Success Stories

6
Oct

Faith Breads

Completing the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in one trip is a mammoth undertaking. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt the over 2,000 mile journey and only about one in four makes it all the way.⁣

One of those hikers is our very own Faith Breads! It’s always nice when our athletes make their fitness functional. Here’s what she had to say about the experience: ⁣

“I’m happy to say that I summited Mount Katahdin and completed my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on Sunday, September 19th. Not only did I feel my strongest on trail thanks to the WODs, I felt super equipped to properly stretch my body and focus on recovery thanks to the mobility tips and seminars I attended.” ⁣

Every journey starts with a first step. What will YOU accomplish next? ⁣

6
Sep

Tommy Behnke

When I started Ballston CrossFit in January 2021, it was the first time I ever picked up  a barbell or incorporated any semblance of strength training into a workout routine.

To say that the beginner “Foundations” classes were challenging for me from a coordination standpoint would be an understatement. Just ask Brock or Mack. I was an absolute train wreck! Never mind the complex movements like cleans and snatches; I struggled with everything. From rounding my back on deadlifts to flipping my wrists on kettlebell cleans to even getting my arms straight on shoulder pass-throughs. Because of how poor I felt my mechanics were, during my Foundations “graduation” class, I asked Brock if I should repeat the two-week program before jumping into the big boys’ and girls’ pool. He said nay, and off I went into regular WODs.

While I never doubted that I would improve eventually, thanks to the caring and talented staff that Tucker has put together at BCF, I started to see improvements very quickly.

During my (very scaled!) initial classes the coaches watched me like a hawk and not only regularly provided counsel on how to improve my form, but before and after class, took the time to give me supplementary drills to do both in the gym and at home to iron out my mechanics.

Coach Madison, specifically, provided many early pointers. I will always appreciate what she did for me, from giving tips on how she overcame similar setbacks to her form when she first started CrossFit to even pausing her off-the-clock workout time to assist when she noticed I was struggling.

The first 2-3 months were what I would call the Stuffed Animal Era. I didn’t have much more than stuffed animals strapped to the ends of the barbells and focused intensely on getting form and mechanics right, both in class and at open gym.

Progress started to come. Not overnight, but it came, and it continues to come. While I still have a lot to work on, I can lift a heck of a lot more — and a heck of a lot more correctly — than I could six months ago. My body composition numbers have also shown improvement. From January to today (July), I have gained 18 pounds of muscle and reduced my body fat from 20-percent to 11-percent.

If you couple the great coaching staff at BCF with hard work, dedication, and a positive mindset, there will never be a ceiling on your growth and progress here. If an uncoordinated keyboard warrior like me can get this stuff, so can you. Seriously, I was as bad as they come, so there are no excuses. Come and join the fun!

22
Jun

Stephanie Percoco

Hi! My name is Stephanie Percoco and I joined Ballston CrossFit in August 2020 as a way to get back on track with my health and fitness. Also, I needed a social outlet during the pandemic. Growing up, I was a competitive figure skater and was part of the color guard in my high school’s marching band. I always considered myself active, competitive, somewhat health conscious and involved, but not someone who was particularly super athletic.  I couldn’t keep up with skating after college so as a way to keep myself “in shape” I would lift weights in the gym. I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted which often left me feeling unmotivated. It was a negative mindset to have. Also, working out alone is really boring. 

In 2018, I moved to New York City to pursue my dreams of working in TV and film, but the job was really intense and I stopped caring about my health. My plan was to get myself to the gym, but I was so tired after work and I was always anxious my boss would call me with some fire to put out so I didn’t go. Working in entertainment can sometimes be a 24/7 job. I gained weight and was the heaviest I’d ever been in life. Then the pandemic happened. The industry shut down and I had to move home. It was time to really reflect on where I was going in life and I decided that I really needed to make some changes both physically and mentally. Once I was settled into my new job working in healthcare, I realized that I just really missed the 5 day/week routine of having an activity that I enjoyed and that made me feel challenged. 

CrossFit was always something I wanted to at least try and I had known about BCF from when I lived in Arlington previously. I doubted myself, but there was something inside me that just knew I should go for it. I had nothing to lose.  At first, I was super insecure and felt awkward being around such a strong group of athletes. After seeing them push through a workout there was no way I was ever going to be able to do that, but instead of giving up, I used it as an opportunity to work on my insecurities. It is we who must not judge the act, but rather see the edge being met. Stay at the edge and do not judge the feat that brings you to the edge. It’s only the edge that matters.

Since joining BCF and with the help of their excellent coaching staff and community, I have lost 30lbs and am in the best shape I have ever been in.  I can squat 160lb, bench 100lb and I am close to getting a pull up. I even completed my first “Murph” this year. The community is so supportive and even if you sometimes get confused by the structure of the workout, like me,  the coaches are always there to help guide you. CrossFit has become my therapy, a place to hold myself accountable and a place where I find community of which I feel a part of. It’s given me a space to push myself beyond my comfort zone and to work hard to make my goals a reality. I am so grateful for what I have learned from the coaches and I am looking forward to continuing making progress. 

23
Mar

Tiffany Pan

I started CrossFit when I joined Ballston CrossFit in August 2020, and my success story is still very much a work in progress. I feel like finding a gym that has become an integral part of my life is a success in and of itself. My background is that I was a college club hockey player with a penchant for snow sports who was “active” but had no interest in fitness or strength. My stress and weight snowballed after starting my first job as a surgeon in a rural area where I was isolated, depressed, and couldn’t even muster the energy to be active. I finally committed to a change when the new Orangetheory Fitness opened in town. COVID struck 3 months later but I continued working out at home and 4 months later, I moved to Arlington. At that time, I was in fair shape cardio wise, but I wanted to get stronger. What I wondered when I was looking for a gym is how is this place going to help me meet my goals as well as inspire me to make it an indispensable part of my life.

Between death by wall balls/box jumps at the free trial class and my pre-existing bias as an orthopaedic surgeon against CrossFit as a potentially dangerous activity, I didn’t think it was for me at first. Then they offered a discount on foundations and I thought learning proper lifting technique wouldn’t be a bad idea. By the end, I was interested enough to commit to 3 months. What impressed me immediately was that in my first classes, the coaches recognized that I was new, introduced themselves, and made sure that I was performing the movements safely and modifying the workout appropriately for my abilities. They were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but what was unique was that they seemed to really care that I wasn’t getting overwhelmed or discouraged by my inexperience which can certainly be frustrating initially. Early on, I was in a few classes with a coach who wasn’t coaching the class but would still make an effort to give me advice and help with my technique which I thought was awesome and really encouraging. 

I’m naturally shy, so it was hard to meet people at first as I floated around different classes 3x/week. Almost 3 months in, I upgraded my membership to unlimited and started going almost every day at the same time where there was a fairly consistent and talented core group that I was both intimidated and inspired by. Small actions make a huge difference, and a simple fist bump and “good job” at the end of class from a classmate that I hadn’t previously talked to made me feel like I belonged for the first time. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many awesome people and started to understand what #BCFfriendshipmachine is all about! When you move to a new city in the middle of a pandemic, finding community is an invaluable feat. Going to the gym isn’t just about working out anymore. It’s an opportunity to grow under the guidance of mentors, a chance to pursue a passion with friends who share it, and a journey toward building not only a strong and functional body but mind as well.

If the first 3 months were a trial in patience and development, the second 3 months have been an exciting time of growth. People frequently say they aren’t fit enough to do CrossFit, but that’s a misconception. My fitness level when I joined was that I had started to run on a treadmill instead of walk and I had picked up a dumbbell before, but I had never done any of the exercises that are common in CrossFit workouts. I learned how to link two double unders after 4 months and 2 months later was able to use them in my first Open workout. Even though I struggled, I was able to attempt and survive the Rx (aka most difficult) version of my first two CrossFit Open workouts ever. My weightlifting technique is slowly improving, and I feel myself getting stronger for the first time in my life. My confidence in what my body is capable of continues to grow, allowing me to continue pushing myself in every workout. 

These small victories are a vital morale booster especially when the pressures of life and work seem insurmountable. It reminds me that with hard work and perseverance, even things that seemed impossible may one day be achievable. Especially in these times, it can feel like so much of life is out of our control, but when training, the work you put in correlates with the results you get out and there are no shortcuts, excuses, or saboteurs. It’s been a spectacular de-stressing environment for this type A, obsessive compulsive, perfectionist surgeon! What makes BCF special is not only programming that will inevitably improve your physical fitness if you stick with it, but community and mentorship that keep you invested and motivated even when times are tough whether in your fitness journey or life in general. 

7
Feb

Dustin Lieske

I’ve always considered myself a fit person, but that definition has changed significantly over time. I’ve played competitive sports my whole life. High school introduced me to weightlifting, which continued in college. After graduation, the price of gyms in the area dissuaded me from memberships. My workout routine became a mix of Insanity, track workouts, and whatever P-90x I could do with an apartment gym. This lasted for a few years, and my fitness quickly plateaued. 

In September 2014 I dislocated my right shoulder while playing ultimate frisbee. I tore my labrum in multiple places. The injury was originally misdiagnosed and my total recovery time including surgery was one year. This was the first time in my life I couldn’t be as active as I wanted to be. What I soon realized was just how critical a destresser exercise was for me. I felt like I was in a rut mentally and physically. 

After I was given the all-clear to begin weightlifting again, a co-worker at the time recommended I give Ballston CrossFit a try. I signed up for Foundations and I immediately loved it! For the first 1 – 2 years I specifically picked between bootcamp and WODs that wouldn’t aggravate my injuries or would be more optimal for frisbee. I made a lot of progress, some areas faster than others (18 months for double-unders), but still was very insecure about pushing myself due to my injuries. The mobility sessions and Sunday yoga classes began helping me become more in tune with my bio-mechanics, listening to my body, and I’ve been able to break down mental barriers surrounding my shoulder, wrist, and ankle injuries.

The gym and community have meant a lot to me since starting at BCF in 2015. I’ve rehabbed 2 surgeries, broken mental barriers, done things with my body I never thought possible, became a yogi, met lifelong friends, and fell in love. I went from cherry-picking my WODs for ultimate frisbee to making sure I went in early enough the same day I had games/practice so I didn’t miss out on any gains or technique. Because of the hard work and commitment to excellence that the coaches and managers pour into this place, BCF will always be my gold standard for a CrossFit gym. When I drop-in elsewhere, nothing remotely comes close in terms of the size of the facility, efficient utilization of space, variety and condition of the equipment, programming, amazing coaching, how friendly the community is, and the value/offering of the membership packages.

28
Oct

Claire Nichting

My name is Claire Nichting and I have been a member at Ballston Crossfit since April 2017. I’ve always been athletic but was looking for a new challenge, in addition to finding a way to get more plugged into the Arlington community. Since becoming a BCF member, I’ve seen positive progress, but those gains have not been limited to physical results. I’ve become more confident, resilient and likely to take chances and try new things – components which have all permeated into my personal and professional life. 

As an Arlington transplant, finding your niche in the community can be challenging. I did not feel like I had found my people until I joined BCF – it’s amazing how many new friends I’ve made merely by going to the gym. The community is incredibly diverse, yet everyone is linked together by a desire to live an increasingly healthy lifestyle. I look forward to going to the gym every night to see my friends – attending a class at BCF is not just a work out, it’s a social outing.

I would be remiss not to mention the physical progress I’ve made since committing to going to the gym regularly – my endurance has significantly increased and I am the fittest, strongest and leanest I’ve ever been. Just last month, with the help of BCF’s unparalleled coaching staff, I was able to perform several bar muscle ups – to put this into perspective, I could not do a single pull up when I joined in April 2017. However, my favorite BCF memory happened just yesterday. While completing Nancy, I was the very last person in my class to finish the work out by several minutes. While I was working to finish, the other athletes and coaches continued to cheer me on and motivate me. BCF is the kind of place where your peers take pride in seeing you succeed and your coaches know your name and preferred coaching style. Never once during the workout did I doubt myself or think that I was not going to finish – I knew that with the help of my community and the physical stamina and mental resilience I’ve built while at BCF that I would finish the workout, no matter how long it took me.

If you want to get fit, join a gym. If you want to find your community, join Ballston Crossfit.

14
Aug

Featured Athletes Andrea & Ehab

We are so proud of the continued progress of our athletes as they improve their fitness! Check out this athlete highlight video with members Andrea and Ehab outlining their fitness journey at BCF!

Invite your friends to join you for a free workout to experience the difference at Ballston CrossFit and learn why we continue to be named best CrossFit gym in NoVa! https://ballstoncrossfit.com/wod/try-us-for-free

“CrossFit has also helped me become more confident in other areas of my life…if I can do this, I can do anything!”

“I was getting bored and wanted to try something new…and it worked out really, really well!”

“The people make it so addicting.”

“Coach Brandon encouraged me to seek out other people…”

“I’ve seen myself grow everywhere.”

“I get to do something [CrossFit] that actually makes me happy!”

9
Apr

Stacey Barrack

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Stacey and I attend the PM WODs. Any given weeknight, you can find me working on skill progressions, running around bootcamp and lifting heavy with our amazing community of athletes. But this wasn’t always the case. My CrossFit journey started in 2017 when I joined BCF and I haven’t looked back. I am so thankful that I found BCF!

Growing up, I played every sport imaginable (baseball, softball, volleyball, track & field, gymnastics, surfing, and bikram yoga) without ever being a master at one, except maybe karate, which I trained for 15+ years. I was always active then, life took over. My career had me traveling all over the country for years on various campaign initiatives, so I wasn’t able to be consistent with working out and my nutrition turned to garbage. For those who don’t know, a campaign diet and lifestyle consists of whatever cheap, easy volunteer food you can find to stuff your face (Little Caesar’s $5 pizzas, anyone???) during long, 16+ hour workdays. The thought of staying healthy and committing to exercise was laughable. There were hardly enough hours in the day to sleep! My weight fluctuated. There were times I was underweight due to lack of eating (usually around election days) then, there were times I was overweight (typically after election season when I would actually start eating again!). I would try to work out when I could, going to a Gold’s gym or yoga class, but I was never healthy.

Then, in 2015, I moved to D.C. and started working normal hours and developing a routine. After ten years on the campaign trail, this was quite refreshing! I had so much more time on my hands and, for the first few months, I battled with the rush hour traffic every night before realizing I could spend that time in traffic at a gym. So, I did some research and joined Orangetheory Fitness. At first, this was great – it helped me develop an after-work routine and get back into just being active, in general. I even ran my first couple Spartan races and a full marathon during this time, both significant achievements and bucket list items for me!

However, I quickly plateaued with OTF and never really got any help/advice from the coaching staff, even though I was craving it. I asked the coaches multiple times what I could do to get better results. Their advice – come to class more, even though I was already going 4-6 days per week. I asked for help with nutrition. Their advice – try the latest fad diet, Whole 30. I even asked for heavier weights when the 10-12 pound dumbbells felt light. Their advice – stay light and increase reps. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. I wanted better results, to dial in my nutrition, to become healthy after years of unhealthy habits. OTF just didn’t fit the bill, so I started looking around again.

That’s when I found BCF’s New You program and thought, why not? The day I came in to interview with the coaches, the class was working on rope climbs. Rope climbs had always alluded me and I wanted to run a Spartan race where I actually completed the rope climb rather than the 30-burpee penalty. I was sold. I signed up for the 6-week New You program on the spot. It was the best decision I’ve made for my health and well-being in years!

During the initial 6 weeks, I was overwhelmed, yet excited. I saw strong women repping out pull-ups, lifting heavy weights and crushing the workouts. I wanted to be like them and to train at the same level they were. They were an inspiration and my motivation. During that initial 6 weeks, I felt sorer than I had in years and knew I had found the place I was looking for. The coaches not only cared about my goals, but also actually coached! They provided scaling options for everything and focused on form and technique over heavy lifting in order to prevent injury. I started feeling like an actual athlete again and I completely bought into the CrossFit hype. Coach Alex even provided excellent advice and resources for dialing in my nutrition. She talked to me about macro counting and referred me to different nutrition coaching programs, like Renaissance Periodization. Coupled with the BCF New Year Nutrition Challenge, I gained a new understanding of food and performance eating.

Fast forward to present day. I’ve lost 20 pounds of fat while increasing my lean muscle mass. My body fat percentage has dropped 10% and I’ve gone from zero pull-ups to repping out pull-ups like the ladies who motivated me when I started. I even got bar muscle-ups! I’m running a sub 8-minute mile again and heavy lifting is now part of my routine where it was never a thought. All my gymnastic skills – from HSPU to handstand holds and walks – have come back, and I feel stronger and faster than ever. I’m healthier and fitter than I’ve ever been in my adult life. People say its harder to get in shape as you get older. I say those people just haven’t found their BCF.

Don’t get me wrong, this journey has been long and hard and completely dependent on my own determination and motivation. I’ve had ups and downs. I work two crazy jobs, travel a lot (for both business and pleasure), try to maintain a social life, and spend time with family. The excuses to slack off are everywhere, but I’ve committed to myself, to creating the best version of me I can, and I thank BCF and the coaches for giving me the tools, encouragement, and environment to do just that.

Everyone’s fitness and health journey is personal but, by maintaining commitment and surrounding yourself with a supportive network, like BCF, there is no doubt that you will reach your personal goals. After the hard work I have put in so far, I’m proud of where I’m at, but more excited for where this journey can take me!