Should you train like Mark?

Mark Marsh is a founding father at Workshop Gym. He lives on a small island, off the North Island of New Zealand. He moves, he lifts and he eats. Mark turned 70 this month and today’s blog dives a little deeper into his lifestyle and learnings.

We’re not here to say that if you train at Workshop, you’ll look like Mark. In fact, if you eat, move and think like him - you won’t either! Our fitness, strength, physical appearance, posture, injury history and overall health is a culmination of everything we’ve done, lifted, ate and experienced throughout our life and we are all individuals. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise - run!

However - we can definitely learn from Mark. This part of the blog is about showcasing real people who have experienced a range of training methods, experimented with their nutrition and tweaked lifestyle factors to see the impact that it has on their quality of life.

Please summarise in one sentence or one word - why do you exercise/train?: 

To maintain vitality.

Why do you lift weights?

I believe that building and maintaining muscle mass throughout life is critical for health, longevity and quality of life. I need to lift in order to keep my muscles; even my active lifestyle which includes lots of physical activity is simply not enough.

What is your philosophy when it comes to staying healthy and feeling good? : 

Eat properly. Stay strong by lifting heavy. Stay strong with full range of motion. Maintain mobility and balance by various means. Be intentional with recovery. Get outside in the sun, ocean, mountains, forests, rivers, etc. Minimise sitting, driving (sitting really), TV, artificial light, screens and devices. Accumulate inner silence (ie breath exercises, meditation). Get the universe on your side by living impeccably. This includes being your word, coming from love, assuming responsibility and all the rest. Also weekly, do some very high intensity activities (like sprints or tabata).

What type of foods do you choose to fuel your body?: 

Real food. I eat about 33% protein, 33% carbs and 33% fat for normal meals. I feel best without dairy and nightshades. Fruit fist thing in the morning and an afternoon snack of carb and protein. Food directly after I workout. One cup of coffee in the morning with butter, collagen turmeric and pepper. We eat lots of fresh seafood for protein that we catch. We drink rain water. We also eat mostly locally grown vegetables and ferment our own sauerkraut.

How do you apply your strength and fitness out in the world? : 

Pretty much everything I do in the world uses some aspect of my strength and fitness from climbing, body surfing, chopping wood for the fire, to balancing on roofs, running on the beach, and pulling the boat onto its trailer after a day of spear fishing.

What 3 things from your own health journey would you share with someone who wants to feel better and get stronger?: 

Eat well
Get strong 
Recover well

What is your exercise and lifestyle philosophy? Have you tried some things that have worked really well for you and others that haven’t?

We know that the more individual we can be with our approach to making changes in training, nutrition and lifestyle habits, the more impactful we can be. That’s why we reduce out class numbers, know each of our members and their goals individually and provide as much education as possible in the areas of training, nutrition and general health.

Want to dive a little deeper into your own training goals and find out what might be holding you back? Book your free one-on-one EXPLORE session with us.


Deload week here at Workshop as we round off the last 5 week cycle of our S&C program. Here’s a little bit about how and why we do it from the coaching team at Workshop!


In the most simple form, deload is a period of time used to recover from exercise or training. This doesn’t mean taking a full week off training, but a chance to ‘lighten’ it up a bit to assist with repair, recovery and a little extra rest. It may seem contradictory, but your body makes GAINS when you allow it the time to recover from training, not during the training sessions themselves.

When the coaches huddle together and program our 5-week terms at Workshop (or for any individual clients), we always plan deload weeks to prevent overtraining and fatigue, which can often be why we see a drop in motivation or a plateau in results.


  • From a programming perspective, we can deload in a number of ways:

  • Decrease the number of sets for each exercise

  • Use lighter weights or resistance

  • Decrease the reps

  • Increase the rest periods

  • Decrease number of training days

  • Decrease the time under tension

This isn’t about skipping training and hitting the beers instead! It’s about giving your body some extra love, care and time to feel its best.


Make the most of programmed deload weeks (at Workshop we take care of this for you so you don’t have to think about it!). We want you to use this opportunity to look at ways you can rest and recover in other areas of your life. Here are some examples:

  • Do some training for FUN! Head to a different class or find a way to exercise with friends.

  • Eat more GOOD food! Think colours, diversity, quality proteins, fats and carbs. Give your body the building blocks it needs to make gains and recover well.

  • Get to yoga - we have a beautiful class with Bec on Sunday evenings at Workshop.

  • Schedule quiet time. Meditation, walking (sans devices), breathing work, nature time.

  • Try to book a massage, float or treatment if you can.

  • Sleep more

Enjoy the rest of deload week and we look forward to ramping up in the next block! Bring it on.

Get results: Three key principles


 Have you heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” This idea is key when it comes to getting results with your training. Our bodies are hard-wired to achieve the number one priority for every single one of us… SURVIVAL. Yep, this comes way before healing and repair, muscle gain, fat loss, fertility, energy creation and happiness (in no particular order).

 If we’re running on empty (and maybe a few too many long blacks), performance and body composition changes become very hard to achieve as these changes require resources, fuel and nutrition that a lot of us just don’t have access to.

TAKE ACTION: Get your basic health needs right first. Start with sleep, stress management, nourishing food and some rest and recovery time. Without these things, you’ll be expecting your body to make changes that aren’t a priority.



We bang on about this one, but it really is the not-so-secret weapon when it comes to getting the results you’re after. Why does the RESET nutrition program work? Why do top athletes follow a training plan? These force you to be consistent.

Consistent training and consistent nutrition will lead to a consistent stimulus and the ability to create change. The magic really happens when you realise the gold in this principle and can apply it to all areas of your life – take regular action towards your goals and you’ll be amazed at what you are capable of.

TAKE ACTION: If you’re not getting the results you want, ask yourself the very important question – “Am I taking consistent action to achieve them?” If you want to change your physique or improve your fitness, are you getting to the gym 3-5 times per week? Reserve your classes, speak to a coach about formulating the best plan for you and then show up and do the work. Give it time and reap the rewards.



Consistency is a big part of the picture, but how you progress your work is an important factor in getting results.

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during training. If we roll back around to the primary goal of survival, progressive overload is a way of telling the body that it needs to adapt to the stressors in order to survive. It needs to get stronger, faster or more efficient. It needs to build more muscle fibres, more connective tissue, an ability to carry more oxygen or new communication pathways to service new movement patterns. The human body has an incredible ability to adapt, but it won’t use up resources to do so unless there’s a need.

TAKE ACTION: If you’re taking the time to get to the gym or work with a trainer, make sure you understand your progression and this means knowing what weights you’re lifting, how hard your working and how you’re moving. Whether it’s a change in your forward fold (can you get any closer to the floor?) or the amount of weight on your barbell in a back squat, know how you’re adapting to stay on track, excited and moving towards your goals.

New Year : What does it mean to you?

With the New Year often comes a list of resolutions or goals – maybe over a glass of wine on New Years Eve, or recorded on the first page of a fresh new diary (I seem to have SO many diaries with 5 pages used and the rest blank!)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG believer of goal setting, dreaming and planning. I love sharing big epic plans with loved ones and it’s even better when we manage to make them happen. I believe that if you have no idea of where you’re headed, it’s impossible to stay on track.

I love the New Year and that fresh start feeling. I know many of you don’t like to set resolutions at the New Year, but something about reconnecting with my goals on the 1st of the 1st gets me excited and it works in well with the quarters that I use to organise my life and business. For the last three years, I have worried less about setting a list of short and long-term goals and have focussed more on a ‘theme’ or intention for the year. For me, 2018 was about New Growth and with a new baby, established kitchen garden and exciting business venture, it’s rewarding to look back and celebrate the wins. More than anything, observing 6 months of baby Jackson’s new life has solidified how fast time flies and the importance of doing more of what you love – less out of habit and more out of intent.

I haven’t yet locked down my intention for 2019, but I love that the New Year is an excuse to take some time to re-connect personally and also with my loved ones to make sure that my daily actions are aligned with the path I want to walk and the story I want to write. A theme or intention can remind us of the values that are important, and sometimes allow us to see where we may be loosing sight of the bigger picture (like wasting time in the insta-abyss, am I right!?)

Part of the process for me is to re-asses my values, main focus points and also to reflect on my day-to-day actions. I do this every year at the YEAR BY DESIGN event that we host at Workshop Gym. At this event, we discuss intentions and values over vino and snacks while getting creative and kicking off the year’s vision board. Really though, it’s a chance to get together in person (and offline!) for some cheeky drinks, delicious food and crafty goodness.

In 2019, YEAR BY DESIGN will be held on the evening of Friday 1st February – save the date and stay tuned for early bird ticket release coming soon. If you don’t want to miss out, jump on our email list here.

 Do you like to set an intention or theme for the year?

Crush Your Winter Training like a Champion!
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OK, so it's cold. It might not quite be snowing, but it's definitely on the chilly side here in Melbourne.

The thing is, we ALL know that this is when we want to start to get results. 

We know we if we can just get our mojo on over the cooler months, we'll be flying high when Spring rolls around, ready for the beach!

But, the cold is real. So, how do we deal with it to make sure we are set up to succeed?

Here are a few tips to keep you firing on all cylinders:

  1. How it starts is how it ends. ALWAYS train on a Monday. Start the week off strong and momentum does wonders. You can go at your own pace of course, but set the alarm, get yourself out of bed and in the door on a Monday and you are on your way to the top.
  2. Be set up to train. People train in Winter. It's a thing - get yourself some warmer base layers and have them set up right next to the bed. For me, I have all of my clothes on (and Ugg Boots) pretty much before I'm out of the actual bed. 
  3. Energise. Light is low, temps are down. Grab 40 minutes during the middle of the day and get out for a walk when you're at work. Keep the body moving, get as much light as you can. This will help you feel better, sleep better and recover faster in training.
  4. Eat to win. Quality food is your friend. Our energy demands are far higher in Winter, so we need to make sure we are nourishing our systems correctly. Warming foods, broths, soups and slow cooks are at the top of the list.
  5. Hold on to your vice. Look, these days everyone is quitting sugar, coffee, dairy.. all sorts of elimination in the diet and that might be what the individual needs. But the way I look at is, if you have one little reward that you give yourself around your training that helps you keep firing through Winter, then that's awesome! For me, I love a little coffee with some cream right when I train after a decent breakfast. It keeps me warm, and is something I look forward to as I roll out of bed and scrape the ice off the car wind-screen!

Winter is a great time of year, we just need to be prepped. Take some time this weekend and get yourself set up for success!

john marsh
5 Reasons we Love Training with Rings


When people walk into the gym, one of the big things they notice is we have a lot of gymnastics rings set up.

In our Fundamentals program, the first session even includes some basic work on the rings.

The gymnastic rings play a huge role in both our strength and mobility training.


Here are Five reasons why we prefer to use the gymnastics rings, in particular for upper body strength development:

  1. Versatility. We can develop pulling strength, pushing strength in both straight arm (locked elbow) and bent arm (elbows flex) variations. We can also do this horizontally, vertically and anything in between. 
  2. Complexity. The rings allow us to learn and train more complex patterns. This is effective not just for strength development, but for neural pathway development!
  3. Forgiveness. The rings will automatically articulate and rotate, so for basic mobility work, such as hanging, we have a nice forgiving tool. This is great for shoulder rehabilitation or mobility work with tighter individuals
  4. Statics. Support holds and other static movements allow us to build supreme upper body strength. Sure, we can do statics on bars or the ground, but the rings have many more degrees of freedom, thus developing greater strength and control
  5. Progressions. There are literally an infinite number of progressions for the rings. If you've seen any olympic gymnast ring routines, you'll know what I mean. You aren't going to "outgrow" these things, they are a strength tool for life.

if you're keen to find out more about starting with Rings, check out our Introduction to Rings Training workshop, on June 9th, [HERE]

john marsh