Athletes of the Month: Kelli & J

We couldn’t be more honored to announce this month’s Athletes of the Month… yet sad as it is their last month at CrossFit Salus before they move. Kelli & J have been such an incredible addition to the Salus family, bringing positive energy to every class they attend, endless jokes and laughs wherever they go and a level of determination that is second to none.

Enjoy their testimony below as it brings inspiration to your day.

We’ll miss you, Kelli & J! Good luck in life’s next chapter.

XO Your Salus Family

February 2019 Athletes of the Month: Kelli & J

Kelli J Athletes of the Month1. When and why did you start CrossFit?


I dabbled in CrossFit in San Diego and occasionally (reluctantly) tagged along (was dragged) with J to the weekend group workouts. The weather in San Diego was so perfect that I preferred to spend most of my days running by the bay or being outside biking and hiking.

After moving to New Jersey, which is just a smidge different when it comes to weather, I realized I would need to find a new (mostly indoors) fitness routine. I found another military spouse who liked to run and did also did CrossFit regularly. We went to classes together at a place down south as a way to spend time together and help with her transition to New Jersey. I still wasn’t super convinced the workouts were for me.

Finally, after months of driving by Salus, J and I decided that our 2018 New Year’s resolution was to commit to leading healthier lifestyles, and finally taking the step to try out Salus.

I have been hooked ever since.

I am kicking myself we didn’t walk through that door a year earlier!


I started around 2014 during a deployment workup to add some variety and coaching to my routine. The workouts were awesome and the group dynamic added a competitive environment that made me push and work even harder. The variation in exercise and emphasis
on functional movements allowed to me to improve many weaknesses I wasn’t even aware I had.

The differences I felt at work were increases in overall strength, improved work capacity, and a general ease of motion.

This allowed me to perform the mental aspects of the job with less stress. Anyone that has tried to do math at the end of a workout can understand what I’m talking about.

2. How has your performance changed since you started CrossFit


I feel so much stronger since committing to CrossFit as my primary workout. I have new found physical, mental, and emotional strength not to mention the wicked confidence I carry everywhere now. In addition to traditional CF, the “Beyond the Orange” endurance work has
really helped me to practice pacing and pay attention to my heart rate.

In the last 6 months, I have noticed big changes in my endurance, recovery and overall performance.


My chassis integrity (core) has been the largest improvement. After giving that some much needed attention, I could see improvements in all of the other lifts & movements. The workouts have also aided in improving power, agility, and speed. My weight stayed about the
same, but I wear it completely different. Each lb has purpose now, even my gut. It keeps me warm in the winter.

3. Are there exercises you can do now that you couldn’t do before?


I have not only learned new exercises, but can also correctly perform ones I thought I knew before (push-ups, burpees, squat, deadlifts, etc.). I am still strengthening my pull ups, connecting double-unders, doing some TTB & HSPU (not super pretty but it’s happening), and am performing Olympic lifts that I had never really done before. Every time I see an exercise in the WOD that I am not comfortable with (aka snatches) I make sure that I go, because I commit to doing the movements that I need to work on.


Muscle ups of all shapes and sizes, double unders, snatch, a less ugly overhead squat. More so, I am able to safely complete the lifts I previously thought I was doing correctly.

4. How has your body physically changed since you started?


I have lost 27 pounds since joining Salus last January!

My upper body strength and muscle definition in my shoulders, back and biceps are the most noticeable changes to me.


My legs are sexier, and I have re-strengthened my shoulders and back. The ancillary exercises we perform have also developed the supporting muscles / tendons that will make me less prone to injury.

Baby got back, know what I’m sayin?

5. How has CrossFit changed you in other ways?


This CrossFit family and the coaches at Salus have helped me to achieve an overall better balance in my life.

Committing to a healthy lifestyle as a priority instead of my job was the best personal decision I have ever made. I am not someone who traditionally puts themselves first. I would spend unnecessary extra hours working at my stressful job, skipping lunches, barely getting up from my desk most days, and losing sleep over pointless work related items.  Dedicating only an hour of my day five days a week to CrossFit has changed my overall health and energy levels, and more importantly my mindset. My priorities have shifted. It is a learning process, but the biggest step I took was to make the conscious decision to put myself, my health, and my happiness first. I have also learned the understated importance of nutrition, hydration, mobility, and simple positive daily choices.


I am able to sleep less (I was getting too many zzzzzs), drink more (water …), and party harder (with the late class Salus misfit crew). CrossFit is the work hard to my play hard. Putting in the work allows me to enjoy all that life has to offer.

6. How do you describe CrossFit to your friends?


CrossFit (Salus especially) is a family.

The coaches are incredible, and the athletes are a group of highly motivated and hardworking people who are always rooting for you. As a former runner and non-group exercise introvert I never really experienced anything like this besides team sports (which still isn’t quite the same). CrossFit is a community of people who are so supportive of each other. People will finish a workout barely able to breathe with total Bambi jello legs and still come over to cheer you on and give you a high-five as you complete the last round/rep.

There is something so unique about a community like that. I am so happy and proud to be a part of it.


I used to make fun of “CrossFitters,” and I definitely still do. I make fun of myself when I uphold rule #1 which is “always talk about CrossFit.”

It’s easy to do when it becomes so much a part of your life, but the results also speak for themselves.

While I will jokingly still call it a fitness cult, what I’ve grown to see is that this is a family. Each “box” has its own values and culture that the coaches mold and the members shape. The groups of people you will find at a CrossFit gym are some of the most motivated and caring you will ever meet.

As far as priorities go, there are far worse things than a focus on holistic fitness and a healthy lifestyle. We’re all still just a bunch of nerds trying to improve ourselves and to motivate others to do the same.

7. What keeps you motivated to continue?

Kelli J CrossFit Salus Athletes of the MonthKelli:

My “why” is the results. It is the way I feel, inside and out. I can see the results of my hard work and dedication and it keeps me coming back for more.

Salus is a special place. I love the people and the energy.

I have fun and I get a great workout in, and the feeling I get from that knockout combo is addicting.


I owe it to myself, my family, my friends, and those I defend to keep myself in peak condition.

I strive to be an asset to others, and not a hindrance or stressor.

People should always be able to rely on me to aid and protect them, and I will not fail them.

When it comes down to it, there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who can lift carry-on baggage up into overhead bins, and those who can’t. Who do you want to be?

8. Favorite lift or WOD?


Helen. 3 Rounds For Time 400 meter Run, 21 Kettlebell Swings (54 lbs/36 lbs), 12 Pull-Ups


Any and all of the Hero WODs. They are always challenging, and are solid reminders to honor sacrifice by working hard and providing service to others.

9. What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Salus?


I would tell a newbie to be patient with themselves and expected results. It took me a few months to start seeing results and to feel the difference. Starting anything new is hard & overwhelming and CrossFit can definitely be intimidating! Remember why you started in the first place and set small goals for yourself.

Listen to the coaches and to your body (modify and don’t pull a J and kick through “door #3” if you aren’t feeling it)!

Celebrate the small victories and accomplishments that will definitely come if you stay committed and determined.

Strive for progress not perfection.

Don’t quit when it gets tough – that is where the real results come from.

I spent many days in the first few months not sure if I could climb my stairs to go to bed. Or come back down the stairs the next morning for that matter! (I think I legitimately slid down the stairs on my butt a few times!).

Stop the excuses and show up for yourself. You will not regret it!

Keep working, keep getting sore, and keep crushing it! Repeat.

Kelli J CrossFit Salus Athletes of the MonthJ:

You already took the first and most awesome step: you walked through the door. You ARE an athlete.

Remember, this is a weird place full of even weirder people, and we all took that same first step.

No one was born executing perfect lifts, and most people are still working on it. Become an expert at the basics. Don’t let the bravado intimidate you. It will soon feel natural and even weird without it. The gym is and always should be a positive place, leave all those gross bad feelings somewhere else.

Fail, and fail often.

There is comfort in constantly achieving success at the things we are already great at, but you will never progress without the courage to try.

Just because you couldn’t before doesn’t mean you can’t now. It’s what you came here for in the first place right?

If you let them, your fellow members will take you in as family, and you will have the opportunity to do the same.

10. What is your next goal to accomplish?

Kelli J CrossFit Salus Athletes of the MonthKelli:

My goal is still to do a strict pull-up. I remember 18.3 last year kicking my butt. I struggled trying to get just ONE chin over bar pull up (this is where I stopped, as the scaled version was to do 12 of them as part of the WOD). I stopped here and spent most of the WOD hanging from the bar and cursing under my breath with tears in my eyes. It was incredibly humbling, and I could have easily quit. That was the scaled version! And I couldn’t even do one of 12!

I was full of self-doubt and frustration, but I kept coming back and practicing and progressing my pull ups. I have gone from a thick band, to two thinner bands, to one green band, to actually getting a couple of kipping pull ups last weekend!

You may see me struggling on that pull up bar but you will not see me quit!


Thousand pound club (Back Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift), and a marathon by the end of the calendar year.

Lift heavy, run fast.

11. If you could design your own WOD, what would it look like?

4 rounds for time
500 m row
12 Thrusters (85/55 lb)
12 Burpees
12 Pull Ups

Teams of three, one athlete works at a time. No time limit. FINISH THE WORK.
300 Squats @ 95/65#
200 Sumo Deadlift High Pull @ 95/65#
100 Pull-Ups
Every two minutes an exercise card is revealed (All bodyweight exercises). All teams halt the
workout and cannot continue until complete.

It can be easy to have plans (a stated planned workout) in life. The agile athlete keeps body and mind ready for the unknown challenge that’s about to come through the door.

12. Favorite thing to do for fun?


Please see answer below RE: favorite splurge meal. Haha. Otherwise in my free time I love to go to concerts. I love listening to live music and seeing anything live. I have gone to all types of concerts (country, rock, hip-hop/rap, jazz, Broadway, worship, classical, indie, EDM, Latin, etc.). Sometimes I have gone in groups, or with J, or sometimes I go alone and just jump around). Music has always been such a big part of my life and I will definitely be that 90-year-old lady dancing around at a concert having a ball and not caring about embarrassing my grandchildren.


“Spirited” driving mostly, and outdoor thrill seeking activities. Ca$h me outside.

13. Favorite healthy dish….and favorite splurge meal?


Tacos for both, and for every meal if I could! Healthy tacos with corn tortillas and no cheese are fine by me, with ground chicken, tomatoes, onion, lettuce, salsa, guacamole and cilantro. Yum!

Or a taco salad or lettuce cup tacos if I want to be super clean. My splurge tacos are yummy greasy San Diego tacos because I am a Cali girl and grew up eating these by the truckload. I only recently starting eating chicken and fish (I was a vegetarian for about 20 years, after my 11 year old self threw a very sassy animal rights protest) and am enjoying trying new things like sushi and things besides salads and beans. I have a lot of catching up to do! My other splurge is red wine, and hey, it is good for my heart right? And on some days, my sanity.

Healthy: A dry aged NY strip steak, a side of broccoli, and fancy bubble water on the rocks.
For a splurge meal: An In-N-Out burger 3 x 3 wrapped in a pizza and stuffed into a burrito, with a side deli sandwich atop some mac and cheese. To drink, a full sugar Coca Cola. And a bottle of Bourbon hiding in a case of beer. Now we’re talkin….

14. If you could be a superhero/animal/superstar who/what would you be and why?


While J would argue that a cat is my spirit animal because I love taking naps, I think I would want to be an eagle – they are observant, fearless, high-flying and nurturing. When a storm comes, instead of flying away, they use the wind current to soar higher. Plus, I have terrible vision, so I would love some bad ass eye-sight!


Sea turtle. All Day. They are calm, cool, collected and always bring people joy. I love that they are well traveled and are at home anywhere. Enjoy the journey and make friends along the way.

15. Favorite motivational quote?


Two quotes that come to mind are:

“The people who consider you weak have not yet noticed the wolf hiding behind your eyes, nor the flames inside your soul. Let them think you are weak and do what wolves and fire do best. Surprise them when they least expect it.” -Nikita Gill


“You don’t get what you wish for. You get what you work for”



“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena

16. Interesting fact not many people know about you.


I love to dance! I am incredibly shy in most settings but give me a dance floor and a good beat and my inner Beyoncé comes out.


I love watching reality TV trash and making drinking games out of the dumb things the “actors” say. It’s my one vice.