Crunch Raised Me

Crunch Raised Me

March 27, 2024

By Marc Santa Maria

Crunch raised me. I mean, yeah, my parents Alejandro and Asuncion did, too. They gave me grounded family values rooted in immigrant Filipino-Chinese ideals. But Crunch, oh man, oh man – Crunch! With its glorious “No Judgments” fitness entertainment culture, this more-than-a-gym gym allowed me to fully express every single facet of my being – ranging from my sense of self-expression to my standards of self-care. I am the proudly imperfect and full-on leader-group-fitness-performer-family-man-human-BE-ing that I am today because of Crunch Fitness. 

Now, I don’t say any of this lightly. To put this gym on the same level as my actual parents could seem flippant. It could appear to diminish all that Andy and Sonie (their Americanized names) have done to support me. But that’s how intensely huge this is. Crunch, like my parents, taught me values that now are inextricably linked to my very being. There are three key values from Crunch that are ingrained in me, and I live and honor them every single day. Here they are:

marc in group fitness


It may seem obvious that in a service-oriented business, we have to put people at the forefront. Yet, as a dedicated consumer of experiences and international consumerism, I for sure have had many crappy moments with corporations where people (and customers) were made to feel insignificant. Look, Crunch is far from perfect, but every single day, I interact with someone on our Crunch Team who wears their heart on their sleeve to honor a member or teammate with an infinitesimal amount of “I care about you” energy. That has humbled and inspired me all these 26 years with our company. Whether it is a Group Fitness leader who will off-the-clock hours with a fellow Instructor to help them pass a previously failed certification or an instructor braving insane weather elements or world catastrophic events to show up to class to honor their students, the love for our community and people is real and hella palpable. Making people our priority from a place of inclusion is a lesson learned from Crunch that I practice with every person now that comes before me. 


I started out as a Crunch member. I had a student deal membership while at NYU, and from that first hip-hop class I took, I was hooked. I started out in the very back, super shy and self-conscious. I had the baggiest clothes and an even baggier shirt around my waist situation to add a layer of protection for my nerves. Yet, every instructor I learned from that week, made me feel cool, accepted, and part of a crew (fancy hip-hop speak for “community”). Plus, with every class, I shed masks and protection – even sometimes layers of clothes in the Cardio Striptease class – and I became just me. It was because every team member and Crunch member was completely themselves. Sometimes they were eccentric. Sometimes they were flirty and sensual. At times, there were hints of loco madness. But through all the differences, there was authenticity of self. There was respect for being who we wanted to be moment-to-moment. That is life-changing to be around for energy feeds energy. These Crunch experiences let me be all of me – every bit of imperfection, confusion, sexiness, creativity, tradition, timidity… all of it. No Judgments isn’t just a mantra at our Company – it’s in our DNA.

marc in group fitness


For those who don’t know, you can find our Crunch Mission Statement here. It’s in the middle under the heading, “Welcome to the Crunch Family.” The later line saying, “We seek only to encourage, empower and entertain,” has ultimately become an integral part of my purpose.

  • Now I’m not talking about my purpose just at Crunch. It is my moment-to-moment check-in on every action I take and do not take. If I head down the path of losing my shit with my kids, I go to my intention of wanting to encourage my daughters. That calms me, and I make (most of the time) better choices in those moments of frustration.
  • If I don’t like a situation that has popped up in my marriage, I empower us to both speak the truth and come up with other ways to handle it. 
  • And entertain? That’s a synonym for group fitness at Crunch, baby!

My Dad passed away in 2007 and my Mom left us in 2021. I miss them a lot. Some days, it’s painful, and other days, it’s a memory or lesson they taught me that lights me up, and I even laugh to myself. Through any loss or hardship in my life, thus far, I’ve never felt alone. I have been blessed with such phenomenal love and relationships in my life, and many of them stem from Crunch. Plus, one ever-present force of greatness in my life – is Crunch as a whole. This brand is still teaching me, challenging me, and yeah, even parenting me. Happy 35th Anniversary Crunch. 

Marc Santa Maria is the Vice President of Group Fitness at Crunch Fitness.

Crunch’s group fitness classes and personal trainers promote a culture of fun with no judgments. It is an environment built for all types of individuals with various goals. Find a Crunch gym near you to try our free trial membership, or join Crunch now.

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