An Exclusive interview with Health Fitness Expert Mollie Sasson

“I train every type of personality,” declares instructor and personal trainer Mollie Sasson.  “The type-A go-getters who ask for the hardest exercises and then vouch they’re going to run six miles after they leave me, and those customers who wouldn’t exercise at all if not for the time they spent with me.”  In fact, she says, one client insisted on going walking with her three times a week – simply because she knew she wouldn’t do it on her own.

The benefits of regular exercise and overall health are staggering in scope. Fitness promotes better sleep, improves mood and boosts energy.  A steady regimen also serves to combat health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease. Finally, exercise is a known reliever of stress, anxiety and depression – the emotions that prevent optimal performance.

Still, many people are reluctant to make workouts a built-in part of their lives. Perhaps they feel they’re past their prime. To that, Mollie says: “Age is just a number. I have clients of every age and scenario – from 20 to 70 years old.” Perhaps the very thought of a fitness class bores them. Mollie’s solution is cross training – a program in which the activity and intensity are changed each day. The constant variety keeps motivation high and prevents the body from becoming stagnant. “By doing a little bit of everything,” she explains, “you stave away boredom, avoid reaching a plateau and stay safe in terms of what your body can handle.”

Mollie is a big believer in heart rate monitors, which she calls the body’s “feedback” – a stream of constant reportage on how it’s handling the onslaught of exercise.

During the initial assessment session, Mollie starts out by asking her clients what they want to achieve and what their current exercise routine is, if any. She also asks if they have any injuries or medical conditions. From there, she tests their lower and upper body strength and their core and cardiovascular level of fitness. Armed with all this information, she devises a customized plan. She has hundreds of profiles in her repertoire, and works hard to motivate and inspire during every session. Her goal, ultimately, is for her clients to feel inspired by her love of exercise.

Mollie is happiest when her clients take the initiative, join a class and work out on their own, independent of her guidance – because it means they’ve made exercise a part of their lives – just as it always been part of hers.

As a teenager, Mollie captained the Syrian basketball and baseball teams, and in the 80s, quickly caught on to aerobics. “It was the biggest trend at the time,” she says. “People told me I should become an instructor and I laughed at them.”

But even as she laughed, she couldn’t deny the hold exercise had on her life. In the 90’s, having become instantly hooked by the spin bike, she finally gave into her passion. She earned her spinning certification through Madd Dog Atheletics and taught at the JCC from 1998 until its closing. She also drove in from her home in New Jersey to teach spin at the SCC once a week. Mollie was such an inspirational instructor that a handful of her students went on to become spin teachers themselves – the greatest compliment, she says, that any mentor can receive.

In 2005, Mollie’s home decorator asked her to train her three times a week, but she refused. “I’m not a personal trainer,” Mollie protested. “I’m a spin instructor!” That didn’t matter to the decorator, and Mollie realized it didn’t have to matter to her, either. Why limit herself to a particular field, when the whole arena of personal training could open up to her? Mollie proceeded to get her personal training certification from AFAA, tacking on another certification in kinesis. Not long afterwards, she began teaching at Gold’s Gym, and currently also teaches a boot camp training class at Mike Duffy’s Personal Training Studio.

“I love to be creative,” she says. And it shows in the variety of methods she uses to train her clients. TRX, body bars, stability balls, medicine balls, bosu balls for balancing – all of it is meant to challenge her clients and transform their image. Mollie works from the core, with body-weighted exercises meant to draw on inner strength. It’s no wonder her sessions are so inspiring – because for Mollie, mental, physical and emotional health are all connected.

Mollie has a passion for fitness, and aims to transform others on a full-body scale. She stresses that perfect triangle of nutrition, weight training and cardio. “If you’re eating junk food, you’re not going to get a six pack!” she says wryly. This may sound obvious, but maintaining that balance is hard for so many of us. It’s a challenge to sustain a lifestyle that hits all three cylinders, but the effort will pay dividends in the long term – Mollie can vouch for that.