- CrossFit HQ Seminar Staff, Head Trainer
- CrossFit Level 4 Trainer (CF-L4)
- Precision Nutrition Level 1 Specialist
- CrossFit Specialty Credentials:
- CrossFit Kids Instructor/Trainer
- CrossFit Gymnastics Instructor/Trainer
- Movement and Mobility Instructor/Trainer
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist)
- USA Weightlifting, Level 1 Sports Performance Coach
- Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre-Medicine (George Washington University)
I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. I was a straight-A student, but nearly everything else about my childhood was unique. At the tender age of eight years old, I took my first Taekwondo class. I hated it. But my father, a quintessential coach and full-time visionary if there ever was one, had other ideas. An early instructor (who had been a member of the US Taekwondo Team) told my dad that I had “potential”—and that was it.
I may have had the exact body type to be good at Taekwondo, but I was definitely not a natural when it came to athletics (or being outgoing). From the ages of nine to 14, my dad had to coax/force me to practice every day (he built me a beautiful Taekwondo gym in our basement just a year into the sport), and we would drive a couple of hours each way to practice a few times a week to train with kids/teens/sometimes adults who were bigger, stronger and obviously more skilled than I was. I really cannot tell you how much anxiety I had as a kid going to practice, and since Olympic-style Taekwondo is a full-contact sport, that usually meant getting kicked around a lot. The discipline to train on my own, when my dad couldn’t take me to practice, was also very tough. And if this wasn’t enough, my dad volunteered me to sing the National Anthem at several local and regional Taekwondo tournaments each year, BEFORE the competition started. Please imagine a small, shy, 12-year old girl singing a cappella to a crowd of a couple thousand people. Terrifying.
My dad’s persistent behavior in forcing me to face my fears was very hard for me as a child, but around the age of 14, something clicked. I stopped being afraid of going to practice. In fact, I had outgrown all of the best training centers in a 200-mile radius of our house. And I was winning. Taekwondo (and my dad) had pushed my mind and my body until I was sharp enough to do well on the most competitive fields. From the ages of 14 to 19 years old, I competed several times per year on the international stage, often taking a week off of school at a time. I traded a lot of the regular social activities of your typical teenage girl (I learned to drive when I was 25, for example) for a lifestyle of traveling and training. I spent my weekends and summers at one of the premier Taekwondo training centers in the country in Alexandria, VA (eventually electing to move down to the DC area as soon as I graduated high school). At the age of 15, I entered my first senior nationals, and at 16 years old, I placed second at senior nationals. I was Collegiate National Champion and Freshman Athlete of the Year (still have the plaque) in my freshman year of college at GWU. I loved Taekwondo, and wanted to train and compete all the time. I thought I was going to the Olympics. And then, disaster.
In 2004, at Collegiate National Team Trials in Seattle, Washington, I ruptured my right ACL. Ignoring my PT’s injury recovery timeline, I ruptured it a second time six months later. I’d never be able to compete with the best again because my knee would never be stable enough for the sport. My 19-year-old ego couldn’t take this, so I quit.
The summer I quit Taekwondo was also the summer I started working as a personal trainer to make some money while in college. Being in a full-contact sport my whole life and coaching kids in Taekwondo for a few years prior, I didn’t have any problem telling my clients what to do, and quickly had a full personal training schedule at the gym. I learned so much about how to teach and coach during my five years as a full-time personal trainer. But the most important development in this time was in late 2005, when a former boyfriend introduced me to CrossFit. I was unhappy after losing Taekwondo, and while I tried finding other activities (yoga, hip hop dancing) that could replace it, I had been unsuccessful in replicating the feeling I had in the ring.
But, CrossFit, that sh*t is hard. It’s tough, and more than physically. It’s a transformative experience every day, if you do it right. You are constantly conquering your fears and showing yourself that YOU CAN, whether that’s climbing a rope legless for the first time, lifting a weight you didn’t think you could lift, or simply pushing harder than you thought you could. This was my new Taekwondo. No, it was BETTER than Taekwondo. Because it’s infinitely scaleable, because everyone can always play, because I could use it as a vehicle to teach people about themselves. When I found CrossFit, I found my calling.
We founded CrossFit MPH in 2009, on the belief that human capacity knows no limits, and on the hope that within the city of Washington, DC, we could find other individuals who needed CrossFit the way that Rebekka and I needed CrossFit at crucial times in our lives. CrossFit MPH is more than just a fitness program. It is a community of people that care about you. It is my family outside of my family, and it’s a huge part of my life. CrossFit continues to breathe fire into me, over 12 years after I did my first Workout of the Day. I am so grateful for the opportunity to make MPH a place for people to go to make themselves better versions of themselves, and to all of the coaches and members of our gym that come together every day to make this happen.
When I’m not at MPH, I get to travel around the world as a member of CrossFit HQ Seminar Staff, teaching their Level 1 and Level 2 seminars. If you’re interested, I’d love to talk your ear off about CrossFit methodology, and I have been known to give mini lectures on fitness, programming, nutrition, and squats at the gym. In all truth, I have met some of the most amazing humans as a member of HQ Seminar Staff, and it’s been awesome to teach in such disparate locations as China, Israel, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and Puerto Rico, to name a few (I credit my father to conquering my fear of public speaking early on with those National Anthem singing adventures). However, it is always a joy coming home to MY family, the one we have all created. So, if you are reading this and I haven’t yet met you, well, I can’t wait to help you be a part of our gym. Get ready to change your life.