May Member of the Month - Don Chandler

Don is considered one of the "OC" (Original CrossFitters) as he joined up with us in December of '09 when we were just getting our legs. His first experience in a workout was getting crushed by a pregnant woman who was going heavier and harder on every movement of the day. It turns out he was side-by-side with Loralyn who will bruise anyone's ego, even well-along into pregnancy. Despite the fitness reality check, Don kept coming back, and back, and back and... well you get the picture. If there was ever a kool-aid drinker it would be Chandler as he went into full-bore geek mode, spending his waking hours watching videos, learning new movements and generally indulging in everything CrosssFit, all at once. And it paid off... Within 6 months he was asked to lead the Friday morning class for us as he had quickly shown prowess in both movement and in leadership.

Fast forward to today and you'll see Don still teaching, and still passionate about his practice. CrossFit has filled a void in his life left from years of competitive swimming, diving, soccer, surfing and snowboarding. Not only that, but Don's entire family has become ensconsed in our community. Some of Don's finest moments are when he hears about a new P.R. from his wife, Alison Lamagna, or as he watches his older daughter, Maya, perform a picture-perfect overhead squat. Having both of his daughters Maya and Violet growing up in a place where strong, confident and capable women abound, Don's appreciation for what CrossFit is all about runs far beyond just getting a good workout.

As a regular competitor in the Open and in local events such as The Vermonster, Don has found a deeply humbling side to his CrossFit practice that has him focused on killing off weaknesses while enjoying the thrill of every 3...2...1...Go! Being involved in competitive events has brought back those days of pre-race butterflies - something he never thought he'd get back to. We love Don's passion for fitness and feel honored to have his family as such an integral part of our community.

April Member of the Month - Megan Kolbay


When Megan first joined The Confluence three years ago it was through flat-out coercion. Like many, she had a friend who was doing CrossFit - Lauren Bailey - who was relentless in convincing her to come give it a try. Megan's first concern was not wanting to "bulk-up" and lose her feminine curves. After a steady diet of CrossFit and supplemental yoga, Megan is no longer concerned about those muscles starting to show through, and has since adjusted her views on what beautiful means to her. And she has found an additional bonus that her workouts have remedied her chronic back issues and helped her reclaim her pre-childbirth passion for fitness.

Megan has also been a participant in our working member program, initially serving as our working member coordinator and then transitioning into our Composter in Chief. Megan's business, Earthgirl Composting, is responsible for all of our paper towel composting. She loves the program and feels strongly that it makes our organization more accessible to the community.

In her pursuit of fitness at The Confluence, Megan has found a passion for the competitive side of CrossFit. While she was a cheerleader in grade school, the idea of competing in a sport has evolved as she gains more confidence and mastery of the skills. For Megan, the process of goal setting and competition with one's self has compelled her to sign up for both of our Vermonster events. Through this pursuit she has gotten past the "over-scaling" phenomenon and allowed herself to finish last in an occasional workout, knowing that it is a result of tackling harder movements and heavier weights.

March Member of the Month - Phillip Roberts


Phillip recently set two milestones - his one year anniversary with us and being the ONLY person who has actually needed us to add some classes to his Unlimited monthly membership (you get 30 by default). This means that he averages more than a class a day, SEVEN days a week! And what have all these fitness experiences done for Phillip, you ask...

When he walked in for the first time, Phillip was recovering from some serious trauma - a ruptured abdominal aorta! After years of a high-stress lifestyle and a deficit of physical activity, his body decided to revolt and the surgeons had to crack him open and do some serious work. This left him with a ton of scar tissue, nerve damage and a host of prescription medications to rely on, but Phillip decided this was not the way forward for him.

After mucking around with the "gym up the hill" he decided The Confluence was the place to be, so he signed on full time, left the meds behind and dug into a steady diet of movement. Starting with Hannah's gentlest yoga classes he was able to start adding some of Merin's Fitness Flow goodness and eventually Boot Camp and Spinning. After a second attempt at CrossFit On-ramp in December he is now mixing in some CrossFit while continuing with all the other classes he loves (thus the 30+ classes a month). 

And back on the medical front, Phillip recently had his yearly post-trauma bloodwork done and the doctors claimed they had never seen numbers rebound as they did for him. We love Phillip for his amazing dedication and good spirit, and are thankful that he decided to replace the "unfriendly, unhelpful and un-personal" environment of his first gym with a trip downhill to find a place within our community.

February Member of the Month - Bob O'Keefe


Bob O'Keefe is one of our "OG" (Original Gang) members as he is about to start his 5th year with The Confluence! At 64 years of age, Bob (respectfully referred to as 'Robert ' on occasion) is one of our senior prodigies. We can all hope to be rocking barbell snatches and burpees when we get into our mid-60's. Bob found us through North Country Kettlebells, as he witnessed a kettlebell demo, tracked "G" down at our 188 River St. location and the rest was history. Since then Bob has cycled in and out of working with Mujib doing private sessions while maintaining a steady diet of CrossFit and some supplementary Fitness Flow. 

Bob has been a fitness buff since his mid-20s and finds that our group classes suit him best. Working out with a cohort provides a great spark for his motivation, while the constant reminders on form and technique coming from the trainers keep him safe. He finds that The Confluence provides its members with a place where they can define their own personal goals and paths towards fitness, vs. being in an environment where everyone gets molded into one type of fitness regimen. Bob has appreciated our attention on mobility and movement prep in our classes as it becomes more and more important for him to establish a good warm-up routine.

Bob's life outside of our gym involves a very dedicated meditation practice as he is involved in that pursuit as an instructor. He sees a distinct connection between the work he does during meditation and his CrossFit classes as both practices teach conditioning as a gradual change that takes place over an expanse of time. For Bob, neither endeavor is "something you do for a little while." We are happy to have the honor of Bob's presence with us for these last 4 years and look forward to many more!

January Member of the Month - Erika Bruner


Erika has been with The Confluence since our early days down on River Street, joining a month after her husband, Gary, just to get him to shut up about CrossFit. As it turns out, Erika has turned into what we refer to as a "Raging Zealot" member, consuming all varieties of class at all times of day. In fact, between Erika, Gary and their almost 7 year old daughter, Evelyn, their family is probably the most well represented crew here at the gym.

Erika first fell in love with the "work yourself into a pulp" mentality she could bring to the CrossFit gym as she has a history of such behavior as a track and field competitor through high school and college. The other thing that appealed to Erika was the weighlifting component as she loves to track those hard numbers and see the continuous improvements written out, clear as day. As we've expanded our class offerings she has found great joy in the Yin Yoga classes (Recover and Restore) taught by Hannah as it provides a nice relaxing balance to what she calls "the punk rock of exercise" ...CrossFit. 

While enjoying all that we have to offer, Erika points out that the big reason she keeps coming back for more is the underlying community support that permeates our culture. The fact that in all her classes there is a sense of team and an air of friendliness reminds her of her competitive team sport days where you're "all in it together." If you haven't met Erika you can identify her distinct war cry during heavy lifting sessions, or by the permanent grin she wears coming to and from classes.