Success Stories


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. 


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, and met lifelong friends. 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.


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.


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!

“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!”


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!


Andrea Kopp – Part One

Andrea’s CrossFit Journey:
I started Foundations at BCF about in September of 2018 after having a year of hospitalizations due to several heart conditions I have had since birth. Exercise had always been a struggle and source of fear for me, because I never knew what was normal and what wasn’t. At 42, I found myself having 3 surgeries within 2 months and being in intensive care needing a pacemaker.
So when I finally recovered from all of that, I decided to get serious about doing something to get fit.  Honestly, I chose CrossFit because it was close to work. Everyone thought I was crazy for going from never exercising to CrossFit.  I admit, I was completely intimidated when I walked in and all of these strong people were finishing their WOD, doing pull ups with sweat pouring off of them and music pumping.  I felt like an alien. I started to cry before anyone could even say hello. But I was tired of feeling bad about myself and being scared, so I committed for 6 weeks. I fully intended to quit after that.  I thought I just needed to jump-start my metabolism and knock a few pounds off to get some momentum. CrossFit is not at all what I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be super competitive with people yelling in your face like a drill sergeant.  I could not have been more wrong.
It was difficult.  Honestly, the difference between success and failure is to just keep showing up.  Without exception the coaches at BCF are very sweet and supportive and their top priority is making sure you are safe, but you will work hard every time.  I could barely do the exercises with my own body weight and I really was the worst one in the foundations class. (You can read about how terrible I was here.).  Luckily, I had nowhere to go but up…and I did, really pretty fast.  Once I learned the basics, I found that each class I could do a little more and had to mod a little less.  Now I am still not doing pull ups or muscle ups or anything close to that…but I am getting stronger each week.
Even though I felt like a train wreck and embarrassed and quite frankly sometimes scared to do things, I knew the only way to fail was to quit.  I had quit so many times before and I had been unhappy with myself for too long. After the 1st 6 weeks, I signed a 3 month contract…still intending to quit after that.  In that time I have gotten so much stronger, leaner, healthier and more confident.  The confidence I have gained in CrossFit has affected other parts of my life as well.  I can’t even count the amount of people on social media and those I see in different parts of the country for work who are fascinated that I am doing this.  My co-workers see me come and go from the office in my gym clothes and ask what the WOD was that day or how much I lifted. These same people sent me flowers and gift cards a year ago because I was in intensive care and now they say my fitness journey is inspiring them to get to the gym themselves.
I still have so far to go!  I am humbled that Tucker and the coaches have asked me to write this story, because I think I am only in the first part of my journey.  I can tell you that if I can do CrossFit ANYONE can do CrossFit. If you are on the fence about the cost, I will say that the cost keeps me accountable.  It is more than many other gyms out there, but the quality of the coaching and the results are so worth it. Also, I am always making sure I use every single class, because the cost is a sacrifice for my family.  I owe it to them to give it my full effort.
I have signed on for another contract but I no longer intend to quit.  I am less anxious, stronger and more confident than ever before. I don’t watch the scale every week like I used to, but somehow whenever I do get on it, I’ve dropped a couple more pounds.  I’ve lost 26 pounds since I walked in the door at BCF 6 months ago. I no longer crop my body out of pictures for social media. Many of my clothes fit better or I have had to just get rid of a lot of them because they are just too big.  Once something doesn’t fit, I donate it because I never want to go backwards again. I spent my whole adult life losing and gaining the same 20 pounds. I feel like I have broken that cycle.
I am still the sweaty mess in the back of the class struggling to keep up most of the time, but I am very thankful to the whole BCF team, who has truly changed my life for the better and inspire me to be my best.  I also want to thank the many members who are so nice and supportive, especially during partner workouts when I clearly am going to slow them down. For the first time in my life, I had an normal EKG. So I am only considering this to be part one of my CrossFit success story.  I think the best is yet to come!


Shaun Terrill – Pain Pain Go AWAY!

I was one of those late bloomers to working out.  Although I participated in cross country running while in high school (always coming in the last scoring position for my team – mainly because we only had five people on my team), the next decade of my life was spent on getting my educational degrees.  After turning 30 and not being able to do more than 2 pushups, I realized that I had been neglecting my physical health and that it was time to start getting serious at a gym. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person who lacks the self-discipline necessary to carry out a personal fitness regime.  Almost anything distracted me from my workouts. Most days were spent forming excuses for why I didn’t have to go to the gym. With no coach or workout partner to push me through those lackluster days, my physical fitness failed to improve.

At 35, I decided to try something entirely different – yoga.  Because yoga was held in a class environment, which is something I found that I enjoyed more, I stuck with it longer.  I was actually pretty good at yoga, but a severe spinal injury caused by improperly lifting a weight on one of my few gym outings set me back for years and, eventually, a whole decade.  My health had deteriorated to the point where I had to crawl up the steps in my own house to move from floor to floor because of the severe and crippling spinal pain I was enduring. I couldn’t sit down at restaurants for dinner longer than 10 minutes.  I couldn’t see a movie in a movie theater because of the pain from sitting still. In an effort to find help, I cycled through pain management clinics in the area, until I finally found one that worked for me.

Because the epidurals given to me by the doctors at the pain clinic allowed me to work out again, I started to read up on how to combat severe spinal pain and saw that people who did exercises that strengthened their core complained less about back and radiating leg pain.  Four months prior to having major surgery scheduled to fuse my spine, I decided to take fitness a mixture of yoga and pilates classes to focus on strengthening my core. In just three months, I had gotten myself to the point where surgery was no longer necessary. Now I could subsist on epidurals every few months.

But I was still in pain.

It was then that I thought about CrossFit.  If I really wanted to strengthen my core, why not go all the way and do the most challenging fitness routine I could find.  I signed up for Foundations at Ballston CrossFit in September 2017, after receiving my last bilateral epidural. The classes were fun, and very challenging, but not impossible – and I began to notice changes in my core as well as the rest of my body almost immediately.  Not only was my stomach getting flatter and my back getting stronger, but my arms and legs were more muscular. Everything was coming together to ease my chronic pain.

I am now five months into CrossFit at BCF, and I haven’t had one epidural.  I no longer suffer from crippling lumbar and radiating leg pain. I can now do a rope climb, something I had never been able to do (I was always the kid in gym class who jumped up onto the rope and counted it as an actual climb).  I can now eat dinner at a restaurant without standing up every five minutes. I watched the entirety of The Last Jedi in a movie theater without so much as a twinge of pain.

Soon I expect I’ll be able to do a double under…and then maybe even two of them in a row.  It’s very rewarding to be at peak form in the middle of your life and to continue to make breakthroughs almost every month.  Sure, I’ll never be the guy who hits the real heavy weights or who completes a working in just a few minutes. But training at Ballston CrossFit, with its high emphasis on completing exercises using correct form, and its high-caliber teachers who genuinely inspire you, is making me a better athlete.  And, in doing, so it’s making me enjoy a pain-free life – something that 10 years ago, I never would have thought possible.



Amy Schramm – Marathon PRs with CrossFit

I wanted to share my story which illustrates a 100% direct and irrefutable correlation with success in running marathons and Ballston CrossFit (BCF). At the five and 10-month marks, I’ve experienced two major “wins” in my life since joining BCF (and the CrossFit world together).
In 2008 I fell in love with the marathon road race (26.2 miles) and have run about one per year for the last decade. However, in 2013 I began to see a decline in progress with my finish times. It was a total buzzkill.
Here’s how it went: 
4:48 (2008)
4:15 (2009)
4:07 (2010)
4:01 (2011)
3:57 (2012). My current PR at the time. Only seeing improvement. Life is great 
4:12 (2013)
3:57 (2014) *missed a PR by six seconds this day
4:16 (2015)
4:05 (2015)
3:58 (2016)
Joined CrossFit in May 2017
3:51 (2017)
3:45 (2018)
It was a painful four years spending months and months of training (between 500-600 miles a training cycle) to continually miss my goals on marathon day. Though I loved this sport, I grew doubtful that I could not break through. I knew I needed a change.
Fast forward. I joined BCF in May 2017. Marathon training began about a week after I started heading to the Box about three times a week. At the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon, just five months after joining, I ran a 3:51:52. I couldn’t believe what happened that day. A five-and-a-half minute PR, when I would have been thrilled with a 30 second PR, or less. 
Fast forward again. March 10, 2018 at the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, 10 months after starting CrossFit. I completed the race in 3:45:45. An additional six-minutes off the PR I set five months prior. I am 100% certain that CrossFit played a major role in such large gains.
To say I’m beside myself is an understatement – I can’t thank you and the BCF Coaches (and former teammates) enough for the great programming, support, and motivation to help me reach these new milestones in the marathon. It is only making me hungry for more progress, both in the gym and on the road.