2017 CrossFitter of the Month

November 2017 CrossFitter of the Month

IMG_3630November’s CrossFitter of the Month is Marco Huerta. Marco is a 23 year old Tahoe native who, “never really worked out until starting CrossFit.”At South Tahoe High School, he was just your average “stupid teenager.”

    Marco’s first taste of serious exercise was in the Lake Tahoe Community College’s Fire Academy. Marco wasn’t doing very well in the physical aspect of the academy, and consequently his Class Commander and STCF trainer, Dylan Yuzbick, suggested he come check us out. Marco attended the free classes for a of couple months, and then officially signed up in February of 2013.

IMG_5832Right now Marco is working at Barton in the ER as a clerk, but is preparing to go to nursing school in the near future.

  Marco admits that he was a little intimidated by CrossFit at first because he could barely squat the bar or deadlift more than 55lbs. However, with the encouragement of other members and witnessing others’ improvements, he left his ego at the door and jumped in with both feet. Marco focused on himself and is now backsquatting 250lbs and deadlifting 295 pounds.This is at a bodyweight of 150lbs. He’s put on 15lbs of muscle since joining South Tahoe CrossFit.

   IMG_5834Marco’s favorite movements are power cleans and handstand push-ups. “DT,” which is 5 rounds for time of 12 deadlifts, 9 hang power cleans, and 6 push jerks, is Marco’s favorite Hero WOD. Movements he would rather not see come up in a workout are squat snatches and overhead squats, as well as anything with wallballs. I don’t think you are alone on those thoughts, Marco!


His advice to new members is to “not give up. It’s always hard at first, but it will get somewhat easier, and you’ll definitely see some good results.”

   Marco has some goals for his CrossFit future. He wants to start competing. Specifically, he wants to start his competitive career the “New Kids in Box” competition that our Carson City CrossFit neighbors host in the summer. If you see Marco at the gym, please give him props!IMG_5833

August 2017 CrossFitter of the Month

10383674_10203110596265665_7085812775673093221_nLast month’s CrossFitter of the Month was Anita Castles.  I never got the chance to interview this amazing woman, due to our conflicting schedules and timing. However, I am still trying to get the full story.  In the meantime, we still wanted to give a shout-out to her before August gets too far behind us!

12779098_10205769242730165_2300387526566617956_oWe here at South Tahoe CrossFit have seen the efforts she has put into her workouts, her community, and ultimately, to herself.  According to her Boot Camp coach, Monica, “She has been one of my longest bootcampers as well as has become a very good friend to me. She works so hard and doesn’t truly know how strong and how good of an athlete she has become. I look forward to our long conversations after class about raising our kids , nutrition, and everyday life.” Indeed, Anita is so strong, both mentally and physically.   She has a can-do spirit and supports those around her.  We wanted to spotlight her even though I didn’t get to interview her yet 🙁  We hope she continues on the path to fitness in both mind and body!  Congratulations, Anita!!


Can you spot Anita?


May 2017 CrossFitter of the Month

10659397_950425998303125_2977626854481033072_nDid 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.


New Kids in the Box, 2014

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.


Moxie Competition, 2015, San Jose, CA

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.


Just a little Spartan race with the fam.

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.”


Melanie, Dave, Mel’s older daughter Hannah, Haleigh, and Colton: Easter 2017

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… 😉

April 2017 CrossFitter of the Month


Tony Manero aka Tom Fernandes during this year’s Open Team Competition.

“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.


Great looking family!

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! 😉


Barbells for Boobs participant – ready for 30 clean and jerks for 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…

photo3-23If 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”!


March 2017 CrossFitter of the Month

14040203_10153750689307409_4878878380825105779_nBefore 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.

photo2-14Since 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.

photo1-8When 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!

photo1-20This 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!



Team 80’s, represented by Michele and Trainer Liz, and Team 60’s, represented by MaryAnne, meet on the gym floor for the next few weeks during the 2017 Team Open Competition!

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!