I was fat. There is no other way of saying I was severely overweight. I had reached a point where I was hovering around 255 pounds and probably more. That's up from hovering in the 190's in the Marines. (The top two photos are shocking to me now.)

A year ago I made the decision to change that and the last I checked I'm down around 220 for a loss of almost 35lbs.

Sept. 11th last year was when I recorded my first run in my quest. I couldn't even make it past 1.5 miles. Just under a year later I ran ten times that. I ran 15 miles as part of my training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Never in a million years did I think I could do that. I crave running now, even when I'm hurt I cannot wait to get back out there.

I didn't keep it to just running either. I also started doing Crossfit twice a week. I was a little worried because so many times in the past had I wasted money on gym memberships but never used them but this time it was different. Not only was my resolve different but I found an awesome gym in CrossFit HARD that was filled with fantastic Coaches and other members. Finding a gym with good Coaches and great people was key. I've made some awesome friends that hold me accountable if I don't show up and encourage me and celebrate with me when I set a new personal record.

This past weekend I bought some new cloths and I took a gamble with the sizes I brought to the changing room. A year ago I was wearing 40in waist pants and XL shirts. I had gone down to 38 during the past year but this time I not only took 36in pants but Large fitted shirts. I was in shock when they fit me perfectly... I nearly yelled out in the middle of the store. (The bottom two photos are in those very cloths.)

I will be the first to admit that I haven't even done everything that I could have to lose weight. I still eat like garbage but I have cut out 90% of the sodas I used to drink and I mostly drink water and coffee now. Diet is my next step.

I'm now so much more active than I used to be. I run 3-4 times a week, Crossfit twice a week, and now I'm climbing 1-2 times a week. I cannot stand lazy days anymore. I have to do something active!

I want to thank so many people that have been there with me along the way. Gotta thank my Running Harem: Joan Merle SchaeferKathryn Hamilton, and Megan Hollis for the constant encouragement and help making running fun. Sean White and Salib Yoler for running my first two Half Marathons with me. The Coaches at CrossFit HARD for being awesome: Graham Harding,Victor Xavier PolicarpioDavid A. SegunAnthony Kemp, and the others. My Crossfit friends: Erin LawsKen WongPia Dozo-RodriguezDaphne Dozo-RodriguezJulie Marie, and John Roy for all the shared high fives after killing ourselves.

This isn't the end either. About a week after turning 32 I will run the Marine Corps Marathon. Who knows if I will continue the long distances, maybe I will if my body and joints hold together. I will only get stronger and faster. Bring it on!

John Braden


I played sports growing up and considered myself to be pretty active up through my mid 20’s. After graduate school I found myself at a typical corporate desk job and could slowly feel myself getting out of shape as I approached my late 20’s. I CrossFitted during grad school for a few months and generally liked it so I decided to give it a go as a way to stay in shape outside of work. I went to a couple boxes in the area in September of 2014, but really liked CrossFit Hard. After my first or second workout at CrossFit Hard I knew I would join, but really didn’t know how long how would stick with it (maybe 6 months or a year until I got bored or tired of it and tried something else I thought).  Well fast forward 2 years and I’m still at Crossfit Hard and love it. I’ve benefitted so much from the gym over the past 2 years including getting in great shape, feeling great overall with increased energy, and making some great friends along the way.


The best part about the gym has been the culture. The coaches and staff make it fun to come out and workout and there is a real sense of camaraderie among the members, which is the main reason I kept coming back for more! Also, by sticking with it and rarely taking time off outside of vacation and the holidays I was able to really see results. I gained muscle and leaned up in the process, which I give full credit to Crossfit Hard (it certainly wasn’t from my desk job).  Another added benefit was the increased energy I felt from feeling healthy and being in great shape. I have much more energy at work which has helped me in my career and outside of work. I take pride in being energetic and young at heart outside of CrossFit and it all starts with the work you put in inside of the gym. CrossFit Hard really did change my life, because I feel great and really understand the importance of getting into and maintaining your health. Just like everything in life it’s about balance and CrossFit keeps me in line health-wise, energy-wise, and is great way to make great lasting friendships.


"Before I started at Crossfit Hard, I had done the gamut of both traditional and newer workouts: yoga, spinning, kickboxing, barre, etc.  Two things inspired me to try Crossfit - learning to weight-lift, and that every session would be a completely different workout and experience.  After a few sessions I was hooked, and have since stayed loyal to three workouts a week as much as possible because I am excited to go!  The most inspiring thing about Crossfit Hard is the motivation and comradery shared between the members and the coaches.  I never imagined I'd be bench pressing with a group of gals supporting each other or watching as everyone cheers on another member who just achieved a new personal record on a back squat.  The coaches here are seriously intent about form and safety and will spend as much time as anyone needs to review or help with modifications.  They show sincere interest in training and motivating us and love to see us achieve goals.  Combine that with a clean, functional space and new, top-of-the-line equipment and you've got what I would consider the best place to train in the area.  Crossfit Hard was a total game changer for me and I tell anyone who will listen just how much I love it here."



"There is no better feeling then lying on the floor after a brutal workout...."

I love playing basketball. It’s been my main passion growing up. I was introduced to “CrossFit” through one of my basketball coaches, after hearing about how much CrossFit pushes you both mentally and physically, I was hooked. I have now been CrossFitting for a little over a year, and it has been nothing short of incredible. CrossFit has been more than just a great workout regimen for me. Being a teenager, it is easy to get caught up in looking like your classmate on social media or an actress on a magazine cover but CrossFit provides a different outlook on "perfect". The athletes focus on strength and ability, not pant size or thigh gaps. There is no better feeling then lying on the floor after a brutal workout knowing that you kicked its butt or telling your parents your latest time/PR. CrossFit has done so much for me, and I can't wait to keep building a stronger version of myself.    My next upcoming goals are to compete in local competitions, and in the upcoming year - hopefully, qualify for the 2016 Teen CrossFit Games! 

Being at CrossFit Hard has been one of the most positive experiences I have had. I have never been around a more supportive group of people which is led by Coach Graham and Coach Vic. I remember my first “CrossFit” workout with Coach Vic, and it was the CrossFit Open Workout 15.1. The members and all the coaches cheered me on like I had been there for years! With his knowledge about on speed and agility, Coach Vic has taught me to approach basketball (and all sports) in a new way. What I love most about “Hard” coaches is how the encouraging and positive environment makes you feel like ANYTHING is possible. Regardless of age, experience, or skill level, Coach Vic and Coach Graham will push you to be the best YOU can be. I have met so many incredible people at CrossFit Hard! The loving community combined the positive environment make it easy to want to better yourself each time you step through the doors. 

My advice to someone new or thinking about trying CrossFit, is that CrossFit is not at as difficult or impossible as the media makes it out to be. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain from at least trying it out, especially if you want to get better at your sport! But most of all, I love my sense of confidence and athleticism that I have to thank Vic, Graham, and the rest of the “Hard” coaches for giving me.


On December/2014 I started doing CrossFit at CrossFit Hard. I am loving it. Today I am stronger than ever. Before the only exercise I have ever done was walking, and I am 50 years old. At CrossFit Hard I found new way to live my life. Graham Harding has been helping me with my nutrition and all the questions that I have about fitness. Since my first class I always felt welcomed at the gym. I am so happy to be part of the CrossFit Hard.


I have truly truly enjoyed my time at Crossfit Hard. Over the years have been to a number of crossfit boxes in the US (starting with Balance Gym in 2007, in LA, and elsewhere)... your gym is far and away the best that I have been to - in terms of quality of training/instruction, relaxed atmosphere, and a true feeling of family and community. Crossfit Hard is really what I will miss most when I leave DC.  


I am from Bulgaria. Have a short time in the US but went to Crossfit HARD, LIKED the box from first sight. Loved all the coaches and think this BOX IS GREAT !!! Very nice , social and friendly box !!! I LOVE IT.
Thank you guys you are THE BEST

CrossFit Journal: The Performance-Based Lifestyle Resource