Stephen Gizzi - Co-Owner/Head Coach
Gizzi did not hesitate when I asked him who his fitness hero is, “Chris Spealler exemplifies the sentiment that the mind is primary. The guy was competitive at the highest level for years against athletes that on paper were far superior to him.” And it is this same focus on training the mind that the athletes at Left Coast CrossFit love in owner and coach Stephen Gizzi.
Raised in Orange County, it was his father, a tennis and soccer coach, who set the standard of coaching for Gizzi. “I have always been extremely active, and into sports and training for sports. I have also been coaching people in some capacity since I was 13, coaching younger kids at a soccer camp. I feel very fortunate that my job is getting to do what I love and would be doing no matter what. It is the perfect marriage of coaching and active lifestyle.”
When Gizzi first discovered CrossFit from a college teammate he thought it was strange. But when he realized the potency hidden in his first CrossFit workout, Fran, he was sold. What Gizzi discovered in CrossFit is “the incredibly broad scope of athleticism that it creates and encompasses. The concept of a well-rounded athlete, someone who snatches 300 pounds, runs a sub 5-minute mile, and can do ten strict muscle ups as the end goal, means there is virtually endless opportunity to learn and grow as an athlete.”
Coaching first at CrossFit Tustin, it was only natural then that Gizzi’s natural talent for coaching and athleticism pair with CrossFit. Now, as Left Coast’s owner and a well-respected figure in Orange County CrossFit community, his commitment to the athlete and good foundational coaching remains the same. “My favorite part of coaching is seeing someone realize they are capable of much more than they previously thought possible. I also love finding out a person’s goal, and then helping them to get there.” But Gizzi also expects the same commitment in return, “What is most difficult for me is when people are inconsistent in their attendance. It makes it almost impossible to make progress.”
This formula of commitment and expectation works well for the athletes at Left Coast. And it is telling that all of Gizzi’s favorite fitness moments involve his athletes, not him. “I can recall several. Most recently seeing John Gottron get his first bar muscle up, or Kyra getting her first pull-ups. I also remember when Mary Ann got her first strict pull-up. And as cheesy as it sounds, every time Ryan Hayes walks in the door.”
It is this same sense of dedicated and honest service that Gizzi hopes to continue with Left Coast CrossFit, growing organically while they broaden their scope of service to the community. “Starting with Olympic lifting and the kid's program. Eventually, I’d like to get a gymnastics program and have an endurance program take root. I’d also like to see the community grow tighter through more events in and outside of the gym.”
But Gizzi’s core elements remains the same. “I’ve always been told by my dad and other coaches that sports are a microcosm of life. I believe this to be true of CrossFit as well. The lessons I learn in here (how to handle being uncomfortable, how to deal with disappointment, the pleasure of working really hard for a goal and then achieving it, the list goes on) stay with me when I leave the gym.” It is these same lessons that Stephen Gizzi helps those at Left Coast achieve, in the gym and out of the gym he is an example to us all.
CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
CrossFit Level 2 Certificate
Advanced Olympic Weightlifting Seminar at Catalyst Fitness with Greg Everett and Danny Camargo
CrossFit Aerobic Capacity
Dave Durante's Power Monkey Gymnastics Seminar
USAW Sports Performance Coach
Josh Miller - Co-Owner/Head Coach
The first time Joel Thompson of CrossFit Tustin told Josh Miller he was made for CrossFit, it didn’t quite stick. Running another leg of a 200 mile Ragnar, Josh wondered why he was struggling. As a child growing up in the San Fernando Valley, he had gone on to Pierce College to play collegiate volleyball. Miller was young, fit, and regularly trained at his local 24 Hour Fitness where he tediously wrote his programming. He thought he had it all under control, and yet this Ragnar smoked him.
Sometime later Josh and his family moved to Visalia, an agricultural town just northeast of San Francisco. Once he discovered there were no 24 Hour Fitness gyms, he needed a Plan B. He remembered what an old friend’s sister told him once, imploring him to try CrossFit. This time, he listened.
While he got his feet on the ground in a new city, he opened his garage to his church’s youth organization, leading them in workouts on nights and weekends. Remembering what Joel Thompson said at that Ragnar, Josh reached out to him, working with him to open his first gym, CrossFit Visalia.
Josh found himself hooked on the functionality of CrossFit. “I like when I have those times when I come across something new or something I haven’t done in a while, and I have no doubt in my mind that I am physically prepared for it. Being physically and also mentally prepared for anything.” One of the things Josh is currently preparing for is the CrossFit Games.
When asked about his proudest fitness moment, he halts modestly. Instead, he lists a series of accomplishments that stood out for him: a 400# back squat, a 245# snatch, 320 consecutive double-unders, but he’s most proud of his continual growth towards getting to the games. “I wanted to place 100 places better each year in my region. I started out at 404 in the 2012 open and each year after went like this: 284, 218, 125, and 76.” Josh believes every small victory should be celebrated, and he does, celebrating each milestone achievement with his wife, Jennifer, and their four children; Joyful, Josiah, Jachai, and Jaye Grace. (Is this the right order and spelling?) But then, and quickly, Josh gets back to work as co-owner and coach at Left Coast CrossFit in Laguna Niguel, Ca.
“Mechanics, consistency, then intensity. That is the way I have tried to do CrossFit myself. I believe it has really built a strong foundation in my own movements and coaching.” He also has big plans for Left Coast CrossFit to incorporate nutritional coaching, more personal training, CF Kids, Endurance Programs, continuing with Left Coast’s Performance team, growing and giving back to a healthier community. Josh wants to get more people to not be intimidated by CrossFit, to break the cultural myth that everyone is already fit that comes to CrossFit. “They think everyone is already fit that comes here, that they need to get fit to start CrossFit. When actually the best way to get fit for CrossFit is CrossFit, scaled appropriately.”
It’s a tall order; a large, young family. Training for the games. Coaching and growing an already thriving community at Left Coast. Sometimes, after a twelve hour day spent coaching and training sometimes from 5 am to 8 pm, with kids and school functions in the middle, or a private session with a newcomer or a PR on his nemesis - hand stand push up’s - Jennifer will tease him that he thinks he can do anything. But when she asks him if it had been a bad day Josh never hesitates. Every time his answer is, “No. It was a hard day but it was a good day.”
CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
CrossFit Level 2 Certificate
USA Weightlifting Sports Performance
CrossFit Endurance Running
CrossFit Aerobic Capacity
Dave Durante's Power Monkey Gymnastics
Dianne Fu Weightlifting
Alexander Method SMR
Angela Martin - CrossFit Coach
Left Coast CrossFit coach Angela Martin can sometimes catch people off guard. A tall breathtakingly beautiful Australian, she is also diehard in her belief that woman can do anything. And she exhibits this daily, continuing to coach and train well into both of her pregnancies. At the time of this writing, she is 20 weeks pregnant with her second daughter and still gets under the bar daily, clobbering people in Metcons and cheering on those training next to her. Any day in the gym with Angela is a good day.
Growing up in Australia, Angela was taught she could do anything. In primary school, she was taught competency in sports like t-ball, netball, tennis, track and field, touch football, long distance running, and was swimming by age 6. She had learned other valuable life skills such as cooking, carpentry, and sewing. “I can still sew you a pillow case or take in your garment if you need. Build some shelves? No problem.”
After graduating high school Angela went overseas on a traveling adventure, starting with four weeks driving all over New Zealand, learning to snowboard. Then she flew everywhere; England, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, France, Brussels, Belgium, Italy, and Hong Kong. This love for travel led her to work as a flight attendant where she found herself based in the Middle East. One day shortly after her placement in Bahrain, Angela watched a group of 35-45-year-old men running around, a fast moving scramble of sweaty bodies that seemed impossible to decipher. She knew immediately she wanted to do what they were doing. They told her it was called CrossFit, and they invited her to their next workout. Angela’s first workout was “Filthy Fifty” which remains her favorite workout to this day. From day one Angela knew she was hooked, “I feel CrossFit provides so many things; structure, emotional stability, encourages teamwork, hard work, confidence, perseverance, support, loyalty, which all transfers through to life in general.”
Now, as a wife and mother, Angela remembers her childhood in Australia and her childhood lessons. It is this same can-do spirit that Angela embodies now, working tirelessly to champion physical and health education in children. “Nutritional education is at the top of my list and equally important to teach children from a young age. We are here to teach and guide our children for the generations to come, if we set horrible examples because our parents didn’t teach us how to cook or look after ourselves emotionally and physically then that’s exactly what they will turn out to be!” Nutritional coaching is just one of the areas of expertise Angela brings with her as a coach at Left Coast. Angela has coached many places, including all over South Orange County before settling in here at Left Coast. She also works outside of the gym to educate people about the health benefits of diet and exercise. “Getting the children excited about cooking and healthy food choices is where we need to start. They will thank us later on.” And Angela lives this truth, working out right alongside everyone at Left Coast, moving the weights and gliding through movements, hoping to work out until the day before her daughter is born, just like she did through her last pregnancy, lifting up others and encouraging women and children everywhere to do the same.
Tim Chaplin - CrossFit Coach
It is not too common to hear someone say their favorite workout is Murph, the grueling workout where you complete a one-mile run, 100 Pull-ups, 200 Push-ups, 300 Squats, followed by a second one-mile run, for time, in a weighted vest. But Murph is the favorite workout of Left Coast CrossFit’s coach Timothy Chaplin. “I went to high school with LT Michael Murphy, the namesake of the Hero WOD, and it holds a special place in my heart.” But the work ethic required of Murph is something that was instilled in Tim from a young age. Raised by his mother, whom he refers to as a Superhero, along with his siblings in Long Island, he spent every weekend working alongside his grandparents in the bar and grill they owned. “I did a little bit of everything, upkeep of the building, cleaning, cooking, and just learning to be an adult at a young age.”
At eighteen, looking for a challenge, Tim left home to join the Marines where he found the physical demands to be difficult. He trained hard, built relationships, and paid attention. “It was such an amazing experience. I stayed in for twenty years because of the love that Marines have for each other.” One day a group of Marines told him about this thing called CrossFit. “I thought they were nuts. They were in great shape, but man they did some workouts that were seemingly too intense for me since we were already training pretty hard.” Eventually, Tim decided to give it a try, “I thought, if they were in that great of shape, and getting stronger, then I wanted to get in.” The first WOD Tim completed with his fellow Marines was brutal, a mixture of running, thrusters, pull-ups, then more running. “I loved/hated it instantly.”
Soon enough, Tim was hooked, logging his own Murph time and mastering the snatch, his favorite lift. “CrossFit works, and that is what really enamored me. That and the feeling in every workout that people genuinely care about each other's progress.” He found his way into coaching, which came naturally to him, wanting to replicate that feeling of community he had in the Marines. “I spent the majority of my career developing and coaching Marines in various skills, so coaching CrossFit became a great fit for me to help others outside the military as well.” Tim began coaching at Oceanside CrossFit, as well as Ladera Ranch Strength and Conditioning before finding his home at Left Coast.
“CrossFit has helped me work hard and be humble in my work and personal life. Life is about working hard, staying grounded, and helping those around us be better. The community is such a fantastic reminder of what we can be like if we focus on bettering ourselves and those around us.” On top of coaching athletes to be their best, Tim also encourages the same when he’s outside of the gym, where he can be found shooting photographs and spending time with his “Little Brother” Colby. “He and I have been matched for almost three years through Big Brothers Big Sisters, and he is amazing.” Tim is found smiling at every class, with an open and honest nature, 100% sure that the important thing is to give back. “The most difficult part of coaching is keeping up with my fitness as well as being as available as possible. With the demands of life, it can all become a challenge in a 24-hour day.” But he does it, every day: Coaching at Left Coast, training, and working as the Director of Human Resources and Leadership with the Big Brother Big Sister organization. But what is most telling is when I asked Tim what his plan for the future is. “My immediate goals are to be the best coach, athlete, and human that I can.” In other words, a Superhero like his mother.
Brittany Marsh - CrossFit Coach
Growing up in Ohio, Brittany Marsh, lovingly referred to as “The Fit One” in her family, played a lot of sports. She ran track, played soccer, and learned how to swim from US Olympic Coach, Jerry Holtry. Both her parents are teachers, and her father coached baseball and soccer. So, it was only assumed natural when Brittany began coaching swimming herself, in high school. “I knew I loved championing others and still enjoyed coaching even though my sport preference changed.” Swimming and playing soccer through college, Brittany discovered she wanted to continue her athletics after graduation.
“After college, I played soccer, did triathlons, played softball, but nothing really stuck.” Finally, Brittany discovered CrossFit and something stuck. It took some wooing on CrossFit’s part though, to win Brittany over. “I had a love-hate relationship. I was definitely NOT a natural. Everything was hard fought, and I ended up falling in love with the fact that I had worked hard for each new movement or benchmark. “ It was that challenge to herself that she found to be most endearing about CrossFit and the mental aspect of the sport has changed her. “I think what gets me most is how it confronted me, and anyone that spends some amount of time in it, with our thoughts on how we handle hard things. The brain is a wild thing, and I love how people, myself included, start CrossFit to get fit, and realize there are so many more aspects to it.”
The multi-faceted aspect of CrossFit remains endearing for Brittany. She loves that coaching can help her continue to champion her athletes, helping someone get through that mental block, whether it be a handstand push up, rope climb, or double-unders. “The victory in getting someone to embrace that they CAN do something scary is so sweet!” It's no secret that Brittany has in mind for CrossFit, and for LCCF particularly. “I'd love to see even more women embrace CrossFit. As a woman, I also love how it adds another perspective to our bodies. I know I couldn't help but believe that what I looked like mattered most, now I also care about what my body can do. Having more to pull from for our self-esteem, that just being one of the many things to gather from, well, it's powerful.”
Sara Prucha - CrossFit Coach
It’s telling to her nature that Left Coast CrossFit coach Sara Prucha, when asked what the most difficult part of coaching is, laughs. “The most difficult part is learning all your names. Sorry if I ask you four different times, there’s just so many of you!” It is that intensity to coach on a personal level that drives Sara. For most newcomers at Left Coast CrossFit Sara is their Foundations coach. “My favorite part of coaching is definitely seeing the progression of our athletes from when they started to where they are now. So many of our members inspire me by the strides they have made as athletes. It’s incredibly intimidating coming into a CrossFit gym for the first time doing foundations, and having it seem like everyone knows what they are doing but you. Being able to work through foundations with members, and then seeing them continue to come in daily and fall in love with the gym is probably one of my favorite things.”
Growing up in the Bay area, Sara experienced her own love of sports through High School. “I grew up playing every sport my parents could get me into. I ended up sticking with soccer and softball competitively through high school, but left my sports career behind me when I went off to college.” It was during college, home on break that a friend insisted Sara join her for a CrossFit class. “Although I had no prior background in weightlifting, I loved the competitive aspect of it, and I knew I would be hooked right away.” Everyone was very supportive of Sara’s instant devotion to CrossFit, with one exception. “They all know my competitive drive, and are supportive of me doing CrossFit. Except for my mom sometimes, because she’s worried I’m not going to be able to walk by the time I’m 40. Good thing we practice safe lifting at Left Coast.”
Now, Sara plans her days around getting into the gym, except if there’s a 2k row planned. “Good chance you won’t see me at the gym anytime that workout is programmed.” But she loves any day with double unders, hspu’s, and cleans. She enjoys the steady membership growth of Left Coast, and the increasing prevalence of CrossFit. “I know people always said CrossFit would become a stagnant sport, but I think LCCF is squashing that, as we are adding members daily it seems. I hope we can continue to grow and inspire new members while still keeping the tight knit community we have developed since day one.”
And it is that community that Sara strives to help thrive and grow, helping each member achieve small daily victories and grow as athletes. “I hope CrossFit continues to inspire athletes, and to motivate individuals to try something they never thought would be possible for them.” And she hopes the same for herself, too. “I don’t usually set goals for myself when it comes to CrossFit. I just try to hold myself accountable in being the best version of myself, and push myself every time I step into the gym.”
Jessica Danger - CrossFit Kids Coach
“Yeah everyone at the gym pretty much hates me on running days,” Jessica laughs. “But you know what? I actually kind of hate running now. I don’t even enjoy it anymore.” Left Coast Kids Coach Jessica Danger, a college English professor and freelance writer, spent most of her life in the library, not the gym. “Sports as a kid? Oh no, no no,” she laughs. “Maybe speed reading!”
But then her father became terminally ill, and Jessica found herself his primary caregiver while he lingered in hospice. “I was eating out of vending machines and spending hours in my car or his hospital room.” When he died, Jessica didn’t know what to do. “I just walked around in a daze, thinking and thinking. I couldn’t do it anymore. I woke up one day super overweight, embarrassed about generally everything and terribly depressed.” That’s when she found an old pair of running shoes in her closet, laced them up, and started running. “It gave me something to do with all the hours I’d otherwise spent on my father and a way to clear my head.” She was getting faster, yes, but after a while she realized that the running was just an escape. “I had to make amends with both my mind and my body.” CrossFit forced Jessica to do that.
“What CrossFit gave me was measurable results. With grief, when someone asks you how you're doing the only socially acceptable answer really is ‘Oh I’m fine. I'm fine.’ There’s no way to gauge growth in grief. But in CrossFit, I can measure my results in quantifiable increments. Today I got stronger. Today I got faster. Today I learned a new skill. Today I remained focused. Today I did not cry. Having quantifiably measured results, for me, that's growth I can understand intellectually as well as physically. It fulfills both needs.”
Now you’ll find Jessica in the gym six days a week, usually with her kids in tow. “I love bringing the kids to the gym! We love kids here!” She boasts about the already thriving community at Left Coast and ensures that the Kids Program adds to that. “I want kids to get the same feeling from CrossFit that adults do: To be able to fully inhabit your body and mind while learning new skills, finding fun but challenging thresholds, and then learning that they can do hard things. Because they can.”
Amanda Ferguson - CrossFit Kids Coach
Amanda Ferguson couldn’t even do an air squat the first time she walked into Left Coast CrossFit. She was initially embarrassed, but at the end of that Saturday morning workout she looked around, sweaty and spent, “These people are beasts, and I want to be just like them.” She hasn’t turned back since, adding CrossFit to her already full and busy life.
As a single mother Amanda is careful with her time, juggling a demanding full-time job, her son Aiden, and training. She laughs, “Give me ice cream and sleep.” But she’s worked hard these last two years in the gym. “I couldn’t believe how badly I wanted to hit certain milestones. It felt like I was 15 and wanting to get my drivers license. I wanted a pull up like I wanted my first car!” But it is her dedication to all things that Amanda reveals through CrossFit. “I’m lucky I’m alive. I am three years sober, and I fully believe that CrossFit saved me in a sense. It’s my addiction, my passion, and my saving grace.”
When she’s not in the gym, she’s outside using her newfound fitness. Since CrossFit Amanda has picked up rock climbing, hiking, and yoga. Her son, Aiden, gets to experience it all alongside her, which only helps her enthusiasm for Left Coast’s Kids program grow. “The fun and the passion and the self-confidence that go along with it is perfect for our youth.” Seeing her son aspire to do what she was doing in the gym caught her interest in CrossFit Kids. “Finding passion early in life is key. And I want to help kids find it.”
“I already see so many awesome CrossFit mom and dads that have kids that are interested in this because of watching their parents do it. I want to be able to have Left Coast members feel happy that their kids are getting something out of the same gym as them!” The same excitement over that first pull up and the now mastered air squat rolls across Amanda’s face. “Maybe one day we can have a parent and child competition!”
Ryan Belsito - Weightlifting and Sports Performance Coach
Ryan Belsito grew up in Oxford, Massachusetts where he played all the sports growing up, starting with skateboarding (I competed so yes it is a sport!), soccer, boxing, and rugby. His primary sport, though, was Track and Field. Ryan ran all through high school, a little in college, and some post-collegiate/ independent racing.
He began training in the weight room for track early in high school and has always focused on performance over aesthetics. After graduation, Ryan was planning on becoming an English teacher. But when the commercial gym he was training during college saw that he was doing things not typical for an average gym, they asked him to help develop a sports performance program. “I am admittedly not a great motivator as odd as that sounds coming from a coach. I just expect a lot out of people, which can probably be a downfall at times. However, that leads to my favorite part of coaching, when people exceed those expectations.”
Currently, Ryan competes in Weightlifting and Rugby on opposing seasons which, coupled with coaching, keeps him in the gym a lot. “I’m a creature of habit and also hyper-competitive, so luckily this isn’t really an issue for me, but I don’t know how that would change if I didn’t always have a competition to train for. I probably would just eat cookies for time if I didn’t have sports.”
Ryan’s favorite movement is sprinting. “It’s my favorite to coach, perform, and the most beneficial to the widest array of people.” Ryan’s ran a 4:42 mile and deadlifted 455 in the same year. He’s excited to be the Strength & Conditioning Coach at Left Coast CrossFit for some reasons, “My immediate and long-term goals are to positively impact and grow the sporting culture in our community. I want more exposure and participation for all parties (young, old, crippled, animal, etc.) I’m also trying to buy a house so like come train with me and maybe next year you can get invited to sweet football Sunday barbeques!”