Tag Archives: Trainer

Trainer Interview – Liz Harrison

Liz Harrison is one of the first stories we’ve had from folks I haven’t yet met directly, so thanks Liz for joining the fun! Let’s learn a bit more about her…

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a 35 year old military wife of 14 years. I am a mom the three smart, rambunctious kiddos, and foster mom to a baby girl. I love to be outside, riding my horse, serving my community, cooking, and of course doing CrossFit. I am stubborn, independent, driven, and strong in my faith.

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I have been an athlete my entire life. I was a competitive swimmer for 13+ years, ran cross-country in high school, and competed with the equestrian team in college. Three years ago I was looking for a gymnastics program for my kids and had some difficulty. After talking with my husband, who has followed the main site for several years, he suggested I find a CrossFit kids program. I found a great box in Georgia (CrossFit Sacrifice) and after a few weeks of running several miles while the kids worked out one of the owners said I should give CF a try. I did and drank the Kool-aid right away.

CrossFit Trainer Liz Harrison, Image 1

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I enjoy helping people and I love the box. Coaching offered me another way to help my community but also keep my schedule flexible with the Army and four kids at home.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

To help people achieve their physical goals. Support them as athletes and as friends.

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

Slow progress is still progress. I have a tendency to get impatient with myself or compare myself to others. Gains are much less frustrating if you enjoy the journey. Stop being so hard on yourself and be content with how far you have come.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment or movement at the box? And least favorite?

I love HSPUs (handstand push ups) and push press. My least favorite is  probably the snatch, probably because I stink at it. 😉

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

CrossFit Pandora’s Box in Colorado Springs for both.

CrossFit Pandora's Box - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I think several factors are involved. One is it’s hard to get bored. You are doing different things every day instead of just hitting the same cardio or weight routine.

Second, the community. Several close friends of mine are fellow athletes at the box. They hold you accountable plus the social aspect of the box is so nice. It’s like coming home and everybody is happy to see you and cares about you.

Third, progress is so easy to see. When I started I couldn’t do an unassisted pull up and my back squat was about 85lbs. Now I can do weighted strict pull ups and back squat 205lbs. Hard to deny those results.

Finally, CrossFit is literally for everyone. Is is scalable to age, injury, pregnancy, whatever.

I had a degenerative spinal disorder as a kid which landed me with two spinal fusions, hardware, and two hip graphs to help my back. This also put me in a wheelchair for two years as a teenager. I remember the doctor telling my mother, “She’ll be lucky if she can walk. Don’t bother with competitive swimming anymore.” And as tears rolled down my face he looked at me and said, “There will be other things.” I was devastated. And it was terribly hard to swim when your legs don’t do what you ask them to.

So my stubborn self picked myself up and worked my way back into the pool. And just to drive my point further to the doctor, I joined the cross country team.

Unfortunately I was never the same athlete again. I never competed at the same level and just felt done.

When I joined the box it didn’t matter my starting point. My coaches just said “OK let’s do this.” And that’s what I needed: a sport where my past didn’t haunt me in my progress. And yes, there are still movements where I have to work a little harder mentally and physically, but look how far I’ve come!

CrossFit Trainer Liz Harrison, Image 2

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

Recently my favorite became Kevin Ogar and I think it’s pretty obvious by my history above.

Q: If you could ask your favorite CrossFit athlete a question – what would it be?

What do you do when you slip into those doubting/down times? When it just feels too hard?

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

I went to the doctor for a physical to become a foster parent and she was amazed by my flexibility and how good my xrays looked of my spine. She asked me to touch my toes. I did. And she said I shouldn’t be able to do that. She said my spinal fusion was the best she had ever seen and asked what I do. I said “I pick up heavy stuff…and often.” She smiled and said to keep it up.

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Thank you Liz for answering these questions and sharing a bit of your story! One more great reminder of how much CrossFit can affect some amazing changes for the better!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a relatively new face at our box over the last year, but my whole family has enjoyed both working out with and being coached by him ever since. He is a big kid with a big goofy grin, and always has something positive or constructive to say to help you achieve your goals. His enthusiasm is infectious!

Plus, having him sing a duet of Journey’s “Faithfully” with your wife to encourage you to finish a workout is one heck of an incentive to get it done! 🙂

He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I have been competing the in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge for 11 years. I believed that I was in good shape and able to perform at a high standard of physical readiness for any incident that I may have encountered while on duty. I won numerous regional competitions while competing in the Challenge as well as held several National titles in both the individual and team events.

In 2010, my wife bought me a Groupon for CrossFit for Father’s Day. During that year I finished 7th in the World, competing against over 1,000 firefighters from around the globe, so I did not redeem it until the Challenge season was over. When that happened, I contacted the CrossFit gym and set up an appointment to meet the owner and training staff. This was a requirement before attending a class.

My first CrossFit class left me in a puddle of sweat, lying on my back realizing that I was not in the shape I thought I was.

After that, I believed that CrossFit would not only benefit me as a firefighter, but it would also benefit with training for the Challenge. I drank the proverbial Kool-aid and was instantly hooked. In the following months, I lost body fat and gained lean muscle. I found myself able to move through the Challenge course faster and with greater ease. I believed that I had unlocked a secret to maintaining a superior level of fitness.

The Challenge tapers off during the fall and picks back up in the spring, and during that time I have been able to scratch my competitive itch while competing in local Crossfit competitions. I have competed in more than 20 events to date, both as an individual and as part of a team.

bill-gates

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a military brat and have traveled across the country. During that time I learned that I have a desire to help people. This led me to a career as a firefighter with the Air Force. I spent nine years servicing in the Air Force and during that time I was stationed in Texas and Colorado. I spent four years of my service time as an instructor at the Louis F. Garland DoD Fire Training Academy. There I found a calling to teach, becoming a DoD Master Instructor, earning a teaching certificate, and teaching almost 10k hours.

As a teacher, I was able to build a rapport with almost any audience and connect with them. This really helped me when I began coaching CrossFit. I began to see and hear what motivated people to succeed. It is incredible to see an athlete make that connection or have that “ah-ha” moment in CrossFit. I believe that my time as an instructor greatly influenced the way I coach and lets me know when to push a bit more or let the athlete move at their own pace.

As far as my family, I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 20. Six months after being married we announced that we were having our daughter. And a short three years later we had our second child. Both my daughter and son are truly an amazing blessing. I love nothing more than seeing them succeed –  whether that is in life, school, or in an athletic arena. My daughter has my competitive drive whereas my son enjoys being part of a team more.

I just surpassed my 15-year mark as a federal firefighter and I am enjoying the good life. My amazing wife is finishing her Nurse Practitioner degree which she has managed to do while continuing to work part-time in the emergency department at a hospital.

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I became a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer in 2011, shortly after I began CrossFit. I am a firefighter and the Fire Chief approached me about taking the course to improve physical fitness in the fire department. I was the health and fitness point of contact within the department and attempted to be well versed in fitness routines. Essentially asking “What will work for that athlete?”

CrossFit was not new to the fire service, but the department I worked for did not have a fundamental understanding of movements or standards. And the Fire Chief wanted to provide opportunities for trained personnel to assist anyone interested in CrossFit work out without getting injured.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

When I attended the Level 1 training course, I intended on ensuring I was moving well so I could decrease my own chance of injury. (CrossFit has a perception of being dangerous.) After taking the course and attending various classes, I found that for every good trainer there were several poor trainers instructing classes.

I studied coaching techniques, cues, and instruction and after about a year I believed that I would enjoy coaching more than just firefighters at the station. So I asked about coaching at the gym and began shadowing the gym owner.

Q: If you could start over as a CrossFitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

As a trainer, I would tell the athlete me to slow down. It is not a race to learn everything at once. Become well rounded and research various articles and training techniques. Reach out to other coaches, gym owners, and train at a facility willing to open their doors for you. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

My favorite piece of equipment at the box would be the barbell. It’s such a versatile piece of equipment! Athletes are able place heavy amounts of weight on a barbell to gain strength or reduce load to perform metabolic conditioning. Athletes are able to perform isolation movements as well as multi joint, full body movements. The barbell seems to become an athlete’s friend and nemesis within a matter of minutes during a workout.

Olympic weights

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

I typically train and coach at Crossfit Continuum. However, I attend an Olympic lifting class on a regular basis at CrossFit Pandora’s Box. I have found that coaches still need to be coached. It is easy to believe that you are moving well but the reality may be very different, so I have found it very beneficial to get another set of skilled eyes ripping apart my lifts and movements.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I believe and state that to be a success in CrossFit the athlete must have competitive drive. CrossFit provides release for athletes who still have that deep-rooted competitive drive. I have seen a stay-at-home mother succeed at beating a division 1 athlete during a WOD because in that particular moment the mom was able to move better.

CrossFit consists of constantly varied functional movements at high intensity, and virtuosity (doing the exceptional, exceptionally well). It provides every athlete opportunities to shine and be humbled. The continued growth of the sport stems from athletes succeeding in their boxes, at local events and competing with the world during the annual CrossFit Open.

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

My favorite CrossFit athlete would be Rich Froning. I have personally met Rich and believe he is an outstanding athlete as well as a gentleman.

Q: If you could ask your favorite CrossFit athlete a question – what would it be?

The question I would ask Rich is – “During that moment when the workout is toughest and your body wants to quit, what do you tell yourself to push through the pain and succeed?”

 

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

This is a difficult question. I have met so many amazing athletes and seen amazing feats of strength and abilities. I have competed with and against athletes that have left me filled with unbelievable pride and humility. I have met Rich Froning, competed against Kevin Ogar, and been coached by Jared Enderton as well as Chris Hoppe. I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and into a gym that prides itself on producing high-level competitive CrossFitters. I have seen the benefits of sound strength training program from coaches that have a desire to make their athletes stronger but with refined beauty.

But, I cannot overlook and enjoy community and network that I have become a part of with CrossFit. Almost everywhere I go, I can recognize a CrossFitter and engage in a conversation. Many boxes have their own set of programming goals and plans for their athletes which leads to successes in their own ways. And the truly amazing aspect of every box is to see and feel the sense of community, building of friendships, and how a diverse group of athletes grows from being a collection of individuals with a desire to better themselves to becoming a family.

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Thank you Bill for answering these questions and sharing a bit about your own journey! As always, we love seeing you at Crossfit Continuum as a coach or as an athlete!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Heather Zinser

Another one of the kind folks who answered the call for interview guinea pigs was Heather Zinser, who transitioned from an athlete to a trainer at our box (CrossFit Continuum). She’s another of the many strong, independent, intelligent ladies we’ve met while crossfitting that I think of as a good role model for my daughters.

Heather was kind enough to answer a few questions to provide insights into her experiences with CrossFit so far…

heather-zinser

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

My brother got me to do my first WOD. I was looking for something new to do to keep myself active, so he brought me to the box he was attending at the time. Needless to say, I was hooked.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a big kid at heart: 34 going on 13. I grew up in Wisconsin but moved to Colorado in 1997 to go to college. I’m a pharmacist. I obtained my CF-L1 in March 2013 and also hold CF Kids and CF Mobility certifications. Beyond that I also enjoy snowboarding, motorcycles, hiking, reading, shopping and drinking good craft beer.

Editor’s Note: She also thrives on coffee, from what we’ve seen! 🙂

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I was never a natural athlete, so everything I have been able to accomplish in CrossFit has been through hard work. I wanted to be able to help more ‘regular’ people achieve more and help take care of themselves.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

I think my main focus as a trainer is encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zones… all while being safe of course. I like watching people try things they didn’t think they could do.

Editor’s Note: I can attest to Heather liking to push us as a coach. I think I’ve heard “That looks too easy – add more weight.” at least a dozen times in her classes! 🙂 But we always focus on form over just lifting heavier or faster, so she offers a great balance in her coaching. 

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

Trainer me would tell athlete me to not worry what other people think. I was so intimidated to try new things, I wish I could have had someone encouraging me more in the beginning.

Q: What’s your favorite story from the box so far?

Ok….so I’ve struggled coming up with one story. But what I keep coming back to is the friendships I have made. I have made some of the best friends I currently have, all because of CrossFit.

I also truly appreciate the camaraderie that we have in our box. Its nice to always feel welcome somewhere. Then there’s also the added benefit of being able to stop in a box anywhere in the world and most often be welcomed with open arms.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

Hands down, the barbell is my favorite. Lift all the things!

Squat rack. Adjustable barbell stand. Bench press station

 

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

I train and teach and CrossFit Continuum.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

CrossFit is so successful because it never gets old. There is always something you can be better at. Its also universally scalable to ANY person of ANY ability level.

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

Elisabeth Akinwale is by far my favorite. She is so humble, but still completely badass. She is also a little bit older than the rest, which I think is cool because she can still kick the butts of those almost half her age.

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Thanks Heather for answering my questions! I look forward to the next time I get work out with you at the box!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Clare Browne

Clare is one of our newest trainers at Crossfit Continuum and I’ve been in her classes a few times so far. She’s a fun coach and her love for CrossFit comes through every time I see her at the box. I can only hope that some of that enthusiasm rubs off on the folks in her classes (like yours truly)! 🙂

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in Buffalo NY and have lived in CO for 9 years. I just turned 25 (again), started CrossFit in Dec 2013, and got my CFL1 this past march.

Clare meeting Christmas Abbott!
Clare meeting Christmas Abbott!

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I’ve wanted to be an athlete my entire life. I tried really hard in high school, but it turns out I wasn’t coordinated or athletic enough to be good at conventional sports, and I didn’t hear about CrossFit until years and years later when my sister was into it and was all “you gotta try this!” So I did and here I am.

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I really wanted to become more involved in the sport and give back to our box, but competing isn’t really my thing. Coaching made sense because the teaching piece is something I’m pretty comfortable with and I was able to catch on to things like movement standards, progressions, and cues pretty quickly.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

My #1 thing is obviously to keep my athletes safe. #1.5 (I couldn’t even knock it down to #2 because it’s so important) HAVE FUN!!

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

  1. Be patient (with yourself,  your body,  your gains,  your coaches)
  2. Be patient
  3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  4. Be patient

Editor’s Note: I’m sensing a theme here…

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

It’s a tie between a barbell, kettle bell, GHD, prowler, box, rig, and med ball. (Notice that I specifically eliminated the rower and jump rope! 🙂 )

Dumbbells on gym floor

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

Both at Crossfit Continuum.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I feel it’s because CrossFit is literally for everyone. Every single workout can be scaled to fit any possible ability level. In addition, it can help you get a better understanding of how your body works and moves. And while all of us may not be that interested in the exact science of it, CrossFit will undoubtedly help you be a safer physically and [a more] efficient human being both in and out of the box. CrossFit is about a lot more than what happens in the box, and I don’t think you find that anywhere else.

Q: Who is your favorite crossfit athlete and why?

This is really hard… One of my favorite athletes to watch compete is Annie Thorisdottir. She doesn’t ever seem to show pain during a workout and finishes every one with this cool arms-up-giant-smile-on-her-face dance move thing. (I haven’t found the right workout to try it out myself yet, but stay tuned for that!)

Q: If you could ask your favorite crossfit athlete (Annie) a question – what would it be?

I’d ask her what goes through your head during a workout?… Because you don’t show any pain or stress or any sense of being uncomfortable and I want to be just like that. Tell me all of your secrets.

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

My favorite story changes with every new PR I get to see. I love seeing people’s reactions to themselves when they do something they didn’t think they could! 🙂

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Thanks Clare for answering all these questions! I look forward to the next time I’m in one of your classes! 🙂

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Marilee Lake

When my wife started CrossFit, it was with the encouragement of her good friend and fellow soccer player, Marilee Lake. So it was only appropriate that she was among the first group of coaches I had during my own journey too! And she has been a big part of my whole family’s CrossFit journey ever since.

Lee was kind enough to answer a few questions about her own CrossFit experience…

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a part-time CrossFit coach and stay at home mom. I have a degree in Sports Management and have worked in the fitness industry for 5 years now. Outside of CrossFit I love to play soccer, hike, and volunteer with Street Petz.

Editor’s Note: Street Petz is the non-profit organization my wife helps run down here in Colorado Springs. They support the pets of the homeless by providing food, supplies, and some basic vaccines through the generous support of local folks like Lee. My garage looks suspiciously like a pet store at times, but I know the folks Street Petz supports appreciate everything my wife, Lee, and the rest of the volunteers do for them. Check out this awesome article at the Colorado Springs Independent for more about what they do!

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

CrossFit gave me physical and mental challenges just like when I was a college athlete. As I became part of a box, I was on a team again.

marilee-lake

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

When picking a career, I knew helping people was my main goal. I started off as a personal trainer. CrossFit just provided me the tools to truly change people lives.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

My main goal as a trainer is to make sure that someone is reaching their fitness goals and creating a healthy lifestyle.

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

More mobility! I would of focused more on the efficiency and technique of the movements rather then just weight and checking something off the list.

mobility-wod

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

A barbell never lies.

Q: Where do you train? And where do you coach?

I train and coach at CrossFit 719 in Colorado Springs, CO.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

It works for so many different types of people. You can see young and old doing the same WOD with different modifications. CrossFit also builds confidence and mental strength that can really help outside the box (gym).

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

I don’t have a true favorite. When I am competing in a sport I don’t like to idolize others. Everyone has their own story and path to get to the top. I just hope I can write mine someday. If I had to pick one, [I would pick] Annie Thorisdottir because she is always smiling like one of my favorite [Pittsburgh] Steelers’ player Hines Ward. You should be loving your sport that much.

Q: If you could ask your favorite crossfit athlete a question – what would it be?

How do find time for everything outside of CrossFit?

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

There are several stories, but one word explains them all Community. In my CrossFit career so far I have been a part of two boxes, and the family connection is amazing. I had so much support when Clara was born, during competitions, and even while I was the newbie in my current box.

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Thanks Lee! I appreciate the time! I still need to come check out CrossFit 719 and your Oly Lifting class over the summer. 🙂

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page and I’ll get in touch!