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Athlete Spotlight

ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT: TOM MILLER

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tom-millerWhat was your Fitness Like before you came to CrossFit Mt. Lebanon?

I was not very healthy. I had not worked out for months before joining and my diet was anything but healthy. I ordered out almost every day.

How long have you been working out with us and how did you get into it?

I joined in May 2016. I first learned about Crossfit in March of 2012 at a firefighter fitness challenge in Homestead. I was instantly fascinated with it. I joined a different Box but I wasn’t able to push my self to consistently go. I ended up leaving that box. Never loosing my fascination with Crossfit, I saw one of my old coaches post on Facebook about Crossfit Mt. Lebanon and figured I would give it another try.

 

What were your thoughts after your first  workout here?

I hate running and I think I am dying.

What were your goals when joining us?

I wanted to become stronger mentally and physically which would help me be a better firefighter.

Since joining what physical and mental transformations have you made? Tell us about that.

I have slowly started going to the gym on a more consistent basis. I lost 50 lbs while completing the Lurong challenge with the help of members and coaches from my box.

What has been the most challenging part of your journey? Biggest obstacles?img_4685

Myself…I can come up with some of  the best excuses to not do something.

What changes have you made to your daily life, diet & workout routine that have been the most successful for you?

Definitely changing my eating habits and trying to schedule days in advance to go to the gym.

What advice would you give someone looking to start a similar journey?

Don’t be intimidated, be committed and show up regularly.

Favorite WOD/Workout  Least Favorite WOD/Workout:

For me they are kind of the same, the WODs that I look at and cringe and dread are the ones that give me the most satisfaction when I complete them.

Favorite Lift/ Least Favorite Lift:

Back Squat / THRUSTERS UGH!

img_4687When you’re not here, where are we most likely to find you?

 

Either at work or working around the house. I really like to do home improvement project.

Knowing how far you’ve come, if you could give your past self-advice, what would it be?

It is something that I have known all along, in order to be successful you cannot separate exercise and eating right. No matter how hard you work out, if you are not eating properly, you are just running in place, and God knows I hate running, let alone in place!

Favorite healthy snack

apples and almond butter

How do you feel about the coaching staff here? Who has inspired you the most?

I think the coaching staff is absolutely amazing. Terry has helped me push myself harder then I normally would during my workouts. Jenn has helped me to get out of my comfort zone during the Lurong challenge and try to eat elite when I thought I couldn’t.

Calories don’t count. Describe your most epic cheat meal.

Going to Donte’s Pizzeria with the guys I work with. They push me to eat the way everyone at the gym pushes me to work out.

 

 

 

ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT: Ken Pawlowski

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kenthen

What was your fitness like before coming to CrossFit Mt. Lebanon?
I have always been active. as a youngster and into my teens, I participated in gymnastics at Polish Falcons. As I became older, I ran the gamut of gyms from European Health Spa, King’s Gym and Fitness19 to mention a few. Oh, but let’s not forgot the boon of in-home fitness tapes from Jane Fonda (yeah, you read it right), Tae-Bo, Insanity, P90X (1, 2 &3). The CDs/Tapes grew old and monotonous, and I never found guidance or good strategies in the gyms, despite going to Atlantic City to work out with Tony Horton once.28814676584_fa549d3dbd_z

How long have you been working out with us and how did you get into it?

I have been working out with CFMTL for over 18 months. I was introduced to CFMTL by my son PJ who gifted me for Christmas the on-ramp and a month membership. After that month of sweat and struggle, I questioned (and still do) whether it was a gift or payback for his teenage years, especially since he at the time, also coached the 7:30 class.

What were your thoughts after your first workout here?
“Boy that was easy!” LOL! No, I thought that I was in pretty good shape, but it was a real challenge. It really humbled me. It still does to this day, there are times after some WODs I think “what the hell was that?”


What were your goals when joining us?

To be more fit with focus and guidance. To see improvement and to be able to achieve28865999863_4a9440b267_k a movement, weight or time that I thought I would never do. Oh, and not to die!
What inspired you to make such a drastic change to get healthier? What or who was the biggest motivator?
PJ actually inspired me, his transformation, change and commitment to Crossfit. The biggest motivator was the 7:30 class. It was a fun and great group that was really encouraging when I first started. This is the fantastic thing about the CFMTL community, everyone is really supportive whether cheering others on during a WOD or a fist bump or simple “good job” after the WOD.
What has been the most challenging part of your journey? Biggest obstacles?
I always thought that I was really coordinated. However, my biggest challenges are getting the movement in the lifts or on the swings, or the ropes. Ok, so come to think of it, basically I am still really challenged!
28192873043_0134e1feaa_kWhat changes have you made to your daily life, diet & workout routine that have been the most successful for you?
I make time to be at the gym. The new programming this year combined with Lurong Challenge this past spring tied it all together. My performance improved and I felt better, I lost weight, and inches. I also like to supplement different workouts such as body lab, spinning, and yoga with doing the WODs.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a similar journey?
Don’t be intimidated, be committed and show up regularly.
28814678064_19ae92b77c_kFavorite WOD/Workout Least Favorite WOD/Workout:
For me they are kind of the same, the WODs that I look at and cringe and dread are the ones that give me the most satisfaction when I complete them.

 

Favorite Lift/ Least Favorite Lift:

Back Squat / THRUSTERS UGH!
When you’re not here, where are we most likely to find you?
Either at work or working around the house. I really like to do home improvement project.
Knowing how far you’ve come, if you could give your past self-advice, what would it be?
It is something that I have known all along, in order to be successful you cannot separate exercise and eating right. No matter how hard you work out, if you are not eating properly, you are just running in place, and God knows I hate running, let alone in place!

28192841883_300cf8b437_kFavorite healthy snack

Paleo pumpkin cake
Do you look up to any particular athlete at the gym?
Of course I look up to those athletes that always rank at the top of the Whiteboard, the dedication and hard work that goes into that type of performance is admirable. However I admire the ones that show up regularly and push themselves to get their first double under, pull up, rope climb or a new PR. It is their perseverance and dedication that I admire.
How do you feel about the coaching staff here? Who has inspired you the most?
That is like picking your favorite child. Each coach brings something different to the class. What I appreciate most is that the coaching staff takes the time to correct my form, or give suggestions to improve, even if they are not coaching the class at the time.29355868410_6af1fedc2b_k


When you’re not here, where are we most likely to find you?

Either at work or working around the house. I really like to do home improvement project.

 

 

 

Favorite CHEAT MEAL?
CAKE, vanilla or marble with lots of icing, from either Lincoln or Shore’s Bakery.
Do you have any suggestions how we can make the experience better for you?

 

 

Athlete Spotlight : Cristian Minor

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IMG_0628What was your fitness like before you came to CrossFit Mt. Lebanon?

Regular Gym a couple times a week. No improvement whatsoever.

How long have you been working out with us and how did you get into it?

About four months now. I found out about CFML through a good friend who invited me to a community class. Then, after a few months I joined the prep class, but I couldn’t enroll due to my work schedule. Then a few months later I made the decision to join and here I am.

What were your thoughts after your first workout here?

It was something that I have never experienced before. I thought that this was one of the best experiences I had had in a long time. Not just for the extreme work for my body, but also for my mind and the feeling of accomplishment. Every day that I go to Crossfit I experience the same feelings I had after my first workout here. I usually don’t review the WOD in advance, and I just show up. It is fun because I never know what is gonna happen. Therefore, it is always like my first time there.

What were your goals when joining us?

Being more active, and getting healthier…

Since joining what physical and mental transformations have you made? Tell us about that.

Since I started I have noticed big changes in my strength and endurance. When I started I barely could lift the 45 Lb bar. Now I can do much more than that. Before I couldn’t squat and felt embarrassed about that, but my legs were not flexible enough to do that. Now IIMG_0594 can almost squat! The most substantial transformation has been a mental transformation, I discovered that I am able to do things that I never imagine I could do at any age. I have become very competitive against myself, and I challenge myself to do a little more every day. I feel very energetic all the time! I also feel happier doing something that gives me so many rewards, and by being surrounded by a group of people that have taught me about discipline and hard work.

What has been the most challenging part of your journey? Biggest obstacles?

To make time for it. It is difficult to make time for a hobby when you have work to do, meetings or events to attend. So, instead of seeing Crossfit as a hobby I see it as part of my life and something that I have to do. I live about 35 to 40 minutes from CFML, but I know that CFML is the best box in Pittsburgh, so I don’t mind to drive there every day. It is worth it!!!

What advice would you give someone looking to start a similar journey?

Don’t be afraid to start! Your level of fitness doesn’t matter, your age doesn’t matter, your weight doesn’t matter. You will get there and the community will be there for you.

Favorite WOD/Workout Least Favorite WOD/Workout:

Favorite: pull ups, push ups, partner WODs. Least Favorite WOD: bear crawls, burpees

IMG_0649Something no one at the gym knows about you?

I enjoy Salsa dancing.

Knowing how far you’ve come, if you could give your past self-advice, what would it be?

Be more disciplined!

Do you look up to any particular athlete at the gym?

Too many, but I would say Ricky. I think he is a very talented young man that works really hard for his goals. He is very driven and optimistic and I admire that in a very young person.

IMG_0629How do you feel about the coaching staff here? Who has inspired you the most?

Overall the coaches have been amazing. They have been patient when my body and my mind are not connected and have difficulties performing a movement. All of them have taken the time to show me proper form and technique, during and after the sessions. If I had to choose someone it would be John, he is a tough coach. He is always pushing me to improve my form and it is something that I really appreciate. I know that he does that because he cares.

 

 

 

IMG_0657

ATHLETE SPTLIGHT: KRISTINE TURKO

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13901543_10102104650590372_4275982040087541899_nWhat was your fitness like before becoming a member at CFMTL/MECKA?

Before coming to this fitness facility, I did a variety of group exercise classes at other gyms and ran for several years. I had really good endurance, but I wasn’t very strong nor did I know proper weight lifting form.

How long have you been working out with us and how did you get into it?

I joined Mt. Lebanon CrossFit in April 2015, and Mecka when it opened. I decided to try CrossFit again after I moved to Brookline. My other gym was too far away to travel to daily.

What were your thoughts after your first workout here?

I was impressed on how knowledgeable the coaches were with proper weight lifting techniques. All of the coaches were great, but John (and former coach Josh) were extremely helpful in assisting me with my squats and teaching me to become more flexible in my back, hips, and ankles. I learned more in my first month at Mt. Lebanon CrossFit than I did in a whole year at a different CrossFit facility. I also liked how encouraging the other members were towards me. Yes, the workouts are competitive, but never once did I feel like someone was trying to beat me. Everyone just wanted to push me to do my best, and that’s a great feeling! Lastly, I liked how I could electronically keep track of WODs and weight lifting performance.

What were your goals when joining us?

When joining this fitness facility, I wanted to maintain my current healthy lifestyle and learn to lift heavy weights. I always had to work hard at the gym and eat well to maintain a healthy body weight.

28093816204_e85c4ff032_kSince joining what physical and mental transformations have you made? Tell us about that.

A few months after becoming a member, I planned to get pregnant. I wasn’t sure if CrossFit and the Mecka classes would be an appropriate workout routine during my pregnancy. With the approval of my doctor and the help of the coaches, I was able to continue with modified exercise movements up until the day before I gave birth. It also helped me to become physically active again after having the baby. Before pregnancy, I was just worried about being skinny and fit. Now, I want to be strong and healthy. I want my daughter to grow up seeing her mom take care of herself physically and mentally through exercise and good nutrition.

What inspired you to make such a drastic change to get healthier? What or who was the biggest motivator?

I was inspired to become healthier after college. I had gained weight because I didn’t maintain a healthy life style, and it affected how I felt about myself. By becoming physically fit and eating clean, I gained confidence again. At Mt. Lebanon Crossfit and Mecka, my biggest motivator is seeing other people push themselves in their workouts. Also, the kindness they have shown me and others have made me want to be a better person in my everyday life.

12983244_10101936960612432_6288923451642542930_oWhat has been the most challenging part of your journey? Biggest obstacles?

The most challenging part of my fitness journey is getting back to where I was at before the baby. Each day, I am able to do something I couldn’t do the day before. I still have a long way to go, but I know that I will become the best version of me if I continue to work hard and stay positive.

What changes have you made to your daily life, diet & workout routine that have been the most successful for you?

When I eat 5-6 portioned meals and/or snacks daily that are clean and balanced, I see the best results. By eating lean protein, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, and drinking a lot of water, I have more energy and perform better during my workouts. It also helps when I prepare my food ahead of time. I try to follow the 80/20 rule. Plus, I don’t trust people who don’t eat pizza and drink beer every once in a while.

What advice would you give someone looking to start a similar journey?

The advice I would give others is to use the gym as your “me time”. Even if you don’t feel like going, just go! I always leave the gym feel invigorated and ready to take on the world afterwards.

Favorite WOD/Workout Least Favorite WOD/Workout?

I used to like burpees alot, but now that I’m working to build up my core muscles again, each one feels like I’m slowly being tortured.

28093810204_0a1d79a011_kFavorite Lift/ Least Favorite Lift?

I like squatting now thanks to John and Josh!

Something no one at the gym knows about you

No one at the gym knows that when I’m having a bad day and head to the gym, their smiles, nods, waves, and encouraging words during workouts make my day 100% better! I’m beyond appreciative of that support system.

When you’re not here, where are we most likely to find you?

When I’m not at the gym, you can find me taking care of my 2 month old baby girl Reese, or spending time with my family and friends. I like trying out new restaurants, going to the movies, attending a sporting event, going skiing, spending time at my cabin, traveling and going on vacation. Right now I’m on maternity leave, but I’ll be returning to my 5th grade teaching job at some point in the next year.

Knowing how far you’ve come, if you could give your past self-advice, what would it be?

I would tell my past self that life’s too short; eat dessert.

Do you look up to any particular athlete at the gym?

I look up to all of the women who lift more than what I weighed when I was 41 weeks pregnant! You girls amaze me! That’s my 2018 goal.

How do you feel about the coaching staff here? Who has inspired you the most?

Not only are the CrossFit coaches top notch, the Mecka instructors and the lovely ladies working the front desk are amazing as well. Each and every one of you make this gym my happy place!

11828596_10101637822981642_8749417093105765165_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athlete Spotlight – JOSH STAPH

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28526167782_339ac28941_kSEE BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR  BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS

What was your fitness like before coming to CrossFit Mt. Lebanon?

Fairly nonexistent. Those curls in the weight room only get you so far.

How long have you been working out with us and how did you get into it?

I started poking my head in around Thanksgiving last year. Started hitting it heavy a few weeks before the Open. My buddy was a member down St. Clair and would nudge me sometimes. I kept saying “no i’m not trying to be a SEAL, take your cult shit and beat it” or something to that effect. Eventually I emailed Kevin and did a 1 on 1 for 90 minutes. I knew things needed to change. I was 30 years old and tired all the time, dadbod was creeping in, and I had little aches everywhere. I needed to get better for myself and my family.

What were your thoughts after your first workout here?

“Yikes, it’s worse than i thought.” Kevin’s mini metcon was hard, then my first class with Carrie had 100M of lunges and bear crawls each. On the way out of the gym to my car, I stopped on St. Bernard’s front steps and lay down for 10 minutes trying not to throw up. I couldn’t walk for 4 days.

What were your goals when joining us?

Give it 2 good months before making any decisions. I wanted to get in shape physically and challenge myself. I wanted to get my blood flowing, yell, and meet a few good souls.

28526113492_b7d2f057c0_kSince joining what physical and mental transformations have you made? Tell us about that.

I’m physically stronger than I’ve ever been. My body’s come a long way too, still work to be done. I can’t believe how far I’ve come because of Crossfit in the last few months. And then the mental aspect is really something. Metcon after metcon, when you hit the “suck” and you stop and break, you get used to that. Once you finally say to yourself “screw it, pick the bar back up” or jump back on the rig, or dig out 5 more cals when you would normally rest, and you realize your body actually listens and goes against what your mind is telling you, it’s special. You can easily apply that dig to other aspects of your life.

What inspired you to make such a drastic change to get healthier? What or who was the biggest motivator?

My biggest motivator was myself. For me that’s how it needed to be. But whatever it takes, wherever someone else needs to look to find it, just find it, embrace, and move your ass.

28632883285_bb8e0d82e1_kWhat has been the most challenging part of your journey? Biggest obstacles?

Patience. When you get your ass kicked on a daily basis you need to really understand humility and patience. I expect myself to be great and it just doesn’t come that quickly. People work hard for a long time at this, there are no short cuts. I had to take a breath and a step back and realize you don’t just jump on the rings and muscle up, or clean 250 when your strength and form are in dire need of work.

What changes have you made to your daily life, diet & workout routine that have been the most successful for you?

Well I lost 8 pounds since hockey playoffs, so I’d say cutting booze has been big. Though as I type this I’m having a drink but hey, c’est la vie. Nothing fancy, I try to prioritize doing some kind of workout at least 5 days a week even if a little sore (i’m sure we’re all sore all the time). I stretch more now too. And watch that bread.

What advice would you give someone looking to start a similar journey?

Just start. You will undoubtedly wish you started sooner.

28016445963_a5f65d00b0_kFavorite WOD -Least Favorite WOD:

Fav: anytime I can pull, ropes, BMUs, etc. Least Fav: 14.5/16.5. why would I try to RX?

Favorite Lift/ Least Favorite Lift

fav-cleans / least fav-snatch. any successful snatch is lucky for me.

Something no one at the gym knows about you.

I have a professional engineer’s license that I’ve never used and don’t intend to. And I used to be a freak foosball player. 2005 Cambria County champ boi!

When you’re not here, where are we most likely to find you?

Changing diapers at home. Maybe sneaking out and 28016437643_1a9cf2225c_kplaying 9 with Coach Terry Warren at the historic Mt. Lebanon Golf Course.

Favorite healthy snack

Is there such a thing? Scotch? Wait, no I’m doing it wrong. Kale.

Do you look up to any particular athlete at the gym?

Honestly there’s too many to name. So many studs up there. Fun to chase. Tim B, where did that damn engine come from?

How do you feel about the coaching staff here? Who has inspired you the most?

Just great peeps. Getting down in the trenches with us, caring. We’re in good hands up there. I’ve picked up something from all who have been at the helm for a class.

Calories don’t count. Describe your most epic cheat meal.

Oh man. I’ve had a million hot wings in my life and can’t shake the urge for more. and scotch. scotch scotch scotch. here it goes down, down into my belly.

CrossFit Mt. Lebanon
8 Months Progress pic 

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