Real Fitness Sarasota
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Real Fitness Sarasota
31 Heroes at RFS CrossFit
Real Fitness Sarasota
Real Fitness Sarasota
Get Started at RFS CrossFit!
Get Started at RFS CrossFit!


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katie1“My only friends are from CrossFit,” laughs Katie Sparks, a member at Real Fitness since last August. “I’ve been in school for 3.5 months and haven’t met anyone who I see socially, but within just a few weeks, I was already being invited to dinner and house parties from my friends at RFS.”

After moving to Sarasota from Miami, Katie found herself back in her hometown. She felt disconnected since so many of her childhood friends no longer live here. “I walked into lululemon and met Jess. I told her I was looking for something to do, and I was hoping to meet people,” says Katie. “Jess told me I needed to go to Real Fitness.”

IMG_0217Katie was intimated by CrossFit’s reputation, but she signed up for the OnRamp anyway. “I felt comfortable within 30 minutes!” she says, “All the coaches are so welcoming! Even the Poppas are so friendly, which surprised me because they’re the owners. But they are all so approachable!” She says she hasn’t missed a scheduled workout day since she started. “I even stay longer than the hour, sitting around and chatting with people. Sometimes when I come early, I’m late for my class because I can’t stop talking,” she says.

Beyond being perceived as a difficult, intense workout, CrossFit has the reputation of being a third place-a meeting spot and community of like-minded people. Katie says that’s definitely been her experience, thanks to authentic and welcoming RFS members like Ashley, Kat, Mary, Becky, and Jess. “The women aren’t catty; nobody cares about how you look,” laughs Katie. “We’re all more interested if our squat looks good than if our hair looks good.” She says she loves how encouraging everyone is. When she rode horses competitively, she loved the competition, but it was definitely a solo sport. “I love the community of CrossFit,” she says. “It’s great to hear good job and you can do this.”

Along with  the warm acceptance, another reason Katie says she feels so comfortable is because she trusts the coaches. “One day I felt some pain and I talked with Matt about it,” she says. “Matt asked a couple of questions, figured out what was happening and scaled the workout so I didn’t feel left out. But what really impressed me is he gave me exercises to do at home and then kept asking me how I was doing. He didn’t just forget that it happened.”

Like so many other people who come to RFS, CrossFit offers more than a a stronger body from the workouts. Meeting the challenge of the WOD empowers us, and we begin to believe in and trust ourselves. The community validates us, and the atmosphere of support and acceptance gives us a sense of place where we can grow, fail and try again.

“I just love it,” she says. “It’s my thing. I talk about CrossFit all the time, trying to get people to try it … except that I don’t talk about it to everyone; I only want to tell the fun people.”

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Two important events are coming up in the next couple of weeks, and we wanted to give you plenty of time to put the dates in your calendars!


Click to enlarge image.

“The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan”
Monday, August 25, 11:30a-2p

Meet Jessica Buchanan and listen as she shares her story of being kidnapped by Somali pirates and rescued by NAVY SEALS.  This event at the Sarasota Yacht Club is a Benefit for the Brian Bill Foundation, an organization RFS members supported through our MURPH event last May. Grab some friends and reserve a seat (or a table). You won’t want to miss this! SEAL Richard Kaiser, Executive Director of the Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, FL will also be there to talk about Navy Special Warfare. For tickets and more info, go to:

Monday, Sept. 1, 8a-Noon

The 31 Heroes Project was conceived in response to the Extortion 17 helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011 killing 30 military service members, as well as one military working dog. Many of the fallen were Special Operators from the Navy SEAL community.

The first 31 HEROES WOD was held four weeks after that tragic event, and now CrossFit gyms all across the country pay tribute to the 31 Heroes between August and September.

Real Fitness Sarasota will hold our 31 Heroes WOD on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1. We’ll be open 8a-noon, running heats on the hour. Our hope is that all our members participate in this grueling partner WOD and donate to the organization that supports the families of these fallen heroes. TO DONATE and to see the WOD, go to

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Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 3.06.23 PMThis weekend kicks off a string of CrossFit competitions for RFS members! Coach Matt heads to Miami for the Miami Soul Classic and Sophie, Tommy, Tanya, Katie and Cherisse will throw down in the Thunderdome in Estero. Every athlete looks forward to these events with anticipation, wondering how they’ll stack up against the competition, but for one of our members, this weekend is particularly meaningful.

photo 1-2Cherisse Kellemen has been a gymnast since she was 5. As a high school athlete, she was on track for college scholarships until her knee started to give her trouble. After her second ACL surgery, her doctor sidelined her. Cherisse tried finding a sport she loved as she did gymnastics: she considering trying out as a BUCS Cheerleader; she looked into competitive fitness competitions, and tried her hand at yoga and boxing. Nothing stuck, and she found herself gaining weight and losing her edge.

In January of 2012, a friend introduced her to CrossFit. “We went through the warm-up and then the coach said it was time for the workout,” says Cherisse. “I was shocked, because I thought that was the workout. Right there, I fell in love with it.” A month later the CrossFit Open started and Cherisse learned about the competitive culture within CrossFit. She came in 725th in that year’s open.The following year, she was 136th.

photo 2-3Cherisse placed herself under the coaching of Spencer Arnold and began training with intensity for the 2014 Open. But then her injury surfaced. “I was doing a burpee box jump, and I felt the pop I know so well,” she says. “I knew that was it.” In September of 2013, she had surgery, but four months into her recovery, she lifted a kettlebell and felt her other knee pop. This time, she opted for therapy over surgery. In April 2014, she was cleared to begin training again. (Anyone who knows Cherisse knows she never really stopped altogether! Spencer had her on an upper body, single-leg rehab program!)

throwdownsCherisse is training with a goal in mind: She wants to secure a spot in the Granite Games in Minnesota. Similar to the Open, WODs for the Granite Games are announced on Thursdays, and athletes have to complete them and submit their scores. The Top 70 athletes make it to the games in St. Cloud. (The final WOD is announced today! Cherisse will complete it before her rest day tomorrow as she heads into the weekend for the competition.)

We asked her expectations for the weekend and her first competition since her surgery. “Well, I’m really glad to be doing it with a team,” she said. “And, really, I just want to go and have fun, it doesn’t matter if we wi–” Wait. That’s not what she said. “My hope for the weekend? Well, I want us to stand on the podium, of course.” Ah. There it is. Love your fighting spirit, Cherisse.

We’re proud of you, Cherisse-and of all the RFS athletes who are willing to test themselves in these competitions! GOOD LUCK!

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IMG_0867She’s been assisting in the shadows, but now she’s officially part of the RFS team! Born and raised in Kentucky, Meredith gravitated to sports early and continued her interest through college to graduate from Western Kentucky University (WKU) with a BS in Exercise Science. Her competitive training for 3 NPC bikini competitions developed a strong passion and curiosity for fitness. That propelled Meredith to earn her certification as an ISSA personal trainer and begin teaching group classes at WKU.

Being in the fitness community, Meredith heard all about CrossFit–both the good and bad–so she decided to try it to form her own opinion. “I fell in love with the methods, atmosphere and community,” says Meredith. “It didn’t take long before I knew this was a field I wanted to pursue, so I took my L1 and became a Certified CrossFit Trainer.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 3.00.03 PMWe’re excited Meredith is part of the team … and we’re putting her right to work! We hear great feedback about the yoga class she leads on Sunday, and we anticipate the same response from the newest class we’re adding this week:

(Ages 16+)
Wednesdays, 6-7 PM, beginning June 11
Cost: $10

Boot Camp offers high-intensity interval training without the Olympic lifts we add to the WODs. Boot Camp gives you a chance to add another dimension to your training. Don’t worry—your body will still gain strength and increased cardio!

We’re also introducing RFS PUNCH CARDS for all of our extra classes! Cards cost $50 and they allow members and non-members to attend 6 classes of their choice without any commitment. You pay for five, but get the SIXTH class of your choice FREE!

Choose from:

  • Olympic Lifting Class, Tuesdays at 7 pm/Saturdays at 8 am
  • Boot Camp, Wednesdays at 6pm
  • TRX Class, Thursdays at 6 pm
  • (Coming Soon!) Body Movement Classes

Yoga on Sundays remains complimentary!

Grab a punch card and sign up for classes at the Front Desk or send Jess an email letting her know you’re in:

(And when you see Meredith, welcome her to the RFS Family!)

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Client Success Stories

Michelle Pennie

I was lucky to find Mike, Chris and Tanya at Real Fitness Sarasota during a rough point in my career. I needed an outlet after many stressful days and looked forward to my daily WOD (workout of the day) at 5pm. I knew if I could get through my day, then I could get through Read More »


Steve Wieder

I have been working out at conventional gyms most of my life from bigbox/big name gyms to small individualized gyms and everything in between. The common link with all of them was the “this is the way we’ve always done it” attitude: cardio mixed with free weights and machine training; upper body one day… Read More »



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