#FitCoupleFriday: Jacki Ford & Craig Twesten

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Read about how coach Jacki Ford and long-time nooner Craig Twesten keep each other accountable, competitive and motivated inside the gym doors and at home!


Q: (Jacki): Tell us how you met! Did you two meet at a box, or meet before you started CrossFit?

A: Craig and I became friends when I took pictures of him and Bill Greco dressed as women for losing a bet after the Open one year. True story. They were both in skirts and tight shirts and they even took a prom photo, corsage and all! He’s been stalking me ever since. Also a true story.


Q: (Craig): What is it like to workout with Jacki or have Jacki around the gym with you? Do you guys ever ‘trash talk’ one another before/ after workouts?

A: Having Jacki as a partner in a workout is basically S&M (Rihanna style). It hurts so good. She makes me work way harder than my body allows but I know I’ll be better for it. “Can you slow down” comes out of my mouth more than once when we’re doing a WOD together.

I’m super competitive but she couldn’t care less about scores. “Our” trash talk is me stating I’m going to beat her score in a metcon and then me NOT beating her score. That being said I’m a far superior putt-putter. In fact I’ll beat anyone at the gym at putt-putt. I’m talking to you Justin Marriott.

Q: (Jacki): What is it like to workout with your second half, Craig? Do you workout together frequently? If so, do you guys get super competitive?

A: Haha “second half” couldn’t be more of the truth...I’m definitely the number one! Fact! We used to workout more frequently together, but now our schedules don’t really allow us to. We definitely are competitive with each other, but more for fun. We try to do partner workouts on Sundays just to workout together. I definitely miss him chasing me because it pushed me to work harder.


Q: (Craig): #DontTellJacki is the hashtag of our gym, does she help you stay on track with your nutrition? Do you guys meal prep things together?

A: She absolutely helps me stay on track. She doesn’t make unhealthy meals so there’s never the option to eat poorly. That being said when I want to eat a pizza or two and wash them down with a liter of ice cream that woman isn’t stopping me. “Go eat your salad you friggin’ hippie” I say to her and then I unlock my jaw and swallow Phillies Dollar Dogs by the dozens. FYI turns out Dollar Dog Night does not mean you can by a puppy for a $1.

Q: (Jacki): You guys recently took a trip to California- was working out something you guys incorporated into the trip? What was the best part of the trip?

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A: Health and fitness are a very important part of our lives, so vacation doesn’t mean we abandon our lifestyle. We agreed to drop in to CrossFit only three of the days, simply because we knew we’d be walking most places (we walked 25 mins to and from the CrossFit classes we took in San Francisco) and one of the days we took a 12+ mile bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. We also made healthy food choices for our meals, with only a few ‘cheats’. My favorite part of the trip was spending much needed time away. We both work hard and don’t get many days off, so it was nice to just relax and enjoy our time away together.

Q: (Craig): What is your favorite workout to do together?

A: Any workout where we sweat it up and she takes off her shirt. That Jacki Ford is one piece of ace. I know from experience, dude, if you know what I mean? No, you don't. Well, not me personally, but a guy I know ... him and her got it on! Whoooooo-eeeeee! No, they didn't.

No, no, no they didn't. But you could imagine what it'd be like if they did, right? Huh? Huh?

Everybody on? Good. Great! Grand! Wonderful!

Q: (Jacki): Is fitness a big part of your relationship? In what ways?

A: It is, simply because we both love it. Both of us have changed our lives through CrossFit. And fitness doesn’t end with CrossFit. We try and walk anywhere we can, go to the driving range (he’s way better than I am), play mini golf (I’ve beaten him a few times and he HATES this fact), trail walks, outdoor games...any chance Craig thinks he can beat me at something, he suggests it. He doesn’t always come out on the winning side though, and he does not take that well. We recently finished a 5 month game of Gin Rummy. Yes, it took that long because we decided to go to 5000. I WON!

Q: (Craig): Who would win these three workouts between the two of you and why: Fran, DT, and Murph.

A: I can beat Jacki in eating ice cream, parallel parking, carrying more grocery bags, being good looking, shaving our legs, dancing, cooking minute rice(I can cook it in 57 seconds) vacuuming, bicep curls and ass modeling. Does that answer the question?

(Jacki) I’m chiming in on this...all of the things he listed above are ALL things I do better than him. So nice of him to expose his weaknesses. I will give him Murph, but I’ll give him a run for his money on Fran. As for DT, not even a competition.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Amplify Spotlight Kevin Kuzmick

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Read about how Kevin Kuzmick got set up on Amplify, how its changed his relationship with food as well as how he stays on track with his progress despite the business of everyday life!

What was the deciding factor in your decision to participate in the Amplify! Nutrition program?

I was struggling with a lot of hip pain which left me unable to run or play hockey.  This coincided with the holidays, and I put on a decent amount of weight.  I was pretty miserable.  It felt like I needed to do something or my weight was going to spiral out of control.  Knowing I couldn’t work out too hard, I figured focusing on my eating/drinking habits was my best bet.  But if I was going to do something, I wanted help from someone to give me confidence that it was going to work. 

What were some of the habits you changed? How did changing those habits affect your daily lifestyle?

The biggest change was having some kind of eating plan that I was confident would work.  And some of the changes were pretty simple.  The first one I started with was drinking my coffee black (used to do 3 tsp of sugar plus cream).  Once you start logging your meals it becomes pretty clear what things you can cut out.  I’m actually back to liking black coffee and don’t even think about cream and sugar.  Another is not cutting carbs out of meals entirely but instead deciding to eating the right ones. I think both of these changes have allowed me to avoid those afternoon energy crashes. But the biggest one for me is actually measuring (or paying attention to) what goes into the meals we make and divvying them up into individual containers (even before the first meal) with appropriately sized portions.  I didn’t necessarily eat horribly but my portions were really out of control (apparently).  And I’m not walking around hungry now – it’s enough food.  And I no longer have those post meal hours of feeling completely stuffed. Last but not least, I try to be more mindful of the beers – IPA’s at 250 calories a pop can add up. 

What is the biggest take-away from working on your nutrition?

I sit at a desk most of the day.  I get some exercise, but I needed to be honest with myself that I wasn’t going to start working out 10+ hours a week to cancel out the bad eating and drinking habits.  Fixing my eating and drinking habits is the most important and effective way to manage my weight.  Have a plan (even if it’s just loose guidelines some days).  If I eat good food throughout the day then I can avoid getting to the point where I’m starving and the GrubHub app starts to look really sexy.

What is your total weight loss to date?

I’m down about 27 lbs.

You have been continuing to work on your nutrition on your own. How has that been going? Do you find you are still following your meal plan most of the time? 

It’s been going pretty well.  I don’t follow the meal plans exactly anymore, but I do reference them for general guidance (and frequently visit the recipes from the site).  It’s mostly about keeping good food in the house, measuring appropriately, and staying on plan.  When I have a bad day or two, I become really mindful not to compound it.  After a bad day, I will typically start logging my food again on myfitnesspal to get me back on track.  

How has living a healthier lifestyle affected your life? What are you nutritional goals for this coming year? 

Not sure I can pinpoint anything specific but I just feel better – physically and emotionally.  I think the biggest goal for me long term is to continue to get back on track and not compound the bad days.  Because my bad days will happen (and occasionally I want them to) – but my goal is to keep them to an exception.

Family Friday: Megan & Jeff Granata

Read about how Megan got her father Jeff in the doors of DelVal and how he’s been adapting to CrossFit while trying keep up with his daughter!

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Q: (Megan): You encouraged your dad to join CrossFit DelVal after you had become a member, why so?

A: I encouraged my dad to join CrossFit because fitness and staying in shape is something I have always been passionate about. He always joked about how he use to be fit back in the day- “before kids”- so it was time for him to put his money where his mouth is!

Q: (Jeff): How was it having Megan in the gym when you first started CrossFit? Did having her there make your transition into CrossFit easier?

A: Having Megan in the gym with me was the only way I was going to go to CrossFit or to any gym. She was very instrumental in getting me to come back to a gym to improve my health and attitude. She even paid the first three months for me, to really insure I would go. Having her there to help me learn these new movements has been priceless to me.

Q: (Megan): Why was it important for you to get your dad in the gym? Was it hard to get him to first start?

A: One of my favorite things about CrossFit is the community, nobody cares about how heavy you can lift or if you scale workouts. What’s important is showing up and bettering yourself. I told my dad he should come to the gym with me for a long time and one day I finally was able to bribe him. Not only is it good for your physical health while aging, it’s great for mental health as well!

Q: (Jeff): Did Megan help you with any specific movements when you first started? Do you guys partner together for workouts frequently?

A: Megan as well as everyone at  CrossFit DelVal has helped me in many ways to learn the movements. I am still learning at my age today how to do many of these movements. The best one is getting back up after doing a burpee. I would like to partner with Megan more but she has her friends that like being with her at the noon class. So I have to pick my times wisely and share my workouts with others.

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Q: (Megan): What’s your favorite part about having your dad at CrossFIt DelVal? If you and Jeff had to go toe-to-toe in a workout, who would come out on top?

A: My favorite part about having my dad at the gym is seeing how happy he has become. Everyone was so welcoming to him from day one and it motivates him to come back each day. If we had to go toe-to-toe in a workout we would be trash talking each other the whole time but, I would have to let him win since he’s my dad......

Q: (Jeff): What’s your favorite thing about having Megan at DelVal? If you and Megan had to go toe-to-toe in a workout, who would come out on top?

A: Well, to me -and don't tell her this- I get to spend time with my daughter doing something she loves to do. It makes me so happy seeing how much she enjoys working out and getting better at everything she sets out to do in her life! I enjoy the quality time with my children! Well I know she would probably win but, I would give her one hell of a run for her money! Watch out for Big Daddy!!

Athlete of the Month- Jeff Varallo

This month’s featured athlete is Jeff Varallo! Jeff is an Early Bird member through and through who has two young children, a career as well as aspirations to eventually finish a 24 hour obstacle course race! Read more about how Jeff balances his day-to-day with his fitness goals!

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Q: What or who brought you to CrossFit DelVal? How long have you been a member of the gym?

A: I joined CrossFit DelVal back in June of 2017. At the time, I had been going to another CrossFit gym for a few months and was really starting to love CrossFit, but needed to find a gym closer to my house that better fit my schedule. I visited 3 different CF gyms in the area but none really felt like a great fit. I decided to meet with Rob and give DelVal a chance and immediately fell in love. Rob and all the coaches/members of the morning crew were so welcoming, there was such a great atmosphere in the gym, and it really was a no-brainer to join CFDV.

Q: What are some of your long term goals? What are some of your short term goals?

A: My goals really depend on the time of year. I spend the spring/summer focusing on cardio and metcons and then the fall/winter I shift my focus more on building strength and gaining weight. Right now my short-term goals are to beat my previous times from last year in Murph and the Spartan Super at Blue Mountain in July. Long-term I would love to be able to deadlift 400, squat 300 and do some crazy endurance events like the World’s Toughest Mudder (24 hour obstacle course race).  

Q: You’ve been tracking your macros and been fine tuning your nutrition, how do you stay on track for the long term? What are some foods you rely on most?

A: It’s definitely tough staying on track long-term. 2 things that work well for me are tracking everything I eat, because you can see exactly how your macros stack up. I also just completely cross certain foods off the list, so I don’t eat any sort of candy or dessert, no matter what. This was pretty tough at first, but after a few weeks it just becomes second nature to say no to cake, cookies, etc. I eat a ton of meat, vegetables, fruit, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, homemade protein bars and WAY TOO MUCH Kashi cereal (pretty sure it’s impossible to only eat 1 bowl of Kashi).

Q: What class time do you attend the most, are there any regular member you work out with at that time? A: I am at the gym at 5 am every day and proud to be an Early Bird! I usually go back and forth between lifting in the dungeon and doing the 5:15am CrossFit class. Everyone in the morning crew is amazing, whether I’m powerlifting with Chris, Tom and Will or doing class with Greg, Carl, Jabari, Ryan, Jenn, Alicia, Maggie and everyone else. It’s such a great atmosphere and everyone is always so supportive. The gym truly is my escape from the world and my second home so I’m so grateful to be able to work out with such awesome people! I also attend the noon class most Thursdays when I work from home to get in some extra training.

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Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what is your life like outside the gym? Where do you work, do you have kids/pets/spouse/partner? What is your favorite hobby outside the gym?

A: Life is very hectic outside the gym. I work as an Underwriter at a specialty insurance company in Bala Cynwyd. My wife (Domonique) works at CHOP and we have 2 amazing kids (Kaylee is 6 and Colton is 1). There is never a dull moment in our crazy family and I’m so grateful to have them in my life. My favorite hobbies are hanging out with friends/family, anything outdoors, going on walks to the park with the kids, playing hockey and watching sports!

Q: What is your favorite lift, movement, or wod? Least favorite?

A: Favorite lift would have to be the squat – it’s the movement I struggle with the most, so being able to hit a heavy squat with perfect form is the best feeling in the world for me. Favorite movement is anything extremely painful (burpees, thrusters, assault bike, etc.). Favorite WOD is Andy. Andy is a hero WOD we did a few months ago involving 50 thrusters at #115, 100 box jumps, 150 deadlifts and a 1.5 mile run, all with a 20lb vest – it was one of the most grueling/painful workout I had ever done, but it’s my favorite because it truly pushed me way outside my comfort zone and forced me to dig deep to finish those last 25 thrusters. Least favorite movement would be Sumo Deadlift High Pulls no doubt, they kill me every time!

Q: If you were to perform in a circus, what would you do?

A: No clue. I’m deathly afraid of heights so that definitely narrows it down. Maybe hanging out with the elephants and tigers?

Coaching Spotlight: Cat

In preparation for The Open, you changed your workout regimen and your diet. What were the goals you were looking to achieve for this Open in particular?

My workout regimen went from doing heavy volume in Olympic lifting to more interval training and sprint work to try and increase my lung capacity. I also tried to cut body fat (~5 lbs) to try and make gymnastics volume a little easier during the workouts. My main goal in this Open was to complete all the workouts to the RX standard.

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How did your performance compare to last year?

I’m not how many places I improved, but this year went way better than last year. Last year was my first year of competing in the Open and I barely skid by with some of the workouts. This year I was able to finish almost all the workouts and came in 3rd overall in the gym.

Will you be focusing heavily on improving certain movements for the second Open coming in the fall?

I’m always looking to improve my technique as well as my efficiency in gymnastics or body weight movements. I am going to gear my skill work more toward bar muscle ups, ring muscle ups and try and add more strict HSPU (with the new standard) to my sessions.

You’ve been doing custom programming for some time now, what are some of the improvements to different movements have you seen? 

I’ve seen a ton of improvements from the barbell to gymnastics as well as just grunt work. The custom programming has allowed me to learn more about myself as an athlete and given me more insight on how to gauge workouts better. I’m more focused on my split times, my heart rate and my mentality more so then I am on having the fastest time.

Does it help having a workout partner like Jason Senatore to help keep you motivated and accountable? 

Yes! I love having Jason as my workout partner. He manages to balance my crazy drive to compete with his lightheartedness and humor. He’s always willing to come in early, late or in the middle of the day so that I don’t have to work out alone which is helpful when trying to stay on track. Him and I are always joking and talking mad trash to each other about who will lift more or have a better metcon time, it helps keep us both motivated even on days we don’t want to be there.

How has your diet changed? Do you feel the focus on your diet has changed the outcome of your workout performance?

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This past year I’ve lost about 23 lbs (RIP Fat Cat). I never really focused on nutrition and previously as a college athlete thought, “Well I worked out today, so I can eat whatever I want.” It wasn’t until I started weighing my food and tracking it that I realized how much I was over eating. I 100% credit my performance in the Open (or any workout) to my balanced diet. I have more energy when working out, I feel less fatigued, less sore and doing bar muscle ups are way easier when you’re lighter!


In your opinion, how important is it to work on movements in order to get better at them? 

Skill work is the most undervalued thing I think in a CrossFit gym. You won’t magically get better at HSPU, snatches, handstand walks or anything else for that matter, in a workout with your HR jacketed up to 185 bmp. I like to think of the workout as the “game.” You’re not going to be better at the game unless you practice, right? If you want to be better at certain movements in the gym, you have to dedicate the time to practice them and appreciate the progress of skill work. Trust me, it might be frustrating at first but, once you get it, it's very rewarding!