CrossFitter of the Month

June 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

“The hardest movement is moving myself, but that’s getting easier.” – Nick Barclay, when asked what his favorite “CrossFit” movement is.
photo4(61)Nick Barclay joined South Tahoe CrossFit on September 22, 2015, shortly after his father had suffered a heart attack.  Like many of us, the idea of our mortality is something that eludes us, until something serious happens.  Nick examined his own life and health and decided to get both into shape.  Knowing that he flourishes in a team environment, he decided to join the CrossFit community of athletes to “get [my] ass kicked.”  Since that day in September when Trainer Patrick took him through Elements, Nick has lost over 50 pounds and has regained control over his health.  Nick was chosen as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month because he has commitment and conviction.  It’s not easy and he doesn’t always love the “stuff” his trainers put him through, but he continues to do it all, six days a week.   Nick represents us all in this battle for our health.  It’s always an uphill battle, but giving up the fight is not an option.   Let me introduce you to Nick:


Michele and Nick…about to celebrate their third anniversary…Wednesday, July 27, 2016!

DSC_0384(1)Born during a giant snowstorm back in March of 1983, Nick Barclay grew up a south shore local.  He attended both Meyers Elementary School (now known as LTESMS), Al Tahoe Elementary School, South Tahoe Middle School, and South Tahoe High School.  He was a good kid, on the outside.  Academically, he was an Honors student and one of my memorable freshmen Honors English students back in 1997.   (If you know Nick, you know why I used the word “memorable”!!)  Athletically, he was captain of the football team and ran track and field.  Not surprising, however, was that he was a bit of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  With glee, he reminded me that he had never had a detention while in high school.  Nick just had that way about him.  He knew the system and how to play the game.  He graduated and attended Humboldt State University where he began playing rugby, and “perfected his beer drinking skills.” After receiving his MBA from Humboldt, he tended bar for a few years in Arcata, California.  In 2009, he packed up and headed to Reno to start a PhD program in “Educational Leadership.”  While in Reno, he reconnected with a group of old friends from Tahoe, some with whom he attended elementary school.  One lady in particular, Michele, a hard working server at Ernie’s, had always been a good friend of Nick’s.  They were in the same second grade class, and they had shared high school science courses, as well.  The two of them began dating whilst Nick worked on his graduate work.  In 2012, Nick moved back to South Lake Tahoe and began dating Michele in earnest.  The two were married on July 27, 2013,which was the “happiest day in [his] life,” according to Nick.  (He wanted me to know that this year’s anniversary falls on a Wednesday…yeah, Michele, he hasn’t forgotten the date yet! Impressive, Nick! Really impressive!)

When Nick’s father had the heart attack, Nick picked up the phone and got an appointment with Patrick to immediately start Elements.  When he first walked into the gym, his first impression was not positive, well, maybe a little bit?  He remembers that it was “terrible, but exactly what I needed.”  Since September, Nick has attended the 6:00 am class religiously.  It’s his jam, his peeps, or his “workout buddies” that keep him motivated.  Lately though, he has a new motivation:  New Kids in the Box, a local competition for newer CrossFit athletes hosted by Carson City CrossFit.  Del has been training all the “New Kids” and sees serious potential in Nick.  We are excited to cheer on Nick and others this July 16 in Carson City, Nevada!!

photo3(80)Some of Nick’s favorite movements in lifting are the deadlift and most squats.  Recently, Nick performed five deadlifts at 425lbs which left him doubting that his one rep. max was 465lbs.  It’s probably much heavier now.  His back and front squats are equally as impressive with his back squat nearing 400lbs soon and his front squat at 300lbs.  Unfortunately, like most, his overhead squat leaves something to be desired.

Nick’s favorite WODs include everything but burpees and running.  It’s here that he lamented how difficult it was to move himself, but that it’s “getting easier.”

Nick’s commitment to his health will continue into the future. He wants to lose more weight and is currently participating in the summer Lurong Challenge.  While he sees the benefits of eating clean, he would still like to one day discover a place where “beer and hot wings are healthy.”  Good luck with that, and if you find that place, please send us the pin so we can all visit!  Nick’s life goals consist of finishing that damn dissertation so that he can finally be called “Dr. Barclay.”  He would also love to start a family now that he has the perfect wife, perfect job (he is an analyst for Lake Tahoe Community College), and perfect community.  We are convinced that he will celebrate all of his goals soon… that’s just the type of guy he is.


Nick with some of his 6am “workout buddies” during this year’s OPEN Team Competition. Nick was on Weldon’s Team 80’s Rock!!

When I was finally able to interview him for this article, Nick wanted me to thank “everyone involved…as he is happy to be involved with this community.”  He went on to remind me that no, he’s not really South Tahoe CrossFit’s CrossFitter of the Month, but rather it’s CrossFitter of the 2/3 of the Month.  Yeah, he is the same Nicholas Barclay I had as an Honors English student at South Tahoe High School oh so many years ago… OH, and he wanted to give a “shout out” to Dylan Thomas for laughing at his jokes – which are definitely not that funny!

Please help us congratulate Nick Barclay as June’s CrossFitter of the Month!  We are honored that he is part of our community of people who are committed to taking back their lives!!
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May 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

This month’s CrossFitter of the Month grew up in Cavite City, in the Phillipines. At nine years old, she moved to South Lake Tahoe with her three brothers. Her mother had recently remarried and their stepfather brought them to the states to rejoin the newlyweds.    She attended Al Tahoe Elementary School, South Tahoe Middle School, and South Tahoe High School, where she graduated in 1996.  She fondly remembers her high school English teacher, Mrs. Wulstein, who had them read The Joy Luck Club, which is still her favorite book.  😉  While in school, this athlete ran track, including sprints and hurdles. She continued running after graduating and while working at Harvey’s Resort and Casino in various positions, from hostessing at the buffet to the front desk.  It was at Harvey’s in 1997 that she met her future husband, Raul. In 2001, she and Raul married and began their family. They have two chilren, Alexis (11) and Noah (8).  Raul has always been supportive of her interests, especially CrossFit.


Meet Myla Huerta, May’s CrossFitter of the Month!

Prior to being introduced to CrossFit, Myla had been involved with a local “for women only” boot camp.  For two summers she participated in trail running and other outdoor workouts until she twisted her ankle quite seriously.  She quit the boot camp, and went inside to her treadmill where she just “ran.”  Her sister-in-law, Laurie Huerta, who was recently named March’s CrossFitter of the Month, talked Myla into attending a free Sunday workout at South Tahoe CrossFit.  Laurie had been a member for a year by that time and she convinced Myla to give it a whirl.  Myla was “terrified” of CrossFit, but she went along anyway.  That was August of 2013.  By September, she had signed up and was already “addicted.”  As Myla explained to me, it became part of her “daily routine.”  It was a “Life Changer” for Myla and she has never felt more “fit” since starting CrossFit.  We have witnessed the increases in Myla’s strength and confidence as reflected in her Olympic lifts in which she continues to break her own personal records (PRs) every few months.


Best Workout Buddies, Angelene and Myla!

The owners of STCF chose Myla as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month because she is not only consistent in her workouts, but also in her attitude while working out.  Myla attends CrossFit classes four times a week.  When we started offering Conditioning classes, Myla jumped into those, as well.  She regularly attends the Conditioning classes every Monday and Friday after the regular workout, regardless of what it may be.  She also regularly stays after to work on her favorite Olympic lifts with best buddy, Angelene Hall.  Usually, one or the other will bust out a new PR every few months!  Myla tackles challenges with a quiet smile and infectious laugh.  When she first began, she was afraid of heights and well, that pull-up structure is pretty high for someone with Myla’s stature, she is only 5’1″! 😉 She used boxes and bands to get over this fear.  She is now working on strict pull-ups…she doesn’t look back, nor wallow in excuses.  She has adopted the CrossFit mantra of “the last person who finishes gets the biggest cheers.”  She is an amazing cheerleader and a fantastic addition to the community spirit of CrossFit, the same spirit that motivates and pushes us all to go a little further than what we might think possible.

Myla’s favorite lifts are deadlifts, back squats, and thrusters,…yep, thrusters…!

12633566_1115268375152219_3643164968674356970_oHer favorite WODs have any of the aforementioned lifts, like Jackie, a WOD which includes THRUSTERS.  Myla tries to do most workouts “as prescribed” as often as she can.  Sometimes that means her scores are slower than if she’d scaled a movement.  However, she believes that improvement comes from pushing herself to go beyond what she might think her limit is at times.

Myla’s future successes will hopefully include linking her double-unders, completing strict pull-ups, and handstand push-ups.  Not surprising, Myla doesn’t want to improve her biking skills.  Like many CrossFitters, she really “hates” the Assault Bike, or Aerodyne, or “Devil’s Tricyle” – that evil contraption that misleads many who love spinning into thinking that it will be easy.  Myla used to love spinning and spin classes; however, she doesn’t enjoy CrossFit-style spinning! 😉

beanbarMyla and her husband are the new owners of the Bean Bar, a local coffee house at Round Hill.  We are sure that her consistent work ethic and great attitude will be an asset for this new business venture!  If you have the opportunity, please stop in and grab a cup of joe the next time you are on the Nevada side of the south shore.  You won’t be disappointed.

Next time you see Myla, tell her Congratulations!  We are honored to have her represent STCF as May’s CrossFitter of the Month!

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April 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

Although this month is half-way through, we haven’t forgotten about our CrossFitter of the Month.  I was out of town and unable to interview this month’s athlete early enough to publish it on time.  Then, the athlete had a conflict in his schedule… However, we finally got together, and without further ado…

Meet April’s CrossFitter of the Month:  Roberto Carlos Lopez.

Roberto and Pukie, the universal CrossFit Mascot

Roberto and Pukie, the universal CrossFit Mascot

Roberto moved to South Lake Tahoe in 2008 when he was seventeen years old.  He was born and raised in the state of Tlaxcala in Mexico, but decided to move to the states to be closer to his family.  After taking some English classes at LTCC, Roberto started working at Off the Hook as a cook. Monika Renk, one of our former trainers who now works in law enforcement, was Roberto’s co-worker.  She convinced Roberto to give CrossFit a try.

If you know Monika, you know that she doesn’t take no for an answer; poor Roberto signed up for Elements with her shortly thereafter!  According to Roberto, the first two weeks of CrossFit were quite memorable.  Instead of the usual complaints of soreness and exhaustion, Roberto experienced frequent bouts of “regurgitation” during those two weeks.  In fact, one day, after leaving the gym, he had to use his car as a “puke bucket.”  When I asked him what on earth made him come back for more, he smiled and answered, “It was fun!”


Roberto helped us all cheer Del on at the 2015 CrossFit Games last summer!

Roberto got his girlfriend, Itzel to join with him and the two of them suffered through WOD after WOD for several months. When Itzel’s work schedule changed dramatically, she was forced to quit.  Roberto, however, continued to show up and do the work.  Even after changing occupations, Roberto still found time to make it to the gym.  Why? Because “CrossFit is fun and it’s different from any other gym.  I try to push myself out of my comfort zone everyday because I see people do things that make me ask myself, ‘If he can do that, why can’t I?'” He adds, “CrossFit makes you keep going.  Even when other people are finished, they cheer you on.  They just don’t walk out.  They help you keep going.  I love it!”

And we all love Roberto’s consistent “can-do” attitude and his community spirit. During this year’s Open Competition, he practiced bar muscle-ups for several days before Open WOD 16.3.  During the WOD, he succeeded and completed several of these elusive movements to his shock and amazement!  You should have seen the smile on his face.  Currently, Roberto is working on his ring muscle-ups so that he’ll be good and ready for next year’s Open!  We are sure he will get them, too!

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Roberto was a nerd for Team Geek Squad in last year’s OPEN Team Competition!

Roberto’s favorite WODs contain thrusters and burpees… I am pretty sure I have never heard anyone equate these movements with enjoyment… He also hopes to link his double-unders in the future.  However, he has more important things to look forward to in the future:  a little baby boy!

Yep,  Roberto is going to be a father this May!  Congratulations to you, Roberto and Itzel!  Maybe we will see little Matte Ezhra in the gym one day!

If you get a chance to see Roberto around this month, please give him your congratulations and remember that “fun” can be defined differently for everyone…except us CrossFitters who see “fun” in every WOD, in every lift, and in every day that we walk through that gym door!

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Roberto and his favorite movement: Thrusters!

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Roberto got his bar muscle-ups just in time for this year’s Open WOD 16.3!


March 2016 CrossFitter of the Month

Laurie is nestled behind everyone in the center of the shot.

Laurie is nestled behind everyone in the center of the shot.

I wish I’d had a camera to show the surprise on the face of Laurie Huerta when I told her that she was chosen as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month!  Her reaction was not unlike the reactions from the past recipients of this recognition.  However, it was the comment, “I never thought I’d be chosen,” and how it was said that affected me.    Perhaps Laurie thought that only those who are “making gains” or doing every WOD prescribed could be considered for this award.  But no, we’ve had plenty of past CrossFitters of the Month who still scale WODs or who don’t lift super heavy! So why was Laurie so surprised?  Maybe it’s because she doesn’t see herself like we all do:  a determined, yet unassuming woman who has for four years worked on her fitness day in and day out.   Although she has constant knee pain, and was sidelined last year for several months due to a surgery, Laurie continues to show up and do the work.

photo3(61)Laurie is almost a “born and raised” Tahoan.  Her family arrived in the basin when she was little over a year old.  She graduated South Tahoe High School in 1995.  While in school, Laurie was not involved in any sport or for that matter, any “school spirit.”  At nineteen, Laurie gave birth to her only child, Cristina.  As a single mom, Laurie didn’t have time for the frivolous things in life.  She began working at Harrah’s as a dealer…eighteen years later, Laurie still deals cards at night.  Standing on her feet for hours every night began to take its toll on Laurie.  Four years ago, Laurie’s chiropractor, Dr. Nichole Casto mentioned CrossFit as a way to deal with constant pain.  Laurie’s friend, Lana Gonzales, who had also recently joined South Tahoe CrossFit, encouraged her to try it out.  Laurie took their advice and showed up for a Sunday “Share the Pain” free class.  Before, during, and after the WOD, Laurie admits she thought to herself, “What the f@*k was I thinking? This is hard!”  However, she signed up immediately after that one class and has never turned back.  She will tell you, as she told me, that she has “hated CrossFit ever since.”  It’s kind of like a Love/Hate relationship… you love it so much afterward, but you hate it before and during the WOD.

Rereading the above description of Laurie, one would have to ask, why is she still doing this to herself if she hates it so much?  I asked Laurie the same question.  She calls herself a “glutton for punishment who is determined to get healthy!”  While that answer is absolutely acceptable, you’d think that no one associated with Laurie would want to do what she does.  But that’s the thing:  she does inspire people.  After she joined, her cousin Marco and sister-in-law, Myla, became irreplaceable members of STCF.  If Laurie really “hated” CrossFit, why would anyone want to follow in her footsteps?  According to Laurie, the real reason she keeps coming back day after day is because “no one laughs at you.  Instead, everyone encourages everyone else.  I can do things I never thought I could do.”  One of STCF’s owners, Del Lafountain remembers the day Laurie started.  He recalls that he honestly thought it would take her some time to see progress.  However, she picked up on the movements amazingly fast.  Now, she is one of his favorites to watch.  “Anytime she has a barbell in her hand, she’s doing something pretty,” says Del.  Laurie has seen improvements in her knee function, as well as in her ability to lift!  She is stronger than ever, and hopefully this tribute to Laurie and her progress will motivate her to continue on her journey to total health and wellness.  We believe in you Laurie!

photo2(93)Laurie’s Favorite Movement is the clean and jerk.  This is an olympic style lift to get heavy weight from the ground to overhead…and it’s not an easy lift, by any means.  It requires coordination and the ability to drop under the weight.  It also requires core strength and stability.  Laurie has recently been attending our newer Conditioning Classes to help strengthen her core for this and other lifts.

At first, Laurie told me that she hates Fight Gone Bad!, the signature WOD that brings everyone to their knees.  However, the question was what WOD did Laurie consider her favorite!  Finally, after much consternation, Laurie chose “The Bear.”  For those who don’t CrossFit, the Bear is a grueling series of lifts that get heavier and harder as the workout progresses.  Of course Laurie would choose this WOD…remember?  She’s a glutton for punishment! 😉  She’s also really focused on improving her lifts…

We at South Tahoe CrossFit want to showcase and celebrate members each month for their hard work and dedication to their fitness.  Laurie represents someone to whom many can relate…Changing one’s life takes time and perseverance – and it’s never easy.

Congratulations, Laurie on being selected as March’s CrossFitter of the Month!!

February 2016 CrossFitter of the Month


February’s CrossFitter of the Month: John Thiel

Recently, we changed our monthly free event from “Share the Pain” to “Share the CrossFit Kool-Aid” on account of the fact that the general public might be afraid to walk into our gym, let alone try a class or two because of the word “Pain”… However, John Thiel, this month’s CrossFitter of the Month, finds the pain that we in the CrossFit Community experience on a daily basis a motivating factor for returning to the gym every day.

Maybe being born in St. Paul, Minnesota and then consequently growing up in the pumpkin capital of the world, Morton, Illinois, could have been the catalyst for John’s need for punishment. After playing high school baseball and wrestling in this small farming community, John left for Iowa State where he majored in engineering. He continued playing team sports in college, but at the intramural level. His favorite was “broom ball,” a violent game that reminds us why hockey players wear headgear. After college, John moved to St. Louis for work, but soon began competing in triathlons – another “painful” activity for most and one that many thirty-nine year olds consider part of their bucket list before they turn forty. After his stint in St. Louis, John relocated to Pasadena, CA. In all, John spent two glorious years in the Los Angeles area. If he wasn’t in his car driving on all that pavement, you could find him rollerblading on it…Lucky for John, and for us, he was able to escape the smoggy skies of Southern California for the fresh air of Lake Tahoe. In 1992, he moved again for a new job with the South Tahoe Public Utility District. Since 1992, John has continued to expand his job titles. As well as a being STPUD’s Engineering and Contruction Manager, John also built an upscale pool hall with his buddy, Q’s Billiards Club in Reno, NV, and then continued dabbling in architecture by designing and constructing many homes for friends and his family in and around the Tahoe Basin. In all of his spare time, John has raised a family and even received his MBA by taking night classes at UNR for several years. When he’s not “working,” one can find him out on the trails with Leroy, his big, bluenose pitbull, on the water, on the slopes, or in the gym.


The Mitch Underhill Memorial WOD

John was introduced to our gym through sad circumstances: the Mitch Underhill Memorial. He attended the event at our gym and decided that, like Mitch, he’d make life happen for himself and join STCF. On April 28, 2014, John attended a Sunday Share the Pain with Durga, (Dylan Yuzbick) and after a wicked WOD, John joined up.


Air Assault Bikes: the Epitome of Pain

John had always been physically active. As well as being an avid mountain biker, hiker, and water sport enthusiast, he had been a member of Evolution Fitness, aka Push Fitness, aka Time Out since relocating to South Lake Tahoe in 1992. He’d been attending three to four group classes per week, but still hadn’t found the right pain quotient worthy of breaking a sweat. He wanted more: more energy, more intensity, more coaching, and more support.   Ultimately, he was “looking for more pain.” He found the pain he was looking for at STCF through the people, the friendly yet competitive atmosphere, and the fun of the physical and mental challenge. Every day, John is inspired by those who push themselves a little more and then have the energy to give encouragement to others.

Del, Tom, and Weldon chose John Thiel as this month’s CrossFitter of the Month because he is one of those athletes that John describes as “inspiring.” John continues to push his own limits while encouraging those around him to push theirs. He consistently attends classes and then comes in to work on his “Goats” during Open Gym. He constantly looks for “pain,” because if he’s “not hurting, it’s not worth [his] time.”

Some of John’s Favorite Movements include tire drags, sled pulls, snatches, clean and jerks, bar muscle-ups, and double-unders.   In fact, John stated that if he ever quit CrossFit, it would be because of double-unders!


Memorial Day Murph WOD 2015

John’s Favorite WODs are some of the most painful: Murph, even though running is not his favorite thing to do anymore, and DT.

Since joining STCF, John has competed in the New Kids in the Box event in 2014. He would like to keep improving and devote more time to CrossFit so that he could become a more competitive athlete.  With the support of the coaches and his fellow athletes, John is encouraged to keep working on his “Goats.” He especially appreciates the communal support that is found at our gym. From crazy in-house competitions, like last year’s Open Competition, (John was a member of the Geek Squad), to the day to day grind of WODs and lifts, John doesn’t see himself going anywhere – except up in the world of CrossFit. And hey, if that means he might experience more pain along the way, then that’s really what it’s all about for this month’s CrossFitter of the Month.

John was a member of the Geek Squad in last year's Open Competition!

John was a member of the Geek Squad in last year’s Open Competition!


John with son, Andrew, a college student at UCSB, and Del at the 2015 CrossFit Games.


John and the ladies of the 2015 New Kids in the Box comp.