We are currently wrapping up week 4 of the F-45 Global Challenge, and I am on my way back to Vegas after a fun filled weekend at the Arnold Sports Expo.

At the moment I am sitting in the airport in Columbus, Ohio waiting to board my flight. I have been in Ohio since Tuesday afternoon working with my fit fam, Gorilla Wear at the Arnold Sports Expo. While it was an absolute blast, I am more than ready to get back to my little doodle man (and of course my main man).

Tuesday began with meeting up with the team to get settled into our hotel. They originally had us an apartment rented for the week so we could all hang out together, but we were informed Monday morning that the apartment had an unexpected pipe burst, so we were relocated to the Hilton, downtown. The Hilton is one of the host hotels for the Expo so it actually worked out pretty well. The main thing that had us all a little aggravated was the fact we no longer had a kitchen to meal prep, which left us eating out every. single. meal. The breakfast buffet was actually re-vamped to cater to the Arnold and competitors so there was plenty of variety: eggs, egg whites, boiled eggs, steel-cut oats, greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts, potatoes, and grilled veggies. We began every morning with a group meet up at the buffet before heading to the venue. During the day we were all so busy that we didn’t have time to think about food. We kept a cooler on hand jam-packed with fruit, protein bars, sandwiches, and protein drinks for those quick few minutes throughout the day that we could squeeze something in, but for the most part, we saved our feast for the evening. We ended up eating at the same restaurant every evening (with the exception of one night). The restaurant was literally right next door to the venue, so it was perfect for our raging late-night appetites. The menu was pretty limited, but they did have a veggie burger that was pretty scrumptious. This ended up being my go-to four out of five days. While yes, it was good, almost anything after a ten-hour day would have sufficed. I will say however, they had a Scottish Ale that surpassed just about any beer that I have ever had. By evening two, everyone at our table had tried it and made it part of their regular order. Is beer considered acceptable on the F45 challenge menu?! Um, no. No, it is not. But after an eight to ten-hour fast each and every day and working my booty to the bone, I drank that beer along with my black bean burger without a single trace of guilt.

Expo days are insane, intense, exhausting and motivating all at the same time. It is so inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded individuals that share the same passions and desires. We had several Gorilla Wear athletes that made appearances: Erko Jun, Felice Herrig, and William Bonac .

While all three were super warm and welcoming to everyone that came to the meetups, Erko, has a presence that cannot be dismissed. He is an extremely funny guy, and after a couple of days, I have to say that I am a total Erko Jun fan!

I got to meet a handful of people that I had only interacted with through social media. Meeting Jordan Edwards was a huge highlight for me this weekend. I have followed her for the last couple of years and always flip to her Instagram when needing a good ab workout. I was walking from the restroom back to our booth and recognized her and her boyfriend. I went up and introduced myself, and she just wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me big. She was (genuinely) so sweet. We spoke briefly about the industry, and of course, had to grab a quick pic to document my fan-girl moment. 

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I met the hilarious Jen Heward, aka @hunnybunsfit while roaming around and while we did get a selfie, her eyes were closed and I looked a mess after a 10 hour day, so we’ll just leave that one in the mysterious cloud. I caught glimpses of several influencers that I admire and just being in the same venue sharing the same passions is enough for me. I didn’t have time (nor the patience) to stand in line to meet anyone.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I am sitting in CHM airport. I have to share with you all that I am sitting in the general food court and Jessica Arevalo is sitting to the right of me, and Bradley Martyn to my left. So on that note, I am going to hit pause on this entry, perhaps go say hello, make my way to my gate, and I will pick back up with you guys once back in Vegas.

I am excited to share my newest series with you all, “F45’s 8-Week Challenge.”

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We are now coming to the end of week two, so let me catch you all up.
Beginning week one I had my body composition broken down using the In-Body Test.  I weighed in at 132.7 pounds with 19% body fat.

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My goal throughout the next eight weeks is to attend at a minimum, three F-45 classes while still incorporating three to four days of Olympic Weightlifting and/or Power Lifting and squeezing in at least 15 to 20 minutes a day of yoga and mobility. I typically coach three to four days a week, so I usually go in before coaching and complete the day’s workout. This allows me to get my workout in and heart rate up which in return, gives me plenty of energy for coaching (also allowing me to burn another 200-300 for each class coached as well).

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The challenge gives guidelines to support members during the 8-week Challenge. The F45 nutrition team provides weekly meal plans with mainstream and vegetarian recipes specific to male and female body compositions. These nutritional guidelines are what you will traditionally see with any “healthy eating” meal plan prescription: lean proteins, whole grains, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, no sugar, and no alcohol. The F-45 8-Week Challenge isn’t a magic pill or prescription. It is an approach to “challenge” each individual to put forth their best effort to reach personal goals.

An observation within myself since the challenge began is cardio improvement. If you aren’t familiar with F-45, the HIIT training is incredibly intense! We do a lot of agility training and explosive movements with extremely short rest periods. Only two weeks into the challenge and I am seeing great improvements in my speed and recovery rates (a tighter waist and glutes are just an added bonus).

As for my menu, not a lot has changed. I typically stick to healthy eating habits all year round (with the exception of my weekly pizza and beer indulgence on Friday evenings). Last week (week 1 of the challenge), I had midterms for school and didn’t adhere 100% to my schedule. I always keep it real with you guys, so I have to report my slip-ups as well. I missed a day of training and the same evening, indulged in a bit of late-night snacking due to excessive studying. You know what though, it’s okay! Just like I tell my clients and fellow challengers, “one slip up is not detrimental to your progress, just like one workout doesn’t make you fit”. It’s all about consistency and getting back to the grind.

Having said that, Week two has been, LIT!!
This morning’s workout (deemed Hollywood) is our longest workout of the week. On Saturdays, our F-45 classes are 60 minutes long, rather than a typical 45-minute class. We also have a DJ that comes in and keeps the energy high and the class hyped. You can’t even begin to imagine the flow of energy without the experience first hand! We weren’t able to get in a workout before coaching this morning, so instead, we hung around after class and got it done.

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I wanted to share an exciting experience with you all from this past weekend, the 2018 Mr. Olympia!

I received a message a couple of months back from one of my girlfriends that I competed with in Korea; she is head of sales for Gorilla Wear in the United States and asked if I would like to come help out with their booth for the Mr. Olympia 2018. If you have been around the bodybuilding scene for a descent amount of time, then you are familiar with the brand, Gorilla Wear. GW is based out of the Netherlands and has been a staple apparel brand in the bodybuilding industry since 1982. GW is sold in 48 countries and house some of the most notorious athletes in the bodybuilding community: Dennis “big bad” Wolf, William Bonac, “Big Ramy,” Dennis James, Kevin Osazee, Patricia Alamo, Catharina Wahl, and Valeria Ammirato, just to name a few.

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When my girlfriend approached me with this opportunity, I was beyond ecstatic to say the least. Little did I know, not only would I be in the same venue with the biggest names in the fitness industry, I would have the chance to talk with these individuals and hug the people that I have admired and followed for so long!

It all began bright and early on Wednesday morning. I was up at 4 am to get in a quick bout of cardio before heading to the Las Vegas Convention Center to begin set up for the “O.” I met my team there at 8:00 am, scooped up my all access, fast-pass badges and we went to work. To see the convention center on day 1, and then again on day 4 is like day and night. I can say that I now fully understand all of the work that goes into such an extravagant event.

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Wednesday and Thursday were long and tiring, but the build up to the weekend kept us eager and excited. Friday morning I was up at 5am and getting ready for the day! I arrived at the venue at 8am, and while walking to the front entrance I see a familiar face, Michelle MacDonald. I have admired this woman for years, and if you check out her Instagram you will see why. Any woman that can hold a physique such as hers at any age is an incredible feat, but even more impressive, Michelle is 47 years old! I was in a bit of a hurry because of traffic on the way in, so I didn’t get to stop and fangirl. However, once arriving at our booth, another member of my Korean team was there as well, and I told her who I just passed on my way in; she grabbed my hand, walked me three booths over and introduced me to her old coaches wife, Michelle! The expo still had about 30 minutes before the doors opened to the public, so both being die hard foodies, we gabbed about recipes and nutrition. Can you all imagine?!  It was truly a surreal moment for me, and exhibited promise for an amazing weekend ahead.

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Friday afternoon, I had the chance to walk around for a bit while scarfing down a protein bar. I got about three booths down and realized I didn’t have my phone, which meant no camera. I turned around to go back to get it, and thought to myself, “you will have more of these moments, just enjoy this moment.” And that’s what I did. I walked around and was able to see what I had only seen on social media and just enjoyed being part of such a spectacular event.

Friday evening when wrapping up, I walked over to the booth directly behind us and said hello to the beautiful Cass Martin. I have followed Cass for a long time, and it was such a pleasure to say hello and to see that she was just as sweet in person as she always appears to be.

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Friday night the Gorilla team went for sushi. After a good 10 platters or so (have you seen bodybuilders eat), we called it a night. Saturday morning I was up once again at 5am to get the final day of the Olympia rolling. Saturday was just as busy and exciting as Friday. I got the chance to meet the rest of the GW athletes, as well as many other Olympia competitors.

Overall, this weekend was so incredible! To be a part of something within a community that I am so passionate about was extremely cool, to say the least. Most of all, this weekend allowed me to spend time with my old teammates who became family so many years ago. Almost five years later, and we are all still grinding and chasing our dreams and following our passions in this incredible industry.

Thank you Gorilla Wear for having me and allowing me to be part of this amazing Olympia weekend!!

Happy Labor Day! I cannot believe that it is already September! What is even more unbelievable is that we have been living in Las Vegas for 9-months now! I have to say that I do absolutely love it here.

You guys know that I love to hike, so we spent our Labor Day at Red Rocks. We chose to tackle a shorter trail than usual because there was a good bit of thunder rumbling around when we began, and we had already spotted rain in the distance on our drive in. We decided on the Calico Tanks Trail; it is ranked as a moderate trail, mainly because of its terrain. The rain never came and the overcast made for a perfect low 90’s temperature. It was a beautiful hike. I also have to plug in here that it is normally $15 per vehicle for a pass through Red Rock’s scenic drive, but a military I.D. gets you in for free!!

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Earlier in the weekend we met up with a couple of friends for a day of Top Golf at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on the strip. I had never been to TG before and had no idea what to expect, and was excited to see that it was basically just a gigantic driving range. I haven’t picked up a golf club since way back in my Hooters bartending days, and even then let’s just say my par score wasn’t a factor when playing for charity. I did manage to score second to highest on the last game, so I guess I did okay!

We hit pause for a lunch break and I had the sugar cane shrimp lettuce wraps. While the flavor was spot on, the shrimp was just too large for me. I had enough to hold me over until we headed to dinner at Las Vegas’s Tacos and beer  which was delicous!

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Our friends are regulars at Tacos and Beer and swear by the street tacos, so it was a must try. I had the pineapple and black bean tacos, and they did not disappoint! To beat it all, they were only $3.50 each!

To finish off the weekend, we checked out The Tipsy Robot which is located in the Miracle Mile Shops of downtown. When you hear of a robot bartender, one gets a bit intrigued. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s not that great. It is literally a robot arm that mixes a drink. There is no flare, no interaction, and no discount for a water. Your girl ordered a soda water (no alcohol) with a lime and it was $7.00! Definitely not a spot for the local resident, but we checked it off the list.

I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend and have an amazing week ahead!

I am going to jump right into this post because I am super stoked to share this new blog series with you all! I invite you to follow along over the next six weeks as I attack Las Vegas’s  Camp Rhino  6-Week Challenge.

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Recently while out for a run I stumbled upon Camp Rhino. I thought it was strictly a CrossFit gym, but I stuck my head in and noticed they also offered indoor and outdoor obstacle training. I got back home, looked them up, and read about this thing called the “RHINO 6-week challenge.” It grabbed my attention when it said I had the potential to earn my money back. To join the challenge costs $300. If you attend a total of 24 classes, meet all nutritional requirements, and strive for daily improvements, you get every penny back. This was an incredible incentive! I need a new goal, LFG!

I attended the initial athlete’s meeting at the beginning of the week and was accompanied by a room full of eager and motivated individuals just like me, looking to score a free 6-week gym membership.

The next morning (day 1),  I woke and logged my stats:
Starting Measurements:
• Weight 137#
• Chest 36″
• Waist 28″
• Hips 33.5″
• Glutes: 39″

Once I established my starting point, I laced up my Nanos and to the gym I went. This was the first CrossFit class that I have attended since leaving Italy at the end of last year & it felt incredible! Days 1 & 2 complete!!

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Now, fast forward three weeks….This week marks the halfway point and I am feeling great! So what is the challenge providing me that was lacking in my previous training program? This is easy, more intensity. I still begin my mornings as I have for months now, with some sort of pilates/yoga/core session at home, and then I head to CrossFit. I try to maintain this routine at a minimum of four days a week, and two days a week I focus strictly on isolation training at home.

As for my diet, my food choices relatively remain the same all year round; however, since beginning this program I have replaced my weekly “treat meal” with just an increased calorie consumption of the foods I already eat (the camp-rhino program allows for a weekly cheat, this is a personal choice). My top carbohydrate sources are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, with higher-glycemic foods structured around my workouts. I avoid saturated fat and trans fats as much as possible, and I use olive oil 99% of the time when sautéing veggies. I incorporate nuts and seeds at least 3-4x a week and typically include one small avocado a day. As for protein, I typically stick to chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs.

As of this morning, I have lost 3 pounds and a total of 4 inches. I joined this challenge for a free gym membership, but the additional abs are cool too!

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Fast-Forward:
Here it is, 6-weeks later and I have completed Camp Rhinos 6-Week Challenge!!
I had my final check-in Wednesday afternoon and earned 100% of my money back!

I reached my lowest weight of the challenge earlier in the week at 131.8 pounds. I chalk this up to the fact that I failed to meet my water intake and woke up a bit dehydrated.  I weighed myself the morning of my final check-in at 133.5 pounds and that was the final weight logged. Overall, I showed a weight loss of 4-pounds and a total decrease of 6-inches. Most importantly, I met some cool folks, and collected my $300 dollars (which I rolled over to pay for the next two months).

Olympia weekend is only a few weeks away so I will continue a cut for a few more weeks. If you make it that way, look for me at the Gorilla Wear booth!

Happy Memorial Day!

We spent our weekend hiking at Red Rock. Since moving here, anytime I mention the word ‘hiking’ to anyone, Red Rock always seems to be a headlining suggestion. Red Rock Canyon (Las Vegas, NV), offers 26 hiking trails that range from beginner 1.1-mile trails, to more advanced, unpredictable terrains.

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We began by stopping in at the visitor center to purchase our pass for the day; for a 1-day pass per vehicle, it cost $15. On our next visit, I plan to purchase the yearly pass which is $30, and Wes being active duty military will receive a free yearly pass!

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The scenic drive through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is 13 miles long. Every couple of miles offers scenic stops and a variety of trailheads.

We began our trek at the top of the White Rock Loop Trail and ventured off down the Keystone Thrust Trail. According to Red Rock Canyon LV, this Thrust dates back 65 million years to when the Pacific and North American continental plates got into a shoving match. The conflict pushed up the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west. The same force pushed the deep limestone layers up and over the sand dunes in what is now Red Rock Canyon.

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After our hike, I circled the trails that we tackled and dated it on the map that we picked up at the visitor center, and thought to myself, “there must be an easier way to track trails that we’ve trekked” (say that 3X). I noticed when looking through our photos that REI.com was on one of the trail markers. If you have ever participated in anything outdoors or searched #hiking or #adventure on Instagram, then you are familiar with REI.

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I searched for “hiking trails” on the REI website which led me to The Hiking Project. I typed in Las Vegas, NV and the trails surrounding us are nearly endless! The desktop version was nice because it allowed for statewide maps and it also lets you hone in on specific trails, which included the degree of difficulty, elevation, and estimated duration.

I also downloaded the Hiking Project App that provides detailed information on trails near you, including GPS route info. I created a customized user profile with interactive features. I tagged myself in at the location, as well as, pinned my very first trail!

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If you are a Las Vegas local looking for adventure or simply visiting, I suggest hiking the rolling trails of Red Rock Canyon.

I also recommend downloading The Hiking Project App, or visiting their web address to participate in interactive forums, read informative blog posts and stay up to date on newly discovered trails!

Happy Hiking!!

I was super stoked to get home this afternoon and begin this blog! As I continue to shake things up with my cardio, I want to share one of my all-time favorite “active-rest” day activities that I have incorporated the last two weeks, hiking.

Hiking is a minimalist sport. It requires a decent pair of shoes, and if venturing out on longer adventures, a camelback or perhaps a fanny-pack (and who doesn’t appreciate a good fanny pack). It’s one of those activities that relatively anyone, at any fitness level can benefit from. You don’t need to go hard-core rugged to reap the many benefits of hiking.

Last weekend, Wes and I decided to explore the terrain of Lone Mountain. This rocky butte is a steep and isolated mountain (hence its name), in NW Las Vegas just inside the Interstate-215. From our house to the base of the mountain is (not even) a ten-minute drive. We parked on the Northwest Side, and little did we know that the trail we needed to reach was opposite of the direction we headed. When we got to the trail that heads to the top, we realized we had already hiked the perimeter of the entire mountain, which was about 3 miles. With plans to have dinner with a friend later in the evening, we decided to call it a day and save the uphill climb for trip #2.

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Fast forward to this morning, we headed out to hike to the top. We left the house around 9am, and it was a perfect 75 degrees. While I would rate the hike last week as a beginner trail, I would rate today’s climb as more moderate, due to the rocky terrain, loose gravel, and incline; however, the climb to the top was relatively quick. The view was incredible!

The hike today was definitely more intense, but when comparing the calories burned to the ground distance covered (shown below), it is obvious that an individual will benefit greatly from either level of intensity.

Walking on flat terrain allows you to move continuously with little effort, whereas, hiking a rugged terrain forces greater work on the internal stabilizer muscles, which ultimately knocks out a lot of that energy transfer. Hiking of course isn’t without its own risks, but a good morning spent on the trail is not only a wonderful cardiovascular exercise, but excellent for mental clarity.

Navigating through this world is truly amazing! Go for a hike!

As I left the salon today, I detoured across the street into Orange Theory Fitness. My motivation for summer shredding has been lacking a bit, and I credit this to the fact, this is the first summer in 5 years that I don’t plan on stepping on stage. While I am still in the gym 5 to 6 days a week, I need a change. After doing some research about OrangeTheory Fitness, I was intrigued.  The “theory” behind OrangeTheory seems to be scientifically based, and this science nerd is all about the whys, hows, and facts behind everything. All of us fitness enthusiasts know that interval training in comparison to steady-state cardio burns more calories post-workout, and that is why interval training is so incredible!!

So, after two weeks and two workouts at two different locations, I can share my thoughts on the “theory.”

My first OT experience was shared with two of my girlfriends, Kaitlyn and Kelly. We all three headed into OT last week with a water bottle and no expectations. We arrived about 15 minutes early to fill out any needed waivers or paperwork. The first initial impression was, welcoming. The girl working the front desk was friendly, energetic, and eager to offer assistance. People continued to trickle in, but with only 5 minutes to spare before class starts, we had no idea what we were going to be doing. The instructor was nowhere in sight. The front desk girl apologized for the instructor’s tardiness and took us into the gym area. We were instructed to take our pick of either a rower or a treadmill (not really knowing why). I personally never felt uncomfortable (only because I am familiar with the unfamiliar when it comes to group fitness), but Kaitlyn and Kelly (a bit newer) were probably a bit uncomfortable. I tried to offer what advise I could regarding rowing techniques while we were warming up, and then about a hundred meters or so in, the instructor arrived. She apologized as she jumped on the mic and got us into a warm up. I will say things started off a little rocky. She was calling out commands to the class, but not being familiar with any of their terms or “lingo,” I just rowed with intensity and assumed if I was screwing up royally, I would be called out. We continued to row with uncertainty, and all of a sudden we heard “switch” yelled out, so we just went with the flow of the others. Once we found our way to our new location, we were instructed to partner up. I told Kelly and Kaitlyn that I would fly solo and try to find a regular member and they could pair together. I paired up with another female and the workout consisted of rounds for time of treadmill sprints, rowing sprints, and dumbbell work. After 60 minutes I was a sweaty, red-faced mess. Class ended and the instructor approached us with apologies for being late, and poor presentation of the class introduction. We assured her that our workout was still great even if we were a bit lost.

After class, we were back up front to talk memberships. I chose the basic package of one session a week. This would allow me to get in 60:00 of intense cardio training each week for the next month, perfect. This is worth $59 alone, but when the girl behind the desk said she would throw in the heart rate monitor for free, I was sold!


*Class pricing varies by region, so it’s worth giving your local studio a call to find out the exact cost of a membership or class. Your first class at any OTF is free; after that, the studio’s packages start at $59 and can go up to about $200 for an unlimited plan. The average price for a drop-in class for nonmembers is $28, with a few select locations costing slightly higher than this.

Now, fast-forward another week and I came back for round 2, except this time at a new location. Last week I visited an OT in Summerlin, but because I flew solo this week, I decided to go first thing in the morning to a location 10 minutes from home.

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Yesterday’s class was endurance based, meaning that we ran…a lot. We began on the treadmill with a base pace for 5 minutes, followed with just over 20 minutes of combinations with both base and push efforts. If that weren’t enough, a 1-minute all out, give it everything you got, race to the end.

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After running, we hopped on the rowers for more base and push efforts combined followed with dumbbell work. After 60 minutes, my body was spent and my lungs were on fire.

What I find to be most successful about the OT approach is the use of the heart rate monitor. I began wearing a heart rate monitor years ago when I began training for my first triathlon, and have worn one ever since when it comes to cardio training. This method of training enables you to see exactly where your heart rate percentage is at all times, allowing for continual improvements.

A big screen hanging overhead continuously displays your name, heart rate, percentage of max exertion, calories burned, and “splat points” (how often your heart rate is in the “orange zone”).

Below is an analyzation of each color:

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  1. Grey Zone (50-60% Maximum Heart Rate) – This is the safest, most comfortable zone, consisting of very light activity.
  2. Blue Zone (61-70% Maximum Heart Rate) – This zone is specifically geared for warm-up and cool-down exercises. You are merely preparing your body and mind for high-intensity interval training, but you haven’t unleashed the burn just yet.
  3. Green Zone (71-83% Maximum Heart Rate) – In this zone, you have reached a challenging but doable pace. This is what Orangetheory categorizes as “Base Pace,” a pace that you can maintain for 20-30 total minutes. Your body starts to burn fat and carbohydrates evenly.
  4. Orange Zone (84-91% Maximum Heart Rate) – This is where the magic happens and where you achieve “EPOC” (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) – what we call the “Orange Effect / Afterburn.” The goal is to accumulate 12 minutes or more in this zone within a 60-minute period to achieve the maximum caloric burn up to 36 hours AFTER your workout is completed.
  5. Red Zone (92-100% Maximum Heart Rate) – This zone happens organically and may be achieved during ‘All-Out’ efforts when you’re emptying the tank and using every ounce of energy left in your body. You don’t need to set an All Out pace for more than 1 minute at a time to experience maximum results.

This “zone” approach definitely gives you continuous motivation. I know personally, each time I looked up, if I wasn’t in the correct zone, I would fight until I reached it (this meant digging deep a few times).

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Once the hour was over I felt accomplished. I took a quick snip of the board to log my totals on the way out the door, but I was informed by an OT staff member that my stats would be emailed to me within minutes (which was pretty great!)

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Within minutes I received an inbox with my heart rate and zone summary.

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My overall opinion of OT summed up in one word, effective. I personally will not use OT as my only form of exercise, because lifting is my jam, but when it comes to shredding… this will definitely be a great addition!

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Follow along as I continue to share my experiences while exploring the versatility of fitness.