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Meet the Coaches Behind CrossFit Los Alamos & Mesa Elite Fitness

on February 12, 2014 - 12:04pm
Eight of the 10 coaches at Mesa Elite Fitness/CrossFit Los Alamos. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography
 
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post

Since moving to a larger facility at 278-A DP Road last year, Mesa Elite Fitness/CrossFit Los Alamos has grown to include 10 coaches, seven of whom are CrossFit Level 1 Trainers, including a CrossFit Weightlifting Coach. These coaches help guide clients to forge their own elite fitness, starting with nutrition and utilizing constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

The environment in the gym is filled with a sense of community that springs up when a small group of people work hard together, know each others names and cheer each other on – it's a unique sense of camaraderie found in few other places.

The CrossFit program trains athletes for any physical contingency. Workouts may include gymnastic movements, metabolic conditioning, and/or olympic weightlifting. Find out more here.

Meet the coaches:

Suzanne Wilcox

Suzanne Wilcox, owner of CrossFit Los Alamos and Mesa Elite Fitness, has been a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer for 16 years. She is an award-winning bodybuilder and figure competititor. Obtaining her first certification in 1998 with AAAI/ISMA, Wilcox began by doing program designs and ran fitness sessions in her home gym. "With three children, it was challenging to really build a business," she said. "I would have loved to work as a trainer at any of the local gyms in town, but none were looking to hire."

Six years ago, her former business partner and fellow fitness professional Bob Koski approached Wilcox about running a studio gym together. She jumped at the opportunity and launched her fitness training service out of the KSC Strength & Conditioning Training Center. After two years in business, she had the opportunity to purchase KSC and turn it into Mesa Elite Fitness. Mesa Elite Fitness began establishing a strong foundation, eventually booking more than 40 hours of back to back, one-on-one private clients in a five-day work week.  

"This community is so hungry for fitness and the focused fitness education that we offer is unmatched," she said.

John Wilcox

John Wilcox is the CrossFit Los Alamos and Mesa Elite Group fitness coordinator and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He is the engine behind the programming for CrossFit classes at CrossFit Los Alamos. Wilcox uses his 36 years of experience as an athlete and coach to bring out the best from all of the CrossFit fitness athletes. His experience as an athlete, including playing defensive back at the University of Texas at Austin, and as a coach meshes perfectly with the approach that CrossFit takes to high-level fitness.

Wilcox worked out in weight rooms, on ball fields, on the track and on his bike for most of his life. He completed the CrossFit Level 1 Trainers' Course in early October 2012, and has been conducting classes for NewForm, Mesa Elite and CrossFit Los Alamos since November of 2011. He has coached youth soccer for 15 years, and prides himself on using a fitness-based approach to coaching both kids and adults to reach their goals in fitness and in life.

"Every one of us has an elite athlete inside," Wilcox said. "All of our athletes find a place they can push toward to achieve things they may never have done, or never thought they might be able to do. I take great pride in helping our clients realize these goals."

Nicholas Soapes: Nick Soapes has been playing sports his whole life. He followed his passion for baseball, which took him from high school varsity to playing for a NCAA Division II university. He enlisted in the Army in 2000. Having attended and graduated from numerous Army schools, which demanded high standards of physical fitness and mental toughness, Soapes found the results from his current physical fitness program lacking, he said. He initially perceived that supplementing his program with hours-long sessions in a weight room isolating muscle groups and bi-weekly road marches seemed to produce some additional strength and stamina, but consumed a lot of time.

It wasn't until training for his second deployment overseas that Soapes was introduced to CrossFit by a friend. He was required to train his team to carry large loads efficiently over varying terrain while performing their duties and he found the CrossFit programming not only produced outstanding results, but also those results were measurable, observable and repeatable. Soapes was a member of PFC Crossfit in Las Vegas, Nev., from 2009 to 2011 before moving to Los Alamos. He became a Crossfit Level 1 instructor in 2012 and was the first Level 1 CrossFit instructor at Mesa Elite Fitness. He continues to teach CrossFit Classes 2-3 time a week at CrossFit Los Alamos.

Nicole Barsic: Nicole Barsic has been an athlete for much of her life. Starting out as an equestrian athlete in college she was introduced to and found a love for rock climbing, ice climbing, shooting sports, and mountaineering. She started doing CrossFit to increase her ability to accomplish more extreme sports. Barsic attended the CrossFit Level 1 Trainers Course in 2013, and enjoys teaching Crossfit and the new challenges it presents.She said she uses her experience and training to push her athletes to the next level.

Leona Wedgeworth

An athlete for most of her life, Leona Wedgeworth has been a dedicated participant in many forms of fitness classes and training including running, strength and cardio training, boot camps, and circuit training. She was introduced to CrossFit by her father who happened to be watching the CrossFit Games back in 2011 on ESPN. He knew right away that this CrossFit thing was something she would love and he was right. Unfortunately back then there was no CrossFit “box” in Los Alamos. Wedgeworth was already taking classes at Mesa Elite Fitness, so when the owners were considering the transition into CrossFit, she got very excited. After about a year of building a strong foundation in CrossFit movements, Wedgeworth decided to attend a Level 1 Trainer course. She now trains other athletes at CrossFit Los Alamos and also offers a circuit training class.

"I feel so much more fit and stronger than I ever felt in my 20’s," said Wedgeworth who is in her late 40s and the mother of two children. "What do I like about CrossFit? It’s intense, it’s challenging, it makes me stronger, it’s fun, it’s hard, and it’s rewarding. Plus I am part of an awesome community of like-minded athletes. CrossFit is for everyone and this is validated every time I train new athletes. For me it has simply been life changing."

Laura Inkret: Los Alamos native Laura Inkret joined Mesa Elite Fitness in March 2013. She loves CrossFit and especially enjoys Olympic-style weight lifting. Outside of CrossFit, Laura enjoys swimming, rock climbing, and yoga. Laura is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and is a National Council on Strength and Fitness certified personal trainer. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2012, earning a degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in physiology.

Tom Bowidowicz

Tom Bowidowicz was introduced to CrossFit in 2009 in Santa Cruz, Calif., and said he instantly fell in love with the intensity of the programming and the results that it provided. He is a lifelong athlete and fitness/nutrition enthusiast who participated in tennis, cross country and track and field throughout high school. Bowidowicz also has taught tennis and gymnastics in addition to helping coach the middle school cross country team. He thoroughly enjoys helping other people achieve their fitness goals and people of all skill levels improve their ability to function, he said.

Through a combination of nutrition, proper movement, and intensity, Bowidowicz said  he believes that it is possible for anyone to improve the quality of life and help them become healthier, happier and more active individuals. In his free time, Bowidowicz loves doing yoga, parkour, running, and geeking out to all things science related. He is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and holds a CrossFit Weightlifting Certificate.

Shawn McGrane: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Shawn McGrane began doing CrossFit Workouts in October of 2009. Since then he has logged roughly 1,300 workouts while watching hundreds of technique videos and studying numberous books on exercise, diet and training. This led him to see steady and continuous improvement over the years, even leading him into the Master's Division of the CrossFit Open Games. At the end of 2013, McGrane attended the CrossFit Level 1 Trainers' Course and now coaches others to experience similar improvements in athletic performance.

Prior to CrossFit, he was a distance runner and martial artist with a black belt in Okinawan Kempo. He spent a few recent years coaching youth recreational soccer, several years teaching Karate, and is enjoying his initiation into CrossFit coaching at CrossFit Los Alamos, he said. In real life, McGrane is a physical chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is married to Nicole McGrane and they have two children. McGrane's current goals are achieving a 500-pound deadlift (at a body weight of under 165 lbs.) and a 1.5 body weight clean and jerk. "If you do something difficult every day, you slowly become a better person. Crossfit is one way to provide that continuous mental and physical challenge," McGrane said.

Erin Mollett

Erin Mollett is an ACE certified personal trainer, as well as a Certified instructor of PiYo Strength and R.I.P.P.E.D. She is a full time student at SFCC working towards her nutrition certification and Associate in Exercise Science degree. Mollett is passionate about health and fitness and enjoys sharing her energy and knowledge with anyone who asks. She is an avid weight lifter and runner, and loves to incorporate high intensity interval training (HIIT) during her workouts. "It is intense, it is hard, it will push you to your limits," she said. Mollett also likes to compete in obstacle course events.
 
"The physical challenges of each obstacle and the camaraderie of strangers all coming together, encouraging one another and having fun while getting fit makes these events so much fun," she said. "Plus, who doesn't like to play in the mud occasionally?" One of her favorite quotes is from Mahatma Gandhi, 'Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.'
 
Katie Alano
 
Katie Alano was born and raised in Colorado, and played soccer for several leagues for almost 20 years. She also enjoyed a short career playing football. Alano has been teaching classes for 12 years mostly in Los Alamos, ranging from Step Aerobics and Kick Boxing to Sports Conditioning and Weight Training. She prides herself on teaching correct technique and form to people new to weight lifting, or people working through injuries. Her favorite saying (besides "five more reps!") is that women can be active and strong, and still be feminine. 

Laura Vanderberg

Laura Vanderberg is a Yoga Alliance Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (ERYT500) and a yoga therapist. She has been teaching group and individual yoga classes for more than eight years, and created the first yoga studio in Cody, Wyo. She is known for her ability to meet people right where they're at, offering a safe practice where people can explore their inner landscape as well as begin to release tight shoulders. Besides teaching group classes designed specifically to open the body up after hard work and/or play, Vanderberg also offers health-focused workshops such as Yoga for a Healthy Back.

Her career as a scientist and training as a yoga therapist give her tremendous insight and she keeps classes small so she can provide more personalized instruction. In addition, Vanderberg offers one-on-one yoga therapy sessions and personal practice sessions. Yoga therapy sessions are designed to help heal chronic health issues, nagging injuries, or to devise a program for injury prevention and overall wellness.

"Yoga is one of the best ways out there to relieve stress. It's also a great way to improve flexibility, release muscular tension and prevent injuries, not only for Crossfitters, but for anyone looking to live a healthy and fit lifestyle," Vanderberg said.

To learn more about Vanderberg's yoga sessions, visit http://www.lauravanderberg.com/

CrossFit Classes

On-Ramp Classes - Coed: If you want to blow the doors off your previous notion of fitness, sign up for this one. Terminology and movement training is covered twice a week each month starting on the first Monday and ending after eight sessions. Workouts of the Day are scaled to each athlete's ability. The coaches teach how to incorporate CrossFit into fitness routines.

Tuesday and Friday 4:30 p.m.: This class is for ladies only, and is a great introduction to what CrossFit is all about.

Before and after work WODs - coed: These classes are for the intermediate to advanced CrossFit athletes to push into new levels of fitness.

Monday through Friday noon-12:50 p.m. Session: Offered during the lunch hour to help burn calories.

Weekend Warrior CrossFit Training Session - Saturdays at 8 a.m. - Coed: This class is for anyone who is in great shape and may or may not be training for an event or race. Clients’ goals are met and challenged in this one hour boot camp style workout.

Yoga - Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and starting Sundays at 4 p.m.: These sessions are put together for a gentle and relaxing balance to the strenuous CrossFit lifestyle - focused on flexibility, centering and balance.

All CrossFit workouts include midline stability work, gymnastics, metabolic conditioning (cardio), plyometrics, balance work, heavy lifts, Olympic style lifts and power lifts; not in that order and not every time. Strict form is taught and expected for all lifting techniques.

For information about CrossFit Los Alamos and Mesa Elite Fitness, visit www.mesaelitefitness.com.


Leona Wedgeworth. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Nick Soapes. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Laura Inkret. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Nicole Barsic. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Erin Mollett. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

John Wilcox. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Suzanne Wilcox. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Shawn McGrane. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography

Tom Bowidowicz. Photo by Tara Key/Key Photography


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