Bachelor’s in kinesiology from UNLV.
Marissa’s a 15-time world-champion sport karate fighter, with titles in the North American Sport Karate Association and National Blackbelt League. Her black belt is in American Freestyle, which is a mix of tae kwon do and judo.
- ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
- NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching
- Functional Movement Screen Level 1
Q & A
You’re fresh out of college. What do you intend to accomplish in the kinesiology field?
Because of my own experiences with some pretty serious injuries over the past few years, I really want to help people and athletes stay injury free and be able to be as strong as possible and excel in life or the sport they love. Ideally, I’d love to get some more fighters in the gym, which is why I’m so pumped about getting the ball rolling this year with my Karate Power class. Long term, I would love to have my own karate school that is set up with both a martial arts training side and a functional training space, where I would be able to incorporate my background in both martial arts and kinesiology/functional training.
You had serious knee injuries. How did what you’ve learned about training help you rehab?
I actually think the relationship was reversed. My own rehab with both my ACL injuries has really helped with my functional training. Well before I did my internship at the gym, which was about two years after my knee surgery, I had always focused on sport-specific training more than anything. I never really knew I was neglecting my own movement health. That was probably one of the main factors in me re-tearing my ACL about a year off my first surgery. So, after I re-tore my ACL, I learned so much more about how important mastering my movement health was before adding strength training into my rehab.
How is your Karate Power class different than a regular group fitness class at Elevate?
My karate power class is geared specifically for fighters and martial artists. It is a strength-based program designed specifically to make them more well-rounded athletes, with an emphasis on movements that pertain primarily to fighters. The intent is to make them more durable, faster, stronger and agile athletes, and remain injury free, especially during their competition season, which any heavy martial arts competitor knows is really 11 months a year.
What did you have to do to pass your black-belt test?
I got my black belt when I was 12, so I can’t say I remember everything. However, I do remember my test was a few hours. All belt material was required, along with forms, self-defense for all belt levels, conditioning and lots of sparring.
Have you ever had to use those skills in real life?
Definitely not! It’s really funny because my friends were always the first to be like, “We’ll be fine—we have Marissa with us.” However, as a martial artist you are always taught to diffuse the situation and never use your skills unless need be. So, I make it clear whenever I go out with friends that I will be the first to walk away from any type of hostile situation and the first person to apologize for someone’s actions in my group, regardless of if we were in the wrong or not. I’m not trying to fight anyone outside of the ring!
What’s the secret to being a successful personal trainer?
Being relatable to your clients, as well as being vulnerable with your clients—letting them know that we are all on our own journey and have our own struggles, and that doesn’t end for any of us. Our clients help and motivate us as trainers just as much as we help and motivate them. Always being there for your clients and never letting them get discouraged is so important. At the end of the day, we’re a family and families should support one another positively. I am always there to help and be the support system they may need no matter what.
To schedule an appointment with Marissa, call (702) 558-2151.