CrossFitter of the Month

November 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

photo18This 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!

Last year's Team OPEN Comps - Beth was on Team Superheroes!

Last year’s Team OPEN Comps – Beth was on Team Superheroes!

13681033_1223785130967209_7666434350196159617_nBeth 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!


Beth takes advantage of everything Tahoe has to offer: skiing, hiking, biking, and CrossFit!! Congratulations to Beth!!

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!!


October 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

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 photo2(121)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.

20830_953402588005466_6217860776883959350_nBeing 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!

photo12In 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.

Nice work today, Phil! You truly are a superstar here at STCF!

Nice work today, Phil! You truly are a superstar here at STCF!

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.

photo1(172)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!


September 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

This month’s CrossFitter of the Month is a fighter.  Here is Lacey Leonard, as she attempts at, fights for, and then succeeds with her first bar muscle-up during last year’s Open Competition (photo credits to Christos Christoudias):
photo2(139)Look at that smile! Talk about sheer joy!  We chose Lacey to represent us this month because of this smile, this attitude, and this level of inspiration.  Her love of a good challenge keeps her fighting the good fight.  Like yesterday, while most of us were barbecuing and drinking a cold one, Lacey was in the gym getting her very first set of strict ring muscle-ups!  What? Yep… That’s right!  Perseverance, determination, and commitment – these three words sum up Ms. Leonard.

Not sure if many of you know this, but Lacey was born in New Jersey!  She moved to Tahoe when she was quite young, allowing her to develop a more west coast-accent.  😉 As an almost native Tahoan, Lacey attended Al Tahoe Elementary School (before it was an annex to the school district), South Tahoe Middle School, and graduated in 2005 from South Tahoe High School.  She left Tahoe for a brief stint while she went to college in Phoenix.  She received her undergraduate degree from ASU.   Lacey might have been enamored by the sun of Arizona, but it was the cool mountain breezes of Tahoe that beckoned her home.  She moved back after college, and then communted to Marysville, CA while working on her X-Ray license.  She currently works for Carson Valley Medical Center and Barton Hospital as an MRI tech.


Cassy and Lacey, Superheroes-in-Training!

In and out of school, Lacey was always active.  If she wasn’t swimming on the city club team, she was kicking around a soccer ball with the local AYSO.  Once in high school, she turned in her soccer cleats for a tennis raquet and track shoes.  After high school, she took up mountain biking and rock climbing. When asked how and why she walked through our doors, she mentioned Jenn Galea.  Jenn, a co-worker and friend, had been trying to get Lacey to try out a class for a while. Lacey signed up for the Ski Conditioning Class and met Cassy Burnside.  The two of them decided to see what the rest of the box was all about.  That was almost two years ago.  Monika Renk took these ladies through Elements, and despite being a little nervous about getting hurt, Lacey was hooked.  Two years in, and she has already competed in two functional fitness competitions:  New Kids in the Box.  She loved these events and hopes to compete in more, especially if there is swimming involved!

photo4(71)Like many of our members, she has natural athleticism. However, being a natural can only take one so far.  She is determined to do better, pushes herself further, and accomplishes what she sets out as her goal.  She is also extremely unassuming.  I wish I had recorded her reaction upon discovering that she was to be this month’s athlete.  She was shocked, to say the least, and questioned our selection.  She is amazing.


Deadlift Ladder at the 2016 NKIB

For Lacey, anything difficult is fun.  Her favorite movements include pull-ups, handstand push-ups, rope climbs, and double-unders.  Her very first WOD is still her favorite:  a 30 minute AMRAP of rope climbs and push-ups.  (I remember that WOD…only because my arms felt like they were going to detach from my body fifteen minutes into the workout!!)

When asked if she has any future goals, she simply stated, “To continue to have fun and improve!”  That’s really why we all do this, right?  Oh, and to get that strict muscle-up… (did I mention that she got it, today?)

We selected Lacey because she is a strong and determined young lady.  She, like all of our past Athletes of the Month, continues to inspire all of us not only because of the work she does, but also because of her attitude and spirit of competition.


Make sure you tell Lacey “Congratulations!” when you see her!!


August 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

IMG_4646This month’s CrossFitter of the Month is more thin-skinned than most…some would say he’s a bit dull, even flat.  However, he finds himself flush in the center of attention because of his winning smile and his uncomplicated personality, plus he fits into any small space.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.56.57 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.54.52 PM Like many of our athletes and well-rounded locals, this month’s athlete loves adventure.  You might find him on the back of a bike, (as long as it’s not a fast bike) or even playing hide and seek with the neighbor’s kids.  He greets every new situation with the same expression:  pure joy!  This is what we love about this athlete.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.56.16 PMHe’s super helpful; maybe you need a spotter?  some shade?   He’ll be there for you.  He is always up for anything and can be found anywhere there’s a party, as long as you bring him. The owners chose this athlete because they love having him around. He never complains about one of Tom’s WODs or even Dylan’s warm-ups.  Instead, he goes where he’s needed. Sometimes we all wish we were a little more easy-going and simple as this athlete.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.55.49 PMWhen we told him he was this month’s CrossFitter of the Month, he looked at me with a blank face!   He was speechless! So, here he is:  with one week left of August, we have just enough time to introduce this one-dimensional, flimsy yet profound athlete:  FlatJack!

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.56.34 PMMake sure to congratulate FlatJack when you see him hanging around the gym.  If you have your picture taken with FlatJack, please post with #flatjackslt and @flatjackslt

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FlatJack is always a hit with the ladies!

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FlatJack is always up for any adventure!

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FlatJack is rarely seen “flat out chillen” like he is here!


July 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

Since January of 2015, we have chosen to highlight one member a month who epitomizes the hallmarks of a CrossFit athlete:  commitment, camaraderie, and community.  These athletes all are driven to push themselves past their own limits while encouraging others to do the same, either by cheering others on, holding others accountable, and/or helping others meet their goals.  All inspire us to get to the “box,” work on those skills that are challenging, and stop letting our excuses get the best of us.  This month’s CrossFitter of the Month, Tiara Wasner, works consistently on her health and well-being both in and out of the gym.  For all intents and purposes, Tiara truly captures the essence of a CrossFitter: she loves the competition and fun of the sport.  However, not many of us know the physical challenge Tiara lives with despite her amazing attitude and fortitude.  Let me introduce you to Tiara:

photo2(132)Born and raised in Carlsbad, California, Tiara played a few team sports growing up, but really took to water polo and swimming.  She continued her water polo career until her junior year at California State University, Long Beach.  After graduating in 2003, Tiara worked in Los Angeles for a few years in public relations/marketing.  In 2006, she landed a job as a PR Consultant for a firm who allowed her to work remotely;  looking for adventure she decided to pack up everything and move to South Lake Tahoe.  Tiara knew no one when she transplanted herself to the Tahoe Basin.  Like many, she planned on staying through the ski season, at least.  However, she met some friends who soon introduced her to Nick, her husband of now four years.  Nick, like Tiara, had only planned on staying in Tahoe for one ski season before moving on.  Now, Tiara and Nick have a 17 month old daughter, Emerson, reason enough to stay and play in Tahoe, but also careers that allow them to call Tahoe their home.  When she’s not in the box, you can find her hiking, biking, etc. with her daughter in tow.

photo3(84)Because Tiara had been so active in college, she didn’t actually gain the “Freshman Fifteen” until after college when new life stresses pushed physical activity aside.  When she got engaged, she decided, like many soon-to-be-brides, that she’d like to get into better shape.  She had seen a competition advertised by a local “globo” gym, a standard, large-scale gym. She joined a weight-loss competition at a local gym and began training with a personal trainer.  When another personal trainer disclosed that she should go to CrossFit now that she’s “fit enough,” she dragged her friend along to a “Share the Kool-Aid” Sunday.  Tiara remembers the workout well; it was a chipper that Weldon had derived for a longer Sunday session.  She loved it, and at that moment knew that she had found her new gym.  Besides the great workout, I asked Tiara if the gym had made any other impressions on her:  Del, our poster child for all things CrossFit, in crutches!  Luckily, Tiara didn’t let the crutches scare her off from our gym!  She joined the gym that next week and then discovered a few weeks later that she was pregnant.  She continued to workout until she was 32 weeks along, but then took time off for her new baby and new family.  Tiara has now been consistently training for a year.

The story above is an example of a common misconception that many of the general public hold.  “One must be fit to start CrossFit,” is how the adage goes.  Tiara can tell you that this belief is absolutely false.  Yes, she was in good shape when she started CrossFit, but Tiara had limitations.  She was born with a heart defect that required two open heart surgeries by the time she was five years old.  She was not supposed to play sports.  She was not supposed to ever lift weights.  Her parents selected activities she could participate in because of this physical limitation.   Doctors told Tiara to expect a third surgery by the time she reached 40.  At 34, Tiara’s cardiologist recently told her that whatever she’s been doing, keep doing it!  For Tiara, being selected as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month allows us to tell her story.  It’s one of perseverance and courage.  “Don’t stop yourself just because you have a medical issue, but always listen to your body” is Tiara’s mantra.  CrossFit has helped Tiara get into the best shape she’s been in since college because it allows for universal scalability, competition with ourselves and others, and the support and accountability of other like-minded individuals.  It’s like playing sports with your favorite teammates.


Tiara had just completed nine bar muscle-ups! What a strong and determined lady!!

Tiara’s favorite movements are strict pull-ups and back squats.  She says that pull-ups have changed her life and have made many other movements much easier.  She loves back squats and hopes to successfully squat 200 pounds within the next two months, which would be a personal record!   She used to avoid wall balls like the plague, but recently, after doing countless EMOMs under Del’s direction, she is linking several shots together.  Double-unders still elude her and that dreaded bike…

Like many athletes, her favorite WODs are chippers; she loves scratching a movement off her list before moving on to the next one.  There’s something satisfying about that, for sure.

Here's Tiara a year and a month apart: April 2015 and May 2016 - after the Memorial Day Murph!

Here’s Tiara a year and a month apart: April 2015 and May 2016 – after the Memorial Day Murph!

In the near future, Tiara hopes to link some ring muscle-ups together.  She is going to be competing at this year’s New Kids in the Box competition hosted by Carson City CrossFit.  I have a feeling that Tiara will do well in this and other competitions in the future because “if you want it bad enough, you will push through.  Sometimes it’s gonna hurt,” explains Tiara.  For example, during this year’s 16.4 Open WOD, (thrusters and bar-facing burpees), Tiara literally wanted to cry and give up.  She “got out of her head” though, and pushed through.  Tiara is an example of someone who fights against the odds.  I hope she inspires others to give up the excuses and choose health.  Remember, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Please congratulate Tiara when you see her around the box.  Also, please come out and cheer her and other athletes on from our gym on July 16 at the New Kids competition.


Emerson and Mommy in Hawaii this past spring.