Success Stories


Sean Gooden

I’ll start the story of my journey back in the senior year of high school football days. My senior year we won the regional championship, only to lose the following weekend in the state semifinals.  After the season was over I did what most undisciplined high football players do, I got lazy.  Looking back now I think most of that laziness was a result of the negativity I got from some people who used to tell me I wasn’t smart enough to go to college (I proved them wrong).  Even though it was my intention to play college football, it didn’t register to me that I needed to be prepared for the chance that it might actually happen. It just so happened that I ended up getting offered a full scholarship to play football at Liberty University.  Now that my dream of playing college football was becoming a reality, it still didn’t light a fire under my backside to get ready for the next level of football.  The remainder of my senior year and the summer before going down to summer practice I put on 35lbs, thanks to my regular visits to McDonald’s for a 20 piece chicken nugget meal with french fries. I went from my playing weight of 260lbs to 295lbs, the heaviest I’ve weighed.  Soon after arriving on campus for two-a-days, I was faced with one of the moments that started the long journey from 295lbs to the 215lbs I am today.  

I can remember it like it was yesterday, it was the first or second practice of camp. Practice was over and it was time for conditioning. Thinking that I was the big bad freshman, top defensive recruit in my class, I was going to show the coaches how fast I was for a big dude. Well, gassers were on the menu for that day’s conditioning (you run sideline to sideline twice in under minute).  Stupid me thinking we were only going to run one of these things, I went full speed on the first one, and of course I finished first.  BUT, as soon as I got to the sideline, one of my teammates who was a Junior said to me, “you know we are going to run more than one.”  It was at that moment I knew I messed up, because we ended up running three.  Unfortunately for me I came in last on the third one over the 53 second time cap.  I ended up making the entire team run three extra grassers and got called out by the head coach for being out of shape.  Needless to say, that was one of the most humbling and embarrassing moments of my life.  I made up my mind that day that I would never let that happen again, and I’m happy to say it never did.  That was the day I began to change my mind about my fitness and health.  Three weeks later at the end of summer practice I lost the 35lbs I put on during the summer.  

For the remainder of my college years I stayed around 240 lbs.  By the time I graduated, I was benching 400lbs and power cleaning 325 lbs.  After school, I got a job and like most people, going to the gym got put on the back burner. I stopped working out for a long time, and pretty much lost all my gains.  I went to Golds Gym, and to a few community centers here and there but nothing consistent for a number of years.  Fortunately during that time I started to eat a little healthier, fast food/soda got the boot and salads and greens moved in.  The thought of going back to what I used to be at 295lbs kept me on a somewhat focused path to be healthier and to be more conscious of what I was putting in my body.  This kept my weight pretty consistent around 240lbs even though I wasn’t working out.  

So, around 2013 I got introduced to CrossFit by a gym that moved into a space right next door to my church.  On one Saturday, while I was at the church handing out our monthly food boxes to families, a few of the coaches came over and talked to us about their new CrossFit gym and ended up convincing me to give it a try. Ever since then I’ve been hooked and have experienced steady improvements in my overall fitness. When you’re used to being one of the biggest dudes wherever you go, wearing 3XL shirts with a 44 inch waist at my biggest, and a belly that used to hang over your belt buckle, it was exciting to say the least that I finally had the confidence to do that.  

Fast forward a few years and I came across Ballston CrossFit and I’m very happy that I ended up here! The friendships I’ve developed with my fellow members and the coaches has become an important and meaningful part of my life.  I can truly say that I couldn’t have achieved this level of fitness without my BCF friends and coaches. 

I’ll never forget the day I deadlifted 600lbs at BCF when Head Coach Brock said “you got some mo in ya!” after I had already hit a PR deadlift of 585lbs.  Without that little push I probably wouldn’t have tried it, partly because at that moment I didn’t believe I could do it.  Sometimes it takes the words of a friend to get you to realize you are capable of doing more than you think you can. That 600lbs was the most amount of weight I’ve ever lifted In my life.  I remember doing the math with Owner Tucker sometime last year and we figured out that pound for pound I’m stronger than I was when I was in my 20’s as a D1 football player. It’s many thanks to all my Ballston CrossFit friends and coaches that pushed and encouraged me to get these PRs in the past few years.  

Over the span of the last 20 years, I went from 295lbs to 215lbs, from a 44 inch waist to a 33 inch waist, from 3XL shirts to wearing a size LG and feeling great about myself. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished at BCF as a 39 year old: 600# deadlift, 475# back squat, 165# strict press (soon to be at least 200 by the end of the year) and 255# power clean. You can also find me on the big leaderboard with a gym record 1220 pounds for the CrossFit Total!!  I think in college, 1100lbs was the highest I ever achieved.  It’s many thanks to all my Ballston CrossFit friends and coaches that pushed and encouraged me to get these PRs in the past two years.  I hope that in the next two years and beyond I’ll be able to lift even more.  

I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been and feel better than I ever have.  Thank you Tucker, Brock and all the coaches, and all the other BCF fam, and especially the T-Boyz at the 4:30pm WOD for making my experience at BCF something that will stick with me for years to come.   Well I hope y’all enjoyed reading this, there’s certainly much more to the story but that’s better told in person.  

Future gym goals:

Deadlift 700lbs 

Bench 350lbs

Squat 500lbs +

Strict press 225lbs

Handstand walks 

Overhead Squat without pain

Mobility, Mobility, Mobility 

Last but not least, beat Ryan Thompson in as many WODs as possible!


Anisa Vintimilla

My name is Anisa Vintimilla. I joined BCF in November 2020 (yes, 2020, that awful year when we were stuck at home). I also happened to have just moved to Arlington in the middle of the pandemic and I was bored, had zero friends. I had nothing to do but stay at home watching tv while eating and putting on some extra pounds. That got me scared since I’ve always battled with my weight and body image. In 2018 I was at my heaviest weight of 206lbs, I was able to lose quite a bit over the next 2 years (got down to 160) doing all the popular fad diets (keto, whole 30, IF) but couldn’t lose any more or tone anything. Now thanks to CrossFit I’ve lost another 25lbs and I actually get to eat the foods I like (hi carbs, I missed you)! 

I used to play a lot of sports growing up (soccer, racquetball, tennis, track, roller skating) and considered myself pretty decent at them but when I got to college I just stopped. I always HATED going to the gym, I thought it was boring and would focus on just cardio machines. These were the worst to me because I have asthma and I would give up right away. After doing CrossFit for 9 months I barely use my inhaler and now I can actually run and jog for an extended time.

I didn’t know BCF offered a free trial class. I just showed up one day, asked about getting started and signed up on the spot for the foundations class. Luckily it was starting the next day or I would’ve probably lost the motivation to start. 

During the foundations classes coaches Brock and Madison really knew how to keep us all motivated, and teach us basic technique using the barbell while some good music was playing. They would also make us laugh and feel more relaxed to be there. The first time I picked up a barbell I really liked it, and wanted to add more weight to it right away!

I was super intimidated at first because everyone looked so fit and were having such a good time. I felt like I would never be able to do the same thing, but I was willing to give it a try. I signed up for a 3 month membership with 13 classes a month,  and kept thinking after 3 months I can say I tried and just cancel it. Here I am 9 months later absolutely loving it. 2 months in, I had to upgrade my membership to unlimited classes because I kept running out. 

I set the goal of doing at least 1 pull up by the end of my first year and maybe get close to doing a single rep of toes to bar or climb halfway up the 15ft rope that seemed impossible back then. I can proudly say I can currently do 5-7 strict pull ups, string together 10-12 toes to bar, and fully climb the rope several times during a WOD. Double-unders and handstand push-ups are next ;).

I have had so much fun and have been so motivated that I also decided to learn about my nutrition and counting my macros to make it all work in my favor. Those toned arms, booty and abs I wanted to have my whole life are finally starting to make an appearance!

It is very hard as an adult in a new city to make friends, especially friends that will have the same interests and will help motivate you. However, at BCF that is easy! So many people are willing to welcome you, help you and encourage you to push yourself! In a short time I’ve made some amazing friends. I was never EVER a morning person until I joined BCF and tried out the 5:30am classes, now I wake up easily and am excited to go to the gym every morning to get a good workout in while hanging out with my friends!

The coaches… AMAZING! So knowledgeable, helpful, fun and friendly! They are always willing to go the extra step to make sure you’re doing it right, to help you achieve the goals you set for yourself, to modify a movement if you need to for any reason (injuries, experience level, etc). 

I HAVE to mention the top 3 coaches that have helped me the most (because every coach has helped me one way or another) but Cam & Rich coaching the AM classes with such great energy have had a huge impact on my success. Also, Madison, even though she is not coaching in the morning would go out of her way to give me advice on how to improve a certain movement, checking on the technique and not letting me give up without trying one more time.

The thing is, with BCF you get ALL the tools for success, and it is just a matter of how you use them. They offer skills classes to help you get better at certain things, mobility & yoga classes, nutrition seminars, clinics, and mainly great coaches with a ton of good info who want you to get better! I will never regret the day I walked through that door for the first time! 

Everyone’s experience is different in its own way but in my opinion we all struggle with similar battles of mental walls and fears of failure. At BCF we are constantly reminded by the coaches and peers that we can in fact break through those walls and get it done. I love a quote that I actually have no clue who said it to give credit to, but it goes like this: “You won’t always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined”


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? ⁣


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!


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. 


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.