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!!
This month’s CrossFitter of the Month was born and raised in Libertyville, a suburb north of Chicago, a true Cubs fan who saw her team go all the way and win the World Series this year! You also wouldn’t know that this young lady worked a corporate job in Chicago for four years. However, BAM! Just like that, her life changed!! While visiting a good friend in Long Beach, California, Beth Wunderlich, had an epiphany: she needed a change because, geez, life is too short! So, she packed up her stuff, left the Windy City for sunny SoCal, and started school again; this time, for a teaching credential at Cal State Long Beach. What guts!! Not only was it a huge challenge to go back to school after being in the corporate world, but to be self-sufficient while going to school is something that Beth had to get used to, and very quickly. Once she received her PE credential, she began applying for positions up and down the coast of California, as Beth had discovered that she loved the beach. Unfortunately, the only position that offered an interview to Beth was one up in the mountains of northern California, in a little place called South Lake Tahoe. Beth was hired at South Tahoe Middle School as a PE teacher in 2012.
I wish we could say that Beth immediately found South Tahoe CrossFit and started her high elevation fitness career with us. But, alas, no. Beth joined another gym [sigh] thinking that it would be like other gyms she had been visiting in Long Beach. She tried to find the fun in fitness, but ended up a bit bored with her (then) current routine. Without workout buddies to encourage her in classes that most knew her name, Beth tried a little yoga. And, said like a true CrossFitter, Beth found that “yoga was just hard.” So, Beth walked into our place at the end of August, 2015. Unlike most, Beth wasn’t the least bit afraid of walking into a CrossFit gym. She had tried CrossFit through a “groupon” while working on her credential in Southern California, and was “box” shopping with a friend prior to her relocation to Tahoe. We are sure glad she moved here and joined our community!
Beth was chosen as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month because of her “Can Do” spirit. If any of you saw the video we posted earlier in the week as an example of Beth’s determination, you’d understand how far this lady has come. She had some overwhelming fears…but with consistent work and loads of effort, she now “can do” box jumps and rope climbs! She loves the teamwork behind the workouts and her attitude reflects this, as well. We are inspired by Beth and her ability to simply smile, laugh, and try again!
Beth’s favorite CrossFit movements are pull-ups and rope climbs. She abhors the bike…but don’t we all? She also doesn’t love lifting. She really likes body weight movements, although she is starting to like (don’t tell anyone…) clean and jerks!
As far as WODs are concerned, she loves long WODs: chippers, EMOMs, Hero WODs… But not too much lifting… 😉
Beth has some goals in the gym. She’d like to change her rope climbing technique for a more efficient ascent. She also has her sights set on that 14 pound wallball! She’d like to get better at her kipping pull-ups, toes-to-bar, and snatches.. She also sees a small-ish competition in the near future. Maybe New Kids in the Box, maybe something else. She would have competed in our Turkey Throwdown this month, but her dad is coming from Chicago to visit that weekend! Next year… and maybe she’ll be enjoying those lifts by then!
Please help us congratulate Beth Wunderlich for being this month’s CrossFitter of the Month. Her persistence and drive inspires all of us to keep progressing and keep working toward those goals that instill fear – no matter how scary they may seem in the beginning! Congratulations!!
Meet Phil Sturgeon, also known as “The Beast”! We think a better name would be “The Golden Boy.” The owners of South Tahoe CrossFit want to recognize Phil because he has worked hard inside and outside of the gym. He has a heart of gold and is often seen with a giant smile on his face. He is also a highly decorated Special Olympics athlete who has picked up several gold medals since he first began competing back in the 1990’s.
Phil was born in Merced, CA but moved to the Lake Tahoe area in elementary school. He grew up in Tahoe’s backyard: Markleeville, in Alpine County. He attended Diamond Valley Elementary School and graduated from Douglas High School in 1993. After graduation, he met Bill Murray, a former principal at South Tahoe High School and neighbor of Phil’s in Markleeville. Dr. Murray invited Phil to apply for a custodian position at STHS. Phil got the job and began commuting over the mountain everyday. In 1994, he and his mother, Carol Murdock, a retired STMS teacher, moved up to South Lake Tahoe so that they could be closer to their work. Once a resident of the south shore, Phil got his driver’s license. This was a really special achievement for Phil as now he had more independence. His job at STHS has evolved into a three-title position: cafeteria assistant, custodian, and softball coach.
Being involved in softball is one way that Phil stays active. However, Phil has always been involved with some type of sport. In the 1990’s Phil was a member of Team USA in the World Games for the Special Olympics in Boise, Idaho. He took home three gold medals from that event: slalom, giant slalom, and downhill ski racing. Since then, Phil has competed in other Special Olympics competitions. He especially loves winter sports. Last winter, he medalled again in the slalom, giant slalom, and downhill Special Olympic races held at both Heavenly and Northstar. Last summer, he competed in the Summer Games at UNR and received the gold in Track and Field’s 200 meter dash, 100 meter dash, and shotput. With all these accolades, it’s no wonder either nickname fits!
In 2009, a former STHS teacher and friend, Tim Anderson, told Phil about South Tahoe CrossFit. Phil checked it out and really liked it. However, as Phil recalls, he got “lazy.” Then, in 2012, after much nudging again, Phil joined in earnest and began loving it. He recalls that it was “challenging,” and Phil loves challenges. Phil comes to the gym almost every day of the week to work on his favorite movements.
When asked what are his favorite CrossFit movements, he emphatically responded: “Deadlifts and hang cleans!!” Phil explained that these two lifts are not easy for him and so for that reason, he enjoys them. He also mentioned burpees…an often-hated movement in the CrossFit Community. Phil’s reaction to this word was “Yay, Burpees!” Yeah, he doesn’t like them either…
Phil’s favorite WOD, or Workout of the Day, is “Murph,” a Hero WOD that is typically completed on Memorial Day in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. Phil explained that when he does “Murph,” he is actually doing it for those servicemen and women who have given the greatest sacrifice for our country, especially when the workout gets really hard and he feels like giving up.
Phil has many gym goals in the future. He would love to get his double-unders and rope climbs. Like many of us, he would also love to get his handstand push-ups! He is really looking forward to this year’s Barbells for Boobs event slated for October 15th at the gym. He is excited to work on his clean and jerks in honor of breast cancer awareness. Outside of the gym, he is on a weekly bowling team and golf team. He would like to get better in both of these sports as well so that maybe, one day, he can bring home the “gold” in these two sports!
Please make sure and congratulate Mr. Sturgeon, aka “The Beast” or “The Golden Boy” when you see him around the gym! We are very proud of your accomplishments inside and outside of the gym, Phil! You should be, too!