including a seven-month old girl.
I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as comfortable or as genuinely accepted during a time when I was so distraught with everything. This community never made me feel anything less than 100% supported.
25:30 – The New Onnit 6 Challenge Themes
John: At the beginning of this year, we changed the way that we select the champions of the Onnit 6 Challenge. We now have six different themed categories. Before, we had this binary thing where there was a male winner and a female winner, but now we select a winner for each of six categories. So it’s not like there’s one overall winner anymore—there are people who are champions of the different themes—community, performance, personal growth, emotional healing, under age 40, and over 40. Mariana, you were one of those people last time.
Mariana: I was the Community champion. It’s hard to decide which category to enter because you change in so many ways during the Challenges. It’s hard to say which area of your life you developed the most. But I made a lot of connections with the other members during that Challenge, so Community felt like the right one to go for. You really have to decide which category to enter yourself in at the end of the Challenge, because you never know what direction you’re going to develop in over the course of the Challenge.
31:30 – Challenges Within The Challenges
Mariana: The Tribe has its own mini-competitions that members participate in to stay engaged. Many of them aren’t fitness themed at all—they’re just for fun. For instance, we have a lip-sync challenge.
John: We’ve had dance-offs where people rock their favorite song and just dance. Barry Peterson started that one. We also have a gratitude challenge, where you call out a member of the Tribe and tell them in a post what you appreciate about them.
33:00 – The Onnit Tribe Meetup
Mariana: We are planning an Onnit Tribe meetup in Austin, Texas, this October. I’m so excited about it.
John: Onnit has committed to host it, but we’re at the mercy of the Tribe. You guys will tell us what you want to do there. It’s going to be your show.
Mariana: We’ll definitely have a group workout and yoga, and, because we’re in Texas, we’re going to eat tacos!
37:20 – Mariana’s Favorite Workout Tool
Mariana: I think it’s the steel mace. I did the Onnit 6 Barbell program twice. I’m going to do the Onnit 6 Steel Club for the next challenge, and I’m recruiting team members for it, so whoever wants to sign up for that… But I think the steel mace is still my favorite piece of equipment. It’s just cool! It makes me feel powerful. At the same time, oh my gosh, it burns. The burn in the shoulders is real. There’s an exercise we do called the death march, and that makes everything burn, including my brain [laughs].
John: There’s a coordination challenge with that move. Before it feels cool, it may feel like you have two left feet for a little while. But once you get comfortable with it, it’s like you have a dance partner when you work out.
39:30 – Mariana’s Favorite Supplements
Mariana: I love the Vanilla Whey Protein. It’s the only brand I’m able to drink, because I don’t like the aftertaste of most protein shakes, and Onnit’s doesn’t have any, in my opinion. I also love HYDRATech™ Instant. Sometimes I mix both the Tangerine and Lime flavors together. It tastes like a margarita, if you ask me. Also New MOOD®
has been a huge help. I had the hardest time sleeping for a long time. I tried New MOOD® after the first Challenge and I was hooked. It made a huge difference.
43:45 – Mariana’s Favorite Onnit 6 Challenge
Mariana: I did the barbell one twice, mainly because when I did it the first time I did it without the Tribe, and the second time I did it with them because I wanted to see the difference—and it did make a huge difference. I recruited a lot of people to do it with me, so we had a huge Team Barbell. Now I’m looking forward to the Onnit 6 Hydrocore.
John: That’s a to-be-released program. But people in the Tribe are already getting a whiff of it.
47:00 – What Keeps Mariana Consistent
Mariana: When I first started working out, it was for my daughter. She had just started gymnastics, and I was like, “How do you do this? I don’t understand how you can move like that. It’s ridiculous.” So that’s really what got me into fitness, just watching her do all these crazy things. I was like, “I want to do that too.” Maybe not everything that she does, but I’m trying to keep up with her.
When I joined the Onnit community, Kaysee Brooks and Freddy Lopez were two people that I was watching. I always thought, “Kaysee’s just so cool. She’s so cute. I love her.” And the more time that I spend with the community now, I feel like they are a big part of why I keep showing up. It’s my kids and it’s them, because they inspire me and I’ve been told that I inspire some of them. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s nice to hear.
49:50 – Mariana’s Advice For Those Interested in Joining the Tribe
Mariana: Just stop thinking about it and show up. We are so welcoming. From time to time, especially at the beginning of a Challenge, there are a lot of new people, and all the members are always so quick to jump in and make everybody feel welcome. If you have any questions, we’re here for you. The Tribe is a great place to be. I live there.
I know a lot of people don’t like being on social media, or don’t like being a part of groups, because there’s a lot of groups out there that are just crazy. But believe me when I say this is a great one. And I think a big part of being in the Challenge is having that support. I think everybody should have that.