Category: AOTM

August Athlete of the Month – ANDREW BENNETT

By Chris Conroy,

I started going to CrossFit 128 in January 2020. I was looking for something new to get me motivated, since exercise routines have never really stuck with me in the past. Without having much of a weight lifting background, getting into CrossFit seemed pretty intimidating. The coaches at CrossFit 128 made it comfortable to get acclimated, scaling everything as needed, and making sure I was doing things safely and correctly. 

I started a couple months prior to the pandemic, and then just as quickly as I started, I fell out of my exercise routine again. As things started to open up again, I started running out of excuses and, with a little peer pressure from Kevin and Spencer, I started back up again in May. Since coming back, I feel like I’ve made large strides. I’m starting to feel comfortable with all of the different movements for the classes. I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to get better at the work outs and enjoy the uniqueness of each class, which keeps it interesting.

The CrossFit 128 community is a great group of people and they have been extremely welcoming. Everyone has been nice and always provides support to each other in class, whether its celebrating a new PR or providing encouragement to finish a work out. It’s another reason why I have felt more comfortable about continuing as a member, and why I am excited to take class after work. 

A special thanks to Coach Ryan, for spending time with me early on to learn the different movements, and Coach Kevin, for getting me involved in the first place and answering all my dumb questions. 


By Chris Conroy,

Wow! Athlete of the month? I am shocked and have a hard time feeling worthy. I’m constantly in awe of all the super strong, talented and completely badass members at Cross Fit 128.

Growing up I was always the chubby kid who was last picked to be on a team. I was never athletic or had any interest in sports until I began cheering in high school (and I agree with you Sarah…cheerleading is a sport.)  I began working out regularly after our second son was born doing cardio kickboxing and boot camp type classes.

Shortly after that I discovered Lululemon and wearing cute workout clothes was all the motivation I needed 😜. Joking aside, I had good routine going, lots of cardio, light weights and I could finally do a real push-up. Then one day this past August my best girl Colleen suggested we do some private training sessions with Coach Ryan.  I was content with what I was doing and to be honest insanely intimated. But I agreed to try, for Colleen. After one session with Ryan I was doing things I have never done before and never intended to do because I didn’t think I could. My husband Dan has been doing CrossFit for years and I had done Murph a few times.  

Even then, not knowing anyone and not an actual “CrossFitter” the “team mentality”, encouragement and camaraderie was like nothing I have ever experienced. Every fist bump, “good job”, cheer of encouragement and inclusiveness was not lost on me, it is what got me hooked and brings me back day after day.

I’m honored and humbled to be July’s athlete of the month…it’s taken 46 years but thanks to all the coaches and members I finally feel like an athlete.

June Athlete of the Month: Tom Brennan

By Suzie Lilakos,

It was once said that man is the only animal that blushes. I identified with that emotion when Chris told me I was athlete of the month. I felt honored and privileged because everyone at the gym trains so hard.

My CrossFit journey has been one that began after looking for something to keep me motivated in the gym. I was always training for something sport specific, but after my rugby days were over I needed to find a new avenue to pursue. I remember joining 128 and how the gym felt more like a community than just a place where people worked out. This added another dimension to training because often times I would will my way in the door just to catch up with people. While this would sometimes backfire as I would be pushed to lift more than I thought I could or Rx workouts I didn’t think I could, it has always been worth it. The beauty of CrossFit is that there is always something to improve upon and the programming is never boring.

Of course thrusters are the worst, but CrossFit makes you face your weaknesses and grow as an athlete. Ryan, Chris, John, Kevin, Suzie, Alex, and Mike D back in the day have all been awesome coaches. I think I speak for everyone when I say I appreciate them taking the time not only to lead class, but to offer extra assistance to anyone and everyone who might need it. They are great about telling you when you should step on the gas and when to check your ego at the door.

In closing, when I think about CrossFit I am reminded that it is a skill that must be nurtured and maintained like any other. I reflect on the personal progress I have made over the last year and contemplate where I might be going in the next. 

May Athlete of the Month: Sarah Evangelista

By Suzie Lilakos,

“I am grateful to be May’s athlete of the month!  I have been doing CrossFit for ~6 years and cannot say enough positive things about the coaches and community at CF128.  I joined 128 in September 2020, after Suzie created a 7:30am class for me…😉.  I immediately felt part of the community and was excited about the coaching I was receiving.  As a morning person, Chris is often the coach guiding me through.  I have no doubt my athlete of the month abilities came from his strategic coaching.  He has helped me progress more in the last ~8 months than I have in 6 years of CrossFit!

When I was a kid/teen, I dreaded school gym days of cargo net, rope climb, mile run, etc., despite being involved in sports (cheerleading is a sport. We went to regionals and nationals…nbd) Those school gym days created loads of anxiety for me.  Towards the end of high school, I started to find comfort at the gym outside of school and in fitness classes (Tae Bo!).  It was then that I realized, I might not be that bad and maybe even good, at “fitness stuff.”

My fitness life spiraled from there.  I started getting competitive with others, and even more so with myself.  I ran road races, competed in a fitness model competition, ran the Boston marathon, CrossFit team competitions, etc.  Ultimately, I found CrossFit was the sport that elevated my level of self-confidence, in and outside of the gym.  While I still have many short-term fitness goals to achieve, I’m in this for the long game.  I lift today so I can live to lift another day.  CrossFit 128 has continued to help me grow, physically and mentally, and I am so grateful my path brought me here.  I cannot wait to continue this journey at the new CF128 location!

Thank you CF128 coaches.  You da best!!”

Sarah Evangelista (aka:  Mayor of 7:30am class)

April Athlete of the Month: Jon Bean

By Suzie Lilakos,

“After taking a year off from working out I decided it was time to get back to the gym. I stopped by Crossfit 128 and Kevin was working and welcomed me aboard. I started going three times a week, but after a year coach Ryan convinced me to go unlimited. Performing at a higher level really helped me elevate my energy and drive. The coaches encouraged me despite my reservations to participate in the Crossfit Open for my first time this year and I am so glad that I did it because it was lots of fun. 

Working out is a great way to deal with everyday stress, improves focus and also makes your body feel better. I have met nice people here and made friends. Come workout with me. Crossfit 128 is a place that will surpass your fitness goals. I look forward to seeing you at the gym.”

March Athlete of the Month: Skyla DeSimone

By Suzie Lilakos,

“On November 11th of 2020, I walked into CF 128 with a couple of my friends after church. Coach Ryan was in the middle of locking up the gym doors for the day when my friends and I stopped and asked him some questions about the gym and when we could get started. As we were all talking I couldn’t help but observe the stack of plates, the barbells, the giant rig, and wall balls lined up on the back wall. I was immediately drawn in just from the environment that was presented to me. My first ever CrossFit session was with Coach Ryan and we were going over some movements that would show up in class. I felt confident in the dumbbell movements and having the barbell in my hands from the start. To wrap up the session we did an 8-minute workout with the assault bike and dumbbell thrusters…. Needless to say, I completely plateaued in that workout within the first 40 seconds and couldn’t even bring myself to get to the thrusters. 

Coming from an athletic background filled with martial arts, basketball, lacrosse, and sprinting, I’d never inherited the term “pacing” when it came to working out. Crossfit opened my eyes to the idea of gaining strategy and understanding my body along with its capacity; something I was so ignorant towards in high school sports and martial arts. Beyond working out and gaining so much knowledge about the technical aspects of Crossfit, I realized what really separated CrossFit(especially CrossFit 128) from every other sport I have ever been exposed to: community. As individualized workouts can be, everybody in class alongside you is doing the same workout, in the same amount of pain(maybe even more!), and we all encourage each other to push to the finish regardless of how many reps we do end up completing. 

I’ll never forget as we were preparing for the 2021 CrossFit Open, Coach Chris came up to me after I had done a couple of snatches and he rhetorically asked, “So you’re telling me you’ve never picked up a barbell or have never had any Crossfit experience before being here?” I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. In response, he smiled under his mask and said, “well whatever it is that you need, I’m here for you kid.” I was so taken back because out of all of the coaches I’ve had, the teams I’ve been a part of, no one has ever said that to me or anything related to it. It is because of Coach Chris that I’ve found the confidence to succeed in the sport of CrossFit and set such high goals for myself.  CrossFit 128 has shown me the true meaning of what family is, and how fitness brings people together(even at 6:15 in the morning). I’m beyond blessed to be a part of such a humbling, charismatic family. I thank all of the coaches and 6:15 members for their constant support. I’ve never felt so welcomed by a group of people and their dogs!”😁🍩🐶

February 2021 Athlete of the Month: Jyll DyHoyos

By Suzie Lilakos,

“I started going to the gym a few years ago to get into shape. I was going for about a year and a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in going to a boot camp with her on Saturday mornings. I said “yeah, I’ll go”. That was the start of my CrossFit journey. Although the boot camp was dumb bell based, high intensity movements, it was my first taste of CrossFit workouts. The warmup, strength, and then kick your butt wod! Lol I couldn’t get enough of it. Working cardio into the workout in a way that you’re not just focusing on ‘getting your cardio in’ on a treadmill or bike but putting movements together in such a way that it’s all included.

I started going to the other classes when I couldn’t get enough of the boot camp only being once a week. I was learning so much, seeing so many different results. I was absolutely loving it! I ended up going to the gym only 1-2 days a week and going to CrossFit the other 3-4 days of the week. Then “Coronavirus” graced us with it’s presence – things changed.

After about a month and a half into quarantine unfortunately the CrossFit gym had to close it’s doors. I was honestly devastated! But then someone told me about CrossFit 128. And that is the beginning of my journey with you. 🙂 I appreciate the focus on stretching and mobilization. All of the teaching on proper form has really helped me grow. I’m doing things that honestly scared the crap out of me before like barbell snatches and overhead squats! I can now do both of these movements without doubting myself.

I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself, my own abilities. But having coaches that believe in me and also push me only makes it better. This includes the original coaches I had that will always hold a special place in my heart and the new coaches that have taught me so much. I have goals and am meeting them one by one. I truly believe that if someone enjoys the fitness that they are doing then the sky is the limit!

Thank you CrossFit 128 and all of your coaches. I appreciate you all!”
Jyll (the thrill) 😂🤪

January Athlete of the Month: Derrick Rockosi

By Suzie Lilakos,

“First off it’s an honor to have my name associated in any context with the word “Athlete”. At the beginning of the year I had just left a terribly stressful job that caused me excruciating anxiety, terrible diet and sleep, and lack of exercise.  As I started to get back into a fitness routine, COVID hit leaving me looking for more ways to exercise at home. I kept coming across CrossFit workouts and liked how the routines would constantly change and how challenging they were.  Since our family put a hold on our old gym membership I decided to explore joining a CrossFit box in the area.  

I reached out to Suzie at CrossFit128 and after my initial sessions with Ryan (and learning that I’ve never done a push up correctly in my entire life) I was drawn into CrossFit128. Immediately felt the difference having great coaching and a supportive community of athletes & friends had on my performance and well being.”

I’d like to thank all of the coaches, (Chris, Suzie, Jon, Kevin & Ryan) for their training and answers to my annoying questions, and everyone in the morning crew for making me feel welcome to this awesome community.  I look forward to pushing, sweating, and seeing everyone achieve their 2021 goals as the CrossFit Open comes around the corner.  So here’s to the backroom book club and a great 2021! (90’s RB forever!) 

December 2020 Athlete of the Month: Nate Johnson

By Suzie Lilakos,

“I am truly honored to be selected as the athlete of the month for December. I would first like to thank all of the coaches and the entire Crossfit 128 community, especially Chris, Suzie, and the rest of the 5 am morning crew for making me feel at home so quickly. 2020 obviously was not a great year for anyone but joining 128 was a bright spot for me amidst everything else.

I started 2020 looking forward to finishing my senior year at Amherst, and my last season on the crew team. Unfortunately, my season was derailed early due to injuries. Just as I was getting healthy again our campus shut down and everyone was sent home. Like most other people my age, I moved back in with my parents and lost almost all motivation to stay fit. I was burnt out beyond belief after four years and couldn’t bring myself to hop on the erg knowing I wouldn’t be back with my teammates any time soon. I knew that what I was really missing was a community to keep me accountable and motivated. I had followed Crossfit for a little while and knew some friends who really enjoyed it.

In August I finally decided to reach out to a few of the boxes in the area. It just so happened that Ryan emailed me back first to set up a first consult. I showed up a bit nervous, knowing that I was out of shape and unsure of what I was getting myself into, but after just a few minutes I could tell that I was going to love it. I stayed for my first endurance class and almost killed myself, but I couldn’t wait to get back the next day. 

I can’t say enough about what the community at 128 has meant to me over the last few months. I have grown so much thanks to the support everyone else crazy enough to try slog through open workouts and max back squats at 5 am, and especially Chris, who saw me doing some mobility in the corner one morning and asked me how hard I wanted to push myself and where I wanted to go. I still don’t know exactly, but I’m positive I’ll be supported and challenged every step of the way. 

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end 2020, and here’s to 2021!”

November Athlete of the Month: Ashley Slattery

By Suzie Lilakos,

“I have been going to Crossfit128 since July 2016. (That’s right took 4 years but I’m athlete of the month!!!).

I wouldn’t say I was the most consistent athlete during that time but during the lockdown I realized how much I missed and took for granted going to an organized class everyday. Since the reopening I made it my goal to make fitness my priority and try to get to the gym as much as possible to chip away at the “committed club”, in an attempt to make the whole year!

Each class is different, each coach has his/her own vibe and the community is unmatched. Thank you to all the coaches for keeping the gym clean, organized and as close to “normal” as possible. These last few months have been tough on everyone, your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. And thanks to the members for making 128 more than just a gym!”