Picture this: you’re on the 39th floor of a skyscraper in New York. The sun is just waking up and the brilliant colours are bouncing off the towers of the city. Light is pouring through the skyline from Central Park to Manhattan and you’re above it all, watching the city awaken. It was this moment, 5 years ago, that inspired our founder Mark Anthony to start FirstLight Cycle. Standing in a hotel lobby at the crack of dawn, Mark knew this was the start of something great. Read on to learn more about our founder, what inspires him and how FirstLight came to be.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in London but both my parents are from India. Both sides of family were involved in sports––they were all athletes. My uncle was a champion heavyweight boxer in India and my father was a sprinter. I grew up with superheroes.
How did you get into the fitness industry and where you are today?
I started weight training at 15 and immediately fell in love with it and what it could do. I spent ten years in and out of weight training and doing other forms of sport. I tried so many different career paths but never felt comfortable in anything. What I realized was that I could motivate anyone from a young child who wanted some form of strength training to an adult of 92. That’s when I went back to college and became a personal trainer. I walked out with a job as a personal trainer and was on 4 pounds an hour. I worked my way up to having 500 clients but burnt out from exhaustion without realising I was mastering my trade. Eventually I decided to start my own business and went on to opening three studios in Holland Park, Kensington and Notting Hill. Indoor cycling was always on my agenda and I wanted to do something different but I needed to learn how to operate health clubs first. So I ventured into that next to learn the nuts and bolts before opening FirstLight.
What keeps you so motivated?
Motivation came from my mother. We were a working class family––mum had a two jobs so we could have a good life and I developed her work ethic. But ultimately, my motivation comes from my family, having three children to care for and creating the best life for them that I can. My kids have been with me every step of the journey from watching fitness videos being filmed in Marbella, to the seeing the construction of my health clubs and now working with me at FirstLight.
What inspired you to start FirstLight?
It was the vision from the 39th floor of a hotel lobby really early in the morning. Witnessing the sunrise at first light is really quite special and gives you a sense of freedom. If I look back at what inspires me and what are truly the happiest moments of my life, it involves sunshine––running on the beach with my son, spending a sunny day with my family.
What is the Magic Mirror and how did you come up with the idea?
I worked with a professor in Holland to create the Magic Mirror just for FirstLight. It’s a one off so there isn’t anything like it in Britain. We wanted to ensure you could still see yourself in the mirror but by using a flicker we can change the mirror into content.
What would you tell someone new to fitness?
Don’t be afraid to exercise. Exercise is not a chore––It’s a way of life. If you want to feel amazing and have more energy, start from the very bottom with the basics. Learn how to move, how to function and you’ll see the huge benefits of health and strength.
FirstLight aims to empower its riders and this has become the guiding force behind the studio. What does Empowerment mean to you?
Strength, freedom, confidence, achievement, goals, community.
What are you working towards at the moment?
To create strong relationships with my family and watch my children grow up to be trailblazers. Professionally, it’s to be doing something creative––to create a team that’s excited about a brand and watching that grow.
How do you maintain balance?
I exercise and reach out spiritually with my faith. I catch up with friends or family over dinner, listen to music or read before bed and thank God for everything he provides me with in life.
Fun fact about you?
I think I can sing like Elvis Presley.
Favourite way to workout?
Skipping in the dark listening to my favourite music.
Favourite place you’ve ever been?
Top tip to feel your best?
Sometimes I look in the mirror and shout as loud as I can ‘COME ON!’––that gets me motivated for the day.