For quite a while now we have tried to figure out the best way to highlight some of the amazing accomplishments & amazing people that make up the CrossFit Freedom community. The biggest deterrent for us has been that its seemingly impossible to ever narrow it down & not feel like we’re just leaving too many people or noteworthy accomplishments out.

Well, we’ve decided that every couple weeks going forward, we will highlight a couple of members that exemplify what this community is all about. Through a series of short questions, we’ll ask them to share with us a little bit about themselves, some of their interests in & out of the gym and what their experience has been like since joining our community. This will provide a great opportunity to see some of the amazing progress being made within these doors while also providing you all a chance to learn more about your fellow members that you may not get to see in class very often.

This month we would like to congratulate Tess LeBlanc & Tony Bannon!

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Tess started with us in February 2016. A gifted & natural athlete but with very little experience with gymnastics or with weightlifting. She quickly began to make progress and made a strong commitment to the program.  Throughout the last 12 months, she’s committed to the program 100% and began attending classes 4 days a week consistently.  She approaches every training session with a positive attitude & work-hard mentality. She’s made incredible progress in every aspect of her fitness averaging a new PR every week. Tess has become substantially stronger in all of her lifts. She’s made impressive improvements in her gymnastics proficiency as well. She’s stringing together large sets of kipping pullups and toes to bar and is extremely close to getting that first muscle up!  Not afraid to put her fitness to the test, this year she competed in her first competition and did very well! We’re excited to see her compete again given the amazing progress that she continues to make. Tess is such a valuable member of the CFF community and her positive attitude rubs off on everyone in her presence.  Keep up the great work, Tess!

Tess LeBlanc Q&A:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
My immediate family is, myself, my younger sister Caley, my Mom and my Dad. I have a dog, his name is Mowgli. He is a pug and a mini pinscher mix.
Whats your occupation?
I dont really have a specific occupation… right now I work at Gages Lake Auto, doing oil changes and miscellaneous things that need to be done around the shop. I love it.
Whats your favorite movie?
Sweet Home Alabama, and Cars (the little kid movie).
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I listen to a variety of music. I like rock, metal, rap, country, oldies, hip hop. Dont have a favortie artist.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Make sure your worst enemy, doesnt live between your own two ears.
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
When Britta and I did the Rookie Rumble together, and I thought I was going to have to scale all the weight, but I didnt. I learned how to do toes to bar, the day before the competition and that was the first time I strung more than one or two pull ups together.
Do you have an athletic background?
I played basketball from 4th grade, up until high school, but then after that, nothing much.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
In February it will be two years. Ive only been coming consistenly, since December 2016.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
Seeing everyone, all the friends ive made, they help to motivate me and also keep me accountable.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I dont remember exactly what it was, but i remember there were wall balls. I wanted to get better, I wanted to learn more.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
Squat cleans!
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I try for 5 days a week, sometimes I only make it 3 or 4. I do not do anything else outside of crossfit.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I dont really follow one. Just try to eat healthy, but that doesnt always happen.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
I want to worry less about the weight on the bar, and really learning the correct technique for the lifts. I also want to get a muscle up on the rings, want to be more consistent with my toes to bar, be able to string more pullups together, and work on my overhead squat.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Crossfit has impacted my life in so many ways. All the friends I have made and relationships that I have built with other members mean so much to me. Crossfit has made me stronger, mentally and physically. Ive learned to stop being so self conscious, I used to have low self esteem, and I would always wonder what people thought about me, and I always felt like I was being judged, where as now, i dont think like that as much. Ive learned how to do things, I never thought I could and lift more weight than I ever thought I could. I just try to focus on being a good person and bettering myself everyday, inside and outside of the gym. CFF feels like home, and I wouldnt want it any other way.

Tony has been with us here at CFF since day one.  He literally attended the very first class we ever held at 5:30 am on a chilly April morning in 2011.  He’s been the epitome of consistency and steady progress from the very start. Tony began with a long endurance background but had done very little strength training.  Although he had a solid metabolic base, he lacked mobility in certain areas and overall strength.  Tony has worked extremely hard, day in and day out over the years to improve in all areas of his fitness.  He always arrives early to ensure that he’s set up, properly warmed up and he’s always spending extra time working on mobility and improving technique.  He continues to set personal records in all of his lifts, as well as his conditioning and benchmark workouts. Currently, Tony is having a breakout year having achieved more PR’s in the last 10 months than all of 2016 & 2017 combined!  A staple in the 530am class almost every single day, Tony often leads the group in a post-workout core workout session known ‘round here as “T-Hop”. Tony is always striving to improve his mechanics and even when he’s traveling he’s always sure to stay on top of his training – always finding a way to get some work in every day. CrossFit Freedom simply would not be the same without one of the God Fathers…an O.G., Tony Bannon.

Tony Bannon Q&A:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I have been married to my beautiful wife Kennon for over 20 years.  We have 4 kids:  Brantleigh and Zachary, 18 years old; Tyler, 15 years old; and Kayleigh, 10 years old.  As for pets, one bearded dragon, Spike, and one beta fish, Dorthy (I think).  Also, begging for a dog has been going on for 18 years……
Whats your occupation?
I am a scientist by training.  I currently work at AbbVie with the title of External Project Director.  Basically I am involved with discovering new treatments for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Whats your favorite movie?
not much of a movie watcher but I’ll say Christmas Vacation
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
lots of country and alternative.  Favorite artist is Foo Fighters who my son Zachary and I will be seeing in Madison, WI in Nov.
Do you have a favorite quote?
from my wife Kennon….”we do hard things”.  She has used this to push the kids and herself for all aspects of life.  I think of it often at CFF especially on Mondays when there are thrusters.
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Having my family and watching them grow up
Do you have an athletic background?
I really started in college where I played a lot of league tennis and I was running to stay in shape for tennis.  That led to triathlons during graduate school and then cycling (road and mountain) for over 20 years with a bit of racing including the early days of endurance mountain bike racing (50 to 100 miles). Also, mixed in there in the early 2000s was some 12 and 24 hour adventure racing.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Not really.  We had heard about it but could not find a box where we were living in NC
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I’ll have to confirm with Brett and Justin but I think over 7 years.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
being challenged and essentially humbled every time I come in.  Also, the community, especially the 5:30 AM crew.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
Yes I do.  Turkish get-ups and running with a 20lb wall ball from one end of the gym to the other.  It was just Brett and I.  I’m not sure I was able to even use 5 lb on the Turkish get up.  I had been searching for a CrossFit box for a while so I was really excited when CFF opened and motivated from the beginning to keep coming.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I struggle like crazy but I like the snatch.  I really like the longer chipper workouts
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
When I’m in town I try to CrossFit 5 times/week.  Then on Saturdays, weather permitting, I like to do about a 2 hr road ride or ride on the trails.  Alternatively, I go to spin with Kennon.   When travelling,  if my schedule allows and the price is not too crazy, I drop-in other boxes.  I’ve been to boxes in Germany, Denmark, France, and various spots in the US including CrossFit Grenada in my hometown, Grenada, MS.  Alternatively, I do longer runs and terrorize the hotel gym.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I tried strict paleo and concluded that is a young man/woman’s diet.  So I moved to what I call old man paleo meaning for the most part I stay off the bread and pasta, but I do enjoy some some sweets (chocolate) and some occasional grease.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
stay healthy
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
For me, I think CrossFit provides a base level of strength/fitness that can be used for every activity weather moving furniture or jumping in a 5K run. With that came loss of some fat and gaining of some muscle that I never had in my 54 years.


August 2017 Athlete Spotlight: Kelly Proctor & Conrad Theodore!

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Kelly Proctor began with foundations in January 2017 and has been consistently working hard and progressing ever since. In just 8 months Kelly has gone from a CrossFit novice to a very well-rounded athlete proficient in many gymnastics skills, impressive strength numbers, excellent OLY technique and an engine that rivals any athlete in the gym. Kelly’s attended 130 classes since starting in January and currently holds over 70 PR’s! Hard work on her mechanics and a devotion to the program has been the driving force behind her rapid progress. Kelly comes in every day ready to get to work. She arrives early or stays after class and takes some time to work some extra mobility or to practice skills. Always focused on the details of her movement and improving every aspect of her fitness, Kelly has done it right from day 1 and her ceiling is extremely high as she continues to learn, develop, and train. Besides her substantial progress in the gym, Kelly is just a true pleasure to coach and to be around. Always with a positive attitude and a big smile, she sets the tone each day to train with purpose and intensity. Congratulations, Kelly. Keep doing your thing and getting better each day!

Kelly Proctor QnA:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
My husband, Adam, and I have been married for 12 years and we have 3 kids – Addison (10), Will (8), and Everett (5). We have two cats, Ivy & Rizzo, and some fish.
Whats your occupation?
Compliance Product Analyst for a bank affiliated broker dealer and Investment Advisory firm
Whats your favorite movie?
Almost anything with Adam Sandler, but if I had to pick just one it would be Billy Madison – I could quote that movie all day long.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I like almost all kinds of music, but you’ll usually find me listening to country music with some 90s on 9 and Pop2K mixed in there.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Yesterday’s over my shoulder so I can’t look back for too long. There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can’t go wrong” – Jimmy Buffett”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Definitely becoming a mom x 3 have been the proudest moments of my life. Getting to watch them grow and find their way in this world is the best!
Do you have an athletic background?
I played softball and volleyball all throughout high school and I’ve always loved sports.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Nope. Never. I was a skeptic for sure
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I started with the foundations class in January of 2017.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
In case you don’t know this about me, I have a bit of a competitive side. But what I love about CrossFit is that it is a constant competition with yourself – getting stronger, becoming faster, gaining more mobility, flexibility, and motion. You have the opportunity to work on these things every day and consistently work to be a better version of yesterday’s you.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I know it wasn’t too long ago, but I have a terrible memory when it comes to things like this. I’m pretty sure it involved some sort of burpees and “box jumps” on to two stacked plates – something that I thought I for sure could handle. I was wrong. It kicked my butt! That just made me want to come back again to prove to myself that I could do it and I could get better and stronger every day that I put in the effort.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
Bench day!!!
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
Right now, I get in 5-6 times a week. Recently, I took a weekly paddle board sculpt class and I loved it!! I’m looking forward to getting in to another class and making that more of a regular thing.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
RCP is a life saver and I use them for a lot of my meals now.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
I have plenty that I want to work on and improve, but first up are double unders and TTB. I want to continue to work on flexibility and mobility and then, hopefully being able to Rx more of those workouts.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
As a working mom of 3 busy and active kids, I found that I was losing focus of taking care of myself. When I walk in the door here, I can shift those priorities around and focus on my own overall well being, which in turn makes me healthier, happier, and a better mom and wife for my family. The people and the community of CrossFit Freedom are incredible and now I don’t know what I would do with them!

Conrad also started with us in January of 2017. Since day one, Conrad was skeptical of his ability to perform many movements due to limitations stemming from past should injuries. Rather than using it as an excuse, Conrad made the decision early on to be coach-able and to trust the process. Each day, little by little, he focuses on improving his movement and mobility, appropriate scaling, consistent technique, and improving on what he specifically needs to work on. In just 8 months he’s accumulated over 100 workouts & 35 PR’s and the difference in his movement and mechanics is like night and day. Conrad’s remarkable progress in his fitness and overall movement is a direct testament to his diligence in training and attention to detail. His commitment to his health and fitness has him doing things he thought he would never be able to do. Just imagine what his future holds as he continues to progress. He’s a great example of what can be accomplished with a concerted effort to focus on the fundamentals. A truly valued member of the CFF community, Conrad is always as friendly, welcoming, encouraging, and positive as anyone could be. We’re so happy to have Conrad as part of the CFF family and we’re extremely proud of his effort, dedication, and progress. Keep up the great work Conrad.

Conrad Theodore QnA:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
My wife, Mary Beth, and I are celebrating our 27th anniversary this month. We have a daughter, Maria (25), and two sons, Frankie (22), and Leo (20) who many met over the summer while he worked out at CFF. And I can’t forget Augie the Doggie, our 11-year old schnoodle.
Whats your occupation?
Starting my 20th season as feature writer for the Chicago Bulls publications
Whats your favorite movie?
Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, which ironically is the opposite of CrossFit where no two days are the same.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
If there are other stations on Sirius radio besides the E-Street channel, I wouldn’t know. Springsteen all the way. That and all the classics played during Masters’ Thursday workouts.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“If you’re not striving to physically resemble Justin, why even bother to sign up for CrossFit?” –Anonymous
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
The easy answer is the births of my three kids. But that was before I found out about being athlete of the month.
Do you have an athletic background?
I played high school basketball. In my adult life, I got into running a bunch of marathons even though I swore “never again” after the first.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No. Had not done a burpee since sixth grade.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I started in January 2017 on the recommendation, encouragement and threat of Rick Duros.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The inspiration I receive from others without their even knowing it. On any given day, there’s Chris Michels climbing up the rope strapped to a 50-pound wheelchair, Ron Bernardi repeatedly working on his mechanics nearly an hour before each class and Antonio lifting the equivalent of a grand piano on his shoulder blades alone. Then there’s the Hammer, Hitman, Stretch, Zman, Big Poppi, JKerr, Damenti and CMas attacking the WOD like they’re 18-year olds trying to make the varsity squad. And I’d be remiss to leave out the heart and soul of the 5 o’clock group, Rick “The Greek” Duros, who not only keeps all the masters jammed into the east corner entertained and motivated, but inspires every generation in the box.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
During my very first foundations class, Coach Keith ended the day by giving us an 8-minute WOD. “How cute,” I thought. Eight whole minutes. When he shouted out that we were at the halfway mark, I was practically crying like a baby. “Humbling” is a word I often use when people ask me to describe CrossFit.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I’m not sure if I have one particular favorite lift, but having arthritic shoulders, I can tell you a few that I have a love/hate relationship with.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
In addition to CrossFit, I run several times per week.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
Don’t have a specific plan, but try to eat healthy, especially before/after workouts. Since I started CrossFit, my wife and I have found several paleo recipes we’ve been enjoying. And there’s usually a beer or two included in my weekend plans. I’m sure if a caveman found a six pack in the woods, he’d probably say, “Yes please” if he could do more than grunt.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Since I’m relatively new, I’ve been enjoying the occasional PR and would love to see how far this old body can go before I peak. But ultimately, I’d like to improve my fundamentals in every category and leave the gym each day knowing I’ve done every workout to the best of my ability.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
I’ve belonged to several other health clubs in the past. But there really isn’t any accountability. Once the money is collected, nobody really cares if and when I show up. And I’ve gone to gyms many times where I haven’t talked to a single person the entire time I’m there. Certainly not the case here at CrossFit Freedom. I’ve learned firsthand that if you miss a class or two, be prepared to get some good-natured ribbing from the other members via text, phone call or in person. And what can I say about the coaching staff? Each and every one has his or her special talents and firepower, explaining just what I want to hear (and at times, not want to hear). I’ve received such wonderful tips and feedback when I didn’t even realize they were paying attention. And they all lead by example, practicing their relentless work ethic in the same manner as they teach. I knew I’d get a good workout when I joined. It’s the knowledge, advice and friendships that’s made this entire experience a real bargain.


July 2017 Athlete Spotlight: Pam Lilja & Steve Moseley!

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Pam Lilja is the epitome of the CrossFit Freedom spirit.  Her positive and upbeat attitude and her incredible mental fortitude to overcome, persevere, and always strive to improve is truly an inspiration. Pam has been with us since November of 2015 and has made her impact on the community since day 1.  You simply cannot help but to smile and be positive when she is around – always encouraging, uplifting, and engaging.  A nagging and ongoing disk issue required her to have a spinal fusion surgery in June of 2016. Less than 4 months later, after an extremely intensive rehabilitation process, Pam came back into the gym and began easing back into the program.  With extreme attention to detail and focus on proper mechanics and technique, Pam has made significant steady progress since returning, and is already doing things that did not seem like they would ever again be possible.  Her strength, her conditioning, and her overall movement has improved tremendously which has all lead to an increased work capacity and improved quality of life outside the gym. In just the last 6 weeks, Pam has set 10 PRs, surpassing her lifetime best lifts from prior to her surgery.  Truly amazing. It is hard to imagine the stress and the struggle of overcoming such a process. It takes a special individual like Pam in order to do so. The fact that she has done it all with a positive spirit and a smile on her face tells you all you need to know about this amazing strong-willed woman. We are lucky to be inspired by Pam’s presence daily, and we are extremely proud of all of your hard work. Congratulations, Pam… keep it up! Here’s more on Pam…

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I am blessed to have two grown amazing Sons of which Coach Keith is my baby boy. I have two dogs. Our 2 yr. old Boxer George gets posted frequently on social media however he does have a 15 yr. old tiny toy poodle sister Bailey
Whats your occupation?
I’m a Scrub Nurse.
Whats your favorite movie?
My Favorite Movie is UP. :)
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I love music and listen to a variety of genres depending on mood or what I’m doing. But as some may know I’m not a fan of pop star Taylor Swift and I may have been quoted as saying “She makes my ears bleed”. Ahahaha
Do you have a favorite quote?
My favorite quote is a Bible verse. Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will will find new strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Two of the proudest moments of my life then and now continue to be the birth and growth of my two sons. I am so very blessed and proud of the men they have become. Love them tons and so so very proud of them.
Do you have an athletic background?
I enjoy playing volleyball.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
“Yes, I started Crossfit in October 2014 when my nephew opened his own Crossfit gym in Park Ridge. After commuting for a year from Home (Round Lake Beach) to Park Ridge and back 5 to 6 days a week. I decided to make the move and join Freedom. Keith was doing the same but made the move 4 months earlier. He kept encouraging me to make the move. I loved the family and friends there and was afraid to leave and start over. But Keith was so extremely positive about Freedom and the people I decided to make the move. Thanks Kelly Lesniak for taking me under your wing my first day and making me feel so welcome. Everything Keith said was true. Keith told me about this Coach that would be shouting out during the workouts words of encouragements. Particularly one phrase “”GET REPS!”” I was at my first 5pm class and I remember clearly the workout was multiple rounds of 200 meter run and shoulder to overhead. I just came in from the 3rd or 4th round feeling winded and tired walked over to my bar, I was standing there looking at it hoping it would lift itself when I hear this Loud Powerful voice shouting “”GET REPS! GET REPS!”” I picked that bar up so fast and started laughing out loud every rep realizing this was the Coach Keith had talked about. Thanks Coach Justin!
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I started at Freedom in November 2015
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The people. There is an amazing group of people there. Whether I’m at the 9:30 or 5:00 class. It’s the Greatest bunch of people. Everyone is encouraging, supportive, positive, and fun. The coaching is outstanding! Thanks Coach Cathy and Coach Keith!
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I don’t remember what my first Crossfit workout was but I remember thinking oh I can run for 4 1/2 hrs for a marathon I should be able to do this 12 minute workout. WRONG!! That’s what got me hooked. It shows you your weaknesses and is encouraging to push yourself at the same time. It’s about you pushing yourself to work harder, to be fitter, healthier, and stronger.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
The Snatch. I’m not great at it. But that’s OK. That’s why I like it. It’s work in progress.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I Crossfit at least 4 days a week. I like to run and bike too.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I’m vegetarian.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
This past year for me has made me really realize how much Crossfit is about me competing against me. I had Spinal Fusion Surgery 11 months ago. I started back at Freedom 4 months after my surgery. It has been hard at times knowing what I could do before surgery and having to scale down. But this has also taught me so much more about focusing on good form, and position, and to be proud of me and what I can do and not what the person next to me is doing. So my goal is to continue getting stronger and celebrate PRs as they come. Oh yeah and get pull-ups without a band. :)
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Crossfit has changed my life inside and out. It has made me healthier, happier, stronger person and I am so grateful and proud to be a part of the Crossfit Freedom Family. Thankful for the encouragement, support and laughs along the way.

Steve Mosley is an absolute pleasure to coach.  He shows up every morning with a no-nonsense attitude ready to get to work and to get better.  A true student of the program, he is constantly working on every aspect of his fitness in order to improve as an athlete.  Steve has approached his fitness with a sense of commitment from the ground up.  He has taken advantage of our Health Coaching program in order to implement an ideal nutrition program for his goals.  He has also incorporated individualized endurance programming in order to more efficiently supplement his CrossFit training with some additional endurance work.  He has made a concerted effort in every aspect of his life in order to reach his goals.  The progress he has made in the last year speaks for itself.  He has consistently improved in every strength and weightlifting aspect- setting PRS in every single lift this Summer.  He has done this while also improving his running times and his overall conditioning.  Maybe the most important benefit of all of Steve’s hard work is the fact that he has a clean and consistent nutrition, training, and recovery plan dialed in and has established a healthy and sustainable lifestyle that allows him to be at his very best. Steve sets a high standard for himself and makes the commitment to abide by those standards.  We’d take this guy on our team every single day of the week.  Keep up the great work, Steve. Here’s more on Steve…

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I have been married to my beautiful wife Jennie for almost 22 years and we have three boys – Zach is 17, Ben is 15, and Mark is 12. We also have to dogs – Bear and Lucy.
Whats your occupation?
Forensic Accountant/Consultant
Whats your favorite movie?
The Shawshank Redemption and Gladiator
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I am all over the map with music – it all depends on the mood I am in. My playlists include just about every type of music you can think of. My favorite artist changes as well – right now I am listening to a lot of Amos Lee.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I like many quotes and prayers like the Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
The day each of my boys were born and every day since, is my proudest moment as I am blessed to experience a remarkable and constantly evolving journey with all three of them.
Do you have an athletic background?
In addition to dodging my two older brothers growing up, I played football, baseball, and basketball in high school and I played football in college.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I think I first joined the summer of 2014.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The challenge of pushing myself to become healthier and stronger, and the ability to do it with a great community of people.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
“I did an initial training and intro session with Justin. I remember it was an awakening, nothing I had ever experienced before. Two thoughts went through my mind – man I am going to be sore tomorrow, and Damn! – this trainer guy is freakin’ huge! I came back because while I was doing my intro session I saw the actual class going on, and how hard people were working to get better, as well as the group support for each person in the gym. I knew I wanted to be a part of that!”
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I enjoy deadlift, and like the challenge of the WODs (except when they include double-unders!!!!)
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I participate in the 5:30a class four times a week, and with help of Brett I try to do endurance runs three times a week.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
With the help of both Kirsten and Brett this has been an area of big change for me. I am a huge fan of RCP – one meal a day at lunch, and my wife and I prepare paleo meals for dinner. With Brett’s help I have developed a pretty good routine that enables me to be intentional about meals and planning for what I eat each day. I really do feel better and healthier than I ever have.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
My constant health goal is to be intentional each day about the following – nutrition, strength, endurance, and sleep. If I can somehow keep these four things in proper balance, I hope I will be healthy for a long time.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
I am the healthiest I have ever been. Certainly CrossFit has contributed to that, but really it is the whole package that CrossFit Freedom has provided me. With the guidance I have received (and continue to receive) through Freedom, I am more intentional about my health, and continue efforts to better myself in nutrition, strength, endurance, and (sometimes) sleep. Also, I get to work on my plan each day surrounded by a really cool and supportive community of people! I am very grateful for all I have learned and continue to experience at CrossFit Freedom.


June 2017 Athlete Spotlight: Shannon and Chris Wagner!

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Chris and Shannon Wagner have been staples of the CFF community since they stepped foot through the door.  Chris began in December of 2015 and Shannon followed soon after joining us in March of 2016. They both immediately fit right into the Freedom family with their upbeat personalities and positive spirit.  You can always count on them coming to class prepared and ready to work.  The smile never leaves either of their faces and that positive energy rubs off on all those around them.  They’re always willing to help out in any way possible in and out of the gym.  CrossFit Freedom simply would not be the same without the Wagner crew around – including their daughters and CFF Kids athletes, Emma and Mattie as well.

As far as their fitness goes, they have both made remarkable progress since starting with us.  They’ve made the commitment not only to our CrossFit program, but to making healthy changes outside of the gym with focus on their lifestyle and nutrition.  The results speak for themselves.  250 PR’s between them both since the start of 2016 and in just the last testing period alone they accounted for 22 PR’s! Some highlights were Chris with a 295# Back Squat, a 4:19 Fran, a 175# Snatch, 225# Clean and Jerk and a 365# Deadlift. Shannon had an exceptional performance as well with a 95# CJ, 175# Deadlift, and a 8:59 2k row!  It’s safe the say the Wagners are a fit fam… they have broken out of their limits and continue to soar.

Congratulations to Chris and Shannon on being June 2017 Athletes of the Month – keep up the great work, guys! Let’s learn more about them both…

Shannon:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I am so lucky to be surrounded by my super hunky husband Chris and 2 sweet yet mischievous daughters Emma and Mattie (11 and 8).  You have probably seen them giving Coach Justin and Coach Frank a run for their money.
Whats your occupation?
I’m a Sales Recruiter at CDW. I started there after college and have been there ever since. 19 years this August – Crazy!
Whats your favorite movie?
That is a toss up between Christmas Vacation and Pitch Perfect. :) Lalala….
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I am a total Swifty and love all fun pop dance music.  In the summer I’m country all the way!  Yehaw!
Do you have a favorite quote?
I have 2 that I really like: “Be your best self!” and “Think Happy Be Happy!”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
I think one of the proudest moments was when I graduated from Miami of Ohio and moved to Chicago.  That was such a nerve racking experience but really changed my life so I’m so grateful I took the leap.  I think another one was doing that Rookie Rumble Crossfit competition.  I was so out of my comfort zone but Bridget Nee pushed me to do it and I’m so glad I did.  What a feeling of accomplishment and God bless Bridget!  She was my biggest cheerleader :)
Do you have an athletic background?
That would be a soft yes. I played softball and tennis as a kid but was average at best.  I found my niche on the dance team in high school and then again in College.  I was part of the elite Miami of Ohio Shakerette Drill Team.  Oh yes – that is a real thing! I do a mean kick routine to Jesus Christ Super star!
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Never and I was so nervous because I hadn’t lifted a weight in my life.  Luckily I had the support of the coaches and Freedom family who helped me find my way.  I am forever grateful!
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
1 year this past April.  Wow!  
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
I really look forward to seeing everyone and being a part of the CFF family.  I think you definitely form a bond when working with each other on the bench press or partnering during the Saturday workouts.  It’s a collective  “We are all in this together” mentality that I just love. No matter how much you lift or how fast you finish a workout everyone is there is cheer you on and make you better then you were the day before.  
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I will never forget my first workout in the foundation class with Coach Justin.  It was burpees, box jumps and push ups.  I couldn’t jump on the lowest box so during the workout Justin brought over a plate and had me jump on that.  It was the most exhausted I had ever been but I loved it just the same.  My goal was to jump on that lowest box if it killed me!
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
They all have their pros and cons but my favorite lift would have to be a Power clean and fav moment would be dumbbell snatches.  Go figure!
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I do CrossFit about 4 times/week and then do Yoga at home through various You tube videos. Does running around with my kids count?!
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
RCP has been a lifesaver!  During the week I try the best I can to stick to Paleo and RCP makes it so convenient! I do love my staple Steel Cut oatmeal and Avocado toast.  Maybe some chocolate every once in a while :)  
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
My goals are to definitely work on my strength including grip strength.  I can feel that first toes to bar and pull-up coming!
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
CF has impacted my life in so many ways!  My overall fitness in terms of strength, cardio and stamina; but also helping me focus on a more healthy way to eat.  The friendships and support I get at CFF is unlike any other.  I feel so thankful to have met such an amazing group of people who make me feel so comfortable and encourage me break out of my limits! HA!!!

Chris:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
My wife Shannon and I met in college and have been married for almost 15yrs.  We have two daughters, Emma (11) and Mattie (8), we are pet free at the moment, but the girls are giving us the full court press for a family dog.  
Whats your occupation?
I’m a Software Sales Manager at CDW
Whats your favorite movie?
Tommy Boy – Nearly wore out the VHS tape in college.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I’m all over the map, I listen to just about everything.  Mostly country music in the summertime, outside of that pop, metal or rap depending on the mood.  I like Zach Brown Band and Ed Sheeran lately.  
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Emma and Mattie being born… and really everything they’ve done since has given me an unreasonably large amount of pride.
Do you have an athletic background?
I have 4 brothers, and there were a lot of sports happening in the Wagner household growing up. I played football, lacrosse and wrestled through high school.  I was fortunate to be on State Championship football and lacrosse teams my senior year.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
I had not, I only had a few friends who were into it and wouldn’t shut up about it.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
About a year and a half.  Started Dec of 2016.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
Seeing and catching up with all my friends and the coaches and preparing for the workouts.   There is also a very attractive and athletic blonde girl named Shannon who sometimes works out the same time as me.  I usually try and show off to impress her… but I rarely succeed.  
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I don’t remember all the details.. I just remember Coach Keith asking, “Ready to Work Out!?” then Metallica Music, then I believe a row and air squats were involved.   I do remember the pain and exhaustion I hadn’t felt in many years and thinking, “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to keep this up.”  The sense of accomplishment, the stress relief, Coach Keith’s support and positive attitude through foundations and my fellow athletes kept me coming back for more.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
This answer changes over time, right now I enjoy C&J and Pullups.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I average about 5x per week.  If I’m free, and it’s not Sunday I come in.  I will often do a quick run around Butler Lake on Sundays.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
RCP has been a lifesaver! During the week I try the best I can to stick to Paleo and RCP makes it so convenient! I do love my staple Steel Cut oatmeal and Avocado toast. Maybe some chocolate every once in a while :)
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Continued, methodical increases in max lifts and benchmark workout times.  I need to get better at TTB and Rowing, I have lots of opportunity for growth in those two areas…
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
CrossFit has impacted me a lot of ways.  It has gotten me into the best overall shape of my life.  It has taught me about my strengths and weakness and what it really means to be dedicated and fit.  It has served as a nice distraction from daily stresses.   I’ve also made a lot of great new friends and it has made me feel much more connected to my community.


May 2017 Athlete Spotlight: Jessica Vercruysse, Michael Baldonieri, Kristina Rudman & Rebecca Lambert!

All4

It was only a matter of time before all four of these terrific kids were named our athletes of the month. May was their last month full time at CFF. They have finished up Med School testing and have relocated into the city to begin their clinical rotations. To say they will be missed is a tremendous understatement. Jess, Mike, Kristina, and Rebecca have become staples in the community over the past year and a half and they epitomize the true sense of the CFF spirit. Showing up every single day with a positive attitude and a smile on their face- always with their own unique upbeat and outgoing personality, graciousness, and sense of humor. But always ready to focus, be extremely coachable, and take on each training session with a no nonsense attitude and competitive drive.

All four of these athletes have made substantial progress over the past 18 months. With consistent attendance and dedication to the program they have continued to improve in every aspect of their fitness. Since starting here (Sept 2015 for Jess and Mike) (Jan 2016 for Kristina and Rebecca) they have a combined total of 224 PR’s! This is quite an amazing feat especially considering the work load they are taking on outside of the gym going through Med School. It is safe to say that all four of them are very special and have a tremendous amount of success in their future. We certainly wish them all of the very best and will truly miss seeing them daily. One thing for sure is that the doors are always open to them, and we sure do hope to see them back as often as possible.

See their member spotlight feature below to read more about Jess, Mike, Kristina, and Rebecca!

Jess:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
“Mom and Dad live in France with our three dogs (Sugar, Digby and Grenouille) and our cat (Ophelia). Grenouille used to travel back and forth with me until she got too fat to travel. I guess she likes eating just as much as I do.
My sister, Alex, lives in NYC. It is safe to assume that every time I have a break I will be on the first flight to see them. “
Whats your occupation?
Medical Student
Whats your favorite movie?
I don’t have a favorite movie per se but I have watched and rewatched way too many rom coms, Harry Potter and Hunger Games movies than I care to admit.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
The type of music I listen to depends on the mood I’m in. I’ll listen to pop in the morning or when I need a pick me up, country when it’s nice out, EDM on my way to the gym….
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Life’s a bitch and then you die”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Running the NYC marathon in 2014 in memory of my brother. He loved to run and growing up I couldn’t run for more than 5 minutes at a time. Throughout the entire race I could hear him telling me to keep going and finish.
Do you have an athletic background?
It will be a surprise to all that have seen me repeatedly and not so gracefully fall getting in and out of bands that I ice skated for 10 years.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
I started at Crossfit Southie back in Boston about a year before I moved here for school.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I joined Crossfit Freedom in August 2015 so a little under 2 years ago.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The people.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
“My first crossfit workout was a 10min AMRAP of 15 45# thrusters and 15 box jumps. I remember starting those 10min thinking “”this isn’t bad, I workout”” and then dying struggling through every rep.
I redid this workout with 65# about a year later when my sister came to visit me and nearly doubled my score (but I was still laying on the floor dying at the end of it lol). “
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I love overhead squats, handstand push-ups and lunges.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I come to crossfit 4-5 times a week. I used to do a lot more fun and exciting activities pre med school but I somehow now lack the time hehe.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I eat RCP for about 70% of my meals… and I eat candy, cheese, pasta and bread for the other meals. I wish I was better about what foods I eat but I have no self control, especially during stressful periods (i.e. studying for boards).
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
I want to get better at gymnastics: pull-ups, toes-to-bar, chest-to-bar, handstand walks and maybe someday try to get a muscle up?
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
“Crossfit has had such a positive impact on me physically and mentally. My siblings used to call me the little weak one and that’s a nickname I haven’t heard in a really long time ;).
Crossfit has also become a place I can retreat to when I get stressed out with life, a place where I can take a healthy mental break. I mean who doesn’t love lifting heavy weights when angry? “

Mike:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
Parents (in Pittsburgh, PA) and younger sister (in Baltimore, MD). 2 dogs (Stella and Chief) who live with my parents.
Whats your occupation?
3rd year Medical Student
Whats your favorite movie?
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Godfather (I and II only)
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
Taylor Swift is and always will be my favorite artist, and my other musical tastes are mostly in the Pop genre.
Do you have a favorite quote?
‪”The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”‬ -Gloria Steinem
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Being accepted to medical school in 2015
Do you have an athletic background?
Not consistently–I ran cross country in high school, and rowed at the club level for 2 years in college. My athletic prowess has primarily been honed by CrossFit.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Yes, I started at Crossfit CLE in Cleveland, OH, in January 2014.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
1 year, 9 mos–I joined in September, 2015.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The sense of community at CFF is unlike any other I’ve experienced. I love coming in and seeing everyone kick ass together every day!
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I don’t remember specifically, but it involved burpees and 45# overhead lunges, and it sucked. What really hooked me is being able to come into the gym, turn my brain off, and just focus on finishing the WOD. I feel like I spend all of my time thinking, and sometimes it’s nice to enter that painful, dark corner of your mind where thinking doesn’t happen, only doing.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I have grown to love the snatch. It was by far the hardest lift for me to get comfortable with, and I hated it for a long time. Once it clicked though, I started to enjoy it.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
CrossFit 3-4x/week, supplemented mostly with hunching over a computer or book, and sometimes running.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
Paleo-inspired would be the best descriptor–I love cooking, and the majority of the cooking I do is paleo or based on paleo recipes (shout out to Nomnompaleo.com). However, I’m still technically a full-time student, so my diet also reflects that (pizza for days), and I’ve been practicing my baking/eating baked goods too.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
To visit CFF as many times as I can, and consistently visit a box in my new neighborhood. I’d also love to hit a bodyweight snatch, but I think I need to lose some bodyweight for that to be realistic in the next year!
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Especially in the first 2 years of medical school, it can be incredibly isolating spending your days studying. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have mountains of material to review and master, and when your success is primarily defined by endless multiple choice exams. CrossFit, and the Freedom Family especially, were integral to my success thus far. Being able to step off campus, out of the books, and into the box where I don’t have to read or think or memorize, was so refreshing and helped me maintain my sanity. To be treated as someone more than just a medical student (and to talk about things other than studying) for a few hours each week helped me to stay grounded in reality, and helped me remember what I’m capable of. I don’t know of many medical students (other than Jess, Rebecca, and Kristina) that supplemented their board examination prep by throwing up some PR back squats, cleans and snatches, and having this community as a source of support and encouragement has been one of the best parts of the last 2 years for me.

Kristina:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I have two brothers, Nick and Dan, who live with my parents in Grayslake. I also am a proud cat mom to Ivy, who I stress adopted after our first exam last year. Ivy definitely loves Rebecca more than me. I’m only a little bitter about it.
Whats your occupation?
Medical Student
Whats your favorite movie?
Good Will Hunting
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
It tends to change depending on what mood I’m in, but right now I’m really into the Lumineers, Lord Huron, and Andrew Belle. I’ve also pretty much only listened to “Peaceful Piano” for the last 6 months while studying, so I’m looking forward to being able to listen to music with words again.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
So far, the proudest moment in my life was when I was accepted to medical school. It was such a huge relief to know that I was actually going to be able to achieve this goal that I’ve had since I was 2 years old and become a doctor.
Do you have an athletic background?
I competitively figure skated up until my freshman year of high school and also played soccer
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Nope
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
A year and a half
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
CrossFit has been the major thing in my life that has kept me sane throughout these first 2 years of medical school. I love being able to just show up, turn off my brain, and get a killer workout.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I don’t remember my first actually CrossFit workout, but I do vividly remember getting my butt kicked every single day during foundations. After this one workout where we did split squat jumps, my legs collapsed while walking up the stairs. It was horrifying and awesome at the same time and I just wanted to come back and get better.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
Anything but thrusters. I’d say front squats are probably my favorite at the moment.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I do CrossFit 3x per week
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I generally try to eat pretty paleo
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
My main goal is to be able to continue to do CrossFit this upcoming year during clinical rotations and not to lose any of the progress that I have made.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
CrossFit has had a huge impact in my life. I had no idea when Rebecca convinced me to try it out with her a year and a half ago that I would end up loving it as much as I do. I definitely am in the best shape of my life, and have had the pleasure of meeting some super awesome people. I’m really going to miss my Freedom fam!

Rebecca:

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I have an older sister, Elizabeth, who is a PT in New Mexico. My mom, Dad, and step-mom Diane are back home in St. Louis. I don’t have any pets but I consider myself to be auntie to Kristina’s cat Ivy and my mom has two dogs back home.
Whats your occupation?
Med student
Whats your favorite movie?
Legally Blonde. Elle Woods is the ultimate role model.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
My music is very mood dependent but generally I would describe my musical aesthetic as female power ballads with the occasional boy band and some oldies hits thrown in.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I could google one but I don’t really have a favorite.
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
When I found out I was accepted into medical school.
Do you have an athletic background?
Not especially.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Nope
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
Almost a year and a half
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The people and the challenge.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I remember a work out during the foundations class that had split squat jumps in it and I DIED. I could barely walk up the stairs afterwards. I kept coming back for the challenge and that feeling when you crush a work out or hit a pr.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
Cleans
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I crossfit 3x a week
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
No specific plan, I just try to eat more healthy things than unhealthy things.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
To improve my gymnastic skills and get a pull up!
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Crossfit has added a lot to my life. The people at CFF are amazing and so encouraging and I love working out with them every week! Crossfit itself has been such a confidence builder, it makes me feel badass and powerful. And Crossfit has been the perfect outlet for my stress and anxiety from school. There have been times I’ve been stressed about school and then we have a hard wod and it makes me realize, if I can make it through that horrible workout that I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish, I can definitely make it through whatever else is going on in my life.



April 2017 Athlete Spotlight:  Amber Schaefer & Zack Pesic!

Amber and Zack

Amber has been with us since September 2015 and has not looked back.  She instantly fit right into our community and became part of the Freedom family.  She’s one of the most positive, upbeat, and hard-working people in the gym. Amber is a pleasure to have in class, to work out with, and to have around.  Amber has been one of the most consistent Freedom Fitness athletes and has made tremendous progress in her movement, her strength, and her conditioning.  Don’t let her petite frame fool you…this girl is strong!  No matter what the situation is, Amber has a smile on her face and brings a positive vibe that rubs off on those around her.

Let’s learn more about this very kind & special individual…

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I have a wonder Fiance, Mike. An amazing son, Tyler. A beautiful daughter, Natalie, and a four legged companion, Rico
Whats your occupation?
Garden Specialist
Whats your favorite movie?
There are so many that I love, that it is hard to pick just one. I guess I will have to say right now it is The Revenant.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I love to listen to all types of music. Right now I am really liking Sia and the Chainsmokers.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“They say the Devils water it ain’t so sweet. You don’t have to drink right now. But you can dip your feet, every once in a little while.”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
I have more than one: They were when both my children were born. They are my whole world!!
Do you have an athletic background?
Yes, I dabbled a little with Gymnastic when I was super young, but I mostly got into sports by Middle school age. I played softball starting in 6th grade and played all though High School. Even joined co-ed teams in my adult years. Also growing up, my family was very active. To long bike rides on weekends, rollerblading, swimming, hiking, and to a few 5k fun runs. We always tried to stay very active.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Nope
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
Almost 2 years
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
Oh my, where do I start? I look forward to an awesome total body workout! I look forward to all the wonderful people that are part of the CrossFit Freedom family. I look forward to having the most amazing coaches run the classes and the wonderful feeling of encouragement from them. It really shows they love being part of the CFF team! And mostly feeling good about myself, knowing I was able to have the confidence to push myself though each movement of the WOD.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
Yup! It was intense! Though, it was a partner work out and my WONDERFUL fiance was my partner. He was the one who got me to suck up the courage and try my first work out. It was very hard, but I remember he was so supportive of me. Encouraging me every step of the way. He had and still does play a big part why I keep continuing with CF. His determination has rubbed off on me, and I see now, that we all lead by example. We both support one another on our improvements and accomplishments, and love to tell each other about how we did in class.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
Kettle bell swings
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I try to make CrossFit at least three times a week. My job is pretty labor intensive at times so I try to pace out my down time for my body to rest. Sometimes I try to fit in a run or even… I know, old school it, rollerblade.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I really don’t follow any particular one but I always try to eat healthy. Proteins, Veggies, Fruits, and some Whole Grains.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
I would love to be able to lift more weight on push press and would love to master kipping pull-ups. And I am always looking to improve my endurance and agility. Oh yeah…I would like to complete an Obstacle Course Race. Maybe a Tough Mudder or a Spartan race.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Overall, it has been so wonderful. I feel better about myself in ways that my abilities in everyday life have improved. I have more strength to use during the day at my job. I feel motivated to go to classes at CFF. I eat a lot healthier than I did before. And Mike and I have one more interest we both love.
Though, the most impact that CrossFit has made in my life is seeing my children are now wanting to follow in trying more fitness and shaping their lives to healthier choices too. That alone is the the greatest impact in my life knowing that they understand being healthy plays a big part in all of our lives.

Zack came on board in March of 2016.  Since day one, he’s been consistent and attentive and worked extremely hard to make progress every day.  He shows up with a no-nonsense attitude and gets to work.  Zack is a naturally talented athlete that moves extremely well, but CrossFit was brand new to him and he made a concerted effort to focus on technique and mechanics and improving on the fundamentals every day.

Zack has made incredible progress over the last year in every aspect of his fitness.  His strength numbers have constantly and gradually increased since day 1 –  accumulating over 50 pr’s this year.  Zack has also made it a priority to improve his conditioning and his gymnastics skills, which have become extremely proficient.  He just competed in his first CrossFit Open this year and ended up top 20 in the State for his division! Zack carried this momentum into his first live competition this past weekend by entering in the Rookie Rumble and performing extremely well.

Even more important than what Zack has accomplished between the sounds of “go” and “time”, is what he adds to the community.  Zack brings his positive attitude every day to help, encourage, and uplift everyone in his presence.

Read on to find out more about this impressive athlete and friend…

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I’m a proud uncle to five of my older brothers kids.  I also own a hunting dog named Boki.  He’s a German Drahthaar (versatile breed).
Whats your occupation?
I run a small residential property management business.
Whats your favorite movie?
Enemy at the Gates- w/Jude Law
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I listen to everything from “Coffee House” music to “Ramstein”. Currently, I enjoy listening to country music.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Eat Organic, go Hunting and Fishing!
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
One of the proudest moments in my life was when I was recruited by The University of Illinois at Chicago to play D1 Soccer.
Do you have an athletic background?
After playing Soccer at UIC, I played  in various Amateur leagues and tried out for a few Pro teams.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
About a year now.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
I look forward to reaching that breaking point during an exercise when your mind is telling you to quit, but somehow you get past the hurt, pain and suffering and finish.  I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of the awesome coaches and athletes here at CFF.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I don’t remember the exact day, but I was hooked after my first Metcon whooped me.  What a humbling experience.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
I like chest to bar pull-ups now that I can actually do them.  And as much as hated them earlier on, I’m starting to enjoy Snatch’s!
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
5 times a week.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I try to eat well.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Create a healthy eating lifestyle and continue to improve on the movements I struggle with.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Tremendously.  I absolutely love it.   There’s nothing like it!


 

March 2017 Athlete Spotlight:  Jenny Parkhurst & Gustavo Millan!

Jenny has been here with us going on 4 years and is a staple in the early morning class. She brings a positive spirit and energy along with her contagious smile every day. In the last year, Jenny has made a commitment to attending 4 classes a week in order to gain exposure to the full variance of the program, and has worked extremely hard to increase her capacity in every area of fitness. She has made substantial strength gains along with drastically improving all of her gymnastics skills. She trains every day with intention and purpose in order to get the very most out of her training. It is truly a pleasure coaching an athlete that pays such extreme attention to detail and focuses on movement mechanics and trying to improve daily. Jenny always takes the extra time to work on her mobility or some additional skill work after class- that’s of course when she is not filling in as the substitute T-HOP class teacher guiding the group in their daily post WOD core circuit.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I’ve been married to my wonderful husband John for 2 ½ years! He works as a psychologist at the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, and our dog Abby is our constant companion, always ready for long walks and snuggle time.
Whats your occupation?
I’m a teacher of all things! I’ve been teaching 4th grade at Rockland School in Libertyville for the last 9 years. I also teach piano lessons, and have enjoyed many years as the freshman dance coach at Stevenson High School.
Whats your favorite movie?
My Best Friend’s Wedding
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I dabble in all different kinds of music depending on my mood. My all time favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Do you have a favorite quote?
““The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
“I do a lot of fundraising for Misericordia. For those that don’t know, it is an amazing organization in Chicago that is home to more than 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities. My oldest brother has been living there for the last 9 years, and they do a remarkable job providing a wide range of services, therapies, and programming that meets the needs of all its residents. One of my proudest moments was orchestrating a fundraiser for Misericordia through my coaching position at Stevenson High School. It was quite an undertaking to organize all of the different components necessary to make it successful, but in the end we met our fundraising goal and raised awareness for Misericordia.”
Do you have an athletic background?
I started dancing when I was 6 years old and continued through college at Augustana. I also started playing basketball back in 5th grade- I’ve still got a pretty decent jump shot! I’ve been told that I am competitive… and I take it as a compliment. :)
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No, Freedom was was my starting point!
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I started in March of 2013, so almost 4 years now.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
Everything! The programming keeps me motivated and pushes me to be better. I love the community at CFF too- I feel blessed to be connected with such a variety of different people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
Absolutely! I came in for a “trial workout” before taking the foundations courses, and remember being incredibly nervous, but I was set up next to Karen Kapanke (who is the nicest, most friendly person ever!). She was so encouraging and shared her CF experiences with me, and the workout that day was totally different from my typical “gym circuits” I would do on my own. This and the personal goal setting aspect of CF is what kept me wanting to come back for more.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
Squats and double unders, hands down!
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I come 4x a week, but on off days I’ll usually incorporate running into my routine. Although I have yet to find a good yoga studio in Racine, I’ll still practice on my own at home.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I’m pretty strict about staying Paleo Monday-Friday, but I like to be flexible with my weekends! Hard to resist going out to a good tapas meal or enjoying a delicious dessert!
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
It’s the gymnastics side of CF that I find many of my current goals falling. I’m working on my handstand push ups and walking handstands. It’s taken me 4 years to finally get my toes to bar, and they aren’t perfect, but they’re getting better! And…….bar muscle ups.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Starting my day with Crossfit mentally prepares me to take on the challenges I encounter each day. It keeps me encouraged and focused on my health and wellness goals. I feel fortunate to be part of such a great community!

Keep up the great work Jenny!

Gustavo has just completed his first full year as a Freedom athlete. From where he started to where he is now is nothing short of remarkable, and is a direct testament to his hard work and consistent and detailed training. Gustavo is a true student of fitness and is always looking to improve in any way that he can. With relatively no weightlifting experience prior to starting at CFF, Gustavo started with the very basics and has made consistent steady progress on a daily basis. From seeking extra coaching on his OLY lifts, to spending time almost daily on his mobility and working gymnastics skills, to signing up for Nutrition coaching in order to better understand how to maximize his training with optimal nutrition, Gustavo has exhausted every option in order to better himself as an athlete. A true pleasure to have as part of the Freedom community. Gustavo epitomizes the CFF spirit.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
My wife and two kids (3 and 6 year old). No pets, allergic to cats and dogs.
Whats your occupation?
Strategy Consulting (technology)
Whats your favorite movie?
The Big Short (I play an active investor role during free time), Moneyball (great econ theory example applied to real life) and Sideways ( because I love wine)
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
It changes over time. I used to listen to spanish (en español) rock bands like Soda Stereo, Zoe and Cerati. Later I started listening to bands like like U2, The Police, The Cure, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and then turned to electronic like Daft Punk, deadmau5 and the chemical brothers. Never stop listening to Salsa. Like music from heavy metal to reggaeton. Favorite artis: Gustavo Cerati
Do you have a favorite quote?
It is your attitude at the beginning of a difficult taks which more than anything else will affect a succesful outcome
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
When I was accepted at Chicago Booth and when my two kids were born and able to see dad’s graduating from a top 5 business school. Another proud moment was when I pitched a startup idea to the Groupon founders and my idea was the winner.
Do you have an athletic background?
Yes. I have always been doing some kind of sport. Mostly swimming, running, cycling, but never enjoyed going to a gym. In high school I used to represent the school in national tournaments as a track and field athlete. In college I played Futsal
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Nope, except for burpees and situps
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
It’s been 1 year
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
I look forward to seeing great people working individually towards a common goal. I seek self improvement and being full of great energy for the day ahead.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
“It was a wod with 70 double-unders. I was nearly dying after 20 singles. I think the challenge to become better every day, to compete against myself and the vibe at CFF became addictive. Meeting so many great people is also motivating. “
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
Snatches, c2b and burpees
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I usually come 3-4 times a week. In the summer I swim and run outdoors.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I try to stick to a paleo diet with some pasta or paella once in a while.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Pretty much getting my double-unders working, improving mobility and doing more workouts at Rx level.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
In many positive ways: I’m getting closer to a true fitness level, I sleep and eat better, never feel tired and my productivity is at the highest. I can challenge myself mentally and physically everyday. More than anything, I feel great every moment.

Keep up the great work Gustavo!


February 2017 Athlete Spotlight:  Iliana Chavarria & Paul Skinner!

FEB 2017 Athlete Spotlight

Iliana started with us last July and has been a solid, consistent athlete throughout her time here. She’s made significant improvements in both her back squat and clean. She’s always smiling, working hard and pushing herself and her percentages each and every workout. Iliana is employed through the US Navy and currently is stationed here in Great Lakes. Unfortunately she will be leaving us this month due to her military responsibilities. I know she will be missed and thought of often. Whichever box she decides to join in West Virginia will be lucky to have such a hard working and friendly athlete. Let’s learn some more about Iliana…

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
Youngest of 3, 2 dogs, roosters & chickens, and a horse
Whats your occupation?
Navy
Whats your favorite movie?
Hobbit trilogy
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
EDM and rock music to workout
Do you have a favorite quote?
It is what it is
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Finishing 1 yr 6 mths of training
Do you have an athletic background?
Yes
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Yeah @ the box of enchantment, NM
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
8 months
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The good vibes from everyone
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
Yes, it was a Saturday workout. I loved the people and the big gym
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
Toes to bar and cleans
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
Mostly everyday
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
k.i.s.s.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Decrease body fat, push myself more, and commit
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
It has helped me achieve my fitness goals and introduced me to new things I never thought I’d love (like burpees and snatches)

In 10 months since joining us at CFF, Paul has done everything right and made vast and steady progress in every aspect of his health and fitness. Constantly focusing on Movement mechanics, scaling appropriately, proper warm up and cool down, working on weaknesses before/after class and on his own time. Paul has come a long way and will continue to progress at a rapid pace. Paul has reached out to the coaching staff for help with gymnastics skills and has gone through nutrition coaching in order to broaden his understanding of how to optimize his training through proper nutrition. Paul works with the coaches to find ways to modify the programming on days that he cant make it into the gym because of work, and gets his training done at home after work. Paul has changed his whole outlook on health and fitness and has made a healthy lifestyle a priority in his life and his families lives. His work ethic and determination to improve daily is an inspiration to all of us here at CFF. Keep up the great work, Paul. Keep breaking out of your limits…

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I am married to the beautiful and amazingly strong Stephanie Skinner. I have two beautiful daughters, Zoe and McKenzie, whom from time to time y’all have seen running around the gym. We have 2 pugs, 2 cats, 9 goldfish, 3 koi, and a sexy 71 Camaro
Whats your occupation?
I am a Stem Cell Transplant Nurse
Whats your favorite movie?
Hmmm. I would have to say Blank Check and Requim for a Dream.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
Favorite artist/band is The Grateful Dead. I grew up as a little hippie so I enjoy all types of classic rock and jambands
Do you have a favorite quote?
“””Not all who wander are lost”” – J.R.R. Tolkien “”F*%$ that WOD”” – Paul Skinner”
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Proudest moments: Getting sober 11/4/06, marrying Steph, the birth of my daughters, and finally graduating college (10 year plan)
Do you have an athletic background?
I was an accomplished high school and collegiate baseball player. These days I enjoy playing golf and getting my butt kicked in the gym.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Negative captain
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
Steph and I joined in May of 2016…so going on 8 months now
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The humility of getting absolutely destroyed by every WOD
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I sort of remember foundations and the 7 minute mini WODs Justin and Keith had us do. I remember nearly dying after them. The inclusivity and love of everyone at CFF and the intensity/insanity of the workouts had me hooked and coming back
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
Favorite lift is power cleans and favorite movement is rowing.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
With my work schedule I can only attend 3-4 days a week. The other 3-4 days I supplement workouts at my neighbors garage. His setup allows me to to do the lifting/strength and WOD/Metcon for the days I can’t make it in.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
Brett really turned me and Steph on to clean eating in the beginning of Dec 16′. I try to stick to a pretty strict Paleo diet with some cheats thrown in there every once in a while.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Biggest goal would be to Compete in Fit-tober Fest on Rx level…..and maybe teasing the idea of getting CF level 1 training certified. I love helping people and think this would be a great outlet for continuing that outside of being a nurse.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Physical health: I’ve lost close to 40 pounds (which was the main reason Steph and I inquired about CFF back in may), I no longer have to take a daily antacid for heartburn/GERD which I previously took for 8 years, and my BP is down 15 points! But more importantly is the mental health: I feel great inside and out, I sleep great, I have crazy amounts of energy, and I’ve learned to take pride in what types of food I put in my body. It’s really been one of the best things Steph and I have decided to do, so much that I convinced my brother and father to start CF, and now they are addicted too! Love everyone at CFF!


January 2017 Athlete Spotlight:  Bridget Nee & Ron Bernardi!

Nee Bernardi

Bridget started CrossFit with us in Jan 2015. We remember her first day well as she came in as part of a trial for the Libertyville Running Club. Bridget wasted no time in signing up and getting right into our program & she hasn’t looked back since.  She brings a passion for fitness and an upbeat attitude every day.  Her positivity rubs off on everyone around her.  She is extremely coachable and always focused on doing things right.  Her progress has been substantial in every area of her fitness and she’s even competed in a few events and done incredibly well.  She set 33 PRs in the last year alone and is only continuing to improve daily. We sure do miss Bridget when she goes back to school, but no worries, she sticks with her CrossFit while shes away at her home away from home box.  Keep smiling, working hard and getting better every day…you rock, Bridget!

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I live with my parents, Mary and Rich, and my younger sister, Michelle, who is a senior at LHS. My older sister, Julia, is in grad school at the University of California – Berkeley. We have a dog named Brody and a cat named Chloe. I also have an 8-year old goldfish named Fish 2.
Whats your occupation?
I am a grad student at Northern Illinois studying accounting. I graduate in May and will start my job in Tax next January. What will I do in-between you ask – pass the CPA exam (that’s the plan).
Whats your favorite movie?
Non-Disney is Apollo 13 and Disney is Lion King 1 1/2.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I listen to lots of types of music but I could listen to The Fray all day long.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Today it’s: “We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over” -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Tricky one – one of my proudest moments was graduating undergrad from NIU with straight As (if you count that one A-). Also, running a half marathon in under two hours was a proud accomplishment.
Do you have an athletic background?
I played basketball through middle school but didn’t play sports in high school. I got into running in my Senior year of high school and ran my first half marathon the month before starting at CFF.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
I did a few CrossFit type classes during gym class in high school. When I saw that the Libertyville Running Club had a CrossFit night I convinced my dad to come with me and try it out.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I’ve been at CFF for two years and the CrossFit love is real!
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
SO many things (and it’s never burpees). CFF has amazing coaches and members that make my less-than-great days a whole lot better! I love having the escape of not worrying about anything else besides my workout for an hour every day.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
The first WOD I remember was during foundations and I believe we did a 21-15-9 with S2O and Box Jumps – it was rough. I ran a lot before CrossFit and was getting tired of my routine. I wanted to build on my strength training and I knew CrossFit would continue to challenge me in a way that I had been lacking.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
Deadlifts and Running.:)
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I usually CrossFit 6 days a week and supplement it with a Sunday Run-day.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I follow a modified Paleo plan (basically Paleo plus oats, rice, and yogurt).
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
I have a whole bunch for goals for 2017! Some of the big ones are getting a pull-up and toes to bar and hitting triple digits on all my lifts (i’m missing snatch and bench).
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
CrossFit has increased my confidence more than I could have imagined! Both CrossFit Freedom and Sycamore CrossFit (where I go at school) have such a great sense of community and camaraderie that make me feel like I am part of a little CrossFit family. CrossFit has become a place where I feel completely comfortable with myself. I always leave with a smile on my face and really, what more can you ask for from a workout? :)

Ron Bernardi has been here with us since year 1. His attendance and progress has been extremely consistent all along the way. Always showing up early to work on skills and taking advantage of any opportunities to get better. Ron has taken advantage of competing whenever possible, participating in Health Coaching and challenges, working with coaches to improve efficiency and technique, coming in on off days to mobilize/active recovery or to work on skills. He continues to improve in every aspect of his fitness – setting PR’s in nearly every lift and benchmark workout this past year.  “The Don” has certainly reached God Father “untouchable” status as a staple here at CFF.  Keep up the great work Ron!

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I am fortunate to have a lovely wife of 32 + years who keeps me young, 3 sons and a dog named Ozzie.
Whats your occupation?
I help lead a municipal bond investment firm.
Whats your favorite movie?
Cool Hand Luke- “he grins like a baby, but bites like a gator….that’s my Luke”
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
Whatever riff Master Duros is spinning at 5 p.m. on Master’s Thursday…..I always encourage him to include a few “Rolling Stones ” classics.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Success is a cumulative force – you don’t awaken one day and achieve success. You build towards it with planning, preparation, practice, performance…..the 4 P’s….these are the elements that define success…..adhere to these and you will win your fair share of contests.” John Wooden
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
I have been blessed with many proud moments. Those at the top of the list all involve my family.
Do you have an athletic background?
Yes
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
approximately 4 1/2 years
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
I find the physical and mental challenges very stimulating. This dynamic is a big part of what keeps me motivated to return, to improve. This is the result of the solidness of the Crossfit program and the outstanding manner it is presented by our coaches : “Sensei” Brett, “CHAIRMAN” Justin, “Keefe” Keith and Coach Cathy. This group is outstanding and often push me to attain results I would never see if left to my own devices.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
Very clearly : Thrusters was one of the elements that day and I used an unloaded 45 # bar; I got crushed by it…and a bit ticked off …and made sure to return the next day to start to set things right, ha !
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
a spicey triplet : double -unders, burpees, pull-ups
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
3 -4 times per week
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
It is called the “Beth plan”, delicious, nutritious and includes pasta, red wine!
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
I plan on bettering my 2016 Crossfit Open final ranking performance
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
I am as physically fit as I have ever been in my adult life. As important, I have made many great friends at crossfit which I did not expect when I started years ago. This has been a special surprise for me . “Misery loves company “, right fellow Masters and Masters in Training ? See everyone at 5 !


December 2016 Athlete Spotlight: Jennifer Hall & Charles Hunt!

hunt-hall

Jen began in the Freedom Fitness program without any previous CrossFit experience. She progressed and thrived in this environment and committed to the CrossFit Unlimited program shortly after signing up. She has made enormous strides in her movement, her strength and her conditioning in a short period of time. Her attention to detail and dedication to putting 100% effort into every single aspect of every training session has paid dividends in her progress. Jen has become a staple in the evening classes and also as a major contributor to our community. Jen can always be counted on to help out around the gym or to help out in any way. She volunteered 2 full days to judging at FitoberFest and has always been available to help out when needed.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I am married and we have a beautiful daughter who is six years old.
Whats your occupation?
I’m an Electrician in the US Navy
Whats your favorite movie?
Pretty Woman (I could watch it all day, everyday)
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I will listen to almost anything but I love Drake.
Do you have a favorite quote?
No
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Becoming a mother
Do you have an athletic background?
I played basketball in high school
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Never
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
May 2016
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
The friendly people at CFF and pulling myself off of the floor after the workout.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
My first class was a fitness class on a Saturday morning with Coach Brett. There were box jumps (which I had never done) and burpees. I thought I was going to die lol. But what made me come back were the people that told me that I did a good job (which I knew was a lie lol) and that it gets easier with time.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I enjoy any variation of squats
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I CrossFit 4-5 times a week and I run twice a week. Nothing major because I like to save my energy for CrossFit lol
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I just started cleaning up my nutrition with Real Clean Paleo. It is the bomb.com!! It definitely has helped in my performance.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
To simply just get better and stronger while staying injury free.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
CrossFit has made me a firm believer in that I can do anything that I put my mind to.

Charlie has been with us for just over a year and has been the staple of consistency and continued progress. Charlie started out in our Fitness program and has graduated on to performing at a high level in our CrossFit program. Charlie has attended over 200 classes in the last year and has made steady and gradual progress in every aspect of his fitness. He is now consistently performing workouts at an RX level and showing proficient movement in his Olympic lifts as well as his gymnastics. Look out masters division in the CrossFit Open 2017 – Charlie is going to be ready to put up some serious numbers.

Besides all of the tremendous progress in the gym, Charlie is always first in line to volunteer for events, cheer on others in class and lend a helping hand whenever possible. He has judged and volunteered at both FitoberFest and Lex Artis competitions and has been incredibly helpful all around. We are lucky to have Charlie as part of the CFF community.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
My wife (Barb) and I have two sons Beau (30), Boyd (10) … yeah, that’s right, 20 years between the boys! We have never had pets. I know, we are boring!An interesting family trivia bit is that I come from a family of 13 kids. I have 6 brothers and 6 sisters. I am number 12 of 13. For those who have happened to have spotted my motorcycle in the CrossFit parking lot may have noticed my license plate is “HUNT12″. Now you know where the ’12’ comes from. ;-)
Whats your occupation?
I’m a software architect.
Whats your favorite movie?
Rocky (the first one — I didn’t care for the sequels) … if you wanna know “why Rocky”, feel free to ask?
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
Classic Rock Favorite artist: The Who, a close second is the Rolling Stones
Do you have a favorite quote?
From Robert Kennedy, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” I remind myself of this quote any time something negative happens, when I see something that gets me upset, or if I have a disappointing experience. Reminding myself of this quote gets me to see something positive, or it motivates me to do something positive in reaction to what appears to be a negative situation. It also seems to gets me through those tough times alot easier and more quickly.
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
About 10 years ago, my wife and I endowed two scholarships at Iowa State University, one in Computer Science and one in Statistics. We are passionate believers that the best gift we can offer our youth is an education.
Do you have an athletic background?
Way back some 40 years ago I played high school football, basketball and track. Our high school didn’t have offer other sports such as swimming, gymnastics, not even baseball. My peers in high school labelled me as the high school’s best all around athlete. After high school I played in quite a few recreation basketball and softball leagues.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No, I hadn’t done Crossfit before. Actually my primary motivation for doing CrossFit and joining CrossFit Freedom was to do an activity with my son Boyd. Boyd’s primary motiviation with CrossFit is to be a better athlete, especially in football. He enjoys CrossFit, and it’s a great activity for both of us to enjoy together.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I took the Foundations class just about exactly a year ago. Then I did the Fitness class for a little over 6 months before starting to do the CrossFit class with the additional strength component. I still participate in some Fitness classes.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
I’m a rather internally competitive person. Each time I come to CrossFit, I look forward to challenging myself to improve in some manner in at least one thing. I also really enjoy absorbing the energy from the great athletes who are there working out.
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I don’t remember the exact details of the first CrossFit workout, but I knew I was so badly out of shape. I really sucked. I was wore out after the warmup! I kept wanting to come back for several reasons. I wanted get into better shape, and I knew Boyd (my son) would really enjoy me doing the workouts with him. I found as I kept doing more workouts, I was feeling better, and looked forward to the challenge of the next workout. I found it kinda feeding my inner competitiveness. I also found the athletes and coaches to be so open, engaging and encouraging. I don’t think there has been a day at CrossFit that I haven’t gotten some kind of really useful tip or information from one of the athletes or coaches. It’s such a wonderful and unique community. Also, as I have said to several of the coaches and to quite a few athletes, as long as I notice I’m improving in some way in at least one thing, I look forward to coming back the next day.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
This will probably sound funny, and it’s a movement we don’t do very often … the “farmer carry”. It takes me back to my roots as an Iowa dairy farm boy. “Farmer carry” is what we did every day, all day. Favorite workout: I tend to like the interval type workouts where we’re doing several rounds of a burst of work, then a short rest, and I also enjoy the team workouts.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
If I’m not traveling for work, you can find me at CrossFit 5 to 6 times a week. On occasion I am known to do a CrossFit workout and a Fitness class workout the same day. Outside of CrossFit, my athletic activities are in the coaching area, such as coaching youth tackle football. Our family spends a lot time with football. It is definitely Boyd’s favorite sport. It helps that I like it too.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
The “Charlie Plan” :-] That means I pretty much don’t follow any specific plan. I do my own thing using common sense utilizing good information from a variety of nutrition plans.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Next years goals are in a couple areas; additional or better flexibilty / mobility, and I have a couple movements I want to tackle and improve on such as double unders, kipping or butterfly pullups and more consistent toes to bar. Bigger and better things will come once those are tackled. I’m also anxious to participate in my first CrossFit Open. I’m looking forward to seeing where I am relative to other athletes in my age group. That will really help me shape my fitness goals for the next year. I know I have alot of work to do!
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
It’s been a great place where Boyd and I can have a lot of fun doing something that definitely is good for both of us. To my pleasant surprise, it’s also offered me a great opportunity to not only challenge myself physically and mentally, but also an opportunity to be introduced to a great community of people. I have met so many wonderful athletes, and even better people!


October 2016 Athlete Spotlight: Alexandra Jaegar & Chris Webb!

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Alex has become one of the most diligent and consistent athletes at CFF.  Her attention to detail and focus on mechanics and consistency has paid huge dividends in her progress as an athlete.  In just a short period of time she has improved drastically in every aspect.  Even while traveling almost every week, she finds time to get to class very regularly- almost every day that she is in town.  Whether its the 5:30am class or an evening class, she shows up ready to work and puts forth her very best effort.  A real pleasure to have in class and to have as part of our community- we are super proud of the consistent effort and the progress that Alex has made and will continue to make.

Chris has been one of our most consistent athletes ever since starting with us in early 2016.  Chris has made dramatic progress in every aspect of his fitness- setting PR’s in almost every single lift and benchmark during last testing period.  His dedication to getting to class consistently and always showing up early to work on skills or spend extra time mobilizing has been a major contribution to his success in our program.  Chris will always find time to get to class and get his work in- that means coming in early mornings when necessary, or making it in for the 6pm class after work.  His positive attitude and encouraging spirit is contagious in every class he attends- and we are so happy to have him as part of our community.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
We moved to Vernon Hills about 9 months ago leaving our families back in New Jersey. It’s just the two of us for now, but Chris has been begging for a dog since we moved in!
Whats your occupation?
Alex is a consultant for PwC and Chris designs and manufactures anatomical models for GPI.
Whats your favorite movie?
We are big Pitch Perfect fans!
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
Chris likes 90s rap music and Alex listens to a little bit of everything.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in the common hour… you will pass an invisible boundary… If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them.” – Henry David Thoreau
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
Alex’s proudest moment was getting her first job out of college. Chris’s proudest moment was being a part of the first wrestling team at his high school to win their conference.
Do you have an athletic background?
Chris grew up playing football, baseball, and wrestling. Alex played basketball in school until the rest of the class surpassed her dramatically in height.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
A few years ago we attended an “Average Joe’s” gym that had a CrossFit substitute class called Ultimate Fitness that we loved.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
9 months and counting.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
We look forward to the encouraging, competitive, and welcoming environment and an intense workout that is sure to knock us out for the rest of the day!
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
We were too overcome by exhaustion to recall our first workouts…
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout for?
Burpees… just kidding! Chris likes snatches and Alex likes back squats.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
Chris goes Monday through Saturday and trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Alex goes whenever she is in town and does a combination of running and yoga while traveling.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
Pizza and beer… which is why we’re here!
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Alex wants to be able to do an unassisted pull up. Chris wants to get to RX… and be able to do burpees quickly.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
Besides challenging us physically, CrossFit has allowed us to become part of a community of welcoming individuals that inspire us every day!


October 2016 Athlete Spotlight: Pat Geske & Mike Boudart!

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Pat Geske has just completed her 390th workout here at CFF.  The improvements she has made in her overall fitness is absolutely incredible since joining 2 years ago. Her flexibility and her movement, as well her overall work capacity and strength has dramatically improved and continues to do so.  Pat has made real sustainable changes to her lifestyle though fitness and nutrition with attention to detail and consistent hard work- keep up the great work, Pat!

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
2 Doberman pinschers
Whats your occupation?
plan reviewer for Libertyville
Whats your favorite movie?
anything w/ tom hanks
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
mellisa etheridge
Do you have a favorite quote?
no
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
I just got the agility championship on my male doberman
Do you have an athletic background?
no, I was in the band
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
no
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
2 1/4 years
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
variety of exercises
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I felt like I was really working out
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
rowing
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
2 days CrossFit Lite, 2 day yoga, 1 day walk 4 miles & walk dogs every day
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
Real Clean Paleo for lunch, Brett’s modified protein, low sugar other meals
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
keep from getting hurt
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
it has increase my interest in working out somehow every day

Mike Has been with us since May 2012.  He shows up bright and early on an extremely consistent basis with a positive attitude ready to work.  A staple of the 5:30 am crew, Mike always brings his sense of humor and work ethic every day.  He has steadily improved in every aspect of his fitness since starting – a true testament to his dedication to the program.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
Wife Jennifer of 25 years, daughters Zoe (18) and Piper (17), SkyDog (13)
Whats your occupation?
President, Lindemann Chimney Co.
Whats your favorite movie?
Apocalypse Now
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
Classic, Art Rock, Alternative – Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Radiohead, Brian Eno
Do you have a favorite quote?
“I can do all things through Him, who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
The day I received the title of: “Dad”
Do you have an athletic background?
Youth sports and long distance running starting with the Seattle Marathon in 1994
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
Not formally
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
May, 2012
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
My UN-occupied spot and the 5:30am crew
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
The first WOD was an impossible combination of thrusters and burpees on the minute which quickly put me “behind the clock” after round two and left me terribly sore for days. The challenge keeps me coming back every day.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
Squatting and Triple Murph
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
Typical weeks are filled with 3-4 WODS and 2-3 runs.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
Mostly paleo, most of the time. Tons of fruit, vegetables, nuts and quality meat and fish. Thanks to Brett Hall for increasing my level of awareness.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Stay healthy and injury-free, nail double unders and complete a marathon in 2017
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
CF has brought my fitness and nutrition to an all-time high. At 53 years old I’m in the best shape of my life.


September 2016 Initial Nominees: Karen Hymes & Mike Damenti

imag0217 Karen has been with us for 3.5 years now. She’s continued to progress in every aspect of her fitness though consistent hard work and attention to detail. Her positive spirit is contagious and we’re so very proud to call her a member of our community.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I’m married, have two children and a dog. My husband is from Moscow. He doesnt do Xfit but is very athletic and supportive. My son lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area with his girlfriend. She is also a crossfitter. My daughter is a junior at Connecticut College. She plays volleyball and hopes to attend medical school. My third child is my Borzoi Ella.
Whats your occupation?
I am a retired attorney.
Whats your favorite movie?
Casablanca, Forest Gump and ET are some of my favorites.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I like both classic and alternative rock. My son introduced me to Placebo years back, and they remain one of my favorite groups.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
The births of my children.  Nothing will ever come close.
Do you have an athletic background?
I’ve completed numerous triathlons, marathons and ultras. I’m also an avid skier.
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
No
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I’ve been at CFF for 3 1/2 years.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
Brett’s encouragement, Justin’s huge smile, the camaraderie of the participants, Kirsten and Kelly’s never-ending goodness, the smell of RCP’s bread baking,  Java’s big kisses, Cathy’s keen observations and support,  Stephanie’s angelic greetings, the sweat and pain and feeling of accomplishment after every WOD.  So great!
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
I was almost fifty years old when I walked into CFF for my first workout.  We did thrusters, box jumps and sprints.  It was both a physical and mental battle just to finish. I loved it!  I also loved the fact that those around me were sweating and panting and challenging themselves and I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of that community.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I was almost fifty years old when I walked into CFF for my first workout.  We did thrusters, box jumps and sprints.  It was both a physical and mental battle just to finish. I loved it!  I also loved the fact that those around me were sweating and panting and challenging themselves and I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of that community.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
I go to CFF several times a week.  I also swim, run, bike and participate in other group classes.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I follow a vegan diet, although I eat fish periodically.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
When I was younger I was very goal oriented, always wanting to best my PRs. Now I have a more long term philosophy; simply enjoy every workout and stay healthy (but I do have an Ironman on my bucket list).
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
I do appreciate how lucky I am to be physically able to do Crossfit in my mid- fifties. It has not only made me stronger physically but mentally and that strength is empowering. I also appreciate being part of a community that raises awareness of and appreciation for our military.  CFF never fails to recognize, honor and remember those who have fought for this country.  Again, it speaks to what an outstanding group of people one finds at CrossFitfreeedom.

Mike Damenti has just completed his first full year with us. Mike has come a long way in terms of his strength and the quality of his movement. He’s put in so much work in order to improve his technique and mechanics and it’s translating to vast improvement across the board. Mike brings an upbeat and motivating vibe to class each and every day.

Tell us about your immediate family. Any pets?
I met Julie in college and we’ve be married now 21 years!  Our kids are Jack, Ryan, & Sophie.  Jack is a senior at Libertyville, Ry is a Sophomore and Sophie is in 7th grade at Highland.  Our four legged family members are Ozzie and Louie.  Ozzie is a 13lb Brussels Griffon and Louie is a lab and there is no doubt that Ozzie is in charge!
Whats your occupation?
I’m a Client Director at Gartner, which is a Technology Research & Advisory Firm.
Whats your favorite movie?
Shawshank Redemption.
What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favorite artist?
I really enjoy all types of music from Rage Against the Machine to Zac Brown Band.  Of course, the classic rock played during Masters Thursdays is some of my favorite
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Make decisions based on how you want to feel, not on how you feel.”  This applies to all those workouts that you don’t “feel” like doing and so many other aspects of life.
What or when was the proudest moment of your life?
The proudest moments have been watching my kids put in significant work and effort to achieve their athletic and academic goals.  Seeing them achieve their goals is incredibly rewarding, and watching them put in the work and the process to get there is equally rewarding.
Do you have an athletic background?
I played all kinds of sports as a kid and I did wrestling in High School.  My 20s were pretty much a time when I did nothing except eat and drink!  When Jack was born I had the side profile of the Grinch, or Tommy Lasorda in a slim-fast commercial.  I was 30 at the time and decided to get in shape so I started running.  Since that time I’ve averaged about a marathon a year.  Although my running has dipped a little since I started CrossFit, but that’s a good thing!
Prior to joining CrossFit Freedom had you done CrossFit before?
I was introduced to CrossFit by one of Jack’s wrestling coaches, Jeff Keske.  He invited me to go to some of their CrossFit sessions that they have at LHS before school (mostly for their teachers).  I only went for a couple months, but I really liked it and started to get hooked.  That’s when I decided to join CrossFit Freedom.
How long have you been at CrossFit Freedom?
I’ve been at CrossFit Freedom for just over a year.
What do you look forward to most when coming to CrossFit Freedom?
I would say the camaraderie of the class and the variety of the workouts are what I look forward to the most when coming to CrossFit Freedom.  Also, that first cold beer after a hard Friday class is right up there!
Do you remember your first CrossFit workout? What was it that made you want to keep coming back for more?
Yes, and all I remember is that it was humbling!  Even though I had been doing a lot of running I quickly realized that I wasn’t in great all-around shape.  Most of my major muscle groups were pretty weak and inflexible and I wanted to change that, which is why I’ve kept coming back.
What is your favorite lift or movement or workout?
I tend to like the lifts / movements where I don’t totally suck!  So for me, I happen to enjoy pull-ups, burpees, and bench.  I’m even starting to like a number of lifts that I really struggled with initially such as snatch and front squat.
How often do you CrossFit & are there any other sports/activities you supplement it with?
4 – 6 times per week is what I’ve been averaging.  My running has dropped off a lot due to CrossFit, but I think the break has been good.  I do plan on doing more running in the future along with CrossFit.
What type of nutrition plan do you follow?
I wouldn’t say I have “plan”, but overall I try to eat healthy on a regular basis.
What are your fitness goals for the coming year?
Completing my first Fitober Fest, being able to do a muscle up….and finally getting double unders down!  In addition, I will get back into running, but not at the expense of CrossFit.
How has CrossFit impacted your life?
I feel I’m in better overall shape and have greater strength and flexibility than I’ve ever had.  This positively impacts many aspects of my life and really helps to deal with stress at work.  In addition, being a part of the CrossFit Freedom community has been outstanding!  The people that come here are awesome and I feel like we’re all part of something special.

We’re extremely proud of these two athletes and appreciate all of their hard work, support, and dedication to our program.