Did you know that this month’s CrossFitter of the Month worried herself to tears the night before she had her first Elements session with Dylan Thomas? That’s right, she was scared to death. Well, after that first session, she was “hooked.” That was in 2013…here’s the rest of the story:
In 2013, Melanie and Dave Turner relocated to South Lake Tahoe from San Diego. Melanie, a Dallas native, had become a Tahoe local years before when her family had moved here when she was only two years old. She actually attended schools on the California side before her family moved to the Nevada side when she was in fourth grade. She is a graduate of George Whittell High School where she was a classmate of her first CrossFit Trainer, Dylan Thomas. In fact, maybe the real reason Melanie cried herself to sleep that night was because she would be working out with her former senior prom squeeze. Who knows? What we do know is that Melanie’s life kept leading her back to Tahoe! After high school, Melanie went to Sierra Nevada College and then onto UNLV Law School in 2001. While in Las Vegas, she met David Turner, a South Lake Tahoe native and graduate of South Tahoe High School, through his sister, Deanna, who was also Melanie’s older daughter’s teacher. The two were married and in 2009 had their first child together, Haleigh. In 2011, the cute family moved to San Diego where they celebrated the birth of their son, Colton. Two years later, Melanie walked into our “box” and never regretted it.
When I asked Melanie what her first impression of STCF was, she candidly explained that she was used to the luxurious gyms of big cities. You know, the gyms that have Day Spas and cucumber water. So, when she walked into our warehouse, she was a bit surprised. In place of the Day Spa, there were rollers and lacrosse balls to ease one’s weary muscles. And that cucumber water? Well, yeah, no. But despite the lack of “chi-chi” amenities, Melanie loved her first WOD: Filthy Fifty.
Since that fateful first day with Dylan, Melanie has become a positive force and role model in the gym. She signed up for her first competition, New Kids in the Box, back in 2014 and took 3rd overall. She then competed in two Hell of the West competitions and a two-day CrossFit Moxie event in San Jose, CA with other members of STCF. She has also completed a Spartan race, with her family in tow, and has recently convinced her mother to train for a powerlifting competition after she competed in one last year. She is super excited to wear that onesie again!
Melanie has not been overlooked for her accomplishments in the gym since joining in 2013. In fact, in 2015 she was selected as our female CrossFitter of the Year. She has set numerous personal records (PRs) and has helped push others to succeed where they didn’t think they could.
So why this recognition now? Well, last summer, Melanie had to have a PRP procedure on her shoulder which required months of physical therapy. While most would see this as a set-back, Melanie kept her eye on that proverbial prize and slowly gained back what she had lost during her time of injury. She began following a nutritional program, “Stronger U” and has since dropped 12 pounds and 15 inches. More importantly, however, is that she has PR’ed in most of her lifts and all of her workouts feel better. When asked what her favorite movements and WODs are, Melanie basically loves it all: the variety, the lifting, the community, and ultimately, realizing how strong she has become…except running. She doesn’t like running all that much, but will still do the running workouts because “you can’t get stronger by avoiding the things you don’t like.”
If you aren’t impressed with Melanie yet, here’s one more accomplishment: Melanie recently took the Bar Exam. Twelve years since attending law school, Melanie went back and finished what she had originally set out to do. She is an inspiration to all that face personal and physical challenges. Melanie remains one of our most consistent and committed athletes at the gym. Like all of our past CrossFitters of the Month, Melanie contributes to this “community of people who have decided that easy will no longer suffice.” Congratulations Melanie!!
PS…maybe this was the real reason for those tears… 😉
“Dr. Giggles” is this month’s CrossFitter of the Month! Tom Fernandes grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. As a young man, Tom participated in several sports, namely swimming and pole vaulting. According to Tom, he was good in swimming, but not so good at pole vaulting – but it was fun and all his friends were doing it. After high school he attended the University of Arizona where he met his future wife, Tamara. Tom had intended to continue his studies to become an anesthesiologist. However, he met Tamara… Tamara was headed to Dental School, and well, Tom couldn’t resist a pretty face, and he followed her. He had always been fit in college, but once he got to Dental School, he got a little pudgy. Blame it on the love connection, but Tom realized he needed to do something about it. He and Tamara had recently moved to Denver and started their family. With not a lot of time between two new dental careers and a family, Tom turned to working out at home with programs like P90X and Insanity. Fortunately for Tom, and us, he and Tamara got the opportunity to start a business in Tahoe. They’d also loved the lake as Tamara’s parents had vacationed here often. With their son Sean in tow, the Fernandes’ Family left Denver for more mountains.
When they arrived in South Lake Tahoe, they established their business, Lake Tahoe Dental in the summer of 2014. Shortly thereafter, they welcomed their second child, Caitlin. With less time on their hands, Tom decided to try out our gym back in October 2015. A good friend of his and Tamara’s invited him to join her at one of our “Share the Pain” events. It was a Friday. He came home and told Tamara he was “hooked.” I’m sure Tamara was thrilled to hear that, especially with two little ones now. But, being the family man that Tom is, he invited Tamara and his children to our end of the OPEN Team Competition BBQ last year. Shortly thereafter, we started seeing more and more of Tamara as she would come in on weekends while Tom stayed at home with the kids. Soon, Tamara joined and now, the two of them trade off getting a workout in. As many parents will confirm, it is difficult to juggle it all and often our own fitness goals go out the window when we begin our families. However, we at CrossFit also know that the couple that works out together, stays together… or at least talks about CrossFit all the time! 😉
When I asked Tom what his first impressions were of South Tahoe CrossFit, he said he loved it all! The intensity was what he needed the most. He had tried other workout options, but they weren’t the same. The community and the welcoming nature of the other members also kept him coming back. When I asked Tom what his favorite movements and WODs are, he again said that he loved them all! All of them? Well, he especially loves burpees. No, it’s not April 1st anymore… that’s right. Burpees. He loves cleans and jerks, rope climbs, muscle-ups, deadlifts, (well, all the olympic lifts, except for squat snatches.). He loves “chippers” like the named “Filthy Fifty” or our recent “Fifty Filthy” and Hero WODs, like Murph! Tom’s just like that, he is easy-going and positive about everything…
If you get the chance to talk to Tom after reading this, you will notice that he is more on the quiet side. He doesn’t brag or boast about his accomplishments or complain about his struggles. Instead, he shows up, puts the work in, and quietly makes gains. Recently, he completed the 2017 Open. Unlike last year where he could only complete the scaled versions of the Open WODs, this year, he did some of them prescribed! His goal for next year is to be able to do them all prescribed! I’m sure he will! This is one of the reasons Tom was selected as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month. He is committed to his fitness while supporting his wife and her fitness goals, he creates attainable goals, he is positive, and he continues to make progress in the gym, quietly, day by day. The owners see Tom as another example of how CrossFit changes lives. He is hooked, like the rest of us, on the concept of community, camaraderie, and commitment. Please help us congratulate Tom for being selected as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month… and ask him how he got his nickname, “Dr. Giggles”!
Before announcing this month’s CrossFitter of the Month, I must apologize for the tardiness of the announcement. We all have excuses, and yes, mine got the best of me… I especially apologize to this particular athlete as she knew of her selection last month but had to wait a month for her featured article to be published. So, without further ado, or excuse, we’d like to celebrate Michele Gordon as this month AND last month’s CrossFitter of the Month!
Two years ago, Michele was invited to Tahoe by a friend. While in town, she watched her friend participate in South Tahoe CrossFit’s first Barbells for Boobs competition. Michele was a bit overwhelmed…those weights sure looked heavy! Fast forward two years and some change and here’s Michele now:
Michele was born and raised in the “armpit of Arkansas,” or eastern Arkansas, near the border by Memphis, Tennessee. Like several of our athletes, Michele has always been a runner, having started running for recreation while she attended college in Arkansas. However, in 2003, after Michele moved to Folsom after ten years of raising kids in Texas, she began training for triathlons. The transition to an extreme runner from that of a mother chasing her kids around, wasn’t as difficult as she had thought it would be. It came naturally to her as she had always been active. She soon had two Ironman Competitions under her belt. Unfortunately, the constant training became less exciting and lonely. Michele began to experience a bit of a “burn out.” Shortly thereafter, Michele moved to Tahoe to be near her boyfriend and was looking for a community of people to train with. Her friend, who originally invited her to Barbells for Boobs, suggested she give Crossfit a try so in July of 2016, she signed up for her first Elements class at South Tahoe CrossFit with Tom.
Since joining CrossFit, she feels like she is in “better shape and overall fitness than when [she] was seriously training [for triathlons].” When she told me that she was fifty years old, I didn’t believe her. Then she mentioned that she has two children, ages 25 and 20 and that she’s a grandmother of a five year old; that’s when my jaw dropped. She said that “everything feels better” now that she’s been doing CrossFit for a few years. She still runs, but now her recovery from long competitions, like the Spartan Race and the California International Marathon she ran a few months ago, is so much easier. Michele is a real testament to the benefits of cross training.
When I asked her what her favorite movements in the gym were, she explained that she really enjoys chest-to-bar pull-ups and kettle bell swings. She struggles with snatches, particularly squat snatches, but who doesn’t? (well, there are a few of you out there that make them look easy…and we love you for that!…but the rest of us are like Michele.) Even with the struggle, she still likes to work on them…The only movement that Michele will not and cannot enjoy is the burpee. She abhors burpees. I asked her what was her favorite WOD and she replied, “Anything without burpees!” Okay then!
This Southern girl was chosen as our CrossFitter of the Month because she is consistent and she continues to make great improvements both in her lifts and her gymnastic movements! As a project manager, she often has to “leave the hill” for work. However, as soon as she is home, she gets herself to the noon class at the gym. It’s here that she finds her strength to set new goals, like running another Ironman in the next few months!
Please congratulate Michele when you see her…We are fortunate to have such great members (who also have such great patience – like Michele, waiting on this article…)! We are proud of you, Michele! Keep up the great work!
Welcome to 2017!! We started this blog two years ago as a way of highlighting those athletes that might not have the most “elite” scores on the WODboard, but who consistently bust their own personal records and bring something unique to our community of athletes. In these two years of writing this blog, I have learned so much about these amazing men and women who we sweat next to daily. I hope that you have enjoyed these articles as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I also hope that you will be inspired to continue your work in the gym. May we all continue to inspire each other through our commitment, our efforts, and our attitude inside and outside of the gym. Thanks for reading!!
This year’s first CrossFitter of the Month has led such an interesting life. We are so excited that she has become a member of our local community as well as our gym community. Let me introduce you to Stephanie Coppeto:
Stephanie has been a Tahoan for the past six years. Her work as a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service brought her here from Santa Cruz … but she is an east coast gal through and through. Stephanie grew up in Connecticut as the second oldest of five siblings in a large Italian/Irish Catholic family. She never thought she’d ever leave the east coast, ever…especially Boston. However, after receiving her BS in Biology from Boston University, she left her home for California where she continued her education and her adventures. She eventually received her MS in Ecology at UC Davis. She had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout South America and Bolivia while studying wolves as a post-grad. According to Stephanie, her time in South America was absolutely “awesome” as she saw “some of the most beautiful wildlife [she’d] ever seen” while subsequently being completely shut off from the modern world: no electricity and no forms of communication for months at a time! She loved it…and would probably have returned to live there indefinitely had she not met her future husband on a road trip back in 1999. He was her waiter in a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee. Call it “love at first sight,” with all of its inherent sappiness, but she eventually married this man and now has two little ones: Miles, 4 and Hazel, 2.
When asked what brought Stephanie through our doors, she mentioned that she had had some difficulties getting baby weight off after the birth of her son four years ago. As most of our members can relate, Stephanie called upon her sister and husband to join her for a fun but competitive Sunday “Share the Pain” free workout at our gym. She believed their “super-fitness” would inspire her to find a way to shed those extra pounds. Instead, she found herself dry-heaving in the parking lot shortly after that first workout… Most level-headed individuals would find their keys, jump in their cars, and never look back. However, there are those of us who enjoy the punishment often derived from our preferred form of exercise… (wow, that sounds terrible…but true!) Stephanie enjoyed her pain, and realized immediately that she had found her “place” among like-minded people. She has settled into her community of “nooners,” those whose schedules only allow them to get to the gym during their lunch hour, and is now seen five days a week during this class time. She has had another child during her time at our gym, and has kept herself in such fantastic shape that one would hardly believe she had had weight struggles.
Stephanie prefers to call her favorite movements in CrossFit those movements she is less fearful of. She is not so afraid of burpees, squats, lunges, and running; yet, she remains quite terrified of rope climbs, snatches, pull-ups, wall-balls, and, of course, the bike.
Stephanie’s favorite, or less-feared WODs, include those which involve EMOMs or AMRAPs, especially EMOMs that increase in number of burpees or air squats… like a “Death By…” Hmmm, that’s crazy! She also admits to avoiding any WOD that includes the “bike”… well, at least she admits it!
When asked about any goals in the coming year, Stephanie would like to sustain the fitness she has worked so hard to achieve this past year. She also wants to continue her avoidance of any WODs that include the air dyne bike. She also desires to improve her pull-ups, both kipping and strict. She thinks hers are “pathetic.” There is nothing “pathetic” about Stephanie’s desire to improve and to face her fears…This is why the owners chose Stephanie as this first CrossFitter of the Month for 2017! She is inspiring as she continues to PR her back squats. She is inspiring as she progresses from banded pull-ups to single kipping pull-ups. She is inspiring as she puts her head down and works, all the while not caring what time or what number is placed after her name at the conclusion of a WOD. She just works. And she doesn’t like all this attention… So, Stephanie, we are so proud to name you as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month! You deserve it! We hope you lavish in this celebration of you and your awesomeness!! Congratulations!
This month’s CrossFitter of the Month has been described as “dedicated.” He has a consistently positive attitude about his workouts and his fellow athletes. Since joining South Tahoe CrossFit almost a year ago, he has become an almost daily fixture in the six or seven o’clock classes. Meet December’s CrossFitter of the Month: Christian Munson.
Christian and his wife, Natasha, moved to South Lake Tahoe at the turn of the century; 2001 to be exact. Having left the heat of Arizona for the mountains and clean air of Lake Tahoe, Christian was hired at Barton as an ER Nurse. He has been with Barton for thirteen years now. He and “Tash” have three children in our local school district.
Christian was always athletic. As a young man, he played collegiate football at Wagner. When he wasn’t on the field, he was making gains in the gym…As a self-professed “gym rat” for most of his life, Christian shared that he never loved the “creepy gym vibe” he felt in of the places he has trained. When asked what that meant, he explained that this “vibe” occurs as everyone is pumping iron and watching everyone else. That does sound a bit “creepy.” Luckily, about ten months ago, he and his wife decided to try out South Tahoe CrossFit.
Aside from no mirrors to catch glimpses of one’s fellow athletes getting all “swole,” Christian immediately noticed a difference in the athletes at our CrossFit. Instead of competing against each other, the members compete WITH each other, and support one another. Christian shares the moment he got his first bar muscle-up: “I couldn’t believe it. People were cheering and clapping for me. It was pretty cool.” The camaraderie of the communities in each of the classes can’t be found in a normal gym. Christian went on to explain that while everyone comes to class with different skills, strengths, and fitness-levels, the level of competition remains strong. Moreover, with that competition comes respect for the different goals and achievement of those goals that people set for themselves. It is a very supportive community.
Some of Christian’s favorite movements in CrossFit include body-weight movements like pull-ups and push-ups. When asked what lifts he prefers, he immediately responded with “Thrusters!” Wow! That’s not a typical answer! He explained that he enjoys them…again, that’s not a typical response in the CrossFit community at large. But, then again, isn’t that what makes this community so great?
Hero WODs like “Murph” remain at the top of Christian’s list of favorite WODs. Why? Because these types of WODs (typically named after a fallen soldier or law enforcement officer) push us harder than we normally would push ourselves. These are typically more brutal and longer in terms of a daily WOD.
When asked what types of goals Christian has set for himself for this next few months, he would like to get his wife back into the gym. She suffered an injury a few months back but hopes to return soon. Christian would also like to just “keep mastering” those movements he hasn’t mastered yet. With Christian’s commitment and effort, I am sure he will achieve those goals he has set his sights on. This is one of the reasons he was chosen as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month. According to Weldon Wulstein, one of the owners of South Tahoe CrossFit, Christian rarely misses his morning CrossFit class. He is “dedicated to coming to class” and always has a quiet yet strong “can-do” attitude. One of our trainers, Dylan Thomas, described Christian as someone who “loves to work hard; he stays safe within his limits, and he never quits.” Dylan went on to say that Christian is “a joy to work with.” Members of the early morning classes would agree with Weldon and Dylan. Nick Barclay, a regular at the 6am or 7am class, got to know Christian better this summer doing 400 meters of lunges. He remembers exchanging life stories with Christian each 200 meters. When asked to describe Christian, Nick said, he is “f-ing awesome! He is a constant source of inspiration to me. When a WOD is kicking my ass and I feel like taking it easy, I will look over and he is kicking ass so I keep going.”When asked for any parting words, Christian wanted Dylan to know how much he appreciates the “gangsta rap” he gets to workout to at 0600! Yeah, we all love Dylan’s choices in music!!
If you see Christian, please make sure you congratulate him… We are honored to call Christian December’s CrossFitter of the Month!!