My History as an Athlete: Injuries and Healing Stronger


Diving into my history as an athlete including injuries and setbacks and how it led to the creation of my BURN workout and fierce online fitness community.



Mandy DiMarzo  0:00  

Welcome you guys. My name is Mandy DiMarzo. And you have found yourself in The Locker Room. I'm very excited about this first Callin episode, where we talk all things strong. I will be having some phenomenal guests that come on in, and I want to create this kind of community that builds one another up and champions one another, and just helps each other realize our strongest self and revealing our full potential. So today, in our first ever Callin episode, I have invited a great dear friend of mine, and a rock star on her own, my friend Mia to join in, and we're just going to have a great conversation,  about my background, my history, and what I'm all about and what to expect in this space. Mia is--the background of Mia is, she is not only a friend and an athlete, but she champions the social media side of BURN by Mandy, and she has taken this brand to a global movement with her creativity, her energy and just awesome all-around vibes. So, Mia, thanks for joining me today.

Mia  1:27  

Thank you. Yeah, we're super excited to be using Callin, and we're excited for this pilot episode. And I think it makes the most sense to kind of flip the script, I guess, to ask you, Mandy, about your background and stuff like that. So that anyone that's new listening to us on this new platform can kind of get an idea about you and the conversations we're going to have more of. So let's talk about you. 

Alright, so I think the obvious thing is to just explain a little bit about your athletic career, right? So you've been an athlete your whole life, and you take all of that experience and knowledge into crafting your BURN workouts. So I kind of want to roll back and learn a little bit about your athletic career and the lead up to BURN and then later we'll kind of get more briefly into what BURN actually is. So we'll actually...No, you know, tell me what, what BURN actually is, and then we'll go into your athletic career.

Mandy DiMarzo  2:26  

Love it. All right, we'll go backwards. Yeah, that's the way I like it. BURN. BURN! You know, is what it sounds like burn is a workout that I created, that... during the pandemic has just blown up, but it was before the pandemic. And it's a workout that is done with very little equipment. And it's something that is not for the faint of heart, but it is for everybody. What do I mean when I say that? What I mean is, it's a very challenging workout that I have designed out of my athletic background, using very little equipment because I believe that everybody should have the space and the opportunity to sweat and be challenged. It's a workout that - sometimes we use bands sometimes use sliders or paper plates, sometimes we use dumbbells, jump ropes, and within the workout, it recruits that athlete and I do believe there's an athlete inside of all of us. So I created a workout I do on the road, I do at home, it makes me feel strong, it makes me feel it gives me the results that I want, inside and out. And I have shared this workout with my community and in doing that it has spread across the globe, all by word of mouth. All different ages do it. Men, women, teenagers, all different backgrounds, do it, people that have been athletes their whole life - professional athletes - weekend warriors. And it's a workout that is simply broken up into 30 second increments. 

I mean, I'm going to go all over the place, Mia, and you can just bolster me down at different points, but I created it because I think that in 30 seconds, you can do anything. And that's where I want to start. You can do anything for 30 seconds. I took that thought and then I pushed my limits of, when I even questioned myself, can I do this burpees for 30 seconds, can I do it? And the whole point of this challenging, burning workout is that at the end of it you feel accomplished, you feel strong and that is what I have always loved about being an athlete and being involved in sports, is being in control of your strength from within. And I do believe that's an inside job. So I've taken that athletic background that we will speak about, and I created a workout that, you can do it every day, you can do it three times a week, five times a week. There are workouts 30 minutes in length and 45 minutes in length, that no matter what amount of time you dedicate, you end feeling strong, you feel accomplished, you feel you can take on anything that life throws your way, because you took on a sweat that was pushing you to your limits and having breakthrough moments where you didn't think you could go another five seconds or another five repetitions, or whatever that is. So in this podcast, I'm realizing I did not answer your question, but we're gonna go with that.

Mia  5:56  

Yeah, well, for no, I think that's a really good explanation. The one thing I want to add is that it for those of you that are just wondering, a little bit more about the moves that BURN involves, they're HIIT style moves, but it's really not a HIIT workout, because there is never a break and it's really intense. So I would be really impressed. There are definitely people that do your workouts every day, but I would be super impressed by anyone that could do your workouts everyday. that is definitely a true, true athlete because they're really hard. Alright, so you know, let's now, let's talk about your past as an athlete. So you've been an athlete your entire life, and you were a D-1 soccer player at Colgate. And correct me if I'm wrong on any of this. And Colgate is in upstate New York. You competed in triathlon and half Ironman races after teaching yourself how to competitively swim and roadbike in your 30s Truly, truly, again, truly grueling races. And for those of you that don't know, an Ironman is a two and a half mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a marathon. So a 26.2 mile run all in one day, and so half of that, but still, incredible, you know, and you qualified for the World Championships in your first couple races doing that? That's right?

Mandy DiMarzo  7:26  

Yeah, that's correct. Yeah, that's correct. 

Mia  7:28  

So, I just want to brag about you for a second, because it's truly incredible. And then, so how do those experiences translate to BURN? Why do you choose the exercises you do? Because I know that a lot of that translates.

Mandy DiMarzo  7:42  

Well, yeah, like, yeah, I mean, the theme that everyone just heard is, I inflict self torture on myself, No, I've always loved to push my body to the limits. And that has been something that really resonates with me, you know. People always speak about that runner's high. And I love playing soccer, played soccer my whole life. Also ran races my whole life. And after my soccer-played days in college, I still really wanted to, you know, stoke those embers inside of me, those athletic embers and challenge myself and push my body, and that's when I started to race competitively. And I do believe that when you push yourself to places that you never thought possible, you feel, I feel the most alive, and the most alive and really accomplished. And in different, you know, I guess, different decades of my life, I wanted to see what my body was capable of. So, marathons were awesome, I love them, but they took a toll and just a lot of pounding on the body. And then I decided that, you know, trying to swim and bike and run would be, again, I want moments in my life to humble me, and to remind me of how far I've come and how far I can still go. And so within all these racing, and hours and hours of just pure grit and pushing my body to the limits, the one common thread was I continued to get injured. And this is what, you know, we're going to get to why I created BURN but you know, running over 100 miles a week. Biking. Like you said the race is 112 miles but there's four or five hours a day you're on the bike, you know, biking. You're in the pool, one to two hours a day, swimming. These kinds of activities really wear and tear on your body. And while I love the feeling of being an athlete, as I got older, my body was really telling me in  so many kinds of ways, you have got to really change what this athlete--this athlete inside you--looks like? What can you still feel strong and accomplished doing, where you're not breaking down and having overuse injuries and a lot of different elements along the way. And so I wanted a workout that it would still push me, I'd still get the results, but it wouldn't be 2, 3, 4 hours a day, it wouldn't be something where I would have to put my workout on vacation, when I took a vacation, I could take it with me. I wanted to still, you know, see muscle tone, get stronger, see me push myself. Set goals and push my limits. I believe in goal setting. And I don't believe that you hit a certain age and you stop doing that. And so I'm through a lot of missteps, one might say, along the way of getting injuries and being sidelined, I came to the conclusion that I can still be an athlete, but it has to look different. And that's why I created BURN, I could still be an athlete in my 30s, 40s and beyond. But it can't be, you know, running eight miles in the morning and 10 miles at night. It can't be, you know, all the kinds of triathlon training that I was doing. And so I heard about these hit workouts, but I didn't like the break. I didn't want--I mean, again, there's a little bit of torture, you have to understand that, it resonates with me. So I want to create a workout that took all of my learnings of running and triathlons and boxing and soccer and, and even physical therapy, and I want to put into one. Here's what I'll push my body to. Great! Check! Here are things that you can do to prevent injuries, or to help if you have hip or knee issues, that I learned in physical therapy that, oh, wow, you can put that in a workout at the same time. And you can walk away knowing that you did something awesome for your body, strengthening your body and also rehabilitating your body.

Mia  12:20  

Yeah, I think that's really interesting, because I think a lot of athletes, you know, from my athletic experience, I feel a lot of athletes, they push themselves to a point of injury and then kind of call it quits, and I kind of want to touch on that. So on Instagram a few weeks ago, you posted about these injuries. And let me pull up the caption. You said you've broken your femur three times, you broke your tibia, fibula--is that your shin? You broke your shin once. You've broken your nose six times. You've had fusion surgery and screws in both feet. You've dropped--and you've just experienced many overuse injuries. And when I read that, I was just shocked. And that is just so intense. You know, I feel like a lot of people would almost give up after all that. And I want to know, do you ever call it quits?

Mandy DiMarzo  13:19  

Yeah, I think we've lost every listener that was listening, because they're like, she's crazy. Because I mean, I almost sound like either the bionic woman or somebody that you know. Never ever did I want to quit even though, let's say this, let's do this. I've had the word I would use to describe myself as resilient and through all of that, you know, there were doctors after my feet kept breaking because of the the way that my foot would land when I was running. And I would have doctor after doctor say you will never run again. Hey, hang up your running dreams, you're done. If that doesn't fuel somebody that has identified as an underdog their whole life, I don't know what does. But my father has had a huge influence on my life and I broke my shin bone when I was in seventh grade. And he said to me, and I'll never forget, he goes: broken bones heal stronger. And that stuck with me. So you know, part of sport is injury, part of sport is going to be the wear and tear on your body. And I understood that the difference was in my, back when I was playing soccer and that was when most of the broken noses happened. Let's be honest: a goalpost to the face doesn't do well. But those injuries were because of sport. It's a contact sport. You know, you go in for a tackle, you go in for a header. Those injuries were mostly acute injuries. Later on in life, because of that overuse, because I was constantly pushing my body, maybe to extremes, yes to extremes. Then I was getting different kinds of injuries. So I've really hit the spectrum of all kinds of injuries. And, you know, no stone has been left unturned in terms of that. And it was the first, I had a fusion surgery of my first and second toe, and they had to put a screw in and it was three months of bed rest. And at that moment, you know, you have a lot of time on your hands, and I decided: this, I'm going to give this time purpose, I'm going to--any injury I've ever had from that point on, I have looked at it with a different lens. And I've said, How can I make this work for me? How can I learn from it? How can I do better? And just like that bone? How can I heal stronger from it, and just evaluate what parts of my athletic journey were working and what parts needed some tweaking and adjusting. And, you know, I say, from all of those injuries, and that mosaic of brokenness has brought me to where I am right now. And I wouldn't change it because I have so much knowledge about the body and, and how your body wants to heal. I mean, that is something that whenever anybody reaches out to me, and they have a surgery, upcoming surgery, or they have an injury, I say, work with your body, because it--number one, it wants to heal. And number two, give this time purpose. Don't keep doing the same thing over and over again, and lose the lesson along the way. Give this time the purpose it deserves. So that at least when you look back on your journey, you see what you used it towards, if that makes sense.

Mia  16:42  

Yeah, that's really, I love the metaphors you just dropped in there. It reminds me of like, have you ever seen the metaphor of the Japanese pottery that's broken, but it's a beautiful, kind of like, mosaic pottery kind of thing?

Mandy DiMarzo  16:55  

Yeah, filled in with gold. I know. I love that. 

Mia  16:58  

Yeah, that's you.

Mandy DiMarzo  17:01  

That gold and krazy glue, and all in between? No, Mia, that's why there is a piece of this that, and I've said this before, but my mess is my message to help light the way for others. I believe in that, with every broken bone of my body, that if I can shed some light, so somebody, doesn't have all the injuries that I have dealt with along the way or little lessons along the way to help. That's where I find my passion in this platform and in this space, and that's in the workouts and that's outside of the workout. So, during my workouts, I'm constantly using metaphors or quotes that when I'm pushing through a grueling session, I say to myself, and I just say it out loud to everybody during the workout, they can hear these quotes. But outside of the workout, this is an exciting space to just share more of my, you know, sweat journey with everybody because, you know, it's more than just in the gym. Outside of it as well--"in the locker room," as we like to say.

Mia  18:14  

Yeah, no, I think that's what makes you so relatable and interesting and just loved by your tribe, your fitness community that you've fostered, is that you talk about your struggles openly and in your workouts. I feel like a lot of online workouts, you know, there's there's one for everyone, like you've said, but a lot of them are kind of, I think they're silent, kind of, and they have music over them. Whereas you are just talking and motivating people the entire time. And I think that that's what, yeah, what your tribe loves, but it makes sense why you've kind of always given purpose to your injuries and  never quit. Because you seem genuinely really happy and joyful in those workouts. So it makes sense why movement is important to you. And also you know, why people have BURN'd. And I want to make it clear for new listeners that you are, for lack of a better term, no bullshit. Like, very tough love, you know? Like you, usually you know, you wear a necklace that says fierce on it. You joke in your workouts that people might hate you but they love the results. So tell me--

Mandy DiMarzo  19:34  

So true.

Mia  19:36  

I don't think but that's completely true. I think people do love you but tell me--

Mandy DiMarzo  19:41  

Hate me during, love me after. That's the the poll. 

Mia  19:46  

Yeah. So tell me about your tribe. I know you touched on it a little bit. So you used to teach fitness classes in person in Connecticut, in New York City, maybe. But now it's all online. So tell me about the fitness community that you fostered in the past few years? And, and like who they, and things like that?

Mandy DiMarzo  20:09  

Yeah, I mean, I think just to touch upon what you were saying. I believe, well, first, the reason I seem so happy in the workouts, it is genuine, it is the best part of my day. And when you have injuries or when you're not able to move and work out, and when that is taken from you, you don't take that for granted. It is a gift to be able to move, it is a luxury that many don't have. And so, that is never, I can say never lost on me in a single workout, you know. If anybody stands by an ocean, you know, they always say, you should never let that view, take that for granted. It should always take your breath away. I believe that in a workout, at some moment in every single workout, you have got to be grateful that you are able to move your body. And so that is why I seem genuinely happy. I am exactly no bullshit, because what I believe is this: this is something that your workout in time, you want what you're doing to work. And if you're going to do the same workout every single day, you know, and just there to check the box, eventually your body is going to hit a plateau. And so what I always committed is that this workout will never be the same ever. It will always challenge you. And my goal is actually for it to humble you as well, no matter your fitness level. And this tribe is one where it sifts out anybody that just wants to say they work out and, the ones that show up on a daily basis and they pull people in because they believe in it in every ounce of them. I call them my 'pride', they're my lions. And I use the term lions because lions are in a category all their own, just like the people that do BURN and you know, lions train with lions, and it's something where, you know, everyone wants to be the lion--that saying: everybody wants to be the lion until it comes time to do what lions do. This tribe knows you got to put the work in in order to get the results. There's no excuses. There's no complaining, there's not: oh, you know what, that was five seconds too long. This tribe is like, give me more, give me more. I want to be challenged, I want to be pushed to the limits. I want to see just how far you can take me. And so it's a community that started in a tiny little studio in Greenwich. And when COVID hit, and we all went virtual, they reached out and they just said, with everything that's out of control, can we just sweat together, and I am the most reluctant businesswoman you'll ever meet. I was like, well, the only way I'm saying yes is because I know I will be working out, I will be working out. And why not? Why not lift one another up and light one another up during this time. And that's the people that show up. And the people that continue to show up. They want to be challenged and they want to grow through what they're going through. And I think that's a beautiful thing. And it is my honor to get stronger alongside of them. Because I will--I'm not somebody that just tells people what to do and stands there. I am right in the trenches with every single one of the workouts, doing every single movement. And that's something that, you don't respect a coach that is not there with you. And I want to always be part of this tribe.

Mia  24:06  

Right? Yeah, you do every single move. There's never a point where you're talking to your, you know, telling people to do something that you're not doing yourself. And I find that really, really respectable.

Mandy DiMarzo  24:17  

Well, you know what, Mia? It's also like, we talked about the nuggets that I've taken in my athletic background, and there's two right there that, there's a rhyme and reason for everything I do. Although people are like she's crazy if there is a reason, And one is I when I had soccer coaches that just sat and just told us what to do. I had such a hard time working for them. I felt very much just like, "Do as I say, not as I do." And then I have these coaches that would be on the field on the endline with a, showing us, you know, being right there. And I'm like, Oh my God, this makes the experience that much better. So I wanted to bring that to the workout. And then the other part of the, you know, my soccer playing days are, we bonded the most when we are all lined up on the end line and our coaches making us do sprints, right? And it's in those moments where you're challenged, you're pushed to the limit. You're part miserable, part, like oh God, but those moments, I wanted to take that feeling on a team. And I wanted to put that in a workout. And people are connecting with one another. And we'll continue to talk about this in this space. But when when they've never even met one another. But they've connected through that sweat and that challenge. And I believe in that. And I believe that, you know, it's when you do something you don't think you can do and that's when you walk away feeling so accomplished. And that's why it is not easy. It should always be hard if I'm doing my job correctly. And you didn't move around a million things to show up, just to "phone in" a workout. At least, not my tribe. Right? You know, if you're going to show up, you want to be pushed to the "hate her, love her, hate her"--

Mia  26:13  

Love her!

Mandy DiMarzo  26:14  


Mia  26:17  

Exactly. Yeah, I think your tribe also, you've created a really tight knit fitness community online, which I think is kind of hard to do online. You know, there's so many people online and you let people tag you in videos, people are constantly asking you questions and things like that. So I think that's amazing and speaks to the workout, BURN, and you yourself. So, and, you know, let's--because we want to do--like, we want to build the community on Callin, on this new platform. Do you want to have me go through a few of the future episodes we intend on? You know, the future topics we intend on talking about?

Mandy DiMarzo  27:01  

Yeah, I would love that. I would love people to just understand where what we're about, where we're headed. And just like with BURN, it is a community built on strength and championing one another. And I believe that this space is such a positive opportunity to just, like, we flex and strengthen our muscles within the workout, here's a space where we can still do that as a community in a different space, in an awesome space. So absolutely. Let's talk about what's ahead.

Mia  27:30  

All right, what's ahead. So we want to talk a little bit about your food philosophy. So a lot of fitness people, people in the fitness space, talk about like macros and calories and dairy and protein, all that kind of stuff. So we want to talk about your food philosophy, I think. And also rest days, because those people are like, you know, we don't take a rest in BURN, but there's definitely a time for rest days. Right? So when to--

Mandy DiMarzo  27:56  


Mia  27:57  

--when to take one and how to spend it too. Like, you know, there's active recovery: should I be, you know, walking or, you know, going on a light run? That kind of, should I be, you know, running around with the dogs, just doing something fun? Or should I just be, you know, veggin' out on the couch.

Mandy DiMarzo  28:16  

Yeah, I think you're going to find what every, what we're talking about. I'm going to give purpose to the rest days. I'm going to give purpose to the fuel and the nutrition. But keep going. Keep going. 

Mia  28:26  

Yeah, all right. Let's go. All right, we're gonna do an Ask Me Anything. So, you know, the great feature of this app is that people can call in, or we can also ask questions ahead of time on your Instagram, which is BURN by Mandy. So we're gonna do a whole episode on just, like, as you know, having people ask questions. Because you do get questions a lot, and a lot of them are repeats, so I think that would be really interesting. And people can kind of ask you questions all about, you know, more in depth questions, even about injuries and stuff because that's super relatable as well. Yeah, also athlete burnout, which I think that this will be a good one going through the holidays, right? Like for me, my motivation dips right around the daylight savings or whenever we, you know, whenever the daylight hours get shorter and it's dark at 5pm. I'm like, you know, I just want to curl up in bed all day. So I think that will be important, going through winter the holidays, that kind of stuff and just talking about athlete burnout can happen anytime all year round. So I'm sure you have a lot of experience and nuggets of wisdom on that. I think that will be a good episode too.

Mandy DiMarzo  29:39  

Definitely. Definitely can talk about that. Especially on the east coast because it's getting dark real fast over here.

Mia  29:45  

Yeah, yeah, every day it seems. I mean, I know it's only a few minutes a day but it seems like half an hour a day at this point. I'm like, every time I look out the window I'm like, Oh my God, we're losing daylight. It's like cycling out. Yeah. All right. I think those are the the main few that we're really looking forward to, and of course, if anyone has any ideas, please send them our way. We are super excited to use this platform. Anything else? Mandy?

Mandy DiMarzo  30:10  

Yeah, I just think, just to build on that last piece, I believe that, you know, a lot of the best moments in sports for me, was in the locker room. And so what I want this to feel like, is that, the safe space in a locker room to have all kinds of conversations, you know. The nuggets of wisdom that I learned amongst my teammates, and my friends in a locker room, I keep close to my heart to this day, and they guide me and it's been my North Star. And so I want that locker room conversation to happen in this space. So it's a space that's trusted, it's a space that you can count on that you are a part of, and you belong. And so that is, that will be our compass as we navigate Callin and this is a very exciting opportunity for us. So I'm very much looking forward to what's ahead.

Mia  31:18  

Awesome, me too. You know, we made it through our first episode.

Mandy DiMarzo  31:23  

Yeah, now, we're supposed to save it. You know. This is fun. I'm seeing some faces pop up, just in this, like as we're, you know, ironing out the wrinkles and testing it out. And thank you guys. Just like I say in our sweat, your time is valuable, and it's never lost on on me and on us. So thank you for joining and please just spread the word. That's how we grow, we grow by just pulling people in to join us in all of our sweaty pursuits. So thank you guys.


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