Featured Athlete – Shirley Spycher


The Spycher Family

The Spycher Family

Shirley Spycher

When did you join CrossFit ParaBellum?

November 2013

Favorite WOD?

I like any WOD that has “1  minute @ each station” in it.  Since I normally modify the weight on most movements, that WOD gives me the opportunity to work on a movement at the prescribed weight without having to do a set number of reps.  So, whether it is 1 rep or 20 reps in that minute, I feel accomplished!

Least favorite WOD?

Oh “KAREN”  how I don’t like you.  150 wall balls…….do I need to say any more!

shirley5Favorite lift?

I feel strong when I do that lift.  My first recorded deadlift weight was on 11/18/13 and it was 63 pds.  I have now worked my way up to a 3 rep max weight of 143 pds.  I love watching and recording the progress that I have made over the last three years.

Least favorite lift?

Shoulder Press
I hate not being able to use my legs, that’s where all my strength is!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, military, interests, etc.).

I am a wife of 26 years, mom of two kids, and a first time grandmother to a beautiful baby girl!  My husband and I love traveling and have had many adventures around the world.  I would rather be outside then inside…..from gardening to hiking and everything in between.  I have a love/hate relationship with running.  I finished my first (and only) 26.2 marathon in February of this year and have ran several 1/2 marathons.  But the most important thing to me above all else is my relationship with Jesus Christ!

What were you doing before CrossFit?shirley4

I have always been “active”, from traditional gym settings to outdoor activities.

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

WOW!  That was hard!  But, I enjoyed the challenge!

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?

In 2007 I became very, very sick.  After many tests the Doctor  found the cause of my illness and it was because of a little mosquito, I had contracted    West Nile Virus.  During that time, I was unable to really do much of anything for almost a year.  I gained weight, lost the little muscle I had and was miserable.  When I started to feel better, I was determined to lose the weight, get back to being outdoors and doing daily exercise.  That is when I started to get into running.  In 2013 I knew that I needed to incorporate strength training to feel stronger all over.

shirley3Have you achieved any of those goals?

Yes I have!  Not only do I see some muscle definition, I feel stronger and better than ever.  My running times got better also!

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Without a doubt.  Not only has it improved my health through exercise, it also makes me think about what I eat.

What achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?

The first time I did a WOD Rx’d.  That was so exciting for me!  I thought I would have to write “modified” in my book forever!

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

The first time I made it to the top of the rope.  That was a biggie for me, I am extremely afraid of heights.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum?

Go everyday and do your best.  Don’t compare yourself with others!  About the first six months after I joined Crossfit, I would have “butterflies” in my stomach when I pulled into the parking lot.  I was hard on myself because I couldn’t do the weight that everyone else was doing.  The day that I realized that it is OK to just do what I can do, the butterflies went away and gradually the weight on my barbell started to go up.  I love what another Featured Athlete said  “It never gets easier, you just get better”.

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit ParaBellum?

Hands down the people that come to this box!  I have met some of the kindest and most helpful people here.  Scott and Renee have done a great job in creating a “family” atmosphere.  Speaking of Scott and Renee……they are just great!  Their knowledge, encouragement and belief in you to accomplish your goal (no matter how little or big it is) is something I have never experienced at any other gyms.  I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else!

Casey February_April_May 2016

Featured Athlete – Casey Barton

When did you join Crossfit Parabellum?

Casey February_April_May 2016

Casey in February, April, and May 2016

My first class was January 11, 2016.

Favorite WOD?

Filthy Fifty. 

Two days before this came up as our WOD I was looking through common WODs, and saw this one. I thought – Dude, I’ll never be able to do that. Then it came up. Admittedly, I didn’t make it through the whole thing…but I made it through the wall balls, and started the burpees. That was two months into Crossfit, and I walked away thinking: Two days ago I thought it was impossible for me to get that far.

That WOD made be believe I could do things I didn’t think were possible for me. I felt better after that than I had in years.

Next time I’ll finish. I can’t wait.

Least Favorite WOD?

It was like my 3rd CF Lite class. It wasn’t a named WOD, but it was:

20 rounds

5 WP Burpees

5 Medicine Ball Squat Jumps

5 DB Snatches each arm

10 second 1 Arm Handstand Hold (yeah right…)

I finished 9 rounds, texted my buddy: “I feel like I’m going to die.” He replied “That’s not a great recovery strategy.”

Starting Crossfit is awesome. And it is painful!

Favorite Lift?

Deadlift and Snatch.

Deadlift helps me believe that I’m actually strong – stronger than I thought I was or could be. From the beginning Deadlift has been a huge motivator. I’ve never lifted weights before, and I really didn’t think I could move a lot of weight. It has been exciting for me to progress here. I started with reps @ 235# on February 11. I just hit my 1 RM @ 345# on May 13.

I think Snatch is fun because for some insane reason I get to move a bunch of weight from the ground to over my head in one movement. How cool is that? Never thought I’d be able to do that. Started at 95#. Just moved to 1RM of 145 in May. Super fun to progress.

I know I’m not moving the most weight in the box. But it hasn’t mattered to me. And nobody cares about that stuff. That’s one reason I love this place so much: All support, no judgement. I’m doing more than I ever thought I could for myself. And I can’t tell you how good that feels to me!

Least Favorite Lift?

I think I could LOVE squats, because I think if my knee was healthy I could move a lot of weight. And I think it could be fun. But my knee doesn’t cooperate a whole lot with squats. Each time I do them I’m reminded that, even while I’ve done more than I thought I could, there may be things I just can’t do as well as I’d like. I’m getting older, my knee has been bad for a long time, and that might just be a reality for me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m the Lead Pastor at Hilmar Covenant Church. I’ve been pastoring in one form or another for almost 20 years. I turn 40 in July.

From 2001 – 2014 I suffered with daily, extreme chronic pain. I had severe head pain for extended periods, several times a day. At the worst of it, there were less than 14 pain-free days/year. During that time I was given numerous medications, saw many doctors, and was given several different diagnoses. None of them were correct, it turns out, and none of the medications ever worked. 

The pain was severe. It is impossible to describe, but if I tried, I would have to say that it was as if someone had taken a screwdriver and stabbed it through my right eye, and an ice pick and stabbed it through my right temple, and was trying to touch the ends of them together somewhere inside my brain. This happened several times a day for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours at a time. At my lowest points, when we lived in Scotland, I would go out into the city in the middle of the night looking for someone to fight, hoping that getting hit in the head would dislodge the pain, if only for a few minutes. I would bang my head on walls and floors. I rarely slept. I struggled with severe depression.

The upshot of it all was that I was determined to still do something with my life. Pastoring was a part of that, but school was my outlet for tension. The short of it is that Sarah and I traveled the world for me to go to school. In 2010 I graduated from the University of Toronto with a PhD in theology. All of my tension had to be channelled somewhere, and it got directed to my studies.

On the other hand, that was a lot of years of sitting at a desk and gaining a lot of weight. I was never into fitness, ever. Less so with an ice pick in my ear and a screwdriver in my eye. 

In 2014, after not going to a doctor for several years because I had lost interest in their general lack of help, I saw a neurologist who finally gave me the right diagnosis. A tumor that had grown out of my pituitary gland and completely decimated the gland’s ability to produce some important hormones, and was producing a ton of human growth hormone on its own. I’d had a tumor for more than a third of my life, causing severe chronic pain and a lot of other problems.

Long story short – less than a month later I was being operated on at UCSF where they removed the tumor. I woke up to a sensation I was not used to at all: no pain. I’ve had zero pain since May 20, 2014. It has been awesome, and it has also been really difficult. I’ve written about that difficulty elsewhere. But, here’s where the Crossfit journey begins.

Just because you have a tumor removed doesn’t solve all your problems. My hormones were simultaneously in some ways equivalent to a 70 year old man, and in others equivalent to a woman going through menopause. I’d be preaching on Sunday mornings and have hot flashes in the pulpit. At the time of surgery I was already overweight: about 270. Over the next year and a half my weight dropped, went up again, dropped again, went up again, as doctors regulated my hormones. 

In January this year I was sitting at home one morning watching Die Hard 3 for about the thousandth time, depressed about my physical health, and it was affecting mental and spiritual health as well. I’d dropped 10 pounds and then gained 20. I googled Crossfit, not even knowing what it was. Emailed Crossfit ParaBellum to inquire about the free class. Got a text 10 minutes later from Scott who invited me to the 10 am class. It was 9.20. I got my butt up and dragged it to the box. And I loved it immediately. Though, after I kind of wanted to die.

At that moment I’d hit my heaviest, 279#. Jumped in to CF Lite, and then regular Crossfit classes right away. I had a vague dream that it would be cool to lose 40# by my 40th birthday, but was pretty sure it would never happen. I’m 4 weeks from 40, and have lost 38#. I’m going to make it.

I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. Before CF, I was drinking about 4 energy drinks/day, and still struggling through the day. I’ve cut out all soda, all energy drinks, all fast food, and am eating so much cleaner. I have more energy than I’ve ever had. I have pride in my fitness accomplishments; something I’ve never had in my life. My mood is better. I’m a better husband, a better dad, a better pastor. 

I feel like I’m on a journey to make my life what it was supposed to be before I got derailed with a golfball sized passenger in my head. I’m so glad Crossfit ParaBellum, and Renee and Scott especially, are my partners on the journey.

Casey and Sarah in September 2015, prior to starting CrossFit.

Casey and Sarah in September 2015, prior to starting CrossFit.

What were you doing before Crossfit?

Not a lot in terms of fitness. Nothing really. Exercise was always a punishment growing up, and I was in trouble a lot. So, I’d never loved it to begin with. Then, with severe pain, that part of life was never really a thought. I was trying to get by. I was working on a PhD. I was trying to be a husband and then a dad. It took all my effort to be those things. Other aspects of physical health faded away.

What were your thoughts after your first Crossfit class?

First: Wow. I just did weight plate burpees… I didn’t know that existed, let alone that I could do them. Cool.

Then: Man, I hurt. 

And then: I’m really sore.

That night: I’m having a hard time getting into bed. This sucks.

Next morning: Dude…

But the whole time: When can I do this again?

What were your goals when joining Crossfit?

My stated goal, at the beginning, was to lose weight. That’s what I said to Renee and Scott when I came in and shared my story. As I’ve moved along on this journey, the goals quickly piled up: 

To have my physical health more fully integrated with my mental and spiritual health. 

To be a better example to my children of what it means to care for yourself and to be a good steward of what God has given you. 

To be a better husband with more energy and with a better mood. 

To love myself enough to push myself with the body that God gave me, rather than letting it disintegrate.

To not let my tumor, now that it is gone, take any more of my life from me.

For mid-life to actually be the middle of my life, with at least 40 more years ahead of me.

The expansion of goals has come especially as I’ve reflected on the first conversation I had with Renee and Scott. Scott flat out asked me “Are you ready to change your whole life?” I answered, timidly really, “I want to be ready to do that…” And under it I think I was afraid to fail. But he was right. The goal of losing weight was what I thought I needed, and it was good because it finally got me out the door. I didn’t understand my weight was a symptom of a larger, more unhealthy reality: I was healing from years of pain in both mental and spiritual ways with the removal of my tumor. But that wouldn’t be complete without pulling myself together physically as well. 

I didn’t realize any of that at first. But, pushing myself – actually, let’s be honest here for a minute – Renee pushing me beyond my perception of myself, has brought so much of this into better perspective for me.

Have you achieved any of those goals? Has Crossfit affected your life outside the gym?

Yeah, for sure. I’ve been here for only 5 months, and I feel like a different person. I am actually 15% less of a person.

The weight has started to drop. I’ve lost 38#, and I know I’ve gained muscle. I think I’m probably stronger than I’ve ever been.

I think that overall, physically, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I’ve never had this much energy. I’ve never eaten as well as I do now. I’ve never stuck with exercise this long since high school sports.

I’ve begun to connect my physical health to my spiritual journey in terms of creation, and being created in God’s image, and caring for what God has given to me. I have a healthier and happier attitude about life. It has made me a better pastor. And my congregation has seen it in me. Not simply in the weight loss, but in my attitude and energy as well. 

I’ve made a commitment to teach my boys that physical health is a necessary and important aspect of our lives. Caring for ourselves is one way that we can love God, loving his creation. We workout together. I’ve changed a lot of their diets.

I think my wife thinks I’m a better husband. The other day she said I was better looking than I have been since the day she met me (like, 20 years). But, she’s always loved fitness. Working out at the box together has changed our relationship.

I’m under ongoing doctor care to monitor my hormones (I’m on full hormone replacement and always will be), and my mental health. My doctors have been very happy with my changed body composition and the mental and physical health with it. 

I’m happier. I feel more confident. And I feel like that tumor is in the past and I have a life ahead of me.

What achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?

Has to be just being there. You don’t know how big a thing that is for me.

Do you have any other special memories / achievements during your time here? 

The Barton family. Memorial Day Murph 2016

The Barton family. Memorial Day Murph 2016

When I broke 300 on deadlift, that was exciting.

Also – when pushups got harder. One day I noticed my belly wasn’t hitting the ground, and I needed to drop farther. The same day, I was able to put my palms on the ground from standing during the buy in. Belly wasn’t in the way.

Doing Murph with my wife and my boys was an amazing thing. Sarah and I split the WOD. Eugene (my 8 year old) did all the running with Sarah. Theo (my 6 year old), decided to row the entire time. To be honest, Sarah pulled the majority of movements. But, she’s awesome, and I’m just proud of how fit, and hot, she is.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum? 

Keep going. And find something to keep you going. I’m 5 months in, and I still feel like I am constantly sore. Sometimes my arms are so sore that if I move in my sleep I wake up with some shocking pain. But it is awesome pain. Keep with it. Don’t stop. 

Don’t stress about not being able to do the movements. The other day I stood there with 3 other guys doing weighted ring dips. They were doing dips + 35#, 45#, like an infinite amount of pounds. I am still doing dips with bands. Can’t get hung up on it. No one is judging. Compete against yourself, and that’s it.

Listen to your coach. CFPB coaches are so awesome. They probably believe more about you than you do about yourself. They certainly will push you past where you’d push yourself. 

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit ParaBellum?

The community, the family, of it all. Hands down. I’ve gone to the gym in the past, and I’ve hated it. A ton of machines I don’t know what to do with, and a bunch of people I don’t know, and who don’t really want to know me. “Personal trainers” trying to play off your insecurities to see you personal training sessions. A feeling of embarrassment every time I walk in. 

But not Crossfit ParaBellum. From day one, workouts are carefully and strategically planned out. Movements are completely and simply explained. If any movement needs modification, your coach will help you modify it. Every person I’ve met at the box has been friendly and kind and welcoming and encouraging. Families with kids are more than welcome. I’ve never felt a competitive atmosphere, or that I was looked down upon because of a lower ability or capacity. I’ve only felt support and encouragement on my journey, and I’ve found wonderful people who want to walk it with me. Renee and Scott work hard to make this a family, and that is what I love the most about it. 

Sam BS

Featured Athlete – Samantha Aragon

Sam BSWhen did you join Crossfit ParaBellum?

April 3, 2015

Favorite WOD?

I don’t have a particular favorite, but I really like Hero WODs and the meaning behind them.

Least Favorite WOD?

Anything that includes running…

Favorite Lift?

Back Squat

Least Favorite Lift?


Sam runningTell us a little bit about yourself:

I grew up in St. Helena where my family raised and exhibited livestock. I studied Animal Science at Chico State and was a member of their 2011 Livestock Judging Team. From there, I went on to get my M.S. in Feedlot Nutrition from Texas Tech University. I currently work as an Operations Supervisor for a Foster Farms feed mill in Delhi. I live in Denair with my three (fur) children, Australian Shepherds named Abby and Chloe and a cat named Chewy. Outside of work, I enjoy being creative with different projects including jewelry making, sketching, and refurbishing furniture.

What were you doing before CrossFit?

Running or wandering around a gym with no clue what to do

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

I loved the challenge!

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?

I wanted to be healthier, both physically and mentally. My job is both stressful and fairly sedentary, so I thought exercise would be a good way to balance things out.

Sam before and afterHave you achieved any of these goals?

Yes! I am down 20 pounds and am more comfortable in my own body than ever before.

Has CrossFit affected your life?

Not only has it greatly improved my health, but the box has become my daily escape, and after a rough day at work I know that a good WOD will make me a much happier person.

What achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?

When we recently did the Crossfit Total, I added 15 lbs to my back squat max and 20 to my dead lift max in the same day… that felt really good!

Do you have any other special memories/achievements during your time here?

When I FINALLY got my first kipping pull up, I was super excited because I had been working on them for months!

Sam BxJWhat advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum?

Just stick with it and keep coming back. Embrace the suck and have fun!

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit Parabellum?

The atmosphere, hands down. I have never felt so supported or encouraged. The coaches all have their own way of pushing the athletes to succeed and I have already made so many friends within the CFPB community.


Featured Athletes – John Kinimaka and Jaimie Kinimaka-Velarde

kinimakaJohn and Jaimie are Father and Daughter

When did you join CrossFit ParaBellum?
January 20, 2015

Favorite WOD?
John – May 4th, felt great all the way through!!!
Jaimie – My first RXD one on 4/16. Sooo hard but sooo rewarding

Least favorite WOD?
John – Badger…ugh
Jaimie – Griff

Favorite lift?
John – Clean and Jerk
Jaimie – Clean and Jerk

Least favorite lift?
John – Back Squats
Jaimie – Snatch or Overhead Squat

John and JaimieTell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, military, interests, etc.)
John – I am the youngest of 3 siblings and grew up with sports being important to my family…My dad was an amazing athlete (football) and he was all state both offense and defense in high school for 2 years ( 6′ 6″ 230lbs). He received a football scholarship to San Francisco State and was asked to play for the Oakland Raiders in the early 50s. Because of a back injury he didn’t pursue it. My sister became an amazing track athlete and traveled the world on the U.S. Jr. Olympic team in her teens and now holds a bronze metal in the javelin from the Masters Olympics held in Finland at the age of 50…My sport was soccer as a youth and in my 20s got involved in weight lifting and later body building with my sister. Competed at an armature level and did well…Since then I have had a desire to always stay fit with weight lifting, running, biking, hiking, skiing etc… I work for the City of Patterson as the Chief Plant Operator at the Water Quality Control Facility. My interests are Christ, my wife, my daughters, son-in-laws and Family.
Jaimie – I have been a Labor & Delivery nurse for a little over 3 years now. Married to my amazing husband Arron for 2 years. We have 2 ba!bies (our dogs) lol Munch and Tootsie. Love being outdoors and love to travel.

What were you doing before CrossFit?
John – Circuit training
Jaimie – Before crossift I was doing bootcamp and classes.

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?
John – LOL, what did I get myself into!
Jaimie – After my first crossfit workout I was exhausted and didn’t know if I would be able to keep up. I never thought I would be able to do a prescribed workout.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit? Jaimie2
John – Being able to physically perform day to day tasks free from injury and pain at maximum strength. Strengthen my back and rehab from a back injury.
Jaimie – When joining crossfit I was nervous because I have never done any weight lifting. I wanted to gain some muscle and of course tone up.

Have you achieved any of those goals?
John – Yes, day to day tasks and less back pain.
Jaimie – I have definitely achieved those goals. I’m loosing inches and feeling better in my clothes. I just feel better in general all around.
Has CrossFit affected your life?
John – More than anything, it has allowed my daughter Jaimie and I bond at a level we have never been. I really wasn’t interested in cross fit, but Jaimie was and she asked if I would check it out with her. Best investment I could have ever made, our relationship is awesome and cross fit has been the vehicle that has changed my life relationally with Jaimie!!!!
Jaimie – Crossfit has had a huge impact on my life. It’s finally something I’m seriously addicted to and have been dedicated to in years. I hate missing a day. All the strength training and lifting has helped me as a nurse too. It’s easier to move patients and feel better on my feet during my 12 hour shifts.

JohnOHWhat achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?
John – Max height box jump.
Jaimie – My proudest moment in the gym so far was my first RXd workout! Such a high afterwards! And of course max out Fridays! I couldn’t even clean the Women’s bar when I started. 3 months in I cleaned 78 pounds.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?
John – Watching Jaimie PR on a number of different lifts, I have NEVER seen my girl push her self so hard and make such monster gains….soooooo proud of her.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum?
John – Renee, Scott and the staff are second to none!!!! They make you feel special and they celebrate your personal records and gains with such enthusiasm. Their knowledge and training are phenomenal and they are very receptive to making sure you are protected from injury… Those who attend are encouragers and they make you feel like you are a part of a family….It definitely starts with Renee and Scott!!!
Jaimie – Some advice I would give to a newbie joining the gym would be to keep coming and give it all you got. Even if you have to modify workouts push yourself in whatever your doing!

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit ParaBellum?Jaimie
John – I can’t say I have a favorite thing because there are so many great things about Cross Fit Parabellum. One of the greatest feelings/things is leaving the gym knowing that you’ve had one kick ass workout!
Jaimie – My favorite thing about CrossFit Parabellum is how close everyone is. It really is like one big family. In the past, every gym I’ve been to there is always one or lots of people that think they are better than everyone and it’s always a competition. I’ve never felt so encouraged in a gym. It’s an amazing feeling. The coaches are amazing as well. Scott and Brey were great in training when we first started, especially learning all the lifts. Renee is soooo encouraging and always there to lift everyone up and help everyone reach their goals. Such a great family and amazing coaches all around! Happy to be part of this family!

Gunnar DL

Featured Athletes: Gunnar and Sophia Godfrey


Gunnar & Sophia Godfrey Nicknames-Gun and Phia

When did you join CrossFit ParaBellum? 

G-My wife signed me up in Sept. 2011 

S-I signed up January of 2011

Favorite WOD? 

G-I like Angie. To me, it’s a total body workout and I’m always sore for days after. If you’re sore, it’s working.

S- I also like Angie. It’s a wod that is intense and mentally challenging without using any equipment except the pull up bar.

Least favorite WOD? 

G-Anything that involves running. Running and I don’t get along.

S- Yup, Gun avoids all wods that have him run. If you notice, he hides at the right corner of the gym hoping Renee doesn’t see him. My least favorite wod is Karen!

Favorite lift? 

G-Well I found out that I am good at picking things up so I’m gonna go with deadlifts.

S- I like the power clean.

Least favorite lift? 

G-I don’t bend so squats. Anyone who has seen me stretch knows I’m not limber.

S- SNATCH! I have yet to master the skill of opening up your hips!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, military, interests, etc.).

G- I grew up racing/riding motorcycles and still ride. I was a competitive arm wrestler and have always had weird strength. I have some tricks where I rip phone books or bend frying pans (Phia doesn’t like this one). I have a heart condition that I was born with but crossfit helps me maintain a healthy physical life.  I am a maintenance mechanic for Volk Enterprises here in Turlock. I stay active riding my bikes, crossfit, and golfing.

S- Gun and I live in Turlock with one too many dogs. If it were up to him, we would have a homeless dog shelter in our back yard. I am a first grade teacher here in Turlock and have taught multiple grade including pre-k, kindergarten, and high school. I have a Masters Degree in Education. I love to be outdoors! Camping, hiking, bicycle riding, and riding on the back of Gunnar’s bike.

What were you doing before CrossFit?

G-Mostly just the weight room at a local gym using weight training and power lifting techniques that I learned in my high school days. Riding my dirt bikes was my cardio until my wife brought me to crossfit.

S-Running on the treadmill lifting like 10 pound weights that felt like a million pounds.

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

G-I’m not ready…lol…but really, I watched my wife come home from crossfit numerous times before I joined with ripped calluses and bloody hands. “And we’re paying for this” I said.

S-Seriously, why would someone want to be in this much pain?

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?

G-I’ve always been a bulkier guy so I wanted to try and lean out a little and become more defined.

S-Get some MUSCLES and become more toned. I didn’t do any weightlifting before cf except those 10lb dumbbells I mentioned earlier.

Have you achieved any of those goals?

G-I did and some…I got down to my goal weight and have maintained a weight I like to be at.

S- I’ve definitely got some muscle now! I think most crossfitters would agree with me that our goals are always changing. Although I am very happy with my performance at CF and my body…I can be my biggest critic. My goals get harder and harder and I push and I push to get to these goals! Although, I have achieved many of these goals, I am constantly pushing to be better than I was yesterday.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

G&S- Yes, we feel like we can tackle anything life throws at us physically. Crossfit has become a part of our life. We love the community and the lifelong friendships that we have made. We really can’t imagine our life without CF.

What achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?

G-When I first started CF, I saw someone pull a 500# deadlift and I could not. I wanted to do that and recently I lifted 505#. Now 600# is my new goal.

S-Double unders were so hard for me. I have gotten so much better at them. Sometimes I forget how far I have come. When I first started CF, I could barely lift the bar. My max front squat was 68# and my max clean 6 months in was 83# I can now front squat 163# and can clean 133#.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

G-My one and only competition down in Fresno was a lot of fun and we all went to dinner afterwards. It was a good time and I realized completions aren’t for me, lol.

S-I have had so many great memories with my CF family! From our baby showers to our girls night outs. I love fundraisers and group competitions. Tough Mudder was something I will never forget!

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum?

G&S- Be consistent, go everyday and you will see results! It never gets easier…You just get better.

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit ParaBellum?

G-Being able to do it with my wife. It’s awesome to see her achieve and break goals as I do.

S- I love the community and family environment that Scott and Renee have created. I love being active with Gunnar from CF to Paleo. The daily mental battle that I overcome every time I wod is so rewarding.


Featured Athlete: Keaton Shug

When did you join CrossFit ParaBellum?

I joined ParaBellum around March, 2013.

Favorite WOD?

My favorite WOD would either be Annie or Grace.

Least favorite WOD?

Least favorite WOD has got to be Karen. Wall balls are fun, but this workout tests the limits of your legs.

Favorite lift?
Back/Front Squats are the best. Cleans come in second.

Least favorite lift?

I would say Squat Snatches are my least favorite because they take the most amount of skill to complete.There is never half-assing this type of lift.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, military, interests, etc.).

I am 22 years old, a middle child with a younger sister and older brother.

Currently a senior at Stanislaus State pursuing my B.S. in Mathematics. During the School year I work as a math tutor for my college, and in the Summers I teach a math course for the Summer Bridge Program for incoming freshmen.

I usually spent my free time going to sporting events, studying, or doing a WOD at ParaBellum.

What were you doing before CrossFit?

Before I joined crossfit I was cluelessly trying to figure out a good workout regimen. After I stopped playing soccer I wasn’t sure how to get in good shape without chasing a ball around. 

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

I thought, “wow, I am VERY out of shape”. I knew right away it was exactly what I needed to get back on track.
The first day I came to check out the gym, a class was about to start “Annie”. I just wanted to watch but Renee threw me in right away, which I am thankful for.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?

I had very few goals, which were basically just to lose weight and get in good shape. I didn’t really expect to get much stronger. 

Have you achieved any of those goals?

I can easily say I have surpassed all of my goals and then some.
My starting weight at the gym was  235 lbs, and currently I weigh around 185 lbs.
Almost all of my maxes for lifts have gone up 100+ lbs from when I first started.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym? 

The best way crossfit has Affected my life is now I am a generally healthy person. I have more energy throughout the day, and just have a more better sense of confidence and well-being.
Thanks to Scott and Renee, along with every other coach at Parabellum, I have learned a lot about eating healthy (and exercising of course) the correct way. There are countless misconceptions about diets and what to eat ect, but seeing a healthy lifestyle firsthand from the coaches makes it very clear.

What achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?

I would say my most proud achievement is reaching 350 lbs for a squat. I never thought I could reach that far, but seeing myself improve always puts a smile on my face.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

Besides making many new friends, I wouldn’t say I have one special moment here.
I do have to say though, seeing peoples hard work pay off every day is really something special.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum?

The best advice I could give for someone new, is to just show up. Showing up is the hardest part honestly. Once you get over that hump, you realize how much fun it is to workout with a group of friends.

What  is your favorite thing about CrossFit Parabellum?

My favorite thing about Parabellum, is seeing your friends and being able to go through a hard work out with them.
It makes it that much easier to work hard every day.





Featured Athlete: Ana Laura Mena

Name: Ana Laura Mena  

When did you join CrossFit ParaBellum? April 5, 2014

Favorite WOD? Kettlebell Swings

Least favorite WOD? Burpees!!!!

Favorite lift? Deadlift

Least favorite lift? Hang Cleans!!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, military, interests, etc.).

I am the youngest of four siblings and whenever possible, enjoy spending time with my 11-year old niece, Karen. I recently got married September of 2013.  Our small family consists of three fishes, one bird and one mama cat. I have a passion for photography and have had works published in CSU Stanislaus’ Penumbra. I currently work for Driscolls as an HR Rep/Admin in Snelling (near Merced!). I love visiting my native country of Mexico whenever possible! I am a person of strong faith and leader of my church’s drama ministry.

What were you doing before CrossFit?

Googling it and attempting to overcome my fear of joining!

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

“This is what you call a workout!” “I got my butt kicked!” (after being sore for about a week and a half!)  “I can’t believe I did that (WOD)!” “I’m joining!”

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?

Drop 85 pounds to improve my health and battle PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)!

Have you achieved any of those goals?

It’s a work in progress… each WOD I complete is one step closer in the direction of achieving my big goal, while gradually becoming physically and mentally stronger.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Yes! I no longer hit the snooze button to sleep in… so I can make it to the 5:30 am class!

What achievement are you most proud of inside the gym?

Deadlifting at 133#!

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

The moments when I hear my colleagues in the background encouraging me to complete my WOD (since I’m a beginner, I am usually the last); when I have shed tears after completing an intense workout because it is then that I am reminded of the joy that is coming; and, the moment I walked in with my strong will for the first time!

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit ParaBellum?

Believe in yourself and remember the reasons why you joined and keep moving forward one WOD at a time!

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit ParaBellum?

The camaraderie among the group and the awesome coaches who motivate and believe in me!

Dan and Donna Burch, before and after CrossFit!

Dan Burch

Dan and Donna Burch, before and after CrossFit!

Dan Burch, 12-29-10

CrossFit changed my life for the better. It’s difficult to explain to others how CF is not “just a workout” and a CF box is not “just a gym”. To me CrossFit is a choice, a choice to be more self reliant, more self confident, and much less self-effacing . Donna, Sam and I have always been close and our shared experience with CrossFit has brought us even closer. CF has changed me in more ways than I could possibly describe or recount. However if I tried I’d say CrossFit has radically changed my health, mental outlook, nutrition, relationships, hobbies (not to mention vacation plans), values and mindset. Not too shabby.

Here are a few highlights from 2010 that I don’t want to forget:

One armed workouts and GHD sit ups as I recovered from shoulder surgery

Moving from the 18″ to the 24″ box jump

Completing the Modesto half-marathon in 2 hours 9 minutes and 40 seconds

A fantastic road trip to CrossFit Portland, SnoRidge, and Salt Lake City

My first Rx Fran

Hiking to the “Tunnel of Light” Project APE cache

Becoming a high school varsity football official and wrestling referee

Completing my first 2 pood KB WOD

Doing a big tire WOD by myself

Moving up to the 20# medicine ball (must embrace the suck!)

Learning to do a real overhead squat

My first unassisted handstand

Passing the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certification test

Finishing a WOD with a 6:59 mile PR

20 fabulous years married to the best wife ever!

Traci Liston

Traci, before she got pregnant, and now.

So die hard, not even stitches can stop her from working out!

All growing up I had always been pretty active. When I got married I moved a lot for my husband’s job. Being on the road a lot caused my activity to decrease and I developed a poor diet. I let myself go and gained 40 lbs in less than a year. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I couldn’t fit into the largest sizes at my favorite stores. That was my breaking point. I worked out 6 days a week, 3 of which was done with friends. I lost about 30 lbs but got bored with the same fitness tapes and ultimately hit a plateau. When I got pregnant and I started out well, but when my hips and knees started to hurt I stopped exercising. My belly got saggy and I would just lie around the house. I thought my weight gain was pretty good, but my OB told me I was gaining weight on the faster side. I decided I needed to do something about it. About that time Scott and Renee opened their gym. They were really accommodating to my pregnancy. They worked with me one on one to show me how to modify exercises to work out safely in the classes. They also introduced me to the Zone diet to correct my poor eating habits. Within a few weeks of working with them my hips and knees stopped hurting, I had more energy, I wasn’t retaining water and my physical appearance improved. I toned up literally from head to toe and I didn’t gain any weight my last month of my pregnancy. I was under my pre-pregnancy weight within a couple weeks of my delivery. It has been almost 8 months since my son has been born and I have lost about 40 lbs with crossfit. Crossfit Parabellum has helped me improve my all around fitness level with their encouraging training style and paying attention to my individual progress to eliminate plateaus.

Karen Hillis

Three years ago I turned 45 and my blood pressure was starting to rise. I knew I needed to make changes; the higher blood pressure was due to excess weight, poor eating habits and little to no physical exercise. For the next two years I worked off and on with a personal trainer and took private tennis lessons. The personal trainer was good but the gym atmosphere was humiliating for me. I just wanted to get my workout done and instead I felt as if I were part of a Saturday Night Live skit of an over weight middle aged lady trying to get fit. It was never going to happen.

Then I was invited to try crossfit. What a difference. I’ve been attending classes for the last nine months. In that time I have lost 33 pounds, my blood pressure is normal and my two teenage daughters have joined me. We eat differently because we know we will be asking our bodies to push their limits. We feel differently because we are accomplishing challenging physical feats five days a week. My favorite part is the camaraderie of the gym. Everyone there is there to get the job done, we workout together and cheer each other on.

This summer we went on vacation for two and a half weeks. We attended several different workout facilities and came to the conclusion; Renee and Scott run the friendliest, cleanest and well equipped gym. Thanks Renee and Scott for facilitating healthy changes in our lives.


Karen Hillis