Athletes of the Month: Jonel and Mary Isip
Andrew: Welcome! We’re here with Jonel and Mary Isip and they are our athletes
of the month for the month of January. They started with us back in August 2015.
They had moved down from Jersey where they were already doing CrossFit.
When we were in our coaches meeting deciding who would be our athletes of the
month, their names came up and our coaches were surprised that they hadn’t
already been picked as our athletes of the month. They are just such great
athletes and great people. We’re going to talk to them today and get to know
them a little bit. Can you guys tell us about when you first started CrossFit and
who got into it first and what was it like when you first started?
Jonel: I got into it first because I used to play flag football and my teammates did
CrossFit, so I was always hearing about it and I decided to try it. By then I had
already proposed to her. We were going to a Globo Gym and finally I was like
“Let’s do something different.” Then I went into CrossFit and from there I told her
Mary: Actually, he bought a groupon a for CrossFit and we ended up going on
Valentine ’s Day for our first class (which is kind how we are). Let’s try something
different, so this is it and we went right into it. When we went, I remember we
were in this industrial warehouse and we were in-between a bottle factory and a
warehouse bakery. I walked in and there were PVC pipes and boxes and he loved
it but I hated it and I was like ‘What is this? What did you bring me to?’ and I just
remember the next day I was so sore. I think we’ve all been there where you have
to slide down the stairs because you’re so sore. I ended up quitting, but he stuck
it out for the two week groupon and he ended up taking over my groupon for a
Andrew: What made you stick with it?
Jonel: I just loved it I guess. It brought me back to the team effort type; seeing
everyone, helping out and just encouraging everybody. It just helped me even
playing flag football because I understood my teammates a little bit more and it
got me to that next level with them. That’s why I just stuck it through, plus I just
loved the community. Then I told her ‘you gotta come back’.
Mary: He’s like give it two weeks Mary, just stick it out for two weeks. No matter
how sore you are just come back, go light and I did; I went back. I missed not
having him when I came home, he was at CrossFit. I was like ‘I miss him. I want to
spend time with him. Let me just go back.’ The people there was so positive and
that’s what kept me, so I stuck around. They were like ‘No, no, it’s ok you can
jump on couple plates, you don’t have to jump on boxes yet you’ll get there’ and
overtime it definitely grew on us.
Andrew: Is there a moment that kinda changed for you, like flipped a switch and
you’re like ‘I actually like this now’?
Mary: I think it’s when I first started putting weights on. Even 15 pound bars,
that’s what I started with, then I moved to 5 pounds and then 10 pounds. When
the weights started getting up and I can walk down my steps and I was okay,
that’s when it started to click like I’m getting stronger and this is fun. The fact that
we could discuss it at home made a difference too.
Jonel: I said just have fun with it. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing once
you’re having fun that’s it.
Andrew: What was it like when you guys moved down here in August 2015?
Mary: We came down to visit a family friend and we were already in CrossFit for
about 2 years and we loved this place. People vacation here, we wanted to live
here, but we knew that if we were actually going to do the move we needed a
gym – a CrossFit gym. We came in and I remember doing back squats with
Shannon my first drop in. I had no idea she was one of the coach’s wife and one of
the owners and I was like “Hey, wanna back squat together?” She was just
throwing on weights, 45 pound plates and I’m like okay this is intense. Steve
introduced himself, I remembered his accent and he was really friendly.
Jonel: We just came in and Chris invited us to the grid league and I was like
“we’re just dropping in.” He just welcomed us with open arms and it was great.
Mary: The community here was awesome! We knew this is where we needed to
be for sure so we moved here.
Andrew: What did you guys do growing up? You (Jonel) said you did flag football.
Jonel: In high school I did wrestling and football, then I just went into flag football
after and that was it. From high school my ego was like ‘I’m still in shape’ but
through those years you kinda gain weight and that’s what I thought was my
exercise, going to the Globo Gym but it was not the same results. The elliptical,
the treadmill, was all the same and you realize these movements are almost what
you put on the field and it relates to it and that’s why it was very enjoyable.
Andrew: What about you Mary?
Mary: In high school I played different sports. I ran cross country for a year, for
two years I played volleyball; I did some basketball and softball. I liked being part
of a team but after that in college I really focused on my studies. I did the Globo
Gym and some Zumba classes. I gained a little weight, I wasn’t as strong, I was
fatigued (I still enjoyed sleeping) but really being a couch potato in college. When
he proposed to me I said alright we need to change our lifestyle, especially for the
wedding and from there on it’s been our lifestyle here and we make it a priority
Andrew: You guys had pretty good transformations. Can you talk a little bit about
Jonel: My heaviest was 200 pounds and at that time I just felt like I needed to bulk
up because being on the football field you just need to be bulky a little bit.
Eventually when I started trimming down I was like actually the speed is better
than being bulky so I actually slimmed down and lost between 35-40 pounds.
Mary: And you got strong, very strong. I only lost between 10 & 12 pounds but I
don’t really focus on scale too much. I really want to get the mobility and strength
and to be able to be consistent in my workouts. Before then I’d be exhausted on
the treadmill running for ten minutes. Being able to keep an engine here and then
going to heavy lift or moderate lift and go out and run 800 meters, then after that
do a little bit of bike. I’ve bene talking to Bonnie and she is like “Get on the bike
after and just cool down” and coming back day after day, that’s what it’s about
and our transformation just keeps on going.
Jonel: At first we thought it was just a diet thing and then we find it’s not about
that anymore. You have to find a balance and don’t be so obsessed with the scale.
Just find your comfort zone and stick with it; stick with your plan, keep showing
up, that’s it.
Andrew: What’s your favorite CrossFit movement?
Jonel: Mine would be hand stand pushups.
Mary: Yeah, you’re good at them! I like clean and spilt jerks but lately I’ve been
doing rope climbs a lot because I started off not being able to do one and now I
can do multiple of them. We recently did some workouts and I did five, and that’s
a lot for me, but I feel like I can do more than that. A year ago I was scared to go
halfway up the ropes and I would get stuck because I didn’t have that upper body
strength or the core. I just didn’t know how to do it and just practicing on it so it’s
between those movements for sure.
Andrew: What’s your least favorite movement?
Jonel: I would say the bike. I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I test every
setting and every time I get off my quads are on fire, I just don’t know what I’m
doing there. I try different things but I guess I gotta just work on it some more.
Mary: Mine is rowing. No matter how hard I pull or heels are planted, calories do
not want to move. I’m like, ‘Come on, I pulled three times, why is this not
moving?’ I get so frustrated but I guess sometimes just doing it and trying your
best and try to improve on it.
Jonel: Just work on it, keep going.
Andrew: Do you guys have a favorite bench mark workout that you’ve done?
Jonel: For me it’s Murph. I guess even though I’ve never tried it with the vest but
this year I’m planning to, but I’d say that’s one of them.
Mary: Mine is Cindy. I want to improve on body movements a little bit so I’m
starting to get my push-ups and my pull ups too, so I really like that.
Andrew: What’s your favorite dessert or cheat meal?
Jonel: For me it’s either ice-cream or macadamia cookies. Anything with dessert
like cake, just throw it out there for me.
Mary: For me it’s a chocolate lava cake. I love that and for our wedding I insisted
on having that. The worst thing is on our wedding day we were on the dance floor
all night so they wrapped up our desserts. We get back to our hotel room and I’m
like “where is my chocolate lava cake?” I was so upset.
Andrew: Did you ever get it?
Jonel: No, but every time we go someplace and it’s on the menu we get it.
Andrew: Do you guys have any favorite quotes or mottos that you relate to
CrossFit or just in general?
Mary: When we started in CrossFit in New Jersey they always say ‘Better than
yesterday.’ We had it on our sleeves and it was written on the walls. But for us it’s
just keep moving forward, know where you came from, where you started. Yes,
there are some days when you’re not as proficient or you could have lifted more
weights, but when we remember where we started, we were definitely better
than yesterday. We just keep moving forward because that’s where we started
and we just love them for sure and we’re happy that we can excel to who we are
and for you guys to keep pushing us and being better than yesterday.
Andrew: I talked to a lot of couples who said CrossFit is like couples therapy. Do
you guys feel like it worked that way for you?
Mary: I think so, it keeps us sane. We’ve been together since high school, so I can
tolerate him pretty much.
Andrew: Is there any competitive sides to you two during workouts?
Mary and Jonel: No, I don’t think so.
Mary: I think we push each other, not in a competitive way but in a team way. I
love when we do the better half battles because I know he’s strong. I like to
scream at him because I know his potential and he pushes me. I think when we
go home after being at the gym it’s like “So how did you do?” and he’d say “Oh
that’s really good!” or I’d say I didn’t hit my PR and he’d say “It’s ok you’re better
than yesterday”. I think we really push each other through sets, like we fit,
CrossFit fits, everything fits, and we’re fit people.
Andrew: Have you guys had any setbacks since starting?
Jonel: No. Sometimes a little pain from previous injuries growing up, but I know
how to work around it but nothing as far as me getting hurt doing something with
a barbell or just anything, never.
Mary: Over the summer I was having really bad migraines and I went to a
neurologist and physical therapy. It set me back a little bit because my mindset
wasn’t there and the pain I was having. I’d push myself in the gym but when I was
outside of the gym that energy wasn’t as it should be. It was a little bit of a
setback but right now I am moving in the right direction for sure.
Andrew: What goals do you guys have for the future?
Jonel: When it comes to CrossFit I would like to do some strict muscle ups. I mean
everything strict, rings, bars, everything. That’s one of my goals.
Mary: I think I want to work more in core work. Not necessarily just abs but when
I’m doing lift or something just keeping my core tight. Sometimes that seems to
collapse on me a little bit and Whitney is always pushing me to keep my core
tight, or any type of squatting but I’m trying to really focus on tight core. When
the kids come and try to hug me I’m trying to brace their hugs (chuckles).
Andrew: What about milestones that you guys have already achieved? Is there
any that stick out that you’re really proud of?
Jonel: No, I don’t think so.
Mary: I think for the past year and a half I’ve been working on pull ups. I started
doing jumping pull ups to negatives and now I’m a little stronger in my shoulders I
am now able to work on the Kipping. Some people want to go right into Kipping
but it’s a process getting there, so for me that’s very exciting. I’d like to try some
butterfly or try to be on the bar a little bit longer, doing ten reps at a time versus
five, but my hands don’t want to co-operate with me.
Jonel: You’ve tried a lot of different things.
Mary: It’s true, I tried every single grip and grab, and chalk but I always rip;
Andrew: What do you guys love the most about CrossFit Palm Beach?
Jonel: The community and the people for sure. Coming from whatever you’re
doing, work. You might have a bad day and you come and everyone smiles. You
don’t find someone that’s in the corner or grumpy. The energy you come with
from too much stress or work, all that leaves when you come in because there is
so much positive and good vibes around so it just goes away.
Mary: I think we come on this battlefield as soldiers together as a team and we
know we have this hard work out ahead of us and we’re pushing each other and
the last person always gets the loudest cheers. At the end we just look at each
other like “Yeah we did that together,” so being in a community and trying to
keep each other up, that’s what it’s about for sure. You don’t get that at other
gyms or anywhere.
Jonel: Not even at the Globo Gyms you don’t get that.
Mary: But this is a special place and we like to be a part of that.
Andrew: What advise do you have for someone who’s thinking about starting or
someone who has just started?
Mary: You’re going to be sore for sure! I’m sore every day. Just keep going, know
your body. Listening to your body is important but don’t let your soreness or
challenges stop you. Try your best and just show up. You guys did a podcast
where showing up is 80% of work. Just come in and feel it out and if it’s a little too
heavy scale back, but just come and try your best and keep going. Be positive,
don’t dwell on the negatives and whatever you feel is hurting you just keep going.
Jonel: I would tell them just have an open mind, absorb everything, learn as much
as you can and it’s okay, don’t feel intimidated. We’ve all been there and you
don’t know how long they’ve been doing it. For you to come in and just work on
something, that’s the best thing to do because eventually you will like something
about it and just walking in the door is the first step.
Andrew: Well guys that’s it! Thank you very much and congrats!
Mary and Jonel: Thank you!