Marla Rottensteich, founder of Mekor Fitness LLC, a studio for women in Edison, has re-imagined her place in the world of fitness. Like so many companies, Marla was forced to close due to the pandemic, leaving her searching for new opportunities to rebrand her business.
Despite the challenges of 2020, Marla transformed 2020 into a positive experience by creating a women’s-only fitness program based on 20 minutes of exercise a day, over a 20-day challenge, costing $20. The 20-20-20 program is designed around efficiency, accountability and affordability, she explained.
The 20-20-20 program requires no equipment and offers four to five workouts per day for all fitness levels. The program includes cardio, Pilates, yoga, HIIT, strength training, dance fitness and barre. Once you sign up you receive a YouTube link that can be viewed any time throughout the 20-day challenge.
The program, which started small, has expanded into something much larger than expected. “This model has reached people worldwide,” said Marla, who has pre-recorded 250 videos to date. She believes part of the success is due to the convenience and fun built into the program. Many people are willing to commit to 20 minutes of exercise a day and keeping the cost low makes it accessible for mostly everyone, she added.
Meira K. from Jerusalem said, “While I know there are countless free workouts online, Marla’s energy and accountability group is like none other. The positive encouragement serves as motivation to keep going during these challenging times.”
Those who have tried the 20-20-20 program have become avid followers of Marla and her fitness regimen. “The concept is straightforward and it met all of my requirements: little money, little commitment, little daily time. And guess what…I love it,” said Rebbetzin Sara Esther Crispe. “I have not missed a single day of workouts because I have options, I have accountability, I have support and I am seeing the results (yes, both scale and non-scale victories). Marla’s expertise, energy, optimism and guidance makes working out enjoyable, engaging (quite the accomplishment for a pre-recorded class) and doable. So I am committed to another round and am sharing with you because it is an incredible gift you can and should give yourself. And no, I gain nothing by doing this other than spreading the love.”
Marla developed her passion for fitness when she was just 17, using her talent to help finance her education by way of personal training and fitness instruction. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in marketing and Jewish studies and a master’s in nonprofit management, she accrued 17 licenses in different formats of fitness, including spin, Pilates, kickboxing and yoga training, to name a few. She is also a licensed doula and prenatal fitness instructor as well as a licensed health coach.
Her latest initiative, which she plans to launch by year end, is called FrumFit. FrumFit comprises seven workout videos with words of chizuk connected to each one, designed to motivate women and girls of all ages and fitness levels to embrace movement while connecting spiritually to self-care.
The concept was inspired by her ultra-Orthodox clientele who love her workouts but don’t necessarily feel comfortable with certain elements of the program like the use of secular music and her clothing choices. Marla had never thought about it beforehand and once it was pointed out, she thought it would be innovative to create a workout program that alleviates those concerns while inserting additional components.
In creating FrumFit, Marla teamed up with Karen Hochhauser, the director of student life at Tiferet, a post-high school midrasha in Ramat Beit Shemesh, to develop a platform that incorporates fitness and Torah learning. The idea is to combine the physical and the spiritual, said Marla, who shared that once the idea was developed, it became so clear that the two should be integrated.
Marla creates the workouts, which are set to Jewish music, and Karen offers powerful words of chizuk that focus on the values that can be learned from each routine. “FrumFit is designed to nourish the body and the soul,” Marla said. “Adding the spiritual component to my workouts makes the program so much more meaningful.”
FrumFit workouts include kedusha cardio, simcha strength, yiddishe yoga, patchke Pilates, savlanut stretch and ruach recess, which is specifically intended for mothers and children to do together.
Marla’s workouts are designed for all ages and all levels of fitness. There are 16-year-old girls who love the program as well as women who are in their 70s, she said, and added that every routine can be adapted to accommodate one’s personal needs. “If you could only workout from the waist up or jumping is not your thing, that is perfectly fine.”
Marla hopes to launch FrumFit in time for 2021 at a special introductory price of $50. For more information, please call Marla at 646-785-7453, email [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @Salad_Strong.
By Andrea Nissel