CrossFit is catching people’s eyes as it becomes a new fitness trend


Shane Bonilla and fellow trainer Adrienne St. Claire. Photo by Joseph Pieper


KENNESAW, Ga. — CrossFit has taken the world of fitness by storm in recent years with its specialized strength and conditioning programs. Local CrossFit gym owner, Shane Bonilla, credits his gym’s success to the growing group atmosphere.

“They’re calling it like the new church,” Bonilla said. “People get to know each other so well after they sweat together, endure pain together, and bleed together.

“You’ve got a lot of other group training stuff out there, but the thing with CrossFit is they just become so close, so tight-knit. I’ve done training for a long time and the key is sustainability.”

CrossFit has many participants who are very excited about it, like Nick Perez, a member of Bonilla’s CrossFit III gym. Perez has been doing CrossFit since 2013, after Bonilla asked him to join his gym, and he has improved not only his physical fitness, but as well as his confidence levels.

“When I started CrossFit, I was 300 pounds and completely out of shape,” Perez said. “But the lowest I’ve weighed was in February of 2015, I was at 248.”

“This was a month after we had done a gym weight loss challenge called ‘Whole-Thirty,’ which is a very strict diet plan for 30 days. Through doing this challenge, Perez was able to lose 16 pounds of body fat, and gain a few pounds of muscle.

Not only has Perez lost a lot of weight, but his strength has also greatly increased. He currently has the highest maximum dead lift weight at his gym. Perez finds it incredibly rewarding to set a goal and watch it be achieved over time with hard work and persistence. In the end, fitness goals are about becoming our best self, and being better than we were yesterday.

“My dead lift max used to be somewhere in the 200 range,” Perez said. “But my max after doing CrossFit for a while went up to 500 pounds.”

In addition to lifting weights, CrossFit workouts include a dynamic warm up, plyometric exercises and cardio.

“CrossFit’s mantra is constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,” Bonilla said. “So constantly varied means your body never gets used to it, high intensity is kind of the key and that’s relative — so when you come your intensity now is going to be different than even your intensity from three months from now.”

Bonilla explained that functional movements mean doing movements that one naturally does in the real world: push, pull, press, climb, and run. There might not always be machines in a CrossFit gym because their training methods and philosophies are designed to enhance each individual’s body structure while also enhancing response time, power and diet strategies.

Perez’s dedication and perseverance has impressed Bonilla over time. He has seen him come in consistently even when he is not feeling at his best.

“He is an awesome guy that has found his place with what we do,” Bonilla said. “He is strong as hell and he continues to work hard despite it not being the easiest thing for him naturally.” Bonilla admires his determination and stick-to-it-ness.

Perez lifting. Photo by Joseph Pieper

Like Bonilla, Perez enjoys the community aspect of CrossFit and how everyone cheers each other on in order to reach their ultimate capacity and individual goals.

“That was how I became friends with them,” Perez said. “We were all in it together, so that kind of bonded us.”

Perez finds it easier to do his personal best when he has people around him rooting and cheering him on.

This team atmosphere is what keeps many people coming back to CrossFit, but it still demands a high level of commitment.

“I would say anybody could do CrossFit but it’s not for everybody,” Bonilla said. “If you miss a day when you’re usually there, you’re going to get calls, you’re going to get texts, or we even video call people in the middle of class asking where they are sometimes.”


Kennesaw State Football team working hard to prepare for the Fall 2017 season


KENNESAW, Ga. — The Kennesaw State Football team is preparing for its season opener by working hard in the summer in the gym, and on the field.

Darnell Holland Jr., a junior returning running back, has been a part of the football program since its started in 2015. Holland is ready to jump back on the field and said his goal was to win the conference title, That is what the players are working toward.

“Trusting in the plan the coaches have provided,” Holland said. “Trust our teammates. Play every game like it is your last one.”

In the gym

The Kennesaw State Football team has been working hard in all areas, including inside the weight room. Brandon Lee, a redshirt sophomore, said the players have had to wake up for 5 a.m. workouts during the summer, and later on that day will have a practice on the field.

“It was hard to do two workouts in one day, but everyone willing to get better (has) got used to it, and we push each other to get better every day in the weight room,” Lee said.

Some of the workouts that were being done were bench pressing, squats, hang cleans, and treadmill sprints. As a group, the athletes said that the treadmill sprints hurt the most, but it is a great way to build your lower body.

Their hard work in the weight room will help them to one of their goals of becoming stronger, he said.

On the field

Field practice is where the actual hitting and action takes place. Lee and Holland agreed that one of the biggest challenges of practice on the field in the summer is the heat. Their trainers keep them well hydrated, though.

If they must play every game like it was their last, Holland also says that about practice,  which means everyone needs to go as hard as they can for as long as they can so they have an opportunity to get better as a whole.

Holland also said that the reason everyone must go hard is because when you are out there on the field going hard it makes other people around you better.

“No plays off,” Lee said.

Some of the field workouts for their conditioning included 100-yard sprints, plate pushes, and tire flips. Some practice things done on the field would included one on ones, receiver catching drills, linemen blocking drills, and play-by-play scrimmages. The players said they enjoyed the scrimmaging the most because it helps them understand where they stand on the field without getting to the game, and they also said it is fun.

The players also will be going off to camp in the next couple weeks where they all stay in a hotel and the practice nearly every day to end the summer workouts. It gets very intense, but for the players who  love football, they will love it. Camp is one of their best opportunities to get better, Holland said.


Redshirt freshman works hard for his college football debut

KENNESAW, Ga. – Redshirt freshman running back Shaquil Terry is attempting to earn his stripes and trust on the field during preseason workouts with the Kennesaw State University football team.

Redshirt freshman running back, Shaquil Terry, poses on his off day from summer practice. Photo by Arthur Gray.

Terry attended and was recruited out of McAdory High School, in McCalla, Alabama, where he helped his team to a 6-0 record in the region.

Terry said he sat out last season because he felt he needed to earn trust in the coaches and did not want to waste a year of eligibility sitting on the bench.

By redshirting, he could participate in practices and workouts, but could not travel with the team or participate in games. This has made Terry work even harder on the field and in the weight room, because he is trying to prove he will put the time in to get better and show the coaches he is ready to play.

“So, dealing with sitting out a whole year was a good opportunity to learn the system better, get stronger, and just become an all-round athlete,” Terry said.

During summer workouts, Terry also has been showing he is a team player by helping anyone who falls behind, trying to motivate them.  Terry said he does this to show he is all about this team and cares about everybody’s success, because at the end of the day they all have the same record at the end of the season.

Going the Extra Mile


MARIETTA, Ga. — Aahhh, the great outdoors. Nature has such a positive effect nature on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Nature offers us a realm for exercise, solitude and spiritual awakening.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” 19th Century environmentalist John Muir once said.

Recognizing this, nature clubs have sprung up throughout Georgia offering year-round activities on land and on water. Many of these activities take place in state parks and historic sites around the state which offer safe sanctuaries for hiking, biking, running, kayaking and canoeing.

Clubs, by definition, are associations of two or more people sharing a common interest or goal. Nature is defined as the physical world and everything in it including animals, plants and landscapes. The unifying mission of Georgia’s nature clubs is getting people outside and enjoying nature.

Organized Club

The Atlanta Outdoor Club was founded in 2000 and is one of the larger outdoor clubs in the Atlanta area with 2,797 active members. Also known as the AOC, it offers a variety of activities for adults of all ages and skill levels.

Deb Riecke, a member and volunteer trip leader,  joined the club in 2013.

Deb Riecke has been an Atlanta Outdoor Club member for four years. Photo by Claudette Enners

After years of being sidetracked with work and family, “I joined the AOC as a way to get back in shape and meet new people,” said Riecke. “I am most involved in hiking and kayaking but we also do camping, backpacking, canoeing, biking, a little bit of spelunking and rock climbing.”

Most of the hikes that Riecke leads are at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks. Her favorite units are Vickery Creek, Island Ford, Gold Branch and Cochran Shoals.

Riecke’s gear. Photo by Claudette Enners

The club’s trip leaders frequently use Georgia’s national parks for their activities because the parks are well maintained and safe, parking is accessible and, if there is a fee, it is minimal.

It costs nothing to join the Atlanta Outdoors Club, but members spend money depending on the event in which they are participating.

Spontaneous Meetup Group

Meetup groups offer a plethora of spontaneous adventure opportunities in Georgia. Any member can post a meetup event online. This is different from clubs like the Atlanta Outdoors Club  because a trained leader is not mandatory to organize and lead the event.

There are 101 meetup groups tagged as Outdoor & Adventure groups within 25 miles of Atlanta. The number of registered members varies greatly from 30 to 6,194 in each group. The group names are unique and provide initial information about the group. For example:

  • Backpacking Adventures: “Take-A-Hike”, focuses on back-country hiking, hiking and backpacking, backpacking and camping and ultralight backpacking. It was founded in 2016 and has 359 hikers.
  • Georgia Adventurers Group, founded in 2008, not only offers its 6,194 members activities for fitness but knowledge as well. They take to the land, water and sky with guide books and cameras in hand.
  • Creative Recreation for Adventurous People (C.R.A.P.), clearly has a humorous take on its group which was founded in 2013 and consists of 2,589 members who call themselves “crappers”. Unlike other adventure groups, this one also includes dining out and arts and entertainment in its event listings.
  • Trails with Tails, its motto is “Have dog, will hike!” Founded in 2014, there are 497 hikers with paws. Despite its name, you don’t need a dog to participate in moderate to fast-paced trail hikes ranging from four to 15 miles.

Membership fees are set by each group as are the costs involved in each meetup activity.

Environmental Club

The Sierra Club was founded by environmentalist John Muir in 1892. It is the largest, most influential grassroots environmental organization in the nation.

The mission of the Sierra Club is:

  • To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;
  • To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources;
  • To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment;
  • And to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.

Georgia’s chapter began in 1983 to help protect Georgia communities. With over 45,000 members, the chapter is comprised of six groups divided by region: Centennial (Cobb, Cherokee and North Fulton Counties), Coastal (Chatham County-Savannah), Gwinnett (Gwinnett County), LaGrange (Troup County-LaGrange), Metro Atlanta (Fulton/DeKalb County-Atlanta) and Savannah River (SRG) (Richmond County and surrounding counties-Augusta).

Regional calendars are broken down into categories for outings, club-sponsored, social and activist events. Membership is not required to participate in chapterwide events.

“The Sierra Club is an inclusive organization,” said Georgia’s Chapter Coordinator Jessica Morehead. “We want to make our events available to all.”

The club also emphasizes the need to be eco-friendly. Among the current environmental impact issues being addressed are transit expansion, clean energy advocacy and wild and public land protection. The Centennial group is currently focused on connecting the Silver Comet trail with the Atlanta Beltline, as well as supporting expansion of public transit for MARTA and light rail.

“Public education is key to effective advocacy,” said Ted Terry, director of the Georgia Sierra Club. “We do this by conducting public meetings, film screenings, speaker events and panel discussions.”

Lobbying government officials from town mayors and city council members to state representatives is another key component in promoting environmental topics. Sierra Club members have opportunities to participate in citizen lobbying once they have completed the activist training sessions.

Respect and Protect

Nature-lovers and outdoor adventurers agree that regardless of what activities you enjoy outside, it is imperative to tread lightly and leave natural habitats intact. Respecting the environment is the best way to protect it for generations to come.

Hiking through Cochran Shoals Trail at the Chattahoochee River. Photo by Claudette Enners


Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a Colorado-based national organization, sums up seven basic guidelines that have been adopted by outdoor associations across the nation.


The Seven Principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Nature is all around us offering opportunities to stay fit, connect with others and positively impact our communities. Get out, participate and enjoy.