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Cove Body Comp Challenge


As summer fast approaches we are continuing our annual tradition of a nutrition challenge to get us ready for beach season. Nutrition is the key success in any fitness program and a challenge like this is a great way to give yourself a jumpstart with the support of your coaches and friends at the Cove. This year Coach John is going to lead us into our first ever Body Composition Challenge. 

This will be a 6-week challenge (we normally do 4 weeks) to ensure you will have enough time to create real habits to see significant change in your body composition.  

Overall goals include:

-Decrease body fat

-Increase lean muscle

-Educate on various aspect of health and fitness

For those looking to accelerate strength and performance gains, we have added accessory programming (to be done in conjunction with nutrition elements).  Done in addition to regular Cove programming, this accessory work will:

– Build/retain/sculp muscle

– Address and correct muscular imbalances

– Strengthen ligaments, tendons and joints

– Strengthen balance and stability

– Switch up intensity and routine

How It Works

-Attend 4+ classes at the Cove per week (or do at home WODs in unable to come in)

– Incorporate nutrition guidelines (see below) for six weeks

– Perform extra accessory programming (generally lower body, upper body, core) 3x week for six weeks.  Estimated 30 min per session.  These can replace one workout day to mix up intensity and give the body a break.  And working on movement in a controlled manner will certainly carry over into future WODs! 

-View weekly videos (15-20 min) on different topics (i.e. eating for performance vs composition, nutrient content/consistency, macro nutrients (good, bad, counting), programming for composition vs performance, meal prepping, habit building, etc)

-Two InBody Scans to measrure body composition (1 pre challenge, 1 post challenge)

-Private FB page for challenge group with unlimited support

-Before and after photos (for contestant/gym use if permitted)

Goal-Based Nutrition

Your nutritional approach will be determined based off of your goals (muscle gain, leaning out, performance, etc).  Many of the diet prescriptions will have certain aspects that will be the same (consistency, whole foods, water, etc) while others will be different based on the individual (macronutrient goals, food timing, etc).

Key Dates

Body Comp Challenge Kick Off Meeting: Friday, May 3rd 7:45 PM

Initial Scan: Sunday May 5th 10am – Noon

Post Challenge Scans: Saturday, June 15th Noon – 2 PM

Cost: $75 (Current Cove Nutrition clients free)

This will be an individual challenge but we like to think we are creating a team of participating Covies supporting each other in everything fitness and nutrition! Through weekly videos, our private challenge Facebook group, and challenge check-ins we are expecting some great results for all athletes will to take part in the Body Composition Challenge!S



Today we highlight one of our favorite athletes — the amazing and inspiring Kathy L.  She turns 70 this fall, but her energy, enthusiasm and ability rival that of people half her age (or even a quarter of her age!).  She’s proven that age is just a number and her approach to fitness is something people of any life-stage should strive for!

“In my past I’ve had poor luck with physical fitness. I kept hurting myself trying to do it on my own.  I have a shelf full of fitness books that failed me.  Then I pried open my wallet and hired a trainer one day.  I really enjoyed working with a personal trainer, but it got really expensive working out twice a week.  I’m kind of a cheapskate and hated spending all that money.”

I joined my county gym and I was looking for a class setting with guidance so I wouldn’t hurt myself.  I thought I’d get the benefits to help keep me improving but also keep me safe — and I could save a little money too.  But the classes were hard to get in to. They’re crowded and you need to sign up.  And sometimes I couldn’t even get in because I got shut out and I didn’t get the personal attention I needed.”  So that’s when she decided to give the Cove a try.

She’s been at the Cove just over a year and a half and continues to just get faster, stronger and more agile. She credits the coaches, the environment and her fellow athletes for her successes here.  “One of the first sessions I couldn’t do a single burpee, box jump or jump rope. The coaches are all so awesome. Everyone is so patient. I am learning something new every day and I keep seeing improvements.” 

Oh, and she’s been injury-free.  “No aches and pains.  Not a one. The only ‘injury’ I’ve had is sciatica from my desk job!  I honestly feel it’s because of the guidance of the coaches.  I know I’m responsible for myself as well, so I’m really careful.  There’s personal responsibility there, but they are amazing.”  She also loves the fact that we properly prepare her for the workouts.  “I really love the warm ups.  It’s something I’ve never had the discipline to do on my own. Some are really grueling for me.  But it’s part of the reason why I think I haven’t been injured.”

Besides staying injury-free, her biggest overall goal is just to see continued improvement. “I think for me it’s notable that I can actually expect to continue to improve at my age.  Even starting this so late, I think I can continue to see improvements for at least the next 10 years until I’m 80.”

She also has specific and measurable goals, and she’s ticking them off quickly.  “One of the goals I put on the goal wall was to be able to do a box jump.  And I just did my first 12” jump today.  Maybe I’ll try to put a plate on it soon to make it higher, but for now I’m just happy I can do it”.  She also has a goal of doing a full push up.  “I haven’t done one since I was in my 20’s.  Holden has really been working with me on it.  I can do a plank for a full minute now so I know it’s not my core strength, it’s my upper body that needs to get stronger.  I’m confident I’ll get here. I do a tiny bit every day”.

“Everyone is so wonderful and friendly. And like I said, the coaches are just all awesome. And I’m inspired by everything these amazing athletes do. It’s so thrilling to see the young fellas lift so much weight the bar is gong to break.  And these women — they do a chin up and then keep going.  Those (muscle ups) are amazing.  I love watching it all.   I know I can’t compete with those great athletes, so mentally I strive for 2/3rds of the RX.  I scale myself to finish in the middle of the pack and I get a FANTASTIC workout.”

And she’s seeing and feeling the results outside the gym too.  She just came back from a skiing trip to Utah where she claims much more stamina and strength on the mountain than she’s felt in a long time.  “I hike more.  I do the things I love like golf and enjoy generally staying active.” 

As we age, things like protecting bone density and performing simple movements like getting up and down off the floor are really important.  Strength and power output are key elements to living a long and productive life and she’s increasing hers daily.  “My friends are really struggling — with degenerative diseases and age related things.  I’m kind of an outlier now. “ Actually, we’d prefer to say she’s exceptional.

So exceptional that all of the things she could do when she came in, she can now. “I can’t believe I can jump on a 12” box.  I can’t believe I can jump rope 40 or 50 times unbroken.  In our first classes I couldn’t do a single one.  I can even do burpees now.  I was away and saw Brian’s note about “out of town workouts”.  And there was one that said “100 burpees for time”. I didn’t do 100 — I did 70 — and it took me a long time, but I did them.

And best of all, she’s so intelligent about all of it.  She doesn’t over-reach, but she also doesn’t go soft.  She comes out sweaty, more fit… and safe too.  We think it’s the ultimate win-win relationship. She is inspired by the athletes around her and they are inspired by what she is doing.  When you see her, please give her a huge high five and tell her job well done!





Today we highlight one of the greatest and friendliest faces at the Cove, Wes K.  Since joining the Cove he has lost over 40 pounds and his body fat percentage has dropped from 30% to 19% in his most recent InBody Scan. We really don’t need the numbers though, the progress is obvious and inspiring. Sometimes losing weight actually means gaining so much more.

You may know Wes from being awarded “Best Male Transformation” at the most recent Cove Anniversary Party, but what this award didn’t showcase was all the effort that went into it.  Wes’s story isn’t about a quick fix, but rather was a steady climb over 10 months of intelligent training coupled with a new understanding of nutrition.

Wes came to us looking to lose weight and reclaim his body. As a younger man he was a swimmer and tirelessly spent hours in the pool. He loved it growing up but the grind of constant practices took its toll for his passion for the sport. Fitness became a chore that involved a pair of headphones, a bench press, some curls, and a desire to sweat as little as possible. Living a young mans lifestyle of drinking and it poorly led to him slowly gaining pounds year after year.  Again, it wasn’t an instant transformation.  It was a slow burn.

Wes realized what he was doing was not serving him and he needed to make a change. CrossFit came onto his radar as he saw the changes it made in people around him, but he was intimidated. Wes found the Cove online and it seemed “friendly and something I could do”. He saw that we offered FREE CrossFit 101 classes but he was afraid even to walk in the door.

“I am naturally a shy person and with all those movements and people being involved it seemed a bit overwhelming. If I ended paying a little money for the sessions I knew I would attend. It helped me follow through. I went through those three classes and it really helped me understand the movements and gave me confidence that I could do this.”

But now he actually had to take it to his first class. “Brian told me to take the Friday class so I did what I was told. I was super nervous for the class experience and he forgot to mention that it’s a partner workout. Not only that but it had like 300 wall balls and a whole bunch of other stuff. I was really feeling for my partner but he was awesome and so supportive.  I survived that day.”

And from that first official workout of wall balls thus started Wes’s consistent attendance to CrossFit classes. “Coach John and Coach Brian kept introducing me to people and I started to make connections.” Those connection led to him to not just enjoying classes, but learning he was not alone in his journey.

After finding consistency in attendance he then moved on to the next target in his fitness journey, his nutrition.  One step at a time was his simple, yet smart, approach.  “I had the get the workouts down before I moved on to nutrition. I ended up buying portioned meals through Territory foods and that made things simple for me.  The great thing that happened with changing my diet was that I was recovering better from workouts. I was starting to make classes 4 days a week and I realized that I really wanted to come to classes. I liked being there. I was eating so I could spend time doing something I really enjoyed.”

This is where Wes really started to realize the next benefit of his fitness transformation. Improving his physical body was also transforming his outlook on life and his relationship with people. “Lots of my friends were getting married and having kids and they just weren’t around to hang out anymore. I never realized it but I was isolating myself from others and the Cove brought me out of my shell (pun intended). I hadn’t really thought about it at the time, but depression runs in my family but I know that this place takes care of that for me. I am just happy here.”

And despite his initial hesitancy around crowds and his nervousness about that first Friday class, it has become something he really looks forward to. “ Partner workouts are my favorite night. It’s a day I feel like I can slack the most. I might be as popular a partner anymore after this article. I just love Marcus, Sara, Paul, John, and everyone at the Cove. Things have change so much for me over the past 10 months.”

We couldn’t be more proud of Wes and his amazing accomplishments.  Give him a fist bump or high five when you see him and tell him to keep up the great work!


Cove Nutrition Coaching With Coach John



A big focus for the Cove this year is improving our nutritional offerings to our membership as we know the massive importance diet has on one’s physical and mental well-being. We have offered numerous challenges, customized programs through Coach Brittany and Flex Nutrition, invested in the InBody body composition scanner and we are thrilled to announce our newest offering, Cove Nutrition Coaching.

Please be aware that FLEX Nutrition will still be a service offered at the Cove but the demands of being a super mom, coach, and entrepreneur has made it difficult for Coach Brittany to coach as often as she likes. We may not see her as often as we like as coach but she still will be providing her nutritional program to those athletes that are looking for her help.

Cove Nutrition Coaching will be headed by Coach John who has always been passionate about helping our athletes grow. He has always been a master of movement but in an effort to provide the best for our athletes he has dived deep into the nutritional world. He has recently completed his Precision Nutrition Certification (one of the premier programs in this field) and has been working with a number of local clients this past year . He has had great success with his nutrition clients (see some examples below) and we are excited to announce that we will be including his services underneath the Cove nutritional umbrella.



Through this nutrition program we will teach people how to create, implement, and consistently carry out habits (both in and out of the gym) that will help them reach their health and fitness goals.  Everybody’s nutritional goals and needs are different.  Whether it’s weight loss, muscle growth, overall performance in your workouts, different goals require different individual approaches.  As a Nutrition Coach, I will help determine which one(s) fit an athlete best by developing customized plans that address those personal goals.


  • In-person Goal Setting Session where we define your goals and and personal drivers.  Knowing your ‘why’ will help determine your path AND keep you on it.
  • Habit Formation is key to any lifestyle change and I will work with you on daily/weekly/monthly habits to help you find success.
  • Creation of a Customized Approach aligned to your specific goals including:

Consumption guidance:

Meal planning and prepping

Grocery store navigation

Macronutrient consumption

Eating for recovery

Teaching body awareness and control:

Portion control

Listening to hunger cues

How to embrace eating in a social setting

Decision making

Providing accountability:

Goal setting session and consultation

Daily connectivity (through WhatsApp)

Weekly email check-ins

Monthly 20 minute sessions (call, in person, Skype)

Monthly InBody Scans & review (15 min)

Inclusion in any gym “Challenges”


Contract Commitments:

3 month @ 150/month

6 month @ 125/month

12 month @ 100/month

Keep in mind habit change takes time AND commitment.  We want to empower people to make health-conscience nutrition/lifestyle choices for themselves under any circumstance not just follow numbers & orders. 


The Best Box in Columbia continues to get better!

The Best Box in Columbia continues to get better!

As you know, we have been spending the last weeks strategizing (and already implementing) feedback we heard from the Cove and Coach’s surveys.  Hopefully you’ve seen some new equipment arriving, felt some changes in the programming and are seeing the coaches take their individual feedback to heart with nuances in how classes are run.  And we’re also adding some things into the mix to deliver on the promise of the ‘Best Hour of Your Day”.  But we also wanted to take a moment to clearly articulate some of the things we have prioritized and are addressing.  Here’s a look behind the curtain in terms of what we heard and what we are doing about it.

PROGRAMMING:  The Cove serves a broad spectrum of athlete every day, and our job is to provide programming to make sure each level is progressing at a level individual to their own needs. And regardless of level, we want to also make sure it is interesting and exciting to keep you coming back.  At the same time, safety is (and always has been) our number one concern.  Not many are aware, but we consult regularly with three PT partners to ensure we are not overusing muscle groups or putting too much strain on our athletes.  Programming is a complicated puzzle and it’s clear what we have done over the years has worked.  We’ve created some beastly athletes here at the Cove – in fact, every athlete has seen growth of one kind or another.  But we understand that as our athletes evolve, we must too.  Keeping movements and classes varied is already a key focus for us and hopefully you are feeling the differences.  We have been hitting more complexes, varying strength with percentage work, have introduced new movements and are mixing it up by adding in some classics more often (HSPU and rope climbs as examples).  Sometimes movements will also vary per track (FX/Performance/Open) but the goal is to keep things as fresh as possible for everyone.  That also means playing with different time domains (longer engine, short burners and intervals) to push your fitness no matter the stimulus.  We have also added more time caps and are communicating those intended stimuli for each workout, as these are so strategically planned.  But they also need understanding and action from you to achieve them, so please listen to your coaches, soak in the goals of the day and adjust your game plan accordingly.   We hope you are already feeling the change; but if not already – you will!

NUTRITION: Any success in fitness cannot occur without the necessary support of a healthy diet. It is the foundation of the CrossFit pyramid and we look to provide more information and support in 2019. Coach John recently completed his certification as a Precision Nutrition coach and we will now be leaning on him assist us in growing the nutritional component of the Cove. John and Coach Brittany will be the go to resources for all your nutrition needs. We also decided to purchase our own InBody Body Composition analyzer for the gym. For those that aren’t familiar with this device, it helps calculate your body fat percentage and determine the correct amount of calories you should be looking to hit with your diet. We look forward to using this tool strategically to help people meet their goals.

CLASS SIZES:  Certain hours of the day draw bigger crowds than others and we have been making some changes to address that.  But in order to make the most effective changes we ask that every athlete signs into every class you take via Wodify.  This is solely so we can determine attendance trends and make the most informed decisions possible.  For example, 4:30p on Mondays and Tuesdays are the most attended classes of the week by far. For the last month we have had an assistant coach at every 4:30p on both of those days.  This has allowed us to run classes more smoothly AND touch more athletes with personalized coaching.  But for the month of January we are excited to announce we are going to test out a 3:30pm class on Mondays and Tuesdays only.  We hope that by providing an earlier class, it can alleviate the large numbers at 4:30p.  BUT, that might not the answer if people can’t make it to 3:30.  So, that’s why we’re calling it a test!  Remember, PLEASE sign into Wodify each time to help us manage these important decisions!

EQUIPMENT:  We always love adding new toys to the playground and we continue to do so.  This fall we saw D-Balls and a yolk roll in, but we also invested in more of the core equipment.  In an effort to run classes more smoothly we have invested in additional barbells, dumbbells, dballs, plyo boxes, weights, bands,  bikes and rowers.   With our new gear we’re able to run fewer heats with nominal staggering!

YOGA:  We heard from many of you that you miss your Sunday morning yoga sessions.  Well, they are BACK!!  Starting Sunday, January 20th at 8:15, Katie Ficca will be leading us all in amazing recovery (and preparatory) sessions based on the work we do in regular CrossFit classes.  She’s a real pro (will post her bio shortly) and will focus on leading us through movements that will address the work we did during the week prior AND prep us for what’s to come in the week ahead.  You asked for it, you got it!

COMMUNITY:  It is an exciting time as the community continues to grow and evolve, but we know change can be hard.  We have heard that many of you crave more ways to get to know your fellow Covies – and connecting the OGs with the newbies is incredibly important to keeping the community thriving.  As a result, we will be hosting a slew of Cove events this first quarter (and beyond!). You’ll see that 9 out of 12 weekends in first quarter alone contain Cove social events, so no one has an excuse not to participate in several of them (or all of them)!  Here is a list of what’s to come (in date order):

January 13th we are hosting the Babes Barbells and Brunch event (all ladies welcome!  Please RSVP on the Facebook event page

January 26th is the 4 Year Anniversary Bash (mandatory attendance for all!)

February 2nd Battle of Baltimore (technically this is at CFH but we expect a huge showing from the Cove and typically we grab a drink afterwards!)

February 15th Winter BBQ (we are grilling and playing classic BBQ games throughout the gym like Cornhole and Kam Jam)

February 22nd is the first FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OF THE OPEN!!!!

March 1st week two Open Friday Night Lights (details to come)

March 8st week three Open Friday Night Lights

March 15st week four Open Friday Night Lights

March 22nd week five Open Friday Night Lights

There are so many other changes we are implementing based on your feedback including more stretch time after class, providing specific suggested scales for the day’s movements and keeping the gym open whenever possible.  All of this takes a village and we are so grateful for your inputs – AND to the coaches for helping us make it all possible.  We are honored to be the Best Box in Howard County according to Howard Magazine, but unless each and every one of you feels it, we will continue on the relentless pursuit to make that happen.



Holiday eating advice from Coach John



I was talking with Old-bones Woodward the other day about staying on track with your nutrition during the holidays.  We all know that it can be a slippery slope from Thanksgiving to the New Year when it comes to food.  We are around treats, family, and alcohol more often than we generally are during the rest of the year.  All three of those things can factor into our decision making skills when it comes to our food.  I’m here to tell you that it’s really not as scary as you think.

Here is my take on surviving the holidays.  Make sure you get your protein and healthy fats in but have some fun with your carbs.  What exactly does this mean?  Well, if you are at the Cove chances are you are looking to get into better shape (whether that is building muscle, getting stronger, getting leaner, etc).  Proteins are the building block of muscles and body tissues.  When we workout hard at the gym we tear down muscles and tissues and proteins help build them back even stronger.  So, we need to make sure we still get good sources of protein during our holiday meals.  Healthy fats help with all sorts of bodily functions from storing/providing energy, transporting nutrients, and protecting vital organs.  Foods such as avocados, salmon, nuts, and coconut oil are great sources of healthy fats (there are plenty more choices, I just didn’t want to turn this into a giant list).  Carbohydrates are (generally) a big source of our energy.  They are mainly two forms of carbs- simple and complex.  Simple carbs are broken down quickly and are found in natural sources like fruit or processed sources like grandma’s cookies.  Complex carbs are broken down more slowly and are found in sources such as beans, potatoes, whole grains, and vegetables.  We need a mix of both.

So what can you do to help you through the holidays and not freak out about having a cookie or dessert?  Simple- eat your good proteins, healthy fats, and enjoy your carbs.  Make sure you get a good mix of both complex carbs and treats.  I personally like to eat my complex carbs first (to help fill me up) and enjoy any treats if I feel there is a little room left.  And remember, even if you feel like you “fell off the wagon”, you can always get right back on during your next meal, snack, even next bite!




Today we celebrate one of the best guys out there, Paul K. (or Benjamin Button as we like to call him). He seems to be reverse aging – that is, looking younger and fitter as time goes on – and just getting better at everything as he ages.

For Paul, fitness isn’t just a way to keep his body young and healthy, it’s to keep him young at heart. It has been an important part of his life since he can remember, and it pays off in ways most of us don’t even think about.

He works at a large media company; chock full of young go-getters that pretty much requires him to stay one step ahead. “Ageism is a real thing.”   But his strategy is simple: “Look young, act young, dress young and talk young. The minute they think you’re an ‘old guy’ it’s over. I think the most senior people at the company think I’m 40.”

But at 51, he’s winning that game big time. “I look at some people my age and I’m like ‘Get to the store. Get to the gym. Get your shit together. I want to work for a long time so all of this matters.”

Sure, it helps in his professional life, but fitness has been a huge part of his personal life since he can remember. “I played all the sports in high school. Among other things I played basketball and football, but my best sport was tennis (which he still plays competitively today). When I got to college I wasn’t doing much and went to go try wrestling with a friend of mine. We walked in the gym and there were 200 women taking aerobics classes. We joked to each other, let’s hop in and do this. We might meet someone! Six months later I was teaching the class.”

“I ended up teaching four classes a week to over 200 women for four years. I’d roll into the bars and it was like Shaq walked in. ‘It’s the guy from aerobics!’ they’d shout. In a school with 50,000 people I met so many of them through health and fitness. My degree was in teaching but it was just a degree to me; health and fitness was what I loved. I basically went to school for everything but the academics. But I learned about life and to meet people… how to deal with people.”

After college I started my own business called ‘Fitness Express.’ It was basically a personal training based company and I had a studio the basement of a friend’s agency. I got certifications, taught all kinds of classes from step to those glider classes where you’d slide on a mat with booties. I did it all. I taught until I was 26 or 27 and had 4% body fat, but was broke.”

“I thought to myself, if I could find something that I was as passionate about as I was about fitness I’d probably be okay. Then in the early 90’s a good friend of mine called and said they were launching something new at the Cincinnati Inquirer and he’d bring me on. It was a digital platform called and needed help launching it.   On Friday I was a personal trainer. On Monday I was an online expert because that’s what my business card said. Fifteen months later I was a manager and the business was growing exponentially.”

“At that point in my life I started running to stay in shape. I ran 6 marathons. At one point I was trying to qualify for Boston and hit a PR in Chicago at 3:46 in 1999. “ But instead he was focused on his career. I eventually went to Clear Channel radio working for a guy named Bill Reinberger (who is now a VP for the Cincinnati Reds). Not only was he great to work for then, he got me to sing the national anthem at a game.”

So we have to ask ourselves, is there anything this guy can’t do? Well, double-unders used to be on that list. But no more. Keeping up with the younger guys a the gym? Nope. He’s doing that too.

“Most of the people who come to the Cove… heck, my kids are their age! When I was 26… geez… if I had found it then, maybe I’d be Steve Michelotti.” For a guy who’s dabbled in almost every fitness regimen out there, why CrossFit? Why the Cove?

“It feels really good on my body. And I love ‘appointment fitness’. It’s an hour of my day that I look forward to. To me, it’s almost always about the people I’m with. It’s the notion that misery loves company. I love the fist bump at the end of the workout. You know, like we’re all in this together. We can talk about it before hand to strategize and commiserate after.   Jessica, Irina, Eyal, Dan, Keith, and Aaron… they’re all awesome. In the evenings. Rob Novak is one of my favorite people of all time. He’s in his 40s and I love to watch him. Marcus too.   The camaraderie of this place and the people. That’s what it’s all about”.

“People outside of here think I’m crazy, but it’s my release. I’m in a crazy business with crazy expectations. I walk in here and it all goes away. It’s all about what I’m getting done and the people I’m with. I say the same thing to my team in business meetings that I say to myself here at the gym: “Just get incrementally better each day”.

In the last two years, these ‘increments’ have been more like giant leaps. He’s gotten so much stronger. Faster. Leaner. And now he is mastering skills most of us couldn’t do at 20, no less at 51. But he’s in it for the long game. “My aunt always said to me ‘Paul, if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. My mother cannot get off the couch because she’s aging and afraid she’ll fall and won’t be able to get up. My dad died prematurely at 78 because of a heart attack. That is not going to be me.”

And it’s a lesson he’s passing on to the next generation. “My kid and I are really close. They see Gina (his wife) and I work out and they know health and fitness is REALLY important. I know they will take this seriously and they already do. Paige ran a half marathon (and does CrossFit at the Cove when she’s home!). Mia cheers – and it’s not like the cheer when I was young — it’s such an athletic thing these days, it’s insane.”

While he plays the young guy role well, he does see signs that he’s getting older. “I have more time on my hands now than when my kids were younger. I used to run around from work to practice and school events and all the things I see people doing now with younger kids. I remember those days well. But now they’re older and no one’s worried about when I get home. It’s great on some levels, but it’s sad because I see time slipping away.”

Yes, Paul… time continues to tick for all of us, but you are out-running the clock big-time. Every single one of us can learn from your ability to stay young in body, mind AND spirit. Walt Disney once said that “growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional”. We think you’d be perfectly cast as the star in that film.





Today we celebrate Keith H., an overall great guy and amazing athlete. Keith came to us just over a year ago and with a simple formula of consistency and hard work, he’s done amazing things.

Keith walked in the doors as what most would describe as a ‘fit guy’. He plays on a basketball league, chases after four kids and is up for pretty much any physical challenge. But he’s living proof that there’s always room for growth. Room to get stronger. Faster. Better. And he’s done just that.

His drive to do better started at a very early age. “I’m one of 7 kids. I had six brothers and one sister. It was always a competition at the house. Luckily, each of us had our own strengths and each of us found we were better at one thing. We each found our own path.  My younger brother could run for days. Another could wrestle. I was the agility guy and was pretty quick. Basketball became my thing.”

“Even when we get together now, it’s about who can best whom. We can be sitting around the table and someone will say ‘I bet I can stand over there and catch a grape in my mouth if you throw it to me.’ We totally egg each other on. We don’t know how to stop and we keep going until we find ourselves in the pool trying to catch a grape from across the pool while jumping in the water.”

Being competitive can be a slippery slope, but Keith always finds a way to look at the motivating and lighter sides of it. He enjoys one-upping people (mostly himself) by doing the kinds of things that keep a forty year-old young. “When I was a kid I saw a guy spinning a basketball on his finger for an hour. I was like ‘I can do that’, so I tried it. And I did it. Plus six minutes. Just for fun.”  He also does other things most of us wouldn’t think of.  Like dropping a phone on a ball… yep, for “fun”.

“I love stupid human tricks. I can balance anything on my chin”, he said. For journalistic integrity, we demanded he prove it. Here’s a shot of him balancing a barbell on his chin. Oh, and PLEASE do not try this at home. Or at the gym!

His competitive spirit is what also helps him find success at the gym.  “I love the WhiteBoard because it helps me to see where people are so I know what I can expect. I look at Dan P. a lot.   He’s a beast. And I see people like Jubar who just kill it. Sometimes I’m like ‘dang… how’s he doing that?! I haven’t even met the guy and I’m motivated. They might not know it, but I’m looking where they are and it helps me.”

But he doesn’t get caught up in what others are doing – it’s purely for motivation. He knows he’s on his own path and embraces it. “I want to do bar muscle ups, but I don’t make comparisons like that to other people. Things like getting more mobile or opening my hips might come easy for other people but are big wins for me.”

“I look back and see where I started. A few months after I joined I did the Labor Day Abbate Hero WOD. It’s a year later and I did about the same time – but I upped the bar from 115 to 135.” The numbers tell a story but it’s more than that. “Yes, I see improvements. And I feel stronger.”

And his gains play out beautifully in life. “ I have four kids. Four VERY active kids. We have a trampoline and we’re always in the backyard playing.   I see some friends and other dads who don’t have the energy or are drained after work.  I don’t want to be the dad who can’t keep up with their kids. CrossFit doesn’t take energy away. It gives me the energy. Plus it’s a lot of fun.”

With four kids and a job in residential solar power that finds him managing a team of 30 sales reps, training, selling, meeting clients and doing installs, pretty much everything else takes the back burner. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, he joked. But still, he’s the guy who reads the blog every night and gets excited by what he sees. He as ZERO planned free time, but carries a gym bag in his car in case a meeting cancels or he wraps early. “If there’s a jump rope, wall balls, running or sit ups, I’m there!”

“This place is my escape. The people I work with I work with all the time and I love them all. They are family to me. But here it’s different. No one’s asking me any questions. I don’t have to think about anything.”

“I used to go to regular gyms and there was always a basketball court. I’d get better at basketball, but never had the motivation to get better at anything else. I never did Olympic lifts. A ball would always trump working on strength or mobility. But CrossFit is actually like a team sport and I love that.”

One of Keith’s basketball teammates recently said to us, “He’s unstoppable right now. He’s relentless and filled with energy. He just doesn’t stop. It’s unreal.” Keith says, “I can definitely hang with those younger guys. The only downside is that my shot isn’t on as much as it used to be. And if I’ve done a big leg workout at the Cove, I feel it that night. So I plan my rest days around it. But losing energy on the court isn’t an issue at all.”

So what can we learn from him?  Especially on those days when you feel like there’s not a minute for yourself? “I take it day by day. I know I have work commitments I can’t miss, but I always have a change of clothes in case plans change. And I always look the day before so there’s even more motivation to come — like ‘that looks like fun’.”

The FUN he finds at the gym (and in life) is what makes Keith such an amazing and motivating force. “I love the people. I even like the loud music. All the 90’s rap. DMX. I love it all.”. Between his musical taste, his love of sport and his ability to live life fully, we should all try to grow up – or, rather, grow YOUNG – and be like Keith.


Wednesday Wins – SANDEEP D!


Today we celebrate one of our awesome night owls, Sandeep D.! If you don’t know him, it’s probably because you don’t take the 7:30p class, but he’s become a fan favorite FAST… and a coach’s favorite too!

Sandeep actually lives in New Jersey, but spends his weekdays in Columbia for work. He’s living proof that just because you live life on the road doesn’t mean you can’t live a healthy one.

He was born in India and moved to Mumbai when he was one. He played some sports in school – mainly soccer and table tennis. Sports in India wasn’t big at the time (other than cricket) so he kept busy doing recreational things to stay in shape.

He got married, had two kids (now 18 and 13) and came to the US when they were young. He initially thought it was a three-year plan, but the family has been here ever since. Not only is he away from home all week, he’s responsible for pressure-filled projects in construction including building tunnels, bridges and railways (think big stuff like LaGuardia rebuild and Washington Metro!).

Like most of us, he’s made himself the lowest priority for many years. Family, kids and work all took a front seat to his fitness (and being on the road all the time made it even harder), but since joining the Cove a few months ago, all of that has changed.

“I remember when my younger son was born I felt the responsibility of my older son should fall more on me so my wife could take care of the baby. I spent time knocking the ball around with him. He joined a soccer league. He’s so fraught with injuries including a meniscus tear – he basically has two knees in one. He’s got his one knee and a big bump on the side. He experienced ‘growing pains’ when he was 13 he was told to give up soccer and take on swimming to save his knees. He asked his doctor ‘how many days rest do I need?’. He said, ‘one month after each time the knee hurts.’ He said ‘okay, I can do that’. And so that’s what he does.”

“When I was young (before kids) it was all about me. When you have kids, your job is to keep telling them everything to do all the time. You tell them to keep going. You tell them ‘you got this’”. And his lessons clearly worked, but he soon realized he wasn’t practicing what he preached all those years.

“But then all of a sudden they’re grown. Now I have to tell myself everything I’ve told them for 18 years. I’ve been preaching this their whole lives, and now you’re back on the other side and you need to do what you’ve been telling them for yourself”

“I believe you need to lead by example. But my kids’ schedules were so crazy that I was only able to get in some running on the treadmill. With so little time you have to squeeze it in when you can. But honestly, the reason I started running was for him.”

And how he found CrossFit was also inspired by his kids. “My younger son goes on YouTube and finds crazy guys who do crazy things. He found The CrossFit Games on TV and we discovered Rich Froning. I’m a big Rich Froning fan.”

“I was really interested in what they were doing. Generally my go-to thing would be to run, but I knew I had to find a way to condition my muscles. I was getting weak. I was getting older. And I needed to my health as I also have diabetes.”

He knew he’d be in Columbia long term so picked up the phone and called the Cove. “I spoke to Brian and he said ‘ok, why don’t you just come’. When I came in he forgot for a moment it was me he spoke to and said ‘oh, you’re the Jersey guy’! After the first day at the Cove I said to Brian, ‘tomorrow I’m going to come back’. He’s said ‘next week when you finish foundations you can decide what you want to do.’ I said ‘it’s fine you want me to go through the basic classes, but I’m gonna sign up.”

“We hit it off just perfectly. He was my age and we clicked that first day. I didn’t think about the second or third day, I just knew I was coming in. I was excited but I had so much anxiety. The first day it hit me how out of shape I was when there were push-ups in a WOD and I couldn’t do a single one. I said to myself ‘I’m gonna fix it’. I used to be able to do 100. A few weeks later I could complete a set of five or six in each set. Every week I’ve hit a milestone. Week two I got some good squats done, week 3 I got my push-ups. And I’d say to Coach John or Josh, ‘See, I’m happy, I couldn’t do this before’”.

“I started three days a week and now am working up to four.” He comes in Monday night after work and leaves Thursday night after class to go home to New Jersey. And not only have his priorities shifted, his mindset has completely changed. “I started with ‘why can’t I do this?!’ Now it’s ‘I have to complete the workout; its just a matter of how’. And now I spend Thurs-Sunday back at home focused on eating smart, recovering and maximizing all the work I did during the week.”

Smartly, he made gradual change that he could stick to. “I started with the workouts and now have fixed the diet. I gave up starchy and processed carbs (rice, bread, etc). and eat tons of lentils, salads and fruits. And the byproduct of this change is that two weeks ago my doctor asked to do a blood test. My blood work, for the first time in two years, showed my diabetes was under control.”

“My family is so supportive. I’ll still go to my big family dinners, but they know I’m eating for my health now. My wife has been just amazing. She helps by packing my dinners for the week. She doesn’t want me to eat out and ruin all the work I’m putting in. So she takes care of me Monday –Thursday, even though she’s not with me.


Most of us would struggle with this unique lifestyle of being on the road all week, so look to Sandeep for inspiration. “This is how I live now. Rather than going to get a drink or eating out, I come to the gym. This helps me socialize too. If I’m home by myself I don’t know what to do with myself. I lived in a hotel for a long time and it can be lonely. Here there are awesome people that I can connect with. Anyone’s who sitting on the chairs I chat up and everyone is so great.”

Sandeep is now practicing what he’s preached all those years to his kids – and then some. If anyone is struggling with discipline with difficult schedules, seek him out. During the week, he’ll be up for anything. That is, as long as it involves a workout and healthy eating.

Huge congrats on all of your life changes Sandeep. To use your own words to your son, “you got this”.





Today we celebrate one of our most fierce morning warriors, Andrea C.!  Not only is she one of the strongest and most determined athletes at the Cove, she’s also one of the sweetest.  She’s that bright light that makes those tough mornings so much easier for so many and we are thrilled she’s allowed us to feature her as this week’s Wednesday Win!

It’s hard to believe when you see her move that she wasn’t a lifelong athlete. “I didn’t play any sports — I was the anxious kid who always watched everyone else play.  I’m such a nerd.  In the summer when everyone else went to sports camps I went to science camps. I tutored other kids.  I literally sought out camps to do intellectual things.

My brother used to tease me and tell our friends that I was ‘just smart and pretty’”. Being an athlete is something she never saw in herself, even though others did.  “In middle school the coach, who was also my PE teacher,  asked me to try out for the track team. I said no and they persisted so instead I asked if I could be the manager.  They said yes because I think they were trying to get me comfortable with the idea of being on the team, but I didn’t want people to looking at me. I didn’t want to be the center of attention.”

Ironically, now her job IS to be the center of attention.  “I teach in front of classes that have anywhere up to 100 people.  It took me to my adult years to get comfortable.  I finally realized no was looking at me the way I thought they would.”


It also took her a long time to rethink her fitness and find the gym life she now loves.  “Even though I never worked out, I was always pretty fit.  I had two dogs – a Lab and a Bloodhound – and if I didn’t walk them all the time the house would be a mess!  So I walked them a TON!”

It wasn’t until 2013 that she found her first gym.  Let’s do the math:  Today she turned 33 (Yes, today!  Happy Birthday Andrea!) so it wasn’t until she was 28 that she stepped foot into a gym.   “It was a boot-camp, but it’s where I fell in love with lifting weights. I was around all of these super strong women and I loved it.  And then I got confident enough and started even lifting with the guys. I loved hanging out with the people I trained with.  We’d come early just to hang out and catch up on life. I felt like I was a part of a team.  It’s the TEAM that makes it easy”.

After we moved I found my way to CrossFit gym and loved it right away.  I belonged to another box and have dropped into so many that I really knew what a box could be.  And it helped me figure out what I really wanted from gym.  I came to the Cove with Jeff for the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ and it was so much fun.  One of the coaches said  ‘you should come back and do the free week trial — and I was like I want to sign up NOW.”

That’s why this extraordinary woman drives 25 minutes to be at the Cove six days a week at 5am (yes, she’s always the first one there well before the 5:30 start).  She even came in for the 5:30am class on her birthday when she had the day off.

“That’s the whole thing. I love working out with the am crew.   The guys are great and I love working out with them but the women are so strong — physically and mentally.  It’s so great to sit and talk to them and find out more about their background and what drives them.

I know I’m improving in part because who’s there.  We all know each other’s weaknesses so people know where you need to go and want to help you get there.  Natalie helped me push through to hit 305 on a deadlift last week and I never thought that would be possible. We all recognize where everyone is in their journey and it’s about trying to help each other find that breakthrough.  I remember the day we did ‘Annie’ I heard Nassim let out a yelp mid-workout. I knew immediately she got those first 50 doubles unbroken and we were all so happy for her.

That sign above the door that says, ‘The best part of your day starts now’– it is SO true.  There are times I come in for the competitor’s class on Saturday and think that Coach John has legitimately lost his mind. But afterwards I feel so good.”

Andrea is undoubtedly a seasoned athlete now, but what we are most amazed by is her ability to continually ‘break through’.  She’s well past the ‘CrossFit Honeymoon’, where every day is a PR and benchmarks are shattered.  She works hard for EVERY incremental win, every 5lb PR and better movement quality.

“I think it starts with consistency.  I come six days a week.  I try and come in early and try to play around with a few things because there is always going to be something to work on.  Sometimes doubles happen, sometimes they don’t. I’m working on ring muscle ups now and stringing HSPU.  It’s always evolving.  There’s always something to master.” 

And she is great making the time to do what she loves. “I love the Olympic lifts so I did the Barbell Club last time.  It was so great.  There were so few of us we could watch each other and learn from each other too.  And John could dive deeper into the nuances.  He would explain how things should ‘feel’ and really spend time on each position. You have to dedicate time outside class to do that, but you can really learn so so much!

The competitor’s class on Saturday mornings is awesome and comp training is just phenomenal too. There are days I wish I could just live in the gym, but I just can’t.  But before class I can do my thing in just a little bit of time. I can spilt it up and do part of my accessory work before or after class.  You really don’t have to be there too long to get the work done.

My nutrition is getting reeled in too.  I try to be really conscious of what I put in my mouth. I do Territory meals for lunch and some salads with protein for dinner.  Breakfast is usually a shake and eggs and turkey sausage. I just think about it more than I used to. I don’t love sweets so it really has to be REALLY good to tempt me.  Like those pumpkin bars that Ms. O’Donnell used to bring in…. those were amazing!”

And she does all of this with an added challenge.  “I was bit by a tick in March in 2017.  It took a long time to diagnose, but I ended up having Lyme’s disease.  And I now have rheumatoid arthritis as a result. At first I was just so tired, and there still days that crush me, but it could be so much worse.  My doctor said ‘CrossFit has saved you’.

It really did.  It saved me mentally and physically.  Some days I’m just cognitively and physically slow.  The Lyme is now being managed but I have rheumatoid arthritis as a result.  They gym has been a place that where I love being; even if my body tenses up, I can let go of things.  Even to be able to share this with Mattie, who’s also going through this — we check in on each other and that’s really cool.

And what about all that confidence she lacked when she was younger?  “I come in just wanting to get through the workout but when I leave I have so much confidence.  I used to be so concerned about people looking at me, but in the gym all of that goes away.  Even if I’m the last one working out – it still builds my confidence because I know I challenged myself. You will never get better by not being last at some point.  There’s always a way to push harder. You can up the weight on the bar or go for the doubles instead of singles.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But you can’t just stand in front of a bar and wish it would lift.  You have to just keep at it.  The accessory work matters. It all matters.”

And while her brother teased her for being ‘just smart and pretty’, well, now he’s eating his words.  Now his Christmas gifts to her consist mainly of workout gear and fitness accessories.  AND he’s yet to work out with her.  We might argue he’s afraid he can’t keep up and she’ll start calling HIM ‘just smart and pretty’.  Call her whatever name you want, but the list of amazing attributes is LONG.  We’re so proud of what she’s accomplished and we can’t wait to see what’s next.