News & Events

Why We Do What We Do

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently:

Why does this gym exist? When it would be much easier and far less time to focus on personal training out of homes & online training…

Why do we focus on strength? When weight-loss is an easier sell…

Why do we want people to be strong for life? When competing every day and posting pictures of students falling over due to fatigue seems to create attention…

Well for one, if you know me, you’ll know that I’ve never been one to take the easy road. 😉

But also, I want to do what I KNOW is right for our students. What I KNOW will bring them long-term, sustainable results. And although I want to make a living doing what I’m doing, I wouldn’t be able to put my head on my pillow at night if I were charging money for a service in which I’m tricking people into thinking they’re making progress when they’re only spinning their wheels.


Here’s our philosophy:

Why do we have a gym?

We truly believe in personal connection. That’s why our studio is small. We don’t want classes of 30 or more. We want fewer than 12 people in each class and we want to make sure everyone is getting the most out of their training session, getting the personal attention they need, and staying safe and injury free.

We also know that by building a community, we’re stronger together. We’ve hiked, collected gifts for families for the holidays, and done fundraisers for friends in need. In this ever-growing virtual world, there’s still nothing like connections with real humans.

Why do we focus on strength?

I KNOW that life is better when you’re stronger. Everything is easier: from childbirth, to running a 5k, cleaning the garage, gardening, travel, getting up off the floor, the list goes on…

And what I’ve found with many students is they either believe they’re strong or they think they’re not. And a lot of times, those ideas are based on the presidential fitness test they performed in middle & high school. The problem is, no one ever took the time to TEACH them how to be strong. The test was… can you do a pullup or a pushup? The answer was: Yes or no.

The truth is, strength is a skill that can be taught to everyone! Yes, some people have more natural ability in the area of strength, but EVERYONE can build strength. And when you build strength, doors start opening to things you never thought you’d be able to do, physically (and mentally for that matter… but that’s a whole other blog).

Why do we want to be strong for life?

It’s popular now to be strong for a day – to push yourself to exhaustion and post on facebook about how you’re “so sore” you can’t train for another week. But when you think about that – you just lost a week of training!

I think we get that because we watch athletes on TV who are pushing themselves in professional sports games, the olympics, marathons, etc. We see people falling at the finish line or pushing themselves to the brink and either winning the gold or getting injured. We want to be like them!

But real athletes may push themselves to the brink once, MAYBE twice a year. And the stakes are high – they make their living competing in the sport or off endorsements from winning. They spend the majority of their time training moderately and pushing themselves every so often, in a very calculated way.

Most of us will never be in a situation where we’re being paid for a sport. But we can learn something from these athletes – to be in the best shape YOU can be in, train moderately most of the time, push yourself every so often, and train for something & challenge yourself once a year if you feel up to it.

That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard. Come try a class and see for yourself. It just means we’re smart about the way we design and implement our sessions. We want you to feel BETTER when you leave than when you came in, NOT beat down & exhausted.

We train the way athletes REALLY train, not how we see athletes compete.


Want to try a class?

Our TRX & Foundational Strength Classes are a good starting point. Come to these classes to sweat, stretch and learn the foundations of building strength. If you’ve never done kettlebells before, the TRX is a great place to start.
If you’d like to try kettlebells, email me at & we’ll set up a time to get you to the gym to learn the kb basics!

Summer Challenge – 2017

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Cost: $100

This challenge will work on a point system.

Starting June 1, you will get points for every swing, squat, clean, press, snatch, pullup, row, lunge, deadlift, & getup you do.

You’ll get points for attending classes & workshops.

You’ll get points for jumping rope, for every mile you walk or run, & for every 30min of “other cardio” you participate in.

You’ll get points for the training you do while you’re out of town. All you need to do is log your training & add up your points!

The summer challenge will end August 31. After that, we’ll add up all your points & for every 50, you’ll get a raffle ticket.

All of the raffle tickets will go in a jar & one lucky winner will get half the pot!

The more people who participate, the bigger the pot.

The more you do, the better chance you’ll have to win!

Point system is as follows:


We have a lot of competitive people at Pacific Strength & we LOVE that! Go out and get earn your points!

***NOTE: For the work you do outside of the gym, it’s on an honor system. That means, please report accurately & when you’re training at home, DO NOT RUSH THROUGH & PERFORM CRAPPY REPS just to get points. For instance:

  • Squats should look like what we perform in class (full range, slow, tight abs, etc)
  • Pullups & pushups need to be in their FULL range of motion
  •  0.8miles walked does not = 1 mile =)


Thank you!!! & we look forward to a really fun summer where we all get more fit & one lucky person will win a big chunk of $$$

2017 Challenge

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I tried and tried to make this challenge a pretty 6- or 8-week thing, but I just couldn’t.

Every time I was trying to work it out, I thought… we need more time with this stuff!

So, we’re going to spend all year focusing on the 7 things that YOU can do to make sure you’re Younger Next Year. First, grab the book – I like the hard copy, but the kindle version is available and it’s with you all the time.

Here’s the list of things we’ll be doing all year (and for the rest of our lives):

  1. Exercise 6 days/week
  2. Strength Train 2 days/week
  3. Cardio 4 days/week
  4. Eat Less Crap
  5. Spend Less Than You Make
  6. Care
  7. Connect & Commit

How will this challenge work?

A. To have a great challenge, we need an official T-Shirt. These will be long-sleeved and really cool (and a little bit of a surprise). Can’t wait for everyone to sign up so we can get them ordered and delivered!

B. The best way to make sure you’re sticking to the plan is to write it down! Everyone in the challenge will get a training calendar with instructions on how to plan, execute, and complete great training weeks every week for the whole year!

C. Included in the challenge will be 6 skills clinics throughout the year to help you achieve your fitness goals.

D. To keep everyone on track, we’re going to break the habits up and focus on one each month.

February – Exercise 6 days/week
March – Strength Train 2 days/week
April – Cardio 4 days/week
May – Eat Less Crap
June – Spend Less Than You Make
July – Care
August – Connect & Commit
September – Re-Visit ‘Exercise, Strength, & Cardio’ – How are we doing?
October – Re-Visit ‘Eat Less Crap’ – How are we doing?
November – Re-Visit ‘Spend Less Than You Make’ – How are we doing?
December – Re-Visit ‘Care, Connect, & Commit’ – How are we doing?

E. We’ll also highlight someone each month. They’ll tell us what they’re doing to be younger next year and how they’re doing it. What they’ve changed and how they’re doing with the changes.

We really want EVERYONE to participate in this challenge. It’s going to be great & I’m really looking forward to a communal focus.

There are Two Options:

  1. T-Shirt, Calendar, Monthly Emails, Six (6) Skills Clinics, & Community Events
    $175 – Sign Up Here!
  2. Just the T-Shirt, Calendar, & Monthly Emails (purchase skills clinics separately, at the the time of the clinic at $35-50)
    $60 – Sign Up Here!

Sign Up Today & Send us an email with your tshirt size!

January 2017

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Happy New Year Everyone!

We had an awesome training session on January 1st…

And then a dip in the ocean immediately following!

It was such an awesome way to start 2017! Thank you to all of you who showed up! (and to all of you who were there in spirit =)



I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions…

On the one hand, I love a fresh start. A new beginning. A time to reflect on last year and look to the future to decide what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

When I think about the New Year, I think about Pacific Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Capistrano Beach. They celebrate the Indian New Year (Diwali), then our January 1 New Year, as well as the Chinese New Year. Diana, the owner, says she “loves new beginnings” and will celebrate every new year she can. I also like to use my birthday as my very own New Year. I use all of these “New Years” as a time to look back, take a moment to reflect on the things that I did or things that happened last year that brought me to where I’m at today, appreciate my current position, look forward and set intentions. It feels good.

After all…

On the other hand, I hate that as a gym owner, I’m kind of expected to do a weight-loss challenge that starts Jan 1. Blech!

If you know me, you know that I hate weight loss challenges. I’m more interested in setting a different goal – 5k or deadlift or press – something physical. Something you can work on every day. Something you can come to the gym and physically do and see progress. If you have a weight loss goal, we can talk about things that will help (strength training, cardio, healthy eating, & smaller portions), but if you focus on a physical goal, and you have weight to lose, you can lose that weight without focusing on it.

The other reason I’m not a huge fan of the January 1 random day to start something you’ve been wanting to do is because… WHY WAIT? Why not start December 10th or January 27th or any random Wednesday?

If you want to lose weight, don’t start January 1st or the next Monday that rolls around. Start NOW! Eat YOUR NEXT MEAL slower and pay attention to when you’re feeling satisfied with your meal, and stop there. Don’t mindlessly eat until you’re stuffed full.

Want to decrease your alcohol intake? Drink less TONIGHT!

Want to start an exercise program? Go for a walk TODAY!

BUT…. Seeing as how it’s the beginning of January, we’re going to get on the New Years Resolution bandwagon because TODAY is a great day to start feeling better and take steps to being Younger Next Year.

That leads us to our 2017 Challenge: Younger Next Year aka Be Like Marilyn

Marilyn is our favorite septuagenarian who out-trains most of us. We all want to be like Marilyn when we grow up. So when she came in raving about the book Younger Next Year and happily told me, “These guys are as crazy as I am!”, I knew it was going to be great.

The Challenge is to do THESE SEVEN THINGS… for the rest of your life.

  1. Exercise 6 days/week
  2. Strength Train 2 days/week
  3. Cardio 4 days/week
  4. Eat Less Crap
  5. Spend Less Than You Make
  6. Care
  7. Connect & Commit

Just those 7 things. FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Now, this book is written for people in their 50s & 60s, heading into retirement. But I don’t see one thing on that list I couldn’t improve.

And it’s better to get started early. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it’ll be a much easier transition if you cement these habits early on in life.

Get the book. Join the challenge. We’ll be working on it all year. (…and for the rest of our lives)


–> Info on how to join the challenge coming soon! Get the book now and start reading!

December 2016 – News & Events

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Military Appreciation Month – Extended

In November, we gave away a month of unlimited classes to all Active Duty Military, Dependents, Retirees & Veterans at Pacific Strength is Military Appreciation.


Getting into the holiday spirit, we decided to extend that offer into the last month of the year. So please email me at to get your free month of classes!

December Goal

MOVE EVERY DAY! December gets crazy with holiday parties, events for and with the kids, shopping, baking, etc. We’re encouraging everyone to find time to MOVE every day. Specifically, we’re asking people to get at least 100 swings in every day!

You CAN make time to get 10 sets of 10 swings in. Or 5 sets of 20! Or (my personal favorite) 4 sets of 25!

Get It Done!

Schedule Changes

We will have a modified schedule from December 24th – January 7th. Please be sure to check the schedule AND SIGN UP for classes you plan on coming to. There is a possibility that, during those 2 weeks, if the instructor checks the calendar an hour before class start time and no one is signed up, we will cancel the class.

If you have any questions or issues with this, please call, email ( or text. I will be in town the entire time with family visiting. You all know that I love to teach and I’m happy to be here for people who plan to come to class. I love seeing your smiling faces and getting you the training you want and need! I just don’t want to be there, away from my family, if there’s no one there! Thank you!


Christmas Eve Training

We WILL be training on December 24th. Come for our annual 12 Days of Christmas workout!


New Year’s Tradition!

Don’t miss this year’s POLAR PLUNGE! We started this last year, and plan to continue every year. We’ll be having a workout at 9:00am on January 1 (it’s a Sunday this year!) and then we’ll head to North Beach and jump in the ocean.*

Your favorite trainers (Gina, Sharon, & Val) will have hot beverages & yummy breakfast treats for everyone so please sign up ahead of time so we know how much to bring!

*new rule… you may wear a wetsuit in the water if & only if you do the entire workout in your wetsuit! 😉

Polar Plunge – January 1, 2016

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: