Success Stories


Liz Meserve Testimonial



Kelly Barber

Embracing fitness was without question the best change I made for myself in 2016. I recently passed the one year mark of starting Crossfit (my first foundations class was on 11/9) and while I wish I had done some things differently, I’m proud of the modest progress I’ve made so far and I’m in awe of the residual effects on my mental health.Growing up, I mostly did individualized sports: tae kwon do, gymnastics, diving, swimming, and flying trapeze. I preferred refined activities that required flexibility, grace, technical precision, and body awareness. To this day, I don’t think anything has been more satisfying than doing back flips or more exhilarating than a successful catch in a flying trapeze show, punctuated by the crowd’s roar.
As is unfortunately common, I picked up unhealthy habits when I went to college and fell into four years of lazy indulgence. Once in a blue moon I would do yoga with a friend or go rock climbing, but exercise was no longer a part of my normal routine. My senior year it dawned on me that I was about to lose free access to a 140,000 square foot state of the art fitness complex I had hardly touched. I started taking classes 3-4 times a week: pilates, total body, cycle. My main motivation was cosmetic; I was at my fattest and pastiest and wanted to do something about it. I measured success solely in how toned my legs and stomach looked. My experience with exercise was about as superficial as most college relationships.
In 2014 I moved to D.C. and told myself that all of the walking and stair climbing I was doing counted as exercise. By the time I joined Crossfit in 2015, I was as out of shape as I’d ever been. Dan encouraged me to take a foundations class at Ballston Crossfit and I did, since I liked the idea of utilizing personalized coaching and a group setting to learn how to weightlift. I’d never lifted a barbell in my life, except for one embarrassing experience in college when I tried to do a back squat and immediately fell on my butt, before exiting the gym as fast as humanly possible.
I was hooked from the start due to the constantly varied programming (combining cardio, gymnastics, and lifting) and the ambitious, inspiring culture fostered by the BCF members and coaches. The strength training and skill building sessions gave me the technical challenges I’d always loved in individualized sports and the signature short WODs (workout of the day) tricked me into enjoying cardio and allowed me to tap into a whole new level of sustained, intense focus.
In a year, I went from being completely incapable of a single knee raise to doing toes to bar. I learned to do double unders, rope climbs, scaled handstand push ups, and heavy, unbroken sets of wall ball shots and kettlebell swings. I can run farther and faster than I ever have before. I can strict press 70 lbs, deadlift 175, back squat 150, squat clean 110, snatch 70+, and clean and jerk 105, all big improvements from my meager lifts this time last year. And perhaps most importantly, I’m a much better arm wrestler.
For the first time in my life, I feel strong. Now that I know what a deeply empowering experience that is, I can’t believe our society has largely abandoned physical strength as the baseline for personal development. It pains me to think about how few women in particular take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity to boost their confidence and improve their lives. Lord knows I wish I’d had Crossfit when I was an awkward, miserable thirteen year old with body issues.
But the most dramatic evolution Crossfit has made in my life isn’t the physical feats or even the self-confidence, it’s the changes to my mental health.
When I first started to take control of my own life in high school, I identified obsessive, perfectionist tendencies in myself and acknowledged that I’d probably always be fighting to keep those characteristics in check. I still remember the day I first shifted my mindset by realigning my priorities and expectations. As a result, I became a more relaxed person, someone who lived more in the moment and didn’t overthink things or worry unnecessarily quite as much. It was easy to maintain this perspective while living inside the enclosed safe space that is college. But after entering the real world, I gradually felt myself losing those traits I’d carefully collected and with them, part of my chosen identity.
Most of the anxiety and stress that resulted began to manifest itself in my professional life. I developed a dysfunctional, obsessive relationship with work that launched me into a downward spiral and caused me to dissolve into tears in my boss’s office more than once. My behavior was sustained because part of me thrived in the comfortable familiarity of constantly throwing myself at task after task. Ticking off the check boxes wasn’t really providing me meaning but it gave me quick, addicting fixes of fleeting satisfaction. I fed that part of myself by staying endlessly busy, causing it to grow in power and size until it choked out the rest of me.
During that time, I started Crossfit and it quickly became my form of therapy. After furiously typing away at my keyboard for nine hours nonstop except to scarf down lunch, I would force myself to go to the gym. It seemed magical: I would enter the gym a zombie and would leave energized and full of life. And the best part was that it was 100% effective.
Crossfit became my refuge of meditation where I didn’t think at all. All I had to do was show up and do the proscribed programming, usually scaled down. Each time I gave the workout my all, but I didn’t spend any time outside of the gym setting goals. Crossfit was my space for anti-obsession.
As a result, it ended up being the place where I learned to develop real self-control. In the middle of a workout when I realized everyone else was way ahead of me and I felt myself start to despair, I would dial into the reason I was there in the first place and would renew my focus on my individual journey, letting go of the fear of being last. Or, when I was on the verge of giving up during a particularly tough movement or run, I would talk myself into continuing, latching onto whatever dumb thing came to mind to give me the motivation I needed to keep going.
These acts of mental gymnastics allowed me to exercise my ability to shape my own path through conscious decisions during emotionally taxing moments. Working out has helped reprogram my neurological pathways in ways that affect all other areas of my life. Just last night when I felt creeping anxiety and stress, I was able to hold the sensations at bay by simply recognizing the feeling and making the choice to relax and have a good time instead. It wasn’t easy — just like during a brutal workout, I had to keep recommitting to my decision, but it got easier as the night went on.
I used to think behaving obsessively was a sign that I was too controlling. Crossfit has helped me develop the self-awareness I needed in order to realize that it’s actually a sign that I’m allowing myself to be controlled by negative emotions and that I need to dial back into my sense of inner peace and purpose so I can live ambitiously in a healthy way. I’m still a novice both physically and mentally, but I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned already and for how much is still in store.


Judi Clary

I’ve been a “runner” since 2007, when I realized my “freshman 15” had become “graduation 30.”  Not only did running help me lose fat, but it became my stress relief.  Unfortunately, in 2011, I began having knee pain that limited my runs to under 2 miles.  I tried other cardio, but it wasn’t the same.
I had to do something to stay in shape and keep from going “JUDI SMASH” so decided on weight lifting.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but was afraid of injuries. My first personal trainer got my endurance back up, but failed to push me or actually have me lift weights.  I eventually changed gyms and got a different trainer.  He showed me how to lift weights, but I knew my form was wrong because my knees and shoulders would hurt.
Finally, after months of sadness and gaining weight, I decided to look in to crossfit.  After doing some research, the box with the best reviews was literally right outside my apartment.  From the first week of Foundations, I knew I had found my fitness home.  The work outs were great, form was always stressed, and it was like a little athletic family.
Two months later I got back in to running, since the knee had been holding up during run WODs.  One day on a leisurely run, I checked my watch and stopped in my tracks.  3.5 miles!! I hadn’t run that far without pain in years.
Now, almost two years later, I’ve never had a recurrence of knee pain.  I was even able to complete the Army Navy Half Marathon with another crossfitter.
I will forever be grateful to the coaches for always pushing me to do my best, in a safe manner.  I’ve never been more happy with my body and plan to keep making improvements.Judi


“KADISON”: Madison Moore & Kelly Wagner

To those who don’t frequent the 5:30 am or weekend classes, hello! We are Kelly and Madison, also known as Kadison. When Tucker approached us about writing a Success Story, he offered that we could do it together or separately… but let’s be real, we already do everything together anyway so here goes our joint interview!
How long have you been doing CrossFit?
M: Somehow it’s already been 2 years and about 3 months since I joined BCF.
K: I started Foundations 3/18/14, so I recently celebrated my 2 year anniversary.

Why did you decide to start CrossFit?
K: After graduating, I was in a fitness rut- I missed the nice gyms at school and my apartment building’s gym just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I did Insanity but really missed lifting weights. CrossFit had always been appealing to me because it was a mix of weightlifting and cardio. A few of my coworkers were also interested in trying it out so we signed up for Foundation classes at BCF. We did the free class and I remember that I could barely walk down stairs for the next week, I was so sore.
M: Well, I had always sort of considered myself to be in good shape (spoiler alert: I wasn’t). I played high school tennis, basketball, and soccer, did club soccer for about a year in college, and after graduating I got into a routine of waking up, running on the treadmill for about 30 minutes at the Gold’s nearby, and that was my workout for the day. CrossFit had always been something I was curious about, but never found the right opportunity to try it out. So, in December 2013 while I was on a work-trip in Ohio, I decided to try a CrossFit workout at a local box with a coworker who had been a regular Crossfitter for about 2 years. We did a 20 minute workout involving front rack lunges, push presses, and pull ups – even using an empty 15lb barbell and 2 large bands for pullups, this 20 minute workout completely whipped my butt, had me sore for a good 3 weeks, and was probably the most fun I’d ever had working out. Naturally, this was all I needed to realize that CrossFit was something I needed in my life. So when I returned to Arlington, I looked around for gyms in the area, tried the free class at BCF (which also kicked my butt), joined Foundations just about a week later and never looked back!
Ballston CrossFit Success Stories
What’s your favorite thing about CrossFit?
M: In short – feeling strong. I had never really known what it was like to feel “strong” mostly because all my life any exercise I’d do was solely focused on cardio and endurance training. There is something so empowering about lifting, and a huge part of me regrets not trying weight-training sooner. Similarly, the technique that comes along with lifts, specifically Olympic lifts, I find to be so interesting and so much fun because there is always something new to learn and improve on. Basically, the way CrossFit incorporates skill, strength, and stamina definitely makes it a way of working out that even now, over two years later, has me waking up every morning to tackle the next WOD with the crew. Oh, and hitting new PR’s definitely begins to give you that Christmas-morning feeling.
K: I really enjoy the mix between weightlifting and bodyweight movements- CrossFit is true to the notion of constantly varied functional movements. I think I was most excited to learn technical Olympic lifts when I started- I’m not a particularly fast person and strength is more of my strong suit. Overall, the variation is what keeps me interested- even though you’re not doing the same thing every day, each workout contributes to your improvement in several different movements.
In addition to the physical benefits, I think the sense of community is a big part of CrossFit’s appeal. I love my 5:30 am fam (#teamwedoitbeforedawn)- not only do I get up to go work out, I get up to go grind with friends. Fun fact: Madison and I actually met at CrossFit and we are now roommates/swolemates.
What have you learned since starting CrossFit?

K: I’m not as flexible as I thought! When I first started, I had to use one of the black strips when squatting. I joke about my old lady hips, but CrossFit has made me more aware of the importance of mobility- especially now that I’m sitting at work for the majority of my day. I envy how easily kids can plop into a squat… my yogi squat is a still a work in progress, 2 years later.
M: I’ve definitely learned to not take stretching/mobility/yoga for granted. Though I’ve been fortunate enough not to suffer any major injuries in my life, I had never really given stretching or yoga much thought or put any time towards it. However, since starting CrossFit I’ve realized the necessity of stretching. No matter what level of fitness you’re at, CrossFit is sure to make you sore and tight at some point, and utilizing stretching exercises and yoga poses help you to recover SO much quicker. Aside from that, CrossFit has taught me that although competitive sports are super fun, there’s something to be said for how fun and utterly humbling competitive exercise is, too.
Who is your favorite Crossfitter?
M: Lauren Fisher. It probably has something to do with the fact that she’s only 22, near the top of the CrossFit world, a U.S. Olympic Lifter, and the face of Nike compression gear. But all of that aside, she is just a total beast and an inspiration. Definitely my fav(e).
K: CrossFit is awesome because there are so many great athletes, which makes this question difficult. If I had to pick just one, I have to go with Sara Sigmundsdóttir- she’s a beast from Iceland who is also a Nike athlete. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet is a close second for her hilarious Instagram captions and hashtags. I’ll also put Khan Porter out there for the men Crossfitters.
What piece of advice would you give to new members or people considering CrossFit?
K: Be patient and don’t be intimidated! While CrossFit is definitely a wake up call to your physical limitations when you first start, but I think most people don’t recognize or anticipate the mental challenge. It’s easy to look around at the rest of the class when you’re new and be frustrated with how slow you are or how light your weights are in comparison. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s a process and success does not happen overnight. I will say that consistency really lends a hand to progress. Also, I’d recommend that people make sure to write down their training! Not only does it help when trying to figure out percentages, it’s how I track my progress.
M: Don’t get discouraged or frustrated when certain movements or certain weights seem impossible. In my experience, not only will your body adapt, but the more dedication and perseverance you put towards learning and practicing basic movements at light weight, the more successful you will be once your strength begins to match your skill. For instance, it took me a good 5 or so months to even hold myself upside down against the wall, let alone attempt a kipping handstand pushup (that I now can do RX). Through coaching, gaining upper body strength, skill practice using a box, and getting used to the sensation of being upside down – eventually those kipping handstand pushups, which once seemed ENTIRELY impossible, became possible (and next up – strict handstand pushups!). The same thing can be said for weights that seem too heavy. Give it time! “Patience is a virtue”….or something .


Jerry Kelly

I always considered myself an active person. Throughout high school, I was involved in a sport in every season throughout the year from football to basketball, baseball and rugby. In college, I stopped playing “competitive” sports; but, was always involved in intramural leagues and working out with friends which kept me pretty active. After college, I started struggling to keep up with my fitness and I saw my weight increase. I always kept a cheap gym membership and would have periods of time where I would go consistently as well as times that I would never go at all. When I would go to the gym, I would go in and do a few lifts that I really enjoyed (squats, bench press, triceps work, and curls) and would maybe run for about 5 minutes. I may not have been great at working on my weaknesses at this point in my life; but, I was really good at making excuses (running hurts my knees or I can’t come up with a program).

I decided it was time for a change after going to my now fiancé Alye’s CrossFit competition and witnessing CrossFit firsthand. I decided to join a box right by Philadelphia. I liked the idea of CrossFit; but, the box I was at was very focused on the top level competitors and didn’t pay much attention to the newer athletes or scaled workouts which led to a lot of personal frustration.

In May 2015, Alye and I moved to Virginia and I decided to give CrossFit one last shot before going back to my on again off again relationship with working out. I joined Ballston CrossFit and saw a big difference in the atmosphere and focus on the athletes who were not at the elite level like myself. I originally would get frustrated that I was never in the mix with the other athletes in metcons until some of the coaches would work with me and remind me everyone has been there. The atmosphere of the gym and the people I have made friends with allowed me look forward to going to the gym instead of making an excuse to stay home. I saw my max lifts and stamina grow; however, realized something was missing.

At the beginning of 2016, I began to assess whether a change in my diet or nutrition would elevate my performance. I’d become involved with Advocare throughout the year through my fiance’s interactions and decided to begin a 24-day challenge. I started to shed weight and throughout my experience with the products and company; I’ve lost nearly 20 lbs. since the beginning of 2016!

Alongside my nutritional changes, I began to take my training seriously and have seen increases in almost all my lifts; my metcon times are down; and I have accomplished things I never thought possible (handstand push-ups and double-unders)! Within the next few short days, I will also complete the CrossFit Open for the first time which has been an amazing way to motivate and see my hard work. I love the camaraderie at the gym and see it as a group of people at different fitness levels cheering each other on to dig a little deeper. I haven’t completed all my goals and reached my ultimate “success” yet; but, I know that no matter if you’re brand new to CrossFit or the reigning games champion, you can always challenge yourself to do a little better at something! With the help of Ballston CrossFit, the coaches, and the other members of the gym; I am definitely heading in the right direction!



Sean Cavanaugh

IMG_7649My fitness journey started after college.  I played club lacrosse at Radford University, and back then I thought I was in shape.  What I didn’t realize was working at a deli and eating lots of free pizza caused me to put on a lot of weight.
Now I did the typical things most people due to get into shape, I lifted, I ran.  That lead to my first 5k which lead to my first triathlon.  I had a blast training, but I saw little improvement in my strength, cardio, and agility.  I had bad knees, bad ankles, and a bad back.  I just said I was getting old, and that was it.  I was about to give up on just being athletic.
I said I would try CrossFit, starting with the 6 class Foundations and then give this CrossFit thing one month.  That was almost three years ago now. I also said I would never let myself get “too into CrossFit.”  Well, so much for that,I will be doing my fifth competition this month! When I started I never thought I would do half the stuff that I have achieved.  That is all thanks to Tucker and his staff.  I have learned that fitness is a journey and not everyone is the same.  I say this because I know when I started I was hard headed, and I tried to cut corners by avoiding listening to technique, not doing mobility in my off time and avoiding yoga.  It wasn’t working then I realized I wasn’t listening to what the coaches were saying.  Then I checked my ego at the door and started to  listen to the coaches at BCF.  As I begun to open up and ask questions to truly understand the movements, I begun to realize I was limited from years of bad fitness advice from around the water cooler.  Fitness should be fun, and when I was trying it on my own, it wasn’t fun, and I didn’t get any better.11393484_10101349948624243_4731686553273518129_o
CrossFit, just like anything in life is about the fundamentals.  Personally, that is what I love about the process, technique work and mobility are the key to getting better.  It can be a long process if you are an old broken down lacrosse player like I was when I came through those doors.
I would never say that I’m a “success story,” I just came to try CrossFit for a month and I wanted to see if I would like the results.  I weighed 196 lbs when I started crossfit, this past week I weighed in at 177 lbs, the lightest (and leanest) I’ve been since high school.  I was wearing a size 36 jeans when I started at BCF, last month I bought a size 32.  I can say crossfit changed my life, I’m 32 years old I’m in the best shape of my life and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon thanks to the amazing community of friends I’ve made.  So if you have read this far, why not give CrossFit a try?  Just one month and see what happens.


Abshir Adam

Check out Abshir and his dance moves at BCF’s 5 Year Anniversary party (2 years into his CF journey and tons of improved confidence!)!
IMG_7453After exhausting all of my options by trying variety of diets and fitness regiments with no positive or lasting results, I decided to give fitness and a lifestyle change just one last chance before giving up completely.  In February 2015, I joined Ballston CrossFit as a last ditch effort, and after hard work, dedication from my coaches, and re-learning how to eat to live, I can say without a doubt that BCF saved my life.
When I started in February,  I weighed 283lbs with 48 inches waist size. Now, I am down to 218 HEALTHY pounds. Within these past 7 months at BCF, I have lost more than 60lbs and 10+ inches from my waist.  I have not felt this strong, healthy, and happy (weight-wise) since I was 16 years old!  And I am 39 years old! My CrossFit journey is outlined below:
I decided to start by going to a free class at BCF.  In this first class, I was asked to do burpees.  I had never heard of these burpees, and after being shown the proper form, which seemed simple enough, I couldn’t do one simple burpee, and I was crawling like a baby just to get up off the ground. It was so hard, and it would have been easy to throw in the towel, but I had made a decision that 2015 would be the year that I turn my life around by gaining strength, getting healthy, and losing weight.  This has been the best decision I have ever made in my entire adult life.  If it had not been for the dedication of my coaches and fellow-CrossFitters, I would not have stayed at BCF, and I would not have met my goals for 2015.  In short, I would not be happy with the person I am today.
When I first joined BCF, I couldn’t do squats, box jumps, or a hand stand against the wall, or even handle the barbell.  Slowly but surely, I worked my way up from the 15lb barbell to the 45lb barbell.IMG_7454
I have gone from the bare minimum weights and reps at CrossFit to personal bests that I never thought would be achievable.  Because I never thought I would be able to make progress in any type of strength-training, I proudly say that my personal bests are as follows:
1- One max rep DEADLIFT: 175lbs.
2- Power CLEAN: 115lbs.
3- Front/Back SQUATS: 95lbs.
4- One max STRICT PRESS of 85
5- Unbroken 15 BOX JUMPS of 20 inches (but I know I can  go higher).
6-ROW up to 1000m
7- RUN up to 400m twice without stopping!  I could have never done this before BCF.
That all of these would not have been possible without BCF…That is what I love about BCF.  Your abilities are never going to be limited, and “I can’t,” will never be acceptable.  BCF has taught me that, “I can’t,” is temporary, and that it takes hard work and the right coaching to push yourself to achieve new limits and new personal bests.  BCF excites me, and I find reaching new personal goals in CrossFit to be an exhilerating feeling that I never knew I would have.
I set goals for myself that my coaches are eager to help me achieve.  As of now, my goals are to improve upon my personal bests from above, and also the following:
1- Double-under jump rope jumps.
2- Proper push-ups.  As of now,  can do a solid 5 push-ups from from my knees.  It is work in progress.
3- One max strict press up to, then over, 100lbs.
4- Overhead squat of 55lbs.  Currently, I can only hit 45lbs.
5- Pull-ups without any assistance.  I cannot get to one pull-up yet.
In the beginning, I worked out only 3 times per week, and I never thought I would want to go more often than that.  But, as I got stronger, I decided to work out 5 times a week, and CrossFit has become addictive.
I like my gym, and all of my coaches are excellent, especially Tucker Jones (the owner of BCF). Without his support and guidance, I would’ve given up a long time ago on BCF.
The whole BCF community is great and very supportive.  There are times during workouts that I would still like to give up, but thanks to my coaches and fellow BCF members, I stick with it and finish my workout.  It feels amazing to have that kind of support.  BCF’s coaches and my fellow BCFers are  my motivation.  I couldn’t find this level of support anywhere else.  I went to so many CrossFit boxes, and BCF makes me feel as though I can accomplish anything with hardwork and dedication.


Shaun Sleeper

image1-3I thought I was an active person coming out of college playing both ice hockey and lacrosse. I found my workouts were pretty basic not exciting and I would attend some classes at my local gyms through the years but had no push or drive.  Not being in my best shape I had a hockey injury that lead to a torn labrum in my le
ft hip followed by a herniated disc in the L4-L5 area of my back all within 3 months in 2012. I thought I would have a tough time playing hockey again let alone getting back into a gym setting. Of course after both surgeries and some lengthy rehab I started to run and bike and lift weights again but I wasn’t finding that my energy, strength
and my appearance were improving. I heard about CrossFit and decided to shop around to make sure I felt it was a good fit with all the pros & cons I had heard. I was hooked the moment Tucker lead me through the free WOD on a Saturday which was only 9 mins long. The feeling I felt that day and just the few words of motivation that Tucker showed in that  “free” session confirmed this was a good fit. This interval training was exactly what I needed and wanted. Along with a community of athletes who are seeking the same goals and carry the same drive to be their best.

I have been at Ballston CrossFit since January 2014 and I am fully committed due to the amazing coaching and the variety of workouts. I was able to join the Nutritional challenge which is something I wanted to build into this routine and I was astonished by the results in just one month losing 10 lbs. The best part about the Nutritional Challenge was that it has become a part of my thought process for everything going into my body now and I continued to stay true to the diet and workouts and as a result have lost over 25 lbs since Jan 2015. I ran in my first Half-Marathon in May and have started to motivate my family and friends to push themselves into opening there minds to healthier eating and engage in more exercise. I have seen gains in strength and feel the best I have in a very long time.
The credit goes to Tucker and his coaches for pushing me beyond my comfort zone all while making sure I am doing all exercises correctly. Their knowledge and training continues to add years to my life and I look forward to setting more goals that I can crush in along the way

Hope this motivates someone!