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Athletes: Angie Wrightstone & Brandon Merson are this month’s featured athletes.  Angie is typically an evening CrossFitter but if there is a partner WOD you may see her sneak in a morning class to workout with her swolemate, Brandon.  Brandon wins the award for the tallest athlete at 717, so if you’ve seen a tall guy crushing a rowing workout then that’s him!  These two are such genuine people and a pleasure to coach, make sure you take some time to get to know them if you haven’t already!

1. Where did you grow up?
A: New Cumberland, PA
B: Red Lion, PA

2. What is your athletic background?
A: I grew up in the 80s working out to Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons.
It wasn’t until college when I became a Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer, and my love for Martial Arts turned into an amateur boxing career. From about 19 years old I taught Group Fitness in many area clubs and onboard a cruise ship. Boxing and kickboxing was definitely my favorite to teach. I found a love for running after I had my first son in 2005 when I ran my first marathon.

B: Recreational baseball and soccer growing up. Basketball for school and rec leagues.

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3. How did you get started with CrossFit?
A: I wanted to try CrossFit for years but like a lot of people was intimidated. I trained locally with a group that ran Spartan Races and our training was based around CrossFit movements. I took the plunge into a sweatshop class and the rest is history.

B: Found CrossFit when searching for the 300 Workout back in 2009.

4. How long have you been at CrossFit 717?
A: This past April marked my 2-year anniversary.

B: As an official member, 4 months. I would drop in with Angie from time to time before I became a member over the course of a year.

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5. What is your favorite type of CrossFit workout (ex: AMRAP, EMOM, Chipper, etc.)?
A: I enjoy the long, grueling wods like chippers and endurance class.

B: A task priority wod like Helen or Grace (for time).

6. What exercises/WODs do you dislike?
A: Rowing for calories and wall balls are certainly not a strength of mine.

B: Handstand pushups or pistols. I get down with any style of workout, but those 2 movements are my least favorite.

7. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
A: I’ve had quite a few. I have a competitive nature so competing in CrossFit competitions is scary and exhilarating at the same time. I hit a PR on my C&J at one, and nailed pull ups at another.

B: Being 2 points shy of the podium at last year’s Battle Royale and competing with Angie as a team on our first Valentine’s Day together (Cupid’s Revenge).

8. What is your biggest goal in life?
A: Life it to the fullest. I thrive on experiences that take me out of my comfort zone and push my limits physically and mentally.

B: Compete on the Master’s stage at the CrossFit Games and to visit Iceland.

9. Where did you go to high school/college?
A: Red Land HS and Edinboro University of PA (BFA degree)

B: Red Lion HS and Kaplan University (Nutrition degree)

10. What is your current occupation?
A: I am a licensed Massage Therapist. I teach Massage Therapy and write curriculum for 31 massage schools across the country.
B: Store Manager at Vitamin World at the outlet center in Hershey.

11. Who is your favorite CrossFit Athlete?
A: Brooke Ence- she’s quirky
B: Mat Fraser

12. What is your favorite movie and why?
A: Anything by the Cohen brothers.

B: Jaws, because it combines the beach and bloody horror.

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13. What is your favorite thing about CrossFit 717?
A: The community. The moment at the end of the wod when everyone gathers to support the last few athletes to finish. The collective shared pain and suffering which ultimately makes us all better humans. Very few times in life does a group of people come together quite like that.

B: The community and the variety. Environment is inviting, the coaches encouraging, and the choice of classes.

14. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Dishonesty. I like authentic people.
B: Inconsideration, those who can’t see beyond themselves.

15. What is one thing you have never done that we would be surprised about?
A: I don’t know that it’s surprising, but I don’t know how to drive a manual car and Brandon insists I learn.

B: I have never left the US. I do not have a passport.

16. Where is your favorite place that you have traveled to?
A: I tend to rank places by the food that’s available. The most amazing meal I ever had was in Turkey.

B: Watkins Glen/Ithaca NY. We camped out, dropped in on a rad box, and ate some kickass BBQ.

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17. What would you say is your worst personality trait and why?
A: I can be too competitive which makes Brandon not want to be partner in any wod.

B: Setting too high of expectations for others.

18. Did you or do you have a nickname? What’s the story behind it?
A: My boxing friends called me Ginger Snap and my massage students named me Thunderwoman.

B: Clark. It started out as Clark Kent from Superman but morphed into Clark Griswold. A past coworker coined me with the name and I refer to her as Aunt Bethany.

19. What is your favorite genre of music to workout to? What are your top 3 workout songs?
A: Most of the time I don’t even hear the music, but I like some old-school rap.

B: EDM, Metal, and Classic Rock. First of the Year by Skrillex, Not Your Average American by Asking Alexandria, and Perfect Combination by Roots (Kill the Noise/Codes Remix)

20.  Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
A: I’ve had some amazing teachers and mentors throughout my life, strong women that I’ve admired for their will and strength. My mom has certainly been one of them, I wouldn’t be where I am without her.

B: My mother. Doing what’s right every minute of every day with the sole purpose of doing it the best you can.

21. What do you feel is the most important invention in the past 100 years and why?
A: In our case, artificial insulin. My oldest depends on it to live and hopes that even more technology makes his life easier with Type 1 Diabetes.

B: Antiseptics or Penicillin. The ability to combat germs and keep people from dying.

22. What are your hobbies and interests outside of the box?
A: Brandon and I seem to share a love of adventure in and outside of the box. We enjoy being outdoors hiking or camping, taking the boys to sporting events or eating cheeseburgers.

B: Watching horror films, sarcasm, running, eating BBQ, and spending time with our puppy.

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