Athlete of the Month

October 2016 Athlete of the Month: Andrew Ghabbour

Andrew, congratulations on being featured as our Athlete of the Month for October. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

It all started nearly 30 years ago. A cute little boy was born in the land of the Pharaohs. Upon reaching the age of 4 and 5/6ths, he moved to the beautiful land that is called Canada. He spent his early childhood, awkward teen puberty years and odd early 20’s living in the Kitchener area. Once realizing how badly he was wasting his life he decided to quit his job and travel around the world for half a year. Upon his return, he decided to take life seriously and landed a job at TD Bank. This forced him to move to the big city. Now, the big city was a scary place, but he managed to find shelter in a lovely little gym called CF 416. The rest, as they say, is history.

By day, I’m a Systems Analyst for TD Merchant Solutions. By night, I like to knit little sweaters for rats and raccoons and hand them out around Toronto. I love doing laundry in my spare time. I like knocking on random doors in my condo building then running away. It’s definitely a great way to get to know your neighbours. I also like throwing stuff at other stuff. Super fun! Groceries rock my world. The Swiffer is my best friend. 


You’ve been at CrossFit 416 for a little while now, what keeps you coming back day in, day out? 

Luke’s bad jokes. Robyn telling me to stop dropping things and rolling her eyes at me. Daniele telling me to pay attention. Gys telling me to stop muscling things. Dan saying hi to me every once in a while, thus confirming the fact that he knows I exist. Aside from all that, we have a good group of people that attend the gym.


What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time here? Take some time to brag! 

I found that my performance has grown exponentially during my time at CF 416. I wasn’t able to complete the majority of the movements when I first got to the gym. Now I’m only lacking in a handful of movements. Gymnastic movements and the increase in my running capacity have been my greatest achievements


Since you’ve been here, you’ve participated in a few members’ competitions and other competitions we’ve         hosted here at the gym. Talk us through your experience a little bit; what would you tell someone who’s on the fence about competing?   

The competitions held at CF 416 are pretty awesome. It’s a good group of people getting together to compete and hangout (drink).  The competitions are a great way to get you out of your comfort zone. I recently participated in the CF 416 Classic knowing full well the Clean & Jerk and Snatch are a weakness of mine. Having the pressure of an audience watching you and the corresponding adrenaline rush helped me PR movements I was unable to do just a few months ago. I would definitely recommend anyone to join the competitions. They’re loads of fun.

What is your next fitness/performance goal? 

Double Unders, handstand push ups, and snatches are still the bane of my existence. Those are the movements I would eventually love to master.

Enough about CrossFit—what is the most embarrassing fad/fashion trend you wholeheartedly subscribed to in your younger years? (Think puka shell necklaces, chin straps, etc.)

Knock-off LA Gear light-up shoes; Ill-fitting clothing; Axe body spray; Chumbawamba; Ross Gellar-style wet head; out-of-control peach fuzz; tucked in shirts, tighty whities, hiked up white socks; basically the only things missing are a pocket protector, a wedgie, and glasses, and I would have completed the most embarrassing set of circumstances imaginable.


Let’s say life takes a weird turn, and you’re forced to walk in to every room you ever enter using an entrance theme song—what would it be and why? 

Daybreak by Michael Haggins. If anyone watches Community, they’ll understand.


What is your favourite restaurant in the city? Why?

Restaurants are overrated. I like a good street meat vendor. One that saves my ass after a long night of drinking. I normally frequent the dude on King and John after a night on the town. And because I have a ridiculous appetite, I end up having another one at Bay and Queen’s Quay right after. They seem to be my absolute favourite thing while under the influence. Don’t ask me how they taste while sober; I wouldn’t know.


If you could take a trip anywhere and with anyone, where would it be and with who? 

The final 2 continents on my list are South America and the Antarctic; I’d do either/or. I would probably end up doing it alone. Travel companions are too much of a hassle.


Favourite cheat meal? 

Pizza. I would marry a pizza if I could. I’ve already had pizza 3 times this week…I have a problem.

September 2016 Athlete of the Month: Abel den Hartog

Abel, congratulations on being featured as our Athlete of the Month for September. Tell us a little bit about yourself (where are you from, how did you get here, what do you do aside from the time you spend at the gym, etc. feel free to share whatever you’d like).

Hi! I am a 35-year-old male human being, born and raised on third planet from the sun. In 2012, I married another human being, Tamara, and she’s pretty awesome. We moved to Canada 4 years ago from a tiny country called The Netherlands.

Together we produced a little Canuck, Ezra, who I now believe may actually be a Tasmanian devil that has the power to get away with anything through sheer cuteness.

If I’m not working out at 416 I’m most likely working or chasing after my son. I enjoy sailing in the summer and skiing in the winter. We try to travel somewhere new at least once a year and occasionally go scuba diving.

Meanwhile my wife is attempting to rewrite the human genome through programming live viruses. Eventually she will help solve heart disease, or cause a zombie outbreak and human extinction. Sit tight!


 Sadly, September is your last month in Toronto. What’s next for you and your family?

Back to the Netherlands. A move that, above everything else, will make Ezra’s grand parents very happy. We are excited to go back and see friends and family, but sad to leave Toronto at the same time. Toronto is an amazing place to live and after 4 wonderful years, going back seems even more scary than leaving the Netherlands in the first place.


You’ve been at 416 for many years—from the shoebox days to the “big rig & showers” days—when and where was your first CrossFit Class?

I started Crossfit in 2009, at Crossfit FSF in the Netherlands. Their first location was literally a 2 car garage. If you hit the 9’ ceiling with your wall ball, it would literally come down and hit you in the head. The coaching and people were amazing though, and their new location is great and very well equipped.

My first class here in Canada was in the original 416 shoe box. After the garage gym, it actually felt like a step up, but also familiar! This was back when Dan somehow managed to work 27 hours a day, and stupid s**t like this happened on a daily basis:


It’s crazy to see how much change the box has gone through in the past couple years!
If you could give yourself any advice for that first class, after all of these years of experience, what would it be?

I would tell myself to focus less on weight, time, or reps. Instead, the focus should be on developing correct movement patterns and technique. It would have brought me results faster and with less risk of injury.


What is your fondest memory looking back on your time here?

416 has been amazing and has given me many memories. The parties, competitions, and regular classes have given me friendships that I hope will last for a lifetime (which will be 257 years in my case).


What are you most excited about returning to when you head back to the Netherlands? Any Dutch delicacies you just can’t wait to get your hands on?

Two things:
– Rookworst (an amazing smoked sausage)
– Berenhap sate (a large deep-fried meatball with slices of union between the meat, served with a spicy peanut sauce)
I will eat those within a week of arriving – guaranteed!


Let’s say life takes a weird turn, and you’re forced to walk in to every room you ever enter using an entrance theme song—what would it be and why?

I am torn between ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ from Monty Python’s Live of Brian, or freaking everyone out with the theme song from ‘The Twilight Zone’.


How do you take your coffee?

In large quantities.
If you could take a trip anywhere and with anyone, where would it be and with who?

Once Ezra is old enough to understand and remember the plan is to go on a Safari in Africa. We would love to see the big 5, now that they still exist in the wild.

What is your September fitness/performance goal?

The same as last month, and the months before that: Handstand (walk). My body doesn’t function properly when it is upside down!


All the best to everyone at 416, thanks for 4 amazing years!


August 2016 Athlete of the Month: Rachael Easterbrook

Give us a brief introduction about yourself.

I grew up in Cabbagetown and lived most of my life in Toronto. After graduating from Bishop’s University, I lived and worked abroad and eventually settled in Australia.

Sydney became my home for 9 years and I worked for Flight Centre there; consulting, managing and getting new stores up and running. After 8 years, I ran a travel business from home.

When I returned to Canada 7 years ago, I worked in an acupuncture clinic and went back to school part time studying Ayurveda; one of the world’s oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems.

My current job: “mummying” it.


When did you join CF 416? What brought you here? What did you do previously in terms of fitness/health?

I joined 416 in July of 2015. I have always been active, but my main focus had been Ashtanga yoga. I did yoga for 10 + years, but I eventually grew bored with it and plateaued. I knew then that I was ready for something more challenging, and happened to walk by the old location. As soon as I saw the weights, I wanted in.


How is CrossFit different from all of the things you’ve listed above? What has kept you coming back?

Well to say I have drunk the Kool-Aid is an understatement. It’s a love affair and feel like I have tapped into a part of me that’s been dormant. I’m rediscovering that I’m fiercely competitive. The top-notch programming, dedicated coaches, endorphin high and the awesome members have kept me coming back. It’s truly the best workout experience I have ever had.


What has been the most difficult movement for you to conquer during your time as a CrossFitter? What has been your favourite movement?

The snatch. I have fear of lifting heavy load over my head. I’ll get there. My favorite movement is deadlift. Clean is close second.


What are your current fitness goals? Future goals?

My current goals are to nail the rhythm of my kip on toes to bar. I’d also like to get a handstand push up. Future goals are to be able to do muscle up and to possibly coach. I’m booked in for the CF Level 1 course in August.


Who or what inspires you?

All of the elite athletes at our gym inspire me; the coaches; and my good friend Olivia, in Sydney, Australia, who has been CrossFitting for years, and is fighting


What is your favourite restaurant in Toronto?

My favorite restaurant is Patria.


If you could go back in time and give yourself advice before your first CrossFit class, what would it be?

Be patient and enjoy the ride!


If you had to eat one snack for the rest of your life, what would it be?



How do you take your coffee?

I quit coffee 6 years ago. I have replaced it with green smoothies.


What is your dream vacation?

To swim with whale sharks in Exmouth, Western Australia. Have you seen the size of those things?!


Let’s say that vacation didn’t pan out, and you instead find yourself stranded on a deserted island with one of our coaches—who would it be and why? 

I’d have to say it would be a tie between Luke and Robyn. Luke for being ’larger than life’ and for Robyn, because well, I just want to do everything she does…ha, ha.




July 2016 Athlete of the Month: Allie Carson

Give us a brief introduction about yourself:

My full name is Allison Elizabeth Anne Carson, but you may know me as Athlete Allie. I am 23 years old and I like people, caffeine, dance classes, and country concerts. I was born in Edmonton AB and have lived in Ottawa, Dallas and Halifax since then but now I call Toronto (the 6) home (or is it the 9 now?? #views).

When did you join 416, where did you come from, what do you do outside of slammin’ bars and nailin’ PRs?

I joined CrossFit 416 in January 2016. I had just moved to Toronto from London ON. Outside of SLAMMIN’ bars and KILLIN’ PRs I am a full time graphic design student and I have a part-time job. When I’m not doing schoolwork I’m typically watching shark tank, at the grocery store, hitting up the track for some sprints, or doing pretty much anything else you can do in the sun.

How did you get involved with CrossFit? Tell us about your first workout, or any other memorable tales along the way.

Before CrossFit I played basketball, volleyball, rugby and I swam. I also competed in Muay Thai and as a black belt in Taekwondo.

I had been an athlete all my life, but was in-between sports when I came across CrossFit. I saw a video of someone doing 21-15-9 kettlebell swings and double unders. I had never seen anything like it, why were they moving so fast, and why was it so short?! I tried replicating the workout myself and absolutely died. I instantly needed to know more, so I searched up and YouTube for any workouts I could find that included the equipment I had (medicine ball, kettle bell, skipping rope). My first few months of CrossFit took place in my driveway and my backyard. My neighbors thought I was a little nuts. Soon I found a gym in my area and joined.

Since then, I have competed at countless local competitions (Beach WOD, Sweat Rx, CompWOD etc.), which are always an amazing experience. In 2014 I had the opportunity to compete at Canada East Regionals on a team for CrossFit Hybrid Competitive. My current goal is to make it to Super Regionals within the next few years.

As someone who’s been active in the world of competitive CrossFit, you’ve recently made the switch to our fitness programming stream. People may find this somewhat weird. Why did you decide to switch to the fitness programming?

I decided to focus on following the fitness programming because it is exactly what I need to do right now. I’m going to be honest and say that before I started doing the fitness programming I never looked twice at it, I just assumed it was the “easier option” and there was no way I could benefit from it. I could not have been more wrong. I could not have made a better choice in regards to my fitness by making this change! These workouts are sneaky! They look so simple on the board, but absolutely crush you when you hit them full throttle. By following the fitness program, I am becoming more fit while improving my weaknesses and imbalances by utilising dumbbells and kettlebells, and focusing on perfecting my movement patterns.

Although it’s exciting to snatch, clean, and do muscle-ups, while doing these complex movements, my body was overcompensating for imbalances, and that is not a recipe for having a fit, healthy body in the long run.

I decided to take a step back from Olympic lifting and complex gymnastics to ensure that my body will be primed for them when I do reintroduce them back into my workouts. It’s easy to blow past the fitness program in pursuit of that competitive edge but the fitness workouts shouldn’t be overlooked! Having a solid base before heading into performance key. #fitnessisfun #ilovefitness

What is your favourite “Girl”? Why?

LOL shockingly my favourite girl workout is Diane 21-15-9 deadlifts and HSPU. I like the descending rep scheme coupled with two of my favourite movements.


If you had to eat a certain food as your snack food every time you snacked for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Butter popcorn flavoured rice cakes with almond butter and strawberry jam on top.

How do you take your coffee?

Strong and black.

If you could have a theme song that played every time you entered a room, what would it be?

“Strive” by A$AP Ferg, Missy Elliott. If you’re reading this and have not heard that song YouTube it RIGHT NOW!

Tell us something about yourself that someone might never guess. What is your hidden talent?

I can juggle and used to be able to ride a unicycle because I legit wanted to join the circus.

What kind of fitness goals motivate your work in the gym? Tell us a little bit about what goals you’re looking to achieve in the gym.

Just being around other people working hard motivates me. If I want to take a break but other people who are literally dying are still going it’s like “Wow Allie get back at it”. My main goal is to make it to regionals so that includes simply trying to be the most well rounded athlete I can be and being better than yesterday every day. Also there is this one quote Josh Bridges says in an interview where they’re like “Josh you’re an animal, how can you just keep going” and he’s like “well, if I feel like stopping I ask myself if I’m dead, and if I’m not, then I keep going”.

Favourite cheat meal

Ben and Jerry’s half-baked with Golden Grahams Cereal on top

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one coach, who would it be and why?

Andrew, because he would make us swing coconuts like kettlebells, or something like that. (#kettlebellmaster) To be honest, any one of the coaches would be hilarious to be stuck with. (#coachlove)

June 2016 Athlete of the Month: Joise Klassen

CrossFit 416 June Athlete of the Month is Josie Klassen.  Josie has been a member at 416 for almost 4 years now and has been consistently working hard and busting through barriers since day 1.

Below, we’ve given Josie a bit of an opportunity to tell us a little more about herself. Keep up the great work, Josie! Congratulations!

Give us a little background on yourself.

I had the pleasure of growing up on a vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake; which is likely where my inclination to pick up heavy objects developed.

My very first job was picking up rocks on the farm. Yup…  The city girl in me drove me to Toronto, where I continue to climb the Digital Marketing ladder, although I prefer climbing ropes.

How did you first arrive at CF 416? Do you remember your first workout? Tell us a little about it.

After years of routine workouts at a conventional gym, I recall my first day at 416 about 4 years ago now.  I arrived at the box slightly nervous.  I sat on the front steps and observed what was to be in the coming weeks/years.   My intro group class consisted of 7 ladies, and Jeff lol.

Daniele and Andrew were our coaches for the first 2 weeks. They provided meticulous instruction on all the basic Crossfit movements for a solid foundation.  I remember the initial WODs, using just the barbell, and thinking to myself: “Why is this so hard? I work out all the time!” And so it began.

What keeps you coming back?

Crossfit 416 is bar none the best workout experience I have had!  Thank-you to the entire coaching staff for your expertise, top-notch coaching, and wide range of great tunes that keep me coming back for more; and for never giving up on reminding me to keep my legs closed ha ha  🙂

416 is more than a place to get a good sweat.  Dan, the entire coaching staff, and all the members make it a place that I look forward to going every day.  After every grueling WOD, I leave feeling stronger, grateful that I’m able to lift tonnes of weight in mere minutes, and, sometimes, with a few lash marks here and there. ♥DU

What do you do for fun when you’re not picking up heavy things and putting them down?

Besides my affection for Crossfit, I love beach volleyball, kayaking, and anything outdoors.

What is the best place you’ve visited, and why?

One of my favorite destinations thus far is Costa Rica. It’s gorgeous, laid back, full of delicious pineapples, cute little monkeys, and there is lots to do, such as surfing & kiteboarding—quite scary!—and zip lining right beside a volcano. It offers fun for all!

Biggest TV/movie guilty pleasure?  

The Bachelor and/or Sex & the City.  I know…

Dream vacation?

Bali. It looks like an amazing place to visit.

If you had to be stuck on an island with one coach, who would it be and why?

Dan: because he’d likely start an outdoor box and I’d get all the bananas. (If you didn’t know, Dan loves bananas!)

Hypothetical scenario: Let’s say Dan was feeling generous and allowed you to program a WOD; what might that WOD look like?

Hmm…. It definitely would not involve running!  Maybe a mix of movements for time, something like:
10 Wall Balls, 10 Hang Cleans, 10 Front Squats, 10 Deadlifts, 10 Pull Ups

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice before your first CrossFit class what would you say?

Use tape!

Favourite cheat meal?

Tough question…  A bacon cheeseburger and Reese’s peanut butter cups paired with a nice cabernet sauvignon.  Not necessarily in that order.


May 2016 Athlete of the Month: Paul Collins

 CrossFit 416’s inaugural athlete of the month is a member who has really taken every possible thing we’ve thrown at him, and ran with it: Paul Collins!!!

Paul’s commitment to CF 416 is incredible, and his transformation has been a pleasure to watch. Paul’s strength numbers are the stuff of legend around the gym, and his willingness to embrace the lifestyle challenge head-on saw him make some incredible progress both physically and performance-wise; not to mention that Paul memorably crushed the Assault Bike Challenge with a whopping 45 calories accumulated in a minute of work. He also downed a protein shake in just over 3 seconds to seal the victory in that challenge.

Below, we’ve given Paul a bit of an opportunity to tell us a little more about himself. Keep up the great work, Paul! Congratulations!


Tell us a little bit about how you got started here, what brought you here, how long you’ve been here, what you enjoy most, etc.

September 2, 2014 was the day I purchased myEelements + 3 month membership. It was no doubt a decision that was partially brought on by the questionable decisions I made over Labour Day weekend, or, you know, the previous 25 years of my life.

A year and a half later, I can honestly say that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I never thought I would look forward to going to the gym each day, but now I find myself sitting at my desk watching the clock slowly tick away the minutes until I get to head there, unless that day involves double unders—they are the devil.

The thing I enjoy the most about the gym is the community; we have amazing people here who are fun to be around; always willing to help you out and push you to make yourself better every day. My favourite movements would be anything strength related; shout out to 3 lifts! (Paul and Andrew’s pet project and powerlifting club in the works).


Give us a little background on yourself. Where are you from?

I wasn’t like every other kid, you know, who dreams about being an astronaut, I was always more interested in what bark was made out of on a tree. Richard Gere’s a real hero of mine. Sting. Sting would be another person who’s a hero. The music he’s created over the years, I don’t really listen to it, but the fact that he’s making it, I respect that.

Okay some real background on me, I grew up in Newmarket which is just north of the city. I played a lot of sports hockey, rugby, lacrosse, baseball and snowboarding. Spent four and half years in Guelph for university, who wants to graduate on time anyway? I wanted as much time as I could to refine my drinking skills before making my way into the real world. After I finished my B.Comm in human resources I moved to Toronto, got a job in my field and now I’m here.


Favourite Movie or Television series?

Zoolander – should be obvious by this point


Favourite post workout meal?

Nothing exciting just some chicken, baked sweet potato and veggies


What were you doing fitness-wise before joining CF416?

Keg stands…surprisingly no help for handstand push ups


What keeps you motivated and coming back to 416?

To one day be fit enough to get on Avraan’s no rest day program


What is your dream vacation?

Some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.


How do you take your coffee?

One Milk.


If you had to be stuck on an island with one coach, who would it be and why?

Tough one, but it would probably be Rachel, just for her dance moves


Fun fact or quirky thing about yourself that others might not know.

I was in a Molson Canadian commercial once.