Success Stories

We’re only successful when you’re successful

Here’s our chance to share the hard work and results our athletes have achieved.

We’ll be adding to this page frequently so please check back.

Alan Kennedy

Locally Grown Athletes…. I must admit the first time I saw that on the t-shirt of a CrossFit Local member, I thought, “this is definitely not the place for me.” I enjoy exercise, but I wouldn’t even loosely call myself an athlete. I’ve been a traditional gym member for years, but over a short period, I put on a lot of weight. No amount of exercise or diet seemed to be helping to take it off. When I saw that t-shirt, I thought about trying CrossFit, but the word athlete made me think I needed to possess some special skills just to be allowed in the door. It was about this time that Local member, Branson asked me if I would like to attend a class. I was initially hesitant and asked him if total beginners were even allowed. With some trepidation I stepped into that first class and also into a new chapter of my life. 

I’ve been a member since the end of October 2014, jumping from three to four classes a week since January 2015 and following a mostly Paleo diet. In 9 months, I have lost 55 lbs and my body fat percentage has dropped over 12%. Has this been easy? No! Has it been worth it? Absolutely! The secret – if there is such a thing – is to keep showing up, keep moving during the WODs and give 100% every time. I still have weight to lose, and will have to follow my own advice to achieve this.

What I have learned is that every member has different goals and also different strengths and weaknesses. I can now deadlift 355 lbs, but can’t do a single strict pull-up. I enjoy push-ups, but struggle to run a 400m lap of the building. Every member can relate as we all have different body types and find some things easier and others harder. We also have different motivations – some are members like myself where weight loss is a primary goal, while others attend for the competition and relish the challenge of completing a few more reps than someone else during a WOD. Every goal is a worthwhile one and fully supported by the coaches and other members alike. 

Take advantage of the knowledge of the coaches.  I must have asked a million questions about technique, diet (thanks Coach Laura), stretching, realistic goal setting, and without exception, each coach has taken the time to explain things and help guide me on this journey.

To anyone reading this who has considered CrossFit, but has reservations, I encourage you to take that first step, walk through the door (make sure it is the CrossFit Local door!!) and start a journey to being a better version of you.

I have a long way to go to accomplish all of my goals, but I now feel proud to call myself a locally grown athlete.

Debbie Lambeth

Fear is a funny thing. It is the feeling you get when you are afraid or worried something bad is going to happen. It is an automatic reaction and is not something that you can consciously try to feel. When you are scared of something, an inbuilt, DNA hardwired “flight or flight” response is triggered. This is your body’s survival mechanism that kicks in to protect you from perceived danger. The key to overcoming any fear is reprogramming your “fight or flight” response by facing it head on… Now tell that to anyone who has a fear and you will learn this is easier said than done. Something that may not be so hard is deciding you want something more than you are afraid of it. When you fill your mind with only courageous thoughts, you leave no room for fears and you tend to make courageous decisions.

A few days ago, I found my courage over a fear I’ve had in the box for quite some time; kicking up into a handstand. Somehow, on the most random of Tuesdays, I decided I wasn’t willing to be scared anymore and boom, HANDSTAND! Let, me just take a second to explain that as a competitive ballet dancer growing up, flipping, jumping, and leaping were all things that came natural to me. Throwing my body into a performance was my passion. So you can imagine that even though it’s been 8 years since I have been on a stage, being upside-down should, logically, still not be a problem. But it was. I don’t know where or when the fear developed but it did.

Since I started at Local in March of 2013, every time we would have a skill practice or a HSPU WOD, my body would go into flight-mode. But this Tuesday was different.  At the start of skill practice I embarrassingly explained to coach Kelly my fear. She talked me through some progressions and stood next to me in support while I gave it a few tries…. No luck. After working on another skill, it was back to handstands and without considering the fear and only feeling inspired by others that confidently went for it, I walked right over and flipped up, DONE! Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I did it 3 more times straight.

In that moment, I just realized that I had taken control over my fear. I had filled my mind with courageous thoughts, and just did it; facing it head on. I had decided I wanted it more than I was scared. I hope that my personal triumph, as small as it may be, inspires you all to fill your mind with courageous thoughts the next time you are faced with something that you find fear in.

Yelena Etten

Ever look at your closet and realize that you have WAY too many clothes, many of which you no longer wear? There are the formal clothes that you wear MAYBE once or twice a year. There are the clothes from when you were still in college (mainly because they are comfy or bring back a lot of memories). Then there are the clothes that don’t fit. You know, the ones that you kept because ONE DAY you will be skinny enough to fit back into them. Yep- I had ALL of those in my closet and finally, the mood struck me to clean out the closet. (They say the less you have, the lighter you feel, and I’m all about feeling light!)
Well, what do you know…. the clothes that “one day might fit me again”- FIT. They flippin’ fit. Now what!?
I kept a few, as a reminder that this CrossFit thing is working.
You know why I was surprised though? Because usually with this kind of transformation, there is weight loss. Just look at Alan – the dude lost a bunch of weight and you can tell! He is way stronger now too!
I started CrossFit a year ago on Labor day. I weighed 217lbs. I was size 16. Today I weigh 211 lbs (on a good day) and I’m size 12.
I think if you do a side-by side you can maybe tell where the weight redistribution happened… I have definitely developed more muscle. I have nice traps emerging. My arms look less flabby (as they should- I can do push ups now!) and guess what?! None of the pants fit around my thighs. They fit in the waist, even the size 12 capris, but if I change the angle to anything besides standing up straight, either the pants feel like busting at the seams or the circulation in my legs get cut off…
SO, the moral of this story is this: If you have been doing CrossFit for a while and the scale is not budging, clean out your closet and try on those “skinny clothes” (Except for pants, those will NOT fit, and that’s a good thing!).
CrossFit is a sport that will most definitely change your body. It will make you stronger, faster and the scale is not a way to measure that (unless you have a body fat scale, which may or may not be terribly accurate). You should see your progress in the amounts you can lift, in the WODs (they will suck less and less, although there’s always Cindy) and, of course, the clothes.

Kate Sayre

As many of you know, Alex and I are getting married this Saturday May 17th. When I started at Local in January, my goal was to have a pull-up by our wedding day. Alex “joked” (or did he?) that we couldn’t get married unless I met my goal. Now, I wasn’t trying to get back to my high school days when I could do pull-ups because never in my life have I been able to pull myself up over the bar. This pull-up was to be my first EVER. I’m happy to report that I texted him last week saying that we were officially getting married as I had finally gotten a pull-up at the gym where I work.

Although I knew that I got one (and that I’d be a bride!), I didn’t truly feel accomplished until I came to the box and did one. I accomplished that as well this week! I could not have done it without the support of so many members and coaches at Local. It helped that I started telling everyone about my goal and that I had a deadline in mind as it kept me accountable. I’m so grateful for all of the pointers on my technique, encouragement as I tried again and again, and others sharing their stories of how they got their first pull-up. I’d like to say thanks, Locals, for helping me to become Mrs. Sayre!

Libby Morgan


libbybefore libbybefore2

When I officially moved to Chapel Hill in August, I knew I needed to get in shape for my wedding that January! I had friends who had joined CrossFit Local and had great results. In the first few months I was making friends in the morning classes as well as progressing as a beginner going 3 days a week and running 3 days a week. I scheduled a nutritional session with Coach Kelly which helped lock in my diet. The tips I learned during our session allowed me to focus on eating cleaner and not be so calorie conscious as I had been in the past. The dietary changes were not only evident on the scale, but in my performance in class. I had more energy and drive to get through the WODs, but I still felt like I needed more one on one attention to get stronger at more basic movements (push ups, pull ups, toes to bar). In the two months before the wedding I continued with my classes 3 times and supplemented personal training sessions twice a week with Coach Brandon. In those two months I saw improvements in my upper body and core strength to get me closer to my goals. While I’m not to the point of being a master of these movements, my personal training sessions gave me a solid foundation to continue working on my own. My goal for this year to finally get my strict pull up! Ultimately, getting in shape for my wedding wouldn’t have been possible without the coaches at Local and I can’t thank them enough!

Mike Smith

I came to Local in February of 2010 after a weekend in which I stepped on the scale to see 232 pounds staring me back in the face – AFTER a bike ride which saw me getting dropped by people who only months before I had buried with ease. No longer was I the former collegiate athlete who had a big engine and a well of competitive desire… instead I was fat, out of shape, and desperate. I’d heard my friend Charlie talking about CrossFit, and after speaking to him one more time, I drove up to see what it was all about. After listening to me for about 5 minutes, Sarah, the former owner of Local said “I think you’re gonna like this.” I came back the next week, and on the 27th of February 2010, I got started. After some medball cleans, box jumps, and burpee demonstrations, we got to business on my very first WOD – Jeremy… with PVC. 7:27 later, I was lying on the floor on my back, heart hammering… but once I had recovered my senses, I knew Dunsey was right. I WAS going to like this.

After 3 months, I was already feeling better, stronger and more confident. I still was doing banded pull-ups and scaling every wod, but my workouts had purpose, I was having fun, and I couldn’t get enough. People started commenting that I looked like I’d lost weight. I won a couple town-line sprints on my bike rides. All this fueled the fire and kept me coming back – it had turned into a mission. I did my first Rx WOD in May of that year – Michael. I was getting stronger and faster, and I wanted more – I wanted to get better at the things I sucked at. First it was kipping pull-ups. Then double unders. Then men’s weight cleans. (Snatches took awhile longer). A year later, I had lost 20 lbs. I was doing most workouts Rx. I was hanging with people that had intimidated me at the beginning, even beating them on occasion. What’s more, I had found a community of people who cared about me and shared a common goal of getting stronger and faster and supporting one another while we all did it together.

Fastforward to 3+ years later… I am back at my college swimming weight of 183. I placed 3rd in a wellness contest that required abstinence from drinking, bread and potatoes – three of my favorite things. Since the first of the year I’ve run a 10 mile trail race, competed in a statewide CrossFit competition, raced my first Olympic distance triathlon in 18 years, and then a half Ironman 2 months after that. All the while had I texts, emails, and phonecalls of support from friends that I’ve made in this loud, sweaty, clank-y warehouse that is my sanctuary. I’ve injured myself and recovered from those injuries. I do a half hour of mobility work every night. I don’t eat bread anymore except once in a great while. I’ve worked out on the roof of a Spanish castle, on the beach in front of incredulous rednecks, and in my backyard on rings hanging from a pullup structure I built myself. My 4 year old daughter can do burpees (and does them voluntarily while giggling… not sure that’s genetic). Oh, and those friends that dropped me on that bike ride? Suffice it to say that I’m back to dropping the hammer on them instead of the other way around.

So what does CrossFit mean to me? It hasn’t just changed my life – it quite literally saved it. It’s my therapy, my “quiet place,” and what helps me greet my day. It’s my hangover cure and my jumpstart. It doesn’t define me, but it helps me be better at the things that do.


Bodyweight 232
Body Fat: who knows, but it wasn’t pretty
Squat: 185
Clean: an ugly 95#
Snatch: an ugly 75#
Deadlift: 245
Pullups: couldn’t do one.
Double Unders: couldn’t do one.
Jeremy: 7:27 with PVC
Fran: 11:15 with banded pullups and 85 lbs.
Helen: 12:20 Rx


Bodyweight 183
Body Fat: 9%
Squat: 355
Clean: 260
Snatch: 195
Deadlift: 195
Pullups: 28 unbroken
Double Unders: 129 unbroken
Jeremy: 3:50 Rx
Fran: 3:36 Rx
Helen: 8:08 Rx

Stephanie Woodbeck

I was walking into Harris Teeter recently when a gentleman about my dad’s age started to fist pump and cheer me onward into the grocery store. I was 35 weeks into my second pregnancy and took this to mean I officially looked like a complete spectacle. Strangers were now proud of me for walking around. “Good for you! You walked into the store all by yourself!” It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the encouragement. It’s that 20 minutes earlier I had done the full CrossFit grab bag of snatches, kettlebell swings, and back squats for photos with Kelly. For the most part, I am incredibly mobile, energetic, and pain free as I approach my March 28 due date. I give CrossFit a lot of the credit for my health this pregnancy.

I joined Local when my first baby, Alice, was about 8 months old. I had finally come back to exercising after a tough recovery for me and colicky first several months for Alice. I loved it and Local immediately. I CrossFitted through breast feeding, weaning, a fantastic several months of simply having my body to myself, and now through an entire pregnancy. I’m curious and hopeful as to how this will affect my recovery this time. My second pregnancy has felt much easier than my first. There are several factors that have changed since I was pregnant with Alice and everyone says that all pregnancies are different, but I think my level of activity and chosen activity of CrossFit have played a big role. I have gained less weight (but still well into the healthy range) and had more energy, even though I’m chasing my 2.5 year old around. I had a terrible time with swollen legs and feet last time. This time, I’ve barely experienced that at all. I have a tear in my right hip labrum that became extremely painful toward the end of my first pregnancy. I have hardly noticed it this time. The injury has only shown itself when I haven’t been to Local in several days. If I maintain a regular WOD schedule, I feel amazing. The midwives caring for Baby and me have been completely on board with my “safe and aware” CrossFitting. I can still back squat 133# (keeping my hips above parallel) and I have maintained weight on strict press and kettlebell snatches. This doesn’t mean I didn’t ask Josh to put my socks on my feet for me this morning. That definitely happened.

CrossFitting during my first trimester was rough. Everything during my first trimester was rough! I have been fortunate to have very little morning sickness with either pregnancy, but the exhaustion was debilitating. I missed whole weeks at a time and when I did make it to a WOD, even looking at the barbell felt like I’d just finished Fran. I lost my hard-earned pull-up right away. The exhaustion plus a few extra pounds quickly made it impossible. And no one knew I was pregnant! I was so embarrassed to know that my fellow Locals probably thought I was being wimpy and new members probably thought I was weak. Oh, pride is a tough thing.

Second trimester was so much better! I had my energy and strength back! Coaches and members knew I was pregnant and were helpful and encouraging. But now I had limits placed on what I should and shouldn’t do. No weighted squats below parallel, no more PR’s, no upside down movements, no working beyond a level where I could carry on a conversation. But I felt so good! It was really hard to follow these very few, but very important rules when I felt mostly on top of my game. My endurance dropped quite a bit during this time so I started rowing or running shorter distances in the WODs. There were a few exercises I had to throw out on my own, thanks to pregnancy peeing! Double unders are not a pregnant lady’s friend. My 8 am and 9 am’ers were really great about letting me WOD right next to the bathroom every day!

Third trimester has found me a little tired and a little large. Okay, really large. I’ve switched to using kettlebells or dumbbells for many lifts, simply because I cannot keep the barbell close to my body. A clean or snatch isn’t safe if you have to hold it that far away from your body and I can feel my pelvis trying desperately to hold onto stability as my joints float around in all that glorious relaxin hormone. I made it to 33/34 weeks before I felt like there were more WODs and lifts that I couldn’t do normally than that I could, so I’ve started coming to open gym and doing a few WODs from the website. I would still say the majority of exercises I “can’t” do are due to the pee factor! Most things can be modified or scaled enough for me to feel I’ve worked hard and played safely.

My plan is to keep showing up at Local until the very last minute. I’m working hard, even if I’m working slowly. I’ve got a handle on my WOD, but please help me tie my shoes!

Sara Marston

This week marks my 1-year anniversary at CrossFit Local. I got a jump on the typical new year’s resolution. Prior to CrossFit I barely had a bi-weekly yoga practice (albeit pretty advanced) and ran a few miles once a week. I liked exercising and have always been athletic (basketball, softball, golf, and cheerleading in high school–yes, Marston was a cheerleader), but I wasn’t motivated enough on my own and didn’t have a good partner(s) to keep me dedicated.

The first class I attended at Local left an impression to say the least. Everyone was so friendly. The energy was contagious. I took a huge gulp of that sweaty CrossFit kool-aid and told Chad to get me a keg of it.

So here I am a year later. Still loving the energy. Still wanting to make so many more improvements after having accomplished so much. Here’s a few huge strides I’ve made.

Max attempts before/after:

Clean: 65#/133#

Jerk: 85#/135#

Snatch: 45#/98#

Deadlift: 165#/235#

Front Squat: 110#/135#

Back Squat: 135#/185#

Overhead Squat: 65#/115#

Strict Press: 65#/85#

CrossFit Total: 465#(March)/487#(December)

I could barely do pull-ups with a green band when I started. Tuesday I did 20 unbroken kipping pull-ups. I started out doing handstand push-ups with my knees on a box—and not so gracefully. Now I can do 10 kipping handstand push-ups as prescribed. Today I did 4 pistols on each leg. My 500m row is 1:44.5. The list goes on.

I’ve stayed the same weight throughout the year, 143# (+/- 1#), but my body has changed immensely. Still working on my 6-pk though–I blame that on the alcohol. Tough to give it up when you sell it. :)

The one thing I’ll say in closing about the CrossFit Local community is how lucky I feel to share the camaraderie. My friends and family ask me all the time about “that crazy CrossFit stuff” and after telling them about the intensity of the workouts, the sweat, the pain, I always cap with the camaraderie. It keeps me coming back. Hearing people yell your name when you feel like giving up. Pats on the back after PRs. Sharing a common goal and common mindset towards fitness, health, and happiness. You don’t generally get that elsewhere. Thanks to everyone who’s helped me throughout the year and here’s to another. Love y’all. Cheers!

Victoria Baskett

For those of you who haven’t met me yet, my name is Victoria Baskett. In June of 2013, I made five doctors visits in three days in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where I was attending summer school. The fifth and final visit was the UNC Emergency Department where I was placed into life-saving emergency surgery for a blockage in my airway caused by Ludwig’s Angina and received a tracheal intubation. I was in a medically induced coma and on life support for the three days to follow. If I had not been so persistent about my health care, and in tune enough with my body to know something was wrong other than the diagnosis I kept receiving, I would not be here today.

With a story to tell, I have developed a platform from two common sayings that ring very true in my heart and life. “Get In Tune” is a phrase that was used by my high school wind ensemble instructor at the beginning of every class meeting. As I think about the importance of having my flute in tune before I play, I relate it to the importance of having your individual instrument (your body) in tune to be able to live a healthy life. The other part of my platform title, “JUST BREATHE,” is derived from simple instructions the doctor gave me in the Emergency Room while waiting for surgery. He stated, “Victoria your job for me now is to just breathe.” I am now partnering with the NC Children’s Airway Center, relating to each individual child’s experience with the job of needing to JUST BREATHE.

This will be my personal platform as I compete for the title of Miss North Carolina this coming June as your Miss Greater Cape Fear 2014. June will be a monumental month for me. As I chase my dreams and vie for this prestigious title, the month will also mark one year of me becoming a survivor, and forever being thankful for each day this beautiful life gives us.

My commitment to training at CrossFit Local for Miss North Carolina has changed my life in more way than one. The most important way is that I now know that I can and absolutely will reach any goal that I set for myself with hard work and determination. The stories of the coaches and athletes, and their support in this journey, provide me with constant motivation. I know that each weight I lift, each pull-up I attempt to do (I will get one sometime soon!), and every push up my shaking arms complete are only making me that much stronger on the inside and out!

Thank you Chad, Kelly, each of the coaches and all of the athletes at CrossFit Local for supporting me on this journey!