The evolution of The Training Room (15 Year Anniversary Edition)

 Part 2: CrossFit, Kettlebells and more nicknames!

In 2003, we decided to take the trip to St Paul Minnesota for the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge)

That was a great weekend!

Learned a ton, and had some VERY sore hamstrings from swinging bells all day long.

Everyone was dressed like Pavel in tan pants and black t’s with flat sole shoes.

We eventually returned for the Level 2 certification.

We became friends with Steve Cotter who, several years later, started his own organization called the IKFF.

If you go to their website, you will notice that our very own “Court Yard of Crush” is Featured on the main page!


Steve had been to the TR 4 times since then teaching several workshops and IKFF certs which Milkman and I have taken.

After a year or so we took the other end space to run BJJ and Judo classes and then group classes with kettlebells. The middle space was occupied by a Karate guy who didn’t want to move over so we had to make due.

Eventually we kicked the karate guy out and took the entire building over.

In 2004, we got CrossFit certified and affiliated.

This was WAY before CrossFit was cool and popular.

To be honest, for $1000 we didn’t learn much at the cert, but met a few interesting people, drank beer, ate pizza and messed with some dudes from Texas who though we were out of our minds.

They got a kick out of some of the stories we had and the nicknames for our members.

We took some things we liked from CrossFit such as the community involvement, and the group training model while mixing in with our kettlebell and body weight training.

We thought our system was more user-friendly for a wider range of ability levels ( and currently still believe this is true).

It this point in time, the Court Yard of Crush started seeing a lot of action with a whole new cast of characters.

Say along with me if you wish…

Here’s the updated list not in any particular order…

  • Candy Man (of coarse he’s at the top of the list)
  • Candy Girl
  • Uncle Mike
  • The Milkman
  • Fertilizer Matt
  • Vending Machine Dean (VMD)
  • Junior Mint (VMD’s offspring)
  • Boxing Mike
  • Boxing John
  • Boxing Dan
  • Boxing Jaimee
  • Tommy Garbage
  • Vibi
  • Dijon
  • JFK
  • Stinky John (this also became the name of one of our workouts because he puked while on the rower)
  • Joey Toots
  • Jonny Shoulders
  • Jon the Gimp
  • Rigormortis Tom
  • Big Head Tom
  • T Riggs
  • Little Rigg
  • Small Head Tom (by default because Big Head Tom has a giant head))
  • Small Shorts John
  • Army Jon
  • Waffle House John
  • Pancake Debbie
  • Mad Scientist Sean
  • Leprechaun John
  • Bomb Squad John
  • Handsome John
  • High Socks Al
  • Wild Thang
  • The Rev
  • The Ladies
  • Skinny Kathy
  • Crazy Ellen
  • Jock Strap Mike
  • Air Plane Dane
  • Texas Kate
  • Tall Jill
  • Tall Justin
  • Tall Paul
  • Tax Return Laura ( also know as “Combined Laura”)
  • Spartan Jason
  • Chuck Norris Jason
  • Perma-grin Peg (she smiles a lot)
  • The Anti Mike (my brother also know as just Anti)
  • Green Juice Chris (now we just call him Juice)
  • I Pad Len
  • Tank Top Tom
  • Running Man
  • Flynnstone
  • Extra Credit Chris
  • G Man ™
  • Big Pat (His name is John but he’s a larger version of Pat)
  • Little John (His name is Pat, but he’s a larger version of John)
  • D-dog
  • Spartan 1
  • Spartan 2
  • Frankie Lamborghini
  • Twinkle Toes
  • Dr Gall Bladder
  • Boom Boom
  • Designer Ed
  • Big Dick (not what you think…his name is Richard)
  • The Manzer (this was actually a maneuver that became a nickname)
  • The Cap
  • Super Cop
  • MMA Ryan
  • Old Ted
  • Uncle Phil
  • Aunt Debbie
  • Aunt Cindy (also a famous abdominal movement)
  • Uncle Ray
  • Richie Junior
  • The Queen
  • Pretty Boy Paul
  • The Chatty Kathy’s (they come in pairs)
  • Patty Bells
  • Rosie Bells
  • The Rosie Bellers
  • The X Rosie Bellers
  • Patty Cakes
  • Yoga Patty
  • Aerobics Patty
  • Patty Kettles
  • Nurse Cox!
  • AL!!! (sometimes the nickname is how you say the name)
  • High Pitch Henry
  • Burpee Judy (not because she does burpees, she burps a lot)
  • The Corziners (the worked for the ex-NJ governor)
  • Sun Man (a court yard visitor)
  • Karate Joe
  • Joey Oey
  • The Stuntman
  • Metal Man
  • Bike Rack Becker
  • Back Door Becker
  • The Pooch
  • The Quacker
  • Sweat Shirt Larry
  • Cock D!!
  • Big Joe
  • Big Bob
  • Navy SEAL Jason
  • ehhh (some nicknames are noises and grunts)
  • Fozzi Bear
  • Malibu Claire
  • Jabber Jaws
  • The Wiggy Master
  • The Mixster (God rest his sole)
  • Ground hog day Owen
  • Park City Pam (this just in)
  • Fabio
  • Precious

Some came with nicknames such as “Bubba” and “Diva”.

I apologize if I left anyone out…

court yard image

Avon’s famous “Court Yard of Crush” with other landmarks

Just the fact that we were outside training had many people intrigued…

People were so used to training indoors inside boring conventional gyms (and many still do) they though this was some new and cool stuff!

Outdoor exercise is something that has been going on since the dawn of time!

To this day, people know us by “Those crazy people outside swinging those balls around”

Training outdoors in front of a captive audience was always our best advertisement.

That, and great results through smart and effective training!

As mentioned above, within the time between 2005-2008 we have had many other big names in the fitness industry come through our doors for seminars and certifications such as Steve Cotter and Jon Hinds of Monkey Bar gym.

Even though you may not be familiar with all this, the point is that we are always looking to learn more from some of the best in the industry.

As many of you may know, the TR has seen a few famous athletes…


UFC Champ Frankie Edgar enjoying a court yard training session

UFC Champ Frankie Edgar enjoying a court yard training session


Soccer Star Christie Rampone

Soccer Star Christie Rampone

As many of you also may know, we dropped the CrossFit affiliate for a few reasons I mention in this post (read it here if you want)

As the gym evolved, the crowd thickened and walls tumbled…

warrior challenge

The Warrior Challenge is our largest event of the year!

Around this same time events such as the Marathon Row (with has since evolved into a paddle or row) , The Warrior Challenge and The Training Room Olympics  along many many TR gatherings and parties came about and are still evolving to this day!

Fast forward to 2011…

We take on “Boxing Mike” as a business partner expand to Point Pleasant Beach to try and help the people of Ocean County get fit and healthy.


A beautiful place!

We spent two years in what we thought would be a great spot for us….

Actually…I think we loved the setting (nice building right on the Manasquan River) more then the actual location…

Mostly just fishermen, toothless women and dudes with eye patches and peg legs (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration about the eye patches)

The SEALfit Challenge was a great experience!

Two former Navy SEAL’s came to the TR for a full day of training…

This event made me mentally stronger.

I WILL do this again!


This 12 hour challenge was probably the toughest thing I’ve done!

October 2012…We got our asses kicked by Super Storm Sandy and then shortly after that, we realized that Point Pleasant Beach WAS NOT the place for us.

Hurricane Sandy taught us how to deal with a little adversity. The Point Gym was only closed for two and a half weeks, and we were operating out of Avon on generators.

I consider ourselves VERY lucky compared to some of our members and friends that got crushed.

We spent the next month cleaning up and helping all of our members who had lost their homes in the storm.

This was also a great exercise in futility for our kids as well.

They got more creative then usual for that 2 weeks of no power.

Here’s a little video I shot from that time period..

They will remember that time for the rest of their lives.

As the Avon gym was growing steadily, the Point Beach gym was not reaching our expectations.

Eventually we woke up and realized that most of our members were actually crossing the bridge from the Manasquan and Brielle area.

That bridge was killing us!

Monmouth County people aren’t very fond of crossing the Manasquan River.

It only made sense to move the gym.

Besides, we live there and have great contacts in that area.

Sometimes you have to make mistakes to get better and “move the chains” as my good friend Paul Reddick would say.

Fast forward to NOW…

Moving the gym to Manasquan was a great move for us.


6 am class in Manasquan

An energy switch was flipped!

Lot’s of action.

The energy of the people in the gym is fantastic (just like in Avon) which makes being there and coaching a pleasure.

We have added close to 20 new members and an awesome Youth Fitness program with this move which means new characters and more nicknames!!

I’m looking forward to the next 15 years of evolution and the chance to help more people better themselves!

I know there are many things that I didn’t mention in this post.


I want to thank ALL of our incredible members…you are family to us and without you all, we wouldn’t be having so much fun!

The Training Room is responsible for many great friendships and several marriages.

We (The Milkman and I) truly appreciate every single one of you that have made us what we are today!

Stay tuned for The Training Room Family Tree that will address all the gyms that have evolved from the Training Room.

Feel free to drop a comment and mention your favorite Training Room moment!

Peace, Love and Kettlebells

Uncle Mike

Here’s some footage from yesterday’s Winter Games in Manasquan…