Student Spotlight – March 2017

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The focus for March for the 2017 Challenge is Strength Training & our goal is to get at least 2 days of strength training in every week.

We have a lot of strong women to choose from, but I couldn’t think of a better person to highlight than Melissa Hill. Melissa has been really consistent with her strength training since she started at Pacific Strength back in 2009. She has made HUGE strength gains in that time & everyone loves when Melissa’s in class – she encourages everyone who trains with her to push it to the next level.

Here’s what Melissa had to say when I told her she was chosen for our Student Spotlight:

Melissa: Wow! What an honor!! I am thrilled – I’ve always wanted to be a student of the month!! Here is what I can say first before I answer your questions: it was when I met you and Katie Pike down at those surf lessons and watched you surf standing straight forward on your board (just the first few waves then your turned sideways) and riding the waves like you were a bullet, that is when I realized I wanted more. You were fearless out there, no matter the size of the wave or the force of the rip. I came to realize that your fearlessness and confidence came from your strength. I didn’t realize your strength until I saw you without your wetsuit and could see your strong back and shoulders. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be like Val. Being like Marilyn is awesome and I hope to be like Marilyn my entire life. I will always strive for her attitude, her strength and her mental sharpness. But, I know I just have a few years to Be Like Val. I want to have strength. I have always wanted muscles and you were and are my inspiration. You have never judged and have always encouraged to try more, do it again, lets try it this way. You have even have called me and asked me to come train when there wasn’t even a class. I have so appreciated the past 8 years and my 7 pull-ups are because of your encouragement and training. Thank you.

Thank You, Melissa! So, yes, Melissa & I met in a Surf Class for women, taught by two female professional surfers. I had no idea what I was doing. None whatsoever. And I was afraid of the ocean. Growing up in Buffalo, I didn’t have much (ok, any) experience with the ocean and it was really scary. BUT, I wanted to learn how to surf. The ocean is so beautiful & calming & people talk about how invigorating surfing is… I was something I needed to do. In those surf classes, I felt like a bumbling fool, just trying not to break my board. I don’t remember being fearless or confident. But I do remember admiring Melissa for her great attitude & positivity & for her ability to encourage others to do things they didn’t think they could do (and she is still doing that in class today). Funny what each of us remembers and how we see others v. what we see in ourselves… (but that’s probably for another blog post)

Back to Melissa & the Questions!

Pacific Strength: In our 2017 Challenge, March’s focus is on getting at least Two (2) Days of Strength Training every week. You’re a busy mom with 4 very active kids. Is it ever a challenge for you to get it in? 

Melissa: Getting into class used to be much more challenging than it is now. My kids are all in school and if I can get them out the door without forgotten lunches, instruments or projects, I know I can make it to class on time! I really enjoy the class so I try my best to organize my morning to ensure I can get to the 8:30 classes.

PS: You started at Pacific Strength back in 2009 & I remember clearly that if was difficult for you to squat without any extra weight. Now you can squat with double 20kgs (that’s 88bs!) & you’ve trained for a couple TSCs. I know for most people, those first few weeks or months of strength training are really tough. What made you push past that initial phase? And what kind of things are you able to do now that you may not have been able to do before you started strength training?

M: This is the big one and the reason I keep coming. I vividly remember the first week after my introductory class. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. I knew that I had to get back in there quickly or I’d never go back again. I went back 3 times that week and just tried to work out the soreness. I can now probably squat 20’s, maybe 22’s (almost 100lbs!), I’ve come a long way since that first crazy swing/squat ladder we did that I couldn’t squat with a bell at all! I have two favorite new things that I can do that I certainly could not do before training. The first is the Pistol Squat (one-legged squat). I never thought that would be possible and then I had it for awhile and then lost that ability. Not sure if it was strength or confidence that was missing, but now it has come back together and I can do the Pistol again. And my second favorite new strength is pullups. From the beginning I strived for 1 pull up and could never get past the sticky spot. It took me years but I just got the pullup for the October TSC and now I can do 7… hoping for 10 by April 8th!!!

PS: You came to kettlebells at my old gym after we met in a surfing class. I remember you having a great & infectious “I’ll try anything” attitude back then and in the years I’ve known you, that has not wained. Have you always had that? & what would you say to someone who is nervous about getting into strength training?

M: “I’ll try anything” is the only way to try something new. If I am taking the time and energy to do something, I have to do it like I mean it. I really don’t like wasting time and there is no point in trying something without jumping in with your whole body. Just go and give it all you’ve got. As far as telling hesitant friends, I try to emphasize the importance of strength training as we age and it will never be easier than it is now. It will only make us better in all aspects of our lives. There are no negatives to strength training, other than it’s hard and there will be a week where you won’t be able to sit, stand, walk or move, but it’s all worth it after that week!

OMG. See why we love Melissa?

PS: We’ve joked about you “bulking up” with all of the heavy weights you use… People can see in the picture, but you are tall and thin & I’m not sure we could do much in the gym that would change that. What has your experience been with lifting heavy?

M: I never knew how much I would enjoy lifting heavy weights! It has taken me a few years to get the confidence and the desire to lift heavy. I have always been quite lean and had skinny limbs. I love that with challenging myself in each class to do my best, I can see that I have muscles! At 44 years old (almost 45) I know that I am stronger now than I have ever been and I am thrilled.   

PS: Final thoughts?

M: The group of people down at Pacific Strength is what makes this place awesome. The workouts are killer but the people in the class are so encouraging. Val, you are the glue of everything and Gina and Sharon make us want to do more. I love being surrounded by strong, like-minded women (and men) that are doing everything they can to stay fit and make their lifestyle active and strong. I love this place and look forward to class everyday that I go.

Thanks Val!  It’s not often we get to sit back and take the time to think about the reasons behind things.  This has been quite a journey with KB and I love it!

And people like Melissa are why we do what we do. Truly. Helping people find their strength is so rewarding. Thank you, Melissa, for being a part of our journey!

November 2016 – News & Events

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Military Appreciation Month

November at Pacific Strength is Military Appreciation.

We live very close to Camp Pendleton, a large Marine Corps base and we’d like to give back to those who serve our country.

We’re giving one month of unlimited classes to all Active Duty Military, Dependents, Retirees & Veterans in November. Please email me at to get the link to sign up!


We’ll also start each class with 22 pushups – to bring awareness to suicide rates of Military Veterans – as the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 20-22 Veterans per day die from suicide.


The Challenge for November is to do 100 kb swings every day & get better at the Get Up!

Everyone’s name will go on the board

  • you’ll get a tally mark for every 100 swings you do
  • you can’t bank swings, you can only make up for days you missed
  • set a baseline & a goal for your getups

Look forward to more mobility this month!

Turkey Trot

We’re getting a group together to run the Turkey Trot this year!

Sign up here and join our team! Search for “Pacific Strength”!


Tactical Strength Challenge – Fall 2016

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It’s that time again… TSC time!

The Tactical Strength Challenge comes around every 6 months and I get excited every time.

This year is no exception!

We get to train for something, challenge ourselves to push past what we thought we could do, compete with ourselves and with people in StrongFirst gyms around the world.

In our little gym, we really feel like a part of a bigger community.

The TSC tests:

  • Max Strength with the Deadlift
  • Bodyweight Strength with the Pull-ups and Flexed-Arm Hang
  • Strength Endurance with 5-minutes of Snatching

There’s no better way to reach an all-around fitness goal than to train for these three events.

How do you get started?

  1. Sign up through StrongFirst here and choose Pacific Strength as your host facility.
  2. Write a training plan for yourself or get a personalized plan from us at Pacific Strength. $129 for a 5-week plan.
  3. Come to the TSC Skills Clinic Saturday, August 27th at 9am. $35 for 90-min – included with the purchase of the 5-week plan but can be purchased separately.
  4. Start Training
  5. Keep Training
  6. Show up at Pacific Strength on October 1 at 9am with your game face on!

You’ll be happy you did.

Summer Challenge 2016

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Swing, Squat, & Press your way to a healthier summer!

Set a fitness goal (not a weight-centered goal) and see results faster!

Join the Swing, Squat, & Press Summer Challenge: $179

  • Initial Measurements: Weight, Circumferences, Body Fat, + Swing, Squat, & Press Evaluation (Value $50)
  • Goal Setting (Value $50)
  • FMS (Value $50)
  • Personalized 8-week Plan (Value $200)
    • You will receive a plan that you will do in class & on your own when you’re not in class. It is important that you communicate how many days you’re willing to train over the summer & that you stick to the plan as closely as possible. We can make adjustments as necessary, but communication is key!
  • Three Workshops (Value $35 each)
    • Super Abs: Saturday, June 18th at 9am
    • Press + Squat Power: Saturday, July 9th at 9am
    • Perfect Your Swing: Saturday, July 16th at 9am
  • General Nutrition Workshop with Melissa Mathes, RD (Value $35)
  • Facebook Group page to keep you on track (priceless!)
  • Weekly emails to keep you on track (priceless!)
  • Final Measurements (Value $50)

All included in the Sumer Challenge!
Just $179


Nutrition Add-On: $149
with Melissa Mathes, RD

Get an edge on the summer challenge with nutrition on your side!

This add-on is ideal if you are looking to lose weight!


  • Sign Up for the Summer Challenge & email Val at with the Subject: Nutrition Add-On. Val will email everyone who signs up with the screening form.
  • Fill out screening form and email to Melissa Mathes, RD
    • She will need to know what your goal is with this challenge; Lose weight? Gain muscle? A little of both?
    • Melissa will provide individualized meal plan for this challenge, & to do so ethically, she will need medical information (recent lab work if you have it, medications, and medical history). There will also be a HIPPA privacy form as well. None of your medical information will be disclosed to anyone without your consent.
  • Nutrition Workshops are required for the bonus program. These workshops will give you the knowledge to work your plan.
    • If you can’t make the workshops, you must schedule with Melissa at her office to go over the information.
  • You will receive weekly emails that request a weigh in. It is important that you respond to the email and let Melissa know your weight and how you are doing. This one on one communication time & if things need to be tweaked, this is where it happens. THIS IS A TEAM thing: communication is needed to make changes that will get you to your goal!
  • Along with the weekly emails you will receive weekly weight loss tips to help you through the summer challenge.

This is a brief version of what Melissa provide for her sports nutrition and medical nutrition therapy patients. The meal plans will be built upon what your nutritional and athletic goals are for this challenge, and of course consideration of your current and past health, gender and stage of life. If you are looking for something more comprehensive please visit the website to see what my visits entail and we can get you scheduled for additional nutrition counseling appointment (not part of the program).  Website:

YBR Hip Opening Workshop

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Join us at the studio this Saturday, March 12th at 11am for a 90-minute in-depth look at the hip joints with Kim Fitzgerald.

From Kim:

This class offers a very deep workout to improve flexibility and range of motion in your hips.  This class reaches deep into your hip joints, accessing tight and worn out areas you might not be aware of, while also freeing your hips of restriction. The hips are one of the most used and troubling joints in the body, bringing tightness and stiffness with age. It doesn’t have to be that way- integrating this routine into your life will help to prevent the breakdown of the hip joint and keep your hips healthy for years to come.  Keep this routine in your library of self-care tools for those unexpected moments of stiffness.

Log on to Kim’s body rolling website, click schedule, find the class tab and then sign up for the Saturday Workshop at Pacific Strength!


Moving Better

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If you remember, December was about Feeling Good!

We did a couple of things for that.

  1. We Donated $275 to the Boys & Girls Club from our November Swing Challenge
  2. We Donated over $1000 worth of gifts to a Family in need over Christmas
  3. Our focus for training plans for December was to Move Better during your training and Feel Better leaving the class than when you came in.

From the feedback we got from everyone, it seemed to work and you all really liked it!

So we kept that theme going for January. Moving better, taking our time getting into the workouts, really stretching what we need to stretch, when we need to stretch it.

February, March, and April, we’re really going to ramp things up, but we want to keep moving well.

Enter the FMS…

Functional Movement Screen

What is it?

  • It’s a movement screen that test 7 movement patterns. With the information we get, we know whether you (a) have pain & need to be evaluated by a medical professional, (b) have some movement patterns that need improvement, and (c) what exercises might help improve those movements

Do I need it?

  • Probably =). The “high score” for the FMS is a 21 and there aren’t many 21s out there roaming around. That is to say… Most of us could improve our movement. And improving your movement means a lot of great things for you.

What does improving my movement do for me?

  • Let’s see… I’m sure I’m butchering what Dr. Mark Cheng says, but the gist goes something like this: Moving with an imbalance or a tight muscle is like driving a car with your parking break on. You can do it if you try really hard, but it’s not good for the car.
  • Moving inefficiently or with an imbalance will many times result in injury. Injury means time away from training and many times, weight gain. We’re trying to avoid that.
  • What we find very often is that after you get YOUR corrective exercises, and you do those specific exercises before class, you move better in class & get more out of your training.
  • When you move better, you’re not “driving your car with the parking break on” and everything feels better. You enjoy your training much more and you’re more likely to come.

All of this moving better, moving more often, enjoying your activity leads to you meeting your goals a lot quicker and easier than you every thought possible.

So send me an email ( and set up your FMS screen. We need about an hour to do the entire test and find your exercises.

Happy movement to you!



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What a year it has been, both personally and professionally. So much has happened!

At the gym, we hosted two really successful Tactical Strength Challenges. I was so proud of everyone who trained, trusted the process, competed, pr’d, & had fun along the way! The group in April got everyone warmed up to the process.


The April TSC Group

And the October group really got people excited for TSC’s to come!

The October TSC Group

The October TSC Group

The summer was simultaneously the longest and shortest summer of my life after having Laine in April… Many of you parents can relate to this…


I’m so incredibly thankful I was able to spend that time with my family. You all brought meals, sent love, and helped me through that joyful and stressful time. I will never be able to thank you enough.

Knowing that Gabby, Gina, Sharon, Amy, & Trisha were taking care of business at the gym made it easy to be away for a bit.

The Fall came and we did a Challenge and a TSC. And then Gabby & Bill decided to make a big leap (well, a little hop down the road) and bought a house in Oceanside! We’re really happy and excited for them and their new adventures in San Diego county, but we will miss seeing them here.

With Gabby leaving, Gina, Sharon, & I are joining forces and taking over what you know now as North Beach Kettlebell. We’ve decided to change the name back to Pacific Strength, the name many of you started with 6 years ago. It just seemed to fit again.

So looking to 2016, there will be changes, and we think they will all be for the best. Change can be hard, but we know that change is also good.


Sharon, Gina, and I are so excited for what’s in store. Please join us & tell your friends. The greatest compliment you can give us is the confidence of a referral of your family and friends.

This crazy ride starts January 1st, 2016 at 9:30am with a butt-kicking workout and then a Polar Plunge into the ocean at North Beach at 10:30am, immediately following the workout.

Bring your towel and a change of clothes. It’s going to be a day to remember!

The 12 Days Of Christmas – NBKB Style!

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It’s the HOLIDAYS and that means tis the season for making workouts “merry and bright” and “quick and easy”

If the hustle and bustle of the season increases stress, appetite or your chances of skipping your workouts, our 12 Days of Christmas Workout will keep you on track. These workouts are designed to be done anywhere and can be completed with or without kettlebells or other fitness equipment.

So get your body moving, and then get on with the holiday merriment!

Each day has an exercise for you to do. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds with 30 seconds of rest, for 10 minutes straight. Quick, simple, not easy =)

Start on December 12th and finish on December 24th with us at the gym for the entire thing!

12 Days of Christmas

On the … day of Christmas my workout was to be…

December 12th: Total Body Tension Push Ups

December 13th: Burpies

December 14th: Alternating Reverse Lunges

December 15th: Deck Squats

December 16th: Russian Twists

December 17th: Bodyweight Squats

December 18th: Box dips

December 19th: Alternating Box Stepups

December 20th: Leg Levers

December 21st: Mountain Climber Planks

December 22nd: Side lunges R&L

December 23rd: Swings (or Burpees)

December 24th: Come to NBKB for the special 12 Days of Christmas Workout!


Thanks, Sharon, for this great training idea!

December: Feel Good

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I know it’s a little late, but we just found out about these families in need and I thought we could help! So… we’ve adopted the Hughes Family from “Families Helping Families“, a part of the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center.

Read About the Hughes Family Here

Sign Up to Donate Here

Bring the Items to the Gym by December 12th!


Train Smarter, Not Harder

Helping families in need feels good. But we know that even the good stress of the holiday season is still STRESS… And it shows up in our bodies! We’re tighter, we’re less mobile, and the likelihood of overall fatigue is greater.

We want you to feel good every time you come to the gym, especially this holiday season.

We’ve trained strength (during the Fall & Tactical Strength Challenges) and we’ve trained cardio (during MOVEmber), and now it’s time to train mobility!

You’ll sweat in every class. You’ll get a great workout. And our goal is for you to leave feeling better than when you walked in.

The holidays are tough enough without leaving the gym feeling spent.

Come to NBKB this December and get a re-charge!