Testimonial from Janice Piro

Thursday, October 13th, 2016


     I first started private coaching with Paul Chapman a year and a
half ago because I was getting frustrated with the squat snatch.
Also, I wanted to work on ring muscle ups, not really believing
that I would ever actually DO one, but I wanted to give myself a
chance at it. That was a year and a half ago. Since then, I have
gotten much more comfortable with the squat snatch and can
perform this lift pretty well, knowing where to correct myself
when it doesn’t go as it should. My squats are much better, too.
Previously, I was one of the athletes that always got the
“LOWER, JANICE!” instruction by a coach whenever we were
doing a move with a squat in it. (I haven’t heard that in a very
long time now…yeah!) We are still working on ring muscle ups,
but I am getting closer, and I now believe I will actually be able

to perform this gymnastic one day.


     Besides those specific things, I cannot say enough about how
much Coach Paul has helped me overall, not only with
correcting my lifting technique in general, but working with my
mobility and with my confidence under heavier loads. Good
technique and mobility are paramount to safety, which is a big
reason I will continue to work with him. (I plan on being a
CrossFit athlete for many more years, so that means I need to
stay injury-free.) Coach Paul is expert at seeing exactly where
my technique needs improvement. Even if my technique is
pure crap, he never overwhelms me with too much instruction
all at once. He corrects one or two things at a time, building to
the next and the next. He has an excellent ability to
communicate exactly what he needs me to do. His care and
attention to his private coaching is evident as he always comes
prepared with something he has thought out for us to do in that
session. I also appreciate his up-beat, incessantly positive
attitude. He tells me what I am doing right, as well as what
needs improvement, so I never feel like a complete idiot. His
confidence in my abilities is contagious, which helps me reach

levels I otherwise may not.


     Since working with Paul, I have noticed more general
improvements, too, such as:
-Having more focus in my WODs
-An improved ability to critique myself
-Executing more purposeful WODs (I know what one or two
things to specifically work on within each WOD)

-Having more confidence overall.


     No matter what kind of CrossFit athlete you are… experienced
but wanting to improve upon your weaknesses, or wanting to
improve your technique to avoid injury, or a new CrossFit
athlete wanting to ramp in and avoid developing bad habits…I
highly recommend private coaching with Paul. He is truly

outstanding and I guarantee it will be fun!



Rebels is an Inclusive Community

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015



There are so many wonderful things to say about Rebels that I’m having difficulties initiating this. The first thing that attracted me to Rebels, as we relocated to the Clearwater area from across the country, was their experience with the Functional Movement Screen. This was HUGE to me because I knew this meant the coaching staff was educated and understood how to correct dysfunctional movement patterns. AKA: They can correct your front squat, improve overhead mobility, and train to move your body optimally while decreasing chance of injury. I consider myself selective with fitness providers so without hesitation I signed up thinking it would be a healthy environment to meet people in my foreign surroundings.

My journey at Rebels commenced with a long departed athletic background and extinct confidence that had been suppressed by an adulthood of stress and worry, which toxically consumed my life. I was volatile in chasing athletic goals, to no avail. I tried it all: bodybuilding, marathon running, Olympic Weightlifting, and some CrossFit. I turned away from CrossFit and carried a looming “chip” on my shoulder that developed from groundwork of poorly managed boxes, uneducated coaches, and a plethora of stereotypes. The only thing that ever kept my interest was Olympic Weightlifting but I never managed to accomplish my goals or be consistent enough to see results. When a stressor would occur, it controlled me. In the snap of a finger, I would self-sabotage, give up on my goals, and consort with anything but my wellbeing. This was a vicious and familiar cycle which lingered for years, and ultimately led me to believe I wasn’t capable of achieving my goals. I will mention it never stopped me from setting more goals. Every attempt felt like I was setting myself up for yet, another failure. (I compare it to a child sticking their finger in a light socket, receiving a tingling-painful-shock, yet sticking their finger back in the light socket the next day because their curiosity will not be hindered—you are expecting the shock but you do it multiple times anyway). I refused to give up because I genuinely enjoy training and largely believed, deep down, was a capable athlete.

The beginning of my membership with Rebels was extremely humbling. I was very frustrated and hard on myself because I had to start at ground zero (sub-zero if you will). I frequently wanted to give up and destructive thoughts ran through my mind constantly, “I will never be able to perform a pull-up anyways” type-mentality. The Inclusive and genuine environment at Rebels is what kept me coming back. Everybody who enters (no matter where you are in your journey) has the opportunity to be coached, gain knowledge, and genuine support. Even in a box of numerous participants, I am always greeted by name, provided personal instruction (with superb visual, verbal, & tactical cueing), and receive quality instruction from approachable coaches. Rebels’ inclusive and engaging staff has established an exceptionally supportive community of athletes who encourage me and motivate me to be the best version of myself, to never give-up and keep grinding!

With experience at previous CrossFit programs, it was the opposite: an exclusive environment to only the “best” performers, nobody greeted or knew my name because I was just a number, etc. I absolutely believe in the environment Ed, Sam, and the coaching staff provide and it’s unique in that everyone can flourish personally, physically, and mentally. I have said multiple times that Rebels deserves recognition on a higher level for the community they have created. Everyone has the opportunity to be better and it’s because of the owners and coaching staff. This is the first time I personally witnessed an environment that proves CrossFit is for everyone.

I have been with Rebels and living in Florida for 8 months now (seriously, my spouse strongly encouraged me to find a gym the very weekend we moved to Florida and drove me around Clearwater to gym shop before we unpacked the Uhaul). The holistic experience of Rebels has been life changing for me!  I have finally learned to believe in myself and acquired a mentality that “no challenge is too colossal to overcome”. It will be tough, it will hurt, but if you can just push through the hard stuff—which will inevitably end; you will be a stronger and better person physically and mentally. I am happy to express, for the first time in my adult life, that my fitness journey is no longer an oscillating bungee jump cord—THANK GOODNESS! I I genuinely thank the Rebels coaching staff for the environment to openly communicate my goals, my flaws, and for the guidance to help me overcome barriers. I ALWAYS knew I had the potential to be a strong, confident, capable woman (which is always a work in progress). I just had issues bringing it to the surface.

So with that I say THANK YOU for the community, education, encouragement, and genuine solicitude you provide for your members! Personally, I thank you for helping me find my lost qualities of confidence, motivation, and passion—I’ve been hunting them for years now. Everything that has improved in my strength, performance, and physique is a direct reflection of the trust I have in your staff and the influence you’ve had on my internal development.

With Humility and Gratitude,
Janette M.


Ginger’s a Rebel!

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Ginger, on the left, with her teammates and friends, Jana and Shannon


(A letter to the owners and coaches of CFR) 

Dear Sam, Ed and all the Rebel Coaches:

I don’t really know how to put into words what it means to me to be a part of the Rebel family. It means the world to me! I have been a rebel for about [2 years] and it has been life changing!  I feel such a connection with fellow rebels! I cannot express the amount of inspiration that I get from you, Ed and each coach there…not to mention my fellow rebels! For 15 years I have lived (or existed…not really lived) until I made the decision to walk through that door and try and regain a part of my life and health back.

IMG_4024.JPGGinger Disney








Since joining, I have become healthier, stronger both mentally and physically, faster and accomplished things that I never thought I could do. I have started to enjoy doing things again…seeing real live people again and not just stare at my four walls at home…it has helped bring me out of a depression and given me something to look forward to and enjoy!! You guys have had faith in me and pushed me to be more and do more and reminded me what being an athlete was about…this is smoothing that I truly appreciate and can’t thank you enough for. I fee like slowly,  I am regaining my self-confidence, my individuality and my life back. I am happier, which in turn has made me a better person, a better mom and friend. I have accomplished new things and participated in competitions, adventure races and 5K’s. I’ve made new friends long the way and love the support of the CF community from our box…our family.

Ginger Running


Thank you Sam and Ed of all you have done for all your support, encouragement and inspiration me (and others) and also for allowing me to bring They with me when I need to .  I really love you guys!!  I will continue to be a rebel for as long as you have your door open!!


 A note to Ginger from CrossFit Rebels:
We know you are currently recovering from your latest challenge, and we wanted to remind you that we’re here as soon as you’re able to train. We love you. The box isn’t the same without your spirit and love for the sport of CrossFit (and softball :).  Heal quick!

CrossFit Rebels…Patience, Understanding and Knowledge

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

shannon 2_edited_edited

I think it’s important to take responsibility for your actions, so let me start by explaining what happened, and how I injured myself in the first place – it was a hectic day, as always, and I found myself getting to the box a little late.  The WOD that day included deadlifts, and our standard warm-up was posted on the board.  However, being in a rush, I didn’t take the time to warm-up properly – instead, I jumped right in to heavy (for me) deadlifts.  Well, you can guess what happened next – a sudden, severe, shooting pain in my lower back! 

So, if I would have just taken the time to warm up properly, I could have avoided all of this!  Instead, I found myself going between discomfort and severe pain for the next few weeks – it would hurt whenever I sat for prolonged periods, and I thought I definitely wouldn’t be able to work out.  I kept waiting for my back to get better, and days turned into weeks.  After two weeks without much / any improvement, I was really bummed out.  If you’re reading this, you can probably imagine how depressing it is to miss weeks at the box due to a nagging injury!

One day my husband came home and told me that the coaches had been asking about me, and they were worried about me.  Ed had been checking in with my husband, and asked him to get me back into the box.   So, I came in to meet with Ed, and explained what had happened. 

Ed could not have been more helpful, patient and understanding.  I felt like I just needed to “suck it up” and get better, but I didn’t know what to do, or where to start.  This is where Ed came in.  Ed conveyed to me that I had to be patient, and work through this the right way.  First we discussed my injury in detail, and with his background in physical therapy, he was able help me understand the injury, and the healing process.  Ed told me what I could do for myself at home to speed up my recovery, through stretching and icing my back.  Then, when I started to feel better, he gradually got me back into my workouts.  I couldn’t believe this, but every day when I came in, the staff had a personalized workout for me on the board, scaled to accommodate my injury!

When we were talking one day, Ed mentioned that another member of our box had a similar injury but came to Ed right away, and was already up and running again . . . it made me wish I had come to him sooner!

As I started feeling better, Ed, Sam and the other coaches were always checking up on me, to see how I was doing and feeling.  It was so comforting to know that they took such a personal interest in my well-being.

Now I’m back 100%, and feeling great!  Crossfit has been such a fun, rewarding experience, based in large part on the fact that I get to have a great workout while hanging out with my husband and kids (who also Crossfit), our awesome coaches, and great friends. 

In short, I feel so fortunate to have such knowledgeable, kind and supportive coaches like Ed, Sam and the rest of the coaching staff.  I was so impressed by the way that they went so far out of their way to help and check up on me, without ever being asked to do so.  When we were first looking into Crossfit, we looked at a few other boxes first.  Then, we came to Crossfit Rebels, and immediately saw the difference – the quality of coaching, the facilities . . . even basic training, which is such an important step, but one which other boxes lack.  Once we visited Rebels, I knew right away that this was the perfect place for me and my family! 


Bud says…

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Hello, Sam, Ed, Paul, Wendy, et. al.

Since I am beginning year two of my CrossFit Rebel experience I thought it
appropriate to communicate with you as to that experience. Joining Rebels
(thanks to my son Chet) is, probably, one of the better decisions I have
made as it relates to physical and mental fitness. No question, the regimen
is very challenging, and thank goodness for Rx. You all have been very
encouraging as I have attempted, often with great difficulty, to meet your
standards of practice. I have found your “box” to be a very welcoming
place offering new friends – much like a family. Everyone has been
friendly, helpful, patient, kind, encouraging, and, most of all, caring. I
couldn’t have asked for a better scenario if I had tried, and I
whole-heartedly endorse and recommend the Rebel “box” to everyone. Having
said all of the above, I want to thank all of you for making me feel good
about my decision to join the Rebels. It has been an outstanding, many
faceted, experience and I look forward to this new year with great
expectation. Thanks again.


Eileen M says…

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Dear CrossFit Rebels,

CrossFit Rebels has changed my life in more ways than one.  I have done things I never thought I could do.  I challenge myself more than ever and I feel the way I have always wanted.  The feeling I have, I don’t think I could get anywhere else, not at any other CrossFit box.

I remember when I had my consultation with Ed…aka Mouth.  We talked for a bit and then, like all other trials, we went over to the kid’s area so Ed could see what kind of shape I was in.  We started with wall balls, I thought I was going to die!  We moved on to burpees, I knew I was going to die!  I think I made it through 3 rounds when it was apparent how out of shape I was.  I felt as if I was moments away from vomiting and blacking out.  Ed took me over to a box and had me sit down to collect myself.  The thoughts running through my mind were mostly me being disappointed in myself.  How could I have let myself get so out of shape that I couldn’t even do a 3 minute workout?  I went home that night and spoke with my husband;  I just wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I had to prove to myself that I was better than that.  Our budget has always been very small so making the decision to start was that much harder.  But, looking back, I wouldn’t have changed anything.

CrossFit Rebels has given me an outlet to relieve stress, have joy, accomplishments, motivation and success, not only at the box, but throughout my life.  Rebels has been a life changer for me!  I have never been more confident in my appearance than I am today.  I still have a ways to go but the difference now is that I know I can get there.  Between Ed & Sam and all the coaches, I know I have the support.  Whether it’s someone yelling at me to do one more rep or giving me nutrition advice, I know I can get there.  The support is overwhelming and the camaraderie is priceless!  I love every minute I spend at my Rebels box.

Looking back on my time with you guys comes at a perfect time for me as October marks my one year!  That is a milestone in my book; I have never stayed with any physical activity for that long and it has been one great year!  Thank you for giving me the tools to improve myself inside and out.  I’m not sure what I would look like or even worse, feel like, if I wouldn’t have found CrossFit Rebels!

Here’s to another amazing year, with an amazing box!  You all really are the best!

Sunday, December 14th, 2014
Hi Sam, 
Hope you guys are doing well!  I wanted to share something and I think you will really appreciate it!  For the past few months, I’ve been going through a barrage of tests, dr appts, etc, trying to get to the bottom of the heart issue.   Last week I had a echo/stress test, and yesterday I met with the cardiologist for the results.   Here it is..yes there is a problem with the electrical system of the left side of my heart.  Not sure what cased the damage, he feels it is either RA related, or I had some type of infection.  Regardless, sometime in the past year this occurred.  Good news is that apparently, because of CrossFit, I have been rehabbing myself without even realizing it.   The stress test showed that the rest of my heart is strengthening to make up for the damaged area, and I don’t need to see him for another year!  He said that he is sure that if I had not been doing what I was doing, this would have affected me much more, and that I just needed to keep on doing it.   I thought I hadn’t done well on the stress test, because I wasn’t able to go much longer than about 8 minutes,  seriously?  only 8 minutes??  But, he said that was phenomenal, normal is 5-6 minutes, based on the speed an incline they use.  He laughed at me.   He was so impressed..and I am so thankful. Explains a lot about how I’ve been feeling the past year, but he says the worst is behind me,  no restrictions, he is so impressed with what CrossFit has done for me.  He is a huge fan!
Thanks bunches!!

Anonymous writes…

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

I had something I wanted to share. Think you will really appreciate it! For the past few months, I’ve been going through a barrage of tests, dr appts, etc, trying to get to the bottom of the heart issue. Last week I had a echo/stress test, and yesterday I met with the cardiologist for the results. Here it is..yes there is a problem with the electrical system of the left side of my heart. Not sure what cased the damage, he feels it is either RA related, or I had some type of infection. Regardless, sometime in the past year this occurred. Good news is that apparently, because of CrossFit, I have been rehabbing myself without even realizing it. The stress test showed that the rest of my heart is strengthening to make up for the damaged area, and I don’t need to see him for another year! He said that he is sure that if I had not been doing what I was doing, this would have affected me much more, and that I just needed to keep on doing it. I thought I hadn’t done well on the stress test, because I wasn’t able to go much longer than about 8 minutes, seriously? only 8 minutes?? But, he said that was phenomenal, normal is 5-6 minutes, based on the speed an incline they use. He laughed at me. He was so impressed..and I am so thankful. Explains a lot about how I’ve been feeling the past year, but he says the worst is behind me, no restrictions, he is so impressed with what CrossFit has done for me. He is a huge fan!
Thanks bunches!!

Heather writes… (and speaks!…thanks for the pre-WOD speech Heather!)

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Quick background
Upbringing – fairly well adjusted/big athlete. Then due to several precipitating traumatic events, I was dx at the age of 19 with bipolar disorder. Looking back, I can say with almost complete certainty that I showed signs when I was freshman in high school. Research says that most commonly the onset occurs b/t adolescence-early 20’s. Bipolar is classified as a mood disorder that is marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy & behavior. It can make the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, school, work etc.. very difficult & sometimes impossible. On a biological level, what occurs is still not entirely understood, but research has shown an imbalance of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, GABA & norepinephrine.

Onset at 19
As if I woke up one day and brain was replaced with someone else’s/My thought processes were not my own, they felt completely alien to me/As if someone had taken a hold of the controls upstairs and I was along for the ride/Best way to describe it – I felt a complete loss of control & totally imprisoned
  • Mania sometimes had me up for days at a time, doing things completely uncharacteristic of me
  • If you were to look up the criteria for mania – at one point or another, I pretty much satisfied the entire symptom checklist
  • These highs were followed by depression that would have me sometimes curled up in my apartment for days. Because of my inability to “pull myself” out of the depression, I failed out of college at one point and lost 2 jobs.
Treatment: Unfortunately, in the early years, I was bounced around to a few ill fitting psychiatrists & given limited direction other than medication. (14 in total)
  • I had a couple of wonderful & well intended therapists, but unfortunately they didn’t have extensive knowledge of my condition and of course, neither did my family.
  • I felt my resources were fairly limited (internet not prevalent at the time), with the exception of a few books I read & a couple mental health group meetings that weren’t a good fit b/c they weren’t with peers I could relate to.
  • This experience led to a loss of hope and I became suicidal.
Road to Recovery
After years of being as proactive as I could, but still going through real periods of struggle, I realized that my treatment was not being handled as well as it could be, so I embarked on what I call “My Intuitive Path to Mental Wellness”.
I became in-tune with my body/no one knows your body better than you do! …most importantly, how my body/mind reacted to my dietary choices, exercise, stress, sleep, negativity & then the joy I got from engaging in hobbies.
I took an aggressive & integrated approach to my own recovery
If it wasn’t for fortitude & getting angry enough to say, not only am I not going to let this thing beat me, but I’m going to find a way to live a purposeful, fulfilling, happy, “I’m gonna go for it” kind of life!” I wouldn’t have made it. I felt I owed it to myself to figure out how to do that.
Integrative Approach
My integrative approach included: a tailored diet, intense exercise, non pharmacologic treatments such as acupuncture & hypnotherapy, ensuring ample sleep, eliminating toxic relationships & creating a strong support system.
Regarding diet
Avoiding or having very little caffeine, little to no alcohol, no sugar & no gluten resolved gut issues and those have been scientifically linked to depression.
That is why when I strictly follow the paleo lifestyle I am at my best & it works so well for me.
In addition, when consuming foods rich in phytochemicals, like juicing veggies in a raw form, they promote neuronal function & can aid in combating symptom severity associated with psychotropic medications.
Regarding CF
What brought me here today to speak to all of you – after years of being sedentary b/c most meds made me pretty cloudy & lethargic, I got to a point where I started exercising regularly again – tried the gym etc…but when I found Crossfit, it’s like I discovered one of the best forms of medication around.
The intense, constantly varied workout provides a release of endorphins that’s unparalleled
Intense exercise is proven to promote restful sleep and decrease symptoms common in brain diseases such as hostility, irritability, lethargy, weight gain, anxiety and depression.
Not only did CF remind me of the camaraderie I got from group oriented sports I loved growing up, but I can’t think of anything more fun than a Hero Wod like Cindy or sprinting, KB swings, throwing wall balls, doing power cleans and thrusters & kipping pull-ups.
There was a time I had accepted that I would always be on medication & I was okay with that. I was told this condition was a life sentence.
I’ve been off psychotropic meds for a year and half now, I can honestly say I’ve never felt better, and it’s b/c of the key components I mentioned earlier – Paleo & Crossfit being two of the most impactful.
I’m not condoning that people living with brain diseases (otherwise known as mental illnesses) should stop taking their medication by ANY means.
I just want people to know that under certain circumstances and with certain conditions, it is possible.
I advocate for patients to settle for nothing less than finding a psychiatrist willing to work with them collaboratively.
We are so blessed to be living in the age of the internet, where we can learn from so many spreading awareness about their own experiences
I am so grateful to be here today & to be able to say that after going through the hell & back several times, I not only came through it, but finished college with highest honors, became successful in a career that I love, I’m surrounded by family, friends and a husband that ALWAYS saw past the illness – stood by me through my worst until they could see me rise to be at my best.
And now, I can stand before you today and say that the greatest challenge of my life, has actually been a blessing, b/c I’ve recovered from a condition has tragically & unnecessarily been a death sentence for so many, and it doesn’t have to be. I have a voice & a story, and as long as I have that, I can help others fight to bring themselves out of the darkness and God willing, save lives.

Chelsea writes…

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Sam, Ed & Coaches,

I just wanted to thank each of you for truly being a huge part of my life this summer. You pushed me to do my best and helped me achieve goals in such a short period of time that I didn’t think were possible. the total weight loss for me from June 10th to present (August 15th) was 45 pounds! I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys. The way you guys care about each of your athletes is amazing. Always welcoming people with open arms. I’m sad to leave but happy to share the knowledge you guys provided me. It has been life changing for the better. You guys truly are a family. I shall return, skinny and with a J-Lo booty!