November 4, 2017

November Member of the Month: Leigh Newell

I started CrossFit DownRiver last April, when I was going to a gym 3-4 times a week, doing 45 minutes to an hour on the treadmill, and not getting the results I was looking for. My nephew Jacob was home from the Navy for a month and found CFDR.  He was over one night after I got home from a workout and was talking about how great he felt since starting at CFDR and said I should try it.  I thought, “yeah right”!   Everything I knew about CrossFit was that it is for the extreme athlete, not a middle-aged, over weight woman with two bad knees.  I agreed to try it, but felt so nervous and intimidated…that is until I was introduced to Coach Joe, who completely put me at ease. The time he took with me to explain and show me what he wanted me to do and even scaled it down for me, made me feel so accomplished.  I was very sore the next day (from using muscles I forgot I had), but wanted to continue at CFDR.  I started my membership that following Monday and started my on-ramp with coach Kirk.  The patience he had working with […]
October 9, 2017

October Member of the Month: Eva Tomlinson

About 8 years ago I started hearing about CrossFit. It sounded like a program I would like, but I didn’t seriously consider it until years later, mostly because I thought I was too old. Gradually, after learning more about the sport and the concept, I felt like I just had to try it! I dropped in to CFDR one day and was shown around by Bernadine and Kirk. I was ready, the people were nice, the program was sounding even more interesting and the gym felt comfortable. I love showing up for a WOD or whatever is going on that day and getting the work out done. I love the way I feel after it’s over. I am grateful that someone else is responsible for deciding what to do and all I have to do is be there.  Finding my one rep max for the dead lift was a big step for me, empowering me and awakening a sense of self I had lost. It was a great day for me. So I guess that makes the dead lift my new favorite move! I am satisfied with my progress so far and am plan to continue to do what I […]
September 7, 2017

September Member of the Month: Emma Green

Before joining CrossFit Downriver about a year and a half ago, I was settling.  I had gotten too comfortable in my ‘normal’ – a mediocre relationship, rarely stepping foot in a gym and eating and drinking whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. From the first days of the on-ramp at CFDR, I knew this was a place that I could challenge myself and start a new, healthier ‘normal’ both physically and emotionally. I love that literally everyone at CFDR wants you to succeed and will push you to better yourself every day that you step into the gym. After a year and half, I am definitely hooked and CrossFit is the first workout that I see myself sticking with for years to come. I’m the strongest that I have ever been and wake up excited to check the WOD and see what we’ll be working on that day. My goals for the year are to do a bar muscle up, join the 300 club dead-lifting and start competing in some fun, not-too-serious competitions!
August 5, 2017

August Member of the Month: Evan Ashley

I had been curious about CrossFit since I first saw the games on ESPN.  The intensity and amount of work was intriguing and intimidating at the same time.  A good friend of mine had mentioned he has been going to CrossFit Downriver for some time now, and couldn’t stop raving about the gains he had made, as well as the great coaches.  I walked in completely unprepared one Thursday night while Helen was coaching one of her “Helendurance” classes.  After talking with Helen and Kirk, and realizing the kind of passion these two had for helping people with their fitness goals, I decided to join the BOX.  I came in the next day to start my On-ramp.  Ever since my first WOD, I have been hooked.  Every coach has been amazing.  The gains and progress I have made in such little time is a testament to the professionalism and hard work put in by both myself and the great staff at CrossFit Downriver.  I have gone from only being able to do ring row pull-ups to kipping to almost strict in the matter of only a few months (just one example).  The one on one work from the coaches goes […]
August 1, 2017


I know, we humans are built to be resilient and adaptive.  When we are faced with a trying situation, we eventually learn how to get over ourselves and move forward.  But it’s the icky stuff in the middle that can make us crazy and question everything we’ve tried hard to achieve. For me, knee-jerk reaction when faced with a highly-stressful or challenging situation is to get very quiet, to isolate myself, to leave the rest of the world behind and internalize everything.  I kick the dirt.  I feel sorry for myself.  I bitch.  A.  LOT.  I stew in my own little crock pot of emotions.  The trouble with that? It does not make me feel better. Recently, I started kicking dirt.  After having three previous heart surgeries in the span of 5 years, a lousy couple weeks led to a swift decline, resulting in my being the new owner of a pacemaker.  At 38 (for you young-ins, no that is NOT old). While delighted to finally put the heart issues behind me, what I was not prepared for was the lengthy set of no-no’s going forward that left me feeling utterly overwhelmed.  The surgeon sat before me and as she spoke, the woman sucked the very soul from my body.  No more Olympic […]
July 1, 2017

July Member of the Month: Nate Hairgrove

It was mid February, 2013 when I walked into CFDR and there was coach Nate teaching a class of misfits.  I distinctly remember seeing Juan, Mary, Roman (of course shirtless, walking on his hands just because he could)   and “Rico Suavé” (a/k/a Ben) grinding out the WOD. I thought “these people are nuts and so am I so this should be fun”!   Coach told me to come back for the on-ramp the next morning at 6am….that’s all it took. I was hooked….like order the lifter shoes, buy all the Hylete shorts, if it said Rogue on it buy it – “hooked”! It was through those first few months of meticulous training on basic movements when I realized CFDR was beyond professional. I was also now part of a family. We cheered Q on during his Open run, we raised money and gifts for families in need, we drank and partied and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had to take a small break due to work travel and life but since I’ve been back the last year it’s been great seeing more members joining the family. I don’t really have a favorite crossfit movement (other than […]
June 24, 2017


There’s no doubt that CrossFit brings people together.  Many long-term relationships have been started in the box.  For us, many of our members are more like family than those related to us by blood.  Often times, we don’t express to you how important you are to us, or don’t tell you when you’ve impressed us with your actions. Here’s to you, our members, whose actions speak louder than words and it doesn’t go unnoticed. THANK YOU FOR TAKING CHARGE.  You know who you are, when Coach is busy talking to someone who dropped in to check us out, or had to address a member with a question. You’re the one who keeps the flow of the warm-up or skill-set going for the few minutes coach is distracted. THANK YOU FOR WELCOMING A DROP-IN OR NEW MEMBER. You’re the first one to introduce yourself to an unfamiliar face who walks in.  You show them around, you help them set up for the WOD, you make them feel they’re at home at CFDR. THANK YOU FOR CLEANING UP. You never forget to mop up your chalk or wipe down your ab-mat with a Clorox wipe, and you don’t just stop at your own area, […]
June 5, 2017

June Member of the Month: Kris Boik

In March 2013, as Kris’ daughter, Melissa, was about to return to Minnesota from a spring break visit home, Kris mentioned that she would like to get healthy and would like to get into shape. She asked Melissa to watch her do a squat. Horrified by what she saw, Melissa said, “I know a guy!”  She told her Mom to call CrossFit DownRiver in the morning, which she did, and went to see Kirk for her first workout.  After having the common first day reaction of crying, and asking “what the hell am I doing here,” Kris returned the next day. She promised herself and Melissa she would stick it out at least until Melissa returned home for the summer.  4+ years later, she’s still going strong.  Although Kris claims she hates having people watch her when she’s the last to finish a workout, she was absolutely amazed by the 50 or so people cheering her in from Murph this year, and grateful to the guys who ran in with her.  Kris likes CrossFit workouts that have rowing, dead lifts, and back squats in them.  Her favorite part about being a part of the CrossFit DownRiver family is the […]
May 6, 2017

Women & Weight Training

“Lifting weights will make you bulky.”  “Don’t lift weights or you will look like a guy.”  No doubt you’ve heard these phrases when it comes to deciding your path along the fitness journey.  But is this really the case?  Will lifting weights really mean you will Hulk right out of your shirt and be available for the next NFL draft?  Let’s look at some key facts: While it is true that cardio burns fat, lengthy cardio sessions also burn muscle. Why?  In a nutshell, the body uses three things as sources of fuel:  carbohydrates, fat and protein.  Fat cannot be burned without carbohydrates, so when the body’s carbohydrates stores are depleted through long cardio sessions, it will turn to proteins (muscle) for fuel. Muscle mass also determines your resting metabolic rate – the amount of calories you burn even during rest. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn during everyday activities, even sitting! Adding a strength routine to your workouts not only burns more calories, it lowers blood pressure, helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, and burns more fat than straight cardio. Women will not “bulk up” simply by lifting heavy weights.Women produce small amounts of […]
May 1, 2017

May Member of the Month: Adam McFarland

I started at CFDR almost a year ago. I had recently ended a very toxic relationship that at one time I was fooled into thinking it would be my last relationship. I was lied to, cheated on and basically felt like I wasn’t good enough.  I decided it was time for a change.  My good friend Kellers (Kelli F) finally got me to step in to see what this whole “CrossFit cult” was about.  My first day I could not do one pushup, and thought “wtf did I get myself into”.  Overtime though I have grown into not only learning the weightlifting movements, pushups/strict pullups, and even have started working up to some of the more complex gymnastic exercises. I have even lost twenty five lbs. and have lowered my blood pressure from 130ish down to 110 over 73 on my last physical. Why come to CFDR?  I’ll be dead honest: I’m an average guy that wants an over the top workout three to four days a week. Most days you’ll catch me at the 6 AM class, where you will find the infamous Coach Helen Taylor. She will be your best friend, and also your worst enemy in the […]
April 23, 2017

Be Proud to be YOU

The following article was written by Lex Artis…about one of our members who competed at the Rookie Rumble yesterday.  I can’t help but think that this story applies to so many men and women who fear they are less than, not just in CrossFit, but in life: To the young woman who competed today at the Rookie Rumble in Detroit that I overheard say during registration: “I don’t look like any of these people”. I know you tried to say it quietly so that only your partner could hear it. I heard it and I have a few things to say to you… I didn’t catch your name, I don’t know where you’re from and I don’t know you’re story. I don’t know how you got to where you were yesterday or what brought you into our event today. I may never meet you again and you may never do another one of our events. So I want you to know that I’m proud of you. For whatever reason, you decided to compete today. This season we’ll surpass 100 events and I know for a fact that the majority of people are nervous before an event. Not only did you […]
April 15, 2017