Coach & Owner, Bambi Panagiotis
CF-L1, CF L-2, CF Olympic Weightlifting, CF Mobility, CF Self-Defense, CF Sports Specific Application, CF Masters – 2 Time Masters Regionals Qualifier finishing first in the State of Louisiana in 2017 and 86th in the World.
I came to CrossFit Breaux Bridge in the late spring of 2012. I didn’t come to gain muscle or lose weight. I didn’t come because I had something wrong with my body that I wanted to fix. I didn’t come because I wanted to compete. I came mostly for two reasons: a hunger for intensity and a desire to grow stronger as I grew older.
I am by nature a privately passionate person. Not a stranger to personal tragedy and some tough life failures, I struggled with self-doubt, incompleteness, feeling unacceptable. Like for many women, life was like a Giant constantly reminding me that I. Wasn’t. Enough. Not smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, thin enough, charismatic enough …… I just didn’t have enough – ‘enough.’ Yet even so, that passionate part of me never stopped believing that there is a fierceness in each of us that can overcome anything, if we are willing to dig deep, do the dirty work, and tap into it.
I was a spectator at the first competition that CrossFit Breaux Bridge participated in. I had never seen so many people, everyday people of varying ages, pushing themselves past what seemed humanly possible. It was intense and grueling and yet joy-abounded. These people were having fun. As I watched and as I cheered, I began to feel a gnawing in my gut, a bubbling thought, that in this . . . I could find my fierceness. That if I would dig deep and do the dirty work, that I could tap into it and find my fierceness.
I also knew I needed to grow stronger and not just older. Just prior to that competition, on a lizard hunt with my then 4 year old grandson, I found myself in a situation where for the first time that I could remember, I was almost not quite strong enough to prevent heavy sheets of plywood from falling on him. I had been a ‘yogi’ for many years and was not struggling with my weight, but ‘strength’ and ‘fitness’ were in whole different category.
The Monday following that first competition, I became a member of CFBB. It has reminded me of principles that I had always lived by but seemed to have somehow forgotten: strive for excellence; “I can’t” is not an acceptable excuse for not trying; we have what it takes; give 100% or give nothing; don’t be lazy; be self-competitive (do one better than you did before); and that the things you work hardest for are the things that end up having the greatest value to you.
I presently hold certifications as a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and CrossFIt Level 2 Trainer; CrossFit Weightlifting, CrossFit Mobility, CrossFIt Self-Defense, CrossFit Sports Specific Training, and most recently, CrossFIt Masters. I have been published in the CrossFit Journal, 2014 Games. I finished the 2014 Crossfit Open in 12th place in the South Central Region, qualifying me for the 2014 Master’s Regionals. During the 2017 Games Season, I finished 86th in the World, 10th in the Region, 2nd in the State in the Open and 1st in the State in the Online Qualifier.
I am 56 years old. I have been a trainer for CrossFit Breaux Bridge since February of 2014, and CrossFit St. Landry since its inception in March of 2015.
Manager, Alex Trahan (currently Head Coach at CrossFit Boro in Statesboro, GA)
Growing up, my dutiful parents signed me up for every recreational team Cecilia and Breaux Bridge had to offer. I tried tee-ball, soccer, basketball… None of them did anything for me. I was disinterested, uncoordinated and had no competitive edge. Yes, I was the kid sitting in outfield with my glove in my lap, picking flowers. My parents were quite bewildered considering my older brother’s early display of athletic ability. However, all this changed when I gave volleyball a chance in my 5th grade year at St. Bernard. Thus began my great love affair with competitive sports. From that moment on, until my sophomore year of high school, I played sport after sport after sport. Volleyball season went into soccer season. Soccer season went into track season. Track season went into softball season. And the cycle continued until the fall (pun intended) of 2007 when I tore the ACL in my right knee playing in a Varsity soccer game. I experienced a wide array of emotions in the eleven months that it took for my knee to recover from surgery. Anger, regret, frustration, boredom. But ultimately, I came to know peace and accept the setback. I returned the next soccer season more determined than ever. That is, until I tore the ACL and meniscus in my left knee only a couple of months into the season. In that moment, I cried more from knowing my high school athletic career was over than from the physical pain that ensued. I had ACL reconstruction surgery and went through physical therapy just as I had done before. Only this time, there was no peace. I could not settle with knowing that the competitive nature of sports and the compassion of a team would no longer be familiar to me. Although not clinically diagnosed, I am convinced that I drifted into a slight depression. Sports had been my life. They had been my outlet. They were there when academic pressures rose too high to handle. And then, so suddenly, they could do nothing for me. After transferring schools and going through a much-needed spiritual journey, I was complacent with my life. I forgot what it felt like to be part of something bigger than myself. I forgot what it was like to work my ass off in order to reach a goal, whether figuratively or literally. The forgetfulness helped me to cope. I went on this way through my first year of college at LSU, and then (thank God), I stumbled upon CrossFit while living in Baton Rouge. Little did I know when joining a local affiliate that my life would be forever altered. First, the sense of comradeship and the inextricable drive that comes with physical (and consequently, mental) challenges in sports, the same drive that my brain did such a wonderful job of suppressing over the years, came back to me with overwhelming force. Although that was enough to get me hooked, CrossFit continued to awe and surprise me with all of its simple goodness. Its functionality and required toughness began to seep into every aspect of my life. I approached school, relationships, and nutrition with a much healthier perspective. Where there had been an aching void in my life, CrossFit filled it. It replaced my doubt. It conquered my fears. But most importantly, it restored my confidence. It led me to an innate acceptance of who I was and who I could be. And because of that, I am eternally grateful. Why wouldn’t I want to share this amazing and awe-inspiring program with others? Why wouldn’t I want to help guide people along this fulfilling journey? I know that what CrossFit has been for me is, in many ways, similar to what it has done for most of the outstanding people that suffer through the suck, day after day, in hopes of becoming the best person they can be. And so, I hope to facilitate that experience as best as I can.
My first love in anything athletic related is definitely going to be baseball. I was a late bloomer being that my parents did not sign me up for baseball until I was about 10 years old. Since that first day I was hooked and the love and passion for the game propelled me to be a very successful player even after high school. I was a dual sport athlete, football and baseball, from middle school and stopped playing football my sophomore year in high school to focus solely on baseball.
Fast forward to when my baseball career was over and I still kept up with physical exercise by my love for water sports, wake boarding specifically. Even though I was not visiting a gym everyday, it still took an in-shape person to perform all the tricks on the water. This did peak an interest in the gym and a long road of stressing out to make my own workouts, inconsistency, and at least once a year while attending a gym, I would hurt myself. It was like clockwork that at least one time a year I would hurt my back just performing the simplest movements. The straw that broke the camels back was that the last time I hurt myself in the gym was when I bent over to pick up some dumbbells and completely tweaked my back to where I didn’t think I could drive home or even to an emergency room for help.
The injury forced me to take time off from the gym along with multiple visits to different doctors to figure out my back situation. The results from the doctors were multiple diagnoses ranging from degenerative disc disease to severe scoliosis and that I just had a bad back and a long road to recovery. During my time off, I heard that one of my high school friends and baseball teammates had opened a Crossfit gym in Lafayette. I had no clue what Crossfit was, but I wanted to do it. My doctors told me no, but after some begging and pleading, they told me that I could do it 1-2 days a week. Four and a half years later, I’ve never been back to a back doctor and I’ve never had any back issues since I started Crossfit. The functional movements and the strengthening of my core literally saved my life.
After two and a half years at my first Crossfit gym, a group of individuals opened up a CrossFit box in my home town called Crossfit St. Landry. I knew Josh and his family through my brother in law from whenever Josh was in high school. I did research on his first Crossfit box Crossfit Breaux Bridge and I was deeply interested in his methodology resulting in me being one of the first members to sign up at CFSL.
Crossfit cannot be put in to words. If I did, I could write a book about my personal experience and how it has impacted my life. I dove in with absolutely no expectations and have come out continuing to build on my physical body as well as my overall mental state. Crossfit is more than the grueling workouts that you see and hear people talk about. The community aspect helps you help others. It fills your soul with so much accomplishment that what you intended to happen when you started: losing weight and being physically fit becomes a by product.
I love the CFSL community as an athlete and I really enjoy the chance to impact this community as a coach.
Coach, Josh Trahan
CF-L1, CF-L2, CF-L3 CF Kids, CF Olympic Weightlifting, CF Mobility, CF Endurance, CF Strongman, CF Adv. Olympic Weightlifting, CF Gymnastics, CF Jump Rope, CF Football, CF Striking, CF Adaptive Athlete, USAW Sports Performance Coach, 2013 Regionals Competitor, Really Good Motorcycle Rider, All Around Great Guy
My interest in fitness began in my high school years as a football player. My high school had an excellent strength and conditioning program. We performed many of the CrossFit exercises at the CrossFit level of intensity. After high school I drifted off into the body building model of fitness. Little cardio, ridiculous amounts of protein powder and supplements, and tried every order of segmented training, chest & tri’s, back and bi’s, legs, shoulders, neck, hamstrings, etc. I always trained people when I got into a routine. I was always big and strong and always found people who wanted the same thing. I read all the muscle magazines, learned everything I could about tearing and building muscle, even learned about steroids. However, the entire time I was doing this I could not shake the fact that I was completely bored, totally unmotivated, and ultimately uninspired as to the point of it all. Coming out of high school athletics, what I was essentially looking for was that competitive spark. I didn’t see the point of working out just to look good.
Not knowing where to fulfill my need for intense effort in a competitive, supportive group environment, I joined the United States Marine Corps. I loved it. The training, the blood and sweat shared amongst brothers, and the will to win all returned. But I was in the reserves so it was not a full time thing. Once training was over I returned to the daily grind and trying to return to the body building model of working out. Again miserable and questioning the point.
In 2004, I was ordered to combat. I was sent to Fallujah, Iraq to participate in Operation Phantom Fury. The need to return to a high level of fitness returned and I responded. I took four other marines under my wing and we proceeded to pack on pounds of lean, pretty, inefficient muscle. We looked great but our muscles cramped and we were out of breath every time we had to move quickly under heavy loads. (75lbs of gear) Completely disgruntled with the reality that my version of strength and fitness was unusable, I stopped altogether.
In 2005 due to a large variety of things, I began to drink. A lot. I eventually packed on 65 pounds of fat. I was miserable. I battled with alcohol over the next few years. I attended college off and on, worked various jobs, and was just generally unhappy. I had nothing to offer people. During my last attempt to return to university, I met up with an old friend who was just returning from Iraq as a recon marine. He was actually the son of my former high school strength and conditioning coach whom I had an incredible relationship with. He looked great and told me about a new program sweeping the Marine Corps called CrossFit. This was in the spring of 2010. I was interested, but tipping the scales at 5’8 280lbs I was hardly able to join in yet. I was also still struggling with a fairly severe alcohol problem. But I began to study. I got on the website daily and studied YouTube videos of the workouts. I felt the sense of community and passion and intensity and competition and functional fitness that I didn’t even realize was so important to me. I wanted in.
I had a few hurdles to surmount before I could get involved, but I was already in love with this thing. I knew it was what I was missing. I made some homemade rings and attempted a ring dip. This was hilarious. I knew I had to lose a lot of weight. I started P90X which for me ended up just being more like P9X because that’s about how long I lasted. I had to quit drinking. I knew, though, that I had found something that I wanted to be a part of.
Following a disastrous series of events I moved to Georgia to get help with my drinking. While living in a residential treatment facility, I immediately embarked on the long road of recovery which for me was a spiritual as well as a physical climb from the bottom. With CrossFit in my sights as a total philosophy, not simply a workout program, and AA as a spiritual program, my journey began. Along the way I saw so many similarities within the two. With no car and working at McDonald’s walking 8 miles per day back and forth to work, I began a plan to rise from my current situation. I based my diet on the CrossFit nutrition articles going strictly paleo. Although not following the CrossFit wod’s I structured an individual workout regimen based on the CrossFit model of high intensity, constantly varied functional movement. I recruited four roommates who I began to train and teach what I had gleaned on a daily basis from the CrossFit mainsite. I subscribed to the journal and read every chance I got. I proceeded to lose over 45 pounds in less than 3 months. My self-esteem was returning, I was sober, and my overall vitality and energy level steadily increased. People noticed.
Having cut down from 267 pounds to 220 pounds I took my trainees and I decided to begin mainsite CrossFitting. With hardly any money we scrounged and obtained a weight bar, a door mount pull up bar, a bucket of sand, and some rings. We began to mimic the mainsite as best as we could. We built PVC paralettes and found a kettlebell. I thought we were in decent shape, but we were sore for a month. It took a month before we could even finish the workouts and another month before we were finishing them at a decent time. I also lost another 15 pounds. After 5 months I was in better shape than I have ever been and my dream began to become a CrossFit trainer and open my own box. I returned home from treatment in the middle of January and began working out at a local affiliate learning as much as I could about box management and training techniques. I have visited all of the local boxes to glean wisdom and knowledge (and phone numbers) from affiliate owners. After 7 months sober and my radical philosophical, spiritual, and physical change, my father decided to support my dream financially. I registered and completed my level 1 certification. My life has been amazing since getting sober and CrossFit has been fundamental in my transformation. Bringing CrossFit to the general public is my passion.
And Lil Wayne is the best rapper alive.