December’s Athlete Spotlight

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

December’s Athlete Spotlight is Ryan Kretchmer!

ryanWhat would your autobiography be titled?

Hmmm, I would have to title it, “Stumbling About: My Life, Times, and Thoughts”.

What’s the last thing you searched for on Google?

“Sarcastic Workplace Wallpapers”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Well, I am not sure “Magic” would count so I would have to go with Telekinesis probably.

Sorry, but I just have to add that that makes me think of, “It’s not magic, Michael. It’s an illusion.”

If you could pick a workout with all of your favorite movements and lifts, what would that workout be like?

I like simple things that you can go all out on, so it would probably look like the below:

10 Back Squats @ 95#
10 Box Jump Overs
10 Deadlifts @ 225#
200m Sprint (as in not jogging)

When did you begin working out at NRCF? And was it magic at first workout or what?

I began 3 years ago in the spring, about two weeks after I moved to Raleigh from New York. I would say that it was love at first workout because the people were great, it was casual, and the workouts actually made you feel as if you were pushing yourself.

The only bad part was it was HSPU and I had never done a handstand before, so I got up and immediately fell onto my neck lol. I am pretty sure Ashley laughed at that too…

And duh. Yes. I laughed. 😉

Thank you, Ryan for being such an integral part of our gym! We are very thankful to have you as part of our crazy family at NRCF. 5:00 class isn’t the same when you’re not there! 🙂

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November’s Athlete Spotlight is Becca Kwiatkowski

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

November’s Athlete Spotlight is Becca Kwiatkowski!

If you were stranded on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?

I would bring an airplane, an airplane pilot, and jet fuel…and I would leave that little vaca spot before I got sunburn.

What is the last thing you searched for on Google?

The last thing I searched for on google was “last minute Halloween costumes” … Google’s idea of “last minute” is entirely different than mine. I really mean last minute.. Google thinks last minute means you still have a day to gather props and whatnot for your costume…

What is your favorite childhood movie?

Over the Top.

What has been the best part about competing in CrossFit competitions?

The adrenaline rush.  It’s amazing what adrenaline will do for your PR :)… and working with someone who is working just as hard for you, as you are for them.  When in a competition, especially with that awesome partner, (ahem .. Jess) I want nothing more than to give it my all. That drive added to a big adrenaline rush pushes me to a different level. I think of nothing but to, go hard, and finish strong. It’s hard to keep that state of mind on just an average day. 1Corinthians 9:24-27 is a verse that helps me to keep things in perspective, and encourages me always “give it my all”.

What inspired you to walk through our doors for the first time?

I really just wanted a workout that was different and kept me interested. The regular gym/workouts never cut it for me. Kate encouraged me to join and the rest is history! I really never expected for this gym to become such a huge part of my life. I love the friends I have made at this gym, the strengths and confidence I have gained, and the challenges that I continue to face every day simply help to shape my character. Thank you NRCF and all of the coaches for being such an amazing team!

Becca, thank you so much for being such an awesome member! We love having you around our gym. Your smile, laugh, and hard work are contagious! Our gym is a better place because you’re a part of it!

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October’s Athlete Spotlight is Keith Williamson!

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

October’s Athlete Spotlight is Keith Williamson!



(Before Keith’s mom took the pic on the left of him as a kid, she asked if he thought he looked cool, and Keith said he responded with, “Yes I do!”)

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?

When I was ten years old I would say that I wanted to be a professional golfer.  I enjoyed playing a lot of sports as a youth.  I played golf, tennis, baseball, and basketball.  As a youth I was probably best at golf.  I won a few junior golf tournaments growing up.  I have always enjoyed competition.  I’m the middle child of six kids.  I come from a hyper competitive family and being the middle child I am used to fighting and competing for everything, so that may define my Crossfit experience.

What is your favorite breakfast food?

Warmed up pizza from the previous night.

If you had your human body, but the head of an animal, what animal would it be?

I would say a Lion. I’m a big fan of Aslan from the Narnia stories. I love what he represents. The line I love from the book, “Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “Safe?”, said Mr Beaver, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

As a OSU fan how do you feel you compare to Lindsay and John Hill as UNC fans and Trevor Young as a NCSU fan?

Compare.  I’m a fan of The Ohio State University.  How do I compare?  I love my team enough that I lived in the actual Ohio Stadium for three years while going to school there.  There was a Stadium Scholarship Dormitory program that operated a student run co-operative dorm that was housed in the west side of Ohio Stadium.  Only weird thing was having a dorm room without a window.  It made for getting to games really easy.

What has been the most memorial moment for you so far at North Raleigh CrossFit? 

I would say it was in the 2016 Open this year while doing workout 16.3. This was the workout with 10 power snatches and 3 bar muscle ups in a 7 min AMRAP. I quickly moved through the snatches and then moved to the bar muscle ups. I had never successfully done one bar muscle up yet, so for the better part of 6 min I attempted to get my first muscle up. I was so close but I couldn’t get one. Then with about 10 seconds I attempted one more and I got it. Just under the time cap and I remember everyone there cheering. It was a awesome display of community. I got a score of 11 versus 10 and that made all the difference in the world, and it was so much fun to share that with people at the gym.

Keith, thank you so much for being such a dedicated member of our gym. Your passion, hard work, and friendliness to everyone who comes in our doors makes our gym a better place! We are thankful to have you as a member!

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September’s Athlete Spotlight

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

September’s Athlete Spotlight is Andrea Sinko!


What is in your most frequently used emoji tab?

All smileys because life is an emotional adventure, but that is what makes it worth it!  All the encouragement and congratulations, because people are awesome, put themselves out there, and do amazing things. All the celebrations, because everyone deserves to be celebrated, not just on their birthday, but everyday!


What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? 

A Travel Agent. I would get flight books, yes back then they were actually paper books with all the flights listed, from the airport. “Playing” Travel Agent, I would go through the books finding different flights that would go to fun destinations and create itineraries.

If you could pick a color from the crayon box to be you, what would it be and why?

Blue Green! It is calming, and also reminds me of water and two of my favorite places. Seneca Lake in Upstate New York and Marco/Naples, FL on the Gulf of Mexico. My dad and step-mom happen to have a house on both, and I am extremely lucky to visit both places and spend time with family while doing so.

What are your favorite and least favorite movements and/or lifts in CrossFit?

All the CrossFit movements and lifts are beneficial and have their purpose. That being said though:

My least favorite movement would probably be Double Unders simply because mine are very inconsistent, and when you miss it hurts. I am determined to get better at them, despite my clumsy incoordination.

My favorite movement would probably be Hand Stand Push-ups. There is something about being upside down that makes me happy, and it has health benefits reducing pressures on the body.

Coincidently, both movements are the ones that take me the longest to get through during a workout. Funny how those can be my least favorite and most favorite for different reasons.

When and how did you get started at North Raleigh CrossFit?

My first official workout was 11/03/14. After being a runner and completing 2 half marathons, and trying Barre for a while, I wanted to find a more well-rounded form of fitness. I had heard about CrossFit and thought I would give it a try. My sister knew to search “strength and conditioning”, as opposed to just CrossFit so she found NRCF (then Marvel Strength and Conditioning) doing a search from Colorado and gave me the name. I felt right at home my first time there. After 22 months at NRCF now, it is hard to imagine myself anywhere else, and I can’t see myself ever doing anything else for fitness other than CrossFit. Every workout is different so you are never bored, and there will always be room for improvement no matter what your level. The community class aspect can’t be beat, and it is the most effective form of fitness I’ve ever tried.

Andrea, it has been so awesome having you part of NRCF for the past 22 months! We are so fortunate to have you as one of our members. We love your work ethic, dedication, and passion for fitness! Thank you!

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August’s Athlete Spotlight

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

August’s Athlete Spotlight is Steven Strouble!


stevenIf we could play a victory song announcing that you “won” the August Athlete Spotlight, what song would you choose? 

These first two are probably more like overcoming some obstacle victory song. So I’d play these if I won a gold medal or a championship, “We Made It” – Busta Rhymes ft. Linkin Park, and, “Touch The Sky” – Kanye West ft. Lupe Fiasco.

These other two are Soca songs, which are more happy and celebratory of life in general. I might play these when I wake up in the morning and I’m looking forward to having a victorious day, “Allez” – Teddyson John, and, “Cheers to Life” – Voice.

Hold up. Steven, you “WON” the August Athlete Spotlight. What are you talking about “IF” you won a gold medal or championship? :I

What is your favorite book or book series?

TRVL Magazine (the iOS app) is probably at the top of my reading list. They do a great job of writing about places from a cultural perspective and not only do they have great photos, but they include information about how the photos were taken. There are quite a few stories on their website as well. (

In a zombie apocalypse, what three things would you take with you from your home?

An iPad, solar charger, and LiPo power banks. (I’d download all the the zombie apocalypse literature and survival music that I need before leaving.)

You are a regular 7pm class member. Does working out that late every keep you up at night?

That’s probably a bad question for a nocturnal person like me. I can’t remember a time in my life that I actually went to sleep during “normal” hours. Lol. I rarely am in bed before 12am. I do feel it’s difficult for me to sleep at nights that we don’t have class though.

When did you become a member of NRCF, and what was your first class experience like? 

That feels like ages ago, despite being less than a year. I remember being relieved that it wasn’t awkward. I have always relied on sports to try and stay active, mainly soccer, and I have never been to a gym. Absent of team activities, it takes me a while to really become social with people. I don’t remember the workout, but I remember being glad that interacting with everyone was pleasant.

Thank you, Steven for being a member of NRCF! I love having you in class, and even though you may not laugh on the outside I know you’re secretly laughing on the inside. 😉

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July’s Athlete Spotlight

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

July’s Athlete Spotlight is Ashley Freeman!



We’re making a band. And you’re in it. What instrument are you playing? And what are we calling ourselves?!

I would have to say that I’m playing the drums. I love to play loud music with a good beat and I feel like I could be super aggressive on the drums haha! I would call us the Flexual Healing, because really? Why not?

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?

When I was ten I wanted to be an architect or a construction worker.  I loved building things and making things from scratch.  I wanted to design beautiful and creative buildings with all types of secret compartments. I soon found out that my handwriting skills were terrible and my ability to draw was even worse haha, but admire the work of others who possess this talent.

Do you remember when you started working out at NRCF?

I remember my first day at NRCF about 2 years ago.  I was so nervous and the gym seemed very intimidating. I attempted my first ring dip with a large green band for support.  My hand slipped off the ring and the band slapped my right across the face.  My eyes were watering bad (I promise those were not tears ;)). Everyone was so nice and supportive though I could not help but continue to come back day after day.

What inspired you to give CrossFit a try?

I have always wanted to give CrossFit a try but I was scared. I came from a background of power lifting which including only three lifts (squat, deadlift, and bench press) and all other cardio type movements were strict and few and far between. When I finally made the move to Raleigh a friend of mine had spoke wonders of what was then known as Marvel Strength and Conditioning. I decided to give it a try with a couple of girl friends of mine and I never looked back. I feel in love with the gym from day one.  I loved the community lifestyle and all of the amazing support from fellow lifters. I cant imagine ever leaving this style of fitness.

What’s been your favorite CrossFit memory so far?

The great thing about CrossFit is the ability to track your progress. I remember coming into the gym and seeing all of these wonderful athletes doing things I have never seen or imagined. I remember seeing people doing muscle ups and thinking that was an impossible task, and one that I would enjoy watching others do from my safe spot on the ground. My favorite memory of mine was the day during the CrossFit Open when I decided to run the clock out by attempting bar muscle ups. I had been practicing them for what felt like a lifetime with little progress. I got my first bar muscle up during this workout with the encouragement from all of my fellow lifters. It was a moving experience and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I felt like all of my hard work had finally paid off, and I realized that with hard work and determination obstacles can be overcome.

Thank you so much, Ash, for being such an awesome member of our gym. I always love having you in class. You have the most amazing attitude and you’re always so fun! 🙂 Our gym is blessed to have you as a member!


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June’s Athlete Spotlight

Welcome to our Athlete Spotlight! Each month we highlight a dedicated member of our gym so you can get to know them a little better!

June’s Athlete Spotlight is Dave Phipps!

First, and most important question – Italian or Mexican food? 

Mexican food.

Good choice, Dave.

If you could go to any concert, get backstage passes, and party all day and all night with the artists (dead or alive) who would it be?

I’m not a big music person so this is a tough question. I’m one one of those people who has never really gone to concerts. I’ll go with Daft Punk.

You used to do CrossFit at another gym in the area when I coached there. Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to make the change from CrossFit to Bootcamp?

I did CrossFit at the other gym for five years and was feeling kind of burned out. I was not working out often enough to justify the cost and I had lost my motivation which was my own fault. I was also dealing with some intermittent back pain where I kept on tweaking my back doing random things. I took a break for working out entirely for a few months, but that did not help my back issues. I decided to ease back into working out with bootcamp and made the switch to Ashley’s gym since she had always been one of my favorite coaches. I liked that bootcamp had a set schedule, that you signed up for two months at a time, and that you were encouraged to let Jonathan know if you could not make it. Jonathan has been a great coach and friend and I have enjoyed the camaraderie of my fellow bootcampers. My original intention was to only do bootcamp  1 or 2 cycles and then maybe switch to regular CrossFit, but after 11 months or so I’m still bootcamping. I still miss some of the strength training and Olympic lifting though. Lately I’ve been trying to get to bootcamp a little early to try to include some of that before the bootcamp workout.

For all of the night owls out there, is working out at 6:15 as bad at is sounds?

Back in my CrossFit days my favorite workout time was 11:30am, but my work schedule eventually changed such that I could not reliably workout then anymore. It was hard for me to motivate myself to workout early in the morning. Working out at 6:15am sounded horrible at first, but I have gotten used to it and I start my day more energized on those days. My dogs have been training me to be a morning person anyway so this is just an extension of that.

What have you learned about yourself since starting CrossFit?

I am really bad about locking out anything heavy overhead whether it be OHS, Snatches, or handstands. That is something I still want to improve. I am really good at double unders since I have had so much time to practice them over the years. I’ve never been athletically gifted, but my health is important to me and I enjoy working out in a small group. For me personally, I don’t get caught up with comparing my lifts or my times with others. By showing up and doing the work I’ve already won.

Dave, thank you for your consistency and your hard work in the gym. Even in our old 11:30 CrossFit class I could always depend on you to be there! We appreciate you very much, and are thankful that you’re part of our growing community!

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