Jess essentially grew up in the gym, as a competitive gymnast from an early age. After a tough decision to quit gymnastics when adolescence hit and a desire to be a more ‘normal’ high school student took over, Jess struggled with finding a new sport. She quickly found out that reaching the age of 15 without ever playing a ‘ball’ sport left her with zero eye-hand coordination. So, she turned to the only high school sport that wouldn’t require her to throw, catch or kick anything, and joined the cross country team. She finished out her high school years and all 4 years of college as a cross country and track athlete. After college, there were periods of being in and out of shape, but she more or less stuck with the only thing she knew – running. There were occasional stints of hitting the gym to try to ‘get abs’ or ‘tone up’ but nothing besides running really stuck. Then, a friend introduced her to P90X, and before long she felt really tough pumping away with 8lb dumbbells in the living room while Scott ate ice cream on the couch and laughed at her.

By the time Jess and Scott moved to Pittsburgh to start their residencies, she had been through several rounds of P90X and a few half marathons, and it was hard to stay motivated to stick with the same old routine. Finally, after about a year of trying, a good friend convinced her to come to Crossfit. From the first class, she was hooked – she loved the intensity and the challenge of learning so many new movements, and the ability to refresh some of her old gymnastics roots. While many of the body weight exercises came somewhat naturally, the barbell was another story. She spent months struggling to add anything to the bare barbell for olympic lifts and trying to figure out what ‘stay on your heels’ meant in the bottom of a squat. By 6 months in, she was getting stronger and was so fully invested that she even convinced Scott to join too.

When Jess and Scott made the decision to move to the Philly area for new jobs, she had been doing Crossfit for 2 years, but she was nervous about finding a new gym, having never even dropped in anywhere else. Once she and Scott had found a place to live in Conshy, she set to work with a google search for local gyms followed by a few weeks of serious programming stalking. When they moved last July, after 3 days of unpacking, Jess decided it was time to check out a gym. Thermal was a front-runner after all her website stalking, and ‘Cindy’ (one of her favorites) was programmed that day, so she figured it was a perfect first drop-in. After receiving a warm friendly welcome from everyone, listening to Vin review movement standards in pointed, accurate and hilarious fashion, and finishing a sweaty 15 rounds of Cindy complete with fresh tears on both hands, Jess decided she needed to look no further for a good gym. She and Scott came back the next day, and kept coming back after that.

The last 10 months at Thermal have brought a slew of new milestones – first bar muscle up, first ring muscle up, multiple lifting PRs including a long sought-after body weight clean and jerk (that’s a lot of lulu!), and participation in two competitions with amazing teammates. Although the gains are great, by far the best thing about Thermal for Jess is being part of the community. Meeting so many great people and new friends has not only kept her motivated in the gym, but helped to ease a tough transition. Between a daily commute to the city and demanding new job, Jess initially wasn’t sure continued involvement in Crossfit, much less further personal progress, would even be possible. The fact that she’s been able to accomplish 4-5 days/week in the gym and ongoing PRs, she credits to the awesomeness of the Thermal community, and especially the 6:30 crew and coaches for welcoming her with open arms, putting up with her rolling in 15 minutes late, and always being a great place to complete the day.


Jess is a bodyweight ninja, so this workout is a bodyweight chipper. Scale movements in typical fashion. For bar muscle-ups, scale to chest-to-bar pull-ups or 8 pull-ups or 8 ring rows. Time cap is 30 minutes.


For time:
30 handstand push-ups
run 400m
40 toes-to-bar
run 400m
70 pull-ups
run 400m
110 double unders
run 400m
4 bar muscle-ups