Athlete of the Month

December Athlete of the Month: Steve Cornelissen

First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself—where are you from, what do you do outside of the time you spend here, hobbies, fun facts, etc. anything goes.

I grew up in small town in the Durham Region. If it wasn’t a party on a farm somewhere it was pond hockey and campfires. Between CrossFit and Netflix, a lot of my time is spent at work. I work for the Toronto Police, so anytime I can get to the gym and not think about work, I do. CrossFit has been a great outlet, and the community at 416 makes the gym a second home. This winter I’ve considered snowboarding again, but I say that every year

Tell us a little bit about your fitness history. What were you doing before you joined CrossFit 416? How did you find out about us? How was your first class here? How long have you been coming here? What has been the biggest factor in keeping you hooked at CF 416?

I used to go to a Globo gym, and found CrossFit Oshawa in 2013. When I moved to Toronto I found 416. I played NCAA hockey down in the states, and a lot of our workouts were crossfit”ish” before crossfit became what it is today. I’ve always enjoyed high intensity workouts so CrossFit was the perfect fit.

If you could go back to that first class and give yourself some advice based on what you know and understand now, what would it be?

Patience!!!! Enjoy the process and embrace the long road ahead. Each movement takes its own time to develop and understand going lighter but having good technique is most important. The weight will come with time.
What is your favourite movement in CrossFit? Why?

My favourite movement is the clean and jerk. I enjoy the complexity of it, and it’s where I have seen my biggest improvement. I also enjoy a good double under session.

Aaaand your least favourite movement and why?

The burpee… for obvious reasons.

If we could create a Hero WOD named “Steve” or “Corney”, what would it be? Movements, rep schemes, rounds, length of time, etc. all variables are yours to unleash your programming creativity here!

If I had to come up with my own hero WoD it would be as follows:

7 RFT:
10 power cleans (185#)
50 double unders
400m run carrying an object of your choice
What is the favourite place you’ve travelled to? Why? Where are you planning on going next?

My favourite place I have travelled to is Australia. I lived there for 2 years and was able to explore every inch of it. A close second would be India. Between the food and the culture, it was amazing. The next place I would like to travel is somewhere in South America.

How do you like your toast?

If I had to make a piece of toast RIGHT NOW it would be a nice thick piece of Texas bread, medium toasted with a heaping amount of Nutella. The more Nutella the better.

One of the greatest things to ever happen in Toronto was the opening of the Nutella Cafe at Sobey’s in City Place. If you haven’t been, it’s a must see. I recommend the Nutella crepe.

Tell us something about yourself no one might ever guess about you.

I’ve cheated death 3 times. Perhaps not surprisingly, all three happened while living in Australia. Let me explain:

  1. When skydiving the parachute collapsed but reopened after several seconds of free falling.
    2. While surfing I was about 10 ft from a great white shark.
    3. Went swimming in a ravine in Darwin not knowing it was infested with salt water crocodiles. Always read and follow the signs before swimming.

Next year, when you compete in the CF 416 Classic, what will your walkout theme be?

“Homegrown” by the Zac Brown Band.

What is your most embarrassing childhood/teenage infatuation/trend/fad, etc. that you wholeheartedly prescribed to?

As a young teenager the most embarrassing trend I prescribed to was the baggy army pants OR white shell necklaces with frosted tips, those were the days!! Let’s bring back shell necklaces….

November 2016 Athlete of the Month: Shelley Gilroy

Shelley, congratulations on being our athlete of the month for November! We’d like to put you in the spotlight through a little interview to help others get to know you a little better.

  1. First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself—where are you from, what do you do outside of the time you spend here, hobbies, fun facts, etc. anything goes! The more the better! What would you like people to know about you?

I was born in Vancouver but grew up in Paris, a small town about an hour or so west of the city (not the cool one). I moved to Toronto about five years ago with my boyfriend Craig, and love being in the city, there is always something to do, see or… lets be real… eat. I can happily spend hours walking around different markets and neighbourhoods here… I’m a sucker when it comes to unique one-off items (and my credit card usually shows it) My job keeps me pretty busy but when I’m not there I enjoy coming to the gym, ruining a good book by reading it too fast (yes that’s a thing), cooking and wine with friends. If I ever have the opportunity to be a sloth for the day, I take it and enjoy every second, usually in a onesie or sweats of some kind. I’m fortunate to have had the same group of girlfriends since I was very little so I see them as often as I can, as well as my siblings and their little ones. I’ve also met some great friends at 416!

  1. Tell us a little bit about your fitness history. What were you doing before you joined CrossFit 416? How did you find out about us? How was your first class here? How long have you been coming here? What has been the biggest factor in keeping you hooked at CF 416?

When I moved to the city and started working in an office I noticed a big difference in my energy when compared to being on my feet all day. I saw a trainer for about a year and decided I was looking for a different challenge. I’ve never been naturally athletic or sports inclined but became interested in CrossFit after a few friends from home had started and couldn’t say enough about it. One of those friends recently became a coach he liked it so much! I was quite intimidated (insert token CrossFit joke here) but learned pretty quickly the movements could be scaled and there would always be a new way to challenge myself. I found 416 after walking past it a few times and checking the gym out online. When my commute reduced I figured there was no better time to make my move! My first class was with Andrew, who was very welcoming and quickly showed me I’d found the challenge I was looking for. I’ve now been a member for a little less than a year and truly enjoy coming to the gym. The biggest factor in that enjoyment is the people! I’ve made some great friends and have (slowly) gained confidence in the movements. I’ve still got lots of room for improvement but am encouraged by what I’ve accomplished so far.

  1. If you could go back to that first class and give yourself some advice based on what you know and understand now, what would it be?

 Hmmmm so much to say to this one! I would say relax, everyone is on different levels so the only person you should be comparing yourself to is your future self (Wodify plug). I would also say that it takes work… I was under the assumption that I would learn the movements and that was that… but there is a lot more that goes into it and it is certainly a process! Form over speed and weight… and for goodness sakes STOP looking down! (Still working on this one… eye contact back squats give me the willies).

  1. What is your favourite movement in CrossFit? Why?

Hmmm ‘favourite’ might be pushing it until it’s all over but I do enjoy box jumps, wall balls and cleans. Still working on those double-unders but get pretty excited when I string a decent number together!

  1. Aaaand your least favourite movement and why?

That would be a toss-up between thrusters (coordination) and snatches (grip)!

  1. If we could create a Hero WOD named “Shelley”, what would it be? Movements, rep schemes, rounds, length of time, etc. all variables are yours to unleash your programming creativity here!

A 15 Min AMRAP of my ‘faves’(because anything longer is kind of cruel):

  • 15 Hang Power Cleans (75/105)
  • 15 Box Jumps (20/24)
  • 15 Wall Balls (14/20)
  • 15 Double Unders (because I can hope to string this many together J)
  1. What is the favourite place you’ve travelled to? Why? Where are you planning on going next?

I just got back from Portugal and the Azores and would highly recommend it… great food, really affordable and a great mix of city and coastal sights. We hiked some pretty cool lagoons and found some beautiful beaches off the beaten path. The driving is also pretty crazy… lots of steep coastal roads with tiny barriers… luckily once we reached our destinations most places sold wine for less than water 🙂 Next I would say anywhere warm and relaxing with really good food and wine. Maybe Southern France?

  1. How do you like your toast? (The more detail the better—think specific bread, butter, condiments/toppings, shade of colouring, etc. haha)

This is an odd question… When I was a kid my Mom used to make us toast with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar… and it was delightful. Now that I’m older I try to limit my toast to when I’m enjoying runny eggs or with some type of nut butter before a workout! That doesn’t mean I enjoy sugar/breakfast pastries any less… it’s a real problem.

  1. Tell us something about yourself no one might ever guess about you.

The sound of people chewing drives me up the wall. I also hate the feeling of chalk which is ironic.

  1. Next year, when you compete in the CF 416 Classic, what will your walkout theme be?

Starboy by The Weeknd ft/ Daft Punk

  1. What is your most embarrassing childhood/teenage infatuation/trend/fad, etc. that you wholeheartedly prescribed to?

Chunky highlights. Way too low-rise jeans. White pointed toe boots. There just isn’t the kind of time to paint a true picture.

 

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:

abel2

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!

 abel3

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?

Banana

 

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 crossfit.com 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)