Categorized as: Featured_Athlete

WEDNESDAY WINS! STEF M.!

WEDNESDAY WINS! STEF M.!

Today we highlight the one of the most amazing athletes and genuinely wonderful people we know — Stef M.  She’s a data analyst by day and Super Woman by night.  She comes regularly, works hard, listens to the coaches and is so darn humble. Coach Josh agrees “she a great community person and always having fun — always smiling.

She’s been at the Cove for two years and the the results of her approach are beyond extraordinary.  She comes consistently 4-5 days a week (Saturdays are out because “I need to sleep in at least one day”. It’s really just been about consistency for me. I just want to keep getting better.  I play sports outside of here.  I play football and soccer.  And for me it’s really helped.”

“Before I came here I was doing the same old stuff at the gym.  Lifting, running. But I was like ‘I want more than this’.  There wasn’t a lot of improvement happening. Then I joined here and I’ve seen more improvements that I ever have in my life.  In two years, I’m better, stronger and faster.  And I’ve been active my whole life.  It’s been amazing.” 

Yes, her time at the Cove has helped her endeavors outside the gym, but what happens inside the walls of Cove are nothing short of remarkable.  She’s become the rabbit (sorry ladies, but she’s Coach Katie’s favorite rabbit to chase). And even when we tell her this, she almost doesn’t believe it.  “I’m still the one chasing people. I love that environment.” 

CrossFit and her sports are also her way of staying connected to people and provide her community of support.  “I’ve always been competitive.  With sports I play with a lot of people I went to college with; it’s how we keep in touch.  And at the Cove, It really helps to have a score and an environment where I can thrive.”  She got bestie Joey F. to join the Cove. “I pulled Joey in almost a year later.  He looks miserable, but inside he loves it.  I’m like, ‘you’ve got to push’. I push him hard.”  As Coach John said, “Her presence pushed everybody to do better, especially Joey….poor Joey.”

“I’ve always played sports.  I love the team thing.  And when I’m here in my head I’m competing with myself and everyone else in class.  I just love the community.  You’re not alone. You’re dying together and we secretly love it.  And I totally appreciate that.”

And although you’ll see amazing benchmarks set by her each evening, she still finds motivation from those around her.  Even the ones she’s doesn’t really know.  “The 5:30am women I see on Wodify are amazing. Every day I see their scores and think ‘oh my gosh, they’ve already been to class and crushed it’.  They’re my virtual rabbits. I’ve spoken to some of them a handful of times, but they have no idea that I’m watching what they do.  I’m so glad they are in the morning so I can see what they’ve done.”

Some of her biggest breakthroughs came at the Open this year.  She got her first strict handstand push ups AND first bar muscle ups.  The handstand push-ups came first in 19.3. “That was crazy. I didn’t know where that came from.  I did singles, but had no idea I’d get through six. I can’t even tell you the last time I even tried to do one.  I didn’t know I was strong enough. Sometimes I just need that extra nudge.  But I tried it and it worked.”

Next came her first bar-muscle ups in 19.4. “I was so excited.  I got up there and was like, ‘whoa, where did that come from?’.  So I went back up and tried again. I got three.  I think the first thing I said when I got down was ‘that was weird! It’s such a different view from up there!’” 

She credits adrenaline as well, but we think she’d do just as well in a quiet Open Gym.  It’s a simple but powerful formula she has nailed.  When we asked how she’d sum it up for someone new or trying to get to get better she said “ Just show up.  Trust the programming.  You’ll see the changes.  But showing up is the biggest thing. It’s about consistency.”

She’s caught the competition bug too.  She’s done three competitions and is signed up for “Flex on the Mall” this Spring.  Her friends and family are fully supportive of her efforts even though “they still can’t believe I do this all the time.”  She had a huge crew at the Battle of Baltimore — almost like her personal paparazzi crew.  “They come to support me fully.  They might make fun of me for doing it before hand, but they always are there to support me.

She’s also taking her passion for fitness to another level outside the gym.  “I’m taking my Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification class now.  I just started it.  I took my Personal training certificate last August.” While it’s a passion project for now, we can’t wait to see where she goes with it.

Shorter term, what’s next on her list?  “Ring muscle ups.  The rings just seem so different from the bar.  It’s gonna be a while but I’d like to get one.” We’re guessing she has it in her.  Just like all her other victories, she just has to try it.

 

A ‘vintage’ shot of Stef from two years ago.  Yup, always smiling!

WEDNESDAY WINS! COURTNEY K.!

WEDNESDAY WINS! COURTNEY K.!

 

Today we celebrate the successes of the amazing Courtney K. She’s one of the kindest souls we know and after hearing her story, you’ll agree that she’s also one of the bravest and most inspiring.

“My life has been a real roller coaster. I came from an upbringing where my family life was always great, but I was always the rebel.  I didn’t play the rebel role to be rebellious per se; I just loved it. I loved the whole scene. I dressed so “Goth”. I listened to heavy metal, shaved my head and wore leather pants and Doc Martins. Preppy cheerleader just wasn’t my thing.”

 

Her Dad was a huge influence on everything she did. “He was a real big hippie. He was a Purple Heart in Vietnam. He was awesome. He’s the reason I am who I Am.”. While she expressed her identity through clothes and lifestyle in her younger years, she REALLY had to rethink EVERYTHING in her 20s.

“I grew up in Florida. My Dad was the guy to go to in Broward County if you needed help. He ran several halfway houses. He stood up for the guys who needed help and then stood by them as they got it. “ He changed lives, helped get people sober and on their feet again — and the family got to be a part of all the amazing change he created. “Through all of this he still made time for us. It was never a burden.” That is, until it went very wrong.

“My dad passed away when I was 23. It was just tragic. He was clean and sober 17 years and had helped so many people. It ended up that one of the people he was actually trying help killed him.” A man who gave so much of himself to change lives was stricken of his own.

“I had a really hard time after my dad died. I started doing bad things. I drank and did drugs. I tried to hide it from everyone. I felt horrible because I was his daughter and I was now in that position (of the people he tried to help)”. I didn’t want special treatment or attention because I was “Richard’s daughter”.

She knew she had to make changes. “I moved out of the area, but didn’t go too far – From Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa. I wasn’t particularly religious. But I tried to find God again.”

It was there she met her now husband. “He was back from his second tour in Iraq. It turns out he lived just a few blocks from me and we moved there the same month. I remember he was totally unique.   We danced to Sinatra the first night in his apartment.” They’ve been together ever since.

“His family lives here (Maryland) so basically a work contract and family brought him here. We spent the next two years getting to know each other.   We didn’t get serious until I had visited him a few times. I knew I wanted out of Florida and wanted something new. I just wanted to keep moving forward. I eventually moved here and after eight months he got a deployment for six months on a civilian contract. He was gone for almost a year shortly after I moved here. It was ok, though. I was always independent.”

“We didn’t talk much about his religion until he was deployed. When he was gone, I really knew I wanted to make my way back to finding faith. I see people so happy when they have God in their lives. When I told him that, he began to share a lot about his background. So, I actually discovered Islam while I was by myself when he was away. It broadened my horizons and perspectives – and I converted. I didn’t even tell him until after it was done. “

“I actually met his family for the first time while he was overseas and got to know them as a friend of their son. I knocked on the door and they welcomed me in. Every Friday I was invited over. His dad even invited me to a religious retreat. I dove in and tried all ways to express different types of religion. I like to soak it all in and then decide what’s right for me. I mean, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? I get more educated? I mean, I had never met a Muslim before! I didn’t even know what Islam was when I was in Florida.”

“They were just amazing. There was always a big group and they were always there to help other people. Ultimately we knew eventually we would be together married, but didn’t know we were going to find ourselves within the process. One day I told his mom ‘I’m in love with your son and I think I want to marry him.’ And I got her blessing.”

“I love the religion and think there are so many misconceptions. Muslim men truly love their wives. Yes, the man makes a lot of decisions, but the woman holds it all together and the husbands are so appreciative. It hurts when people say we cover our hair because our husbands tell us to.  It’s a commitment to god, nothing else. It makes me feel almost born again — it makes me feel really good!” 

With a new relationship with God, she then focused on a new and healthy lifestyle. “I never played sports. I never exercised. Okay, maybe I did ONCE. I twirled a baton in a parade when I was kid. But that’s it. I’ve been in gyms before, but was so turned off by the sales process and the trainers and I could never make it stick. I didn’t know what to do with the machines. It was awful.”

“Two years ago we decided to try for a baby. I wanted to prepare myself for running around with a child. It’s then that I found CrossFit. It just changed my life and perspective on fitness. It keeps me eating healthy and on track. I don’t want to ruin the momentum I’ve created and that makes me want to keep everything in my life healthy. When he first came home I was working as a medical surgical tech for plastics (plastic surgery) and life was crazy. He then started a job that required odd hours so I’m basically a homemaker now.  It’s great because he’ll come home and I’ll have healthy meals prepped and dinner ready.”

“It’s so funny. I always tell my husband I’d be a good soldier. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. That’s what I love about CrossFit. It’s organized. I’m told what to do. Go! And it’s all balls to the wall. Scale if you need to. Rest if you need to. That keeps the longevity for me.”

“And I love the small successes along the way. Even changing colors on the kettle bells lets me really feel like I’ve come so far. I used to have a problem with finishing things. It took me a long time to finish high school. But I’d work my butt off to get there. And I love the fact that I am making things happen. Things are not getting in my way anymore. I’m fearless now. I used to give myself a hard time all the time… about everything. But this keeps me grounded and on track.”

Sure, there are times she does fall off track (like most of us). “I sometimes consider myself a binge eater. I’m really good most of the week and then I have a cheat day. But it’s often a BAD cheat day. Like a cheeseburger and a big slice pie. Or a whole pie!”.

But those cheats are happening less and less and her attendance at the Cove is becoming more and more. She’s happy. She’s confident. She’s down 25 pounds. She strives for all organic. She’s got energy levels most of us dream of. She’s setting a great example for all of us.

“It’s a life-changer for me mentally and physically. I’m clear. My head is clear. The Cove has opened my mind too. The people here are really great and I love that there are people from all walks of life. The coaches we have are so great and I love it so much.”

You’ve opened our minds too. You make this a better place. And we love you too. More than you’ll ever know.

 

WEDNESDAY WINS! TEAM THREATT!

WEDNESDAY WIN: TEAM THREATT!

Today we celebrate one of the Cove’s favorite couples, RoCarla and Warren T.!  Both have made such incredible gains in strength, speed and stamina that the coaches AND their fellow athletes alike, are in awe.

 

Unlike most other couples here at the Cove, it is not their ‘date night’ place.  “We actually never work out together, Warren says. “And we certainly don’t do partner WODs.  I don’t want my wife to see me struggling!”.  But despite the fact they are on different schedules, CrossFit and the Cove have become big topics of discussion at home.  “ Even though we never take classes together, we talk about it ALL the time.  We’ll go over the workout the night before or when I’m ready to come in later that day, he tells me what to expect.”

 

These two big personalities have a chemistry that is palpable, but he gives her all the credit. “RoCarla is the star of any show. Everything that is good in my life she has either lead me too, pushed me too, inspired me to become, or gave to me.”

 

They met with they were fresh out of the military (her Army, him Navy).  Despite the inherent rivalry, they worked together and met during their employment orientation.  “I wanted to ask her out as soon as I saw her.  I scoped out the times she got up, where she got her coffee and when she went to dinner.  I always say ‘fortune favors the bold’.  I got her in the elevator and asked if she wanted to have a drink with me.  Not sure if it was because she was stuck in an elevator with me, but she said yes.  And even after she kept me waiting for a long time at that bar, I was just happy she showed up.”  They had their first ‘real date’ in DC (at the Lincoln Memorial).  Despite his attempts to impress her from the onset, she was playing hard to get.  “ He was such a goofball.”  “I even ducked his first kiss.”  But this was the beginning of their amazing – and funny – and forever — story.

 

She was living with her parents trying to buy a house.  “I told my mom about the date.  I told her I met a great guy, he lives in Virginia.  He’s nice. He’s respectful.  He likes his mom.  He has ambition.  He’s got a good job.  So why hasn’t he called me yet?!”  How does he not call me?!”.   But he did.  And every day after that they talked for hours.  It resulted in him moving up here (after some not-so-subtle nudging) and starting a new life together. Sorta.

 

“Ro was recalled after she left the Army (she was still in active reserve) right as I was planning to move up here.  Just as I was working on moving and all the job logistics she got the notice for 404 days.  I had to put the ring on her.  I made a plan.  I planned to go back to the Lincoln memorial to propose.  But weather was not in our favor that day but as I said, fortune favors the bold!  I decided to it right then.  Just as she was about to attack a colony”. (yes, she was playing a video game).

 

She served, he settled into his new home and life began together (albeit 404 days after they expected).  They got married, had two beautiful daughters and on paper everything was great.  But it wasn’t. “After the babies, I suffered from post partum depression. I didn’t even know I had it.  After Warren and the kids went to bed I’d get out of bed and binge eat and watch trash TV. I’d get two warmed cookies and a Machhioto from Starbucks every day and think it was okay.  I was eating 2,000 calories a day just at Starbucks!  And I was teaching those kids my bad habits.  It took a long time to realize it was actually post-partum depression.  I was angry and sad and didn’t know why.  Sometimes you blame or think it’s your spouse or something is wrong with the relationship, but he was wonderful the whole time.  In fact, he was the one who told me I was depressed.  I couldn’t even see it myself. “

 

“I was like “I have to get better”.  I took more time for myself. Started going to church.  I gained a lot of weight and it wasn’t coming off.  I remember had to go to Warren’s work Christmas party.  I must’ve but on six outfits and none looked good on me.  Everything needed to change.” Getting her mind right was the priority, but they knew healthy bodies would help with a healthy mind.  Warren grew up as a chunky kid and knew the impact that it has on the body AND mind. 

 

Warren:  “I hit 200 pounds when I was TEN years old. I wrestled heavy weight as a kid; I was heavy, but I could move. But when I hit my teenage years everyone else got taller and stronger and I didn’t.  In 8th grade I started lifting with the high school football team and started learning about weights.   That’s where I got hooked on the barbell.  I was stronger than I thought I was and started dropping weight in 9th grade. I learned what a calorie was in 10th grade and I was still 200 at 17, but it was a very different 200.  I went to the Navy, and lived most of my young adult life fit.   But then we got married, had a family and I started getting bored. I still did some running and light lifting, but the weight room felt like a stranger. 

 

RoCarla came to the Cove through the Fresh Start Challenge.  It was the exact change she was looking for.  She is a natural athlete and was always super fit playing basketball in high school and receiving the highest PT score when in the Army.  She could do more push ups, sit ups and could run faster than than all the guys – but lost that part of her.  She wanted it back.  And so did he.

 

Since starting at the Cove, RoCarla is down over 30 pounds and is back to her strong and confident self.  She’s in a great headspace and has seemingly found the balance she was missing.  And the same is true for Warren. “I can walk into the gym and not feel like a stranger.  I always thought of the gym as ‘my house’.  I finally feel at home again.  The atmosphere is so conducive to getting work done.  I’m not one of the guys that can blow my own sail; I need external stimulus.  I learned I lifted weights wrong a lot of years.  The coaches teach me the right way to do it and correct my form and now I’m hitting 485 on a deadlift.”

 

Warren said, “I found the Cove to be an environment that provides me with all the tools I need to reach my full physical potential. Football let me know how strong I can be. The Navy taught me that I am only limited by how hard I want to work. The Cove is the place I can put all that together.”

 

It’s a family experience too.  She says “The kids get excited for us to work out.”  In addition to telling their parents to “send it” regularly, “They tell us ‘you need to eat more protein mommy.  They love it here.  The first thing they do when they get here is grab a PVC pipe!”.

 

They’re fit.  They’re having fun. Oh, and they LOOK great too.  Ro chimes in “I feel great.  I’m wearing jeans that are two sizes smaller now.  And Warren keeps saying “you look GOOD in those jeans!  We just love seeing the changes in each other’s physiques.  It’s amazing.”  

As he so beautifully states, “The Cove is the place where we share in an experience, and the Cove has made us a happier couple. We love the time we can spend at the Cove just being ourselves and not the roles we serve.”

 

“We want to convey our heart felt admiration and appreciation for the entire Cove community. We have never been surrounded by so many exceptional people in our entire lives. I can’t relate how it feels to have those same exceptional people talk with me and be kind to me. I always muse that if I had to colonize another planet I would start at the Cove.”

 

WEDNESDAY WIN! PAUL K.

WEDNESDAY WINS!  PAUL K.!

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 Cars.com 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.

 

 

Wednesday Wins – SANDEEP D!

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”.

 

 

WEDNESDAY WINS! ANDREA C.!

WEDNESDAY WINS!  ANDREA C.!

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.

 

 

WEDNESDAY WIN! KRISSY O!

WEDNESDAY WINS!  KRISSY O.!

“Celebrate your small successes”

Today we celebrate the successes, both big and small, of Krissy O!  She has always been a consistent and solid athlete, but recently has made gains that most would dream of.  But as they say, with hard work and perseverance, dreams CAN come true.

The odds have been stacked against her since day one.  She was born with twisted femurs and had major surgery when she was 10 years old to correct the issues.  In a body cast for two months, she had to relearn movement and rebuild every bit of strength she lost.  Throughout her early years, swimming was the one thing her body tolerated. Having been told she may never walk, not only overcoming it, but also succeeding as a competitive athlete, was a tremendous win.  And while she relished in her victories, by 18 she was burned out.

She joined the YMCA after college and at age 25 was determined to run a half marathon.  Through consistency and focus, she ran and completed the Baltimore Half Marathon.  Then she dabbled with sprint triathlons and hit a few more half marathons after that.  She was proving everyone wrong and seeing successes she never thought she’d have.  But she still lacked the strength piece she knew she needed and landed herself in kettlebell classes and started from the ground up.  “I couldn’t even do a push up.  My trainer had to pull me up with bands.  I knew I was out of shape.  But knew I had to start somewhere. “  And she found success there too. “I remember my first strict chin up.  I was jumping around so happy when it happened.

Krissy doesn’t find success just because of her work ethic.  It’s because she sets CLEAR AND MEASUREABLE GOALS and holds herself accountable to them. “You HAVE to write them down.  I keep a notebook in my gym bag and write everything down.  Oh, and I’m a book nerd so my goal is read 12 books this year (I’m already on 11 and its only July).”

Two years ago she had a goal to start CrossFit and made it her birthday present to herself.  “I started at another area gym, but needed one with childcare and made her way to the Cove.  Mattie, Brent and I worked out together at our old gym.  We were supposed to be on the same team for the Open, but we all came her together.”  That made for an easier transition to a new box, but by no means did it make any of the hard work she put in ‘easy’.  “It takes me a long time to grasp concepts; or seemingly longer than the people I see around me.  So I know it will take a lot of effort and I have to be patient.”

She also makes the time.  Arguably no one is more time starved than she is.  She’s up at 4:30am and at work by 6.  She works full time, has three kids (who all play sports) and works out 4-5 times a week.  “I hear people at work talk about how out of shape they are (and we have free gyms!).  It drives me crazy.  People know that I’m a direct person so I tell them, ‘if I have time to work full time, meal prep, take my kids to sports, and workout – you can too”.

In the last few months she’s spent a lot of effort dialing in the nutrition piece of the puzzle.  “In January I did the Whole 30 Challenge set a goal to start macro counting for 45 days after that.  I started with Brittany (FLEX) in March.  I’ve dropped 16 lbs and I just feel so much better.  And with that comes confidence.  And I’m seeing the results not just on scale but with my workouts too.  I’m hitting goals more quickly.”  In the past she’d see incremental improvements over several months, and now it can be seen over several classes.  “And I’m now in the best shape I’ve been in years.  This summer was the first time I’ve worn a two-piece in 10 years. “

While she’ll admit macro counting was hard at first, she’s got it down now.  “At work there are so many temptations too.  Donuts, pizza, candy – are all easy to find.  And for birthdays my Chief brings in your favorite thing to eat as a treat.  Most people do cake or cookies, but this year she came in with veggies and a bowl of fruit for me. She said ‘normally people want cakes and sweets.  But today is about you, not us.”

So what’s on her goal list?  “My first workout was half Murph.  Well, a SUPER SCALED half Murph (laughing).  Push-ups on a high box and tons of bands. This year I want to do full Murph with my bodyweight.”  And she’s well on her way.  “Last summer I worked with Coach John and my goal was 1 kipping pull up.  Last week I did a workout and did 60.  I got time-capped on that workout, but I did all 60.  I don’t focus on the fact that I was time capped; rather the fact that I did 60 pull-ups was the victory.  I mean, holy crap!  I just did 60 pull-ups!  That’s the one thing I’ve learned to do — celebrate your small successes.   Now it’s about getting more proficient.”

And for this busy mom of three (whom are often in tow), this place is her sanity.  “I can reason with my kids now.  We tell them we do so much for them and now I need need to do something for me. This is my hour and I need it. I’m constantly telling people this is what energizes me and makes me whole again.  I’m incredibly introverted.  I spend my whole day, starting at 4:30a focused on other people and I spend most of the day talking.  I sit in an open environment, with a big group of people and we talk all day.  Meetings. Desk conversations.  I have zero personal space.  And absolutely no personal time.    The Cove is an investment in me.  People tell me they can’t believe I spend so much every month on fitness, but for me that’s a small price to pay for my sanity.”

There’s been a mental shift for Krissy too.  Being an introvert and not liking attention, “ I used to hate to come in last in any workout. Not that I’m embarrassed to come in last, but I’m embarrassed to be the center of attention and have people cheering for me.  So I used to scale my weight because I didn’t want to be that that last one standing.  But now I go with what I know I should do and know that I can pull the weight off.  I actually used this as a lesson to my kids recently.  Annie told me that she is last a lot in swimming I told her ‘I’m last all the time at the gym. All I care is that you push yourself to be your best and put your best foot forward’.

 

Once I heard her say to someone ‘I want to be strong like my mom’.  I always tell her ‘you can do whatever you want and break the glass ceiling if you put your mind to it’.”  And that’s what Krissy does every day when she steps in the Cove.  She puts forth her best every time and is doing things she never thought possible. Her coach’s see it.  Her fellow athletes see it.  And most importantly her family sees it.  Keep setting the goals Krissy.  And keep crushing them too!




 

 

YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT IN

WEDNESDAY WINS! SEAN F.

“YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT IN”

Each Wednesday we highlight a Cove athlete who is making changes (big or small) in their lives as a result of being part of this awesome community. Today we shine a very bright light on Sean F., arguably one of the nicest guys out there – but also one of the busiest.

As a teacher and recent first-time dad, his days are often not his own. Like most in his profession, he spends his days taking care of other people. But this one hour a day is all his. He is one of our most consistent athletes and the hard work is paying off. Big time.

It only took two years of prodding (and a final push over drinks one night) from his brother and sister-in-law (Brendan and Hallie F.) to make the plunge – and he has never looked back.

“Brendan had been going for a long time and he’d been after me to try it since the day he started. I thought CrossFit was just tire flipping and strong man stuff. And the perception is that was like a cult. But it is so different than that. Some people come for community, but for me it is about having an hour release where I don’t think anything. I don’t think about the bullshit of my day. It’s almost Zen. I know it sounds weird, but I zone it all out, even the loud music — and it’s such a release.

 

I’ve been going to gyms since I was 25. But now I’m 39 and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. My body was changing, I was getting older and I wasn’t seeing the same changes I saw when I was 25. In late August I took my first foundations class.  We did PVC pipe work and wall balls with sit ups. I didn’t know I could be that sore. The next day stairs were even a challenge. I had never felt like that after a workout at my old gym.

 

The workouts here are just so different than anything I used to do. It’s an hour to get the best workout you can get; and whatever you put into it you get out of it.”  And the changes he’s seeing are pretty remarkable.  “I have so much more energy after I workout now.   On Thursdays I typically take a rest day, but I find myself wanting to work out to get that energy. I have more strength too, especially in my core.  Even the running, which I hate, has gotten so much better. My engine gets going and I have so much more stamina to keep going. I’ve never pushed myself like this before. And as my brother said, ‘it will be the best hour workout you’ve ever had’. And he was right.

I also love that I basically get a ‘coached workout’, which is so much for helpful than going to a regular gym. The coaches are so attentive. I went four or five times a week to my old gym but I never got the results I wanted. (At the Cove) I finally learned how to squat properly and my years of degenerative back pain has actually gone away. I’ve been going to the gym for years and years and my back has always hurt. Squatting is still a challenge, but I’m overall just stronger and I’m doing things properly.   I also really think it’s because we do so much core work here. I always thought working out your core mean sit-ups or ab work, and here it’s a total body thing.

I was hesitant in the beginning because I’ve never trained with a group. But everyone is here to help. You’re not here competing against everyone else; you’re competing against yourself. Again, you get out of it what you put into it.

Yes, some things are getting easier. But I think the hardest workouts are when we do something heavy (like cleans) and then a run. Oh, and burpees. Don’t get me wrong — it’s all still hard, but not as hard as it used to be. I still laugh when I think about how last year I got tricked into doing the Clash at the Cove when I first started. I was about a month in and Brendan signed me up (editor’s note: we think we tricked them BOTH into doing it). I had never done a thruster or a jerk… and that bike sucked. So next year the goal is to do the Clash at the Cove and come in second to last instead of last!

As life settles down at home and when I’m off for the summer, I plan to come in five times a week.”

And based on his consistency and commitment thus far, we can’t wait to see what happens next! Give Sean a HUGE congrats when you see him. It’s so clear to us he IS getting out of it what he puts in!

 

 

Wednesday Wins: Coach Chris!

WEDNESDAY WINS!  COACH CHRIS!

A year ago, we had the ambitious goal of featuring someone whose life has changed for the better after joining the Cove in the form of a ‘Wednesday Win’.  We thought this was an incredibly lofty goal… meaning, to impact 52 lives over the course of year?!  Was that really possible?  Well, a few weeks ago, we surpassed that — and have so far had SIXTY Wednesday Wins consecutively.

And there are so many more stories to be told (and we will tell them!) BUT these stories would not be possible unless we had the incredible coaches who commit their time, energy and passion into each and every one of you.  Chris Franey is the poster-child of that kind of coach.  And because he’s been there since day one (and technically, even before that!) we hold him largely responsible for our successes… AND yours.

Yes, he’s got the ridiculous mustache. And don’t get us started on the tights and general apparel flair.  But underneath all of that is one of the most generous, thoughtful and wonderful people we know.

Many of you might not know this, but the Cove started as a CrossFit style bootcamp in our neighborhood in Locust Point, Baltimore.  We knew we wanted to open a gym one day, so decided to use our friends and neighbors as test subjects for what this place could be about.  We ordered some gear from Rogue, dragged the equipment out each morning at 5:30a and 5:30p and ran classes in the grassy area behind our development.  And Chris was there every step of the way (literally and figuratively… that is his blurry image on the far left!).

He drove from Catonsville (while we only walked a few steps down our street), coached in the pitch dark and turned a bunch of Baltimore City moms and dads into CrossFit athletes in a field.  He helped us with our build out, reviewing floor plans and picking out equipment. And then he helped put it all together with us.  Most of the things you use every day were built by him right out of the box.

Marina and Chris revising blueprints after bootcamp for what would eventually become the Cove.

He was our first coach when we opened and took on most of the hours in the schedule.  His loud clap and even louder voice have echoed through the Cove from the beginning and helped set the tone and culture for this place.  And he’s helped build our brand and even branded many of you with the great swag you wear daily (and more is coming next week by the way!).

Coach Chris wearing our first prototype t-shirt he made for us before we opened…

But more than anything, it is about the impact he’s made on every single person here.  If you watch him coach, you see his attention to every single athlete on the floor.  He cares so deeply about your well-being and success and will drill movements until you do them safely and get them right.  When you’re not around, he talks about you, applauds your progress and talks about what he’s excited to do with you next.  He is invested in your success not as a ‘job’, but because he CARES.

Coaching a new athlete for her first push press during a free class for her No Excuse Moms group.  Yes, it’s our very own Jessica S.!

Since he’s been here he’s also launched his own company, had a baby and, yes, grew an epic mustache.  He still coaches all the hours his new life will let him and squeezes in the workouts when he can because he loves being part of the class with you.

We are a gym that believes in balance.  We work hard, but we play hard too.  And it’s hard to walk this fine line, but Chris does it effortlessly.  The place is always better with him in it and we wish he could be here always.  He’s got a busy life these days, but his energy and creativity live and breath far beyond the hours he spends here.

On top of his coaching, he’s the first to volunteer for anything.  Whether it’s spending his entire Saturday at a Cove event like the in-house competition moving equipment or participating in a late-night cake eating EMOM, where there’s a Covie, there’s Chris.  He galvanizes people in a way that most people can’t even fathom.  Sure, he’s snarky and can roast you in a great FB post, but we think it just means he likes you even more.

He’s a beast of an athlete, one helluva coach and one of the best guys around.  Words cannot possible express our deepest thanks to him for all he’s done for us as owners and fellow coaches. But when you see him, please give him a huge thanks for all he does for YOU too.

WAY too many great pictures of this guy, so enjoy a few more:

Coach.

Those tights!   

Those legs!

The shoes!  First pair of custom Cove Chucks…

Post WOD in the early days…

Fixing something.  Always fixing something…

Pre-Metcon Chris stance…maybe telling someone they need to ‘earn the fan’?

Coaching in pink shoes telling Zac to lift some heavy s#$t…

Did we mention those tights?

As if he wasn’t scary enough at times…

“good talks” with Coach Chris…

another class under his watchful eye…

Open 2017 (wearing boots, we think?)

It’s just hard looking that good…

 

Wednesday Wins: BRENT L., KEVIN R. AND COREY N.!

WEDNESDAY WINS!  BRENT L., KEVIN R. AND COREY N.!

One year ago Brent, Kevin and Corey joined our six-week Men’s Challenge looking to make a change.  And wow… did they!   

Deciding to make a positive change in your life is something a lot of people often contemplate, but very few actually DO anything about it.  These three men not only jumped in feet first, they’ve been swimming in the Cove waters for a full year now.

Instead of getting a cake or going out for drinks, they celebrated their one year anniversary of CrossFit (and the Cove) by re-doing their very first workout here.  And the results of their hard work paid off big time.

On day one (and then one year later) one their workout consisted of:

200M Run
20 Goblet Squats
15 Ab Mat Situps
10 Push Ups
12 Minute AMRAP

Kevin increased his number of rounds by 1 full round and 8 reps AND upped the KB weight from 26 to 35lbs.

Corey improved by almost 2 full rounds and also increased the weight used.

And Brent increased by almost 2 rounds and did full range pushups and sit ups (vs. scaling the movements the first go around).

This is why we love CrossFit.  Data doesn’t lie.  These guys have got stronger. More flexible.  And so much more resilient.  After their first workout they laid on the ground sprawled out.  Many of us do that after a workout, but they laid there a LONG time.  After the retest they were hi-fiving, hanging out and laughing like nothing had just happened.  What you do IN the workout matters, but how you recover is one of the ultimate measures of good fitness.

In addition to the story the numbers tell, the last year has been a game changer for them on so many levels.  One came to us as a former smoker who couldn’t run 200 meters without gasping for air.  Another had little energy to play with his active boys.  And now it’s a whole new ball game.  From building capacity to lift more and increasing their engines, they also find life outside the box is just more fun.  They approached it not just as a workout routine, but a lifestyle change… and it worked.

When you see these guys at the gym, congratulate them on a job well done.  And if you know anyone looking for a change or on the fence about the this CrossFit thing, tell them about these three fine men.  Not only have they changed their own lives, they’ve changed ours!