Ep.60 - Legacy: Former 'Org' Studio Owner Breaks His Silence | Mark Frossard - Part 1 of 2 ― This week, the 'cult'ure series circles back to ‘the Org’. Tracy Stamper joins Candice once again for a two-part interview with Mark Frossard. In 2013, Mark became the majority owner in an internationally-recognized movement studio that became a destination for Org affiliates worldwide. But in 2021, he stepped away from the practice for good due to a falling out with his former business partner who was a rising star in the practice. Mark was not permitted to speak out at the time. Two years later, he breaks his silence, revealing details about his experience publicly for the very first time. In Part 1 of this conversation, Mark shares how it was his passion for art that first introduced him to the Org practice and the studio space that would eventually become his home away from home. He speaks about the red flags that were present in the Org training environment - as well as in his business partnership - and shares why he thinks he excused the culty dysfunction for so long. Mark recounts what it was like being one of the only men in the practice, which leads to a discussion of gender norms and a general lack of diversity & representation at the Org. Mark bravely opens up about the somatic dominance and body shaming that he experienced as a teacher and choreographer; and about how he was deliberately shut out of legacy negotiations going on behind closed doors. Little did he know where it would all leave him - heartbroken and empty-handed.

Mark Frossard is a creative, multi-faceted artist living in Santa Fe, NM. He joined The Org in 2010 and eventually became majority owner of a successful dance-fitness studio. Mark left The Org and his studio in 2021 after experiencing the effects of cult-dynamics and narcissistic abuse. Since then, Mark, his husband, and a group of friends continue to dance together without the confines of any particular organization or style. Currently, Mark is an Adventure Coordinator at a luxury resort. He guides hikes, art classes, and creates memorable experiences!

Ep.60 - Legacy: Former 'Org' Studio Owner Breaks His Silence | Mark Frossard - Part 1 of 2

Candice Schutter: [00:00:00] Welcome back to The Deeper Pulse.
It's time for another 'cult'ure series conversation. If you skipped last week's episode, I'm gonna strongly encourage you to check it out, because it really lays the foundation for where we're headed today and in the coming weeks as I begin to close out the 'cult'ure series.
Today, we're circling back to the organization that I refer to as the Org, where all this critiquing of culty business started. And if you happen to be a listener who has a specific interest in things Org related, I encourage you to check out what's been happening over on Patreon.
Recent drops include a two-part conversation with Dr. Barb Wesson, a former Org trainer who has loads to say about what she sees as the differences between culty dogma and spirituality.[00:01:00] It's full of insight and lots of laughter.
And this week I drop the second half of our talk with Lucy Page, who is a current Org teacher who joined us for a very timely and courageous deep dive into accountability. In this week's episode, which drops on Friday, Lucy shares what her former marriage taught her about the sticky business of separating from patterns of narcissistic abuse.
You can check that out and more at patreon.com/thedeeperpulse.
Okay, let's keep things moving.
 Last week, the solo episode that I released here on the main feed. Lots of research and lived experience went into that one.
I wrote and recorded that episode kind of as personal therapy more than anything else. For the longest time, I felt really angsty about the woo wellness world's insidious use of spiritual gaslighting, and the [00:02:00] misappropriation of the word victim.
I desperately needed to work through it all out loud, so that's what I did. And it's my hope that some of you found value in it as well.
Someone recently said to me, "Candice, how are you doing? It must be a lot holding all of these stories."
At first, the question caught me a little off guard, because honestly, I've been feeling surprisingly a-okay. It is a genuine honor to stand alongside someone while they share difficult truths. It's not really something that drains me. It's fortifying, because it's honest.
Having said that, concern for my wellbeing also made perfect sense given that even just a few short years ago, I would not have been able to stomach this work. Or the backlash that sometimes can result.
Because I was cult conditioned and, quite frankly, [00:03:00] fragile when it came to complicated messy truths. Some days I still am.
If I'm being honest here, which I am, arguably sometimes to a fault, there are still times when I feel that familiar wash of shame rising up while I'm doing this work. It's like a flash of new age cult consciousness. An inner voice that chides me.
What are you doing? You're just causing trouble, making waves, creating drama. You know, it's not polite to talk about people who aren't present.
This voice from within that emerges from time to time. It's young, obedient, and very afraid. It's a part of me that wants desperately to be the good girl. Who doesn't wanna piss anyone off or break with convention out of fear of being scapegoated, shunned, or punished in some way.
I love that little one inside of me, and fortunately, [00:04:00] she's no longer the one calling the shots here. I'm finally learning that it's okay and at times much more honest to be a little bit impolite. Not only behind closed doors in secret, but out in the open.
Sometimes what we would call gossip is just us sharing with one another that harm is happening. Where is it safe for me to lean in? And who is it best to avoid? These are things we need to know, that we need to say out loud.
 And also, I feel a-okay talking about and hearing about people who are unwilling to truly listen when others speak directly to them.
Interesting side note, to be polite is etymologically speaking 'to be polished.' And polish, it's a great way to shine up the surface of things. I've done the polished persona for much of my life, and now I'm more interested in getting underneath.
So, [00:05:00] yeah, sometimes I feel guilty that people are being outed through the telling of these stories. But I must circle back to a quote I used in the very first episode of this series because it's once again suitable to the occasion.
It's Anne Lamott who says:
"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."
The 'cult'ure series started a year ago with episode 32 and then 33 where I share the personal story that inspired the series. I spoke about more than one culty experience in my life, but I spent a good chunk of time sharing about my time working for a mind body fitness company that I refer to as the Org.
My friend and former Org trainer, Tracy Stamper, then joined me on the pod. We spent a few episodes on her story cult recovering out loud and in real time with you as our witnesses. A few months later, I invited [00:06:00] another former Org staffer to join us. In January, Yamuna Benedict shared what it was like growing up in the Hari Krishnas and how her childhood had, in many ways primed her for an influential role at the Org where she worked as an executive team leader and inadvertent cult dynamic enabler. See episodes 44 and 45 to hear her story.
But this was never meant to be a series about one practice or a singular group of people, which is why I featured so many other voices. World-renowned cult expert, Janya Lalich. An interview with NXIVM survivors and stars of The Vow, Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames. A multi-generational perspective on Christian fundamentalism, multiple episodes on the MLM and coaching industries, a peak inside of the troubled teen industry, modern yoga trainings, and even the mixed bag world of 12 step recovery. And that's not even everything. It's been a lot. And I've learned a ton.
[00:07:00] And I mention it because it's in stepping outside of my usual silos of wellness culture influence that I've been able to see it all so much more clearly. To make sense of my Org experiences all those many years ago.
But we can't speak about the Org in the past tense, because it's still operational. And in addition to hearing from many, many dozens who have left or were expelled from the practice, I also every so often hear from current Org affiliates, teachers who are grieving while still in. Pained by all that has been unearthed in this series. They, like so many of us on the outside, are struggling to reconcile the good with stories that reveal a very long history of power over abuse.
And I wanna say to any of you out there who are still a part of the Org who are listening, I'm so sorry. I really know and understand the [00:08:00] pain that you're feeling. And just today I witnessed two former trainers who have both been out for a number of years, shedding tears as they still grieve the loss of a community, a culture, and a dream.
and I'm pretty sure that there's many out there who wish that I, that we, would just shut the hell up already. That we'd stop jeopardizing the brand for the sake of a few sad stories.
I really wish that it were that simple. Because there's more than a few, and the numbers keep stacking up.
In a recent group thread, a wise friend of mine wrote the following words while walking through all the feels and her own devastation around it all.
She wrote:
"The Org practice can no longer be separated from the bad behavior of its leaders. It's the vehicle for it. It's a soft [00:09:00] sell by people in power, a pretty package that covers up a lot of bad treatment and abuse. They keep people in high arousal states so that they won't even notice how the work itself is being weaponized. And all the arts that the practice is made from still exist on their own. The Org is just a giant mixing bowl that uses these modalities to give participants a false sense of wellbeing and safety, so that a few scary people at the top can benefit and profit from them. They made a recipe, that's all. They didn't create the ingredients. They don't own them. We can arrange them in any manner we like, and it's going to still turn out great because the ingredients are well established, healing and beneficial."
She goes on to say one more thing:
"I personally don't wanna promote or benefit the Org, especially not financially. Or give them a platform to reach more people.[00:10:00] What wellness pipeline am I sending them down? The harm is inextricable."
 And right around the same time this message dropped, I got a Messenger ping from a colleague that I used to work with in the Org home office. It was like nearly two decades ago that we worked together, y'all, and just today she passed along a meme to me that read:
"The final stage of healing is using what happens to you to help other people."
Then she shared how listening to the podcast and tuning into the Patreon bonuses, how it's helping her to grapple with the moral injuries that she suffered all those many years ago, right alongside me.
And then she wrote:
"I can't change what happened to me. I can have agency in preventing others from being hurt."
Yes. This is why.
Certainly, [00:11:00] tragically in fact, when it comes to the Org practice, there is so much good there. But good that is ultimately in service to power, dominance, and control is, well, not so good.
And that's why here and over on Patreon, I will continue to release these stories, so long as there are people who are experiencing harm on the daily.
Now just a quick lead in to today's episode, especially for those of you who are new to all this business around the Org. Here's the Cliff notes.
The Org is an alias for an international mind body fitness company that has been around since the late eighties. The Org's founders, Marissa and Raul, and again, these are aliases, were very much fitness pioneers in their day. They were moving and grooving in form fitting Lycra just like everyone else around the same time, but with bare feet.
Over time, their influence expanded [00:12:00] and in order to grow the brand into a viable business model, they stepped way outside of their mind body fitness, scope of practice, creating a pseudo-scientific approach to self-development wherein their followers would progress through various belt levels of training.
Marissa and Raul continued to work together as business partners until, I believe it was 2010, when Raul requested a buyout, cutting all ties to the practice and most of the people in it.
Since then, Marissa and her husband Seth, have been leading the business into evermore culty territory.
The Org has positively impacted many thousands of lives. Literally, countless students have attended regular classes around the world. Many have participated in Org trainings and a decent percent of those folks have risen through the ranks to become teachers and even trainers who are seeding communities across the globe.
Again, In the vast majority of cases, these individuals [00:13:00] are kind, generous, talented, hardworking, and very well intentioned. There's a whole hell of a lot of Org leaders out there who aren't hurting anyone. Who are doing good work and doing their best to steer clear from all the noise at the center.
But even so, that's so much easier said than done.
For nearly four decades, Org leadership has been shielded from consequences surrounding their power plays and their shady business practices. And in recent years, Marissa in particular, is continually given the benefit of the doubt, and protection, while those who are suffering under her rule are gaslit and silenced, publicly shamed, and verbally attacked.
Again, this isn't in the past. All of this is continually happening. And I gotta say, my blood still runs a little bit cold when I think about how she's gonna react and lash out at the people around her after the rollout of yet another episode.
Those loyal to the Org will say that this podcast is [00:14:00] nothing but a hack job. A project led by a few disgruntled defectors who are stuck in victimhood, seeking sour grape vengeance for offenses that are entirely self fabricated.
And from where I sit, 16 years after leaving the practice, I can still sort of feel the buzz of the hive from here.
And you know what, I probably would've given up on telling these stories were it not for the many dozens of messages that I've received from others who have stories that not only validate my concerns, but offer evidence that things have only been getting progressively worse over the years.
And there may even be folks who want to, but are naturally terrified to reach out to me, because I'm the number one social pariah of the practice. I don't particularly enjoy being disliked. It's not an easy thing for any lifelong people pleaser like me. But there's no turning back now.
So here we are yet again. With another call for [00:15:00] accountability.
Today's episode is another turning point in the Org story, because it reveals that this isn't just a problem at the home office. It's a cult dynamic contagion that has rippled out into communities far and wide. Communities that, while well-intentioned, have inadvertently replicated Marissa's style of movement, talk, dress, and leadership. Reinforcing a top-down hierarchy that rewards obedience and shuns anyone who refuses to play the game.
And very often, but certainly not always, trainers in these regionally recognized Org communities have pledged their allegiance to Marissa and her ways. Because, well, they have to if they wanna keep their trainer status. Status that they have, by the way, paid thousands of dollars to earn.
It can all be stripped away on a whim. If you refuse to conform, you lose your community and your livelihood.
And because [00:16:00] the Org has trained far more trainers than there's demand for, even the most gracious and collaborative among them feel that they really have no choice but to compete for territory, for trainees, and for Marissa's favor.
At the highest levels, it's a very messy culture. And it isn't at all easy to walk away from it. Which is why we mostly hear from people who were cast out involuntarily.
I know this is quite a recap, but I'm sharing it all with you to set the stage for how it is that these dynamics continue to ripple outward.
My guest today is here to shed some light on all of this.
It was early on, in August of last year, only a few weeks into the launch of the series, when Mark and his partner David joined us in our private After The Org Facebook group. I remember Tracy's delight when she saw their names pop up. She knew Mark Frossard from her days with the Org. And she quickly gave me an overview, expressing how loved he had been in the [00:17:00] larger community, and also how confusing it was when, in 2021, after nearly a decade of running one of the most successful Org studios in the world, Mark suddenly stepped away. Not only from his role as a studio owner, but from the practice entirely.
And as per usual, mum was the word. Nobody knew what had gone down.
 Mark first shared his story with each of us privately, and then I asked if he thought it would serve his healing process to share it publicly.
He said yes, and I'm featuring his story here on the main feed, because of the uniqueness of his experience. And because I feel very strongly that his voice is important to this much larger conversation. Mark's experience demonstrates not only what's troubling about the Org itself, but about how the hierarchy passes down a legacy of dysfunction. Dysfunction that plays itself out in one-on-one relationships and within entire communities.[00:18:00]
Tracy joins the pod once again, and in Part 1, Mark shares with us how he first discovered the Org, and soon after became a majority owner of a regional studio that hosted students, teachers, and trainers from all across the globe.
He lays the foundation for a painful story and how and why it came to be that he'd eventually walk away from it all heartbroken and empty handed.
 The stories and opinions shared in this episode are based on personal experiences and are not intended to malign any individual, group, or organization. To protect Mark, David, and their larger community, aliases have been used in the sharing of these stories.
Here's part one of our conversation with Mark Frossard.
Candice Schutter: I apologize for my [00:19:00] tardiness. Thank you for waiting for me.
Tracy Stamper: You're worth the wait, Candice.
Mark Frossard: Absolutely.
Candice Schutter: Aw, you're so sweet.
Mark, it is so exciting to have you here with us. How are you feeling today coming into this conversation?
Mark Frossard: Uh, feeling pretty good. I'm glad to be here to share my story and hopefully inspire other people to share their stories and relate.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm.
Tracy Stamper: Yeah.
Candice Schutter: Well, I know Tracy and I have had the benefit of getting to know you over the last few months better. I think you and Tracy knew each other, right, already. But I've had the pleasure of getting to know you and your partner, David. And I just can't thank you enough for your willingness, your bravery to show up here with us today to give us a whole different vantage point in terms of the dynamics we've talked about prior, and then mostly to give you an opportunity to break [00:20:00] the silence really, that you've been holding for so long.
And, I just wanna emphasize what good company you're in, in terms of all the feels you might be having coming into this. Um, and, uh, yeah, I just, I hope that this feels like a safe space for you to show up today.
Mark Frossard: Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Candice Schutter: Of course. So let's start with the way that you and Tracy know each other. We just met the series, you and I, Mark. Um, but how did the two of you get to know one another in the past?
Mark Frossard: So I grew up in St. Louis and Tracy was a trainer there.
Tracy Stamper: Cardinals.
Mark Frossard: Uhhuh.
And I was going back to visit my family and asked if I could teach a couple classes there. And Tracy graciously hosted me a couple times.
Candice Schutter: Hm.
Tracy Stamper: And I would love to add to that, that, I mean that we're going back at least 10 [00:21:00] years, I believe. I think like 2012, I think. That was 11 years ago. To this moment, I can still so clearly recall being in your class with the students who'd been coming to my classes. So I got to be a student of you. And it was so delightful. It was so amazing. I just so clearly remember, like you had an entire room of folks, you know, holding Prince's guitar behind our back. We were playing our guitar. It was phenomenal. And I just remember looking around and seeing huge smiles and such a gift.
Candice Schutter: Oh my gosh. I love that you remember the details like that. That's so great. What an impression you left Mark.
Tracy Stamper: Truly.
Candice Schutter: That's amazing.
So, Mark, you and I connected through, I believe you coming into the After The Org group.[00:22:00]
Mark Frossard: Mm-hmm.
Candice Schutter: Maybe let's start with the moment you encountered the podcast and decided to enter the group. That sort of led to this conversation. Like where were things at for you in that moment and what inspired you to reach out and become a part of the community?
Mark Frossard: At that point, I had already done a pretty significant amount of healing. And that's also because David and I have been through this healing journey together. So thankfully I've had a partner to work through some of the stuff. And yet I also still kind of felt like, are we alone? Like, are we crazy? Is it just him and I that are on this island?
And so when I came across it, I was like, oh my gosh. There are so many stories out there. And it, it felt great to connect with other people and to realize that there was, uh, a lot of similar things happening that both him and I experienced, and that it wasn't just an [00:23:00] isolated event. That it's actually something that's been happening for decades.
I mean, Candice, I mean, I didn't know you at all and you were out before I even started. And when I heard your story, I was like, whoa, this is the same thing. And that's a decade before I even joined. And so it gave me a sense of comfort.
And that's partially why I'm here today. Is, I think it's important to share our stories, no matter what generation or iteration of the Org that we're in, for people to see the, the common threads so that they don't feel alone.
Candice Schutter: Yeah, beautifully said.
You know, that purpose, that commonality of purpose that really is at the core of the podcast in its entirety, not just the 'cult'ure series, but around being un silenced, being able to self-express as we are.
And I think what's really fascinating about your story, which [00:24:00] we'll get into here in a moment, is the way that that shows up within a community
Tracy Stamper: Mm-hmm.
Candice Schutter: And how that impacts a community. Because we've heard a lot of stories from what we've heard, a number of stories. Some, those of us who are in the Patreon community have heard more, stories of people who were formally involved with the Org. And a lot of those stories are about interactions with headquarters, with the epicenter, with the core of the business in Portland. And we've heard many stories about these micro communities where these dynamics are functioning as well. And really part of why I feel like your story is so important is because it really speaks to the systemic nature of these dynamics. And the way that they're sort of acted out in smaller communities.
And so in terms of your purpose here, Mark, one of the things when we spoke before you, Tracy and I, within the [00:25:00] community that you're gonna talk about, there's a lot of people that surround you that don't know what happened. Is that accurate to say?
Mark Frossard: Yes.
Candice Schutter: And is that part of your purpose for being here today to sort of fill in those blanks? Cuz that's kind of an awkward thing to be walking through the world, like the world in your most immediate sphere and to be carrying this silence.
Mark Frossard: Yeah. I wasn't really allowed to, say why I was leaving. And we can go into that later. But, I was under a non-disclosure agreement that silenced me.
And so I left the community and there's a lot of members out there who have heard rumors and stories and they're trying to piece together what happened and they don't know.
And so that is part of my reason for being here today is an opportunity to speak to those who don't know. And tell my side finally, since I wasn't able to back then.
Candice Schutter: Yeah. Well thank you for that. It's a great service to,[00:26:00] to all of us when not left wondering and filling in those, those blanks ourselves.
Tracy Stamper: Yes.
Candice Schutter: So let's start with how you first discovered the work of the Org and what sort of brought you in. Like what was good about it? What did you love? What was the hook that brought you in to the practice?
Mark Frossard: Sure. So, um, it was 2009, and I was working at a bed and breakfast. And one of my coworkers, she was the cook at the bed and breakfast. She had told me about a dance studio she just opened. She knew I'd to dance and loved to move and said, I want you to paint murals for me. I'm an artist. That's other than dancing, my passion is art.
And she said, I really think you would enjoy this, and if you would paint the windows for me, paint a mural, I will give you classes for free forever.
And I was like, [00:27:00] okay, great. I can do that.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm.
Mark Frossard: At that point I was not very physically active. I was pretty overweight. And, you know, I was not in the best place.
So when I stepped into this, I was like, you know what, this is what I need to ignite me. A combination of two of my passions. And that's how it got started.
And I, and I love this person who opened the studio. She was one of the kindest, and still is, one of the kindest human beings. So I felt safe with her. And I felt safe with her invitation into this.
She was not a trainer. She was not a person that was in the upper echelons. She was just a normal down to earth person who loved to dance also, and thought I would, too.
I think I took my first class, it was Martin Luther King day of 2010.
Candice Schutter: And at what point did you decide, Hey, I wanna be a facilitator of this practice?
Mark Frossard: So I took my first training in December of 2011. And I wasn't sure if I wanted to lead classes or not, [00:28:00] during the training. And then shortly afterwards, I was like, well, yeah, I think I would. I think I have something to share. And there weren't any other men other than a sprinkle here or there. And I thought, you know, I think there needs to be a male voice to this practice.
I, I feel like that would be valuable for men and women to dance together and learn from each other and share space together. And so that inspired me to step into that.
Candice Schutter: And so you do the first level of training. And at what point during that process did you decide you wanted to run a studio? And how did that come about?
Mark Frossard: So it was a really unique situation. The person who brought me in, who I was, my coworker, had some life changes going on and she was gonna be moving away. The other person who was an actual trainer, was also going through some things and was gonna be moving away. And the studio was losing money rapidly. So it was a make or break moment of we're either [00:29:00] closing the doors or we're finding new owners.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm.
Mark Frossard: And at that point, I had been a teacher for about a year and a half. I wasn't necessarily satisfied in the job I was in. And so when the opportunity presented itself, I was curious like, huh, I don't know if I can do this or not.
But, as a group of teachers and community members, uh, we would get together frequently to talk about like, we've got a couple months to make a decision here if we keep this thing going or not.
So Micki wasn't initially interested in being an owner. And there was one meeting in particular where when I said that I would be interested in doing that, she expressed interest. And she said, I want to be Mark's partner. And I was like, okay, let's do this.
And if everybody else is behind it, let's do it. And the community actually put forth money to give us three months to [00:30:00] fix this thing and to turn a business that was in the red into something that would be sustainable.
Candice Schutter: And how did that transition go? Were you able to do that?
Mark Frossard: Absolutely. I worked weeks, weeks, weeks, weeks without a day off and just learned how to become a business owner. I had not had any accounting experience. I just took all of it on. And I was there constantly figuring it out. And very committed to making sure that the teachers felt supported, that the students felt supported.
A lot of students didn't even know who I was, because I took evening classes, not the morning classes, which were the most popular. So they were putting a lot of faith behind me to turn the business around.
And, uh, a lot of them knew Micki. She was an upcoming rockstar and they didn't know me. But I was very grateful that they gave me that opportunity.
Tracy Stamper: I would love to add that [00:31:00] from my vantage point, halfway across the country, even I knew that he was successful in what he was doing. Because the studio really did become a hub. It was a cornerstone in the Org greater community. And Mark was a beloved personality. Just so many people speak so highly of Mark and the studio was amazing.
Mark Frossard: My goal was actually to make it the headquarters of the Southwest. But I was still not aware of the culty dynamics yet. Like they were kind of in the background. But I was just so passionate, excited, just for the love of movement and dance. And I had so many ideas and let's try this. Let's do this.
Oh, I said try, oops, you know, and.[00:32:00]
Tracy Stamper: Louder for those in back.
Mark Frossard: Try this!
Candice Schutter: Circle back to the intro to 58 if you don't know what the significance of that is, y'all.
Oh my gosh. That's great.
So speaking of red flags, there's the things we learned to see, uh, just, I'm getting this hit right now. There's sort of the things that we're indoctrinated to see as red flags, which I think in some ways are smoke screens for the actual red flags. They're like, don't look over here. Monitor your language instead, right?
Um, when it comes to the red flags, because not to be spoiler here, but like where this conversation's gonna go, there's a relationship kind of at the core of it, between you and Micki. And I'm curious, like in the beginning of that relationship, when you first became business partners, were there red flags? Or was the relationship, like, how was the relationship in the beginning? And was it something that evolved where, or devolved I should say? Or [00:33:00] were there red flags from the get-go for you when you look back?
Mark Frossard: Not at the beginning, no. It was a very trainer-student based relationship. And I actually did not know Micki very well on a personal level. And so I was actually very honored that she would consider being my business partner in this. And she had, like I said, she was becoming the rising star. And I was like, wow, we can actually make something happen here.
[00:33:28] murals
Mark Frossard: And so the first day that we opened up the studio under our names, she said, we need to get rid of these murals, scrape them off. We gotta change the look.
So my, you know, whole initiation into this was creating murals and painting the windows.
We had huge windows, like it was, I don't know, 36 feet, you know, by 18 feet, something like that.
Candice Schutter: wow.
Mark Frossard: So I did. I had two other people helping me, and we [00:34:00] scraped the paint off the windows. It took about six hours. It was January 1st, 2013. And looking back on that, I was destroying my own artwork. I was destroying the reason I even came into this. And at the time I had very mixed feelings. I was like, I'm doing this to, you know, benefit the business. It's not our look. It's, you know, we're changing the look. We're elevating, you know, kind of thing.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm.
Mark Frossard: Even though I'm destroying my own artwork, which is what brought me there in the first place.
Candice Schutter: Right.
Mark Frossard: It wasn't a red flag at the moment. Looking back, oh, yeah.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: And students would ask me, they're like, what happened to your paintings? I was like, oh, you know, we took them down to, you know, change the look.
[00:34:56] running the business
Mark Frossard: I was the only one running the business.[00:35:00]
Candice Schutter: Hmm.
Mark Frossard: Like she took absolutely no interest in any of the financials, any of the marketing. It was all about her classes and her trainings. And so that would be my first red flag where I was like, oh, wait, are we partners? Or am I just supporting you?
Candice Schutter: Ah. Okay.
Tell the listeners a little bit about your role and how much you were doing when it comes to sustaining this studio.
Mark Frossard: So I took care of all the finances, like I mentioned. Also did all the cleaning. Supported all the teachers, did the scheduling. I did all the marketing. I designed the website. I did all the check-ins for classes. I was the first person people would see when they came in the door. And then in addition, taught eight classes a week. It was pretty much everything.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: Um, and when I say supporting Micki, once, you know, she really found her way in the [00:36:00] limelight. She started traveling a lot all across the world. And so when she would be gone for two weeks, there was no one there to support me and the operations. Not that she did much when she was there anyway, but still, it came down to me to make the decisions on things that were, you know, immediate or pressing and yeah.
Candice Schutter: So Micki became, and, and even I know this, I left in what, 2007. And I've spoken to this before, in terms of how far removed I was from everything Org related. And I had long ago hidden people from my feed. I didn't unfriend people because I genuinely liked the people. I just needed to not see Org things for a while. And you know, every now and then things would eek in. Cause it had been a while since I'd done that. It had been years.
And I did start seeing Micki. And even I knew this was a rising star. I thought, oh, like this is the next person that [00:37:00] is becoming a face of the brand. And so, as that attention started to grow, Micki started to travel more. Did you notice her interactions with headquarters and with sort of the dynamic of being that rising star, did it change things for you and at the studio and in your relationship in any way?
Mark Frossard: I felt there was more pressure. I started noticing things like, more attention to how do we look? What is our marketing look like? More branding sort of things. And the way the studio was founded was really meant to be like a home and very comfortable, you know, like you could just plop down on the couch before class and have a cup of coffee and talk, you know, like a, like a cafe or something, you know, and then you just jump in and.
But it, it started becoming more glamorized and, performance based.
And I feel like even with the introduction of their clothing line, that became a thing. [00:38:00] You know, more of these clothing shows and let's bring in fancy clothing. And it just, it wasn't my vibe, but I went along with it.
Candice Schutter: Yeah. Well, you would probably were being taught what we were all being taught that that was part of how you create success and, and spread the work. Right?
Mark Frossard: Yeah.
[00:38:19] TRANSITION
Candice Schutter: When did you meet Marissa for the first time?
Mark Frossard: So it was, uh, during my brown belt training. She was leading that and that was in Colorado. And I'll never forget when she walked in. We were all waiting in this long hallway. She walks in with these boots, and you just hear the click clack, click clack as she walks past us. Doesn't make any eye contact with any of us. It was bizarre.
It was like she was this goddess that was entering, and you needed to be gracious for [00:39:00] her presence. I've, I was like, what in the? I have never experienced anything like that before.
It was very intimidating.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: I was actually expecting a person that was much warmer and down to earth. I mean, I could tell this person was definitely a bit of a diva. But I didn't realize it was gonna be to that level. And with the amount of money that I had invested into this thing, I thought, could you walk by me with a smile?
Like, uh, hello?
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: So that was my first introduction to Marissa.
Candice Schutter: And were you running the studio at this time?
Mark Frossard: Yes. So this would've been 2014. Yeah.
Candice Schutter: Okay, so it's clear everyone who's there has devoted money, time, energy, interest into the practice. So everyone deserves respect and attention. I mean, it would argue they do it even if they hadn't. But
Tracy Stamper: There's that.
Candice Schutter: There's that, obviously [00:40:00] acknowledgement. There's human decency. Then there's acknowledgement of what's been invested into the work thus far. And then you're also running this studio that is really operating as a, an HQ away from home in the sense that it's building, it's growing. Tracy in St. Louis knows all about it. Many others do. Did you have any interactions with her during that training that were warm or acknowledged the role that you were playing in the larger business?
Mark Frossard: Uh, not about the business. There was an instance where she corrected me on my stances and in front of everyone moved my feet in certain ways and legs. She got down on her hands and knees and started moving my body, saying that I wasn't doing it right.
That particular training, I was about ready to quit.
There was another trainer there who I actually adored, who was my second level trainer from Texas. And I was the only [00:41:00] man there. And she did a class with 25 women and me all focused on the mama cell and about reproduction. And I had never left a class before. And that was the first class that I left, and I just went to my room and was just furious. I was like, I, there's no place for me in this practice if it's only about women. And no offense of course, to women, but I just did not feel there was a balance there for men to exist in this.
And that was very frustrating to me because I'm a huge supporter of women, but I can't relate to the mama cell and reproduction. I, I just like, it just was unbalanced, too much going on there that I could not relate to.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: And I remember you saying back when we had chatted before that from the very get go, you were very [00:42:00] aware of being a man in a space often exclusively for women. You were very respectful of that from the very beginning, from your very first training.
Mark Frossard: Yeah. My first training, I did ask the group if they would feel safe with a male teacher. And they were like, oh yeah, of course, of course we would. That's what the trainees said. And, there was one participant who wasn't a trainer, but she was a teacher at the studio. And she said, why would you even ask that question?
And I was like,
Tracy Stamper: Hmm.
Mark Frossard: because I wanna be sensitive.
Like I don't want to trigger anyone by being the only man dancing in front of a group of women. That's why I'm asking. And she said, well, that's ridiculous. You need to get over that. And I was like, I don't need to get over it. I'm, I'm wanting to be sensitive. Just given, you know, the nature of being one of the few men that's in this practice.
And, you know, in the Org [00:43:00] since I came in after Raul, at that time, there weren't any male role models. All the videos were, you know, women leaders, which is fine.
However, it's, that's why I had the question of like, if I'm gonna step in as a male role model, and I'm not Raul. I, I have a very different way of leading. I just wanna make sure I'm being sensitive. And am I invited to the table or not? Like, I don't know.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: Thank you for that sensitivity. I'm grateful for men who walk through the world with that sensitivity.
Candice Schutter: Absolutely. Yeah.
I feel like I would be remiss to not ask the question here, you being a man in this culture where it's primarily occupied by women, led by women at this point, especially since Raul has left. There is, how do I say this? Like there is an idea [00:44:00] about quote unquote femininity and womanhood that pervades the Org culture, which is very, very limited and, um, in my mind in some ways, very patriarchal in the way that that femininity is embodied. And the way that it is sort of assigned to womanhood. And, you know, just, just all the things that I feel like these new generations are cracking open in terms of providing us new language about gender fluidity and, and the expression of our sexuality and all of that.
Even our, our womanhood, like I would argue in the room of all women. Let's just say in that class about the mother cell. There are women who, I'm gonna raise my hand here.
You start talking about reproductive and like women's cell and like being a mama. Like that doesn't resonate with me. Like, so there's a lot of assumptions.
Mark Frossard: Right. Exactly.
Candice Schutter: Which is ironic cause we're not supposed to make assumptions.
Mark Frossard: But I mean, I just, I mean, in that class I did witness [00:45:00] that there was a lot of people that were uncomfortable. And there was this expectation of, you are a woman, so you should relate to this. I saw faces that also were like mine of like, what in the hell is happening right now? I just want to dance to the music and have fun.
Candice Schutter: Right, right. Yeah.
It's where the dogma sort of gets in the way, right? It's like we wanna provide this experience, but we're actually dominating.
Mark Frossard: There were little red flags that popped up before then, but that was the major one that just was like waving, that was like, I'm gonna quit. I can't do this. I need out of this. This is a cult.
Tracy Stamper: During your brown belt, that awareness came to you?
Mark Frossard: Yep.
Tracy Stamper: Wow.
Mark Frossard: And I, I took this with, um, this is a person that's gonna come in later into my story. Her name is Crystal. And we traveled to that training together and we talked a lot about this. And she absolutely [00:46:00] related to that, feeling of like, are we in a cult?
And I even told her, I was like, I don't know if I can continue on with this.
Something's gotta shift.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm.
Mark Frossard: And um, we'll get to this later. But since then, Crystal has now become one of the new rising rock stars.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: So interesting how things change.
Candice Schutter: Yeah. And you know, I really, something I haven't spoke to overtly in these conversations around the Org, but I just wanna name it outright here, is that one of the ways, and this happens in all the culty organizations, one of the ways that leadership controls the narrative and keeps people in the fold is by providing an opportunities for promotion when people are questioning.
You can draw so many lines between people who, because I think people get confused. They're like, well, that person seems like they're sort of divergent and they're pulling away, why did they just get to do a routine filming? Or why [00:47:00] did they just get promoted to do X, Y, and Z?
It's like, that's exactly why.
Mark Frossard: Yeah.
Candice Schutter: Because of that chosen thing, you know. Like I talked about when I was sharing my story, like when I was really wavering, Hey Candice, do you wanna be on tv? You know, teaching a song while Marissa and Raul are getting interviewed? And I was just like, uh, yes, please. Right? Like, it worked like a charm.
So yeah, I'm saying this not to judge those people. I one hundred percent, took the bait, hook line and sinker. Like it works. And so just to say it doesn't surprise me. It saddens me when it happens, but it doesn't surprise me at all cuz I've, I've been there and, yeah.
So the question that I wanted to ask is in terms of these, there's sort of these gender norms and then there's like heteronormative norms in terms of the way that masculine and feminine is talked about and the language around that. And it's like you're trying to fit into a [00:48:00] culture that is hyper traditional femme and hyper hetero norm, I would argue. Do you have anything to say about that?
Because you would have a better read on this than, than me. Did you feel that your sexual orientation was ever an issue in the culture, or was it celebrated?
Mark Frossard: Um, I did not feel it was an issue. I felt more like actually my gender was an issue.
Candice Schutter: Hmm. Interesting.
Mark Frossard: To segue into the previous story about the mama cell thing, I approached the particular trainer and asked if she would be willing for me to also host events for men at my studio. Since it was sort of her proprietary thing that she did, and I just wanted to honor that in that, I felt, I felt torn.
On one hand I was like, wow, she's doing this. This is really cool. She's giving a voice to the men in this practice. And yet [00:49:00] here I just took the worst class of all, because it was focused on women and reproductive stuff. And I walked out. I'm like, so it, it was very, uh, a weird place to be in, um, you know, when we talk about gender.
And, I asked if she would be open to that. And she said, absolutely. She said, please do, and maybe we can collaborate. And that's what hooked me back in actually. I was like, oh, I've got an opportunity here. And I've got the blessing to do that opportunity.
And that's when I started leading events that were male teachers that were mostly the only man in their, you know, community. And so it was cool in that it was a way for us men to get together and bond and share our stories, but also be in harmony with women. And the women loved it. The men loved it. And was like, wow. The, it was like my dream men and women dancing [00:50:00] together and finding what we all bring to the table.
And then it also started opening up the conversation like you were mentioning Candice about, about gender and identity and gender. And it became a really beautiful thing. And it's something that I'm still actually very proud of. You know, despite the stuff that is not so pretty, I, I will forever be very proud of those opportunities and meeting some of those incredible people. And being able to foster that.
Tracy Stamper: Beautiful.
Candice Schutter: And that's also what keeps us in.
Mark Frossard: Yeah.
Candice Schutter: Right? It's like you have this experience where you're like, ah, I don't know about this. And then, yeah, the opportunity is, is a hook in a way. But then it opens the door to a deeper connection and a more intimate experience of, and of course we, I don't know if you did, but I always gave the credit to the practice. Look what the practice is doing for me [00:51:00] now. Right.
Um, but I love that you have this, I mean, it's bittersweet, honestly, that you have this studio space that is a home away from home. It sounds like you're spending maybe more time there than at home. That you're nurturing. That you are providing these opportunities for yourself and others.
When did things start to shift in terms of you being in a place of, this feels really nurturing and this feels right starting, you know, there were the little red flags we talked about, but when did things really start to shift for you and, and you've really felt into the discomfort and noticed it?
Mark Frossard: I think some of the first major shifts were when I did my black belt training, which was, 2017. 17 or 18, I can't remember. And, went to headquarters for that. And Marissa was leading that. And I actually [00:52:00] traveled with Micki to that. And there were a few other teachers at the studio who went to that. So there was a big contingent of us from the studio there.
And, the first night before the training even began, Micki and I were talking. And I said, you know, I, I really still feel like there's a lack of representation of diversity. Like, I was looking at all the pictures in the studio and I'm like, I don't see any people of color. I don't see any different body shapes. I don't see any men. I don't see. I was just like, it just kind of bugs me. And I really, I really hope that what I'm doing with these events, with elevating male teachers, that something helps with, uh, teachers of color, teachers of different body shapes.
And this was all at dinner with a group of like 20 people. And she starts berating me, Micki. And she says, Mark, me and Marissa are masculine. We can hold down the masculine thing, [00:53:00] so you don't need to worry about that.
I was like, no, that's, you're missing the point. That's not what I'm talking about. It just was very confusing.
And that night before the training, I remember the group of us went to like a supermarket or something to pick up supplies. And she just kept berating me. And I just burst into tears in the parking lot. And,
Candice Schutter: Hmm.
Mark Frossard: You know, kind of like the ugly cry where you can't even keep your breath.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: And so that was like, oh my gosh, this is my partner talking to me this way. And it just felt so abusive.
And so then going through the whole training with her. And, you know, at this point our studio had become pretty recognized. And I had become pretty recognized myself. And yeah. So just lots of things started spiraling from there.
Candice Schutter: Yeah. Do [00:54:00] you feel like, and I'm asking this not to pick on any one individual, just to, to sort of help illustrate the dynamics a little bit and how this can happen. Do you feel like Micki's proximity to power, to Marissa, to that degree of influence sort of shifted and emboldened her in terms of the way she was treating you?
Like, was there an evolution there or am I making that up?
Mark Frossard: Oh, no, absolutely. Absolutely.
I'm not the only one that she treated like this. I mean, there were so many cases even before this that should have been red flags for me. But I just overlooked. I just turned the other way.
Candice Schutter: Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Frossard: And if any of those people are listening, I want to apologize to them for overlooking what was happening. And it happened numerous times where she spoke to students in the same way.
And it's really embarrassing to say, but I just, [00:55:00] I guess I, yeah, I turned a blind eye until I realized it was happening to me.
Candice Schutter: Yeah. I know that that's a hard truth to sit with and I just wanna say that it's very common. I think a lot of us have felt that way. Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: For sure.
Candice Schutter: And you know, which brings me to a piece I wanna make sure we speak to, and, you know, we're, we're kind of bouncing around in terms of the story, but this is what it is. It's a big tangled knot of experiences that we're kind of picking apart as we speak.
But I think that the reason why we enable such dynamics is because of the way they're normalized in the culture. And it makes me think about, you know, the body policing. Like, you know, Marissa getting down and moving your feet around, touching your body, probably without your consent.
I really doubt that she asked your permission to do that.
Mark Frossard: Correct.
Candice Schutter: Right. Um, the body shaming [00:56:00] that happens in the name of our personal growth. So that culture where we're being policed around our expression. We're being policed around the way we're moving. The image that we're portraying.
When that's normalized then we just, I think we just kind of go into a submissive state because entrainment with the group, because co-regulation, cuz it's what everyone else is doing. But also what power do I have here?
Which is kind of what is gonna bring us into the next part of your story. Because what's interesting about your dynamic with Micki is that you were her student. She was your trainer. But then you were also equals.
Mark Frossard: Mm-hmm.
Candice Schutter: I mean you're all, your equals all around. But I'm just speaking in terms of the dynamics. You were equals in terms of partnership in the studio. But it sounds like there was a period at which that started to kind of shift.
Like did you feel that partnership and that sense of equality in the beginning and did it change? Or was it always [00:57:00] a little bit, I mean obviously we know in terms of workload there wasn't a sense of equality, but how did that evolve as she became more and more influenced by HQ?
Mark Frossard: You know, I think I always felt it. It, she was really good at always making me feel supported. So she would go away for a couple weeks and then come back with a gift. And then go away and come back with a gift. And so, I didn't realize it at the moment actually,
Tracy Stamper: Hmm.
Mark Frossard: And it would be this kind of like, why didn't you tell me all this stuff happened? You know, you could have emailed me while I was away. And I'm like, I did email you. You never responded.
Candice Schutter: Uh huh.
Mark Frossard: Well, I was at a training. But here's a pretty bracelet. And I love you. And you're so, thank you for taking care of everything. So it was this thing. And I just was like so wrapped up in all of it that I didn't realize that this was a pattern that kept happening.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm. Yeah. The [00:58:00] gaslighting. The love bombing. It's easy to see retrospectively, but when you're in it, not so much.
Tracy Stamper: Mm-hmm.
Candice Schutter: Right.
Mark Frossard: yeah, So there was, um, a moment where a student did come into my office and the student said, you realize Micki is controlling you. And I was like, what? And she's like, you're never gonna win over her. She's always gonna have the final say.
And at the time, just for context, this student was pretty distractive during classes, was like really outlandish. And everyone viewed this student as being crazy. And so, that's the perspective I took on, is that this person is crazy. Looking back on it actually, she told me everything I needed to know and I just didn't listen.
Candice Schutter: Well, and she's [00:59:00] telling you, you're building this studio together, and she's telling you, do I have this right? I have it written down here that she actually said to you that you and I can be the next Marissa and Raul.
Mark Frossard: Correct.
So we, were seen as studio of the year. And there were talks that Marissa was starting to think about, you know, what happens when she decides to step away or retire or passes on or whatever. Which, you know, any business owner would do.
And, that perhaps we were in the prospects that Micki and I would become the next studio headquarters.
I wasn't a part of any of these conversations, which is the interesting part. Marissa flew out, met with some lawyers that are gonna come up later in this conversation with Micki and Crystal, and they had these private meetings for three days. All day meetings. And I wasn't invited. And it was about the future[01:00:00] of the Org.
And I asked Micki, why am I not involved in these meetings? I'm the majority owner of this studio.
Candice Schutter: Yeah.
Mark Frossard: And if I'm gonna be a part of this future, supposedly, why am I not being invited?
Oh, we just don't think you're interested. I'm like, I'm not interested? I've invested my, this is my whole livelihood. What, what do you mean?
Well, we're going to restaurants that you wouldn't be interested in because they're more upscale than you're used to.
And I'm like, well. It was such a mind fuck that I, I all of a sudden felt like I was in this weird whirlwind of like, so Marissa is in my hometown. Doesn't wanna reach out to me even though I'm running the most successful studio probably in the world. And they're having these secret meetings behind closed [01:01:00] doors.
This was probably 2018 or 19.
So yeah, there's that.
Candice Schutter: That's pretty significant.
Mark Frossard: Mm-hmm.
Candice Schutter: Was this sort of the first time for you, when we spoke, you were talking about just again, looking back, being able to see how potentially you were being pushed out. Did you feel like this was sort of the beginning of that or?
Mark Frossard: I didn't feel like I was being pushed out. I just felt like I was being left out.
Candice Schutter: Ah-huh.
Mark Frossard: Do you get the difference?
Candice Schutter: Absolutely.
Mark Frossard: like I was like, I've got something to say. Because at this point, I was still super invested. And I was super proud of everything that we'd accomplished.
But I'm like, why am I not being able to have my voice brought? What's the secrecy here? I, I'm doing all the leg work here.
So I was still absolutely a hundred percent committed to the Org. I just didn't understand why with the amount of work I had [01:02:00] put into it that I couldn't be in these secret meetings. It just made no sense.
She brings up at one point that she has a private investor and that this investor is going to essentially give us everything we need for us to get to the top.
I ask who this investor is. It's, I can't know. I'm like, but yet again, we're business partners.
Tracy Stamper: Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Frossard: You know, this is an anonymous donor. And this investor is actually investing in her, not the business. It was so confusing. I was like, I don't even understand.
Tracy Stamper: Oh, so it was articulated that the investor was investing in her, not the business.
Mark Frossard: Yes. Particularly in her.
Tracy Stamper: That's confusing. Okay.
Mark Frossard: Yeah. So I'm being told I'm gonna take you with me, but I have an investor in me. But you can't know who that investor is.[01:03:00]
Tracy Stamper: So no foundation underneath that plan that you can rest into and feel secure and just, it's based on hearsay and nebulousness and.
Mark Frossard: Mm-hmm.
Tracy Stamper: Hmm.
Candice Schutter: I feel like I have to ask this, because I'm projecting. And this would've been my experience and maybe it wasn't yours, so I just wanna ask it to clarify. Did you at any point start to feel like you were her employee? Because for me, if I heard that, it'd be like, the investment's gonna be in you, not the studio, where does that leave me? Would be a question that would arise for me. Was that happening for you?
Mark Frossard: Not necessarily in those terms in that, quite honestly, I felt like I could do it without her. I was doing everything anyway. So I felt like I'm cleaning the toilets and the showers, the floors every day. I'm supporting all the teachers. I'm doing all the finances. I'm like, I've got this. [01:04:00] So whether she's a part of it or not, I'm running the business. So it didn't feel that way necessarily, on the business side. However, on the teacher trainer thing that we were talking about earlier, I did always feel like she always wanted to be my trainer. She always had to be on a pedestal above me.
So, we used to co-teach classes together once a week, and she would do things to undermine me. She would show people how to do moves that were more athletic because I wasn't being athletic enough. So she always had this like thing above me. So when you ask, do I feel like her employee? Um, I only did when we were teaching together
Candice Schutter: Ah-huh.
Mark Frossard: Because there was always this like, I'm the trainer, you're the trainee relationship when it came to the actual execution of the practice.
Does that make sense?
Candice Schutter: It does make sense. Makes perfect sense.
So with that in mind,[01:05:00] were you invited to be a trainer? Were you interested in being a trainer? Is that a path you wanted to take yourself?
Mark Frossard: My goal was actually always to be a choreographer. That's where my interest was.
So I did routine shoots with Micki and of the other trainers. Probably in total I did six routine shoots. That was an interesting experience in that, Marissa's partner, Seth, always put me in the back. And would critique me on my body and my, uh, genitalia, shall we say.
Candice Schutter: Oh.
Mark Frossard: Yeah.
Candice Schutter: wow.
Mark Frossard: Which is why I was put in the back.
Candice Schutter: Because of your genitalia, you were put in the back.
Mark Frossard: They told me I needed to wear certain kinds of underwear, certain kinds of pants, that kind of thing. And I was like, I'm not trying to show anything off here. I'm just showing up. I mean, it's very strange.
And you know what it, but it's no different. All the women were [01:06:00] treated the same way. Everybody was treated that way. My story with that is not unique. I saw it happening to each and every person there with Seth.
Routine shoots were very stressful.
So in 2019, right before the pandemic, Marissa did put out some feelers if Crystal and I would like to become trainers. And I said, no, I want to be a choreographer. And Crystal said she wanted to be a trainer. And that created a whole riff between Micki and Crystal, a whole nother story there.
 So then in 2020 during the pandemic, uh, Marissa was crafting a new routine with Micki, and then decided that she wanted Crystal and I to become choreographers as well in collaboration. And so this became a thing in that it made Micki feel very threatened. All of a sudden, Micki wasn't the only one on the top pedestal. All of [01:07:00] a sudden Marissa was inviting people up to that level.
And so here I am creating a routine with Micki, the Rockstar and Crystal, the upcoming rockstar. And they've got their thing going. So I'm trying to make peace between them.
Meanwhile, Marissa is coaching us. So Marissa essentially is like the puppeteer, you know, like with the strings. And I'm just trying to keep the peace. But I'm also excited to be a choreographer. And so we're starting to divide up the songs of the routine, you know, who gets what. And they're like, oh, you get this, the freeform songs. I'm like, but I helped choreograph this. Why don't I get any of the choreograph songs? Oh, you'll do really good at these. We've got the choreograph songs taken care of.
And the night before, Micki tells Crystal and I, have you guys thought about going on the lemonade diet? And I [01:08:00] was like, the lemonade diet? She's, yeah. So you appear thinner on screen, cuz we've gotta shoot tomorrow.
 And prior to that, it was, send me what you think you're gonna order for your outfits. You know, like, send me photos of you in what you're gonna be wearing. We need to make sure that we look good. You know, we gotta wear all black because black is more slimming. And, oh, I like this top. I like these pants. It was very controlled.
We had a promotional piece that we were be going to be doing for the routine. And so I put on clothing that the Org was selling, and I was told that it was the wrong clothing. And so then Micki pulls out some clothes from her bag and says, put these on. I'm like, well, this is extra small women's tank top. I'm like a large, extra large man. Like I can't put on a small women's tank top. And she said, well, you will for this promotional video.[01:09:00]
So I don't know why, I don't know why to this day that I agreed to it. I go into my office, I put it on and I start crying. Crystal comes in and she says, you don't have to do this. You really don't have to do this. And I said, but I'm supposed to. I have to. The three of us created this routine together. And she said, really, really you don't have to. And I still really honor her for telling me that, um.
Candice Schutter: Mm-hmm.
Mark Frossard: But I did it anyway. And I put on this small women's tank top, and I, my gut's hanging out.
So then we decide we're gonna film everything waist up, so that you can't see how bad I look. Um.
Candice Schutter: I'm so sorry.
Mark Frossard: I will say [01:10:00] though, the best part about this story is that two hours later we were having a meeting on Zoom. And we had a business coach named Blair at this point. And I said, I want all of you to turn off, mute yourselves right now, cuz I have something I need to say. And I said, today I was asked to wear small size women's clothing. And I will no longer stand for this. I cannot be humiliated like this. I need to be allowed to be who I am. And so, moving forward,
Candice Schutter: Hmm.
Mark Frossard: if you want to hear my voice, well here it is. And I think that was the beginning of the end when I actually spoke my voice for the first time.
Tracy Stamper: If you wanna hear my voice, well, here it is.
Mark Frossard: The thing about it is that they were asking me to use my voice. They said, Mark, we want to hear your voice. So then we started going into these coaching sessions with Blair. And so Micki, Crystal, [01:11:00] and Blair, the four of us became like the executive team of the studio. And it was, Mark, let's hear your voice. You're so quiet. Let's hear your voice.
And so that's really where the beginning of the end happened is that once I started using my voice, it was like, shut up. Quiet. We know the way. But we want to hear your voice.
Candice Schutter: Yeah, I know that dance.
So what happened as a result of these sessions? You were speaking up more, yet you were being silenced it sounds like, simultaneously, mixed messages. And you said this, this was like the beginning of the end.
So take us through kind of the evolution of things from there.
Mark Frossard: So, you know, the pandemic hit and we had to figure things out, you know, like everybody did. We've gotta close the studio, but we still want to offer classes. And so people were collaborating and figure things out. And at the same time, [01:12:00] Micki, Crystal and I are working on this routine.
I'm so excited because I'm like, I'm finally a choreographer.
I was just so happy that I had made it this far and that I had proved myself. And, me and Crystal had a good relationship. And Blair who was the business coach. And she was a longtime teacher at the studio as well. So she was also a teacher with the Org. And I had a good relationship with her and I trusted her. And she said, you know, I want to talk to you and Micki about, you know, how we move things forward, especially in this pandemic. Our business is gonna look different and we don't know how long we're gonna be in this thing.
And that made sense to me. Of course it does. Everybody was like,
Tracy Stamper: Mm-hmm.
Mark Frossard: What am I doing? Where am I?
So we started these coaching sessions. And it became this like, it wasn't about the business. It was actually more about our personal interactions. And what I didn't realize is that this [01:13:00] was gonna bring out a lot of anger and a lot of, pent-up emotions from Micki, which then triggered my pent-up things that I had overlooked. You know, to be honest and to own my responsibility, I had overlooked so many things.
And through these sessions, we realized that we are completely two different people. And she had a whole nother vision for the business than I did. And I said, I want to keep this the way it began, which was very humble, very inviting, open to everyone.
She wanted it to go for the gold. She wanted it to be this elite thing for wealthy people, you know? And then all the emotions came out. And Blair, the business coach, I think she was doing her best to navigate it. However, I think she also had already chosen her alliance with Micki, in that she was also involved with Marissa and doing business coaching with [01:14:00] Marissa at the same time.
Tracy Stamper: Oh, wow. Okay.
Mark Frossard: And 2020 is when I realized, holy shit, it's when it all just came crashing down.
It's just, it's like when everything became exposed that I kind of knew was there. But all of a sudden Pandora's box was opened and I couldn't control it anymore. And I didn't want to control it anymore. I just wanted out.
Tracy Stamper: Oof. I just wanted out.
[01:14:35] teaser
Candice Schutter: Next week our conversation with Mark continues. Here's a quick sample.
Mark Frossard: It became crystal clear once I heard that word. And I was like, oh my gosh, I'm being abused. And here, you know, over years I've been supporting friends [01:15:00] through their abusive situations and never saw myself in that light. And it was like a mirror.
I was like, oh my gosh. And it is a strong word. It is absolutely a very, very strong word. And once I said it, I felt liberated. In that it's like, wow, I actually named it, for what it really actually is. And I'm not standing back from this.
Candice Schutter: I hope you'll join us next week for part two.
In the meantime, don't forget to check out the extras over on Patreon. Weekly bonus episodes drop every Friday. Visit patreon.com/thedeeperpulse to sample bonus content and learn more.
Thanks for tuning in and I'll see you back here next week.

© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter