I have tried everything…have you though?

In my almost 15 years as a coach if I had a dollar for every time someone said in frustration, “I have tried everything.” I would be typing this from the back of my private jet instead of seated at this expertly crafted Wal-Mart Desk.

 If you can’t handle brutal honesty then you should probably stop reading now because here is the truth…


 Your health, fitness, nutrition and strength are all a journey, a journey that will have obstacles, roadblocks, hurdles and setbacks. Each one of these presents you with a choice; make an adjustment and keep going or give up.  When things get difficult you will hear all kinds of criticism and doubters, some of which will be your own voice, telling you it’s just too tough, or not for you, or impossible even. I’ve been there, I get it. But let me tell you something, that’s all a bunch of bullshit. It’s not too tough, it can be for you and nothing is impossible. Don’t let other people project their fears or doubts on you. You can accomplish more than you could ever imagine if you would just keep going. One of the greatest tragedies in life is seeing someone not realize how close they were when they quit.


Here are some quick questions to see to what extent you actually “tried everything”.

1.How long did you try? If the answer is less than 30 days then you did not truly give the new workout routine, meal plan or lifestyle change a chance…not even a little bit. We are constantly bombarded with images, movies and TV shows that are just not real life. Changes in any way require an adjustment and time for it to become habitual. 30 days is bare minimum for that to be realistic.

2.Was it sustainable? 2019 is right around the corner. The New Year is a time where people love to be completely unrealistic and try some crazy new fad that has no hope of ever being permanent. When you are looking to try something new ask yourself if it is something you can realistically see yourself doing long term. If it is working out make sure you have multiple options. The same workout video, a gym with limited options or no direction from certified coaches, or choosing a single modality such as running has a very small chance of allowing you to progress over time and stick with it. A “diet” that is unbelievably restrictive or does not incorporate all three Macros (Carbs, Protein and Fat), or better yet has no solid foods of any kind will not last. Start with the basics before you branch out.

3.Were you consistent? Working out 2 to 4 times one week then missing the next week is not consistency. Sticking with your meal plan less than 80% of the time is not consistency. Without consistency you cannot truly say one way or another if something was working or not. 

4.Did you record anything? If you did not record your weight before you started, your workouts, your meals, etc then you have ZERO proof of how effective this new venture was. Feeling better or worse is very subjective. What numbers or objective things did you have recorded to show improvement or decline? If you didn’t then you are just guessing.

5.Excuse or legit reason? Think about why you stopped. Was it time? Not meal prepping? Too early or late to workout? If you are honest with yourself I think you will find that most things you consider legitimate reasons why you stopped or why something wasn’t working were in fact just excuses. It got too difficult, uncomfortable and your motivation and/or determination failed.

This may seem harsh, but I am a tough love kind of coach. I have seen too many people over the years blame other things on not being where they want to be. I hate to tell you, but a lot of times it is you. You are the one preventing you from achieving your goals. I have prevented myself from achieving a lot of things in life. It sucks and I know it is hard to accept sometimes, but being honest with yourself is something that can open the doors to infinite possibilities.  It comes down to blame and responsibility. No matter who is to “blame” for where you are at, you are responsible for how you move forward from here. Take ownership of your goals.

Always remember…you do have control, you can make the change, you do have the ability, drive and determination. You do. Think it, say it, believe it.


 Maybe there is something you are thinking about right now that you have quit. It happens, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Any day, any minute, any second can be the moment you turn it all around.

Written by Kiel Holman, CrossFit Coach

You said WHAT to WHOM?!

There’s a line in a song I listen to quite a bit and it goes a little something like this: 

“Hello, my name is defeat.

I’m sure you recognize me.

Just when you think you can win,

I drag you right back down again,

‘til you’ve lost all belief.”

Negative self-talk is a thing. I mean, A THING. Sometimes, it can actually be encouraging: Come on self, you know you can do better than that. I’d like to offer a good old-fashioned “butt-slap good game” to those who are able to effectively achieve that, but I am not one of those people. In fact, I was blessed with the ability to absolutely beat the shit out of myself until my ego is lying in the fetal position sucking its thumb.

I’ve come up with (and mastered) a seven-step process to turn your typical training day into a complete disaster. I’m using training as the situation but remember that this process doesn’t have to be used only for training. It can be applied to many areas of your life, such as career performance, relationships, nutrition, addiction, etc. So here we go:

  1. Set an expectation that today, you’ll magically have perfect technique on all of your lifts and be able to lift substantially more than you ever have before.

  2. Start the negative self-talk in your warm-up but keep it upbeat: Wow, I don’t feel as strong as I thought I would today. That’s ok, do your best, even though your best is pretty average right now. Remember that it’s a process.

  3. At the start of your training session, focus more on the things you got wrong instead of the things you got right.

  4. Serve yourself some big, delicious negative sandwiches. You’ve heard of the positive sandwich, right? Constructive criticism sandwiched between two positive things. Do the opposite of that: That lift sucked real bad but it’s ok because you have a great personality but you’re worthless when it comes to lifting.

  5. For the remainder of the training session, completely neglect your ability to brush things off. You know that round of golf (or every round of golf) where your short game is terrible but each tee box offers a new opportunity to turn this ship around? That’s golf. This is lifting. And you suck at lifting.

  6. Keep reminding yourself how much you suck at lifting to create a downward spiral that just never ends. Use key phrases that are customized by you and for you, just to hit your own buttons: You’re five feet tall. Strength will never be your thing. Why do you even own a gym? Just stick to endless burpees… that can be your thing.

  7. Finally, find a way to end your training session on a bad note. Make giant red X’s in your training log for anything you missed and maybe even add notes about just how bad the experience was so you’ll remember it when you start the next session.

You. Are. Welcome.

Normally when I write a blog post, it’s meant to be authoritative, to offer direction, to motivate. This one is simply therapy because you just never know who else might be in the same (beat up, never-good-enough) boat. If that’s you, then hey, grab an oar and let’s see where this adventure takes us.

So as fun as it is to feel these levels of soul-crushing defeat, let’s work on it, shall we? I wish it were as easy as deciding, committing and succeeding. Like most things, there has to be a plan with a goal and achievable steps to get there. 

Step one: Set your goal.

Here’s mine: Get stronger and enjoy the journey. Stop being a dick to yourself.

Step two: Define what that goal looks like.

For me: Embrace the fact that strength is a journey. Work on your weaknesses while not sacrificing your strengths. Do whatever it takes to enjoy the process. Have fun.

Step three: Admit that all of this is easier said than done.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Step four: Choose three (or more) achievable steps to get you from here to there. Start today.

  1. I will turn my negative sandwiches into positive ones.

  2. As soon as the negative self-talk nerd appears in my mind, I will visualize kicking him in the dick and then reminding myself that I am capable.

  3. I will find quotes (“progress adds up,” “you know what you’re capable of,” “get mad or get better”) or motivating thoughts (picturing where I was a year ago) to replace of negative self-talk during my training sessions.

For me, this is not one of those “oh, that’s all I have to do, is it?” posts. Even as I write it, I realize the magnitude of overcoming this hurdle in my life. I mean, I say some REALLY unbelievable shit to myself, guys. Things I wouldn’t say to someone I don’t like, let alone someone I claim to care about.

One little step at a time (because that’s the only way it’s possible), I’m going to learn to appreciate the process, my ability and all the things that come along with those things. I’m starting today and you should too. Because despite what our minds are telling us, WE CAN.

-Written by Monica Hilton, KAHA & Together We Rise CrossFit Owner

5 Steps to Your Next PR

Just you and the barbell. Focused, you step up while your friends and gym members watch. Deep breath and BOOM, new PR! If only it were that easy all the time, right?

There is a lot of work that goes in before those personal records are broken. It’s not just about always trying to go heavy every time you step into the gym. Here are 5 steps you can take to work smarter while you work harder.

Flexibility/Mobility: This is one that a lot of people neglect, but is one of the most important. As a society we spend so much time seated which causes a number of things to be tight or locked up. Tight hips and upper back can cause a lot of lower back pain as well as shut off muscles we need to work for us in the weight room. Check out the Quick Fix for Lower Back pain series on our Instagram and Facebook pages for exercises you can do during the day or before your workout to loosen up your hips, ankles and back. Your body will thank you and your weights will go up.

Weighted Core Work: It doesn’t matter whether you are going for a new Back Squat, Snatch, handstand pushup or pullup max; your ability to stabilize and transfer power is essential. There are 3 main categories to focus on; static, linear and rotational.

     Static: Weighted planks – Place a plate on your back for 3 to 5 sets of 30 to 60 seconds

     Linear: DB Situps – Hold a DB behind your head with your feet anchored and complete 3 to       5 sets of 6-12 reps

     Rotational: Russian Twists – Start in a seated position with ankles crossed, holding a plate,         medicine ball or DB rotate side to side touching the implement to the ground, complete 3         to 5 sets of 20 to 50 reps

Auxiliary Work: There are a couple different ways you could go about utilizing these to get the most bang for your buck. You can choose exercises that have carry over to multiple exercises or you can choose exercises that target specific weak areas of a lift or movement.

    Carry Over: weighted core work would be an example of this. Another one would be a                dumbbell or barbell strict press. Completing 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 12 reps weekly can improve        your handstand pushups, push press, push jerk, split jerk, handstand walks and even your          ability to stabilize the weight in overhead weighted movements such as lunges and                    overhead squats.

   Targeting Weak Areas: do you know why you fail in certain lifts or movements? Let’s look at       a few examples. 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps weekly

   Hips rising when pulling the clean or snatch off the ground – maintaining strong position off     the floor is essential in hitting big weights. Adding exercises like clean or snatch deadlift to       your strength training can make a big difference.

   Trouble getting the bar off the ground in a deadlift – add in some deficit deadlifts, standing       on plates to work the bottom half of this lift

   Trouble locking out the deadlift – add rack/block pulls, set the height at your sticking point

Technical and % work: Once again, if you always just go as heavy as possible every time you come to the gym your overall progress will slow. This is amplified in the Olympic lifts because of the level of technical difficulty.

   Technique work: adding in barbell complexes with an extremely light weight as a warm up         will allow you to get a lot of repetitions in while your body gets loose.

    Example: Clean/Snatch Deadlift, Hang Power Clean/Snatch, Front Squat/Overhead Squat. 3      to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps

    % Work: 1-5 reps in the 70-80% range for 10-20 sets. The best way to complete this is in an        EMOM (lower reps) or every 90s or 2min (higher reps). This will allow you to lock in your            technique on moderate to heavy weights instead of always trying to max out.

GET YOUR MIND RIGHT: Don’t think you are, know you are. If you don’t think you can lift the weight, you won’t. Your mind is like a video recorder. If you say to yourself, “Don’t miss this lift.” or “Don’t let your elbows drop.” That is exactly what your mind just pictured, therefore that is probably what you will do. Replace those statements with, “Rip this bar off the ground.” and “Keep your elbows up.” This accomplishes what you wanted because your mind pictured success instead of failure.  Consistently hitting big weights and personal records is just as challenging mentally as it is physically. Practice positive self-talk and positive feedback every day in your workouts. Frustration comes along with training, but don’t get mad…get better.

If you have no plan, you plan to fail. Find what works for you and take action. Hard work breeds confidence. The more consistent work you put in the more confident you will be to crush those PR’s.

-Written by Kiel Holman, CrossFit Coach

Failure…If you say so

We are our own biggest critics. Our daily look, performance at our job and perception of how we are as a husband, wife, mother, father, and friend are picked apart and analyzed to see if they live up to our sometimes-impossible standards. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in our personal body image.

There is nothing wrong with looking for opportunities to improve, but if the only self-talk going on in your head is negative it can completely tear you down over time. It is easy to blame a lot of things such as time, work schedule or kid’s activities as to why you can’t stay consistent with your health and fitness, but a lot of the time you are defeating yourself before any of these other things come into play. Whether it is a lack of confidence in following through that prevents you to start, bumps in the road that require adjustments, the comparison game or your rate of improvement; all the negative, deflating thoughts in your head are working against you. You might not even realize how much you do this. Here are some situations that can possibly trigger those negative voices and ways to shut them up.

1. Starting something new: If it is new then it is a change from what you are currently doing and anything that requires change always gets the critics talking. All the thoughts and excuses resisting this change will come to the surface. Chances are if you are thinking of trying an eating plan or workout routine that you never have it is because you have already tried several other things that haven’t worked. Failed attempts will affect your confidence, but think of it this way; if you don’t try this new thing you have no chance of changing your current situation. So what is worse? The fear of the unknown or the hopeless feeling of being stuck?

2. Making Adjustments:  Things are going well. You are making healthy food choices and crushing your workouts, then it happens. Change in work schedule, injury, new activity your child wants to start…fill in the blank with any life situation. Now what? Your mind will tell you to just wait until things calm back down so you can get back to your routine. I hate to break it to you, but things will never calm down. If you are ever waiting for the perfect time in life to do something, especially when it’s new, it will never end up happening. Remember when you started? You had to overcome a lot to get the ball rolling and make all of this a part of your daily routine in the first place. No matter if you need to modify the type of activity you are doing until something heals, change the night you meal prep or the time of day you work out, you have done it before and you can do it again.

3. The Comparison Game: This is a big one, especially when it comes to health and fitness. Your mind will tell you over and over again, ‘You will never look like her, you will never be able lift what he does, you will never be able to do the workout as fast as them, you will never be able to wear that.’ Don’t every try to be anyone except the best version of you. Look in the mirror…that is your competition. Focus on being better than you were yesterday every single day. If you truly take this attitude and apply it consistently you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

4. Improvement slows: As a beginner the improvements and gains can be quick and rather sizeable. The longer you continue the smaller those gains become and the harder they are to achieve. It sucks, but it’s science. Those voices are really going to speak up now and tell you why even bother if you can’t keep seeing huge results. Look, I have been lifting weights for over 22 years. If I could lift more every time I walked into the weight room I could bench press my house by now. Before you get discouraged and start listening to all of that nonsense in your head, understand that it takes time for plateaus to happen. Secondly, it might just take making small adjustments on what you are doing to get your progress back on the steady incline. This is why tracking is so important. Maybe you need to adjust your calories, the amount of miles you run or how fast you run them. What it definitely doesn’t mean is to quit.

Ultimately you need to look to make lifestyle changes that will benefit you for the rest of your life, not quick fixes. Your health and fitness are a life long journey that require you to persevere through the tough times in order to consistently achieve your goals. Life can be hard enough, don’t make it worse but constantly beating yourself up.

Written by Kiel Holman - CrossFit Coach

Everything to lose, nothing to gain

Wait, isn’t that backwards? Not when it comes to motivation. I must be crazy, right? How can I say you’re motivated by a situation where you have EVERYTHING to lose and NOTHING to gain? Let’s break it down:

Scenario #1: You get to work, have your coffee and get ready to crush the day. Your boss comes to you with a project that would take weeks to complete, but says he needs it tonight. Which one of his next statements would cause an absolute relentless pursuit to make this happen?

·         “This will be a big promotion and raise if you get this completed.”

·         “You no longer have a job if this isn’t completed.”

Let’s look at another example.

Scenario #2: You pay $200 to enter a weight loss challenge. After you sign the agreement, the gym brings out the fine print:

·         If you lose the most weight among all the challengers, you get your money back.

·         If you don’t lose the most weight among all the challengers, the gym keeps your $200.

The one that motivates you more is not the first one (where you gain something), it’s the second (where you have something to lose). A raise and promotion can be motivating but not nearly as much as not having a job to be promoted at. Getting your money back is great, not losing money is much better.

But neither one of these situations are real life, right? Man, I hope not. Let’s see how this applies to other areas of your life.

We all want to be the best version of ourselves. No matter if you feel out of shape or like your career is in a rut, improvement is what we strive for. If you’re motivated by what you’ll gain, it can be very difficult to persevere. Also, if you’ve never been passionate about your job or achieved a goal weight, it’s tough to be motivated by something you’ve never experienced. What if we shift that mindset from what you gain to what you lose?

You might not be happy now, but what if you gained more weight? What if you lost the shape you are in now, or your current job situation gets worse? These are the type of thoughts that can make you push intimidation aside and decide it’s time to get started.

The crazy thing is that, if you do make this decision based off what you can lose, you will find you gain what you were originally motivated for.

Don’t want to lose your job? Find a way to bring energy every day and exceed expectations, then opportunities will open up for you. Don’t want to keep spiraling and gain more weight? Start moving and making healthy food choices, then you will progress towards the healthy life you’ve dreamed of. Don’t want to be out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs? Set goals, document your progress and watch your strength and fitness go through the roof.

I believe people have more inside of them than they ever thought possible. You just have to let that person out. Look in the mirror, that is your competition. Wake up, focus forward and crush it EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

-Written by Coach Kiel Holman

Ready to get started? CLICK HERE

You paid WHAT for that?

Do you remember the first time you came to the realization that people pay a lot more for brand-name products versus generic?

I distinctly remember a moment like this, years ago. I was in college with a total of (I’m guess-timating) $3.07 in my bank account, and I overheard my mom talking to my aunt about a purse my cousin was eyeing. 

Do I remember the brand? No. But I remember the price tag: $2,600. FOR A PURSE. Not a purse with $2,500 stuffed in it. Not a purse that came with a sugar daddy. Just a purse.

Fast forward some years (more than I care to count) and as an adult who still believes that $2,600 is more of a double-mortgage payment than a purse payment, I’m able to emotionally justify that price tag with three words: price per use.

So let’s say my cousin went ahead and purchased this “better be made of unicorn hair” purse for $2,600. And let’s say that was ten years ago. (Editors note: I wish it was only ten years ago that I was in college. But I digress.) And let’s say that she carried that purse faithfully EVERY day for ten years. That’s 3,650 days. That means her “price per use” would actually only be $0.71.

Let’s use another example: You see a pair of jeans at the store for $100. You buy said jeans, break them in, wear them for 9.3 years until they finally start falling apart. Your price per use on those bad boys is pretty darn good. But let’s say you bought that same pair of jeans for $100, got them home and realized the fitting rooms at the store must’ve been some sort of fun-house mirrors. You intend to return the jeans but never do, they collect dust for 9.3 years and your price per use is… well, terrible.

While we’re on it, do you own a YETI? If you use it, you’ll probably agree with me that that magical technology that keeps your beverages icy cold or smokin’ hot was a tremendously awesome investment. But if you bought it and aren’t using it, you obviously understand that your price per use is bad but more importantly, if you’re not using it, can I have it?

You see where I’m going with the price per use. You’re smart and you want to make good use of your money. These are everyday examples but never has the price-per-use analogy been more apparent to me than with a gym membership. 

If you’re lucky, you found your dream gym on your first try, you’ve been getting fantastic results for years and those results are worth whatever the monthly fee is. If you’re in the other 99%, you’ve probably tried everything from the big box gym down the road to P90X and you might still be searching.

Let’s apply the price per use secret decoder ring:

  • If you pay $10 per month for your membership and even though they serve free pizza, you never go, what’s your price per use, or more important, the value?
  • If you paid $100 for an at-home workout program or $1,000 for a treadmill and both are collecting dust, what’s your price per use, or value?
  • If you pay $200 per month for your gym membership and go five times per week, excited to see your community of friends and impressing yourself on most days with the strength and fitness you’re gaining, THAT’S VALUE, AMIRIGHT?

It all boils down to the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” The do’s and don’ts of that are simple: DO realize that your hard-earned dollar should be spent on things that provide you value, and DON’T pay for things that don’t provide it. If you’re unsure, ask to try before you buy, or for testimonials from people just like you.

In the end, you’ll be happier and feel more comfortable when you spend your money. Even if it’s on a purse made of unicorn.

Written by Monica Hilton - KAHA Owner

Ready to get a HUGE value for your dollar? CLICK HERE!

3 Tips to get the Life Balance you’ve been searching for

Find balance. Everyone has been given and probably gave this advice to someone at some point in life. But how? Work, family, bills, workout, groceries, your home or apartment, laundry, dishes…the list goes on and on. Easier said than done, right? Here are 3 tips to balance out the life scales.

1.       Brain breaks: Everyone needs some time to shut it all down, clear your head and regroup. A lot of us go a thousand miles an hour from the time we wake up until we lay down at night. This can make it hard to get good sleep, which along with your crazy daily schedule, will add up over time to completely wear you down. Brain breaks can be a 10-15min pause in your day to clear your head, recover and be ready to get back in action. Find something you enjoy like reading a book, listening to music, going for a jog or just simply finding a quiet area to close your eyes and relax in peace. It’s not about having the time to do this, it’s making the time to do it. Your body and mind will thank you.

2.       Break a sweat: Time is one of the biggest reasons people give for not getting a workout in. There are 10-minute workouts you can do to get the blood flowing and your heart rate up with zero equipment. Check out @twrcrossfit on Instagram or Together We Rise CrossFit on Facebook for “workouts on-the-go” Parts 1 and 2 to find what will work for you. Something is always better than nothing. Even if it has been a while since you went to the gym, you will be amazed at how much getting your body moving will refresh and energize you.

3.       Be Present: This is a very simple concept, but can be the most challenging to accomplish. With all the tasks, appointments and responsibilities you have it is very easy to be thinking about the next thing instead of what is happening in the here and now. Whether you are with your kids, at work, taking advantage of a brain break or workout; giving all of your attention to the task at hand will make you more effective, give you more enjoyment, a feeling of accomplishment and will better clear your head of the clutter throughout the day.

Balance is so very important. Today’s world is very demanding, but with the right plan, tribe and support you can consistently crush each day and enjoy life too.

-Written by Kiel Holman, Together We Rise Coach

Find your balance today CLICK HERE!

3 Tips to make this your last "day one"

It has been said with fitness and nutrition that the hardest part is getting started. While that may be true in a lot of cases, it is also challenging to keep it going when things get tough or when life happens. So how can you stay on track? Here are three things that can help you get started and keep the momentum going.

1.Seek out internal motivations: Getting ready for a vacation, bikini season or any other “event” are all external motivators. When the path to your goal gets tough these motivators will quickly fade and it is easy to lose focus and get off track. Challenge yourself to look deep inside for your personal “why”. Do you lack confidence? Are you missing out on time with family or friends because you are tired or feel defeated? Coming to terms with what your true motivation is will ultimately carry you through anything.

2.Find a tribe: You need to surround yourself with people who get it, who understand the difficulty of making a transformation to the best version of themselves. Anything worth achieving is going to take determination, perseverance and awesome people around you to cheer you on and pick you up when you’re down. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them and they will change your life.

3.Track your progress: People begin a new workout routine, try a new gym or begin a nutrition plan with different visions of what success looks like for them. How many actually write down these goals or definitions of success? Not many. Even if they do, while in the midst of these new things they fail to record objective things that allow them to see their progress. A lot of them rely on subjective things like; I “feel” better, my clothes seem to be fitting differently, it looks like I lost weight, etc. Track your nutrition with apps like My Fitness Pal, write down your workouts, have your body composition measured. When you see actual numbers going down your confidence and motivation will sky rocket.

You put in so much effort and overcame your fears to get the ball rolling, don’t stop now. Find your “why," your tribe, write down the numbers and always remember…


-Written by Kiel Holman, Together We Rise CrossFit coach

Find your tribe and start your journey today. CLICK HERE!

A Letter From Your Future Self

I can’t wait for you to see yourself now. So positive and full of life. Confident to take on any obstacle that life puts in your path. Looking back and smiling about all the memories made with your family and your friends. Cherishing all the life you added to your years by making a choice.

You know the one I’m talking about. Sitting there with all the self-doubt, not liking this version of yourself. Feeling tired, defeated and ill-equipped to handle all the things life throws at you. That moment of clarity you felt when you realized if you don’t make this choice the most terrible thing will happen…nothing. Nothing will happen. Nothing will change and that thought was unbearable.

Thank you. Thank you for realizing you do have what it takes, you can turn this all around. Thank you for finding the right people and support to guide you through it all. Thank you for all the amazing things that you have accomplished. But most of all thank you for this unbelievable feeling of truly reaching the potential that you were always meant to achieve.

I can’t wait for you to experience it all. Just remember to enjoy the process through this transformation from the old you to the best you. It’s what makes writing this letter such a surreal experience.

- Written by Kiel Holman, Together We Rise CrossFit coach

Ready for a challenge that your future self will thank you for? CLICK HERE!

Achieve your goals...not like that you're not

Lose weight without giving up some foods you love, reach your strength and fitness goals without pushing yourself beyond your comfort level, make a huge lifestyle change without changing your habits…and on and on and on.

Almost every diet, workout, or money-making fad promises big changes with little to no discomfort. I hate to break it to you, but ITS ALL COMPLETE CRAP.

Three things you need to come to terms with when going after a big goal personally or professionally:

1. It’s going to be uncomfortable.

2. You are going to have to work extremely hard consistently.

3. It’s going to take longer than you think.

We have all heard at some point in our lives that we need to get out of our comfort zone. I think that phrase has lost its meaning. It has become something people say, but they don’t fully accept what it means. 

What it means is this: IT’S GOING TO HURT. 

No matter if it’s physical or mental, in some way it will be painful. Whether we are talking about muscle soreness from starting a new workout routine, the mental strain of staying up late or getting up early, or the psychological struggle of passing up your favorite sweets; on the path to success, being uncomfortable is unavoidable. Denying that will only make it worse, but if you accept it you will significantly increase your ability to follow through. Remember, because you are still breathing your record of making it through adversity in life is 100% thus far, so when you feel like you can’t keep going, know you have before and you can now.

Consistency, consistency, consistency. This cannot be overstated. 

I truly feel this is where a lot of people fall apart. A lot of us at some point have taken part in a 30, 60 or 90-day challenge. They can help jump start you and get motivated to finally take action on your health and fitness goals. However, make sure you aren’t just mindlessly following a plan or routine. Educate yourself and acquire some tools from that challenge that will allow you to continue to live this way. 

This is your life, your health, your happiness…TAKE OWNERSHIP OF IT. 

What you fuel your body with and how you exercise is a journey that requires an ability to constantly adapt and persevere. Life will always happen. Changes in your job, family, age and circumstances will never make it easy. If you consistently have good days, those turn into weeks, which will turn into months and years.

YEARS…that’s right, I said years. 

Let that sink in for a minute. Long term goals and delayed gratification are not terms that are in our societal vocabulary any more. Nowadays if the video we want to watch doesn’t start in less than 10 seconds we get frustrated and move on. This mentality has carried over into how we perceive fitness and weight loss should be. You have treated your body a certain way for 5, 10, 15, 20+ years but you expect to reverse it all in a matter of weeks? How does that make sense? In short, it doesn’t. 

Whether you are looking at an elite athlete on TV or a friend and think, ‘It must be nice to just be able to eat that, lift that much weight, run that fast, or look that way.’ Thoughts like that have the mentality that these individuals were just given those abilities. What people don’t think about or see is all the blood, sweat, years and tears that have been put in…the hundreds and thousands of hours spent working hard to be able to do these things. 

It was EARNED.

I truly believe people can achieve more than they ever dreamed if they would be patient, trust the process and stay the course. If something isn’t working, change it. If there are certain people or circumstances holding you back, change it. 

Is it easy? No, but anything worth achieving never is.

You can be anywhere you want to be. You just have to be willing to consistently be uncomfortable longer than anyone else.


Getting back into shape: YES YOU CAN'T.

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Every day, people all over our country decide that this is the day they’re going to get back in shape. Maybe the pants button just cannot stretch that far or the doctor has given a warning. Maybe summer is around the corner and covering up to feel comfortable is… uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just that gut feeling that IT’S TIME.

Whatever the reason, deciding to move forward can be a little exciting, and A LOT more scary, overwhelming and uncertain. But you were a college athlete. Or you used to work out on the regular. Or you’ve tried P90X. You got this.

To help you through the process of getting back into fitness, I’ve come up with a list of reasons why you can’t do it. That way you can be fully prepared to get back to the couch as quickly as possible if needed.

Reason #1: You’re really out of shape.

This is a tough one because everyone at the gym is already in shape, so you’re going to have a hard time fitting in. All the beautiful people in head-to-toe spandex will stare and judge.

TRUTH: First, no one wears head-to-toe spandex. Second, you’ve heard it before… fitness is a journey. It took more than a few days — and many cheeseburgers — to get out of shape, so it will take effort — and less cheeseburgers — to get back into shape. Set little, achievable goals ahead of time so you can celebrate the victories along the way to keep yourself motivated. And find a workout buddy.

Reason #2: You have no idea what you’re doing.

Since every gym is filled with muscle-y dudes in tiny tank tops that have vein-y biceps bigger than your head, you’re definitely going to stick out like a sore thumb in your normal workout shorts and a t-shirt. Plus, you struggled to lift a 50lb bag of dog food the other day, so why do they even have those 100lb dumbbells?

TRUTH: Fitness is a journey today as much as it was in your glory days. The first time you attempted to lift a weight didn’t automatically qualify you as a seasoned athlete. You had to learn. And now you have to re-learn with your “more well-seasoned” body. You can, and will, get there. Trust the process. And the process is easier when you find a gym you’re comfortable with. One that helps you create a fitness plan, shows you proper form and gives you options.

Reason #3: You’re too old.

You’re just going to have to live with the fact that every single person at the gym is 18 years old and looks like a fitness model. It doesn’t matter that their form is dangerous, they look amazing.

TRUTH: There is no such thing as too old to workout. If you need proof, contact me for links to articles about the oldest competitor on American Ninja Warrior (72 years old), the marathon runner (85), the BODYATTACK instructor (81) or the downhill skier (95). What was that about being too old again? Explore your options.

Reason #4: You don’t have enough time.

Let’s be honest: Time is just not a luxury that you have. Other people must somehow be able to bend time and create an extra hour in their day because between getting the kids ready for school, going to work, full days of meetings, picking the kids up, taking them to… it it soccer or ballet today? Either way… dinner and all the other things, finding time for you is, well, impossible.

TRUTH: People who are busier than you are working out right now. A 60-minute workout is just four percent of your day. Most importantly, the people in your life who need you need you to be healthy. You can’t take care of others adequately if you’re not taking care of yourself. Your dreams of marathon play-sessions with the grandkids in the yard someday are unrealistic if you don’t focus on what it will take today to get there. One of my favorite fitness sayings is, “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” And those excuses will rob your loved ones from the very best you that you can give them.

Reason #5: It’s too expensive.

If you’re going to do this fitness thing right, you’ll definitely need the most expensive gym membership in town, a personal trainer, personal chef and nutritionist, masseuse, and probably a stylist so your workout gear is on point.

TRUTH: First, understand that an investment in your health is important. A popular fitness chain uses the slogan, “$10… Why pay more?” Why? Because YOU ARE WORTH MORE. Do you need an entourage of assistants to keep your fitness and nutrition in check? NO. But is it worth the investment to find a place where you belong, where you’re comfortable and where you’ll find support? Absolutely. If you’re willing to pay $100/month for cable so you can watch an abundant amount of Suits, shouldn’t you be willing to invest in yourself so you can enjoy an abundant amount of life?

So there you go. Keep the list of excuses in one pocket for anytime you feel you want to return to the couch, and keep the list of truths in your other pocket for when you’re ready to go out and get the healthy lifestyle you deserve. And remember this saying: “When I lost my excuses, I found my results.”

(Written by: Monica Hilton, Together We Rise CrossFit Owner)

TWR CrossFit & KAHA Fitness: OUR STORY


(Written by: Monica Hilton, Owner)

To an outsider, KAHA FITNESS and Together We Rise CrossFit might appear to be an unusual duo. Why did a group fitness studio owner decide to add CrossFit? How did a girl from Wisconsin with a PR & Marketing degree decide that her calling was to help others through fitness? And how is this place different than all the other fitness options out there?

KAHA FITNESS opened in the fall of 2014. If I’m being completely honest, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. They say entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down. Pretty damn accurate.

Having worked in several gyms and been a member at several others at least gave me an idea about policies and procedures: what not to do, what members expect, etc. My customer service guide was pretty simple: Be a good human.

When KAHA first opened, we offered three programs (BodyPump, BodyCombat and CXWORX) from Les Mills, a New Zealand-based company and the worldwide leader in group fitness. Our lineup also included a variety of Beachbody programs (P90X, Insanity, PiYo) and Zumba, but I learned quickly that once our members discovered Les Mills classes, they didn’t want to do anything else. So we grew from three Les Mills programs to six, then later to ten.

We’re currently the largest Les Mills studio in Indianapolis.

When I was naming the gym, I wanted to pay tribute to Les Mills and the Maori culture in New Zealand. I chose the word KAHA, a Kiwi word for “strong.” To me, there’s no other word to represent what we’re aiming for: strength, in all of its forms.

On the day we opened, I set a goal of selling 50 memberships, although in my head, I knew I’d be happy with 30. We had a packed house of people coming to try us out. I made announcements about membership specials and all the great things we had planned, and the energy was through the roof. Then everyone left and not one person signed up. NOT ONE.

I sat down at the front desk and cried… ugly cried… for about an hour. Maybe two. Did I do something wrong? How am I going to pay rent? What have I done?!

The following day, one person came in and joined. She’s still a member to this day. From that point forward, it was one membership… one person, one story… at a time. Slower than I thought we’d grow? Yes. But the perfect speed to show me the importance of every single person? Absolutely. I believe that was part of the plan.

For the first two and a half years, I also had a full-time career in IndyCar racing, traveling all over the country for races to earn the paycheck that would keep the doors open at KAHA. I can remember nights where my flight would land at 11pm and I’d head to the gym to clean until 2 or 3am.

Vacuuming at 3am is exactly as exhilarating as you’d imagine.

I’d be completely out of line if I didn’t mention the incredible team of instructors at KAHA and how if it weren’t for them, this place would never have made it. They continue to amaze me every day… energy, enthusiasm, humor, selfless acts, the list goes on and on. During those first two really rough years, on more than one occasion, I’ve had instructors offer to teach for free to get us through the rough patches. There aren’t enough positive words in the dictionary to describe this team.

Late in 2016, I lost my racing job. I had to teach BodyAttack one hour after getting the news so despite feeling like someone had kicked my dog, I got up on that stage determined to not let anyone see the fear and stress I was carrying. I’ll never forget that one of the members approached me after class and commented that I had tons of energy that day. I confided the news with her. All she said was, “Here’s my number. Call me later.” She would later become my business coach and more importantly, a great friend.

In January 2017, through coaching, I finally discovered the vision of KAHA: Building strong people (physically, mentally, emotionally) and then paying that strength forward into the Indianapolis community. Simply put, I wanted to build a community of strong people who would “be the ripple” to make others’ lives better too.

Ultimately, I want people to know that KAHA FITNESS is a welcoming, non-judgemental space that offers a great variety of fitness classes, and modifiers for every fitness level. Also, we take our results seriously. Ourselves? Not so much. Our community is what makes it different and I strive every day to keep asking the members what they want, in the hopes of making it THEIR gym, not mine.

When that vision was clear, KAHA thrived. Our membership doubled in six months and I would constantly hear things like, “This place changed my life” or “There’s just something special here.”

We started outgrowing our old space. It had one bathroom, parking was always an adventure and let’s just say that the people in our cycling classes got to be really cozy: “Is that my sweat or yours?”

When I began to explore expansion, something in the back of my mind kept presenting itself: Over the years at KAHA, we had so many women coming to class and mentioning that they wanted their fill-in-the-blank guy (husband, boyfriend, friend, etc.) to come to class with them but… “he won’t try group fitness.” It’s like a weird stigma in the United States. When guys think group fitness, the first images that pop into their heads are somewhere between Jazzercize and Richard Simmons. So for most guys, it’s a hard no.

That played a factor in exploring options for the new space. Someone mentioned CrossFit and I quickly dismissed it at first. Have you ever heard the saying, “People have the most to say about things they know the least about?” That was me with CrossFit. I had a million reasons why I wasn’t interested without ever having done any research on it.

Reluctantly, I decided to explore it a bit further. I watched videos, read articles and talked to coaches who actually knew what they were doing. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong and wow, was I wrong about what I thought CrossFit was. To make a long story short, through learning, doing and seeing people’s results in our own gym, I drank the Kool-Aid. I believe in CrossFit.

When I initially applied to be a CrossFit affiliate, the name I requested was CrossFit KAHA. Turns out, there’s a CrossFit KAHA already in existence in Brazil. Just to clarify, Brazilians have nice booties AND the name CrossFit KAHA. Slow golf clap for Brazil.

So our incredible team of CrossFit coaches got together and brainstormed. We knew that there were two things we wanted our name to convey: 1) The idea of community, and 2) the idea of bettering ourselves, both in health/fitness and in life. And so, Together We Rise CrossFit opened its doors in August of 2017.

I did a lot of brand identity exploration with TWR CrossFit because the vision didn’t come quite as clearly as KAHA’s did. Ultimately, what I want people to know about Together We Rise CrossFit is that we are here to do work and we are unapologetically fun. We use the phrase, “Train hard, life hard”because we believe in balance. When it is time to train, get your head in the game, be disciplined and push your limits. Outside of the gym, enjoy all the amazing things this life has to offer. Together we push our limits. Together we celebrate the achievements in and out of the gym. Together we support each other through the challenges in workouts and in life. Together… We Rise.

There’s a popular quote from Pat Sherwood that I love: “The goal is just to get fit. Make it the best hour of your day. Stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people and blow off some steam. So remember that. Relax. Have fun. Work out.”

It’s that simple.

So group fitness and CrossFit… on the surface, an unlikely duo. KAHA FITNESS and Together We Rise CrossFit may have separate addresses and different identities, but they share the same roof, and under that roof, we are ALL here to better ourselves. We’re just choosing different workouts to get there.

People ask me all the time what I recommend, and here it is: I recommend not choosing a side. I recommend doing what makes you happy that day. I recommend grabbing a protein shake and hanging out with your friends in the lobby for a while. Talk about your workout and your goals, but also about your life and your stories. Meet a new person and reminisce with people you’ve been next to in class for years. I recommend stopping me in the hallway or out on the gym floor, and telling me your story. You aren’t a number here. I’m going to push you to be your best so help me get to know you.

Group fitness, CrossFit, basketball, ballet… they’re all tools in making us stronger human beings. Do what works for you, enjoy doing it and then clap for your damn self on making an “effort investment” in YOU. It’s the best investment you can make, and we’re thankful that you’re doing it under our roof at KAHA FITNESS and Together We Rise CrossFit.

Why does everyone want a case of the Mondays?

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(Written by Kiel Holman, Together We Rise CrossFit Trainer)

Monday: The most complained about day in history. Yet so many people say, “I will start working out [or eating right or get organized and motivated at work] on Monday.” The day you dread is also the day you feel you are going to be super stoked to start a big goal?! But hey, TGIM right? That’s almost like telling someone to calm down when they’re already calm.

“Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.”

Look, there is nothing wrong with always trying to have a super positive outlook. Positive vibes are great, but sometimes simply accepting that you aren’t happy with your physical and/or mental health, or your job, or any other aspect of your life, is just as beneficial. Waiting a day or a week to make a life change is not going to make you any more motivated to make it happen.

Accept it but here’s the key: MAKE A PLAN TO CHANGE IT.

There are 86,400 seconds in every day. That’s 86,400 opportunities EVERY day that could be your moment. The moment you made the decision to take action instead of just talking about it. Whether you want to start working out, eat healthy, get a new job or climb the ladder at your current one; any hour, any minute, any second could be that moment. Why wait until tomorrow or next week? What is wrong with right now?

I’m sure some of you are thinking, Thanks for the encouragement bro, but I’m at work or with my kids, can’t just drop everything and hit the gym. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m not a delusional idiot. I get it, but in that moment when you leave work or drop the kids off and are about to start making excuses as to why you can’t go to the gym, that is the moment I’m talking about.

Consistency is the key to almost everything. You want to lose weight or just simply eat better? Consistently make healthy food choices. You want to get strong or improve your fitness? Consistently hit the gym. You want a raise at work? Consistently exceed expectations. Easier said than done, I know. Here are some tips:

1. Don’t let a bad meal turn into a bad day, or a bad day turn into a bad week. So you had a weak moment and smashed a quadruple-sized breakfast meal with 37 sugars in your coffee. Your day does not have to be ruined, turn things around at lunch. And for the love of all things, when starting a nutrition plan, your first thought/question should not be about cheat meals. EARN IT by being consistent first!

2. You Google a new fitness routine and you’re jacked to start. The program is set up for Monday, Wednesday, Friday but today is Wednesday. Sweet, I’ll start on Monday! WRONG. It’s just simply day one, day two, day three, with a rest day in between. So today or tomorrow is day one, skip a day and do day two, skip a day and do day three.

3. I do all the work and someone else gets credit, I get passed up for promotions because my boss hates me, insert all other complaints here. Don’t ever let anyone control your success. One thing my dad always told me growing up in sports was, “Make it impossible for them to take you off the field.” Meaning, if you consistently crush it, they can’t ignore you. If there are ridiculous politics, then move on elsewhere but even the most horrible boss wants to make money. Control your effort, your mindset and your results, and you will get where you want to be.

At the end of the day, something either matters to you or it doesn’t, there is no in-between. As the saying goes: “If it is important to you, you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse.” — Someone smart

We all push things off sometimes. We think, If I could just get past this, or pay that off, or wait until my schedule changes… I hate to break it to you, but you will never have all your ducks in a row and no one ever has all their crap together. Life is always going to happen. You will make mistakes and have setbacks, but don’t let them be reasons you stopped, just get back on it the next meal or next workout or next work day. It is easier to figure out a way to keep going than to get started in the first place. The clock is ticking, so pick your second, your moment and make the change.

The Church of CrossFit: From Atheist to Believer


(Written by Monica Hilton, Together We Rise CrossFit Owner)

I believe that there are two types of CrossFit videos in this world:

1. The world’s fittest athletes doing things most humans wouldn’t dare to try. A 570lb dead lift? No thanks, I’m good.

2. The world’s not-so-experienced athletes doing things most humans shouldn’t dare to try. Right, um, you know your body wasn’t designed to bend like that, mmmmkay?

For years, I watched these two types of videos scroll through my social media feeds. Every time I saw one, I had the same thought: CrossFit? Nope. But thanks.

I have more than a decade of experience in the fitness industry and have owned a group fitness studio for three years. I thought I had tried all the options I ever wanted to pursue. Until one day when a friend invited me to actually try a CrossFit workout. Okay, it took several invitations.

Absolutely not. Well, maybe. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

I was prepared to hate it and already had my excuses lined up for not doing another one. Turns out, I never needed those excuses. From my first 200m run to my first wall ball, I was hooked. And I’m 5’ tall so let’s just say wall balls don’t come easy… 9’ is a long way up there. Plus, we did Sally. I was exhausted and wanted to eat all the things, but I was ALL IN.

Sure, the moves are challenging and learning this foreign language of CrossFit took me back to my seven years of poor Spanish skills but there was one thing that rocked my fitness world: community.

I had always pictured CrossFitters as an elitist group of athletes who welcomed no man/woman but the fittest. In my mind, you had to work out at a regular gym in order to work out at a powerhouse gym in order to workout at a CrossFit gym (see video description #1 above). If you pictured some dude turning to some other dude and saying, “Do you even CrossFit, bruh?” then we’re on the same page.

But on that fateful day, I saw people of all fitness levels bettering themselves AND helping each other.

When I attended my CrossFit Level 1 certification course, the community aspect was crystal clear. We were presented with the WOD and this info: “You’ll be divided in teams of three. If your team finishes first, DO NOT go take a team selfie and label it #Winners. That’s not the CrossFit way. Instead, you cheer on the team next to you. When you both finish, both teams cheer on the team next to them, and so on.”

So what happened? At the end, one team was finishing the WOD with fifty… FIFTY people cheering them on. And that is the CrossFit way. That is the community I believe in, and why I feel so strongly about encouraging that camaraderie in my gym. And so, Together We Rise (TWR) CrossFit was born.

In addition to the community aspect, I knew I had to tackle the second type of video I mentioned above. Safety is key, so I hired an elite team of trainers who are focused on results through safety, efficiency and then intensity.

Scalability is also paramount, so new participants have plenty of options to complete the workouts as well. Have you seen the video of the 70-year-old woman doing pistol squats? Or the 82-year-old doing burpees? What was your excuse again?

Finally, programming is a very important part of the equation and the TWR programming is “intentional.” CrossFit preaches constantly-varied functional movements performed at high intensity, and obviously we follow that. The posted WOD from CrossFit.com is a great option, but having programming specifically designed for our members makes it a customized experience.

So there you go: I’m a believer. Chances are, if you have a doubt in your mind, I had it too. Not everybody was born with a barbell in their hands but I’m here to tell you that anyone can do CrossFit and when you find the right community, it changes the game.