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Member Spotlight: Jenienne Geist

Jenienne’s journey with Roaster Barbell has become one of the most rewarding experiences a trainer could have. Teaching Jenienne the skills to improve her strength and function has opened up a whole new perspective on what CrossFit really is. CrossFit is much more than just high intensity group classes and high level gymnastics and weightlifting. CrossFit can also be 1 on 1 in a much different kind of environment. We use the phrase, “Technique-Consistency-Intensity” when describing the path to improved fitness. 1 on 1 is undoubtedly an effective route to begin learning technique as we build towards earning intensity. Thank you Jenienne for taking the time to effectively describe your journey with Roaster Barbell and we look forward to helping you for years to come!


1) How long have you been a member at Roaster Barbell and what made you begin?

My niece in Detroit is a personal trainer (and a CrossFit member) and as a Christmas gift in 2018 she bought me 4 personal training sessions at CrossFit Roaster Barbell in Berea where I live. After my free sessions were over I was hooked and wanted to continue, so since January of 2019 I have been doing PT with Coach Pete.  

2) What are your training goals?

Until I started at Roaster Barbell, I didn’t have any training goals—just wishes. I wished I were stronger.  I started to notice in my 40s that I was losing my upper body strength and by the time I hit my 60s it was really obvious.  And getting frustrating.

Over the years, I did what a lot of women do — take a yoga class, a few aerobics classes, a body sculpting class….  I bought exercise equipment and videos I didn’t seriously use. But occasional attempts at exercise won’t get you the muscle tone you one day find that you need to get back because you didn’t really work to keep it.  

Thanks to getting started at Roaster Barbell, I have real goals now to develop core strength, muscle and balance.  It is obvious to me that I really need to work at this and that I have found the right place to get it.

3) What has been your biggest accomplishment while training at Roaster Barbell?

Some months into 2019, I turned around and discovered I had actual muscles in my arms and legs that I didn’t have before. To me, this was a big deal and I was delighted. It still spurs me on because I don’t want to lose the gains I’ve made.  

4) What do you look forward to doing most when we are able to open back up?

Just to getting back to the in-person training again.  Self-discipline doesn’t come easy for me and I still need the accountability that having a trainer provides. The virtual training videos are great but nothing beats being at the gym.  Pete doesn’t pamper me – he knows when to push me. 

5) How has the gym affected your life outside of the gym?

It has opened up for me a new focus on my health and fitness that I just wasn’t paying enough attention to before now.  I’m developing a mindset.  I cut out the bakery and take the stairs more. There are so many benefits to strength training for your heart, brain, bone density, etc.  I feel like I’m making an important investment in my health not just for now but for years to come.  

6) What is your least favorite gym activity?

Lunges.  They are challenging for me and I just don’t enjoy them but they are probably what has given me the strength in my legs the fastest.   

7) What is your favorite gym activity?

I like using the rower and the lat pull down machine. And I like trying to hit the mark with the wallballs.  

8) What have you learned at the gym that has been most impactful on your life?

I see what others in the community have accomplished in their training and I want to keep challenging myself and not give up in my own training.

9) What is the best part about CrossFit Roaster Barbell and our community?

Community starts with the coaches.  Pete is great at challenging and encouraging everyone.  From a personal standpoint, Pete has developed training that is geared for me and what he knows I need to be challenged to do.  I might be his oldest trainee but I consider it a privilege to be a part of this very supportive community.

10) What advice would you have for someone who was on the fence about getting started?

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin to reap the benefits of strength training.  I’ve started this training later than most and I know I’ll never qualify for the games, but it has been fun and rewarding — it doesn’t take very long to see real results.

11) Is there anything else you would like to add?

I feel fortunate that I started at the old gym and got to see the exciting transition to the new gym.  CFRB is just a great place to be!




Thank you for taking the time to get to know Jenienne through her Member Spotlight. If you would like to learn how you could become our next success story, just email Coach Pete at and lets begin talking about how Roaster Barbell and help you reach your goals!

Member Spotlight: Dan Cronin

From Coach Pete:
Dan Cronin is one of the hardest working individuals to ever step foot in CrossFit Roaster Barbell. Since I was a young kid I have always been around athletics and Dan has proven to be one of the best, he is truly a special athlete. He has been able to separate himself from the pack because of his physical abilities. But what makes Dan special is not his ability to exercise fast, he has shown great maturity, generosity, and humbleness to everyone he meets. To me, this is far more important than his ability to exercise really well. At the end of the day, no one remembers your times or lifts. People remember how you made them feel, and Dan makes everyone at Roaster Barbell feel like family. Thank you, Dan!
1) How long have you been a member at Roaster Barbell and what made you begin?
I have been a member at Roaster for about 3 years now. I joined back in the summer of 2017 because I had met Pete and Doug at a CrossFit competition and wanted to train around like-minded individuals. Contextually I was coaching at another box and even had a key to that gym to go in whenever I wanted. Even with that in mind, I opted to pay Pete to let me train with him!
2) What are your training goals?
My primary goal is to stay healthy and stay in shape. Outside of that, I have aspirations to compete as an individual and / or team member at CrossFit Sanctioned events.
3) What has been your biggest accomplishment while training at Roaster Barbell?
My biggest accomplishment while training at Roaster was my top 500 in the world Open Finish in 2019. The atmosphere while doing the workouts and overall encouragement of the gym was electric. I have so much thanks and appreciation for the Roaster Fam.
4) What do you look forward to doing most when we are able to open back up?
Like I alluded to above, I can’t wait to see everyone. It’s not really about the workout equipment or the rig, its about getting to catch-up with friends. It’s been too long.
5) How has the gym affected your life outside of the gym?
The gym community holds me accountable. Therefore, the decisions I make outside of the gym are always weighed against expectations or conversations I had in the gym. Additionally, I think fitness in general has had a positive impact on my mood and outlook on life in general. When I am able to get into the gym and see everyone I tend to be happier outside of it.
6) What is your least favorite gym activity?
My least favorite activity is anything that involves a heavy sandbag. I feel like I can never get a good grip on the thing and I hold my breath which leads to a longgg workout.
7) What is your favorite gym activity?
I love simple CrossFit workouts that test your engine. Whether that be Pete’s “Unfinishable” workouts or those that just require you to continue moving, However, in terms of movements, I can’t get enough double-unders, chest-to-bar, muscle-ups, burpees or rowing.
8) What have you learned at the gym that has been most impactful on your life?
I think a lot of good things can come from hard work and by applying yourself to a goal. I think I learned that changes take time and that nothing is given. In the short-term it may seem like progress is non-existent but when I look back over the years I’ve realized that I really have improved. So, for me, its to not get caught up in the immediate results and trust the process. If you work for it long enough and stay dedicated the results will come.
9) What is the best part about Roaster Barbell and our community?
The people! Every member is unique and has their own back story, but when we come together at the gym we are all united in a common goal. The people really invest in each other too. A lot of relationships are maintained outside of the gym and we truly care about each other’s personal lives; whether that be the birth of a child, getting engaged or buying a new house.
10) What advice would you have for someone who was on the fence about getting started?
I’m paraphrasing, but somebody once told me “You don’t learn to read and then go to school. You go to school to learn to read.” Same thing is true with CrossFit, if you don’t think you are “in-shape enough” to start that’s just not true. CrossFit is for all skill levels and all ages. It is a mechanism for you to improve your health and wellness in a judgement free zone while the community at Roaster will embrace you every step of the way.
11) What has been your biggest obstacle in the gym and what have you done to overcome it?
I think strength has been my biggest obstacle. Over the past few months I’ve been religiously following a strength program to attack it (i.e. squatting / oly lifting in general). My advice would be to identify a weakness or obstacle by asking yourself or with the help of a coach / friend and put a tangible plan in place to accomplish it. I always said I wanted to get stronger but until I had a tangible plan it kind of fell by the wayside. This time is different.
12) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that I miss everyone. The conversations I’ve had and experiences I’ve shared with the Roaster community have been some of the most memorable in my life. I truly hope that everyone is staying safe and continuing to find positives in this tough time. I can’t wait for those doors to open again and for all of us to make new memories. I’m looking forward to it!
Thank you for your time today! If you would like to learn more about how you can get started on your journey with us simply email Coach Pete at and lets begin the conversation. We look forward to meeting you!

Member Spotlight: Steve Cave

1) How long have you been a member at Roaster Barbell and what made you begin?
I’ve been a member for 4+ years.  I knew Pete when he was a personal trainer at a gym in North Olmsted and we kept in touch during the time that he moved around to different gyms.
2) What are your training goals?
I want to continue to lose weight and conquer my 1st bar muscle-up as well as complete double unders more consistently.
3) What has been your biggest accomplishment while training at Roaster Barbell?
My biggest accomplishment has been not giving up on my goals and coming back to Pete for over four years!
4) What do you look forward to doing most when we are able to open back up?
I look forward to any machine (ie rower), since I don’t have one at my house.  I will not complain when getting on any of them when everything returns to normal!
5) How has the gym affected your life outside of the gym?
The gym has made me realize that my mental and physical health are very important and that it takes a long time, patience and practice to get better.
6) What is your least favorite gym activity?
My least favorite exercises are any gymnastic movements but I want to work even harder to get these under my belt!
7) What is your favorite gym activity?
My favorite exercises in the gym are the weightlifting movements like deadlifts and bench press.
8) What have you learned at the gym that has been most impactful on your life?
The gym has taught me patience.
9) What is the best part about CrossFit Roaster Barbell and our community?
The best part is getting to know so many great people and having them around to give great support even when someone is struggling on an workout.
10) What advice would you have for someone who was on the fence about getting started?
My advice would be to not be afraid. Having a great coach in Pete and a great community makes me want to come back better and stronger!
11) What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome?
My biggest challenge has been my weight.  I have been working hard for the past five months to lose weight to enjoy my life more.
12) Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have lost over 40 lbs since January 2020.  The toughest part was being mentally prepared to change my lifestyle and what I had been eating.  Losing weight has made me feel so much better and giving me more confidence to get back to the gym and conquer all the workouts that I am not good at or that I couldn’t do because of my weight problems.
Thank you for your time! If you would like to find out how you could be our next success story, just shoot Coach Pete an email to begin the conversation at

Member Spotlight: Andy & Luisa +1

  1. How has this pregnancy changed your training, if at all? (Andy) We’ve been extremely lucky so far, as Luisa has been crushing this pregnancy. Luisa is still coming to the gym several times a week and completing workouts (better than I can sometimes). The pregnancy is something that’s always in the back of my mind though. I’m lucky that she is taking a smart approach to the workouts and listening to her body. There are times that I’ll take a peek in her direction after I notice that she’s taking a quick break, she’ll give me a thumbs up, and I’ll know that everything’s good.
  2. What do you anticipate your training to look like in a couple months? (Andy) I picture the small details changing, but the overall picture remaining the same. There are several other gym members that have gone through, or are currently going through that same situation. The takeaway I have from watching others is that it just comes down to priorities. Frankly the gym will no longer be my priority. My family will. I would love to continue to come to the gym six times a week and stay later to try to work on some skills. Realistically though, the hours spent in the gym will drop. And I’m perfectly fine with that and I’m happy to make the change. I’ll make the most of the time that I do get to spend at the gym and spend the rest of my time trying to figure out this whole “dad” thing.
  3. What got you and Luisa into CrossFit in the beginning? (Andy) We’ve both been pretty active all of our lives . I went to a regular old gym for years and did your typical isolation exercises. Luisa liked to change up her workouts pretty often and has done a variety of different workout regimens from swimming, triathlon training, and boxing to name a few. We started training for the Cleveland half marathon a few years ago and I knew that I had to work on my endurance (knowing that I would get bored if I just ran every day). Luisa went to high school with Pete, we happened to see a post online about drop-ins to his CrossFit class, and the rest is history. We’ve both been full time members for the past three years now.
  4. How has CrossFit changed your perspective on fitness? (Andy) It’s certainly humbled me. Going into my very first class, I drastically overestimated my abilities. I hadn’t focused on endurance since high school sports, but still thought that I had maintained some of that capacity. Boy, was I wrong. The first several classes kicked my butt. By far the most that I had sweat in the past decade. It probably took me a while longer than it should have, but I eventually learned to slow down and not go all out in the first minute of a ten minute workout.
  5. What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you thought you could never? (Andy) Watching athletes snatch has always been something that has impressed me. Even though someone who is proficient at the movement almost makes it look effortless, you know that a movement that complex is incredibly difficult. I’m far from a professional athlete, but is there a better feeling in the gym than loading a barbell to the fringe of your comfort zone, having the stars align, and smoothly hitting that new one rep max on snatch? Becoming competent at snatch is not something I thought I could have achieved before starting CrossFit.
  6. What is your biggest victory in training? (Andy) I could go with any number of PR’s that I’ve had in the gym here. Everyone loves to lift more weight or go faster than their previous attempt. I think my biggest victory though is just being generally physically “fit”. The percentage of the population that is now considered overweight continues to rise. Sometimes I will take for granted the things that I am able to do until I look at some of the other people that are my age (that I don’t see at the gym on a regular basis). I’m not trying to compare myself to anyone else, but it is nice to keep things in perspective.
  7. What is your favorite part of training? (Andy) I am the epitome of a “creature of habit”. I would eat the same thing for every meal every day without complaint. That being said, I love that the programming forces me to do things that I would never do on my own. I can say with absolute certainty that I would never row a half marathon on New Year’s day by myself.
  8. Is there anything else you would like to share? (Andy) To anyone that’s considering CrossFit: Just give it a shot. You could be one of the many people that look forward to going to the gym all day. Or maybe you’re someone that would prefer to go for a hike, swim a few laps, play some recreational sports, or any other number of exercises. The important thing is to stay active. It feels good.
  1. What has been your biggest challenge with training through your pregnancy? (Luisa) 1st trimester: holding back. It was a challenge to not push too hard and listen to my body in the first trimester, especially when you are not ready to let the cat out of the bag and your friends are cheering you on to get that last rep.
    2nd trimester: scaling. The easiest trimester by far, but as my belly started to grow I had to find alternative movements to scale to that still made the workouts challenging and fun.
    3rd trimester: Repetitiveness.  As the pregnancy has progressed there are less movements I can do safely/comfortably.  Now that I’m towards the end I do quite a bit of biking and pushups, it’s hard to find enough variety to keep the workouts exciting.
  2. What is your advice to expectant mothers who want to train during their pregnancy? (Luisa) First, decide if it’s right for you. Do some research, understand the benefits and risks, I found the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James Clapp, MD to be very educational. Ultimately the decision to begin or continue a training program should be made by you, your physician, and your partner. Once you have established boundaries, work with your trainer to clarify your goals of exercising during pregnancy and the help you will need to get there. Keep in mind this is not the time to set PRs, your health and the baby’s health are of utmost importance. Listen to your body and don’t push past the limit you have set for yourself, for me it was 80-90% effort.
  3. What tips have helped make training easier for you during your pregnancy? (Luisa) Changing my mindset has been the most helpful. Healthy baby and mamma are what matters, if that means making a 20 min workout a 15, that’s ok. I’ve tried to find different scaling alternatives to movements I can no longer do, and sprinkled those into WODs as appropriate.
  4. What precautions have you taken during training for your pregnancy? (Luisa) Scaling, resting, and recovery.  I stop movements if they don’t feel right or cause pain.  I’ve changed many movements mid-workouts, scaling jump-ropes to air squats, strict/jumping pull ups to ring rows. Sometimes the plan I go into the workout with just doesn’t work out, and it’s ok to deviate from it. Also, I take more breaks during workouts to catch my breath or drink water.  Lastly, I make sure I’m taking rest days and sleeping enough to keep up my recovery.
  5. What activities have you had to stop during your pregnancy? (Luisa) First thing I cut out was running due to round ligament pain, and rope climbs for fear of falling. Then came kipping, in an effort to avoid over straining my abdominals, with that went toes to bar and pullups. As my belly got bigger, burpees, box jumps, hand stand pushups and double unders were cut out. Lastly cleans and snatches with a barbell, once I started to hit myself.
  6. Why did you decide to train through your pregnancy? (Luisa) I actually didn’t start hard set on training through pregnancy, I figured I would play it by ear and stop if it became too difficult. As my pregnancy progressed I learned more about the benefits and I felt so good that I figured why rock the boat. Looking at the last 9 months, I’ve had an incredibly easy pregnancy, I have very few aches, my balance is pretty good, my energy level hasn’t dropped as much as I anticipated and my weight gain is exactly what it should be. I can’t help but think some of this is a result of maintaining my exercise routine. At nearly 9 months pregnant, I notice that after the gym my ankle swelling goes down and I tend to feel better (mood and energy). I hope staying active has helped me prepare for labor and helps make recovery easier.
  7. What is your biggest victory in training? (Luisa) Doing a freestanding handstand, even for just a couple seconds. Somehow I went my entire childhood never having done a handstand. Will I ever do a cartwheel? Time will tell
  8. What is your favorite part of training? (Luisa) Just staying active, if I sit around too long I just feel very sluggish. It’s also a good stress reliever, and helps me satisfy my sweet tooth while remaining at a healthy weight.




Thank you to Andy and Luisa for sharing your story! If you would like to learn more about what we do and consult with a coach about how you can get started, email Coach Pete at today! Check us out on Instagram and Facebook too!

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Member Spotlight: Tim Hriczo

Member Spotlight: Theresa Demich

From Coach Pete:
When I think of Theresa, I think of consistency. Consistency is one of the most important factors for success. With that said, its no surprise how much progress Theresa has made in the past year. Her hard work has paid off on a world wide level. This February, Theresa will be taking her talents to Miami to compete in one of the most popular fitness competitions in the world. In order to compete, Theresa needed to qualify. She enters Wodapalooza as the 3rd ranked 60+ female in the world. Along with her success in the Wodalapooza online qualifier, Theresa also finished the 2020 CrossFit Games Open ranked 21st in the world for the 60+ female division, earning herself an opportunity to compete in the CrossFit Age Group Qualifier. She has positioned herself as a contender for the 2020 CrossFit Games this summer in Madison, Wisconsin. Check out Theresa’s story below!
1) Why do you workout?
I love to workout. Anyone who knows me, knows this is my passion. It provides a new opportunity every day to push myself in ways that I never thought I could. After my workout I’m always thinking to myself, “I wish everyone could feel as great as I do right now.”
2) What has been your greatest obstacle on your journey?
My greatest obstacle has been double unders, such a simple skill to some but they crush me.
3) What is your favorite part of Roaster Barbell?
I love Roaster. I’m so fortunate to have people around me everyday who believe in me, support me and always expect the best from me!
4) Why is it important for older athletes to lift weights?
As an older athlete I feel it is so important to lift weights and be as strong as possible. I’ve been a server for 40 years, yes you read that correctly 40 years. I am confident I am stronger and have more stamina than my co-workers, even though I am triple some of their ages.
5) What are your fitness goals?
I work on my fitness goals almost everyday, many of you may see me doing extra programming from Pete  to help strengthen my weaknesses, I would love to make it to The CrossFit Games as an athlete, and not a spectator!
6) What made you start working out?
I played sports in high school and community college. Then took a 35 year hiatus, but in my heart I always felt I was an athlete. When I was 55 a friend suggested I try CrossFit and I never looked back.
7) What is your favorite part of CrossFit?
One of my favorite things about CrossFit is the opportunity to test myself everyday. I also love getting to spend time with my CrossFit family and my real family as my son and daughter are also members. My son Tim is my favorite partner for Saturday partner workouts.
8) What is your least favorite part of CrossFit?
Im pretty sure my least favorite thing is any piece of equipment that has assault in its name, Assault Bike and Assault Runner!
9) What motivates you?
I always want more for myself because I know I am capable of it but it takes a lot of discipline and not just motivation to put in the work when you just don’t feel like it. I also want to be in my best physical shape possible when I retire so I can enjoy myself.
10) Where do you see your self in 10 years?
In ten years I can see myself doing sets of 100 dubs and partner workouts with my kids!
11) What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you thought was never possible?
CrossFit has given me the mental and physical confidence to take on my challenges that I would have shied away from before, so many things I would have missed out on!
12) How has CrossFit affected your life outside of the gym?
What? Theres life outside the gym?!
13) What would you suggest to someone who is new to CrossFit and who is nervous to get started?
When I tell people how passionate I am about CrossFit, I invite them to try. Their first response is, “I’m not you, I can’t lift weights or do a pull up.” I tell them EVERYTHING I do can be scaled so that they are putting in the same work on the same muscle groups but at an appropriate level. For example, instead of push-ups on the floor they can do them on a box. I also try to reinforce the fact that everyone is so supportive and that we were once all beginners too.
If you would like to learn more about what we do here at CrossFit Roaster Barbell, shoot Coach Pete an email at to begin your journey and begin writing your success story. We know you have goals, we want to offer you a path to them!

Member Spotlight: Kara Corrigan

From Coach Pete:
One of our original members, Kara has played a huge role in our community over the years. I remember when we began working together, years before Roaster Barbell was even imagined. Kara’s progress has been pretty amazing. Fitness has impacted her life physically, mentally, and professionally. Check out Kara’s story below!
1) How has CrossFit impacted your quality of life outside of the gym?
I’m stronger and healthier which makes everyday tasks easier, both at home and at work. Just last week I had to help move someone at work and was able to do it without issue.  I’m asthmatic and have not had to take any medications for it since starting CrossFit. I think I’m nicer after a workout and overall have a more positive outlook on life. I love seeing the changes in my body when I workout consistently and I think it even makes me more conscious of what food I’m putting into my body. I don’t find trying on clothes scary anymore which may sound silly but I’m sure someone can relate.
2) What was your exercise background prior to CrossFit like?
  I ran a lot….marathons and halfmarathons which actually kinda broke my body down. I worked with Coach Pete as my personal trainer for a few years before Roaster was even open, which is when I really fell in love with fitness. I did yoga, spinning and just about everything you can imagine. I played various sports growing up and still play volleyball as an adult.
3) What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you never thought you would do?
  I have never been strong, when I started Crossfit training I could barely lift the bar without any weight over my head so just being able to gain muscle is huge for me. When I was in my early 20’s I failed a PT test for a police department which was humiliating because I couldn’t do push-ups but with CrossFit I not only passed my PT test I ended up passing it for the younger age bracket. I can even do more yoga poses because of gained strength.  Even things like handstand push-ups or pull-ups were unimaginable for me when I started and I can do them now. I honestly think I can do more physically at 31 then I could at 25.
4) How has CrossFit changed you mentally?
I like to think that it has. I feel better, stronger, healthier when I work out regularly so when I’m consistent with my training I just feel better all around. My mood and energy levels are better which has a positive impact on me mentally. It also has proven to me that I’m a lot stronger not only physically but mentally. You’re always one workout away from a good mood.
5) What have you learned about yourself through training with the CrossFit methodology?
I’ve learned what my strengths and weaknesses are because you can’t hide from them during workouts. I’ve learned that the workouts are essentially what you make them because you choose how hard to go or not to go. I’ve also learned that you can’t hide from your fitness level because these workouts will show you where you’re at. It has helped foster the “no quit” mentality in life and at work.
6) Why did you start CrossFit?
I started CrossFit because Pete told me to, true story. Pete had been my trainer for a few years but I had stopped training with him at some point and was strictly running high mileage. I then got injured and reached out to Pete because running was off the table for a long time while my foot healed. Pete literally said I’ll see you Monday and that was that.
7) What is your favorite part of CrossFit Roaster Barbell?
The community is a huge part of it for me. I’ve made a lot of friends here over the years who have supported me. Whether it’s teaching yoga, changing careers or hitting a PR the people are here and ready to celebrate with you.
8) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Don’t give up. The last few years have been challenging for me, not bad just challenging. I quit a job after 7 years to teach yoga and become a cop (in my 30’s). There were definitely moments where I wondered if I was crazy but now that everything has settled down some I know I made the right decision. If there is something you want don’t give into your fears of failing or worry about how much time it will take. It sounds cliche but it’s true that the time will pass anyway. I think CrossFit is a great example of this if you simply set a goal and don’t give up on it you will be amazed at how awesome it feels to accomplish it 🙂
Your time to thrive is now. If you would like to learn more about starting your path to your goals just email Coach Pete at or shoot a text to 440-503-6712 and lets talk about you and your goals! Check out our other member spotlights to learn a little more about who we are as a community. Thank you for your time and we look forward to meeting you!

Member Spotlight: Mike Varney

From Coach Pete-

Sometimes life has a unique way of reminding us about our health. Sometimes that reminder is a heart attack. Mike 1st began with modest goals and had not yet fully dove into CrossFit. Early into his CrossFit journey, which was only 1 on 1 personal training, it happened. This was an eye opener for both Mike and myself. Whats happening inside the body can go unnoticed for years and years and then out of nowhere, boom, it hits you. Once cleared we inched our way back into regular training and slowly dosed intensity for several months. In retrospect, its all pretty amazing. 6 months post heart attack, Mike completed his 1st CrossFit Games Open Workout. Check out Mikes story below…


1) What was your fitness and training background prior to Roaster Barbell?

I had no real fitness or training prior to coming to Roaster.  I did go to some gyms but was never really focused on achieving any real fitness goals.

2) What prompted you to begin training regularly?
It was my daughter, she had wanted to start going to a gym and working out.  So I would go as a way of spending time with her and trying to support her in achieving the goals she was focused on achieving.  I would come to the gym with her on the weekends, but would never do anything when I traveled.  Then two things happened, the first being when my daughter Abigail found Roaster Barbell.  To be honest I was nervous for her coming to a CrossFit gym based upon my impression of these gyms and others we visited.  This impression changed at the first meeting with Pete, seeing the mix of fitness levels, and most importantly how everyone supported everyone irrespective of their fitness levels.  This made me comfortable for my daughter to go there, and then she started to push me to begin individual sessions with Coach Pete.  This got me to start doing lessons every Saturday morning which motivated me to do more exercise when traveling during the week and showing initial progress.  This motivated me further to keep going. Then I had my heart attack in April of this year which was a real eye opener for how unhealthy I really was.  I actually started to miss going to the gym and working out, so when I got clearance from the doctor I started back with the Saturday individual training sessions, then moving to the regular classes. In summary – the two things that prompted me was my daughter pushing me to start doing the individual sessions which showed I could actually do this once I focused more on it.  The second was my heart attack, reinforcing the need to be healthier.
3) What have you changed about your diet and what was the impact on your health?
My main diet change was attempting to cut out all processed type foods.  I also do not restrict myself from foods I used to eat on more regular basis.  If I want a piece of cake or pizza, I have it.  Doing things this way, I do not get really hungry, don’t really crave processed type foods, and have seen consistent results.
4) What are your fitness goals?
I want to maintain consistency of exercising on a regular basis, side goal to be able to do a 5k and also 10 pull ups.
5) What is your favorite part of the Roaster Barbell community?
My favorite part is the support from everyone (as noted in question 2) no matter a persons fitness levels.  A person at the gym that can complete one of the full open workouts is right there supporting a person who can just get through one round of the workout with all the excitement as if they were doing the exercise.  This drives a sense of community, and more importantly gets rid of the intimidation for beginners to come to Roaster and actually begin with confidence they can achieve their goals.
6) What health challenges have you faced?
As mentioned above my biggest challenge and eye opener was my heart attack (with a stent).
7) What advice would you have for someone who is afraid to start?
Set realistic goals for yourself and work to your goals for health and fitness, not anyone else’s.
8) What fears did you have before starting, and how did you overcome them?
My biggest fear coming to a gym like Roaster was if I could actually do any of the exercises effectively or fit into one of the classes.  I overcame these in two ways, first having a support network to push me to just do it (this was my daughter and the community at Roaster). The second was just taking the first step and signing up for the sessions.  I know that sounds cliche, but taking that first step gives you the confidence to continue moving forward.
9) Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have greatly enjoyed the time I have been coming to Roaster, the people I have met, and the support that has been given to both me and my daughter.  I’m glad my daughter found Roaster and pushed me to start coming to the gym.  The sense of community Pete has developed at Roaster has helped me keep the motivation and enjoyment in exercising.  More importantly for me is that my daughter has felt welcomed at Roaster, to which I thank everyone at Roaster.  Finally, one day Pete we will find the absolute perfect cup of coffee.
If you would like to learn more about what we do at Roaster Barbell simply shoot us a message at and lets talk about how we can help you!

Member Spotlight: Karen Bernat

From Coach Pete:

Nearly 10 years ago Karen and I began our partnership. A partnership that has been more mutual than she would think. Consistency and loyalty have carried us for many years, and it is one of give and take, ying and yang. We couldn’t be more different in many ways, but our similarities have helped us form a great friendship and working relationship. Karen has been through every single up and down with this community for a long long time. She has seen many different versions of myself and the business and she’s still going strong. Our relationship is much more than just fitness. We started with 1 on 1 for many years and through that time we were able to discuss life, faith, love, and everything in between. We took on some of the worlds most controversial topics. Karen has helped me be a better person and coach. Her importance to this community and myself cannot be emphasized enough. Through the years, she has had a hand in many projects and events. Often times her help has been behind the scenes doing the little things that need done. Her main objective has always been to put others first and anyone who has spent time with her knows this. Karen, thank you for sharing your story with us.

1. How has CrossFit impacted your life outside of the gym?

Probably about a million ways but I want to focus on one. It has given me an inner strength that I never had before. The last couple of years have been tough for me, and life has knocked me down a few pegs. I have been dealing with pain, weight gain, and depression. But I have not given up or given in to this “rough spot” in my life. I felt close one time. And it was a CrossFit friend who listened to my craziness- until it even sounded crazy to me.  I have had a period of fewer days at the gym. And I believe once no- twice I stayed away for an entire week. But never have I given up.  Because of the inner strength I have developed, quitting is not an option. So I show up. I do what I can do. And I continue to strengthen my body, mind, and spirit. I continue to do what I have to do and slowly I have come to a much better place. In every area of my life. The gym is my place to shut out the world for a bit and take care of me. I think everyone needs a place like that.

The inner strength helps me to deal with what I call my demons.  (My lack of self confidence, that inner voice that is constantly critical, anxiety, depression, knee pain, a true addiction to sugar) To name a few.
It has been crucial to finding my way back. And I am. It gave me the strength to seek a counselor which gave me the courage to look for acupuncture for my knee pain. Which led me to PT as well.  –Insert plug here for Pure Physio. They are amazing!– Which gave me the strength to fight to be healthy again. Then I had to tap into that inner strength to ask for help with my diet. I really though I could do that myself.  I did it before right?  Wrong!
I am incredibly grateful to have a place that helps me develop strength of all kinds.
Friends and family often remark on my “strength”. They think that I’m strong person and that’s why I love CrossFit. What they don’t understand is that CrossFit made me the person I am. It gave me physical and mental strength I never had before.
2. What was your exercise background prior to CrossFit?
I found fitness just a couple of years before crossfit found me.  At 48 years old I walked into a gym for the first time since high school. I was 450# and could barely move. I started by walking on a treadmill. My first workout was a 15 min. walk at 1.5 mph; some of it on a slight decline. Pete Taylor became part of my journey that first year. He was working as a personal trainer at the gym. He slowly moved me from machines to free weights.  Yes he would make me go in the scary room!  And then began adding some crossfit elements into my workouts.
3.What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you never thought you would?
Short Answer
– Row a Marathon – indoors
– Bike a Marathon – stationary bike
– Ski Erg a Half Marathon (I had to alternate standing and sitting on this one)
– Row 5 Million+ meters.
– Keep fighting through the hardest of times!
4.How has CrossFit changed you mentally?
See answer #1. And it has also made me a more open minded person.  Maybe it is seeing everyone, (Male, female, overweight, young, old, fit; put whatever other descriptor you want here. believer, non believer, straight, gay, black, white, tall, short) Struggle to become a better person, to be the best version of themself. It has helped me to realize that in this life, we are all in it together. We need to cheer each other on. Build each other up. We all have more in common then we have differences. I now truly enjoy being a more accepting person. I love hearing your opinion on deep issues. And guess what? You are not going to offend me.
5. What have you learned about yourself using CrossFit methodology?
I have learned that no matter how far I have traveled in the wrong direction it is never too late to change the direction I am headed.
It’s not easy- but I can face my fears head on.
That I need people.
That it can take me a very long time to learn something new. And that’s ok.
That the hardest fight I’ll ever face is with myself.
6.Why did you start CrossFit? 
Because this guy I was seeing for personal training opened a CrossFit gym.
As I said earlier. Pete slowly began introducing CrossFit into my personal training sessions with him. So I had I pretty good idea of what it was like. But when he told me he was opening a “real” CrossFit gym. I didn’t think that I belonged there. Pete and I had a rather heated discussion about it.  I was scared. I didn’t think I would fit in. On bad days my demons still tell me I don’t fit in. I don’t listen.
Anyone can do CrossFit.  Because you do it at your level and you compete with yourself to become the best you.
7. What is your favorite part of CrossFit Roaster Barbell?
The people!  Their support, their friendship.  I am fully aware that I am a difficult person to get to know. That has even been worse the last 2 years as depression does not help to make you an outgoing person.
Yet I feel fully accepted at CFRB. At my worst times I was at the gym on the bike and I was hoping no one would talk to me. Sometimes I would walk out so that I didn’t cry. Sometimes I did cry. Through all of that no one ever treated me like I shouldn’t be there.
I have gained back over half the weight I lost. No one ever treated me like I didn’t belong there.
I hope it’s because even though i just seemed to be losing battle after battle. They could see that I was still in the war.
And I have learned to love hugs, even sweaty ones.
8. Anything Else?
Yes!  You won’t find a better or more supportive coach than Pete!
He is a huge part of my support system and takes an interest in every member. Just today I heard him ask a member,  so how’s your water intake today?  He’s knowledgeable and not afraid to keep learning. He’s honest. Sometimes I don’t want to hear his honesty. Sometimes it is uncomfortable.  But when I give myself time to think about his comments I understand what he was trying to tell me. I’m rather black and white in my focus, he helps by pointing out that huge gray area in the middle.
I also want to say that I know I was pretty open in answering these questions. You may not have wanted to hear about my struggles.  But that’s me. A rather open book. Because I know I’m not the only one struggling, and to keep quiet about it and pretend I’m not won’t help those other people.  Again we are all in this together. And together we can make it through.
I am finding my way again.  And I know if your struggling you can too!
If you would like to learn more about what we do at Roaster Barbell simply shoot us a message at and lets talk about how we can help you!

Member Spotlight: Kathy Dillon

Kathy joined our community in April of 2018 and her progress in the last year and a half has been incredible. How incredible? Well, possibly life saving. Being diagnosed with diabetes is news that no one wants to hear. Endless medications and complications as well as possible loss of vision and toes through amputation are all worries of diabetics. Fortunately for Kathy, with the right nutrition and lifestyle change, she was able to completely come off of her medications. Currently, Kathy is at 110# LOST and thriving. People like Kathy are exactly why Roaster Barbell exists. We are grateful to have been apart of your journey, Kathy!
1) How has CrossFit impacted your quality of life outside of the gym?
It has changed my life 100%. I used to have to sit down between stores at the mall. I now eat standing up because I have so much energy. I used to feel like I was dragging my body with me. Now I feel like I don’t want to stop walking once I start.
2) What was your exercise background prior to CrossFit like?
Desk job. The last time I was seriously into exercise was the Jane Fonda era.
3) What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you never thought you would do?
Run a 5K. Hated it, but I did it.
4) How has CrossFit changed you mentally?
CrossFit has saved my life mentally. My doctor will back me up on this. I want to live. I want to exercise. I want to continue to show up the old me.
5) What have you learned about yourself through training with the CrossFit methodology?
That all my excuses were my fault. I would blame everyone and everything. Even my 55 year old body is changing every week. I have muscles. I’m strong. It works.
6) Why did you start CrossFit?
My walking tapes and faceless gyms were getting old. I have a friend who was taking CrossFit classes.  She told me her weight had not changed. But her body was definitely changing for the better.
7) What is your favorite part of CrossFit Roaster Barbell?
That I don’t have to be the best. Most days I’m the worst . But I’m still learning new things and getting the workout of a lifetime every single day.  The CrossFit community will support you no matter what your skill level is.
8) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Before diet and exercise my A1C was 9.9 . After 8 months of diet and exercise my A1C was 8.1. After 3 months of CrossFit my A1C was 6.2 and 3 months later it was 5.6. That speaks for itself. My doctor was thrilled!
I have been a daughter
a  wife
a mother
a sister
a friend
a lover
a widow
a survivor
All these things make me who I am, but at my last doctor visit she called me an ATHLETE.
Three years ago that is a name this 305 lb. woman only dreamed of.
If you would like to learn more about what we do here at CrossFit Roaster Barbell, shoot Coach Pete an email at to begin your journey and begin writing your success story. We know you have goals, we want to offer you a path to them!