Melinda Smith

January 2020 Athlete Spotlight

“I’m Melinda Smith. I work at Trademark Title as an account manager. I work with residential and commercial realtors and lenders, attorneys and for sale by owners to facilitate the purchase or sale of real estate.

“I started at Praus in 2014 to prepare for a tough mudder that I had signed up to complete. A friend of mine thought we should try CrossFit to increase our strength and our endurance.”

“At first I was very intimidated by all the workouts and the people that were there.”

“The movements were very foreign to me even though I had worked out all my life. I kept coming back because I saw the potential to learn the movements, and the workouts were very fun and very challenging.”

“The last couple of years have changed me. I have more confidence in my abilities to perform a workout, or a movement, with the help of the great staff and owner of Praus.”

“I used to workout in the evening. I changed my schedule to attend the 5:30 open gym and workout with the wonderful people that are crazy enough to get up early to get their fitness in! Getting up early to start your day at the gym has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It starts my day off right in a positive environment which translates into a fabulous day. I keep coming back to keep my mindset in check!”

“Best memory—doing a competition with Paula, Kellen and Jake. Two things I remember well, Paula and I were about to start and she ran to the bathroom before it started, which is smart!”

“Well they called three, two, one, start and she was still in there! Aaaahhhh!!!!!! so I started without her! The second moment in the same competition and I PR’d strict press. It was great to hear the crowd cheering and I was definitely proud of myself. We had a great time.”

“My goals have changed every year since I have started in Crossfit. I started out just wanting to finish the workout and have achieved that goal. My goal right now is to get a strict and kipping pull-up. My extra work after classes has helped me gain strength and the mobility I need to do it.”

“My favorite workout has deadlifts, push presses or cleans. I feel strong and efficient with these movements, but I also like ones that take me out of my comfort zone so I can improve.”

“The people and coaches at Praus have always been positive and inspirational before, during and after each class, which make it a joy. They even push you to be better and work harder on the days you want to quit. Anyone looking for a new experience, fabulous atmosphere and people, come and give it a try. I never imagined I would be a CrossFit athlete, but anyone can do what they put their mind to with the right motivation.”

Nick Hoffman

December Athlete Spotlight

“Most people at Praus know what I do, I’m a Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Detective of Special Investigations, Drug Enforcement Section.”

“I found out about Praus back in 2015 through an acquaintance / coworker who was a member at that time. I was bored with the conventional gym experience to the point that I wasn’t going anymore. I knew I needed something different to mix things up and keep me working out.
I continue to come back because I can see the changes it has made in me both physically and mentally. I realize that I can’t just exist. I have a purpose and I need to be the best me that I can be to fulfil that purpose. There are so many mornings that my alarm goes off and I could easily just stay in bed, but I know there are people that hold me accountable for showing up and putting in the work; not just the people that I work out with on the daily, but for my kids, my family, friends, and even for the people that I may end up protecting. I owe it to me and I owe it to them.”

“People in general are creatures of habit. I am no different. I function best on a schedule and have made getting in a morning workout part of my daily routine. I use that first hour to hour and a half of my day to decompress and focus on me. In my line of work, I have grown accustomed to long hours and high stress. Working out at Praus helps alleviate some of that stress. I could hit the bar or the barbell to unwind. I choose the barbell… most of the time. When life throws me a curveball and I can’t make it in the morning, I’m “off” all day long.”

“Is there really such a thing as a “favorite workout”? I mean, some just suck less than others. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but some of my favorite movements include anything Kettlebell, Deadlifts, Assault Bike, Rower, Rope Climbs, Box Jumps, Dumbbell Snatches, Wall Balls, etc.”

“There have certainly been good memories in my time spent CrossFitting to include milestones met and friendships made, but a personal goal that I had been chasing was consistency with rope climbs. I was pretty happy when they became a regular occurrence for me. Next up, double unders.”

“My biggest goal is staying healthy with minimal injuries. I am, and always will be, a work-in-progress, so as long as I can keep my body moving without injury, the fitness will come. I have noticed as I age, I have to do things differently than I used to. I check my ego at the door and focus on proper form and technique as opposed to RX’ing every workout. It may not happen fast, but I’m continually trying new movements, upping weight, and branching out to expand on what I have already accomplished.”

“Misty and the other coaches have created an environment that supports personal growth and achievement and I thank them for that. The coaches and members encourage you to be better in the gym and in life. To me, CrossFit is simply a workout with some pretty cool humans doing it with me. It does not define who I am. With that said, I choose to workout at Praus due to the people and the friendships I have made while here. They make the hurt worth coming back for. “

Nicky Schwanz

November Athlete Spotlight

“I’m Nicky Schwanz and I’m a Certified Nurse Midwife in Elkhart, Indiana.

“I’m the wife to Corey for 7 years and mom to two boys, Cody (6) and Brandon (4). We also have a golden retriever named Gordie (named after Gordie Howe).

“Three months after my son was born, I finally agreed to try it and we decided to join Praus together. My first WOD was rough, it put me out of my comfort zone in a way I knew I needed. I’ll never forget the people cheering me on and encouraging me to push through! The support and encouragement I get at Praus is what keeps me coming back, plus I love seeing myself improve and push past my own expectations.”

“I’ve learned a lot more about fitness and being healthy. I focus a lot more on my diet and have a better grasp on fueling my body appropriately (although I still love cake!). My priorities have changed. In my time at Praus I had a second baby, moved homes, I started (then graduated) graduate school, and I started a new job 90 minutes from home. I spend at least 2 nights/week at work. Through all the life changes and busy schedule, I maintained a consistent work-out schedule. I’ve made health a priority and I am healthier than I ever have been.”

“The past year I focused on maintaining my fitness level with so many changes in my life. Overall, I hope to continue to improve my weaknesses and gain strength. Plus, I always love a good personal record.”

“Best Memory: The day I got my first ring muscle-up! I had been trying every Saturday for a long time, and I received a lot of support from fellow Praus members. I tried multiple times that day and was ready to be done for the day, when I decided one more try.”

“I remember turning over on the rings and hearing cheers from around the box, after what seemed like an eternity I managed to get both shoulders over the rings and push out of the dip to successfully complete that muscle up. There was an explosion of excitement from all around, and I’ll never forget feeling like every single person was on top of those rings with me.”

“Favorite workout that I have actually done would be “Diane”, primarily because it involves handstand push-ups I really want to try “Mary” as it includes my other favorite movement, pistols.”

“Praus is my second home, I have made lifelong friendships and consider them my family. I can’t imagine my life without these people! #framily”

Kelci Burnham

October Athlete Spotlight

“My name is Kelci Burnham. I’m the co-owner Marathon Labels, Inc.”

“I’m a wife to Justin and a mama to Hannah (3) and Caroline (2) and two golden retrievers. I’d love to add Praus Coach to my resume soon as well.”

“My first personal trainer recommended I try CrossFit. That was in January of 2015 so almost 5 years ago. I keep coming back because this is a very unique atmosphere: competitive yet nurturing, motivating yet humbling, complex yet simple. Macro level, we’re all just working out together. Micro level, there are hundreds of ways to improve. Achieving small goals while working out with my friends is my favorite part or Praus.”

How has Crossfit affected your daily life: “Well, I’ll be damned if I let anyone lift something for me. Anyone else the first to volunteer when someone needs help lifting/moving something heavy? I CrossFitted through both of my pregnancies and now my daughters love to watch me at competitions. I also think CrossFit has helped me train my brain that the only way to get over something is to go right through it.”

“I think I leave Praus at least once or twice a week thinking “that was my favorite workout!” Any WOD accompanied by the sun shining through the dock door, a nice breeze, great music, and your friends is one I enjoy most. Most of the time, I scale the sh*t out of a workout. Occasionally, I can RX it. I try not to lose focus on the fact that just showing up is an accomplishment in itself sometimes. “

“Without a doubt, winning the Crash the Bash scaled division a couple of weeks ago. Our heat started at 9:50pm (I am normally in bed by then) and it was a chilly night but so much fun. Getting first place was completely unexpected and it made me emotional to have hard work pay off like that. The Nooners have become some of my greatest friends.”

“I feel lucky to be part of the community Misty has helped us create at Praus in that it’s a safe place, free of judgment, where we can all work on becoming faster and stronger.”

Sarah Wyall

September Athlete Spotlight

“My name is Sarah Wyall and I’m a personal trainer.”

“I found out about Crossfit Praus after my sister married Aaron Krafft, so Amanda and I became friends and she invited me to the Saturday workouts. I had a lot of fun at those and was looking for something to challenge myself, which kept me coming back.”

“My favorite workout is anything with dumbells and/or push ups, because I can usually keep up with everyone else.”

“Being at Praus affects my life in many different ways. I’ve met my now close friends there, plus I feel stronger and more confident in other day to day activities.”

“My best memory at Praus is either being able to kick up into a handstand or getting my first pull up.”

“My biggest goal is just to be able to do more workouts RX.”

“Everyone always says it but I love the community here. Because of the people I’ve kept coming back and I’ve accomplished things I never thought in a million years I could do.”

Angela Dotson

August Athlete Spotlight

“I am a nuclear medicine technologist. I work at Fort Wayne Radiology. I work with cancer patients, I do their imaging for staging, restaging, and treatment response.”

“I found Praus on google. I was looking for a CrossFit gym and I tried Tactical first and it just didn’t feel like home. The very next night I went to go try praus and have been there ever since!”

“I found Praus on google. I was looking for a CrossFit gym and I tried Tactical first and it just didn’t feel like home. The very next night I went to go try praus and have been there ever since!”

“Being at praus has affected my life in the best and most positive way possible. I remember the first night leaving praus, I made a phone call and couldn’t stop raving about how much I loved it and the people there. I just kept going on and on about how it felt like home, and that was the very first night.”

“My favorite work out is any workout that doesn’t have the bike involved because the bike never fails to make me feel like I am horribly out of shape.”

“Being at praus has affected my life in the best and most positive way possible. I remember the first night leaving praus, I made a phone call and couldn’t stop raving about how much I loved it and the people there. I just kept going on and on about how it felt like home, and that was the very first night.”

“One of my best memories was during the second workout of my first open. I was the only athlete left on the clock and it felt like everyone in the gym came together and was cheering me on! “

“One of my best memories was during the second workout of my first open. I was the only athlete left on the clock and it felt like everyone in the gym came together and was cheering me on!”

“One of my biggest goals is to become a crossfit coach. A goal I’m currently working on is to be better at handstand walks!”

“Praus has become more than just a crossfit gym to me, it has become a family. Everyone here sees potential in you and would be willing to go out of their way to help you. I couldn’t thank the lovely people at Praus for being who they are, always believing in me, and seeing so much potential in me!”

Chris Albertin

July Athlete Spotlight

Chris Albertin is a teacher at Woodlan High School in Woodburn, Indiana. He helps out with the football and wrestling teams.

How did you find out about Crossfit Praus and what makes you keep coming back? “Someone I used to teach with kept talking about Crossfit all the time. i did not know much about it but had seen some workouts online and it looked like something I would enjoy. After a year or so I asked her about where she went and told me Praus. What kept me coming back was the people and enjoying the workouts.”

How has Crossfit affected your daily life?
“I used to be someone who would come when it would fit my schedule. Especially when I’m coaching. But over the past year or so I have tried to make a point to come more often. I have also made some good friends where we go out to dinner after workouts and even went to the UP together for a couple of days during spring break.”

Favorite Workout and Why? “I don’t really have any favorite workout but I do enjoy squats and deadlifts.”

Best Crossfit Memory
“Getting a bar muscle up”

Biggest Goal “Be able to do a ring muscle up and handstands consistently.”

A Change of Pace, Cory Schmidt, June Athlete Spotlight

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

Crossfit athletes comes from different walks of life. For Cory Schmidt, he was looking for a different way of working out.

“It’s still difficult to adjust from the previous experiences. I come in from lifting traditionally, thinking I can lift heavy weights, squat heavy and stuff like that, then you go and lift a weight that you thought was easy and it is so difficult.”

Cory says he has always done physical activity, from playing football in high school, to lifting in the Marines, to now being in the Army National Guard. Then his girlfriend and a guy he went to high school mentioned Crossfit. In 2017, they found Crossfit Praus.

“Ashley worked with a couple of people who have been at Praus before. She did a lot of research, everybody told her that this was the nicest and best place to go to. Everybody who had been there, and is currently there, loves it.”

Then they both went on a Saturday and were hooked.

“I liked it because a lot of the movements I had already been doing, and it was really enjoyable. Pretty early on I realized that the competitive nature is pretty cool. You’re competing with yourself but you’re also competing with other people. It makes is more entertaining. Everybody is so helpful. They won’t let you go back to your regular routine. It is also nice to have it planned, and the variety is good.”

Cory works at Indiana Michigan Power. He used to work a lot in the field before moving to a desk job.

“The workouts are really more cardio vascular, which helps me a lot, since I am not as active at work now. The first six months to a year I was thinking how I was going to do this full time. We kept our YMCA membership because of my work schedule, but now we’re doing Crossfit a lot more.”

Cory also says he’s dealt with the many rumors of the sport.

“You can go to any YMCA and see the craziest things, where people are going to ruin their body more. You may have bad form, but at least the coaches here (Praus) will correct you. The coaches here are so informed, and they’re watching you the entire time. I’ve tried things and the coaches are the first to correct it. We also have a bunch of people in the medical field doing Crossfit. If it is bad, then you wouldn’t have people in the field doing it.”

Cory also likes that he has the ability to work out with someone he sees everyday. He says he’s able to help her further her Crossfit journey as well.

“Ashley is very externally motivated, where I am internally motivated. We both help each other out. When I see that Ashley did a difficult lift, I tell her what a good job she did but for me, I am the only one who motivates myself.”

Every year athletes from across the world take part in a Memorial Day workout. For Cory, it’s a different experience from any other athlete because he served in the Marines, and is currently in the Army National Guard.

“It is cool to be able to do, but I would still be doing that stuff, even if I wasn’t doing crossfit throughout the year. When it comes to those things, it is a cool thing and I am glad people do it when it comes to Memorial Day. The Memorial Day workouts, for people that are in and have seen people lose their lives, that’s just every day for them. Everyday is memorial day for them. You’re not constantly thinking about them, but the thoughts do come up. It’s truly reaching into the cookie jar when you’re doing those workouts, using the motivation to push you through it. Especially when it comes to running and I stop. I can think of my old platoon SGT. saying ‘Really, you’re going to stop?”

Since Cory and Ashley have joined Praus, they’ve seen much improvement in their cardio, stamina, strength and endurance. They are a wonderful addition to the Praus House, they have really made this their home and we are so proud of them and their accomplishments. We look forward to continuing to watch them grow an improve as athletes.

Keeping Himself Young, Scott Krafft, May Athlete Spotlight

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

“Life doesn’t check out when you turn 45, it can go on and you can be a competitive athlete long into your 60’s.”

Scott Krafft has always been an athlete throughout his life. He would do active sports, then transitioned into conditioning. He even was a body builder earlier in life. Then when he was working as a referee for Division III College Football in 2010, he noticed something different about one of his fellow refs.

“(I) saw this ref and he was buff with grey hair, I’m like dude how do you get that body. He said, ‘I do CrossFit.’ I said, “What’s CrossFit?’, he told me it’s more military based training. I googled it and thought it looked cool.”

Scott then went to meet the owner of another gym but didn’t pull the trigger. He continued to think about CrossFit for years and finally found CrossFit Praus.

“It is significantly different, because it just challenges different aspects of your physical limitations, from strength to endurance to muscle endurance to gymnastics and especially mentally. This challenges you every day.”

Scott is 60-years-old and currently works as a Financial Advisor. As an older athlete, he knows he needs to work differently than the others.

“My biggest challenge is understanding the limitations as I get older. I want to be able to do a muscle up at age 70 but pushing those boundaries and not hurting myself is the hardest challenge. I just need to find a way to push my muscle endurance to the limit and keep that going.”

Scott has also dealt with two significant injuries, tearing his bicep and problems with his hip. This has never detoured him from walking away from the sport.

“As an athlete you must understand your body and understand the movements. Good coaching, like we have here at Praus, teaches us about mechanics. My advice to older athletes is to not worry about the weight and just learn the movements to the best of your ability. Get the muscle memory correct and then you can work on gradually increasing the weight. Injuries are because we are stupid and competitive. You have to check the ego at the door, try to learn to hold back, give yourself some margin for error and then stretch, stretch, stretch.”

Scott tells everyone, the coaches at Praus are worried about the overall health of their athletes over them making a personal best.

“They’re the ones who know you as an athlete, your strengths and weaknesses along with your personality. They push and they also help us hold back. The coaches are what push me as an athlete. I also love listening to them, I know I’ve done this for a while, but I’ll get good feedback from them on something I didn’t notice and something I can improve upon. They’re great and I love the coaches.”

Overtime, Scott has gotten his daughter and his wife to join the gym.

“It is a passion that we all have for CrossFit, it’s a special thing. I’ve competed with my daughter three times now. We just have a special bond. We share the pain, and the challenges of pushing yourself with your child is just a different bond.

Scott’s competitive drive hasn’t diminished as he’s gotten older. He regularly competes in competitions.

“Ultimately my goal is to be healthy for as long as I can be healthy. I want to be active in my family’s lives, my grand children’s lives. I am doing this for longevity. However, what I love about CrossFit competitions is the ability to push yourself and test your boundaries. At 60-years-old, I love being able to do what I can do. When I get into competitions, I want to measure myself against others, even those who are younger than me. Can I compete with them, can I stay up with them? It forces me to stay young. It makes me feel younger when I’m competing. I just love it.”

Scott continues to echo what many athletes say about Praus, the community is everything.

“This is my extended family. If I have a bad day at work, when I come see all these smiling faces, working out together, pushing each other, encouraging each other to do a little more, I just forget about that day. I love Praus and it is a great community. I would love to see it continue to flourish and grow. I would like to see if we can get more of the older folks in here. I hope that people who are aging can see and get some encouragement from me that you can still have an active and vibrant life.”

Scott is an intragyral part of CrossFit Praus, he encourages the entire community to better themselves. Many fondly refer to him as “Papa Scott” and he truly lives up to that name, he is a mentor for younger athletes and also helps our older athletes make sure to care for themselves and recover correctly to help reduce any injuries and continue to grow as athletes.

Our Praus House family would not be the same without “Papa Scott”, many of our athletes hope to be where he is one day, vibrant, healthy and an incredible athlete. 

Picking up a barbell, April Athlete Spotlight, Becki Jacquay

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

Life has many accomplishments: getting married, starting a family, seeing your kids have kids of their own, but for some making a good change in your daily life is the greatest one of all.

“(Whenever I tell a story from our past) I always say back when we were fat because we were. We were lazy, we didn’t do anything. We just focused on eating, that was our life. We would eat out four or five times a week. Not only has working out a Crossfit Praus helped our medical issues, it’s also helped our pocket book because we were spending about four or five hundred dollars a month just eating out.”

Becki Jacquay works for a company that makes parts for the U.S. Navy. One day both her and her husband (Chad) decided it was time to make a change. So they enrolled at a gym in Columbia City. Chad eventually left to try something new he heard about from a coworker, CrossFit. Shortly after, Becki followed her husband.

“I love the motivation of having a significant other with you while working out. Chad gives me a lot of tips of how to do things to get more strength or get things going. I am better at the gymnastics than he is.”

Once arriving at Praus, she noticed a quick difference from her old gym.

“Everybody cares about everybody else. They’re all very positive and always cheering everyone on.”

Becki is also a grandmother. She hopes that her continuing to work out will have a positive impact on her family. One of the ways she’s continuing her CrossFit carris is by taking part in her first CrossFit Open. (An online competition that people all across the world compete in.) Last year’s CrossFit Open was cut short for her.

“My first year doing the open, which was last year, I got hurt during the first week. This year, there are a lot of things that I can do that I couldn’t do this time around last year. I was able to hit an 85 pound squat clean, that is a PR (personal record) for me. This years CrossFit Open is a lot more positive than last year was for me personally.”

Becki also took part in her first multi-gym competition in 2018, The Vintage Games.

“First competition I’ve ever done in my whole life and I really enjoyed it. I love proving to myself that I can do it. I want to be better than I was the day before.”

While Becki has hit many accomplishments in her time at Praus, she still has many goals.

“I want to be able to do a pullup. I am very close but not quite there. I also want to do a handstand. I can do an assisted handstand right now.”

Becki is still in shock that she can call herself an athlete and she’s honored to take part in an athlete spotlight.

“I was totally floored, I couldn’t believe it because I’ve never been an athlete ever. I’ve never had the time or energy to do it but I love coming here every night. It’s just part of our daily routine. I’m so honored that the coaches chose me. I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t believe it.”

“Becki is a motivated and hardworking individual,: Misty, Crossfit Praus Owner, said. “She has put a lot of time, energy and effort into not only her workouts, but also in her nutrition by personal coaching from our Performance Macros team. Including this with her workouts plays a key role in her performance in the gym and her overall health. With continued efforts and working hard, we have no doubt that Becki will attain the goals she has set out for herself and continue to be a shining example of an amazing athlete, friend and Praus House member. She inspires others daily with her spirit and her love and support of her fellow athletes. We are proud and honored to have Becki as part of the Praus House.”

Sticking to the Process (March 2018 Athlete Spotlight, Rob Warstler)

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

Very few founding members of a gym tend to stick around, but Rob Warstler has continued to work out at Praus since almost the beginning of his CrossFit career.  

“CrossFit is addictive. I can’t imagine not doing it now that I have done it.”  

Rob is a Detective at the Fort Wayne Police Department, he also recently received his CPA and is working towards his masters. He’s always looking to better himself in one way or another and CrossFit helps him do just that. He learned about CrossFit from a coworker at the academy where they had access to the classes.  

“After Academy access wasn’t available anymore, that is when we found out about Shane and Amanda (original owners of CrossFit Praus) who were operating a CrossFit Gym out of their garage. That’s when we started working out over there and have been at Praus ever since.”  

Since trying CrossFit, Rob says he feels better than he ever has.  

“I have a lot more energy and physical preparedness for my job since I’ve started CrossFit.” 

Rob enjoys deadlifts but isn’t a big fan of the gymnastics portion of CrossFit. Although Rob is not a fan, he continues to work hard and push himself with handstand holds and soon to be hand stand pushups. He is always striving to push himself and be better than he was the day before. Since he joined Praus, he’s seen many accomplishments and attained many goals.  

“Recently I hit a 185 pound snatch. I got over the mental block that has been slowing me down. I’ve always been freaked out getting underneath the bar. I also had shoulder surgery and thought that would hinder me and my lifts.”  

But he isn’t done pushing forward and setting new goals. Rob has put in a ton of extra work and has refocused his efforts when coming back from his shoulder surgery. It took a lot of time and therapy but he is continuing to work hard to become stronger than ever. Rob’s not done yet. He has other goals that he has been working very hard to accomplish. When asked, Rob has a couple more goals he is working towards. 

“I am really close to a bar muscle up which would be awesome to get. As far as a snatch I really want to go for 200 pounds.”  

Rob credits the people at the gym for his success.  

“Everyone from the members to the coaches are really awesome. They motivate me and make me enjoy it more than I would if I was doing it by myself.” 

A Change in Life (February 2019 Athlete Spotlight, Dave Stahl)

Courtesy: Jakes Takes Photography

Not every person who is a CrossFitter, played sports early in life.  

“One day I woke up in my early 20’s and I felt terrible and felt that I needed to change something.”  

Dave Stahl has been at CrossFit Praus for two years but has been CrossFitting since 2012. His athletic journey was an off and on life. 

“I would work out really hard for a couple months and I would do nothing for a couple months. Then pne of the coaches (at another gym I worked out at) was starting to get into CrossFit. I did a few workouts with him and it peaked my interest a little bit so it was always in the back of my head. I joined another gym in town and was there for a couple years. Then I wasn’t happy with how things were going so I decided to switch. After looking around for a bit, I found Praus.”  

Dave works in the IT at Sweetwater Sound Inc. He says CrossFit has changed his life for the better.  

“I feel better than I have in years, I am in the best shape I have been in years. Physically it’s helped me, but also mentally. It really helps me destress. I wake up every morning and I look forward to coming here. I’ve never had that at any other place.”  

He says Praus is unique because of the group of people who participate.  

“The people here are just awesome, it is really weird and unique that it is not super cliquey. Every other place I’ve been to have little cliques popping up and people just kept to themselves but Praus isn’t like this at all. People here are so welcoming. That was one of the first things I noticed when I started going here. It’s just a great place to be.”  

Dave loves to do any Olympic Lifts, but especially Snatching. Dave even took some time to focus on Olympic Lifting this spring and was able to improve all of his lifts. Any chance there’s a competition Dave steps up to the plate to compete. 

“It just kind of pushes me up to another gear. There is this extra energy that is there that you don’t see in a normal class and everyone just steps up a little bit and always tries to push themselves a little harder. It is especially awesome when someone gets a first.”  

Dave continues to work on various goals including completing a handstand walk and being able to Snatch 225. He says he couldn’t do it without the support and motivation from the gym.  

“Everyone here puts in a lot of work, there’s always someone better than yourself. That’s one of the awesome things about CrossFit, you can always be better, there is always something you can improve on. I always try to see what the people ahead of me did and try to keep up. There might be someone looks at me and tries to keep up with me. We all help to push each other in one way or another.“  

With Dave’s unique circumstances to finding love in CrossFit, he urges anyone to take the leap as well.  

“I always say ‘Why not?’. I can think of so many positive ways of how CrossFit has helped me. It can be whatever you want it to be, whether you’re trying to drop a couple pounds, relieve some stress, all the way up to if you want to compete and get super competitive. There is something in it for everyone.” 

ATMOSPHERE OVER SIZE (Trevor Derby, 2018 Athlete of the Year)

January’s Athlete Spotlight

When you move to a new city, it can be a scary time. For Trevor Derby, his gym helped adjust to the new environment.

It provided him something on which to focus, other than moving and it provided him a community.

“Look at the WOD (Workout of the Day) and strategize all day, Derby said. “Then you get there and you completely blow it up and your game plan goes right out the window.”

Derby moved to Fort Wayne in 2017. He found out about CrossFit from one of the coaches at his gym in Ohio that he refers to as “Globo Gym”.

“They had a CrossFit class and I asked the coaches if they mind if I jump into one of them.  So ever since then, I thought this is more fun than just doing bench press or just doing squats or a set of five at a gym,” said Derby.

Trevor’s job requires him to use a standing desk throughout the day and looks forward to getting to the gym as soon as he gets off of work.

“At the end of the day, everybody has stress that they have to deal with. For me it’s like, sweet works done. I can take a break and relax at the gym. It’s a lot more fun and it’s a pretty large stress relief for me just to work out, get sweaty and have fun with all the good people at the gym.”

Finding a gym proved not to be a difficult decision for Derby when he moved to the Summit City. He visited a couple CrossFit boxes but there was a distinct difference between the two in his mind.

“I just liked Praus’ feel. It was smaller, everyone knew everyone, whereas the other box was still smaller than those “Globo Gyms” but Praus had more of a smaller and more relaxed feel.”

Trevor got the feel that this is why the coaches liked Praus as well. One of the coaches told him, a gym with more than 150 members has too many cliques being formed, where at Praus it continues to be different.

“There are tons of people helping others work out or giving tips or anything like that. You can go any hour of the day, find a friend and be able to help. It’s a pretty awesome feel for people coming in brand new. They feel welcome, they don’t feel intimidated. There’s that stigma that with crossfit, everyone is crazy, super fit, super tough, loud music, throwing weights around but at Praus you know it doesn’t feel like that at all.”

Derby said his mind has definitely changed from his previous thoughts on anyone who crossfits.

“I was a big non believer in it. With the amount they’re paying you could go to any “Globo Gym” and do the same exact workouts and be as fit. But I think what gets people to join is the atmosphere.

When it comes to the workouts, Trevor loves the gymnastics aspect of CrossFit.

“Anything on the bar, pull ups, muscle ups any of the gymnastics stuff I like. I wish there was hand stand walks incorporated into the workouts. (Some of the) things I don’t like are double unders and deadlifts.”

Derby says doing sports in high school and college helps him get through the workouts.

“I played hockey and tennis throughout high school then I played tennis at Trine University. (There’s) not a whole lot of lifting in tennis but there was endurance.”

Trevor has been a CrossFitter since 2016. He loves to get better in any way he can. Every year he plans to improve. In 2017, he set a goal to Snatch 185 pounds and Clean 225 pounds, both of which he’s accomplished. But this isn’t the end for his journey.

“I would like to snatch 195 in 2018. Cleaning 235 would be great. I’ve never done the open officially last year I was in Ohio kind of traveling a lot so I wasn’t able to. I did the workouts but it was nothing official. So my goal would be to do the open and to do it well.”

Derby says now that he is determined to continue his CrossFit career, there’s no stopping him.

“It’s what I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. I love it and don’t want to stop.”

Making a Change in Life, December Athlete Spotlight, Margaret Hershberger

Courtesy: Jakes Takes – Photographer

For many people, a birthday could be the time to make a change in your life.  Margaret Hershberger is no different when it comes to this idea.

“I turned 40 in 2017 and thought it was time for a new goal, to get in better shape.”

Margaret grew up and has lived in Northeast Indiana for her entire life.  She is a project manager for the Allen County Highway Department. She’s been married for 10-years, has two stepdaughters, and three grandchildren. In the past, she’s tried typical gyms but she would get bored.

“I had read about all of the CrossFit gyms in Fort Wayne. I told my husband about it and he came home one day saying his coworker and his wife just bought a gym. Then I am sitting at my desk and I get a phone call from my husband and I was told to be at CrossFit Praus at 5 p.m. I never looked at any other place and have been at Praus ever since.”

When she was considering joining, Margaret didn’t mention it to anyone.  “I didn’t talk to anyone about it when I first started. I grew up in a construction family and grew up filling sandbags for quarters.  I’ve seen the price your body pays sometimes. My dad has had back and neck surgeries.  It’s not from anything he’s done.  It’s from hard work overtime. I think if you do something properly injury can be avoided.”

Margaret went to the gym and still remembers the feeling of her first time doing CrossFit.  “I felt awful afterwards. I had read a lot about it before I went to my first class but I wasn’t sure about how I would feel. I’m a year in and I’m still not sure if I like it. You just have to look at everything and say ok I can do this.”

She’s says she is much happier since joining.  “As I have gotten older, I noticed that I’d lost some muscle. But since I’ve joined I have seen a difference in my health. Especially while I’m getting ready in the morning. I see that my arms are toned. I have a lot more energy at work since I started. I have also tried to eat healthier. I’ve worked with a girl who goes to the gym about my diet. It’s a priority that I focus on but I don’t make it or break it.”

Margaret doesn’t regret her decision to join, especially because the people have become her motivation.  “I love the atmosphere and the people.  It really keeps me coming back. If it wasn’t for all of them, I wouldn’t come back. I even occasionally hang out with people who go to Praus.”

She also loves the blend of personality at the box.  “I love it, that’s why we go. It is truly what makes me go. Now that I’ve gone to classes at different times, I’ve gotten to know a group of people I wouldn’t normally know. Every once in a while you would see people on Saturdays.  But when you’re in class with them, you really get to build relationships.”

Even when Margaret doesn’t like going she’s used motivational quotes to get her there as seen below:


Margaret has also participated in her first ever Cannon Brawl competition, which continues to motivate her to keep moving forward.

“I loved the excitement and the atmosphere with everyone cheering you on. It was pretty cool. There are so many things I can’t do, but I go off of small accomplishments. When I went into this I was thinking if I do it I do it, if I don’t then I’m still better than when I started. I haven’t mastered anything yet, but I definitely enjoy CrossFit a lot more.”

A Change of Scenery, November Athlete Spotlight, Lucian Boar

Courtesy: Jakes Takes Photographer

Crossfit is all about community and bringing people together from different backgrounds. Lucian Boar was born in Romania, grew up in Northfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and then came to Fort Wayne for graduate school.  Luci is a student physical therapist currently working at a practice in Ann Arbor.

When he first came to Fort Wayne, he could see that Fort Wayne was different.  “Everyone was so open and close to me.  I feel like it was so easy to get that in Fort Wayne rather than anywhere else I’ve been.”

“It was much smaller than what I’m used to. It was easier to find my way around – especially if I go out and explore.  Unlike where I’m from, because there are so many streets where you can go. It’s not as populated here and I found the people around here are very friendly.”

Since he was going to be in Fort Wayne for a few months, Luci went looking for a CrossFit gym to go to.

“I found two gyms; Praus and Mad Apple. I knew Mad Apple was bigger and I didn’t know if I would like that. I was also told by one of the Praus members about Free Guest Saturday. After attending one Saturday, I thought this place made me pretty happy. I liked it. I like the community at Praus rather than a much bigger place.”

When asked about his favorite movements, Luci said, “I like doing butterfly pull ups because I feel really cool doing them. I think it is one of those skills that you really have to work on and master to become really proficient with. I’m just really proud that I have butterfly pull ups. I also like the clean, whether it is the power or full clean. Even though I am terrible with overhead strength, I’ve grown to love the snatch as well. My least favorite movement is anything that involves my shoulders because I don’t have a lot of strength up there.”

Luci could be seen in the gym almost every day throughout the week.  Along with growing in strength and ability in the gym, Luci had a personal impact on many people.

“I really didn’t think I had brought such a big change, I was just myself the whole time. I don’t mind helping people whenever they ask me for advice. I got into physical therapy because I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people. So saying “no” was very difficult for me. It was very humbling to hear that I had made an impact. I didn’t think I would have.”

Luci became so close with many of the gym members that they threw him a surprise party before he left.  Praus also hosted an in-house competition in his honor.

“I was speechless, I just couldn’t believe everyone did this for someone who was only here for a little bit. It was awesome, I’ve never had a surprise like that in my life.”

Fort Wayne also had an impact on Luci in a major way. He says it’s something he’ll never forget.

“It showed me how many people I can impact and help, whether it be in their lifestyle or health. I’m always asked why I do extra work in the gym. I’m not expecting to go to Regionals, but I want to see how much I can push myself. I also want to be an example to people because some people take rest days because something is nagging them.  I always say you can modify the workout with the mindset that durability can be more important than ability.”

When he left to finish his schooling, Luci left with Fort Wayne and Crossfit Praus in his heart.

Family = Motivation, October Athlete Spotlight, Corey Schwanz

Courtesy: Jakes Takes Photography

Many athletes use their family as a support system, but for Corey Schwanz, he not only uses them for support, but also for motivation.

“At first I didn’t like how I looked in the mirror, I just wanted to look better for myself. Then once we had the boys, Cody and Brandon, it was all about sustaining a healthy lifestyle. I want to be around for a long time.”

Corey started doing Crossfit in 2012. He originally was just running to lose weight, but saw little success. He then posted on a running page asking about a good pair of shoes when someone said he should try Crossfit.

“I remember everything about my first day of Crossfit. I remember the exact workout and puking shortly afterwards, wondering if I would ever come back. I felt awful the next day. Then the second day I went, I said to myself “it wasn’t that bad”. Then on the third day I called and set up my membership.”

Corey joined Crossfit Fort Wayne…. then he made a change.

“I came over one day at Crossfit Praus’ grand opening party and liked what I saw. When my contract ended, I decided to join Praus. I’ve been to or seen other gyms where it’s all about competition and ego. At Praus it is all about community. Very rarely does anyone, who goes to a regular gym, get a call from someone asking where they were when they miss a day. Praus is filled with a lot of very close friends.”

He was also able to get his wife to join as well.

“She was working out by herself at the local YMCA and she hit a point where she wasn’t seeing any additional changes. Then she made the switch to Crossfit.”

With both of them at Praus, Corey and Nicky have become closer as a couple.

“It’s nice being able to share something since we both have our own hobbies. This is something we can do together. Normally we attend different times of the day, but it’s something we can talk about. When I get home from the gym, she always asks me various questions about the workout and how I did.”

Corey has also made a special bond with his competition team, Keith Bock, Caryn Garton and Misty, the owner of Crossfit Praus.

“It just kind of developed. We just put the team together because we were really close friends. Then after competing in one of the Cannonbrawl Competitions., we thought it went really well. We’ve developed a really close friendship. Keith and I have done various team competitions together. Obviously the four of us have done a lot of events together and are hoping to do more.”

Corey has competed in nearly 10 different competitions.

“I love to push myself. When you are in the gym daily it can be hard to keep the motivation. But when you’re at a competition, there’s extra motivation whether it’s an individual comp or a team comp. You can see the motivation, especially during the team and partner competitions. Normally when I am working out by myself, I feel like I want to quit. But when I’m with team or a partner, I know I can’t quit.”

Corey’s favorite movements include double-unders, burpees and power cleans. Since becoming a Crossfitter, Corey has lost around 70 pounds and gained a lot of muscle, but he says he’s not done with Crossfit and improving his wellbeing.

“I really want to be stronger. I really have been improving little by little. Every time I set a personal record, I want to be able to do another one…. but five pounds heavier. I also want to improve on my ranking in the Open so I can continue to see growth.”

When Corey found out he was going to be the October Athlete Spotlight, he stayed very humble.

“I was shocked when I was asked to be the athlete spotlight. There are so many people that I feel like they’ve done more than me. With all of the new people who make drastic changes, and myself being there for so long, those newer people stick out in my mind.”

Corey also hopes he not only inspires others to get in shape, but also his children, Cody and Brandon.

“My kids don’t necessarily have to do Crossfit, but I want them to be active and healthy. We’ve been trying some different activities and sports for them to see what they like.”

Finding Extra Motivation (September Athlete Spotlight: Chad Jacquay)

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

When people think of a normal gym, they think of lines of treadmills with 20-30-year-old’s lined up on them or weight machines with heavy duty weight lifters on them. Chad Jacquay didn’t fit the norm as you would think. Although he can lift some very heavy weight, he’s not in the 20-30-year-old class, he has grandchildren.

“When we (my wife and I) became grandparents I wanted to be around long enough. So I decided I needed to do something and I’ve enjoyed Crossfitting ever since.”

Chad took that motivation to another gym but soon after he joined, he lost interest.

“Tried working out at Max Fitness for three months but stopped because you’re doing the same thing over and over and over. The only other thing that I’ve done as a prescribed workout was Tae Bo back in the 90’s.”

Chad works at Micropulse and that’s how he heard about Crossfit.  One of his coworkers said that he was a Crossfitter and it caught Chad’s attention.

“I knew he did it but I didn’t know there was an actual gym. I thought he did it in a garage or something. Then we had a company wide weight loss challenge and I thought well maybe I’ll just try Crossfit. Then I found out how close Praus was to our house and I went to check it out.”

For more than two years, Chad has been going to CrossFit Praus. When he attended his first class, he says it was difficult.

“I don’t remember the workout but I believe it had 90 lb thrusters in it. I just used the empty bar and I had a hard time doing it. I just remember everybody was doing it at the same time like a high school gym class. I think it is so much more helpful to have the community behind you to help. You’re not just walking into the gym with all the equipment where you have to figure it out by yourself.”

Soon after he joined, Chad tried to convince his wife, Becky, to join. She was working out at Carnivore Fitness didn’t enjoy the experience. So Chad told her about his gym. She was hesitant at first but he kept telling her anyone can do it. Eventually she fell in love with Praus as he did.

“It helps me when she is struggling with something, I say well why don’t you try it this way. We keep each other in check to make sure we’re doing the movements the correct way.”

Since becoming a Crossfitter, Chad has participated in five competitions. He enjoys the extra push each one gives him.

“When it comes to the daily workouts, you can take it easy and not go as hard but in the competition you’re there with everyone else doing the same work out with people watching. Plus with your name on the computer or on the board, it adds to my motivation.”

Chad has seen himself accomplish many things at Praus, including a 465 deadlift. He also enjoys doing back squats. His goal in the long run is to be able to do a muscle up with a ring or bar. But another goal of his was to step into the spotlight.

“I am not someone who necessarily likes the spotlight. I was kind of dreading that I might get chosen and I thought about saying no months ago if I would get asked. I just figured I might as well do it.”

Trying something new (August Athlete Spotlight: Logan Husted)

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

Logan Husted has known about CrossFit for nearly a decade and when the time came, he joined the community he once watched from the outside.

“I’ve watched the CrossFit Games since 2011. I was fascinated by it and wanted to try it.”

Logan moved to Hicksville in November 2017. He was born in Hicksville, graduated from IPFW and then moved to Indy. Then he came back home after getting a job as a MRI Technician at Parkview Regional Medical Center. Once he moved back, he knew it was time to look for a gym. The place he found was familiar to him.

“I was looking around online at all gyms throughout Fort Wayne. Then I found CrossFit Praus. One of the guys I graduated high school with went to the gym a few years before me. Plus someone my brother worked with said Shane and Amanda are good people. So I went one Saturday because it was free and never looked back.?”

Logan was a three sport athlete in high school and was always used to staying active but CrossFit was a different beast for him.

“CrossFit is a lot different. For football we did a lot of lifting and bodybuilding type stuff but the intensity of CrossFit is ten times more difficult. It is a good challenge. I enjoy it. It’s a good way to push yourself and see how far your body can take you.”

The different type of workout has motivated him to come back every chance he gets.

“I feel like I’m in better shape since I started. It gives me something to look forward to each day so I can continue to push myself. Because before it was easy to go through the motions at other gyms but I feel like I’m really pushing myself this time around.”

He’s also says the community is what separates Praus from other gyms.

“Our gym isn’t too big so we’re able to get to know everyone. It is good to have close friends who can push each other and have a little competition between them as well. Everyone is encouraging you to get better or pushing you through a workout.”

Logan’s favorite movements include: muscle ups, pull ups and cleans. He said his most difficult is anything over his head.

“I’ve never really had good shoulder mobility. I’ve made some progress but I have to continue to work on those.”

Logan will participate in Praus’ Cannonbrawl for Charity competition on August 25th. He’s going into it with an open-mind.

“I’m a competitive person so I’m always trying to win but I’m also a realist. I’m just looking to have some fun and perform my best. I want to jump into as many competitions as possible. It would be sweet if I had the chance to make it to the CrossFit Regionals at some point but I have a lot of things to work on. I am happy to represent Praus in anyway I can.”

Always up for a challenge (July Athlete Spotlight: Edward Garcia)

Edward Garcia is always looking for something to test his athletic ability.

“Anyone who is looking for a challenge, a mental challenge mostly, should try CrossFitting.”

July Athlete Spotlight. (Courtesy: Jakes Takes Photography)

Edward is from Venezuela, his father and sister are still back home. He came to the United States in 2010 to play baseball and further his education. He received his bachelor’s degree while playing baseball all four years at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Shortly after graduating, he started working in Kentucky and later earned his Masters degree from the same university. Throughout Edward’s life, he has tested his body anyway possible.

“I’ve always been doing some kind of workout or sport since I was four-years-old.  I don’t have any plans of stopping my athletic lifestyle anytime soon. I love standing out where I can play two – five games a day without dying. I have never stopped for longer than a few weeks.

While he was playing baseball, Edward suffered a significant injury that sidelined him for five weeks, the longest he’s gone without any physical activity. Back in 2011, he was throwing to one of his teammates who was hitting the ball while Edward was behind the screen. After throwing the ball, half of his face was left outside of the screen and he was hit with a line drive to the forehead that required surgery.

“I had 54 staples and 9 stitches put in my head that day. (I) never had pain, a concussion, or even took my pain medicine. I didn’t even lose consciousness. I didn’t have any fear coming back to the game. I just knew it was a freak accident and I just dealt with it.”

Edward moved to Fort Wayne in 2017 after living in Campbellsville for seven years. Garcia is currently a Tech Specialist at Intelenet Global Services. Soon after moving to Fort Wayne, Edward was interested in joining a Crossfit gym.

“I was doing CrossFit for almost two years before I came to Fort Wayne. I was looking around at gyms around here and I was comparing prices. Praus was the least expensive one. So I wanted to try that one first.”

It didn’t take Edward long to get hooked on Praus.

“After I worked out there the very first time, I didn’t see a need to work out anywhere else. I felt comfortable with the people who attend the 6 a.m. class. Everytime you go there, you can always find something to laugh about. We share a lot about what we’re going through. There isn’t a bad time at Praus.”

Since Edward’s life has always included athletics or working out, he is currently working on perfecting some of his movements.

“Most people think I am great at the leg workouts, but I can always improve no matter what the workout is. I don’t have a favorite workout because I love the variety of them, I like not doing the same thing over and over. I do like snatching because it is one of the hardest movements and I love a challenge.”

Edward has seen many accomplishments while Crossfitting but that’s not his favorite memory.

“I love when everyone picks each other up regardless of how you finish. Whether your first or last, there’s always someone cheering you on.”

Battling Boredom (June Crossfit Athlete Spotlight: Abbie)

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

Some athletes have a specific memory that sticks with them in their Crossfit career but not Abbie.

“I feel like everyday you get to the gym is a good memory.”

Abbie started working out regularly at Crossfit Praus in 2015 without any previous crossfit experience. She played soccer in high school and started running in college for fun. This includes her participating in the 2006 Chicago Marathon but she kept getting bored, until she walked into Crossfit Praus.

“My neighbor asked me to go and I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t like how they abbreviated everything. I also thought it was ridiculous to climb ropes and lift weights. Then I started going more and I noticed that I was getting stronger. So I decided to join because you get hooked on it like everyone says.”

With the fight against boredom, Abbie thinks she found the perfect opponent.

“Crossfit was the hardest thing I’ve ever done when I started. It doesn’t feel hard to me now but it feels like a challenge. Everyday I look at the board and I’m not thrilled but then you do it and you feel great about how you finished. I love the variety of it because in my past experiences with fitness I got bored really fast.”

She describes herself as a housekeeper, line cook, and a bus driver. With her busy daily grind, Abbie uses the box to get away from her responsibilities.

“Other than being in much better shape and with me being on such a set schedule with the kids, Crossfit gives me one hour to myself. If I don’t get to do it then I am not a happy person because mentally it changes the whole day for me. I don’t know if it is the people, the workout or everything in between but that one hour every morning changes the way my day goes.”

Now that she’s been at the box going on three years, Abbie has found a few movements she enjoys.

“I love anything that involves gymnastics. I love being on the rig, I’m starting to enjoy double unders and I love muscle ups. I feel like I can do everything now, I just have to get better at everything.”

Abbie, like many if not all of the athletes at Praus, loves the people and the atmosphere.

“We have a lot of good athletes but I don’t feel like we are always trying to beat each other. I also know that I’m not going to be going to the Crossfit Games anytime soon so I go to not only make myself better but to also encourage new people. I’m always honest with new people, you have to give it time to love it. In the beginning I thought it was always about being the best but as I continued doing it, I learned that I just need to get the best out of myself. The people truly make the box.”

While Abbie continues to better herself, she also sees another role, being a motivator.

“With me being 40, I want to be an inspiration for those who think they can’t do something because they’re a certain age, run fast like a guy or even do a pull up. I always say yes you can, all you need to do is put in the hard work and then you’ll see the results.”

Abbie shares her getaway time with her husband, who’s also a member at Praus.

“I didn’t know if I wanted my husband to start working out with me. We actually sat down and talked about it and he’s like do you care if I start doing this with you? Because it was my me time. So now when he does workout with me, it’s awesome. He realized why I love doing it everyday. I think I am a better wife because I get to escape to the box sometimes.”

Abbie’s children, Gus and Clara, go with her to the box almost every morning and she hopes to motivate them to stay active.

“I am not only doing this for myself but also for my kids to show them that being strong is cool. I don’t care what they choose to do, whether it’s Crossfit or something else but staying active will always be a part of our lives. Having our kids try and do some of the movements we do is really exciting.”

Pushing Herself from the beginning (Amanda Benz, May Athlete of the Month)

Courtesy: Jakes Takes Photography

Not many Crossfit Praus athletes can say they’ve been at the box from the start, unless you’re Amanda Benz.

“Shane and Amanda were friends of ours before we even tried Crossfit,” Amanda said. “We were actually in a Bible study with them when Crossfit was just a dream. Then Crossfit Praus was opened in their garage.”

Both Amanda and her husband Joel have worked out at Praus since 2012 but her love for physical activity began years before she became a Crossfitter.

“I’ve worked out my whole life,” Amanda said. “I ran and also kickboxed all through high school. But before I started, I had never done a lot of bar work.”

For the past seven years, Amanda has been a professor at the University of Saint Francis. Previously she worked in the Emergency Room at Parkview for 6 years. She says she’s always asked how she has time to work out with her job, family and other extracurriculars.

“I always put it on my calendar like any other appointment and I make sure that I keep it,” Amanda said. “One of my goals for myself is never missing a Monday because you really want to start your week out right. Because it really sets you up for success for the rest of the week.”

When she started Crossfitting, Amanda says it was really challenging.

“Coming off having a baby and jumping right into Crossfit it was very slow going at first,” Amanda said. “I also did it while I was pregnant with my third child.”

Crossfit has also had a positive impact on her life.

“I tell people all the time, even though it doesn’t make sense, Crossfit gives you more energy,” Amanda said. “I normally go to a afternoon class, which is when I am really tired and it gives me energy to finish my day. You sleep and eat better when you’re working out. You also gain mental and emotional strength along with the physical attributes.

With more than six years under her belt, Amanda has found a few favorite movements.

“I love anything with kettle bells and I really love power cleans,” Amanda said. I really don’t like bar over burpees. I just don’t like burpees and jumping over a bar. I also don’t necessarily like, running but I know it’s good for me.”

Amanda has also put her skills to the test in in two competitions.

“It was very nerve-racking,” Amanda said. “It makes you realize that you have a lot of growth but it is really good to push yourself. I’ve also only done the open three times. With any competition, it is so many workouts crammed into a short period of time and that’s more mentally exhausting whereas the open is spread out over five weeks, you have time to kind of regroup and get ready to go the following week.”

Still Amanda says she still has more to learn.

“Recently I got handstand push ups and I’ve been working on those for a really long time,” Amanda said. “Also after years of doing Crossfit, I can finally string some double unders together. This year I am working on getting a bar muscle up and getting more efficient at double unders.”

When asked what her favorite part about Crossfit Praus is, her answer is very familiar.

“I really like the friendships there honestly,” Amanda said. “Workouts are great but when it’s family that just keeps you coming back. Challenging yourself and kind of being pushed by other people. I truly love the whole atmosphere.”

Amanda also see the great work the coaches do.

“I really like the individualized coaching we get,” Amanda said. “Even there might be 10-15 people in your class, the coaches take really good care of new people and really spend time with them to make sure they’re doing movements correctly. At Praus we want people to feel like family. I’ve been told by people who come that they felt really welcomed.”

With her husband also attending Praus, Amanda says they keep each other in check.

“Challenging each other is hard because of the male and female aspect, but we keep each other accountable to go to the gym,” Amanda said. “I don’t like working out with Joel as my partner though. I don’t like the way he counts the movements and I just want to be left alone when I am working out usually. We kind of just like to do our own things.”

She even sees her kids following in her footsteps in the near future.

“My kids mess around doing little workouts in the living room,” Amanda said. “They will ask me to do push ups and jump rope in the living room all the time. I know they love it too.”

Winning the day by bettering yourself (Joe Secrest, April Athlete of the Month)

April Athlete of the Month, Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

Working out is nothing new to Joe Secrest, but this past year has changed the way he looks at pushing his body to the limits.

“I am more concerned with the quality of the movement rather than how much I can lift or do,” Joe said.

He came to Crossfit Praus last year after he saw one of the Open videos. At the time he was working out at the YMCA and decided to put himself out there to try something new.

“I really became bored of working then I popped into Praus on a Saturday,” Joe said. “I liked the feeling of the place and thought everyone was pretty close without any cliques.”

Throughout his life Joe has always tried to stay in shape. He played football, basketball, track and baseball. Then he enlisted in the army. Joe trained all over the United States, Ireland and Germany. He also was deployed to Kuwait. His experience in the Army fuels his drive to become the best Crossfit athlete he can.

“In the Navy Seals they have a motto: it pays to be a winner,” Joe said. “Our unit kind of adopted that motto and it’s been ingrained in my mind. It isn’t about necessarily winning a competition or being the best in the gym but I want to win the day. I want to be better than I was when I wake up in the morning.“

Joe says Crossfit helps make his day easier. As a furnace operator at Steel Dynamics Inc., he’s always walking around. Joe says he has more energy now than when he was in the army.

“Everyday I go into the gym trying to improve on something whether it is at strength or a faster time or not breaking during a movement,” Joe said. “I want to get better both mentally and physically.”

There are a few workouts Joe loves and hates to see on the whiteboard.

“My favorite workout is Isabel (30 snatches) because I love snatching,” Joe said. “I love the unknown of popping the bar up, are you catching it or do you have to make that split second decision to bail on it. I also love the assault bike. It hurts so bad but when you’re done, it feels so worth it. I dred Cindy, because it’s 20 minutes of pull ups, push ups and squats.”

With anything in life there are stereotypes, and Crossfit is no different. But Joe doesn’t listen to them.

“I laugh at all the stereotypes involved with Crossfit because we are taught technique,” Joe said. “If go into any other gym, you see people doing movements all the time with the wrong technique. If anyone doubts that Crossfit is beneficial, I’ll tell them they just have to try it. I’ve gone to the YMCA a couple of times since I started Crossfit and I can’t stand being there.”

He’s also sees the family aspect of Crossfit Praus.

“Everybody wants to help everybody,” Joe said. “Each person cares about everyone’s well being, not just in the gym but about their life in general.

Recently Joe got his first muscle up and was able to do five handstand push ups but he isn’t stopping there.

“I really want to be able to put 15-20 pull ups together and be able to string together double unders,” Joe said. But my biggest goal is working on my nutrition. I have been working with a nutritionist. It’s helped me with my muscle ups. I want to lose weight so I can move better. If I do it, my joints and back would feel a lot better.”

Joe has even gotten his wife to come with him on Saturdays.

“She was really nervous to come and try it,” Joe said. “She loves to run but she’s really only been a one or two movement person, running and squats. She’s getting into her comfort zone especially with moving the bar bell.”

And he has no doubt his kids will pick up the sport as well.

“My son just recently was like, look daddy I am doing push ups,” Joe said. “He asked the other day if we wanted to do Sally because obviously they can hear the music while they’re in the kids room. I told him no but I let him and his sister do it while I played the song.”

Joe sees how much Crossfit has changed his life and he’s the positive impact it’s having on his family.

The Drive to Be Better (Samantha Hans, March Athlete of the Month)

March Athlete of the Month, Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography

From her first day at Crossfit Praus, Samantha Hans fell in love.

“My sister, Kristina Hans, had done it for a few years,” Hans said. “She suggested it to me and I loved it.”

Sam is a RN at the Parkview Regional Medical Center. She says while she’s at work, the box keeps her going throughout the day.

“It gives me something other than my family to look forward to at the beginning of the day or the end of the day.” Sam said. “It really gives me something to strive for. Not only am I in better shape and have more energy but I am happier.”

When Sam found out she was going to be the March Athlete of the Month, she couldn’t help but think of her family.

“I was very surprised and honored,” Sam said. “It made me think of a lot of other people who deserved this as much as me. I am very excited that they decided to give me the opportunity to step in the spotlight.”

Sam says she’s seen progress in her performance every day she goes to workout.

“I remember on my first day, Shane had me do ring rows and I could only do a couple in a row and in the Cannon Brawl I was doing pull ups consecutively for the first time. So that to me is a really big jump from where I started to where I am now.”

Sam has only been at Praus since January 2017 and in her most recent competition all the hard work she’s put in, day in and day out, paid off.

“My best memory was Cannon brawl when I got my pull ups because up till the competition I had not been able to get them done consecutively. At the competition, I was able to knock out four or five in a row. It completely blew me away.”

Sam even gets excited for movements that continue to challenge her.

“I look forward to rope climbs because when I saw people climbing the rope I thought I would never be able to do it. Now I can do multiple in a row. Seeing the progress that I’ve made makes me excited to be able to do them.”

Sam realizes she still has a long road ahead of her, especially with snatching.

“It is such an awkward movement and it’s all about technique,” Sam said. “While some things you can muscle up or power through, you have to rely on your technique if you want to be able to snatch. It’s just one of those things when you’re doing Crossfit, you’re continuously improving on.”

She says seeing her progress everyday continues to motivate her.

“I want to always push myself, I don’t necessary have a PR that is my biggest thing but I want to continue to push myself day in and day out and continue to improve.”

Another push for her is the group of people she sees almost every day.

“I go to the same class a lot so I get to know those people really well but I have had great encounters with everybody,” Sam said. ”I get really excited when I see someone do something they’ve been struggling with. To me Crossfit is more than just a gym to workout at. For Praus for me it’s very family oriented because it’s very close net.”

Sam says she sees the true meaning of Crossfit in every member at Praus.

“It’s really true what they say, we cheer the loudest for the person last,” Sam said.

The atmosphere is one of the reasons she will have her daughter take up the sport.

“I love Crossfit because it gives me the chance to still have that competitive edge but it’s more with myself and I can continuously push myself,” Sam said. “I was very competitive as a kid; I’ve played sports my whole life. I was always competitive against other teams. I hope to get her (my daughter) in sports and Crossfit.”

Always Chasing Rabbits (Ryan Fruchey, February Athlete of the Month)

When it comes to working out, Ryan Fruchey isn’t a stranger to pushing his body to the limit.

“I had worked out at a bunch of different places around town, I had been working out with a trainer before coming to Crossfit Praus,” Fruchey said.

Once a few friends got him to try a Crossfit workout, he was hooked.

“You can kind of get the flavor of a place pretty quickly and it (Praus) seemed to fit my personality,” Fruchey said.

Ryan is the President of Don R. Fruchey, a industrial service company in Fort Wayne, and one of his favorite aspects is getting to know so many people from different backgrounds.

“The people are fantastic,” Fruchey said. “In my work, I talk mostly with engineers and construction guys so it’s fun to meet a guy who works in news, it’s fun to meet people in the medical field, people in business, attorneys and other areas. There’s a variety of workouts in crossfit and there’s a variety of people so you just get that extra flavor in life.”

And the people at Praus help give Ryan motivation.

“It’s hard to go into a CrossFit gym and not do your best”, Fruchey said. “If you see everybody else struggling beside you, you’re not going to put the bar down. You want to get the last couple reps in as soon as you can. It’s just that extra push at this stage of my life that benefits me.”

When Ryan found out he was the February Athlete of the Month, he stayed humble.

“I thought there are about 50 other people who you should talk to before you talk to me, there are so many inspiring stories at Praus,” Fruchey said.

Ryan says the true spirit of CrossFit is alive and well at Praus.

“There are bigger gyms, and smaller gyms, [but the spirit is alive] in terms of the way the people are together and just the sense of community,” Fruchey said. “It is competitive enough but not the end all be all. Praus focuses on improvement wherever you are, rather than some loftier goal. It’s really based on where the person is and trying to get them to achieve their next goal.”

He credits the coaches for helping him with his Highlight of the Year.

“I’ve been chasing muscle ups for a long time,” Fruchey said. “We had gymnastics practice for ring muscle ups recently and I was able to get three more than usual. Then during the workout last week, I actually got my first bar muscle up, another benefit. You learn to ask questions, then you try to learn the movement and then the pay off is really satisfying. The Open is a great time of year, you get to see how far a lot of people have come during the the CrossFit Open, it (the Open) really is a fantastic experience. It is scheduled into classes, so, everyone is going to be there for it and doing the work. It’s a highlight of the year really.”

Ryan’s attitude towards Crossfit has also been contagious to others in his life.

“I have a cousin who lives in New York state, who’s been doing it for probably a year and a half and her husband just started,” Fruchey said. “Even my mom when she went to that master’s competition, kind of hinted around that she would like to try it.” The ability to be able to modify CrossFit for anybody is really appealing to me.”

Fruchey says one of his favorite workouts might surprise everyone.

“This might sound weird but I really like the named WOD “Fran” because it’s a good way for me to measure my progression,” Fruchey said. “It’s really one of those workouts that gives you a good feel of how far you have come, from when you started.”

Still Ryan does have a few that he’s not thrill with when they’re on the board and he uses that as motivation.

“If it’s a movement I struggle with, that kind of bums me out,” Fruchey said. “I know you’re not required to RX everything,but I like too as much as I can. If it’s a handstand push up, a muscle up, pistols, they still challenge me. I would like to be able to kip handstand push ups better, get my toes-to-bar to be better and maybe learn to not despise burpees so much.”

Ryan says he would always recommend everyone come to Praus.

“The coaches are fantastic at praus. There’s a lot of that bad publicity in the world about crossfit because people get injured but as you watch the Olympics they’re talking about athletes doing crossfit training. It really comes down to quality instruction and the coaches care about the athletes and I think that’s a big selling point and strong point for Praus.”

Ryan does have some advice.

“There are so many rabbits to chase, you just gotta pick one,” Fruchey said. “Don’t chase them all at the same time otherwise you’ll go crazy.” (referring to setting goals and achieving them in the gym).

Ryan has been a member at Praus for several years, he is consistent in his training, dedicated to improving his own fitness level while also supporting those around him. He not only continues to strive to reach his own goals, but Ryan is steadfast in his commitment to improving the lives of others around him while working hard to expand his knowledge about CrossFit. He is diligent about share this knowledge with his “Praus Family” and looks for ways to support and give back to the community around him. Ryan is an asset to the Praus House and although he does not feel like he should be the “Athlete Spotlight” that is just one more reason why he should be.

ATMOSPHERE OVER SIZE (Trevor Derby, January Athlete of the Month)

January’s Athlete Spotlight

When you move to a new city, it can be a scary time. For Trevor Derby, his gym helped adjust to the new environment.

It provided him something on which to focus, other than moving and it provided him a community.

“Look at the WOD (Workout of the Day) and strategize all day, Derby said. “Then you get there and you completely blow it up and your game plan goes right out the window.”

Derby moved to Fort Wayne in 2017. He found out about CrossFit from one of the coaches at his gym in Ohio that he refers to as “Globo Gym”.

“They had a CrossFit class and I asked the coaches if they mind if I jump into one of them.  So ever since then, I thought this is more fun than just doing bench press or just doing squats or a set of five at a gym,” said Derby.

Trevor’s job requires him to use a standing desk throughout the day and looks forward to getting to the gym as soon as he gets off of work.

“At the end of the day, everybody has stress that they have to deal with. For me it’s like, sweet works done. I can take a break and relax at the gym. It’s a lot more fun and it’s a pretty large stress relief for me just to work out, get sweaty and have fun with all the good people at the gym.”

Finding a gym proved not to be a difficult decision for Derby when he moved to the Summit City. He visited a couple CrossFit boxes but there was a distinct difference between the two in his mind.

“I just liked Praus’ feel. It was smaller, everyone knew everyone, whereas the other box was still smaller than those “Globo Gyms” but Praus had more of a smaller and more relaxed feel.”

Trevor got the feel that this is why the coaches liked Praus as well. One of the coaches told him, a gym with more than 150 members has too many cliques being formed, where at Praus it continues to be different.

“There are tons of people helping others work out or giving tips or anything like that. You can go any hour of the day, find a friend and be able to help. It’s a pretty awesome feel for people coming in brand new. They feel welcome, they don’t feel intimidated. There’s that stigma that with crossfit, everyone is crazy, super fit, super tough, loud music, throwing weights around but at Praus you know it doesn’t feel like that at all.”

Derby said his mind has definitely changed from his previous thoughts on anyone who crossfits.

“I was a big non believer in it. With the amount they’re paying you could go to any “Globo Gym” and do the same exact workouts and be as fit. But I think what gets people to join is the atmosphere.

When it comes to the workouts, Trevor loves the gymnastics aspect of CrossFit.

“Anything on the bar, pull ups, muscle ups any of the gymnastics stuff I like. I wish there was hand stand walks incorporated into the workouts. (Some of the) things I don’t like are double unders and deadlifts.”

Derby says doing sports in high school and college helps him get through the workouts.

“I played hockey and tennis throughout high school then I played tennis at Trine University. (There’s) not a whole lot of lifting in tennis but there was endurance.”

Trevor has been a CrossFitter since 2016. He loves to get better in any way he can. Every year he plans to improve. In 2017, he set a goal to Snatch 185 pounds and Clean 225 pounds, both of which he’s accomplished. But this isn’t the end for his journey.

“I would like to snatch 195 in 2018. Cleaning 235 would be great. I’ve never done the open officially last year I was in Ohio kind of traveling a lot so I wasn’t able to. I did the workouts but it was nothing official. So my goal would be to do the open and to do it well.”

Derby says now that he is determined to continue his CrossFit career, there’s no stopping him.

“It’s what I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. I love it and don’t want to stop.”

December 2017 Athlete Spotlight…Paula Mamani,
The Beauty of the Unknown

Courtesy: Jake's Takes Photography

Courtesy: Jake’s Takes Photography


When it comes to CrossFit, Paula Mamani’s motivation is selfless.

“Even though I’m older, my youngest two children are just 8 years old,” Paula said. “I still can’t really deteriorate because I have little children of my own. I just need to stay healthy so that motivated me.”

Paula has been at Crossfit Praus for a little more than a year.  She’s an early childhood teacher. She learned about CrossFit from a parent who dropped off her daughter at Paula’s for daycare.

“A parent (Lucy Cardenas) in my early childcare home told me that her and her husband made a commitment that they would support each other to exercise everyday,” Paula said. “My home was near their gym and I thought ‘wow.’”

So, Paula decided to throw herself into something new and see what happened.

“I sort of had faith that it was a good thing to do,” Paula said. “Then, when I got here, I was overwhelmed with all the people who were like Lucy. They were so fit but you also saw people on many levels. Everyone had made me feel really comfortable.”

After being introduced to her first class, Paula realized just how difficult this would be.

“I had done a lot of walking and lost a lot of weight a couple of years ago,” Paula said. “The first WOD (Workout Of The Day) we ever did was a sit up, I couldn’t even do a sit up.”

Paula didn’t let this obstacle overtake her. She was determined to succeed even at the age of 54.

“I was pretty frail but the coaches taught me how to do the movements just like any other person,” Paula said. “I thought, ‘It is OK, I’ll just do my best and it will be nothing.’”
Even after being at Praus for over a year, Paula says she’s still growing.

“I feel like my body, is still the same body that I’ve had but now it’s kind of protected by a layer of muscle,” Paula said. “I am stronger in everything I do and I feel better both physically and emotionally.  Your body becomes better including your brain.”

She feels closer to even the strongest and most accomplished athletes at the gym.

“Even when I watch the best CrossFit athletes in the world do a WOD, I can still relate to what they’re doing,” Paula said. “You all do something hard and everyone gives it their all and it’s something really good and really positive.”

Paula says she hasn’t been able to succeed on her own; she still credits all of the members at CrossFit Praus.

“If it’s really hard, people will do it anyway,”Paula said. “Then it spills over into other things that they’re able to accomplish. Every single person who is here is so highly accomplished. “

Paula says she is nowhere close to the end of her journey. She wants to be able to do the prescribed movements and weights for every single WOD.


“I think that Murph is my favorite workout because it’s just crazy but everyone is there together doing it together. That’s what makes CrossFit fun. All the people are doing something that hard and all of the people are like, ‘Yes, let’s get this done.’”

March 2015 Athlete Spotlight…Lori Faurote!


Lori started at the Praus House through a New Years Special we offered in 2014.  We offer a 3 month membership, versus a 1 month, on purpose…hoping it will help people get past the New Year resolution “bump”.  What we didn’t know about this “Lori” lady who signed up is that she would become one of our most driven, determined, dedicated athletes.  Lori went from wanting to be healthier to wanting to be stronger to wanting to master all things CrossFit over the course of her first year with us…to say the least it was inspiring to watch.  Lori also happens to be incredibly funny and is a blast to be around.  We are thrilled she is a part of the Praus family and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her…both inside and outside the box.  #neverfinished

When did you start CrossFitting? Who/what got you started?

I started at Praus in January, 2014. I was Facebook friends with Praus and saw the New Year’s foundation special. Since I had been here on a free Saturday and was wanting to get into Crossfit, I thought it was a great opportunity to begin.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

I like chippers. My goal is to chip away at the benchmark Lady WODs because I have yet to record any of my scores from the ones I have done. My least favorite WOD is anything that has movements that I have yet to conquer such as; HSPU or rope climbs. It is frustrating to me to not be able to do these WODs RX, however, #neverfinished#strongerthanyesterday, and I will get them soon, hopefully.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

My favorite movement would be Oly lifts partially because they are still a challenge to me and I am determined to master them!! (See above for least favorite)

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

I am 34 years old; I have no kids and have never been married. I have 2 fat cats. They are my babies. I have been an X-Ray tech at Parkview Hospital for 12 years. I am an assistant track coach at Lane Middle School. I played softball in college at IPFW for 4 years and still enjoy playing on leagues during the summer. My 3 nephews and my family are my pride and joy.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

Before CrossFit, I ran mini marathons for many years. I have been into strength and weightlifting ever since high school bodybuilding. I participated in spin and Les Mills classes at Max Fitness for years as well. I had a personal trainer that first introduced me to some CrossFit. It was after this that I fell in love with it.

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I knew I had a lot of exciting challenges ahead of me, and I still do!!

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

My original goal was to lose weight and get back into shape. After starting, I realized that with a clean diet, the weight loss/body comes along with CrossFit pretty easily. Now, after achieving my original goals, my focus is more on strength and Olympic lifting and gymnastics movements.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Yes, Crossfit is a cult, <cough>; I mean a complete new way of life. I don’t care what anyone says, the atmosphere, supportive community and relationships gained at Praus/CrossFit are indescribable. It isn’t mind boggling to get myself to the gym every day anymore. Now, all my friends are here and we are doing what we love, together. I have more energy and am happier than I have ever been. I’m so excited to see what is yet to come.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

We make memories everyday here! I’ve never laughed as much as I do when I’m around these people! My biggest achievements so far would be getting 3rd in Scaled at the Summer Mayhem, and 2nd in Scaled at the 24 hour competition this summer and lately being in the top group of the leaderboard at Praus for the open WODs.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Stick with it. Once the initial pain wears off, and your start seeing results, it becomes an addiction that you will never regret. Drink lots of water, and eat clean food to fuel your workouts. The family atmosphere is one that you will not find anywhere else.

Something you might not know about me is?

I used to ride a Harley. I owned a Softtail NightTrain that I absolutely loved. My dad is a triplet, my nephews are twins, and my great grandmother was a twin. If I should happen to procreate, there is a good possibility for multiple births.

January 2015 Athlete Spotlight…Jaer and Lucy Cardenas!


Jaer and Lucy had very different approaches when they first came to Praus.  Jear was ready to master everything the first day, while Lucy was hesitant to get started and cautious with every step.  Fast forward a year and a half and Mr and Mrs Cardenas have become two of our most dedicated driven athletes at the Praus House.  Jaer brought his soccer-based engine and over time has improved his technique to become a hard driving CrossFitter…even breaking down and buy Oly’s and wrist wraps!  Lucy, as you can see, has placed a high priority on her health, so much so that she continued WODing through her entire pregnancy…and was even seen at the box within weeks after giving birth doing accessory work to stay on track.  All that aside, these two are two of the nicest, most genuine individuals you’d ever meet.  If you haven’t had a chance to get to know them outside the realm of CrossFit, you’re missing out!  Thanks for being such an awesome part of the Praus House!

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who/what got you started?

Jaer started CrossFitting at a friend’s gym in Texas about a month before we moved to Indiana in 2013. He saw a difference in his physique in a month and was hooked. When we moved to Indiana, Jaer looked for CrossFit gyms and found Crossfit Praus after hearing an endorsement from Kilee Fackler (thanks Kilee!). When the weather turned chilly and I didn’t want to run in the snow, Jaer persuaded me to try CrossFit. I was so sore the first few Saturdays that I was convinced I was out of shape and should join.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

Jaer: Favorite: Randy…Least favorite: Nicole

Lucy: Favorite: Karen or Cindy…Least favorite: Annie

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

Jaer: Favorite: Squats…Least favorite: HSPU

Lucy: Favorite: T2B…Least favorite: Double Unders

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Jaer is a Houston native and currently works as a lab tech at Trelleborg. He is a soccer fanatic – he played for IU in college and follows La Liga (Barcelona) and the Premiere League (Manchester United).  I grew up on a farm north of Fort Wayne and am currently Editor of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. I am a bit of a news junkie and love to cycle when the weather is nice.

We met at IU and lived in Texas for eight years before moving to Fort Wayne. After six years of marriage, we welcomed our first child, Alessandra Starr on Dec. 4, 2014.  Our main hobby, or rather project, lately is the 1880 duplex in West Central we purchased last year.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

Jaer: Running and soccer games

Lucy: Running, biking and swimming

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

Jaer: It hurt good.

Lucy: The coaches’ 5-year-old son can lift as much as me; I have work to do.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

Jaer: Lose weight and get cut – check and check

Lucy: Stay in shape – ended up getting in even better shape

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Other than annoying family members because we never shut-up about CrossFit? CrossFit helps us remain focused and provides us with renewed energy to get through each day. It’s also given us a social circle that we cherish. It’s a lifestyle.  We have always believed in exercising, as it gives us more energy during the day. CrossFit really made a difference for us during pregnancy as Lucy was able to continue working out despite the weight gain.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

Jaer’s first muscle-up after months of trying was a great victory.  The best memory so far, for me, was pregnant Fran. At 36 weeks pregnant we (Jaer had a 6-pound ball stuffed under his shirt) completed Fran together.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

The more you come, the less it hurts and the better you look and feel.  It is 90 percent mental.

Something you might not know about us:

Jaer – plays the alto and soprano saxophones (friends call him “G”…as in, Kenny G)
Lucy – loves Michael Jackson…like loves!

May Athlete Spotlight…Annie Giddens!


Annie came to us as a referral from a personal trainer in town.  She knew she loved working out, but on day one told me she wanted to do more.  What she had been doing wasn’t quite what she was searching for, and she also had the itch to compete.  What few of us knew at that time was that Annie had already won.  She had beaten the battle over obesity, and wasn’t looking back.  Her before and after pictures are the type where you search for a tattoo (of which she has a few, so there’s no denying), just to make sure its even the same person.  Annie is dedicated, driven and fairly bull-headed (in the best possible way), and will stop at nothing until she reaches her goals.  After which I’m sure she’ll simply set new ones.  We are blessed to have Annie at the Praus House and can’t see what the Sport of Fitness holds for her in the future!

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who/what got you started?

I started crossfitting slightly (about 5 or 6 wods) in May of last year, but then had surgery and picked back up full force August 3rd, 2013.  I had been working with a personal trainer, and had asked her to work some CrossFit into my programming, so she referred me to Praus, and this is where I’ve been since.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

Favorite:  Randy

Least Favorite:  Anything with pull ups since I can’t do them RX.  LOL.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

Favorite:  Anything with a barbell

Least favorite:  Lunges of any type… even with a barbell. 😉

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m a single mother of two boys that are 14, and 18.  I’ve been single for a REALLY long time.  I’ve been a nurse for about 17 years now.  I’m an RN Case Manager at Visiting Nurse providing hospice care to patient’s in their homes.  It’s a hard career, but it has it’s own rewards.  I used to be a swimmer, diver, and tennis player.  I started running a couple of years ago, but don’t have a particular love of it, it was a means to lose weight.  I haven’t really participated in any sports since college… until I found CrossFit that is.  I love to read.  I started college as a music education major so I have a passion for music of all kinds.  I also love to cook!!

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

As I mentioned previously I worked with a personal trainer who programmed strength followed by cardio sessions.  I still worked out 6 days a week, and frequently did two a days.

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

“YES!!!” (One of my favorite responses to date.  You could just tell Annie had found what she’d been looking for.)

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

First goal was to become stronger, faster, and fitter.  I’m seeing improvment in all of those areas.

I also want to lean out more.  I’m still working on that.

I unofficially had a goal to compete, and I’ve started doing that now. (Since typing this Annie won her first CrossFit competition in the scaled division at GLOC…we are extremely proud of her!)

I also want to become a coach, but my goal is to achieve pull ups before I do my level 1.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

I’ve found an incredible new group of friends, and a support system that is beyond describing!!

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

When I got my first T2B during the open workouts!!  I cheered, and I saw several people who were doing the workout, judging or cheering look my way.  They all had their own way of celebrating with me, whether it was a smile and a nod of the head as they judged their competitor, or verbally cheering me on.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Anyone can do this.  It doesn’t have to be all out, all at once.  It takes time to build, and we will always be building.  And persistence is key.  I don’t have something like pull ups yet, but I’m going to keep working until I do.  Nobody walks into a box being able to do everything. (Amen!)

Something you might not know about me is?

Eh…  I’m pretty much an open book.

November Athlete Spotlight…Tina Keffaber!


Tina is quite possibly one of the most inspiring people I know.  If you have been around the box in the last few months you’d notice the grit and determination on her face to battle through every single WOD.  This isn’t extremely unique because the Praus House has lots of athletes who share that description…however, Tina is battling through post-leg/foot surgery with a cast–boot–brace along for the ride.  The first day she could get back into the box post surgery she was there, begging for a WOD she could do with her upper body…anything, she didn’t care, she just wanted to get back at it.  Tina is also one of the most generous people I know.  When she says, “Call me if you need anything at all”, she absolutely means it.  She has a tough exterior necessary to excel at work, with a heart of gold and a sense of humor that puts a smile on my face everyday.  She also happens to be an amazing baker who makes killer pumpkin bars!  God blessed us all the day Tina walked through the front door!

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who/what got you started?

My first WOD was in March of 2013, I went for my birthday with Juan and Jennifer Barrientes and have been going since.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

I like all WODs, honestly not sure there are any I don’t like.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

My favorite are kettlebell swings and deadlifts, I loooooooath burpees

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

I am 48 years old and have worked for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department for over 9 years.  I used to play on the Fort Wayne Flash semi-professional football team.  My favorite sports are field hockey and football.  I like to read, hike, take pictures, cook, bake and do things for others.  I love animals, my favorite are wolves, with dolphins being a close second.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

30 minutes on an elliptical and machine weights

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I loved it, it challenged my ability…couldn’t wait for the next class!

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

To have more mobility. I have increase my mobility a little, but have increased my strength more…which has led to me actually being able to run (which was something I was told would never happen again).

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

It has helped me do a lot more in life without all the back pain I was having before.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

I have lots of memories from the box with all of the fantastic/awesome people.  It is awesome to feel a part of a family which is exactly what I have at CrossFit Praus.  I also got my first RX WOD 11/2/2013…which ironically had running in it, it felt great!

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Never give up and never quit.  And that they joined the right box, Amanda and Shane and the other coaches are awesome.  The biggest thing…never say “can’t”

Something you might not know about me is?

According to Amanda, I’m just a big teddy bear.

September Athlete Spotlight…Misty Wallin!!!


We first met Misty through a mutual friend, but at the time she was an avid runner and wanted to stick with that…little did she know she would change her mind less than a year later!!  Misty came in in great shape, but not CrossFit shape as is the case with all of us!  She pushed through every WOD, scaling when necessary and was very smart about her training.  She knew was she was capable of and “chipped” away at developing her “CrossFit shape”, then it got really fun to coach her!!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given her the stare down when she reached for a weight that was too light…then exchanged it for a heavier version and never looked back.  Misty is not only a great asset to the Praus House, but our community as a whole…Fort Wayne is lucky to have the Wallin family!

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who/what got you started?

May of 2013 is when I started. A friend introduced me to Shane and Amanda (about a year ago), my hubby was going out of town for 10 weeks, so I had to have somewhere I could go that had child care. Time is also a HUGE thing for me, so I couldn’t spend HOURS in the gym. So, why not try CrossFit Praus??

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

Fight Gone Bad is my favorite…so far…I don’t have a least favorite. To me it is just what needs to be done today.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

Running if you consider it a “movement” and least favorite movement is snatch, because I just can’t get it right!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

I am married, four kids, work 2 jobs and home school my kids. We just bought a “farm” a couple years ago and there is always a project to be done. I love animals and being able to have my kids out of a subdivision. I enjoy organizing the Defenders Dash; a little passion of mine. It combines things that are important to me…running (fitness), honoring our men and women who serve our country and community daily & bringing people together!

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

Running: some would say an “insane” amount of miles…but …. 🙂

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I was hooked. I knew I needed to do it for a long time, working out the logistics was my problem.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

Biggest goal was to lose weight and fit in my skinny clothes again… I have not lost all the weight, but I am wearing my clothes again (most of them).  But I know part of not losing all the weight I want is because I am building muscle.  Since joining CrossFit I have changed how I set goals. It’s more about completing a specific movement (double unders, hand stand pushups , etc.) hitting a new one rep max, or RXing another WOD. I didn’t know what any of that was before I started CrossFit.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Definitely, I push myself beyond my limits more. It has given me more confidence in different areas of life and I have a ton more stamina when doing “chores” around the farm.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

Loved the Saturday we did the Hope for Cures WOD. What an inspiring day. CrossFitting with our community for a great cause. What could be better?

July’s Athlete Spotlight…Andrea Roth!


We have had the pleasure of knowing Andrea longer than her CrossFit days, in fact I can remember apologizing on multiple occasions for too much CrossFit talk around a bonfire or kitchen island…then the day came where she said, “Ok, I’ll try it!”  I was thrilled!!  But, it wasn’t until the past few months than Andrea really shifted from an occasional CrossFitter, to someone determined to be better and stronger than yesterday’s version of herself.  She walks in the box, often late cause her husband never seems to be able to pull himself away in time for her to get to class, quietly…ready to work.  Her desire to CrossFit threw her entire pregnancy should be a testament to us all about what it means to prioritize our health and the health of those we love (even in utero).  Andrea challenges herself everyday, somedays even shrugging off my idea of a “pregnancy modification”.  Joe and Andrea will be welcoming sweet baby boy Roth into this world tomorrow, and we couldn’t be more excited for them!  No doubt he’ll be a future CrossFitter!  We are thrilled to have you both at Praus, and blessed to call you friends.

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who got you started?

I started CrossFit about a year ago, but really got into it once I joined at Praus! The community at Praus is just amazing! I like the “team” atmosphere during the workouts….everyone is pushing one another to do their best.

As for who/what got me started with CrossFit…..that’s an easy one….my husband Joe Roth!!  I joke that I really didn’t have a choice! J  He was so consumed with it that it made me curious what all the hype was about.  I was intimidated at first with the movements, but once I got over that fear and was introduced to the community at Praus I was obsessed as well!!!

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

Favorite: Fran

Least Favorite: Anything with burpees

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

Thrusters would be my favorite!

My least favorite movement is more of a love hate relationship with snatches….I think I will like them once I can wrap my mind around the “jump down” movement. J

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I have been married to my wonderful husband Joe for about 4 years now.  We have little girl Annabelle who is 1 ½ and a little boy who is due to arrive at the end of July. I enjoy wakeboarding, wakesurfing, pretty much anything on the water!  I work at Automation Engineering as the Office/HR Manager.  One of the perks to my position is that I am tasked with heading up our wellness program which allows me to encourage others to lead healthy lifestyles (i.e. try out CrossFit).

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

Bootcamps, yoga, and stadium workouts with friends.

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I was intimidated after the first workout!  However, I soon realized people were not there to judge my time or how much weight I was lifting but to encourage and push me to my limits.  The community and encouragement from others is what got me hooked.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

My current goal was to continue CrossFitting through my entire pregnancy and, after completing Fran today…the day before I go to the hospital, I made!!  Most people do not realize that you CAN continue a workout routine while pregnant. Pregnancy does not make you fragile; if you worked out before you got pregnant you CAN continue to workout throughout your pregnancy! My advice to those concerned about CrossFitting while pregnant is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, you are the best judge of what your limits are.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

YES!  Inside the gym CrossFit teaches you to push yourself to break through your preconceived limits….this has translated outside of the gym for me as well.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

I Rx’d my first WOD while pregnant…I was pretty pumped about that 🙂

What advice would you give to someone just joining CrossFit Praus?

Do not be intimidated by the movements or the white board. Everything can be modified and scaled to fit your own fitness level.  Most of all HAVE FUN!

Something you might not know about me is?

Can’t think of anything for this one…..I am pretty much an open book 🙂

June Athlete Spotlight…none other than Rachel Dirig!


Like Rachel mentions below, we were lucky enough to meet her because her friend won a contest we ran at a Health Fair…at the time we didn’t know how blessed we were to have her (and her family) walk through our doors.  Rachel started CrossFit with looseness in her form and a lack of kinesthetic awareness…but those “aspects” of her approach to training would quickly find their way out the door.  After being with us 5 months her form, function, dedication and determination are the most notable “aspects” of her approach.  She is a pleasure to coach, and an extremely selfless person…working at least 3 shifts a week in our childcare room…now that’s dedication 😉  Thanks for being a part of the Praus Family!

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who/what got you started?

I started CrossFitting in February.  A friend of mine won a month’s free membership to Praus in a contest.  She is a personal trainer and belongs to a few other gyms so she offered it to me.  We had been considering getting a membership to the Y, but I thought I would try this CrossFit thing out for a month first since it was free.  I’m so glad I did!

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

I think I have two favorites so far.  Kelly and Murph.  I really can’t say what my least favorite WOD is.  The Lumberjack 20 is not one that I’m excited to do again anytime soon though J.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

This is easy.  I love box jumps and kettle bell swings.  Overhead squats are by far my least favorite.  I am so terrible at them.  I make myself do 20 at home with dumbells before I can go to bed every night.  I call it my daily cash out and hope someday this leads me to not hate them so much!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

I somehow lucked out and married the most incredible person I have ever met (also my high school crush), Justin.  We have two amazing and spunky daughters.  Layla is four and Cordelia is one.  Right now my girls are my full time job and I love spending my days with them.  I am a licensed school counselor and plan to go back to counseling when my girls are in school.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

I have tried lots of different things.  I have quite a collection of workout DVD’s!  In the past, I would start a new program or type of exercise and stick with it for a few weeks and then quit or try something else.

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I loved it!  I was hooked from day one.  I remember being extremely intimidated at first because I had no idea what CrossFit was, I was never an athlete, and I never really lifted weights, but I knew that I would work through that stuff because I absolutely loved the workouts, the coaching, and the sense of community.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

When I started, I was just looking to lose the remainder of the baby weight I was carrying.  I achieved that pretty quickly after joining Praus.  My goals are completely different now and have nothing to do with how much I weigh.  Feeling strong is one of the greatest feelings!

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Absolutely!  CrossFit is all about digging deep and pushing yourself to be better than you were yesterday.  It’s pretty obvious that you can apply that concept to all areas of your life as well.  I’ve really started to challenge myself to be a better wife, mother, and community member.  I used to settle for “good enough,” and that has completely changed.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

So many!  My favorite one has to be from Murph.  I had never run a mile in less than 10:30 and as I ran through the door after my first mile in Murph, the clock said 8:32.  I couldn’t believe it!  The Endurance classes are really paying off.  To date, I have only RX’d one WOD and the feeling of getting that first RX was pretty awesome too.  Now, back to chasing the next one!

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Give yourself credit for small gains and victories, but push yourself really hard.  Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on one thing I’m bad at and requires a lot of effort for me to improve (pull ups for example), and one thing I feel I can easily improve upon (running for example).  Also, ask for help if you need it!  Everyone wants to see you succeed and is happy to help.

Something you might not know about me is?

I love acting, singing and dancing.  My favorite roles are ones where I get to use an accent.  I’m hoping to get back on stage in the near future!

  Meet Rob(ert) Warstler…May Athlete Spotlight at CrossFit Praus! 


Rob and Angela started with us back in the garage to squeeze in their foundations sessions prior to our official launch.  They were very committed even though they had to drive to the other side of town and freeze their fingers off in our non-heated garage box.  That same dedication shines through 6 months later.  Rob is one of those guys who sets his mind to something and doesn’t quit until he achieves it.  Time is often spent getting frustrated with double unders, trying to launch himself on the wall and always improving his lifting technique.  Speaking of technique, Rob’s is impeccable!  Not only can he back squat 355#, but he can do so at full depth every rep.  He is an excellent example of what it takes to constantly be better than yesterday’s version of you!

When did you start CrossFitting? Who/what got you started?  

I first dabbled on my own about 5 years ago and loved it, but without coaching I didn’t experience the full benefit. Then little over a year ago Anthony Shefferly, a certified instructor, began offering classes to his co-workers; I was hooked once under his instruction.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

I haven’t done too many of the benchmark WOD’s yet, but out of those I have done, my favorite would have to be “Karen”. I look forward to doing the “Lumberjack 20”, maybe that will be my new favorite. My least favorite would have to be “DT”. I really didn’t mind it so much at first, until I smashed my face with the bar on one of the push jerks.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

Favorite movement…I cannot choose just one, I love deadlifts and back squats equally. Renegade rows would definitely be my least favorite.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

I have been married to Angela for 12 years, we have two children. Brady, age 4, and Grace, 1. I have been a Fort Wayne police officer for 8 years. Outside of work, and family, I love to play softball and deer hunt. I have been a long-suffering Cubs fan as far back as I can remember. Next year! I have competed in a couple of half marathons and Tough Mudders.  CrossFit has definitely helped me maintain my endurance without having to log as many miles.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

I ran consistently and followed a traditional weight lifting routine, with forays into P90X and Insanity. After Crossfitting for a few months last summer, the facility we were using was no longer available and I had to go back to a traditional gym where I could not match the same intensity workout on my own in that environment. My results suffered.

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I don’t remember my specific thoughts, but after being under an instructor I knew this was how I wanted to pursue being fit.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit? Have you achieved any of those goals?

My goals when starting CrossFit were to gain strength and endurance, while dropping a few pounds. Since joining CrossFit Praus my back squat has improved from 295# to 355#. My deadlift has increased from 365# to 415#. (those are HOLY COW! numbers for those who don’t have a reference point…(added by Amanda))

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

I feel stronger and more equipped to handle my work responsibilities.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone in the community environment we have. It has been neat watching CrossFit Praus grow by leaps and bounds since we were first there on opening day. My future goals are to deadlift 500# and to back squat 400#.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Don’t sacrifice quality to be first on the whiteboard. (AMEN!  (again, from Amanda))

Something you might not know about me is?

I have lost over 70# and maintained that loss for the last 5 years.

Congratulations to Audrey Andersen…our April Athlete Spotlight recipient!


Audrey started with us the very first day we officially opened at 4106 Merchant Road.  She came in nervous, but excited to see what CrossFit was all about.  We did our benchmark workout that day and if memory serves she was exhausted but hooked from that very first WOD.  In fact, she came back 3 more times that week and hasn’t looked back since.  The mother of 4 awesome kids, Audrey first started with the goal of losing baby weight…but if you watch her in action today it is very obvious she has much bigger goals than that now!  With several RX’d WODs under her belt, she has that spark in her eye every time she walks into the box.  It is that kind of attitude of constant improvement that made her an easy choice for Athlete Spotlight.  Her “can do” attitude is contagious, as well as that smile she gets when she’s just concurred another skill…or throws up a huge Strict Press 1RM on her first attempt!  We are so thankful the Andersen family calls the Praus House home…even little Josiah loves to “go to Praus House…workout!”

When did you start CrossFitting?  Who/what got you started?

Started on January 7, 2013 (the day Praus opened). A few people saw some of the games on tv and thought of me, so I started checking it out years ago. Just finally made the decision to do it this year.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

I don’t know…I love and hate them all!

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

I LOVE deadlifts but I’m definitely still working on the snatch, that’s probably my least favorite.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

I’m married to the most amazing person I know, mother to the best kids in the world, and I love to be active and creative.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

Lifting the potato chips to my lips and chewing. 😉

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I somehow got hit by a train and didn’t know it.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?  Have you achieved any of those goals?

I wanted to loose the baby belly. I’ve come a long way but still have some tummy to loose. I’m excited to see where I am in another 3 months. I’ve been working on my weights and have come so far since the beginning, I’m thrilled thus far!

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Absolutely. I feel so much stronger, not just physically, but overall as a woman. I am able to look at things in a more positive light. I know I’m an overcomer of obstacles in and out of the box.

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?

A favorite memory would be when Amanda added up my weight on my first strict press. The look on her face made me feel like I was on top of the world! HA! It was so encouraging.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Have fun! I love that it’s a judgment free zone, everyone works at their own pace and it’s the best community you’ll ever have. Praus is awesome!

Something you might not know about me is?

Since I was in 5th grade I’ve wanted to build an orphanage in Africa. One day we’ll get there, and it’ll be awesome.

Congratulations to James Ryland…our March Athlete Spotlight recipient!


James started with us back in the garage through the encouragement of his wife, who had already developed a love for CrossFit.  He was a little reluctant at first, battled a painful lower back, and got frustrated with the complexity of some of the lifts.  (though he could hammer out wall ball shots and box jumps like it was his job!)  Watching him just a few short months later, James’ technique is improving with every class, as is his intensity and love for the Sport of Fitness.  He is a pleasure to coach and always has a positive attitude…James we are thrilled that you have decided to call CrossFit Praus home and can’t wait to see what the future holds; both inside and outside the box!

When did you start CrossFitting? Who/what got you started?

End of November 2012. My wife, Tracy, convinced me to try it. She had been going and felt fantastic. I wanted to get in better shape
but I never enjoyed going to a conventional gym.

What is your favorite/least favorite WOD?

I haven’t done all the benchmark workouts. So far, even though she kicks my tail, I really like Fran.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?

Thrusters for both!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.)

Tracy and I have two daughters, Brady and Adrian. I’m in sales and a real estate broker.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?

Run occasionally at home and play soccer.

What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?

I had never been that whipped after a workout before.

What were your goals when joining CrossFit? Have you achieved any of those goals?

My goal when I joined was to simply get in better shape. I feel great and have noticed changes in just a few months. I finally learned to do a kipping pull up. I feel good about that.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Yes, I feel motivated to do better in all aspects of my life.

Do you have any other special memories/achievements during your time here?

All those times when the person finishing last, myself included, is getting cheered on by those who are already done. The members here are great and everyone helps each other.

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Praus?

Don’t feel like you have to use the prescribed weight. Just work on learning the movements.

Congratulations on your hard work and accomplishments…and for making The Praus House a great place to be!

If you happen to notice someone making notable progress, pushing extra hard, exemplifying strength under control or any other characteristics which stand out to you feel free to nominate them!!