New Member Spotlight: Sarah Baker

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Read about Night Crawler, Sarah Baker and her journey at CrossFit DelVal, her goals and her favorite memory so far!

Q: Why did you join CrossFit Delaware Valley?

A: There were a few factors that brought me to CFDV. After years of working at a sedentary desk job and a family history of diabetes, I knew I needed to make a serious lifestyle change to improve my current health and hopefully avoid issues down the road. I wanted an environment that would support a transition to a healthier version of myself in the long-term. I have a strong yoga background, but I didn't feel like returning to yoga alone would yield the results I was looking for. I began talking to some friends about their experience with CrossFit and after learning a little more about what CrossFit was, I scheduled a consult at CFDV. Rob was fantastic about talking through my concerns (mainly that it had been a long time since I had worked out consistently and that I never touched a barbell before). When I learned about how the CrossFit program can be scaled to meet virtually any fitness level, I felt like I was ready to take the next step and sign up!

Q:What's been your biggest accomplishment?

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A: Committing to showing up to class regularly and putting the work in even when I know it's going to be a really challenging set of movements for me. A lot of the time when I think that I won't be able to complete that many reps/rounds in the WOD before class starts, I end up surprising myself at how much I actually was able to accomplish in the given class time.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am not strong when it comes to the cardio components, so I'm working on gaining more stamina. I'm also working on being patient with myself and letting my skills grow and my body transform at a natural pace. But I get most excited when I get the opportunity to work on weight lifting, I had no idea how much fun lifting was before starting CrossFit!

Q: What's your favorite CrossFit Delaware Valley memory?

A: When I found my max back squat! I had an idea of what I thought I might be able to do. I was completely blown away when I did twice as much, the feeling was unbelievable.

Q:What motivates you to continue training at CrossFit Delaware Valley?

A: The people! ALL of the coaches I've worked with have been wonderfully supportive in getting me up to speed with the new movements. They're a wealth of knowledge so I learn a lot each time I show up, they help push me to new limits and work to keep me moving in a healthy and safe way during the workouts. Plus, all the members at the gym have all been so welcoming, a lot of folks went out their way to introduce themselves in the first few weeks I started taking classes and everyone is SO encouraging during and after the workouts. I never experienced that in a gym before!

#FriendshipFriday: Katie Colburn & Jamie Reilly

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FriendshipFridays! Read about how Katie and Jamie met at CrossFit DelVal, how they’ve become so close and how they even workout together on days they can’t make the 5:15 am class!

Q(Katie): Why did you start CrossFit? What made you decide to join DelVal? How do you like it so far? 

A: I am getting married in November and I wanted to look and feel my best for the wedding. I heard about DelVal through my sister. She works with Jacki. She suggested reaching out to Jacki for personal training. Since joining CrossFit DelVal, I’m surprised to say I do enjoy it. I’m not a big fan during the class because it’s rough, but, it’s what I was looking for. I have tried several different classes and gyms before to lose weight, and when I leave DelVal, I know it was worth it. You feel every workout, I can tell which muscles we used, and although it’s not easy, It’s nice to leave everyday feeling the changes in my body and health. 

Q(Jamie): When you first joined CrossFit were you nervous? Did you think you would enjoy it as much as you have so far?

A:  Yes extremely nervous.  My sister actually signed me up online and made me go. It was not by choice but by her forcing me! She told me she would go with me for two weeks.  I guess she knew that after that I would love it! I didn’t think that I would stick with it, especially since the only class that works for me was the 5:15am.  Usually by now I’m over any program or make excuses not to go but, I love that every workout is different! It gets me out of bed at 4:30am which is amazing! 

Q:(Katie): How did you and Jamie become friends? Did you do a lot of partner workouts together? 

A: Jamie and I met within a few weeks of me joining DelVal. It’s a little intimidating joining a gym that has its regulars and feeling like the new one who can’t keep up, even though everyone in the gym was friendly and welcoming. Jamie introduces herself and told me she was also a new member. So immediately we exchanged numbers and discussed our schedules so we could go together. It’s nice having a partner who is on a beginner level as well. I feel it really helped motivate me to stick with it. 

Q:(Jamie): Were you and Katie friends before CrossFit or did you meet in the gym? Does Katie keep you accountable when coming? How has having Katie start around the same time impacted your CrossFit experience? 

A:  No I did not know Katie.  Actually, the last day that my sister went to class with me, Katie was there too. I overheard Jacki say she was new so I went over and introduced myself.  I feel we both keep each other accountable but she definitely would back out more than me so I do push her to go, HA! I always say that the workouts don’t look that bad and then she is usually cursing me before the end of the class.  I have to say that having her humor in the mornings has made CrossFit all the more worth waking up for! 

Q:(Katie): Were you and Jamie friends before CrossFit or did you meet in the gym? Does having Riley in the gym keep you accountable? 

A: I have to say having Jamie as a gym buddy definitely helps keep me motivated and accountable. In the beginning, we’d pick days we were going to go. There were quite a few times I was too tired or just being lazy, but I told Jamie I would be there so I could not back out. Even now, months in, there are days I’m just not up to it. I’ll text Jamie at 4:30 in the morning and she tells me to get my a** out of bed or suck it up, LOL. Also, on days we aren’t able to attend due to work schedules or babysitters, we will meet up and run/ jog so at least we are still being active- I know I would not do that alone. 

Q:(Jamie): Do you and Katie partner up for workouts or strength work a lot? Do you both come to 5:15am to workout together? 

A: Yes when we are together we always partner up because we roughly lift the same weight although she's probably doing about 10lbs more than me now!  We always go to the 5:15 am class and talk about attempting Sunday Bootcamp but have not made it there yet! On the days during the week that we are not at CrossFit we meet up at 5:15am to go walking/jogging.

Q:(Katie):Jamie started a little before you, was she helpful in learning new things or did you guys learn from one another? How has meeting her shaped your CrossFit experience so far? 

A: We both were always confused with the lingo of the different workouts. Even now, we struggle to remember the names of different techniques. But there are times when she will show me if I am doing something incorrectly and vice versa. For the most part we are learning together with the help of other members and the trainers. I’m really glad I met Jamie. We both have similar reasons for joining and are both looking just to feel healthy overall. With every week, we are seeing improvements with things we couldn’t do in the beginning. A lot of members say how hard it was in the beginning for them too but it’s nice to go through it with someone at the same time. Even when we are scaling some workouts, we help push each other to do a little more than what we initially try. 

Q:(Jamie): Do you think it's important to find someone in the gym who can keep you accountable as well as be your workout buddy? Do you think CrossFit does a good job of bringing others together and facilitating those friendships?

A: I think it’s important for some people to find a workout buddy to make them accountable but not for everyone. When I was in my 20s, I loved going to the gym solo so having a workout buddy would have been more of a nuisance. But now that I am older with kids and less time on my hands, having a workout buddy to make me accountable definitely helps me get to the gym in the mornings especially when all I want to do is sleep for that extra hour! The coaches are great at facilitating friendships too! Jacki is always helping Katie and I to show us how we can help each other when we are doing a hard movement. She also yells at us when we are talking too much and not working! Justin and Kyle are also both awesome at helping us and showing us how to scale movements together! And we miss Cat in the mornings, she was a great motivator for both of us. She also yelled at us for talking too! Seems like we get away with more with the guys! Ha-ha But over all the coaches are awesome and we appreciate all the help and support from the morning crew!

Q:(Katie): Between you or Jamie- which one of you would be more likely to do something crazy like jump out of a plane or go bungee jumping? 

A: Honestly, I think we would both be too chicken to do anything like that, ha! We have very similar personalities. 

Q:(Jamie): If Katie was an animal- what animal would she be and why? 

A: I would say she would be Chester Cheetah because she’s cool, she’s faster than me at the WODs and more importantly because she wears BLACK SUNGLASSES!

Athlete of the Month: Tricia Craven

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Tricia Craven is coming up on her 8th year of doing CrossFit and 8th year of being a member here at DelVal! Throughout the years she’s demonstrated hard work & dedication while always having a smile on her face. Read about her journey so far, how she keeps herself moving in the gym and what superpower she would choose to have!

Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit? What made you want to start CrossFit in the first place?  How long have you been a DelVal member? 

A: September will mark 8 years of doing CrossFit- all at DelVal! I got into it because I needed a rigorous workout program enforced by someone else- and the accountability of other people doing it too. I swam competitively through college, and I missed that so-hard-you-want-to-quit feeling of a workout.  I simply won’t do much of a workout on my own, especially at the level provided by the class.  

Q: There have been many workouts between you and when you first started here at DelVal, what would be your favorite one to date? What is your favorite movements to see programmed? 

A: My favorite workout used to be Cindy… and once I surpassed my goal for that workout, it changed. I don’t have a “favorite” anymore, but my favorite movements are definitely power cleans, pull ups, and double-unders. 

Q: You’ve recently been nursing a back injury but still come to class, how has CrossFit allowed you to modify workouts to fit how you’re feeling that day? What are some things you do to ensure you’re still able to show up and workout (any stretching/mobility, ect)?

A: My injury was 100% because I didn’t listen to my body that day. Generally speaking though, I’m pretty good at figuring out when I need to modify something. I love that you can do that with CrossFit. You can either modify range of motion, weight, or swap the movement altogether. There aren’t many sports where that’s an option. So, ever since that awful day in May when I didn’t listen, I’ve been stretching a LOT. Not necessarily sitting down for a 20 minute session, but 2-3 minutes throughout the day adds up- while cooking, playing on the floor with my kids, scrolling through my phone, brushing my teeth… 

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Q: You started incorporating running into your training as well, how have you balanced the two? Are you training for any upcoming races or obstacle races? 

A: I started running with purpose about a year ago, when Kristy Tomicki casually mentioned I should try a half marathon. I followed a training program for that, and drastically cut my CrossFit days to swap for running. Now, it’s back to more CrossFit and I run when I’m short on time. I’m running the Philly 10k this month with Debbie, Kristy, and Vicky! Right, ladies?!

Q:  If you had to describe your experience at DelVal to a total stranger off the street, how would you describe it? (Other then, picking things up and putting them back down)! 

A: It’s a total body therapy session- physical, psychological, social, emotional. You get a great workout that non-Crossfitters can’t comprehend (“You actually do 100 pullups in a workout?!”)  and a social hour with people who are fantastic. And then you plan to do it again tomorrow!

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Q: Do you think it’s important to have your young girls see you working out? Do they ever workout with you? Go on runs with you? 

A: I’m trying to teach them healthy habits. My 6yo just asked “Do you go to the gym to lose weight or gain weight?” I told her I just go to feel good, get fit and get strong. They like to do their own “workouts” after the 9:30 class and we also frequently go to my husband’s races. I think it’s great that they see us both working hard to improve ourselves.

Q: What are some things that you enjoy doing outside of CrossFit? What’s a fun facts people might not know about you? If you could have any super power, what would it be?

A: Super power first: I would totally choose teleporting. How awesome would that be to just arrive where you want to be?! This choice may also have something to do with the multiple road trips we’ve taken with small children in the last month. 

Other things I like to do… Crafting. Oddly, I like doing yard work, although you may not be able to tell from the state of my lawn. I like being outside. I like doing things with my girls that they will be able to look back on and remember. 

Umm… I sang in an a cappella group for a semester in college.  I’ve been skydiving and have a VHS tape to prove it. :)

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Eric Youngblood

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Read about how Eric has lost 15lbs, a few inches, and how his weight loss has not only impacted his CrossFit ability but also provided him the foundation to make smart choices when in the kitchen!


Q: What pushed you to do Amplify!? What were some of your goals when you first started? What are some of your goals now after completing it? 

 A:  One of the benefits of CrossFit is the workout programming you receive.  I wanted the same for my nutrition plan.  No more eating without a purpose.  Now that I have a basic understanding of how and what to eat, I need to work on being more consistent and add more variety to my meals and snacks.

 

Q: What do you think was the most challenging part of really dialing in your nutrition? Was your adjustment to logging food hard? What were some things you thought were easy adjustments that the program offered? 

 A:  Watching my carb intake.  Bread is so good!  I’ve done well with limiting bread (I’m down to 1 bagel, not 3, on bagel Fridays at work)!  Next up, limiting my beer intake.  Logging food hasn’t been that difficult as it is all done on your phone.  However, weighing food to make sure I am logging everything accurately has been the more challenging part.  One big easy adjustment was changing my grocery list and the food in my kitchen.  With the weekly meal plan and grocery list provided by Amplify!, it was a no brainer.

 

Q: How much weight (or inches, or both) have you lost since completing Amplify!? How has adjusting your nutrition been for your CrossFit performances? Have you noticed a difference in metcons/ or strength? 

 A:  I’ve lost 15lbs and more than a few inches.  I’ve noticed a difference in a few bodyweight movements.  We’ve done HSPUs in a few workouts recently and I was able to do more reps and in bigger sets than in the past.  I also did 2 ring muscle ups a week ago (I had only ever done 1 before back in the 2018 Open).   

 

Q: Do you think Amplify! Has given you a different perspective on food? Do you think it’s provided you with some good tips and tricks to stay on track outside of Amplify!? 

A:  Amplify! has made me think, on a daily basis, about the types of food and the portions I eat.  It has definitely provided a great framework I can use to tackle my nutrition on my own.

 

Q: Did your kids participate in any of the meals that you prepped? Is it challenging balancing kids and Amplify!? Is it important to you to show your kids the importance of healthy eating? Or are you still battling the good ol’ fight against chicken and mac-N-cheese diet? 

A: My kids have been subjected to a few of my dinners and it has generally been received well.  They thankfully actually enjoy many types of vegetables.  It is absolutely important that they are exposed to healthy eating and getting an understanding about food.  It plays such large and important role in life, it shouldn’t be overlooked.  

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Q: Does your job impact your ability to stay on track? Do you prep all your food for work the week prior?  

A:  My job is a pretty consistent routine being in the office all day.  The job has no impact on food prepping, just me.  In those times I don’t bring a prepared meal, I do have the ability to get out of the office and options to make good choices.

 

Q:What is one or two things you’d suggest to someone who wants to focus on nutrition and/or who’s afraid to start Amplify!?

A: I am a novice in the kitchen and had always been a bit intimidated when reading recipes.  However, there were so many options provided by Amplify! I could easily tackle.  I am now looking forward to expanding my repertoire.  

New Member Spotlight: Amy Zhi

Read about new member Amy Zhi journey and how she’s been transitioning from a college student to a CrossFit stud! While she’s had some fitness experience, read about why she joined CrossFit DelVal, her favorite memories so far and what keeps her hungry for more!

Q: Why did you join CrossFit Delaware Valley?

A: I was looking around Broomall/West Chester for a new gym to join back in April since I was graduating from Drexel and moving back home soon. I looked into specifically CrossFit gyms after a beginners workshop at West Chester Weightlifting with my friend, Emily, a long time Weightlifter. Coming from a mix of Powerlifting/strength training, Olympic Weightlifting was hard. Way harder than just simply picking stuff up from the floor or pushing it away from your body. But, it was so much more fun and challenging. BUT.. I didn't want to just focus on lifting anymore, I wanted to incorporate some sort of metabolic conditioning/cardio in my workouts. Emily had bought up CrossFit as an option for me, as she started with it before doing Weightlifting "full-time."

Following her advice, I signed up for the No Sweat Free Intro at CFDV and Rob was more than helpful to me in helping me figure out my goals and options. After the intro, I stayed to watch one of the classes and thought that it looked super cool and fun. I signed up for a 9X per month membership while I was at my last month of college, pretty much using the month as my "trial period" before upgrading or committing. I would commute from Philly to CFDV and go once a week. Needless to say, I fell in love and went unlimited as soon as I graduated/moved back home. I now go in 5 or 6 times a week for a mix of Barbell Club or metcon work. On rest days, I feel pretty low spirited since I don't get to go to CrossFit after a long day of work. When I was just strength training, I didn't really have a goal and I would always workout alone. Sure I had friends who I would see at the gym, but they would be working on their own program/workout alone and I would never really workout with anyone. Sometimes, I would just go to the gym to kill time. But at CrossFit, I truly enjoy being here, working out with people, seeing people motivate each other and I don't regret my decision at all.


Q: What's been your biggest accomplishment?

A: Not giving up on myself and giving my max effort, most of the time. I like to push myself during WODs, but not to the extent where I would risk injury! (Can't go to CrossFit if you're injured *roll safe meme*). Back at the Drexel gym, there were A LOT of judgmental college students, no surprise. Everyone always looked so calm and poised when lifting and you'd feel stupid if you made a max effort face. No one cares if you're making stupid max effort faces at CFDV or panting like a mad dog. Hell, you probably look more stupid if you don't make those faces!


Q: What are you working on now?

A: There is SO much to work on but I've learned that I need to have patience and it will take months/years to learn everything "perfectly". But right now, I'm focusing on double unders and kipping pull ups. I am always trying to improve so I gladly appreciate any tips/tricks/constructive criticism from anyone and everyone.

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Q: What's your favorite CrossFit Delaware Valley memory?

A: Hustle Girls v Boys. It was only my 2nd week after joining CFDV and I had only attended like 2 classes, since I was still living in Philly. Everyone was so welcoming, and I didn't feel like an absolute stranger at all, even though I recognized only like 2 people there. That was also the first time I met Jacki and witnessed her extremely competitive nature. There was one moment where we had an extra amount of girls for the WOD round. So, I had volunteered to sit out, since I was new to CrossFit and had no idea how to do the movements (plus the fact that I didn't wanna lose one for the team because of how competitive it was). But Jacki boldly told me, "No, I want you to work out." After that, I truly admired the competitive nature of everyone, but also the fact that everyone wants you to be the best that you can. I know she probably doesn't remember this small moment (it was literally two verbal exchanges), but it meant a lot to me as it helped remind me to get out of my comfort zone and continually do so today. I also have not seen Jacki at all since that day but I know that she's still here and haunts me to be better. That's also what I like about CFDV, you meet people during class, might not see them for days or weeks, but they leave a mark and you can pick up right where you left off with them.

Q: What motivates you to continue training at CrossFit Delaware Valley?

A: I am very competitive... not just with others but more so with myself. I love beating my previous records and seeing progress. I also like to video myself so I can keep them and look back in the next months and years and say, damn I suck ass now but I sucked ass even more before! Since I've started gymming/working out, I feel so much healthier, less tired, and basically my quality of life has improved. I was never an athlete, I never did any sports in Elementary, Middle, or High School, all I did was play video games. I like my current condition and that's what motivates me to maintain it and make it even better! As someone who works in the Health Industry, it motivates me even more to live a healthier lifestyle and not have all these health problems/conditions. It sucks being a "beginner" all over again, but if I fall off the tracks completely now, I will feel like all my work into becoming fit would almost be for nothing.

Fit Family Friday: The Ellerbes!

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Not only did one Ellerbe recently join CrossFit DelVal but, THREE. Read about how Allen, Theresa and their son Jamal joined CrossFit, how they are navigating around the gym with each other’s support, what some of their goals are and if Allan and Theresa are really "Swolemates" in Fit Family Friday!

Q(Allen): What made you want to start CrossFit? How has CrossFit impacted your life 

A: I joined Crossfit because I wanted to get in better shape and have fun doing it. 

Q(Theresa): Who’s idea was it to start CrossFit between Allen and Jamal and yourself? What are some things that you like about CrossFit so far? 

A: It was Allen’s idea to do CrossFit because he’s always up for challenges. I love that your limits are tested with CrossFit. Personal goals are achievable and my six pack is coming. 

Q(Jamal): How has it been working out with your parents? Do you guys plan to come to classes together or is it whatever class each of you can find time for?

A: I enjoy working out with my parents because it is fun sharing our struggles through the workouts with each other. We do intentionally plan to workout together but it really depends on our schedules. 

Q(Allen): What has been your favorite workout or favorite movement? Is there a movement you don’t like?

A: My favorite movement has always been the bench and dumbbell press. The workout that has been the most challenging and fun is the “IT TAKES TWO”. My least favorite movement is the endless burpees. 

Q(Theresa): Do you have any specific CrossFit goals? Do you have any specific nutrition goals? 

A: My goal is to be able to do pull ups and get my six pack. Nutrition goal is to learn a healthy way of eating. 

Q(Jamal): What is one thing you like most about CrossFit? Do you plan to continue CrossFit when you go back to Penn State? 

A: My favorite thing about CrossFit is the whiteboard and seeing how our scores compare and can improve. I would like to continue CrossFit when I head back up to college.

Q(Allen): Do you have any specific CrossFit goals? Do you have any specific nutrition goals? 

A: My CrossFit goal is to potentially compete in a competition. My nutrition goal is to lose approximately 20lbs and to eat healthy food.  

 

Q(Theresa): Are you competitive about any of the workouts between you and the boys? Is there any smack talk that happens about any of the workouts? 

A: My jumprope game is always better but, I’m still working on my double-unders. There’s smack talk all the time but mostly to encourage each other to keep going and keeping pushing. 

Q(Jamal): Are you competitive about any of the workouts with your parents? Do you get competitive about the workouts with other people in the gym? 

A: I’m competitive with each workout with everyone. I want to have the best times or most rounds finished but I know finishing first doesn’t always mean I am pushing myself to the limit.

Q(Allen): Do you and Theresa do partner WOD’s together? If so, who’s carrying the team? 

A: Yes, we have done a partner WOD “SWOLEMATES”. After that workout we had to reconsider if we were really swolemates. Theresa didn’t trust that I could jump over her on the burpees over partner exercise.  

Q(Theresa): What are some of your favorite things about having Allen (your husband) and Jamal (your son) here at DelVal? Does it make having them here an easier transition when you first started? 

A: It’s exciting to see Allen and Jamal grow, improve and exceed their own personal records. As for the workouts- no. Much of this is testing your own strengths and weaknesses. But when it comes to support we do that for each other. 

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Q(Jamal): Does having your parents at DelVal help with starting at a new gym? Do they keep you accountable in regards to coming consistently? Do you keep them accountable?

A: Yes my parents and I are in constant communication about gym times and schedule. We force each other to go and be accountable for being consistent attendees and hard workers.


Q(Allen): Do you think that working out with your son Jamal makes you push harder in workouts? Have you guys done any partner workouts together, yet? 

A: Yes, working out with my son pushes me harder because I don’t like when he finishes before me. We have not had the opportunity to complete any partner workouts. 

Q(Theresa): What has been your favorite workout or favorite movement? Is there a movement you don’t like?

A: My favorite workout is back squats, bench press and anything with weightlifting I love doing. However, power cleans are foreign to these delicate wrists. 


Q(Jamal): What do you think Allen would be most known for if he ever became famous? Do you think that Allen or you would survive a zombie apocalypse? 

A: He would be famous for having a temper tantrums on a reality tv show! He is a walking meme. No way he’d survive but he would sacrifice himself to save people. Heroic, maybe, but not a survivor.