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Sheena Warner

Congratulations to Athlete of the Week, Sheena Warner, who was one of CF PAX’s very first members back in January 2013! Sheena has done more than 300 workouts with CrossFit PAX, has won a Whole30 Challenge and been highly successful in numerous challenges since (and in her own challenges). As one of our first and most consistent members, she has become quite the athlete. Her secret? She plans ahead in her diet and carves out time to workout, even if that means she comes to the Bunker for 5am!

Sheena has had her share of challenges- she has a busy schedule and many people relying on her at home and work, but has clearly done well in prioritizing her health and fitness and makes no excuses. She knows that in order to take care of the people she loves, she has to be feeling her best. And her best is pretty darn good… even though she often needs a nudge to remember that she can do a lot more than she thinks she can. She was surprised to get “promoted” to the Rx Competition at the Barbells for Boobs Throw-down last month and CRUSHED IT!

Sheena is also a pro at eating well and has a lot of great tips. As a working wife and mom of two great boys, she is BUSY but she MAKES IT HAPPEN! We are so proud of her for all that she has accomplished- not just fueling her body well or the personal records on a regular basis, but getting back in the gym after life throws her curveballs. Watch out for this lady, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with! We asked her a few questions about her journey and for some advice. Whether you’re not as consistent as you could be or you haven’t started your journey yet, her advice is simple… From Sheena:

 

1) How did you start CrossFit PAX?
My husband would come home from drill weekends barely able to walk and would sit in the tub complaining about how everything on his body hurt from doing CrossFit workouts as part of his training. So I got curious and started googling and thinking “I can do that”!! Then I found Crossfit Pax’s FB page and the rest is history.

2)What was it like starting out?
It was actually an easy transition from my previous workout regimen and fun. I love the fact that I get in a better workout in less time then when I would hitting the regular gym. I would catch my husband looking at me like I was crazy for actually loving the “military style” workouts, but that’s not to say I didn’t have wods that left me feeling like I was about to cry or hurl.

3) What has changed in your life since starting?
Everything!! But the most noticeable has been my bouts with seasonal depression. When I first started CF, I was on meds to help with that and now I’ve been off of them for over a year and a half and never felt better.

4) How has your diet changed? what does your diet look like? what foods do you rely on most?
Before CF my diet was most clean eating with the weekly family meal that consisted of us going to a restaurant, kids choice. Now I’m 80/20 paleo. I love my figuring out new ways of recreating my favorite foods Paleo style. The foods that I rely on the most and you will always find in my house are fresh veggies & fruit, lots of bacon and meat. I love variety.

5) What have you accomplished?
Too many to list!! But the most recent is butterfly pull-ups.

6) What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Finishing my first Whole 30. Just finishing the Whole 30 was pretty amazing, but all the gains I saw in the gym and the way I felt was outstanding.

7) What is your advice for the new folks?
Don’t put too much thought into starting, and by that I mean don’t over think it with thoughts like “oh I can’t lift heavy weights”, “that looks too hard” or “I have a previous injury that prevents me from doing those moves”. Just get in there, do the best you can and everything will fall into place. You will have good, bad and amazing days which makes this roller coaster ride called Crossfit such a blast!

 

The first step can often be the hardest, but the true test of commitment is where a person is in six months, a year, or even a few years after they start. Few will take the first step, but Sheena did, and has continued to take a whole lot of steps forward since. It hasn’t always been easy, but looking back nearly 2 years is a testament to what consistency can do for health. It isn’t hard… it just takes discipline and commitment to NO EXCUSES! Sheena, thank you for being that example at the Bunker. Thanks for being the friend to the new folks and the one who has “been there”, and thanks for allowing us the privilege to coach you to better health and fitness. You are a great athlete and terrific lady and we are glad that you’re part of the family!

Lorraine Rardin

Congratulations to Lorraine Rardin, Athlete of the Week, who passed her one year Anniversary with CrossFit PAX back in June! Lorraine has checked into class 200 hundred times and is hitting milestones on a weekly basis, which is extra impressive when considering that she has been coming to the 5am class! Lorraine and her husband, Joe, are committed to daily improvement and their hard work and consistency is paying off. From deadlifts to handstands and everything in between, Lorraine is making some serious waves… we were anxious to hear what she’s been thinking and what she is most proud of, and she did not disappoint! She has some great advice and an encouraging progress report! From Lorraine…

How did you get started with CrossFit PAX?

Friendly Peer Pressure in the form of Candi Alfred and Jenna Meredith.  After days and weeks of sitting in very long work meetings with these two ladies and ALWAYS talking about CrossFit, I signed up for a free WOD followed by Fundamentals back in June of 2013.  How Candi and Jenna knew I would be hooked is a mystery to me, however, I am so glad I listened to their non-stop chatter…and started my CrossFit PAX journey.

Why CrossFit and why CrossFit PAX?

Like so many who have come before me, I have belonged to many traditional gyms over the years.  I was the tomboy who played competitive sports in high school and college.  Then came the joys of marriage, motherhood, career, but also, the slow appearance of… ARGH…middle-age.  I entered my 50’s (yes, I am old enough to be the mom to most of my CrossFit PAX coaches).  I found myself out of shape, overweight, tired, and with no plan to prevent all of the ugly side effects that come with all of those issues.  Somewhere along the way, I dropped the ball.

Call me crazy, but I now that I am doing it, I think CrossFit is fun…crazy insane unpredictable kind of fun…but fun nonetheless.  The CrossFit PAX coaches are amazing and every class I have attended has made me feel welcome, made me believe I could do anything, and have provided support all along the way!  I love that CrossFit is different every day and challenging every day.  I appreciate that CrossFit PAX has pointed me in the direction of fitness and health.  I am hooked.

What was it like starting out?

Hard. Really. Hard.  Coach Jen, Coach John and Coach Gibb worked with me during Fundamentals.  My first “box jump” was jumping from the floor onto a 25lb plate.  Yep, you read that right!  All of about 2 inches off the ground and Coach Jen cheered like it was the Olympic trials!  Coach Jade offered me a bite of an apple when I thought I’d pass out during one of the WODs.  I was the person that made EVERYONE feel better about their progress because I could always be counted on for scaling everything and bringing up the rear.

Why have you stuck with it?

I love it.  I really do.  I had no clue in the beginning that I was actually going to progress.  The Coaches knew, though.  By slow steady increments, the Coaches have push me forward.  Coach John said, “you’ve got this!”  Coach Mandy said, “c’mon, Lorraine, I know you can do this.”  Coach Jon said, “put some more weight on.”  Coach Darren said, “get mad.”  At 5am, I now live for a high five from Coach Jon, a “good job, Lorraine” from Coach Kyle, and all of the amazing people that wake up, yawn during the warm-up, and finish a WOD by 6am…all of us together…all of us there for one another.

What has changed in your life?

Everything! I work out 4-5 times per week.  That’s up from 0 times a week.  I’m signed up for two runs (5K each in November and December).  I am still a work in progress, but I have a plan…I am working the plan…and I have the support of my Coaches and my CrossFit buddies.  I still have weight to lose, but rather than being a number, I am focused on fitness.  I am becoming healthier, I have more energy, and I get up at 4:15am to do a 5am workout that most people only dream about.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

In June 2013, I deadlifted 35lbs.  In March 2014, I deadlifted 205lbs.  In July 2013, my back squat was 55lbs.  In May 2014, my back squat was 155lbs.  I now run up the hill from the parking lot and back for the 200M warm-up and can still breathe.  I can’t do a handstand, but I can do a headstand.  I don’t die every time I do burpees.  AND…I can do a 20″ box jump!

What are your goals?

Somehow, someday, someway, I will do a double under!  I also want to run an entire 5K (no walking).

What advice do you have for the new folks?

Just show up… as often as you can.  Let your Coaches help you.  Scale when you need to, but keep pushing forward.  If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.

 

Never stop pushing forward, Lorraine! That 5K run is in your near future, and so are handstands and a whole lot more. Thank you for trusting our team to help you change your life for the better and for being part of the awesome EARLY morning crew. The best is yet to come!

Calvin Farmer

Congratulations to this weeks Athlete of the Week, Calvin Farmer! Calvin is best known for putting up some pretty impressive scores on the running WODs and is a regular 6am WOD crusher who has come a long way since day 1 at the Bunker. Since last June, Calvin has checked in nearly 200 times. His consistency in and out of the Bunker and his willingness to get outside of his “comfort zone” have brought him very far in that time. Calvin is focused and always prepared, coachable and driven, and he is not afraid to try new things and work on those elements of his fitness that aren’t as developed as say… his endurance. Calvin and his wife, Natalie, are committed to living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy being active together. They are pictured above, crushing Murph for the first time! For busy professionals with demanding careers, there will always be a list of excuses as to why fitness and health just are too hard to fit in the schedule… but these guys are making it a daily habit and their discipline is paying off. Here is a little bit about Calvin’s journey and goals, and some advice for the new folks:

 When did you start with CrossFit PAX and what brought you in the door?

I have been in or around a gym for most of my life.  However, when my wife and I moved to Leonardtown in 2012 I decided to build a gym in our new home.  My plan was to wake up every morning, go downstairs, and proceed to get ripped!  But…after about a year I realized that it just wasn’t there.  I was having trouble doing a workout that really meant something.  My regimen was feeling stale and I was unmotivated.  I knew that I needed a bigger challenge, and I heard that CrossFit could deliver.


What was it like starting out? 

Starting out with Crossfit was very intimidating.  I remember the first day I stopped by the bunker to get some information.  Jennifer was working the front desk and gave me some info when all of a sudden someone came flying through the door, looked back quickly at the clock, and immediately fell to the ground.  I don’t know who that was, but he looked exhausted and must have just finished a tough WOD.  I immediately thought “I don’t care how much a membership is…this is EXACTLY what I am looking for.”  The rest is history.

What has changed in your life since starting CrossFit? 

The biggest change in my life since starting Crossfit is a change in fitness goals.  I used to spend time in the gym with the goal of getting “HUGE.”  Clearly, that hasn’t worked out so well.  But now that I’m with Crossfit, I don’t care about being big…I just want to be strong, no matter what size my body is.  Now I just care about performing well in the Open or other competitions.


Tell us a little about your diet. 

My diet has changed in a big way.  I don’t necessarily eat different foods, but I put a lot more rigor into selecting the foods that I buy.   I try to buy as much of our food locally as possible.  And now I pay much more attention to the use of chemicals and antibiotics in the food that I eat.  I feel better in the gym and I am supporting local businesses.  My diet mostly consists of local fruits, vegetables, and lots of meat.  Dinner is usually one vegetable, a meat, and sometimes a starch (rice, potato) or bread.  I do love my bread.  However, I make my own bread every week, so I justify it to myself with “it can’t be that bad, right?”I also take a Fish Oil supplement and drink tons of water.  Seriously, a ton of water.  You may see me break off and use the bathroom a few times during a workout.  

What have you accomplished in the past year? 

Since joining Crossfit PAX, I have moved outside of my comfort zone with respect to Olympic lifting.  I usually shied away from cleans, jerks, and snatches.  Probably because they are actually quite technical, or maybe because it was just easier to pick up some dumbbells and do bicep curls (again).  But now, I have added a lot of weight to my deadlift PR and I actually feel comfortable with cleans and snatches.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?


I am most proud of completing 14.5 in the last Crossfit Open.  The thrusters in that workout were incredibly difficult for me, but I pushed through it and completed the workout.  Special thanks to Kyle and Darren for pushing me during that nightmare.


What advice would you give to the new folks? 

I would advise new folks to not wait to sign up.  If you are considering Crossfit at all, just get in and get started.  Once you’re here, ease yourself into it.  Don’t try to put up big numbers because you feel like you need to be on par with everyone else, or because you will feel embarrassed.  One thing I like about everyone at PAX is that they are supportive and encouraging no matter what your back squat PR is.  This is a great community that I am lucky to be a part of.

Calvin, that sub 18 5K is coming soon! We can feel it and can’t wait to be a part of the excitement when you crush that goal as well as all the others. Thank you for trusting us to coach you and for being part of the 6am PAX family. Keep doing what you’re doing and the best is yet to come!

Rob Gallagher

Rob hit his one year mark with CrossFit PAX this summer, and has checked in to class well over 200 times. He is constantly setting new PR’s in strength as well as making huge strides in his skills. He and his wife Meredith, and three kids are all regulars at the Bunker and have become a key part of the community- encouraging new members, showing up to those workouts that they know will get them out of their comfort zones, trying new foods that will keep them well fueled… this family has truly invested in their health and is seeing some awesome results! Rob is often the pace-setter for those running and endurance WODs, but what we love about Rob is that he is showing up to ALL the workouts and really focusing on the areas that push him such as gymnastics, double unders, or Olympic Lifting. His positive attitude, work ethic, and willingness to listen and learn is what has really given Rob some amazing results in just over one year. Here’s some info on Rob and what got him off the couch and hitting the Bunker on a daily basis (yes, at 6 am!):

How did you start CrossFit?

My journey back to fitness started a couple of years ago. We signed my son up for Tae Kwon Do and after a few months, I decided to sign up and start going with him. I figured, I may be in my late 30’s but I’m in pretty good shape right? I mean, duh, I obviously have to be in shape; I’m active duty Navy and I pass my PRT every 6 months. But, after a few classes and a lot of perfuse sweating and huffing and puffing, I had a rather cathartic epiphany. I was overweight and out of shape. That combined with finding out that my dad had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes was a clear message to me that it was time to get off the couch and do something about it.

I cleaned up my diet, started running and lifting weights again… but after a few months of that I wanted something more. I had heard about this cult of CrossFit way back and didn’t really know anything about it, but I knew it wasn’t for me because I had heard that “it was a dangerous fitness fad that would lead to injury not results”. But like I said, this time I was looking for something new… so I actually did some research this time, and checked the facts and thought “CrossFit huh, that’s not what I thought.” It sounded interesting and like something I would actually enjoy.  Long story short, I figured I would give it whirl.

What was it like starting out? Why did you stick with it?
I really didn’t know what to expect. I did one-on-one Fundamentals with Gibb, which in itself was a pretty intimidating proposition. I remember the nervous anticipation getting ready to do Fran as my capstone Fundamentals event. As I was getting ready to start, the 6 AM class was finishing up their WOD. I think it took me like 9 minutes to complete a scaled version of the WOD. I had no frame of reference, so I didn’t know if that was good or bad … but it turns out that it didn’t matter.

What did matter to me was that every member of that 6 AM class stopped what they were doing and cheered me on as I finished up and congratulated me on finishing my first WOD. That was awesome. There was no question of “sticking with it” at that point. I was hooked. I keep doing CrossFit because the workouts are different every day and always challenging. I love the challenge, the friendly competition, and the people I work out with…especially the 6 AM regulars.

What has changed in your life since starting with CrossFit PAX and what are you most proud of accomplishing?
I feel like I have an all around healthy, fit life. I am stronger, I eat better and I feel better. As far as accomplishments… figuring out double-unders was pretty cool and that first muscle-up was great …But my greatest accomplishment, after 9 months of patient encouragement (aka nagging), was getting my wife Meredith to join CrossFit PAX. She fought me hard, but finally started and it’s something we both now enjoy.

How has your diet changed?
When I was young, I was a skinny little cross country runner, who couldn’t put on a pound if I wanted to. I was always in pretty good shape and never worried about what I ate. Ate whatever and however much I wanted to. Those bad eating habits followed me into adulthood. Fast food lunches were commonplace and I pretty much lived on Coke Zero. That all changed a couple of years ago, as I mentioned above. I’m not really strictly following any particular diet, but my wife helps keep me on the straight and narrow. Kinda zone-ish, kinda paleo, avoid processed foods as much as I can, organic as much as I can. Instead of grabbing a candy bar at work, I grab a hand full of almonds. For me it’s a about a lot of little choices that add up to results that I am happy with. While I occasionally have portion control issues with some of my favorite foods, I have gotten pretty good at eating the “right things” and avoiding the evil processed foods and empty calories. Don’t get me wrong, I still have little to no self control when the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies are staring me in the face and taunting me or God forbid I hear, “Daddy, can we go to Sweet Frog.” Oh yeah, beer still tastes good too…We’ll call it a work in progress.

What are your goals?
Near Term Goals (mid-2015-ish):
– Improve on my olympic lifts

– 300 lb Back Squat

– 400 lb Dead Lift

– Consistency in my Muscle-Ups and Pistols

Long Term Goals:

– Stay fit, continue to get stronger, be able to keep up with my kids, don’t become that dad who is too embarrassed to take his shirt off at the pool.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?
Take that first step and start. If you are nervous or intimidated because you are out of shape or have not tried something like this before, just do it. Proper scaling is key, especially in the beginning. Form and function first. Work out to your level of fitness and skill. You won’t believe the difference you will see in a few short months. Remember, however slow you go, you’re lapping the people still sitting on the couch. Go as often as you can. Try anything. Trust the programming. Listen to your coaches. Work hard at what you can do and try to improve on what you can’t.

Great advice, Rob! You’ve made a lot of progress over the past year and we know with your approach to this process you still have many more milestones left to hit! I was happy to see you pass the running club this morning on the way to do some snatches instead and to see you as a regular in the yoga classes as well… you’re setting a great example and the best is yet to come!

Ryan “RyBo” Bodine

Congratulations to Athlete of the Week, Ryan “RyBo” Bodine. Ryan has been a member of CrossFit PAX since March of 2013. He’s checked in to class well over 200 times, so clearly he has the work ethic and drive to progress as an athlete. He showed up last March just looking for something different in his normal workout routine and quickly discovered that he wasn’t just getting good workouts but was changing his life by eating well, improving his mobility, and making friends that wanted to live healthful lives! Ryan is coachable, committed, positive, and encouraging. He has been setting the pace for the evening classes by listening and applying what his coaches are teaching. He asks great questions and follows through with advice. Great work, Ryan! Here’s his story:

How did you start CrossFit?

Once I graduated college and moved back home I was looking for a way to stay active and kept going to the gym on base or running, but it just wasn’t exciting and I got bored with the normal routine of things. But really I just wanted something to do other than go to work and go home, so I started as part of a group Fundamentals class!

 

What was it like starting out? Why did you stick with it?

Man starting out was tough, but really fun.  I was doing movements I had never done before and being pushed outside of my comfort zone.  I couldn’t tell you the names of any movements for the first few weeks, but I knew I was gonna do something different every day and it was gonna be hard.  You just felt good after the workouts though, like you know you are making progress and it is obvious.  I stuck with it mainly becauseof the rewarding feeling it gives me and the confidence I have gained.  It is also the people at the gym to, from the members to the coaches and owners.  Everyone is extremely supportive and wants to see you become the best person you can become.

What has changed in your life since starting with CrossFit PAX and what are you most proud of accomplishing?

Like I said in the previous question, CrossFit has really helped increase my confidence and that is huge for me. Another thing is the type of relationships I have made with people.  Everyone is supportive and helpful and honestly I have made some of the best friendships since I started at the gym.  I talk to these people every day (even if it is a rest day).

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

There are a lot of things I am proud of accomplishing since I started Crossfit about a year and a half ago, but there is one thing in particular.  A lot of people around the gym know I have some bad shoulder mobility issues.  Well, I honestly didn’t know about this until I started CrossFit and realized I couldn’t do a pass-through. I am not good at any movement that involves going overhead, but especially overhead squats.  Recently, I entered a competition called Charm City Throw-down. When they announced the workouts, I realized that every single one had overhead movements with the first one being a snatch and overhead squat ladder. I was mad and wanted to drop out, but my coaches and some friends told me not to, so I went and competed.

I performed the overhead squat successfully at 95 pounds and I was pumped!  It doesn’t sound like much, but it was huge for me and just made the whole weekend worth it.

How has your diet changed?

My diet has changed a lot, even my family thinks I’m crazy.  I used to just eat whatever I wanted, which included a lot of fast food and eating out.  CrossFit PAX did a Whole60 challenge starting in January of 2014
so I joined in on that.  It completely changed my view on eating and how to properly fuel your body to be ready for workouts.   I saw my performance improve at the gym and I wasn’t getting tired during the day or having that afternoon crash.  Even after the challenge, I still eat very clean and time what I eat based on when I am working out to make sure I have the energy I need at the right time.  This has also translated into a lot of PRs at the gym, so for new people eating correctly will make a difference, I promise.

What are your goals?

Some goals I have right now are to get that bar muscle up and to do double unders without looking like I was attacked!  I also would like to increase my deadlift because I have been stuck around the same weight for a while now.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?

Stick with it, some days are gonna suck or you won’t be able to perform the movement.  Don’t let it discourage you though, you will get better and the only way to do that is to keep showing up and putting in the work.  Talk to people at the gym, there is a lot of knowledge there and people are always willing to help.  And most importantly buy tape because your hands will rip.  When they do rip use cold water to wash your hands.

 

Keep it up, Ryan! We are so excited to see what other walls you break through and what PR’s are on the horizon for you. You are a pleasure to coach and an important member of Team PAX. The best is yet to come!!!

Yolanda Gutierrez

YOLO… really. It’s not just a trendy acronym. In case someone missed the memo (which it seems like a lot of people do)… we only get one body and one chance at this life. Unfortunately, pretty much everything about modern day life degrades our health-

Stress. Sugar. More Stress. More Sugar. Processed Foods. Sedentary jobs. More Stress. More Sugar. Conflicting information about “healthy” food and effective exercise can keep us from making progress.

And the reality is, you can’t just stop doing bad stuff and fix the problem…Habits need to change from unhealthy to healthy, and that takes a good support network and an effective program.

This weeks CrossFit PAX Athlete of the Week is Yolanda “YOLO” Gutierrez, and this lady really gets it. She’s got one body and one life and is working hard to make the most of it so she can enjoy her beautiful family and feel great doing it! No excuses!

We are really proud of this wife and mom of two (soon to be three!). Yolanda shows up, even when it would be easy not to do so. She works hard. She smiles while doing it. She loves to learn. She’s an encouragement to everyone around her. She is hacking this whole healthy lifestyle thing with the help of her friends at the Bunker and we are pumped to watch her succeed!

From YOLO-Yolanda herself:

 

How did you start CrossFit?

I started CrossFit once my husband, Alex, finally convinced me to give it a try.  Over the years he remained active trying different work outs (like P90X and Insanity) while I laid on the couch reading a magazine and enjoying some cookies. I admit that I did try P90X, which ended up being more like P76X for me since I found out I was pregnant two weeks shy of the 90 days. It literally took him months to get me to join, and the fact that my metabolism wasn’t what it used to be, combined with having had two babies, two years in a row, I finally realized that something had to give.

Why CrossFit PAX?

Alex started CrossFit PAX while in Test Pilot School.  I remember him telling me he was going to workout at a classmate’s house because he had a gym in his garage. **blank stare – blank stare – blank stare** (I didn’t get it) Then I remember Jade inviting the Spouse’s Club to join her in random WODs at the park. I didn’t go to those either. My excuse then? I was pregnant with number 2. Once I decided to join, I was familiar with CrossFit PAX and some of the members too. It was a no brainer.

What was it like starting out? Why did you stick with it?

Starting out was scary. Not gonna lie. I hadn’t exercised at all in over two years and had no idea how I would make it through. Plus, I have this crazy aversion to…. new people. haha. (I blame this on my Jersey side) But I did it. Back when doing P90X, an ex co-worker of mine asked me if I was still doing it. At the time I was and my response was, “yes, and I hate every second of it.”  That was the difference. I DIDN’T hate CrossFit. I liked it. The more I went, the more I enjoyed it. In the beginning, it was all new and exciting to learn all the different moves. Now, it’s exciting to move up in weight and down in time. Even when it’s a move that I dread (wall balls/double unders), I feel like I HAVE to go. Why? Because I’m competing against the last time I did it. Against myself. And I love that feeling.

What has changed in your life since starting with CrossFit PAX and what are you most proud of accomplishing? 

Since starting CrossFit there have been a lot of changes in my life. Mostly the fact that we’re now expecting baby # 3. But I’ve never felt better. And I can say with 100% certainty that CrossFit helps me feel this good.  Even with a little bit of a rough first trimester, I’m still here.

What are you most proud of accomplishing? 

Sticking with it. Even when I had an excuse I had used twice before. It would have been really easy for me to quit and say, “I’m pregnant I have 9 months to eat and relax.” But I didn’t. Or when I started the 9:30 am class and had a toddler that would literally cry the entire hour I was trying to work out. I’m still here and I love it.  And I love the people I’ve met. And I get excited when I PR. And I get excited when they PR. It’s a completely different way of thinking for me. I’m also so, so proud of introducing my kids to a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t realize it was something they would pick up on but I guess I should have. Seeing them imitate a squat or grab a plastic bat and grunt while getting it over their head is both funny and amazing to me.

…Or when we get to the part in our bedtime story where all the friends go up to exercise and they say, “Like Mommy and Daddy!” Sure, Alex gets to be the moose with a barbell overhead and I’m ALWAYS the elephant jumping rope… but they get it.. and I’m proud.

How has your diet changed?

My diet has changed too.  I’m not gonna say that I’m 100% paleo or even 100% healthy ALL the time.  But I am more healthy. I’ve done Whole30 once and am now on the verge of completing the 30 day Paleo Challenge. Both times were not a complete success but I’m proud of just having done them. Especially the fact that the 30 day challenge was smack in the middle of my pregnancy. When it comes up in conversation people normally respond with, “But you’re pregnant.” (See? It’s a great excuse.) And yes, I’ve given in to cravings a time or two, but I tried and I’m about to have made it through. And I would have never done it without CrossFit PAX.

What are your goals?

My goal remains the same as when I started CrossFit PAX. I really want to get my first RX pull up. Alex promised me something really good when I get it. (I’m hoping for a vacation :))


What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?

My advice for someone else who is considering starting CrossFit is to just do it. You’re the only one standing in your way. If I can do it pregnant, you can do it too. If I can do it with a screaming 1-2 year old, in the play area, you can do it too. Nobody is here to compete against you but everyone is here to cheer you on.

To my CrossFit PAX coaches, thanks so much for your support and help while I tried to keep up early in my CrossFit journey and as my belly grew with baby Gute #3. It means so much to me and to my family. To my CrossFit PAX friends, thanks for your encouragement to keep trying and to show up. I show up for myself but I show up for you too.  I love seeing you succeed and having become friends with so many of you is something I didn’t expect. And to my husband Alex who convinced me to give it a shot, thanks. I’m so proud of everything you are in and out of the box. And here in writing, for all to see, I’ll say it – You were right. I love CrossFit and I’m so happy you brought me into it. But get ready to take me away in 2015 because that pull up is coming soon!!

 

Yolanda, we love seeing the little Gute’s in the kids area cheering you on wearing CrossFit kids shirts and doing burpees! We are proud of you for your commitment and progress, and for the spirit and energy you’ve brought to Team PAX. Keep learning and getting stronger every day!

Dan Avis

Congratulations to Dan Avis, CrossFit PAX Athlete of the Week! Dan has come to class over 150 times since last September. From his first day at the Bunker, Dan has been fully committed to reaching his goals and maximizing his potential, despite a busy schedule and two small children. Early this year, Dan and Lucy took on the 60 day challenge like champs. Dan fueled his body well and worked hard at achieving his goals- both Dan and Lucy had great success and walked the red carpet at the Barbell Ball like rockstars. Like many of the families at CrossFit PAX and CrossFit gyms all over the world, they are juggling many things to include raising two small kids- Sully and Audrey. Rather than make excuses about why they don’t have time to exercise and eat well, they have stepped back and taken a good look at their lives and where they want to be down the road. They have decided that they want to live a long active life and that they want to be able to enjoy good health and for their kids to do the same. This takes consistently planning ahead and prioritizing the ‘important’ over the ‘urgent’. It takes researching, budgeting, planning, work, and commitment. This couple is doing an amazing job- their greatly improved fitness levels and healthy, happy children are a testament to their commitment and we are so glad to have them around! Dan has a lot to be proud of- from much improved ‘mechanics’ to many personal records, he is making steady steps in the right direction. Dan took a few minutes to tell us about his experience, accomplishments, goals… and to give the new folks some good advice!

“Primarily a distance runner in my youth, I have always been a bit on the scrawny side. For years I have wanted to build some more strength. I tried working out at several standard gyms but I just couldn’t seem to commit to it. I would go for awhile and stop. It was boring and I really had no idea what I was doing with free weights. Subsequent ACL surgeries on both knees severely limited my normal running routine and I started feeling like a slug. I started playing some recreational sports and took up some backpacking, which was fun but didn’t really help me stay in shape like I wanted. My wife, Lucy, convinced me to join her at a friend’s CrossFit garage gym when we were living in California. After just a few workouts I was hooked. CrossFit introduced me to proper lifting techniques in a fun and competitive environment. It made me want to keep coming back for more.
When we moved to Maryland we figured we would continue with CrossFit. However, shortly after arriving we had our first child and slacked off in our exercising during this new phase of our lives. We soon felt the effects of our lack of activity. We decided to try CrossFit again and ultimately found a home at CrossFit PAX.

We have since added another member to our family- Audrey. Juggling two small kids, exercising, and preparing healthy meals is no small feat. (How on earth did my parents do it with nine kids?) The CrossFit Pax family provides that extra bit of help and motivation we need. We always look forward to heading to the gym for our next workout. The great recipe ideas shared among the members makes healthy eating less of a chore. Since joining the gym I have seen steady progress in building some of that strength and regaining some of that overall fitness that I lost over the years.

During our recent Whole60 challenge, I met my goals of 120 consecutive double unders and 15 consecutive dead hang pull-ups. I also ran my first half marathon this past March. But what I appreciate most is the fact that we are setting a good example for our children. I want them to enjoy an active lifestyle, and I want Lucy and I to be able to enjoy it with them well into our old age.

Completing those challenge goals made me want set some new ones. One of my goals is a 300lb deadlift (with good form). The deadlift is one of my weakest movements. I have finally let go of any ego with regard to my struggling deadlift. I have moved down in weight and am trying to work on the mechanics of the lift. I also want to make it a point to join Lucy at more mobility classes. She was right about Crossfit, maybe she’s right about mobility too!

When it comes right down to it, I may be stronger and more fit, but my favorite thing about CrossFit PAX is the people, both the coaches and other athletes. I have primarily worked with Coach Jen, but I have had some exposure to all of the coaches. They are all highly gifted in the art of coaching athletes of all different levels of development. They know the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete. They genuinely care about helping us continually improve our fitness while assuring we take safe and measured steps to get there. The other athletes at CrossFit PAX are awesome. They are all very supportive and friendly. Lucy and I felt like part of the family from the first workout. It’s also great to have such a wide range of athletes. I can marvel at the firebreathers and can help encourage and support a new member all in the same workout.

If I were to offer any advice to someone starting out in CrossFit it would be: jump in with both feet. Don’t sell yourself short. You need to put in your maximum effort in order to get back the results you are looking for. That does not mean you should try to Rx every workout. Listen closely to the coaches, scale the workouts when needed, and work on the mechanics of each movement. And have fun.”

 

Wise advice, Dan! Thank you for trusting us to build you up and move you forward as an athlete. You’ve made some big strides and we know that the best is yet to come! We are excited to see what you accomplish during the”Wall Breaker Challenge”this month and in your second year with CrossFit PAX. Keep it up!!!

Ashley Ward

Before we introduce this weeks Athlete of the Week, let’s check out these three words we hear about a lot:

Mechanics. Consistency. Intensity.

Yes, this is a lifelong process, but usually it is pretty smooth with the occasional set-back or bump in the road. Usually, we are improving enough that it makes every day seem exciting and new… which makes showing up to class a pretty easy decision. Sometimes, however, this turns into a pretty long and complex process. Sometimes, the results don’t just happen and the progress isn’t as evident. Sometimes, we hit a plateau or just take longer than we’d like to meet that next goal.

Sometimes, it even takes a few experts and a lot of waiting.

At that point, it is easy to look around at what the people next to you are doing and feel discouraged, and without the right coaching, community, and encouragement, it may even be easy to give up. It is easy to make excuses or say that “it isn’t working”.

This week we wanted to recognize someone who, in the face of a whole lot of adversity, has NOT given up and has not made excuses. She waited weeks and months to even grab a barbell, but when she did she knew it was the right time and that her body was ready for the task.

Ashley Ward, I hope you know that the time you put in, while it felt like a long time, was well worth it because you have greatly improved your quality of life, made a lot of new friends, and inspired a whole lot of people along the way.

Meet Ashley Ward, CrossFit PAX Athlete of the Week…

Ashley has had a tough road and despite her smiles and sense of humor, I know this hasn’t been easy for her. Not only has Ashley, from a medical standpoint, defied all odds and made some amazing steps, she has been an awesome teammate and friend to many at the Bunker. From coordinating Barbells for Boobs events to helping out the new folks and making us all laugh with her well timed sarcasm or jokes, she is a valued member of the family and we wanted to give her a shout out.

Ashley had a back injury from a combination of sports and some poorly executed weightlifting movements- bad enough to land her in the hospital for a week and immobile for a month, and bad enough for doctors to tell her that pain was a way of life and paralyzation could be in her future if she didn’t stop playing rugby. She didn’t settle for being sedentary though as was suggested, and looked for different opinions until she found a doctor that encouraged her to try CrossFit, and she joined CrossFit PAX in December 2012.

Ashley started slowly, and for months used a pvc or trainer bar for nearly every movement. No running. No jumping. Nearly every workout had to be adjusted pretty dramatically, but she always came early to ask what she could do and always did her mobility ‘homework’, worked with her coaches to develop a plan while on travel, and continued to work hard in the nutrition department to improve how she fueled her body. Ashley was one of the big winners of the 60 day challenge in Jan-Mar 2014. She is intensely competitive, driven, and one smart lady. I know it is frustrating.

Recently Ashley has turned some pretty big corners after a lot of hard work and patience. She is squatting to a much lower box and some days is squatting quite well, doing the olympic lifts, rowing very well, and even running on good days… She has gone back to see that doctor and he is impressed with her progress and says to keep doing what she is doing! She recently PR’d with a 185 deadlift and has signed up for her 1st competition. She does most of the workouts as written, now, and is more confident moving faster. She fuels her body well and follows through, despite frequent traveling. She is in class nearly every day when she is home, and has checked into the Bunker well over 200 times since she joined. From Ashley:

 

So how’s that back thing going for you? The doctor is impressed with the progress i have made strength wise and not killing myself lifting, jumping, and (kind of) jogging. It’s a place I have been able to get to that many “experts” said was impossible. So I’m pretty jazzed about that!

Things in my life that have changed since CrossFit: I don’t have to rely on other people to help me with simple things like carrying my own suitcase. I find myself doing the 4 step bracing in real life when my back starts to feel squirrelly and unstable. I don’t feel as broken everyday. There are still some things that scare me in the gym…handstands. Thats a deep seeded fear of falling and breaking my back and that “paralyzation” word again. Working through that though, and making progress little by little.

Favorite thing about CrossFit PAX and the larger CrossFit Community: Obviously, the coaches here and the community. The coaches are there to make sure i don’t kill myself with bad form, push me when i need it, but also throttle me back when I’m trying to hurt myself. The high fives, sweaty fist bumps, and “atta girls” from not only the coaches but everyone- its just the best. Keeps you going.

Favorite thing about CrossFit from a global stand point is still the community. I travel for work and life and drop in to boxes everywhere. I start with the shpeal of how I am broken and modify and never get a weird look. I think some new coaches even like the challenge. From FL to NYC to England everyone is nauseatingly friendly and accommodating , and I love it.

Advice for newbs: Don’t be scared. It can be intimidating to walk through that door or show up to a frightening WOD, but everything can be scaled and modified. No one will judge you if you have to scale or can’t do something yet, only cheer for you louder! So just show up and embrace the suck!”

Congratulations Ashley Ward, you rock. From your “Ashleyisms” and positive attitude to your determined and patient approach to progress, we love having you around and watching you progress. Personally, I have learned a lot from you and have loads of respect for your wise approach to this process and your commitment to the CrossFit Community. You focus on the team, on serving those around you, on taking steps forward. You are a fighter and have defied the odds and surely the best is yet to come.

Don Dirkin

Don Dirkin, CrossFit PAX Athlete of the Week, has a whole lot to celebrate a year into his journey with CrossFit PAX. Don is stronger, faster, and more fit… and is moving like a champ. Clearly, Don is eating better and taking care of his health outside of the Bunker as well, seeing as he has lost an impressive 45 pounds in the past year! Don has become a regular in the evening classes- showing up early to get some extra mobility and accessory work in and preparing his mind and body to test its limits. Don is incredibly coachable and eager, positive, and always ready to work hard. Like so many at the Bunker, he’s the kind of guy anyone would want on their team.

While Don didn’t say it outright in answering the “athlete of the week” questionnaire, I would venture to guess that he is also beyond proud of his son and coach, Darren. How many fathers get to coach their son through life and sports and then have their son coach them at only 20 years old? This is an amazing testament to Don as a father and shows that his humility and desire to improve as an athlete and person are driving forces in his life. These two have inspired us as athletes and parents, and we are so glad to have the Dirkin Duo around. Through thick and thin, these men have stuck together and despite a lifetime of athletic achievements, have made enormous strides this past year together and with the rest of the Bunker crew. Don took a few minutes to tell us about himself, his experience over the past year, and also shared some words of wisdom:

“I hail from the great state of New Jersey, specifically South Jersey where there is a tremendous Philadelphia influence. My father was an avid sports enthusiast and had me playing all sports at a very young age. Excelling as a quarterback, my focus was football but my true love was Ice Hockey. Athletics was my passion but as I grew through my formable adolescence years a desire to become an aviator became priority. I joined the Navy and for the next twenty years was fortunate to realize my dreams and serve our great country as an S-3A/B Naval Aviator. Retiring from the Navy, I was again fortunate to remain close to Naval aviation where I continue to work as an Mission systems test engineer today.

I thoroughly enjoy sports and coaching sports. When not at the bunker I mostly enjoy playing golf and trying to stay active thru various activities. When at the bunker, I really enjoy the short duration, high rep wods and have to say that Fran is one of my favorites.”

How did you get started with CrossFit?
“I started CrossFit mainly from the huge influence of my son Darren. He convinced me through wisdom few people of his age possess. A particular phrase, “don’t you want to be able to pick up and play with your grandchildren” really hit home. I decided, at that moment, I have coached and parented him, I did my job, and now it was time for him to coach and teach me about his passion in life. Darren and Don are the best sons a father could ask for and indeed they did teach an old dog new tricks and what is truly important in life…family and health.”

What has changed in your life since starting at CrossFit PAX?
“My life has changed dramatically since committing to the crossfit life. First and foremost, I have lost over 45 pounds, feel stronger and more self-confident, and believe there is nothing I cannot achieve. A healthy body and mind is a powerful tool to help you navigate through life and I would not trade that health for anything.”

What are you MOST proud of accomplishing over the past year?
“I am most proud of the fact that I stuck with the crossfit program, though not easy. It really helps to have one of the coaches as your son and without him I can honestly say I don’t think I would be where I am today. The word quit is not in his vocabulary. My accomplishments are because of my sons, influence from friends, and the crossfit pax members without whom none of it is possible.”


What are your current goals?

“My current goals are to keep working hard, get stronger, and ultimately more fit and healthier.”

What is your favorite thing about training at CrossFit PAX?
“This is an easy question, without a doubt training with the many members and friends but the coaches, in particular, Darren, Alex, John, and Kyle make CrossFit PAX a great experience and well worth coming back to each day.”

What is your advice for new athletes starting at CrossFit PAX?
“My advice for any new athletes is simple- stick with it. CrossFit PAX has, unquestionably, the best coaches available in the area and you will get better in time from their tutelage. The work really does pay off in so many facets of your life. Like anything, the harder you work the greater the reward and what greater reward is there than your health and fitness?”

 

Thank you for your encouraging words and for taking the time to share a little bit about your life. It has been awesome to watch your movement improve and your strength numbers steadily increase. Your determination and will are setting you up well, and we think you will be amazed at the progress you will continue to make if you prioritize your nutrition and health, do that ‘mobility homework’, and then show up and put in the work! We are so blessed to have both you and Darren around, and glad you are getting to see firsthand just how many lives your son is helping to change for the better. Apparently you did a pretty amazing job raising him and teaching him how to challenge himself and compete with humility and drive. Now hopefully he can teach you a few things as well. Keep it up, Don! The best is yet to come!

Alyssa Zurla

Congratulations to Alyssa Zurla, our “Athlete of the Week”. Maybe you haven’t noticed yet, but she is a force to be reckoned with and has some sage advice for everyone. Alyssa was one of our very first athletes starting in December of 2012. At the time, she was focused on getting in shape for her upcoming wedding and finding something she could stick to… but now, well over a year later, she is moving like a champ and making huge strides, and enjoying competing with herself and others… most importantly, she has changed her habits for the better and is having fun! We wanted to highlight Alyssa because she is consistent- in coming to class, in making good choices, in having a positive attitude, and in just being an awesome member of Team PAX. She is someone that anyone would be lucky to have on their team. We are lucky to have her around and glad that she agreed to tell us about her journey to better health and fitness. As you read what she wrote, keep in mind where she started, and where she is now. Keep in mind that the time in between those two dates Alyssa, like all of us, was faced with millions of decisions. What do I eat for breakfast? I’m tired… do I still go to the gym? Clearly, she is making the best decisions for her health and fitness the vast majority of the time, and we are proud of her success! Here’s her story…

“I grew up in Northern NJ in a 100% Italian family, where pasta and bread was a diet staple. I’m pretty sure my veins are made out of spaghetti and my blood consists primarily of pasta sauce. I lived in a small town where just about everything was within walking distance, including the bagel shop, multiple pizzerias, restaurants, and Dairy Queen. It didn’t help that my favorite food was (and still is) bagels, so walking up the corner on a regular basis to get one slathered with butter or decked out with Taylor ham and egg was my idea of paradise. So when I look back, it’s no wonder I was the chubby child I was. I was a bit overweight growing up and always struggled with that. I was always going on diets or joining a new gym to try and fix it, though usually unsuccessfully. I was a competitive swimmer for most of my youth, but when I was no longer on a team, I struggled to find a healthy lifestyle that I could maintain. My senior year of high school I lost 30 pounds thanks to joining weight watchers with my mom and managed to keep that off for a while, though over the recent years I keep yo-yoing back and forth with a good portion of those pounds… until recently, when I joined CrossFit PAX.

Joining CrossFit was, for lack of better phrasing, a last-ditch effort for me to lose weight and get in shape. I would go through phases where I’d get the motivation to work out, but after a few weeks the laziness would kick back in and I would stop going to the gym. My brother-in-law had been doing CrossFit for a while up in NJ and always talked about it; he made it sound pretty interesting. My husband, Mike, started doing some of the CrossFit workouts on his own and he really liked doing them as well. I looked more into the idea of CrossFit and it sounded exactly like what I needed, i.e. a coach/trainer telling me exactly what I need to do and how to do it. I ended up finding CrossFit PAX on a Google search and signed Mike and myself up for the first fundamentals class in December 2012. I’m very happy I did!

Outside of CrossFit, I love going hiking with my husband Mike and our two dogs, and swimming when I can. Mike and I did a triathlon two years ago and I would like to get into doing more of those, though the bike portion is what deters me (not my strong suit).

Within CrossFit, my favorite workouts are those with deadlifts. I love deadlifts! As of May 5th my 1 rep max is 255#, though I’m sure I can beat that now. I look forward to the day I hit 300! My favorite workout is most definitely 14.3 from the games (AMRAP 8 of deadlifts with increasing weight/reps and box jumps). I would be happy to do that one again!

Since starting with CrossFit PAX I would have to say my patience for seeing results is my biggest change, along with keeping myself more accountable when it comes to my diet. In the past I would go to the gym for a few weeks (doing the same workouts each time) and get annoyed when I wasn’t seeing results or if my weight wasn’t going down. I would get discouraged and just stop going to the gym altogether. Instead I would go home after work, sit on the couch with a pre-dinner snack while waiting for Mike to get home from the gym, and complain about gaining weight. Now I know not to get discouraged when results don’t come right away and to keep with it because it does take time! And going out eating pizza and bagels every weekend doesn’t really help the process, so I am definitely more focused on my diet and really pay attention to what I am eating. I have branched out from my picky eating habits and upped my intake of vegetables greatly. I learned about Whole30 and even took part of the 30 day challenge in January of 2013. And though I don’t eat Whole30 all the time, I use it as a baseline for my meal planning and grocery shopping which really helps to keep the food choices in check.

Since starting CrossFit a year and a half ago, I’d have to say that I’m most proud of the fact that I have been going for a year and a half! This is the longest stretch of time I have gone with going to the gym on a regular basis, and actually still enjoying it! I am proud of learning how hard I can push myself, and of how strong I realized I can be. I am also proud that I competed in my first CrossFit Open and finished every workout knowing I gave it my best. I have done more over the past year than I ever thought I physically or mentally could.

My current main goal is to get better in all things having to do with squats. Squat clean, squat snatch, back squat; if it has squat in it, I need to work on it. I have been stuck at my current weights for all my lifts because I get nervous dropping under the bar to catch it in a squat. I know I have the strength to lift more, but I’m limited until I master dropping into the squat. I also need to work on keeping my chest up when it comes to back and front squats so I can finally break into the 200’s. And of course, getting the ever daunting muscle up….

One of my favorite things about training at Crossfit PAX is the fact that the environment and coaches have helped me get over my irrational fear of working out in front of others. I am completely uncoordinated so when I workout I feel like a total spaz and always thought everyone was watching me. This was actually one big hesitation I had about joining CrossFit PAX, but realized I just needed to get over that. After being at CrossFit PAX I am now comfortable working out in a big group. I am still totally uncoordinated, but now I no longer feel self-conscious. I know when I fall during a lift or do my horrible version of karaoke warm-up drill I can laugh it off, make nothing of it, and try again. It is such a comfortable environment that I have never felt at any other gym.”

 

Alyssa’s advice?

“Give it your best, don’t compare yourself to others, and trust your coaches. If you come into CrossFit and only give it 50%, than that’s all you will get in return. You will never really challenge yourself or know what you are truly capable of doing unless you give it your best shot every time. Don’t compare yourself to your fellow athletes because every person’s body is different and will hit certain milestones at different points. Give yourself and your body time to adjust to the programming, give it your all, and you will be hitting your goals in no time. And last but not least, trust the coaching. The coaches are trained in this area and understand the programming better than anyone. If they tell you to go down in weight, it must be for a good reason. If they tell you that you should add more weight, it’s because they know you can handle it and could be pushing yourself more. Don’t fight them. Take their advice to heart and you’ll be sure to love the progress that you will make.”

 

Alyssa, thank you! We know that 300 lb deadlift and muscle up are in your very near future. Keep fighting with that contagious smile on your face. Keep making good decisions for your health and future. We are here for you and Mike and committed to you every step of the way! Our community is lucky to have had such a super couple in our midst for the past year and a half, and we look forward to seeing Team Zurla continue to push their limits and ours!