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The Lab Gym Holiday Party Recap and 2014 Award Winners

The Just Ridiculous Award


Tabitha Porter

This is a very special award for a longtime Lab Rat, she has worked through the ranks from a simple stay at home mom, to a boot camp bad ass, to a crossfit killer, to a team lab juggernaut.  Killing it year after year shedding over 30+ lbs before 2014 she then goes on to lose another 15lbs and KEEPS getting stronger!


 Learning new things and taking on new challenges and struggles everyday she has become JUST RIDICULOUS.  You may know her by her darling children, her angry screams, or temper tantrums, but we all know her as D-Bo, TP.



Ms. Motivation Award


Rhonda Winterhalter
She has lost over 100lbs, is now a competitive power lifter, mother, lab rat client, and even the Lab Gym’s assistant manager.   With lightening in her steps she answers your questions, concerns, complaints and greets you with a smile that just won’t quit.

She has been gaining a ton of strength while also maintaining her low body fat percentage.  Other strength feats she has accomplished include 15 body weight dips, 3 pull-ups, and 25 pushups. She’s addicted to exercise and getting strong. And with every rep, she is proving her PE teacher wrong, who once told her, she couldn’t do something because she wasn’t athletic enough. She’s a true bad ass, workhorse, and inspiring to so many.   


Mr. Motivation Award


Andy Martin
This years Mr. Motivation has had all kinds of health improvements. Including elimination of pain and symptoms caused by cervical disc herniation, has gone from having high cholesterol and elevated liver enzymes, to normal levels on both.


He has dropped his body fat levels from 22% down to 9%, has veins and abs popping out of everywhere, doesn’t miss a single workout, is always early, and is always on top of his nutrition plan.

At the height of 6’2” he squats with perfect full range, with weights as high as 245lbs for 5 reps, has dead lifted 260lbs for 5 reps, and can even bench press his own body weight for 5 reps, which has been a life long struggle.


Tenacious D Award
Tom Majer

He has the longest medical record of any lab rat in history.  And maybe even of all of them even combined.For example, he had 14 surgeries inside of 3 years along with a list of injuries and maladies including: Cushing’s disease, brain tumors, 2 torn rotator cuffs, a broken clavicle, 2 torn hamstrings, a broken hip, broken foot, torn Achilles, 3 hernias and two operations.He had an LAD Stent, L3, L4, L5, S1 Laminotomy, Left elbow Bursectomy, Kidney stone removal, and degenerative spine disease in his lumbar and cervical vertebrae.

However, none of this stopped him from performing 120 pushups at the Lab on his 60th birthday and lifting weights and exercising like he never thought possible.

In mid-2014 however, his good luck turned again for the worse.  He was knocked out hard after catching a terrible case of the west Nile virus, and was bed bound for 3 months, and lost over 30lbs in the process.

Left unable to walk or move he finally made it into the gym with his walker and some personal assistance.  Starting with completely seated and assisted workouts for the first few weeks he is now back on his feet again and performing normal exercise.  His work capacity is jumping from week to week and soon we will see the same old Tom running around the gym and hitting on everything that moves!

Groupie of the Year


Tonya Joy

This outstanding groupie lost 14lbs in her first month training in her newly formed small group.  She lost another 9 pounds over the holiday season while most people are gaining weight.  She has so far lost a total of 23 pounds in her first couple months of small group training.

She’s squatting and dead lifting lower with greater range of motion than ever with no pain following a pretty rough back injury and surgery a year ago.

She shows up every group session with a great attitude and ready to work, no matter how terrible she feels, and she never complains.She’s been a lab rat for some time now but once she joined the small groups she has come into a league of her own.


Rookie of the Year


Shannon Arnold

No matter what kind of obstacle you put in front of her she just runs through it like a champion. When we say it takes you coming in 6 days a week to achieve your transformation goals, this rookie of the year embodies that in every way. Ever since her first day in July until now she has been to the lab 5 days a week at 5:30am.


She has been sick, she has been tired, but she has always given a hundred percent when here. She has not missed or canceled a single session since day one.


Mid-way through her journey, to become even more physically active, she took up Rugby while still coming in 5 times a week. Not only was she kicking butt on all of the HIIT days, she was then going to rugby practice after work, and still showing up the next day at 5:30am to get her weight lifting in.She has lost a total of 42lbs, 11% body fat, 5 inches off of her waist, and 7 inches off of her hips. 


Dynamic Duo Award


Jalena Swalley & 
Larry Persons
He sets them up and she knocks them down.  She lifts it up and he falls down.  He laughs out loud and she makes him proud.  If you have met either of these two you know that they have INSANE energy and awesome charisma to any class they join in on.They are both passionate about fitness, lifting heavy things and putting them back down.  No matter if it is a crazy crossfit challenge, strongman competition, weightlifting or power lifting feat, these two will be getting after it together, and loving every minute of it.

Individually they are two of the most awesome people I have ever met.  And together they are one freaking awesome dynamic duo.

Mighty Mouse Award
Mindy House

This 127lb little mighty midget is about to take USA Weightlifting by storm after only her 3rd year of Olympic weightlifting.  She has back squatted 286lbs, which is 22lbs over double body weight, front squatted 253lbs, which is close to double body weight, she has snatched 156lbs, and cleaned 211lbs!

She is on the verge of winning national medals in weightlifting and she keeps getting stronger and lighter from week to week.She might be small but she is mighty and mean.

Hercules Award 

Nick DiMarco
After his stint in the NFL this freak of nature decided to give Olympic weightlifting a go.  With his tremendous athleticism, immense size, and herculean strength, in no time this gentle giant was throwing around world class weights in the same fashion I am sure he was sacking quarterbacks for the Ravens.

With just a couple months of focused training he has snatched 321lbs, cleaned 418lbs, front squatted nearly 500lbs, back squatted 555lbs, and all at the ripe age of 22.

 Goddess Diva Award

Susan O’Connor

This fitness diva and her husband moved some incredible mountains in 2013.  They both adopted a new life of fitness at the lab and she became his backbone to lose over 130lbs.

She hit the ground running in 2014 and attacked the diva program every day of the week taking on new physical feats and abilities every day.

Her body fat dropped from 31% to an all-time low of 15%.  She has back squatted 242lbs, deadlifted 235lbs for 2 reps, bench pressed 125lbs for 3 reps, and is a self-admitted squat junkie.She has also taken on everything from boot camp, to crossfit, and the Olympic lifts, and her least favorite exercise is bicep curls.

Male Metal Head of the Year Award


Stephen Wallace

This man lives, eats, breathes, and is even employed via crossfit.  All day,  every day, crossfit.  Not sure if any other topics of any kind cross his mind.

But, that is why he is so damn good.  Quickly making a name for himself in the crossfit world, soon everyone will know his name.  He is stronger than about 90% of most of the weightlifters in the US and there might be only 2 crossfitters in the world who are as strong as him.  He can front squat 500lbs, snatch 300lbs, and clean over 400lbs.

But he is not just strong. He can do 20 muscle ups weighing over 200lbs and has been consistently beating some of the best times in the world from past crossfit opens, regionals, and games events.

He has been putting together his entire arsenal this year as he goes on to compete at wodapalooza with some of the best out there.  Then to the national professional fitness league combine, and finally on to try and make it to the crossfit games.

Female Metal Head of the Year Award


Emily Abbott

This year’s female metalhead sort of fell out of the sky just as we began the launch of heavy metal crossfit.  Upon our brief introduction she spouted the words, ‘I want to go to the crossfit games next year.’

Instead of laughing out loud in her face, I was able to just look at her and maintain a subtle smile. And instead of saying what was in my head, ‘yeah, you and just about everyone else who just got their first double under too wants to go’.

I managed to say ok, we will see what we can do, knowing fully, that this girl was out of her mind.

We went on to work with her a bit while she was in town for brief stints and programmed and coached her online for the rest.  She kept showing great progress over the year and next thing you know she made it to the regionals.  This girl who only took up crossfit a year earlier wins her regionals and actually makes it to the crossfit games., becoming 1 of only 48 people in the world to qualify for this event, dubbing the title, the fittest in the world.’

Her presence, persistence, and character literally elevated the performances of everyone in team lab and heavy metal crossfit.  She went from being a red head with a dream to becoming larger than life in a years’ time.

And perhaps the coolest part of her journey was winning first place at the games in the sled push, as she was the only competitor who did not stop pushing the sled the entire race.  This is not a measurement of skill or experience but sheer will power and determination.

 Justincredible Award


Adam Fetter

He may seem like your average physical therapy student.  But, under his small compact stature is a ninja freak from out of this world.  Just 2 years ago he was 30lbs lighter and a frail bag of bones.

Just after a couple years of intense training he can do over 70 pull-ups.  Can walk on his hands for miles.  Hundreds of unbroken double unders.  And has done over 20 muscle ups.  He moves with the grace of anOlympic gymnast and there isn’t a skill he hasn’t mastered.


He outworks most of the competitors combined and keeps bouncing back with a motor that just wont quit.  Once he adds another 30lbs to his frame everyone is in big big trouble!

Members of the Year 


Dede Catsavis

She has been a Lab Rat since the very first Lab Gym in about 2008.  She has been a dedicated member since she started and has worked with many lab trainers over the years.


She has won multiple lab rat awards for her unbelievable physical feats including lab rat of the month, Mrs. Motivation, and the goddess diva award.



Many people think things just go downhill the older you get but she keeps getting better.  Setting new personal records and achieving new goals.


She is part of the fabric at the lab gym and is always there to help when there is a party.  Some may know her as Aprhodite



Adrienne Davis

She will kill you with kindness, happiness, smiles or if all else fails, bubbles.  Yes, bubbles.  That is the only way to understand or describe her.  Bubbles elevate you, swarm around you, engulf the entire area in multiples, and if you try to pop them, more will just suddenly appear.


She is a selfless champion and supporter of all lab rats and is the best team mate someone could ask for.  Supportive, caring, and there for you even when you don’t know that you need it. 


She won last years Lynne Cooper award for supporting us in countless ways and bringing so many new people into the lab rat way of life.  

Weight Loss Champion

Juanetta Turner
This year’s weight loss champion has lost over 75lbs. Starting at almost 250 pounds and getting down to 175 pounds, and she is on her way to clear 100.   She has gone from 42% body fat down to 25% and has been a rock star in personal training, small group, or on her own, this lab rat never misses a workout.  She is an incredible women and true inspiration to all of those around her.

Lab Rat of the Year (Second Runner-up)


Julie Sodd

This Lab Rats adventure into exercise has gradually turned into training she never expected. She has far exceeded anyone’s expectations including her own. At age 57 and suffering from a frozen shoulder, she transformed into something new, and went on to win the 2013 Goddess Diva Award.  


In 2014 she set out to achieve a whole new multitude of goals and accomplished nearly all of them.


She not only dropped 15% body fat from initial start, but has dead lifted 290lbs, back squatted 220lbs, front squatted 198lbs, bench pressed 135lbs, performed 5 strict pull ups, 8 strict dips, and 25 unbroken pushups.


Now that she has done it all she has taken on the Olympic lifts and learned to swear like a sailor in the process.She is a remarkable and forever loved lab rat who has more potential than she even knows

Lab Rat of the Year (First Runner-up)


Emily Abbott

This year’s first runner up needs no introduction.  You know her as one of the fittest people on earth and the female metal head of the year.

Lab Rat of the Year


Juanetta Turner
She is one in a trillion, there is not a single person like her. Not only has her life been completely turned around since she has been at The Lab, but she has had a huge positive impact on numerous other lives, whether they are people she knows, or complete strangers.


From the words of her trainer Drew: “This woman is truly incredible and I am honored to get to spend as much time with her as I do. Just a few of the words I would use to describe her are hardworking, committed, caring, and truly inspirational.


She is one other hardest working people I have ever met, no matter how much she jokingly complains about her workouts, she makes sure she gives it her all. Whether it’s during her one on one training sessions, small group sessions, or her hour and a half workouts when she kicks her own ass, you will always see her giving her 100% and going to the point of total exhaustion.


Finding someone who is as committed to her goals ,whether in life or in the gym, would be a near impossible task. She has set goal after goal in her training, and continues to smash them. When she first came to the lab she wanted to lose 20-25 pounds, she did this in 2 months and continued to roll from there.


She has lost almost 75 pounds, starting at almost 250 pounds and getting down to 175 pounds. She has gone from 42% body fat to 25% and packed on plenty if new muscle. She has lost over 40 inches total on her circumferences, however she continues to wear some of her old workout clothes that fall off of her, just for a laugh.


Her LDL is down over 70 points and HDL is up 30 points. Since the beginning she has been fully committed to the program and has not questioned it one step of the way.


Her 100% commitment has taken her from knee pain and not being about to do more than a quarter squat to an incline bench to now squatting over 130 pounds and dead lifting over 150 pounds pain free.


She is one of the most caring people I know. Through my time training her she has been through a few tough times with family and friends. One of her sons had a rough period in his life last year and she was there 100% of the time for him.


She continued to show up for every single workout no matter how terrible she felt, knowing that she needed it to keep her feeling good enough and strong enough to take care of her family.


She would come to the gym exhausted after a long trip to Chicago or Wisconsin the night before and still give it her all. I don’t know anyone else that would have been able to give it their all and not miss a single workout, while going through such an emotional roller coaster.


She was strong through that and is doing the same thing once again with her husband having health problems. She would be at the hospital all day with him and still make it in to kick butt in the gym. She is now still making it to every workout while playing nurse at home taking care of him.


Through her journey of changing her own life here at The Lab, I have seen her impact many other lives. She started as a one on one client and saw results right away. People saw how fast she was changing herself and would ask her how she was doing it. She was always the first to say, “The Lab Gym, I just do what they tell me to.”


She has given out hundreds of business cards and brought many friends into the gym who have worked either with a trainer or have gone to crossfit. Many people have noticed how hard she works on her cardio days on her own and are amazed and inspired by how much hard work she puts in.


She is always encouraging people to stick with it and keep up the hard work. And if she’s not talking about it, she sure is showing it through her actions. She has inspired me to never miss a workout, no matter how terrible I feel or what I might be going through.


I have told her many times that we have cameras, so I know if she skips one of her workouts on her own. If I skipped a workout I would feel like I was letting her down, because I know that she would never skip a workout on me.


Now she is doing small group personal training and affecting even more lives. Now more people get to work out with her and laugh with her. Her personality is infectious and she is sure to make everyone in the group smile and laugh.


The groups that she is in always seem to have a great time with their workouts and I see that people want to workout with her. The group that she is in is one of the most successful groups we have and I truly believe that she is a big piece of why.


I could go on and on about this amazing woman, but talk to her yourself, or try to get in a group workout with her and you will see how truly incredible she is and why she deserves this award. She has had a huge impact on my life and is one of those people that make me realize how much I really love my job and  make me excited to come to work everyday.   
Lynne Cooper Award


THE Rhonda Winterhalter

2 Years ago we started an honorary award dedication to Lynne Cooper, a particular Lab Rat extraordinaire who made a great impact on me and The Lab since it was merely one of my wild ideas.

She was a strong influence on me and helped make The Lab become a reality.  She was my client and friend before The Lab even began, and a member until the very end.

Lynne supported and enriched our community in ways that most will never know. She helped bring so many amazing new people to The Lab which helped develop the culture that we have today.

To honor her we want to keep her spirit and influence in the fabric of The Lab’s culture forever. The award is dedicated to someone who ‘enriches the Lab’s culture and broadens our scope of influence.’ 

If you knew Lynne, you knew she was tough, no softie, and when there was a job to do, she would be sure to get it done.  She would find a path or make one.  This year’s winner has that same unstoppable trait that Lynne demonstrated so well.


So, let’s get one thing straight right now.  The show won’t go on with this person at The Lab.  You all know her well.  She greets you with a smile and make sure ALL your needs are met. 


She is the glue that keeps the entire Lab operation connected and coordinated which allows Chris and I to TRY to run this business.  Without her we would be spending hours and hours per day answering phone calls, emails, inquires, complaints, to potential members, members, vendors, staff, and lord knows who else. 


I often joke with her that she is the rock upon which I built this church, she is, my apostle Peter.