Athlete of the Month

May Athlete of the Month: Simone van Gaal!

Last year at the end of March we moved from the Netherlands to Toronto for my husband’s job. We always said if we had the opportunity to move to Canada or America we would do it. And then came the opportunity to go and we decided real quick but without any doubt because my gut immediately felt it was good.

It wasn’t always easy everything was new and it was a whole different country. But it is an adventure and we love it. Canada is such a beautiful country, the people are very nice and helpful. So much to see and explore.

After a few months getting settled down I was looking for a job in retail fashion . I have worked all my life in retail but as a manager of small and bigger companies. I didn’t wanted to work on the weekend because we want to explore and go hiking and enjoy everything Toronto brings us. So, it took me a while but since March I am working in a high end store of women’s clothes in the financial district. They are closed on the weekends, I can walk to work and I can work with people. No big responsibilities but I get to do something I love.

I learned a lot about myself the last year and still have things to learn. I always set the bar very high for myself and am a perfectionist. These things have brought me a lot in my life but sometimes they can also stand in my way.

Crossfit is something I love and has been part of my life for quite some years now. I did it in The Netherlands and the first thing I said to my husband when we landed was that we have to find a Crossfit gym. There it was Crossfit 416. I saw Dan, Rachel and Hank (I thought they were a couple lol) and even though I am not really comfortable with dogs, my gut felt ok. In the beginning I thought that everyone was a born athlete. OMG everyone is so good. I remember asking Dan if I was good enough to work out with these guys.

I love it so much I go 5 days a week at 7 am. I can get really nervous by looking at the WOD but it is funny to see how you can challenge and push yourself each time.The programming and coaching is very professional and good, what a joy to be a member here. Thank you all for pushing us an make us get stronger in a good and safe way.

Healthy food and living is a big part of my life but doing the lifestyle challenge was still an eye opener. As a gluten-free pescatarian I wasn’t eating enough protein. So with some adjustments and help from the coaches it has made a big difference.

Joining the Open was very exciting. Never in my mind I would have thought I would do it but I did, of course scaled. I was very proud of my first strict pull up.

I really want to learn kipping pull ups and double unders. So that is something I want to work at.

If I had to create a WOD, difficult to say there a couple of things I like.
It would contain Deadlifts/ airsquats/Push ups/ and maybe 2 strict pull ups because that is what I can do lol. I would call it “determined”.

I am really proud of being chosen as athlete of the Month always hoped that it might happen one day but I am not the youngest but here I am.

Big hug,
Simone

April Athlete of the Month: Mark Gallardo!

I am originally from the Philippines and I moved to Canada in my 20s where I quickly realized that it is possible to use your balcony as a fridge during winter, lol. Wanting to go full Canadian and growing up being inquisitive while food was used as a form of greeting, I was determined to eat everything the North had to offer. I got introduced to addictive Timbits, notorious Rocky Mountain Candy Apples, and piles upon piles of Toonie Chicken Wings. It was only a matter of time that the wrong kind of gain train would come barrelling down the tracks.

The same inquisitiveness led me to a career in Process Engineering where the main goal was finding out areas of improvement in a business. Fitness was a clear area that I needed to work on so naturally I used what I learned from work and went on to try out everything I could ranging from insta-fad diets to all the gym apps that would fit in my phone.

CrossFit came to my radar when I was walking along one of the gyms in the city and I peeked inside only to be confused about how can people workout without traditional gym machines let alone have no shirts on. This lead me to YouTube the heck out of everything I could find and saw all these people doing seemingly impossible things. Curiosity turned into researching and eventually signing up for a free intro session in CrossFit 416. I remember how intimidating stepping into the gym was because of music blasting and plates crashing down the mat. That intimidation turned to surprise when I saw the sensory overload was being caused by these regular looking people from all shapes and sizes.

The free session started and it only took approximately the first 10 seconds for me to realize that the coach at the time (Rachel) knew her stuff as she explained the air squat. We finished the the warm up and I just thought we would grab barbells and magically start snatching. Instead we were treated to the unassuming CrossFit classic couplet of dumbbell thrusters and burpees. On paper it looked simple enough and I foolishly thought it would be easy, effortless and CrossFit was a joke. In reality, the 10 minute AMRAP would leave me sprawled on the floor, lungs absolutely burning, and smile ear to ear from the ultimate high.

The WOD I would bring to the gym is called the “Throwback” as a reminder of that first workout that got folks addicted to CrossFit:

10 min AMRAP

10 Burpees

10 DB Thrusters

Since that workout, I knew I was hooked because I loved the challenge and realized how much I needed to work on. I followed CrossFit more and I saw CrossFit 416 evolve alongside the sport of fitness. I would hear people talk about Strongman and next thing I am doing power cleans with sandbags and pushing Prowlers. I would read about the importance of nutrition and there I am knee deep into a gym-sponsored lifestyle challenge. The best thing about the journey in the gym are all the people you throwdown with along the way. Everyone’s hard work is infectious and inspiring.

My best memory of this was when I attempted to Rx the dreaded double-unders. Flashback to the previous Open and it took me 36 minutes to complete the thruster double under couplet that should normally take around 12 minutes (shout out to Gys for judging me). I remember the other athletes cheering me on to complete the workout and it fired me up. After working on double unders for the entire year of hanging back after class and practicing, I was able to string them together for a PR streak and it felt unbelievably rewarding. The Open however would not be complete without a fair share of humbling experiences. This came in the form of 21 reps of a 225 deadlift as an opening section of a workout but it was 10 lbs over my 1 rep max lift at the time. It was ultimately a blessing in disguise because now there is a clear training goal I have my sights set on for the rest of the year.

I have been doing Crossfit for over two years now and it has taught me so many things that crossover with all other aspects of life. Most importantly, it has taught me that hard work pays off both inside and outside the box. There are so many things that initially seem unreasonable as movements in Crossfit but tackling something everyday that’s seemingly scary guided by awesome Crossfit 416 coaches and a community that doesn’t stop cheering makes ordinary people do handstand walks, ring muscle ups, or maybe even a 225 deadlift for 21 reps.

March 2018 Athlete of the Month: Irina Karpenko

I was born in Siberia, Russia and grew up in a place high in the Tian Shan mountains called Kyrgyzstan – a Central Asian country along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean. Almost 20 years ago I packed my suit case, grabbed my daughter and moved to Canada to build a new life. In January of last year, I relocated to Toronto from Mississauga where I lived for more then 13 years. I work for one of the Canadian banks (and, no, I don’t do mortgages). I am one of the people behind the scenes ensuring your invested money does what it is supposed to do – make more money.

I got into Crossfit because when you have friends who are into crossfit, and over the years you observed their body transformation, at some point in time you start asking yourself a question – why not try?… Recovering from a serious illness, and wanting to get back to normal life, I was looking for a type of physical activity that would be different from a traditional gym. Crossfit is the best combination for me in terms of fitness program and discipline. There is a team spirit, competition, friendships and fun – all at the same time.

Even before moving to Toronto I explored the area and came across 416. It was such a convenient location that there were no other choices. But it took me a few more months before I actually pulled myself together and walked in. In May of last year, a week before my birthday, a rotating banner on Facebook caught my eyes.  There was a six weeks challenge for ladies at CF416. That was a true challenge: for 6 weeks 3 times a week lead by amazing coach Derya we all were at the gym at 5am in the morning (!). Considering I’m not a morning person, that was a life changing event.

My first impression of CF 416 was like “a love from the first sight” – I walked in and I remember the smell of the rubber and metal. That was all I needed. I stood there for a minute just inhaling… And almost a year later, each day before I get to the box, no matter how tired I am, once stepped in I get pumped and energized again.

I love people here, I love the atmosphere, I love the sweat I get during the workout, I enjoy the feeling of the accomplishments. It hurts. There are days when I cannot move some of my muscles. But that pain brings me back again, and again, and again…

Proudest moment at CF416? hmmm… I am proud each time I finish the WOD 🙂 Most recent that I am still feeling excited about is my first Open. 18.1 was the highest point of “I can do it!” (Big thanks to DK for pushing through it!). There is still a lot to learn and improve, but it is thrilling. And being part of the team, like being part of a big family, feeling how much every athlete supports one another is very motivating.

I have a list of things “to work on”… Crossfit is still fairly new to me. Continuing with balancing diet, enough rest, and preparing for the remaining Open. Getting my endurance to the next level and improving technique of the exercises to avoid injuries are my priorities.

If I were to create a WOD it will be simple – 9 deadlifts + 12 wall ball shots + 15 kb swings max number of rounds in maybe 12 minutes. I would call it a “hammer”  (wish that was on the Open 18.3 lol).

When it comes to my most favourite 416 memory I have to go with the most recent again –  cheering for my #Gymandtonics team at 18.1 and 18.2. Open occupies my mind these days. 🙂 It is a great milestone. For me it is more like a baseline, but I know now what to work on to improve to get stronger and maybe faster…

January 2018 Athlete of the Month: Laura Beckford

I grew up in the Boston area, but to most Canadians’ disappointment I don’t have a wicked thick Boston accent. My Dad lives in New Hampshire in the middle of nowhere, so I’m a little bit of a country bumpkin. Maybe like, 25% bumpkin. When I’m at home we ride dirt bikes, shoot guns, and feed our chickens sugar cookies. The other 75% of me loves living in the city and pretending to be cool by hanging out at hipster bars with arcade games in them.

I’ve been working as a Project Manager at a digital agency for the past 5 years. I spend my time leading a team of creatives and technologists that design and build things (mostly websites) for large companies.  Think “Mad Men”, but with the internet.

My grad school program involved a lot of traveling; we lived in France and China for 4 months each and most of my classmates were not from the States. I ended up moving to Toronto 2.5 years ago as an indirect result of that program and love it here!

I tried Crossfit because a former roommate of mine in Boston convinced me to check out her gym during a particularly snowy/boring winter. I never played a sport before, yeah I know what you’re thinking, “She looks like an elite Olympic athlete, there’s no way she didn’t play for a D1 University at least”. Believe it people. I would have been too intimidated to try Crossfit so I’m really glad I joined her.  

When I moved to Toronto I started working out at CF416 because it was the closest box to my office, and I was hoping to find a community as fun as the one I had in Boston. My first impression of it was that it was a little small and the group was kind of intimidating. The gym has evolved A LOT since then. The larger space was a game changer, and ever since we moved to it the vibe is more open and friendly. I feel like CF416 is way more social now, and members are very open about giving each other advice and support. I also love that there are two coaches for each class…we have some amazing coaches and their passion adds a lot to the atmosphere.

One of the first times I was really proud at CF416 was the day I got 30 unbroken doubleunders, those things are so frustrating. A more recent one was when I ran by first sub 8 minute mile at GRIT!

I just spent 3 weeks on vacation in Thailand in November, and then went home for Christmas so needless to say I have been eating and drinking a lot. Right now I’m focusing on losing that extra fluff and eating healthy. I really want to do well in this year’s lifestyle challenge, maybe even win. Watch out everyone!

If I were to create a WOD:

“Bieber Fever”

AMRAP: The length of 3 Bieber songs (coaches choice)

10 KB Swing

10 Power Clean

10 Bar over Burpee

Something that sticks in my mind as a great memory at CF416 was the day I walked in and there were soft boxes. I fell on a wooden box a long time ago and was scared to jump on them after that…I always felt stupid during WODs with box jumps. I did my first box jump in 2 years once we got the soft boxes.  Thanks for investing in those, Dan!

Generally, what I love about CF416 is that even when I show up grumpy after a crappy day, I never feel like that after the WOD. Thanks to everyone who encourages me, you guys are great!

-Laura

December 2017 Athlete of the Month: Jed Perez

I was born and raised in the Philippines. My family and I moved to Canada in May of 2000. I then moved to Waterloo to pursue my studies in Biology and Psychology.  I realized after doing my undergrad that I enjoy interacting and helping people in need, which is why I got into nursing. After getting some experience in different areas of healthcare, I decided that I would want to work in a fast-paced, high adrenaline environment. I currently work in a very busy emergency/trauma department in downtown Toronto as a Registered Nurse.

Crossfit was something a friend recommended to me few years ago. I was always skeptical and for the most part nervous about these new waves of physical fitness and workouts. After a long and careful consideration, I decided I would like to try something new. I started doing drop-ins in a CrossFit gym in Brampton where my parents live in the fall of 2013 and later settled in a CrossFit gym in downtown Mississauga.

Nearly a year into my regular membership at Square One CrossFit, I met my partner Ralph and we adopted our first fur baby Charlie.  It was a challenge co-parenting an innocent cute little yorkie while living in 2 separate homes, so Ralph and I decided to move in together in King West. I wanted to continue my CrossFit journey and after checking out different CrossFit gyms in the city, I chose CF416.  I had heard good things about the gym from other CrossFitters, particularly in regards to the coaching style and programming. I remember doing a drop-in at the old gym with Ralph before it closed down. I thought I needed to look for another gym, only to find out that the gym was relocating at the other side of the building.

My first impression of the gym was that everyone was strong and seasoned athletes. I worried that I would not fit in and I would just have to get used to the machines at Goodlife. I would often compare myself to other guys and ended up having unrealistic fitness goals. I thought the heavier the weights I use in the WODS, the better the outcomes. That has all changed throughout time. After being coached under the watchful eyes of the fabulous team at CF416, I have gained much more confidence and performed better in the workouts. I learned to focus on myself and not get into the hype of being ‘the best’ in the class. I learned that you are allowed to have good days and off days at the gym. I learned to put importance on recovery and rest days, and to indulge in moderation. I learned that with practice and knowledge application, I am able to utilize my strengths and turn my weaknesses around.

Any time I hit a PR or finish a WOD successfully is a proud moment for me. I believe in positive reinforcement. Treating a small 1-5 pound PR as an accomplishment goes a long way to achieve my personal goals.  As a result, I am in better shape than I was 10 years ago. I have more energy, I feel good, and I owe these to CF416. Every time I come to class I always tell myself that I am doing something many people are afraid to do or would not even dare try. I get into this mindset to get through each workout and often surprise myself with how well I did afterwards.

I am currently working on putting more gym time to practice various bar and gymnastics skills. I want to sharpen my techniques in weightlifting so I can perform better and lift heavier. I would also like to work on some strongman movements. It is still an unfamiliar territory and a work in progress. The one thing I am doing differently lately and would like to do more of is joining other members for a post WOD workout. I get inspired watching members stay afterwards and do a ‘mini-WOD.’ So if you see me (usually at noon) and would like to put in extra work, do not hesitate to ask (nothing too crazy tho).

If I had to create my own WOD for the class it would be:

‘Priyanka’

AMRAP x 15min

6 Squat Cleans (135/95)

9 Hand Release Push Ups

12 Box Jump Overs (24/20)

Aside from the little victories I have had at CF416, my favourite part of this gym is the people. I have had the pleasure of getting to know a number of its members and am proud to call them friends. I can honestly say that I am grateful to be in the presence of CrossFitters from different walks of life and diverse backgrounds. I would like to thank the coaches and members for your encouragement and ongoing support. There is nothing like a good camaraderie during a tough WOD and going for mimosas afterwards (PS I love brunch).

-Jed

November 2017 Athlete of the Month: Keren Kurtz

I was born and raised here in Toronto, and work as a Digital Artist artist on feature films and television.

Back in 2013 when my bootcamp gym was closing down, a friend mentioned a crossfit gym that she would walk past often (CF416 specifically), which was very close to my home. So I became immediately interested in trying something new, and signed up for the elements classes. My goal was to find classes that would kick my ass. I found that here and never looked back.

From Day One, I was very impressed with the coaching. I felt very comfortable and welcomed and I was pushed to my limits, while being shown good form, in every single class. Not only did I find a great place to workout, I also found a community, some great friendships and inspiring motivation.

I’ve had several proud moments at CF416. One being hitting a PR of 215 in my back squat. That being my favorite lift, I was devastated when I hurt my knee a year ago in a bike accident. I’m now almost completely recovered from it, and am trying to work my way back up there. A more recent proud moment is when Dan asked me to be athlete of the month. It really is a great honour!

Something else I love about CF416 is everything else they have to offer, aside from simply being a box with regular classes. For example, Grit class (or Endurance, last summer) is something I’ve been taking full advantage of to become better at running. Running is something that I’ve always dreaded, but the classes have allowed me to find enjoyment as I’ve improved. It is something I will continue working on through the winter, and in turn I expect it will continue to show improvement in my WOD’s.

If I were to create a WOD it would be called “Keren With An E”, and it would consist of:

5 rounds:

30 wallballs

20 box jumps

10 back squats 135/95

(I do love lower body workouts)

One of my favorite memories is when my team won the Crossfit Comp 2 years ago. It was great knowing that I made some contribution to that achievement, and made me feel super strong!

Thank you to the fantastic coaches for keeping my motivation high to continue coming to class regularly, and to the wonderful people I’ve met in these past 4 years and change.