SUCCESS STORIES

John N. Is The January Member Of The Month

I do my best not to play favorites at the gym, but it’s pretty hard not to put a guy as kind and clever as John toward the top of the list of people you enjoy having as a member. He’s one of those people whose brain just always seems to be working faster than most and he’s always ready with some kind of quip or pun to interject into the conversation if you look his way, even when he’s close to death mid-WOD.

One of the first things I remember John telling me when he joined is that he’s never been much of an athlete, but over the last 5 years, it has been a pleasure to watch him grow as an athlete and improve month over month due to his dedication and consistency. It’s also a ton of fun for me every fall to talk to him every Sunday about how many push-ups he did the day before based on how many points Notre Dame put up against one of their weak ass scheduled opponents. I think in season 1 he struggled to make it out of the first quarter doing all the reps and now he crushes 100s each Saturday with ease.

Congrats on another great year, John! Keep up the good work and keep the laughs coming.

When did you join Cróga?
I joined in 2015 after seeing Coach Dave at Rookies & thinking, “Damn, that dude is built!” (I was having drinks with Kevin Sakai at the time, and he convinced me I wouldn’t literally die at CF.)

What were you doing before for fitness?
Mostly drinking Bailey’s, feeling bad, and running laps in my head. Well, that plus elliptical.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
It was a 6 am class, and watching guys like Doug, Ben, and Kevin manhandle weights, I thought, “My God, what have I gotten myself into?” I still feel that way roughly half the time. 🙂 But Dave pointed out that “Cróga” means “Brave,” so I suck it up and do the work.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
Great question. I don’t do much to quantify my progress, but as long as my feeling around the pool remains “Not Actively Terrible,” I’m doing okay!

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I’ve really gotten into Ignite classes, which are no joke despite their modest origins! I try to catch 2 or 3 per week, plus I really enjoy Saturday partner WODs. The community is what keeps me engaged & motivated, so I like sharing suffering + humor with friends.

What’s your favorite WOD?
Pretty much any partner stuff works for me, especially if I don’t have to watch comparatively humongous dudes throw around intimidating weight.

“The John” WOD! What would it be?
Let’s say 10 rounds of pistols, double unders, muscle ups, and handstand push-ups. Every time it would be programmed, I would simply walk into the ocean instead of trying any of it.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
To quote Eddie Murphy as James Brown, “HOT TUB!!”

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I’d most like to inspire my sons, helping them overcome their fear & lethargy. I want them to see that if I can get my uncoordinated carcass moving, anyone can!

What do you love about CrossFit?
Making people laugh (ideally more “with” than “at”), including via ironic posters & vids for the Open, etc.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and you’re only competing with yourself—especially the version of you that’s still on the couch.

Meghan P Is The Cróga Member Of The Year!

The 2019 Croga Member of the Year was an absolute no brainer, it HAD to be Meghan Pierce. Her decision to take a leap of faith and trust the process, her commitment to going all in, her enthusiasm along the way and the progress she’s made not only physically, but mentally, are nothing short of incredible and have inspired not only other members to follow in her footsteps, but even the coaching staff to break down barriers and do things we all never thought possible.

As you read through Meghan’s answers to our year-end questions below you’ll get some pretty good insight into how awesome her journey has been to be a participant in, but some of the things she doesn’t mention that made choosing her such an easy decision are below:

She lost over 40 lbs in 7 months and when you see her now she looks strong, confident, and happy – ALL THE TIME.

She reached countless physical milestones including getting her first pull-up, toes-to-bar, pistols, handstand push-ups and made it through The Open with multiple workouts completed RX’d, all things that weren’t even on her radar at The Open in February/March.

She raised $1,060 for Barbells for Boobs in the month of November and did 1,060 burpees along the way as a thank you for every dollar donated. All because Cody and I peer pressured her to set up a page on our weekly Fast Times at Croga CrossFit podcast.

With all that said, thank you, Meghan, for such an amazing year. It has been a ton of fun being your coach, cheerleader and mentor and we’re all looking forward to watching all that you’re able to accomplish in 2020.

What are some new things that you have learned about yourself since starting CrossFit?
There are two things that immediately come to mind – that might seem contradictory, but I think actually make sense together.

  1. I’m capable of more than I ever thought – Even though I played some sports growing up, I was never very good. So while I secretly harbored dreams of being super fit, I had convinced myself I just wasn’t very athletic and couldn’t do certain things. CrossFit has decimated those mental limitations for me. I’ve done things that I never thought I could and I’ve become so much less fearful of trying (even if it means risking failing)!
  2. I can’t do it all on my own – To be honest, I dragged my feet on really going all in on the gym and joining a nutrition program because I just kept telling myself I should be able to do it on my own. I kept saying “you know what you should eat” or “you know what to do at the Big Box gym down the street” – and kept trying to white-knuckle through it with sheer willpower. It wasn’t until I admitted to myself, “You need others to help you do this – both for the accountability factor, but also for their experience,” that I finally was able to get things to click.

So in short – I can do hard things, but not without others! 🙂

You made an enormous amount of progress in 2019, what fueled you to keep going when the going got tough?
There’ve been two phases that have been the toughest.

The first was the first three months when I really committed to the gym and started nutrition-coaching – Aprilish to June. During that beginning time, I think it helped a ton that I only focused on process goals. I didn’t set any expectations for myself regarding outcomes (times or weights to hit, numbers to see on the scale, etc); I just said “Show up to class at least 5 times a week, work hard, eat to your numbers and trust Cody & Dave. Keep your head down, do what you’re told, trust the process, and it will work.” That was hard because I am a big numbers person, but it kept me going because it guaranteed I could see “wins” no matter what the short-term outcomes were.

Lately, the last two months of this year, post-open, when, from my perspective at least, it’s starting to feel like visible wins and growth are coming much more slowly (probably because from July to October, basically everything I did was a PR lol). So in addition to reminding myself to continue to trust the process, I’ve been reminding myself to enjoy the process. A quote I saw recently said “Before you dream about the view from the summit, ask yourself if you’re willing to keep your head down and spend your life walking up a very big hill. It can take years of walking to earn a minute at the top.” I figure I’ve got a lot of walking ahead of me, so I better enjoy it.

You signed up for Croga Nutrition in May and lost 40 lbs by December. With your travel for work, this took a lot of discipline. Did you have a mantra you used to keep you on course throughout this journey?
Yes! “We fail to the level of our systems.” (from the book Atomic Habits which I highly recommend!) For a long time with my eating, I convinced myself it was all about willpower and discipline. However, my discipline never lasted and I’d fall off the wagon – hard! This time, I really, really worked to put myself in a position where I didn’t need to exercise as much discipline at first. Catered work event – I’m bringing my own lunch! Work travel – I’m purposefully booking a hotel next to a Whole Foods and going shopping for meals the first night. For the first three months, I rarely put myself in a position where there were any surprises eating-wise. My colleagues started joking that they never saw me eating something I didn’t pull out of my ubiquitous “food bag” I’d bring every day. I knew it wasn’t long term sustainable, but it was what I needed to get started. Then I started adding in more opportunities to estimate, make decisions on-the-fly, etc, but the systems and habits I built are still there as a foundation.

Who was your biggest cheerleader this past year? Care to give them a shoutout?
I’m deeply aware that I never could have done anything I did this year without the epic Croga community there to support me! I feel eternally grateful! As for shoutouts:

  • At the top of the list has got to be Cody. A couple of months ago, when I started doing RX workouts more regularly I was feeling really discouraged because I felt so slow (again!). When I was complaining to Cody about it, he shared with me about that time in his CF journey and how he would be the last person finishing in the class for months. He told me I needed to just keep doing what I was doing and also helped me remember how far I had come. From post-open “proud of you” texts, “F-yea!” notes after hitting big weight loss goals, or filming my first pull-ups – it’s been his support, encouragement and coaching that have helped me get here, and I can’t thank him enough!
  • I can’t get enough of Dave’s wisdom and enthusiasm. One day I showed up to Oly class and I was the only one – I basically got an hour individual coaching from Dave on my snatch and it was the best!! Also, his occasional enthusiastic “Atta Girl” from across the gym when he noticed me doing something hard always kept me pushing myself for more!
  • All the members of the gym, and specifically the regular 3:30 weekday and 8 AM Sunday crews: y’all gave me a safe space to try, fail and grow!
  • Outside the gym, my family, and specifically my sister & brother-in-law, continually inspired and encouraged me throughout this whole year!

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this upcoming year?
I have so many – a whole Google Doc’s worth in fact 🙂 I feel like I want to get better at everything! Really, it’s what at the top of the doc: “Get Stronger, Faster & More Agile: Get More Fit!!” Specifically though, I’m focusing on improving technique and increasing strength on my Oly lifts – I’m coming for you snatches! – and continuing to string together bigger and bigger sets of various gymnastic movements. You’ll likely see me being best friends with bars on the rig after class. Also Double Unders because #fudoubleunders. And last, but definitely not least, is beat Steven in a WOD! That is definitely happening and I will engrave it on the PR board permanently when it finally does 🙂

What’s your favorite way to “use your fitness” outside the gym?
Going on hikes throughout the Bay Area and exploring new cities and places on foot!

If you could have one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Well if I could have one meal forever without any nutritional considerations, it would probably be my family’s homemade Christmas Eve dinner – green chile pork, posole, fresh tortillas, guacamole, tamales, homemade tiramisu for dessert. However, if I actually had to only eat one meal for the rest of my life it would probably be what I eat 90% of the time anyway – a veggie/meat/grain bowl. Throw some roasted veggies, grains and meat in a bowl, mix it up with a greek yogurt-based sauce. Boom!

If you could have a conversation with anyone that ever existed, dead or alive, who would it be?
Hmmm…. well I think a good option could be Amelia Earhart. Not only would I bet she’d have some great thoughts on perseverance, dedication, and how to be a trailblazer – but she could also tell me definitively where she disappeared to! 🙂

If you could give your former self any piece of advice about your current journey, what would it be?
The beginning is the hardest part! There’s a reason they say “objects in motion stay in motion” – overcoming the inertia to start is often much harder than sustaining it! Keep going!

Anything else you would like to add?
Just once again THANK YOU to the amazing community that is Croga! So excited for 2020!

Whitney O. Is The November Member Of The Month

Oh, Whitney... There's a few members at Croga that are chronically "late" (we start every class 3 minutes late on purpose so that these people are on time), and Whitney is one of them. However, sometimes I wonder if these people are just really good at being on time and since they know we're going to start 3 minutes late, they don't want to waste those 3 minutes leaving their house early. Is that the case, Whit? Either way, I find it amazing when you walk in the door at :03 every single day, especially since I'm the guy that walks in at :48 usually because I'm always worried I'll be late. When Whitney walks in the door right on time for every class, it doesn't seem to phase her. When I tell horrible jokes, she always gives me a courtesy laugh. When I tell her to row faster even though she's the shortest one in the room, she humors me and pulls harder for a few seconds even though she knows her legs aren't going to get longer, and on top of all of this, she quietly kicks ass in every single class she is in. Whitney is an anaesthesiologist and when I found that out about her, it explained a lot. She is always as cool as a cucumber and her calmness and poise even when she's dying from crushing the workout are incredible. And to top that off, she worked out throughout her whole pregnancy and was the same way all the way through a few weeks before the baby was due. You wouldn't have even known except when she turned sideways. Whitney and her husband, Kenny, are just two absolutely wonderful people that I like more and more every month and year that I get to know them. They're great parents and examples for all of us and I'm glad we chose to honor one of our new moms as our MotM. Congrats, Whitney!!! When did you join Cróga? November 2017 What were you doing before for fitness? I was eating ice cream on the couch and watching reality TV. I was not athletic by any means, nor did I do any exercise on a consistent basis. However, I needed a way to get in shape before my wedding and there happened to be a CrossFit box half a mile away from my apartment in Baltimore. I did not know ANYTHING about CrossFit before my first class. The orange theory fitness/yoga classes were a ten minute drive away which was too much effort in my books. I gave CrossFit a shot and I'm still here today. What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? My first foundations one had wall balls, burpees and box jumps. By the fifth wall ball I remember wanting to curl up in the corner and die. Unfortunately, it was a one on one foundation class so there was pressure to not just quit then and there. To this day whenever I watch someone do wall balls for the first time and have the same look that I did of "wow this sucks,” I feel for them. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Pre-CrossFit, Kenny (my now hubby) could not get me to row faster at the gym if my life depended on it. I would tell him if he wanted to hang out with someone who could row faster he should go find another girl. It was all too ironic I started CrossFit by myself. When he joined me in a CrossFit class three months after I had started he could not believe the difference in ability and attitude I had when it came to working out. Gainz since then only continue, especially as I have been more serious about the nutrition piece. What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I’ve come to every class time since I’ve joined. Thank you to everyone, especially the coaches, who have tolerated my little sidekick tagging along. If I’m at class now one of the following conditions are met:
1. The baby is in a good enough mood to take her out in public (9:30am, 3:30pm, 4:45pm) 2. The baby kept me up all night and I’m awake anyway (5am, 6am) 3. I have someone to co-watch the baby with or someone is watching the baby (7am, 5:30pm, 6:30pm, weekends) What's your favorite WOD? Anything with movements that I can more or less do without too much scaling (sit-ups, burpees, jump rope). What's your least favorite WOD? Anything with handstand push-ups. I really hate the feeling of being upside down. "The Whitney" WOD! What would it be? The pyramid WODs are my favorite. For time: 10 DB thrusters 20 DB hang power cleans 30 burpees 40 sit-ups 50 doubleunders 40 sit-ups 30 burpees 20 hang power cleans 10 DB thrusters What’s your favorite post-workout routine? Being 3 minutes late to my next appointment after Croga =). My profession effectively involves multiple shots of adrenaline during the day. Likewise, when I am not at work, I find it boring if I am not constantly rushing around. I consider it a victory if I am the last person on the plane right before the gates close. What's been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? I love peanut butter so PB2 has been the latest game-changer when I'm looking for a snack. I'll even try to eat the powder without adding water because water is too much effort - it does not always end well. Other very close seconds - perfect bars (I refused to eat any protein bars before), food scale (I realized that at work I would easily eat 12-16oz of red meat in one meal). What's your biggest fitness goal for this year? With the baby/work the short term goal is to try to keep consistently coming to class. A pull up would be otherwise my next biggest fitness goal. What do you love about CrossFit? The variety, the intensity and the fact that I don’t have to run very long distances. Self-motivation was clearly not working for me before CrossFit. Doing a similar workout with intense, motivated and fit people challenges me to work harder than I would on my own. It is nice to know that when I am randomly up before my alarm goes off and the sun comes up there is a special place where there are (perhaps crazy) people that are ready to get a good workout in. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Just do it! I was about as un-athletic as you could get before I started CrossFit at all and it many times is the best hour of my day. Each WOD is a unique challenge vs going to a fitness class that is a "routine" so it is difficult to get bored of going to CrossFit. This cannot be said enough - the coaches at Croga are AMAZING! They actually care about you and make sure that you're doing movements correctly. I have now tried out a few other CrossFit gyms when I was looking for a gym in the area and on vacation and this is definitely not always the case. Anything to add that we didn't touch on yet? Nothing! If you're reading this I'm glad you made it to the end of my ramblings. This was not Whitney in 100 words.

Johnny M. Is The October Member Of The Month

Johnny is one of those guys that always walks in the gym with a big smile on his face, ready to work. He then proceeds to read the workout and has one of two responses "Hell Ya!" or "Ahhhh, shit!". Watching Johnny check out the whiteboard, process what's written up there, and then react to it is always a highlight for me when I get to coach him. In all seriousness though, Johnny is just one of our young guns that works hard, listens well, is competitive with himself and the other guys in the gym and when he sets his mind to something he goes and does it. He's always got something funny to say and is always up for a good laugh. And he always makes sure that I've got a good "banger" playing on the speakers when the WOD is about to start. Thanks for the years of hard work and positivity Johnny. It has been fun to watch you grow as an athlete over the last few years. I can't wait to see you get that 225 clean and that muscle up in 2020! When did you join Cróga? I joined Cróga in the fall of 2017, so about two years now. What were you doing before for fitness? Before Croga I went to American Barbell 5 times a week doing the same workout over and over again, I got bored af! What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? I forgot what my first workout was but I remember feeling like shit afterwards, I thought I was in amazing shape until I got my ass kicked at a 5:30 class.  I had to show up the next day to try to redeem myself from the day before, and two years later, here I am. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Since joining Cróga, I feel like I am way more flexible and mobile. I focused mainly on my upper body before CrossFit, so I definitely feel a balance in my overall strength and energy levels. My back has gotten a lot stronger from all the pulling work and variations of pull-ups, I have a better wind from all the high-intensity training as well, which has translated to my overall energy at work. Ohhh and my Olympic lifting skills are way better, I can snatch a decent amount of weight now. What days and times do you come to Cróga? I usually come on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and some Fridays for an ignite class and the 5:30 WOD right after. What's your favorite WOD? My favorite WOD would have to be the one we do every year at Christmas time. It is a fucked up way to start the holidays to say the least. What's your least favorite WOD? My least favorite is anything with pull-ups. "The Johnny" WOD! What would it be? The Johnny WOD would be a Fat arm Friday: Some nice curl sets, a little bench press, and finish it with an AMRAP of something like wall balls and hang cleans. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? My post workout routine during the week is change my shoes, go on a cool down run or jog, and come home and make a protein shake before dinner. I eat late around 8:30-9 every night. What do you love about CrossFit? I love the competitive nature of CrossFit. I grew up playing sports and always thrived in a competitive environment. When I was working out at 24, I was losing that competitive instinct because I was isolated by myself with my headphones on. When I'm in an active environment I will go harder because of my competitive nature. The workouts are far more intense as well, which is good for the brain. What's been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? Mush, perfect bars. What's your biggest fitness goal for this year? My fitness goals for the year are to get 225 up on a clean, hit a ring muscle up, lean out, and just feel as healthy as I can be. I'm a firm believer in the saying health is wealth. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Just go for it! The coaches will not make you do anything you aren't capable of and they will guide you so you're doing it right. Just be prepared to sweat and grind. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Thanks for welcoming me to the gym family, it's been a great two years. Can't wait to reach my goals with you all in the future. Shake and Bake.

Gabi L. Is The September Member Of The Month

Gabi and her husband, Cliff, joined Croga a few years ago when they moved from San Diego and they have been a wonderful addition to our community since day 1! Gabi is another one of our athletes that is so consistent, even with a busy work travel schedule. I can't remember the last time I didn't see multiple times in a week, she's amazing. She always asks the right questions in class and you can tell that she's looking to push herself and improve each time she's in the gym, which makes her a ton of fun to coach. Congratulations, Gabi, this is well deserved and I'm very happy we could acknowledge all your hard work and consistency! Now let's go get that pull up!!! When did you join Cróga? 2016 What were you doing before for fitness? Crossfit in San Diego, and running. I like swimming, too. What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? Intro class in San Diego. Reaction: I could not straighten my arms even after three days. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? I feel more fit and healthy. And I have more of a "you can do it" attitude. What days and times do you come to Cróga? Usually twice a week, 5:30 pm, and the Saturday partner WOD! What's your favorite WOD? Chippers with a good mix of activities. What's your least favorite WOD? Assault bike, without a doubt. "The Gabi" WOD! What would it be? Rowing, clean and jerks, sit-ups. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? Hot tub! What do you love about CrossFit? The community and the high level of attention every member gets to ensure that they perform at their best. What's been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? Peanut butter What's your biggest fitness goal for this year? A pull up! What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Just do it. Anything to add that we didn't touch on yet? Looking forward to more fun and fitness in the coming years.

Rysen O. Is The August Member Of The Month

Rysen is one of my favorite lead by example athletes at Croga. He always comes to the gym ready to work, stays focused the whole time, gets the work done even when it's not his favorite type of workout and then often stays after to work on something he's not as good at or do some stretching so he feels good to go again the next day. I also enjoy pointing him out to some of our newer members because of how smooth and effortlessly he moves and how mobile he is. He's a much better example than I am for these two things, so he makes for a good coaching tool, haha. He's a little shy, but once you get him going he comes out of his shell and he can hang with the best of them. I also love the fact that Rysen and his older brother, Jordan, are from Maui so I get to stay fluent on my island slang whenever they're at the box. Congratulations on the MoTM, Rysen! Your hard work, consistency, and dedication are inspiring. I can't wait to watch you hit that 225 C&J and 185 Snatch! When did you join Cróga? I joined Croga in June 2018. What were you doing before for fitness? I was mostly Olympic weightlifting a few times a week with a few friends when I was still in school. What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? I remember my first workout at Croga pretty vividly because the assault bike was involved. The first part of the workout was back squats and the second part was a 1-minute sprint for calories on the assault bike. After that, I could barely walk for about an hour. Shoutout to Cody for making sure I wasn't actually dead. Also shoutout to Jordan for warning me beforehand. Unfortunately, I didn't take him seriously. It felt terrible, but I liked the atmosphere at Croga. So, I knew I would come back. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? I think the biggest difference that I notice is the way I feel. I didn't really take conditioning too seriously before I joined Croga, and it is nice to walk upstairs without getting winded. I am also a little less afraid of running. What days and times do you come to Cróga? I am at Croga on most weekdays at the 5:30 pm class! What's your favorite WOD? I'm not sure if I have a favorite WOD. Workouts with double unders, handstand push-ups, and pistols are usually pretty fun. What's your least favorite WOD? Workouts longer than 15 minutes are usually not too fun for me. Also, anything with the assault bike, wall balls, or thrusters are also terrible. "The Rysen" WOD! What would it be? Buy in of 100 double unders and 30 pistols followed by 21-15-9 of hang power cleans (115lbs/75lbs) and handstand push-ups. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? I like to stretch, foam roll, and voodoo floss. I've noticed that at least doing one or two of these after a workout helps me feel less sore the next day. What do you love about CrossFit? I love the variety of CrossFit. There are so many movements and ways to structure a workout that I never feel bored. I like that I can feel confident about a movement, finish a workout, and realize that I actually need to be more proficient at it because I didn't realize how bad I am at something when I am tired. I think those kinds of things are what make CrossFit fun. I also love the community. People are usually really encouraging and genuinely happy to see others improve! What's been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? It's not really a culinary discovery, but Francis and Cody got me to try pour-over style coffee. It's amazing! What's your biggest fitness goal for this year? I think it would be cool to hit a 225lb clean and jerk and 185lb snatch. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? I would say that consistency and having fun during workouts is key! All the members at Croga are really encouraging and friendly. The coaches at Croga are great and always help you with your goals! One subtlety that I appreciate is that the coaches know almost every member's name. It's awesome and shows the effort they put in to make classes great. Anyone considering joining Croga should at least try a few classes. It is the most fun I have had working out since I stopped competitive swimming after high school!

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