Coaches

Michael Towneuntitled-64-2-Edit-Edit

I discovered CrossFit in 2007 while preparing for Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS).  The new regimen took me far beyond my initial goal of making it through OCS in one piece, and served as my introduction to the broad world of performance-based fitness. Most importantly, I rediscovered the joys of competition, community, and camaraderie  found in group athletics—something I thought I would never experience again after collegiate soccer. My introduction to coaching was at Outlaw CrossFit in Alexandria, Virginia in 2009. I also began implementing functional training programs with my Marines, and despite the varied populations, from weekend warriors at the gym to warfighters in my platoon, results were outstanding.

I believe this back-to-basics approach to fitness is revolutionary— eschewing fancy machines, long repetitive cardio workouts, and tedious, overwrought weight training programs with tried-and-true barbell work (squat, press, deadlift, clean, snatch) coupled with  dynamic conditioning workouts using one’s own body (push ups, pull ups, sprinting, etc.) as well as heavy objects (kettlebells, dumbells, sand bags, etc) is both elegant, effective, and most readily transferable to everyday life.

Having witnessed the impressive results garnered for myself and those I train and how much fun it can be, I knew I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to providing quality resources for people to remain active throughout their life and enjoy getting strong, fast, and fit. Combined with my wife Becky’s passion  for cooking and skill at preparing healthy meals (seriously, three meals a day… it is heaven) from locally-sourced fresh vegetables and meats, I knew we were on to something fun and positive worth sharing.

Education:
CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
USA Weightlifting Club Coach
USA Weightlifting Advanced Sports Performance Coach
CrossFit Kids Trainer
CrossFit Movement and Mobility Trainer Course
CrossFit Endurance Trainer Course
Power Monkey Camp 5
B.S., Anthropology, Appalachian State University

 

Becky Tippett

Growing up, I was a dedicated long-distance athlete, competing in swimming, track, and cross-country. I gave up swimming to focus on cross country in high school and was devastated when a knee injury sidelined me from running. In the following years I tried to stay active, dabbling in yoga, spinning, and aerobics, but found it difficult to stay motivated at the gym. When I started dating my husband, Michael, I struggled to keep up on short bike rides and hikes. I wanted to share an active lifestyle with him and realized something needed to change; when he mentioned a program called CrossFit, I decided it was time to try something new, even if I was a little intimidated at first.

I joined my local CrossFit gym in Durham, NC, in the summer of 2008 and was immediately hooked.  Going to the gym was fun and challenging: I discovered that I loved lifting heavy barbells and kettlebells, and the group environment helped me push myself harder than I would have on my own.  I quickly became stronger and faster than I had ever been before, even as a teenage athlete!

As the coach of a boot camp since 2010, I have also seen how much fun others can have with functional fitness. I believe everyone can benefit from a demanding and exciting exercise program within a supportive group and I am excited to help clients meet and exceed their goals.

Outside of the gym, I believe that lifelong health and fitness start in the kitchen. I love the abundance of local food in Charlottesville and regularly testing new recipes. Keep an eye on Solidarity Eats for tasty things to try!

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
CrossFit Movement and Mobility Trainer Course
Power Monkey Camp 5
B.A., Sociology and Political Science, Ohio State University
M.A. and Ph.D.,  Sociology, Duke University


Jasonn Ross

After many years of your typical lifting routines, I was bored and looking for a change. One day while in the gym I saw a guy who impressed me with his lifts and then blew me away with his conditioning workout. This guy wasn’t just strong, he was fit. I found out that he was utilizing CrossFit…and the rest is history.

Since starting CrossFit, my activity level has exploded. Walking, running, hiking, snowboarding, soccer, just about anything that gets me moving and outdoors, I want to do. I feel prepared for anything. It is amazing how it spills over into your everyday life. I believe the community is the best aspect of CrossFit. I have never had so much fun, while working so hard. No matter what kind of day I have had, when I walk into the gym, I get to start my day over. Everyone is encouraging me and everyone gets it, because they are there doing the same training as me. They help me push past what I believe I can do. This happens EVERY day I come. It is invigorating.

My goal, as a coach, is to inspire people to do what they believe is impossible. Because when the impossible becomes the possible for them, it catches fire and spills over into every aspect of their lives.

Education:
CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
CrossFit Kids Trainer
B.S., Computer Information Systems, University of South Carolina

 

untitled-46-Edit-Edit-EditConnor Duddy

I found CrossFit my senior year of high school as I was preparing for my last rowing season.  I suffered a serious back injury on a summer job just before I left for my first year of college.  It was a painful and slow road back.  The beauty of CrossFit is that it can be tailored to fit anyone’s situation and it became a big part of my recovery.  I had to be patient but slowly I regained my strength and found that my goals were transitioning from recovery to performance.  I did not do any sports in college but still had a desire to be competitive and CrossFit filled that void.  It took years but I was able to go from a debilitating injury to an individual competitor at Regionals.  The lessons I have learned over the years been invaluable.

Most people at Solidarity do not share my competitive goals and, for them, CrossFit is about staying healthy and happy.  But I believe the lessons I have learned through CrossFit have value for our members in and out of the gym.  I hope my experiences will encourage others to be patient and trust the process.  My goal is to affect small changes that over time have a big impact on our member’s lives.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Power Monkey Camp 6
B.A., Economics, SUNY Geneseo

Competition:
2017 Wodapolooza, Elite Men, 19th Place
2016 CrossFit Games, East Regional, 11th Place

 

Michael Caires

After years of sitting at a desk, the life of a graduate student was grinding me down physically. I was overweight and had no idea how to reverse the trend. So, I started running. Just a little bit at first, but slowly working up in distance and speed.

As my running improved, I began an at-home CrossFit-style training program for an ultra-marathon, in hopes that I could train for the distance without spending every free moment out on the trails. I finished the race, but I wanted more of the weight-training and high intensity workouts in CrossFit. Soon after, I joined Solidarity’s Boot Camp program where I realized I had to re-learn the basics–such as my squat and push up. When I transitioned from Boot Camp to CrossFit, I went from re-learning movements to learning things I never thought I would be doing, like climbing a rope, handstand pushups, or the clean and jerk. Now, as member of the coaching staff at Solidarity, I not only strive to teach sound movement, but to encourage everyone who walks through our door that no matter where they started physically, we are here to work together toward our shared fitness goals.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Ph.D., History, University of Virginia, 2014.
M.A., History, San Francisco State University, 2007.
B.A., History and Political Science, San Francisco State University, 2005.

 

Erica Mendel

For ten years, I competed in distance swimming. I learned endurance and perseverance from swimming those miles, but my spectrum of athletic ability was narrow. After a series of injuries ended my swimming career, I dabbled in other activities, but nothing sparked my enthusiasm and competitive spirit like swimming had. While practicing Muay Thai (Thai Boxing), a fellow fighter mentioned that he was doing CrossFit to help him get stronger. At the time, my endurance-trained body was resisting the quick, explosive movements Muay Thai demands, and I decided to try CrossFit for myself.

One class and I was hooked. In just one workout, I experienced every feeling that I had loved when I finished a race in the pool. Everything in CrossFit required an intricate combination of strength, endurance, and speed, and I found my body quickly adapting; within months, my athletic abilities were no longer limited to endurance athletics. Even more significantly, CrossFit changed my mentality about fitness and body image. Being in shape no longer meant looking a certain way. I stopped thinking of food as a challenge and more as a way to fuel my body. I grew confident in my strength.

At UVA I am studying biology and I hope to eventually become either an occupational therapist or physical therapist. I think that functionality in day to day activity and training for longevity is something everyone can and should do. Crossfit helps make people realize a passion for movement they may never have known. I love seeing that passion awaken as individuals find strength and confidence that they never imagined.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

 

Gabrielle Ocker

I’ve been involved in sports all my life, including years of competitive field hockey and lacrosse. It was always clear that conditioning and overall fitness separated the good from the great athletes, but I had limited success developing my own conditioning routines. One summer, I attended a sports-specific training camp at Trident CrossFit in Alexandria, Virginia. The training focused on strength and endurance, but included a level of intensity that I had never before experienced. By the end of that summer, I was one of the stronger, faster, and fitter girls on my field hockey team, and I was hooked on CrossFit.

CrossFit allows me to explore every facet of my athletic abilities and push myself well beyond any limits I had previously set for myself. Every day brings a new goal: getting a heavier front squat, mastering the pull up, improving my rowing times, etc…And the best part is that I am in a community of people who share a similar passion for fitness and we all encourage each other to be the best we can be.

CrossFit has given me so much more than a heightened physical fitness. The confidence, work ethic, and camaraderie from CrossFit have helped make me a more self-assured, determined, and compassionate person in all areas of my life. As a coach, my goal is to help others discover the joys of fitness and to inspire them to strive for new accomplishments every time they step into Solidarity.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

Competition:
2017 USA Weighltlifting National Championship, 69kg
2016 USA Weightlfiting American Open Championship, 69kg, 15th place

 

Zach Starsiauntitled-53-2-Edit-Edit

My athletic career began at a young age alongside my older brother. I grew up playing many sports, but ended up focusing on lacrosse and squash in high school. Both sports allowed me to hone in hand-eye coordination skills and the physical demands were great. As I transitioned into college, I continued to play squash on the University of Virginia team and ended my career as a top-ranked singles player and captain of the squad.

Shortly after graduating from UVA, I picked up CrossFit as supplemental training for a triathlon. After completing the Prep Course at Solidarity CrossFit, I knew I was hooked and wanted to push myself to a different level. Having grown up surrounded by sports all my life, the competitor in me has enjoyed the challenges of olympic weightlifting and gymnastics in my training. After spending hours in the gym at a local fitness club, there was nothing that compared to the physical demands of CrossFit.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach
B.A., Environmental Science, University of Virginia

 

 

seth portraitSeth Coogan

Growing up I always enjoyed physical activity, and had passing interests in lifting weights and running. However, I never found a regimen that worked for me. In college, I enjoyed intramural sports and hiking, took multiple PE classes. and also discovered a love for running through daily jogs with friends. These activities became regular outlets for me.

During a weight training class my 4th year in college, my instructor said “lifting weights is great, but what I really love is CrossFit!” This peaked my curiosity, but it was not until two years later, when a friend invited me to join a park workout with Solidarity CrossFit in 2010 that I discovered the challenge and reward of each workout.

I love the way CrossFit blends both strength and endurance for a style of fitness that is extremely rewarding and fun. My journey took me from a three month Boot Camp, to a Prep Course, to a regular weekly membership, to gyms around the world while traveling for work. I’ve completed 1-mile Farmer’s Walks in India, Overhead Squats on rooftops in Thailand, partner workouts in Indonesia, and had comrades I’ve just met cheer me on through those last few reps on the bar in Ireland. I love the thrill of the chase, always improving something. At the end of every workout, I always ask “What is one new accomplishment I did today that I am proud of?”

As a coach, the biggest reward for me is seeing someone make a new achievement, pushing the benchmarks of their own physical abilities, all while increasing their fitness and getting more out of their life each day as a result.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
B.A. Physics, University of Virginia, 2010.

 

daniel portraitDaniel Pope

I had always considered myself to be an athletic, strong, and generally ‘in shape’ person. Upon completion of my first CrossFit workout, however, all that seemed quite inaccurate. I had always been the person that could do more than 20 strict pull-ups and was a fast sprinter during sports. But here I was during my first CrossFit workout and I was doing single pull-ups and fighting for a single set of 10. I felt like I had lost any abilities that were mine upon entering the gym and my heart rate was through the roof. This new form of fitness was something that was completely foreign to me and it left me wanting more.

Through CrossFit I have learned much about gymnastics, weightlifting, powerlifting, endurance training, pacing, and mental fortitude. The infinite scalability of the workouts have never always given me the stimulus I needed. The skill learned in the classes transferred to other aspects of my life such as hiking, work, nutrition habits, energy levels, and so much more. As a coach I now enjoy sharing all that I’ve learned with others.

Education:
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

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