« Back Squat | Main | Bench Press »

Rest Day


Athletes Of The Month: Willie and Nancy!

This month we have a real treat, our first multiple Athlete of the Month honor...the Dynamic Duo of Willie and Nancy Hernandez! They both were among the names being thrown around as AOM choices, and then someone had the bright idea of featuring them both as a couple. Besides losing a collective 70 lbs between the two of them in the last six months, they’re easy to coach, supportive of their rack mates as well as of each other, and a pleasure to have in class. Read on and learn a little about the couple that sat outside in their car before a teaser class going back and forth convincing each other that it was a bad idea and they could just go home or get lunch instead...we’re sure glad they came in.
Fox - Tell me guys, what first brought you through our doors?

Willie - I saw the CrossFit Games on ESPN and then watched some videos online and thought it looked pretty cool and challenging. The real thing that got me looking though was a visit to the ER for a headache. I went in feeling “just off” and after a few tests the doctors told me they might not let me leave the hospital. My BP was through the roof, the nurse couldn’t believe I was standing. Turned out that my blood sugars were also in the red zone as well as my cholesterol...My doctor told me that if I kept on living the way I was that I’d be dead in 3 years. That was a wake up call. I was scared straight.
Nancy - Yeah, he was a real mess and I was scared for us. Willie showed me CrossFit online and I thought it looked crazy, like I wouldn’t be able to do that stuff. I was always bored at the gym though so I wanted to give it a shot. That first teaser class, just even going inside the gym, was scary. We sat in the car for 45 minutes going “this isn’t for us” as we watched the door slam open and closed while people ran in and out...and it was December!

Fox - But you came in and did the Teaser with David. Were you hooked at that point?

Nancy - I sure was. I loved it, the intensity and the competition. I tried to sign us both up right there but the Foundations cycles were sold out until late January. I emailed Jess right away and asked if there was anything we could do to start sooner. So we did a private Foundations with McDowell starting that Monday or Tuesday.
Willie - I didn’t think they would even let me take Foundations. I was crushed by that class. I remember David saying “How bad can 10 minutes be?”. It was bad. The workout was 10 minutes of 300m row and 15 burpees...I didn’t finish one round. I kept bending over and trying to catch my breath and David kept telling me to stand up and keep moving.

Fox - But you came back, and did a private Foundations with The Magnificent Mr. McDowell Myers. I assume he was a great teacher because you’re still here and have been coachable from day one. What was Foundations like? And then your first classes afterwards?

Willie - Every day going in to Foundations I thought I was gonna get cut! I kept telling Nancy, “Today is the day that he’s gonna tell me I can’t take another class...that I need private training and that CrossFit group class isn’t for me. You’ll be ok Nancy, but it isn’t for me”.
Nancy - McDowell gave us scaled workouts and was patient with us. We were nervous because we could see classes going on and it was real busy, but we just kept coming back for the next class. Before we knew it we were taking classes.

Fox - What were you guys doing fitness-wise before CrossFit?

Willie - (haha)...We would go to the NYSC in Atlas Park in Queens. I would pull a new 12 week program out of a magazine for us that we would half follow for a week at most. Nancy would go on the treadmill, I would do a few presses, and then we’d head over to Chili’s for dinner. It was obviously a failed plan but we didn’t know better at the time.
Nancy - Yeah, I would run a lot on the treadmill and lose weight but I wanted to look strong! Willie would always tell me I needed to lift weights but I didn’t really believe him...until you guys told me the same thing!

Fox - So someone didn’t believe something that their significant other told them until someone else also said it? Shocking. I can’t relate at all...anyway...Were you guys athletic as kids? Any sports backrounds?

Willie - I played sports as a kid through the Boys Club. Baseball, basketball, swimming, etc...then when you’re 18 all that ends and I continued to eat as if I were still active. I all added up eventually.
Nancy - I wanted to do that stuff but we started our family when I was pretty young so I never really did. I would go to the gym when I felt I was getting a stomach but didn’t play sports. I stayed at home with our daughter Crystal and then our son William.

Fox - So Big Willie and Little Willie?

Nancy - Actually, we call him King Will at home...he hates it!
Wille - Don’t put that in the article.

Fox - Definitely not, Willie...Anything stand out for you diet-wise that your new, lower level of activity could keep up with once you stopped playing ball?

Nancy - He would drink three 2 liters of soda a day. A whole 2 liter just at breakfast and then 2 more throughout the day.
Willie - Yeah, after that doctor visit that was the first thing I cut out. That alone made a big difference.

Fox - Holy shit! Three 2 liters? That must've been a hard habit to break, good job on giving that up. You’ve both lost significant weight since joining while also both getting much stronger. Do you know how much weight you’ve dropped since joining?

Nancy - I started out at 155 lbs and am at 130 right now.
Willie - I was up around 280 lbs and am down to 237 right now. My goal is to get under 200 lbs.

Fox - Amazing. You’ve lost a 25 and 45 lb plate respectively! How about strength numbers, where you started compared to now.

Nancy - I started at the 33 lb bar for my squat sets and just hit 155 at Tough Titsday. It was so amazing, the whole day. So cool to see that everyone else was nervous, and that we were all supportive of each other at the same time. Honestly one of the best days of my life. I wound up with a 130 lb squat, a 75 lb bench press, and a 150 lb deadlift. So cool.
Willie - Nancy was a nervous wreck that morning. You couldn’t talk to her! I’m proud of her though and glad she’s embraced lifting weights. For me, I started my squat sets at 165 and have moved up to 255x5x3. I backed off recently to deal with some knee pain but am on the mend and looking to go past that.

Fox - Any gym goals that you two are working on?

Willie - I want to bench 315 and get my weight under 200.
Nancy - I want to keep getting stronger and drop a little more body fat to look and feel the way I’ve always wanted to.

Fox - Those sound pretty within reach, great stuff. What about outside the gym, what does the Hernandez family do for fun?

Willie - Honestly CrossFit is our main hobby right now. We used to go out to eat all the time but now we’re being healthier so we work, head to the gym, and crash early at home. We go to the movies every now and then but we hang out here and at home mostly.
Nancy - That’s about right. We still go to dinner, right now I love Purbird. We also take a family vacation every year which is a big deal. This year we went on a cruise to the Bahamas. Atlantis was amazing. Years past we’re done the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and other stuff.
Wille - yeah, I busted my but on the lazy river at Atlantis. So embarrassing.

Fox - Something tells me that you’re the kind of guy that can take a bit of emarassment and come out ok. What do you for work?

Nancy - I’m a letter carrier for the USPS in the Union Square area. I’ve been with them since 1999.
Willie - I work as a custodial engineer for the Dept. of Education. I’m in charge of 2 schools and a team of 9 people down in the Lower East side. I’ve been with the DOE for 16 years but in this role for about 10. 10 More years till I can retire!

Fox - Nice to be looking down retirement at our age, huh? In spite of your fears and how hard things were in the beginning at CFSBK you kept coming in. I really believe that it takes that kind of commitment to anything to be successful at it. You just keep at it and don’t give up. What are some of the things that you enjoyed that kept you coming back to Degraw street?

Nancy and Willie (in unison) - It’s not boring.
Nancy - The community is so great, there’s always someone to talk to that you like. The blog is fun to keep up with, too. And the coaches are all great and approachable.
Willie - Yeah, you don’t get this kind of experience at another gym as far as coaching. I look at it like this. We all come to this place to basically play. All of us from different walks of life can come to this special place and just play. That’s the trick with CrossFit, it’s not like work, it’s like play. All the hard work is made easier by the fact that you enjoy it here.

Fox - That’s great to hear you say that. We strive to provide a fun environment where people can work hard and get better. Alright, last question. What should we look for in a future AOM?

Willie - Someone dedicated and consistent. Someone like me, Fox.
Nancy - I like how he says that with a smooth face! Yeah, dedicated and consistent. I’d add friendly and approachable. It’s what we love about this place is that it’s filled with friendly people.
Thanks so much to King Will and (Queen?) Nancy for spending the time to tell me a little about themselves. Congrats on all your hard work, we look forward to seeing more of it for a long time.
What Will We Miss? VSauce

References (4)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    NFL is definitely one of the greatest sports in America. It has a big following.
  • Response
    Response: have a peek here
    Fantastic Site, Maintain the excellent work. Thank you.
  • Response
    Response: check over here
    Neat Website, Continue the fantastic job. With thanks.
  • Response
    Amazing Webpage, Maintain the useful work. Thanks a ton!

Reader Comments (77)

Willie and Nancy are the best. I remember them, especially Willie at my teaser class, I thought man this guy is never coming back! Way to prove me wrong!!!

Midnight Workout at the gym

3 Rounds:
130m Jerry Can Carry
16 GHD Sit-Ups
8 DB Thrusters @ 30s

Bench Press
(no spotters so I did a volume set)

Tabata Mash-Up WOD
Double Unders: Averaged about 20 Doubles
DB Split Snatch: Did this with a 60lb DB, did 3 Snatches each arm every set.

July 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Willie and Nancy - hell yeah! You guys are rockstars - many, many congratulations. I absolutely love working out with the dynamic duo.

July 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterSamir Chopra

Nancy provided one of my favorite moments at this last Titsday. Congrats to you both!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

Nancy and Willie are the perfect AOMs! I love seeing you guys at CFSB - always with a smile - and hearing you cheer everyone on. Congrats!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohanna N

All right Nancy and Willie!!! You two bring such great energy every day. Perfect choice for AOTM.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

Yay Nancy and Willie! You guys are just the best.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWhitney B

Nancy and Willie! I'm so happy to read your Crossfit back stories.
I remember being next to Nancy on a mat doing sit ups for a wod. She was flying! I tried my best to keep up with her. I had never pushed myself so hard in a workout, probably still haven't. She has amazing abdominal muscles! ;) I remember it well.
Nancy and Willie you guys are both bad asses!!!!

Also love "don't put that in the article."
Printed. hahahah.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercrystal

Yes! Awesome stuff, you two are a great couple and I love your story.

Wille - Don’t put that in the article.
Fox - Definitely not, Willie...


July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Willie and Nancy! The best! I can't believe how much less of you guys there is than when I first met you. Congrats on the weight loss, the strength gains, and AOM!

"Don't put that in the article"...yeah, right. HA!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Congrats Nancy & Willie! Keep up the hard work!!

Side note: does anyone want to puppysit on Thursday? From around 9-3? I can bring her to you! She's a gem, but she needs a babysitter while I move our stuff to our new apartment! 2 short potty walks, a little play and lots of cuddling/sleeping!

Help! Grace.leigh.d@gmail

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGracie

Congrats Nancy and Willie! Had the pleasure of meeting Nancy in her first rings class last week. So cool to see Willie taking photos while she went through the routines. So nice to see the warmth and encouragement between these two.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Perfect A(s)OTM choice. Congrats Willie and Nancy!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJay R

Yay Willie and Nancy!!
Willie and I used to work at the same school about 10 years ago and had the same group of mischievous friends. When I nervously came in to my first teaser class all by myself, it was such a tremendous relief to see them both there cheering on their cousin (I think) who they were trying to turn on to crossfit. It definitely sold me on joining to see them there and at the other events. So siked to see them featured!! Congrats on all the progress!
On my end:
Continuing to make such incremental progress on my squats: frustrating
Realizing this weekend how much easier it is to hold a squat in a nasty public restroom: priceless!
Some progress can't be measured! Thanks cfsb!

Also: can someone who uses the app MyWod share the instructions for how to set up the RSS feed for cfsb wod? Someone posted it a long time ago. Thanks!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBreebree

congrats Nancy and Willie! I don't think we've met yet but that's a great story.

Make up post from yesterday: 4:30 with David. 2nd bench cycle in a row where i've failed to finish 175... I guess if we do this next time I'll try performance and see if I can get out of this rut. But! I managed one 20 second interval of unbroken DUs (37? 34?) last night before a lot of broken-up 10s and misc singles. Snatch at 35 was a little light for me but for me last night was all about DUs...

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpckr


Click on "common" dumbbell at the bottom. Then in the new screen, top left, click the "+" sign, select new Feed. Then type in CrossFit South Brooklyn, they will automatically plug in the URL. Save. Tada!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGracie

And by top left...I mean top right.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGracie


Love being in classes with Willie and Nancy. They put a smile on my face every time and Nancy was amazing at Titsday. Very well deserved.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShaye

Congratulations and so well deserved! It has been so incredibly wonderful getting to know Willie and Nancy! Each and every time I get to do a class with them, it's a better class!
I was waiting for the write up with anticipation, I knew it was coming when I saw the two of them coming down from "the room at the top of the stairs" shortly followed by "El Supremo" (bonus points to anyone who gets the reference) Fox wearing jorts and carrying a smile and a notebook.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDMak


July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBreebree

Congratulations Willie & Nancy.

It's been really awesome seeing all the progress since you both have joined CFSBK. I have really enjoyed the times I've gotten to pair with Nancy for workouts (typically with her schooling me at anything involving situps.. girl...). I also really enjoy joking around with Willie about his "wide grip reverse curl presses" (AKA rushed snatches during a games WOD a few months ago). Such good sports and so much fun!

You're both lovely people and I am glad that you're part of SBK's community.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterasta

One of my favorite moments of the open workuts this year was the burpee/snatch workout, and cheering on Willie as he snatched 135# repeatedly, after he didn't think he'd make it that far. So great to be a part of that.

I only know Nancy from her "before" and "during" pics. Equally impressive.

You've both come a long way. Congrats.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPR

6am with Jess and McDowell. Recovery squats (high bar): 230x5x5. Then a fun little metcon with the same components as one of the games wods: 2:45 on the first part and 3:35 on the second. Slowed down dramatically at the end and was sucking serious wind. 800m cool down jog.

Watched fragments of the games this weekend with my kids sometimes peeking over my shoulder. My son asked: "papa, can you do that?" No, son, those are serious athletes. Cinco 1 and 2 were awesome.

Congrats Willie and Nancy. Haven't had the pleasure of meeting you yet, but I love reading success stories.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Yay Willie and Nancy!!! Both encouraging, super awesome people. Always enjoy going in for the 4:30 class and seeing them there; they make a great workout even better!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKayleigh

dedicated and consistent, indeed! i love seeing willie and nancy push themselves outside their comfort zones, competing in the open and doing titsday. our gym is an even better place with you guys. congrats, and keep up the hard work!

July 30, 2013 | Registered Commenterellie june

This is definitely the best AOTM writeup yet. I only know Nancy from her posts on the blog and haven't had the pleasure of meeting either Nancy or Willie yet but it's clearly my great loss--what a cool family you guys are.

Snuck into 6am before heading to DC for three days. Holy moly that was no joke. BSQ 200x5x3. Excited about this as I failed at 200 a year ago in strength cycle. Then the wacky wod peter references. 3:42 on the first part, 4:20 on the second, running. Scaled volume significantly on the first part, should have scaled weight. Going overhead 10 hours after pressing was kinda hard.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

A few months back, I was rushing to class when I heard someone yelling from a nearby car on Bergen Street. Headphones in, I ignored them — but they wouldn't stop yelling. At me!

Turned out to be Willie and Nancy — they were trying to offer me a ride over to the gym. Basically, they're both awesome, in and out of the gym.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Katz

Yesssssss I was so excited to see AOTM back, and then even more psyched to see it was King Willie and Nancy! This is a great write up. I love how supportive you guys are of each other, and everyone else at the gym, and how immediately apparent that was about you guys when you first joined the gym.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Willie and Nancy! YES!

Congrats! I love that even when you look wiped out from a WOD, you still have smiles and hellos for everyone that comes through the door. Your transformation over the last couple of months has been amazing. You are amongst the kindest, friendliest and most hard working athletes at the gym.

I look forward to congratulating you in person.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanelle

Great AOTM. I always love seeing them at the gym. Congrats, guys!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex T.

Nancy "accidentally" signed up for this session of Rings Strength Class. She was worried that she might not be able to "hang" with the rest of the class... She did awesome! A great "give it a try" attitude, worked hard and learned new things. Meanwhile, Willie was cheering her on and shooting vids from the sidelines. What a great couple and choice for AOM.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterk2h2

Excellent AOTM selection!

I've had the pleasure to have been paired on a bar with Willie several times since we've been at SBK and he is consistently encouraging and attentive, and always keen to ask questions to make sure he's doing things the right way.

Nancy was inspiring at TTD and is always the first to say hello as you walk in the gym. What a great addition to the gym community--congrats to both of you!

July 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterRyan

Great AOTM selection! Willie and Nancy are always smiling and willing to try anything. It's been so cool to see how much they've progressed towards their goals. Katie and I were just talking about how great they look!

Bench - 190x5, 215x3, 240x5. Should have had at least 6 but on the 3rd rep my bar path got all wonky. Regardless 240 was an old 1RM from not that long ago so definitely making good progress

WOD - 304 reps (I think) Did 7-8 snatches per round and about 30 DU. Most rounds of DU were unbroken and closer to 40 but had a few slip-ups here and there

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan L

Willie and Nancy are sweet kids. I'm glad you guys got out of the car and that King Willie is not drinking all that soda. Congrats.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen W


July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca Wolf

Willie and Nancy, Willie and Nancy, WILLIE AND NANCY! Three cheers!!

You two are seriously two of my favorites at the gym. The spirit and smiles that you bring to CFSBK are priceless. Also, you definitely own two of my favorite box moments ever - Nancy, for your jubilant celebration when you totally smashed what you thought you were capable of at Titsday (and you're only just beginning to realize how strong you are, girl!), and Willie, for your ridiculously amazing Open workout where you ALSO didn't realize how strong you are and were essentially casually picking #135 off the ground when you didn't think you'd be able to snatch it even once.

A well-deserved AOTM! @EllieJune is right that CFSBK is even better with some Willie and Nancy in it.

And Nancy, I'm not ashamed to admit that I am in awe of your enviable abs.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Congrats Willie and Nancy. Really great story and thoroughly well deserved AOTM. Super couple and super choice typifying everything great about the box.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave E

Loved this AOTM. Just met Willie on Saturday when we were squatting together. Super chill guy!

benches today: 175x5, 175x5, 175x4(+F)

sigh, I moved this weight for this number of reps last week and was hoping to own it now. Almost. I think I could have had the last rep if I had a better bar position, or a little more recovery time before the last set.

WOD: I averaged 25 DUs and about 5 (#40)DB split snatches per round for 481 reps total. DUs are getting *much* easier. Probably should have gone heavier/slower on the snatches and thought more about form/position. They felt especially aimless/sloppy towards the end.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

Congratulations, Willie and Nancy! The amount of progress you have made in 6 months is incredibly inspiring! You really embody all the ways CFSBK is the jam. Keep up the amazing work!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLily

Yay Willie and Nancy! : )

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Yeah Nancy & Willie!! So psyched for you two as AOTM. The interview is hilarious and you two are awesome athletes and overall great nice people to be around!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterginacatto

I feel like I was just thinking to myself a few days ago, "When are we going to get another athlete of the month profile, and how the hell are they going to choose between Willie and Nancy?" Golf claps for the decision to feature both.

Nancy, Wilie, you guys are the best. It's a pleasure and an honor getting to work out beside you.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Mc

Congrats Nancy and Willie!

I've seen them around the gym and have always been impressed by the way they attack the WODs. I spoke to Willie briefly when he and Nancy first signed up and I remember that fear he mentioned in the interview. Glad to see you guys stuck with it and are making such amazing improvements in your lives. Very inspiring!

Great choice for AOM!!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAvi

Love this. Don't know if they even know me by name, but they are awesome, and it's obvious from just being in the gym with them.

Also, Willie is right on Purbird. That place is amazing. Great great paleo option.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoel W.

WEPA!!! congrats Nancy and Willie.. Always great to have you two in class

Side note:

I'm looking to swim more like Michael Phelps and less like Rich Froning..
Does anyone know of a swim coach I can meet with?

July 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterJoshua Martinez

Not much to say that hasn't been said, but I couldn't think of two more deserving folk than Willie and Nancy. Always a joy to have in class, always the first people to say hi when I walk in the door, great ambassadors of what we are all about. Also, such a genuinely fun, caring, and strong relationship between them, you can see it when they give each other a hard time, when Nancy rolls her eyes, and in countless other little moments. Class.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

I just signed up as an individual competitor for Beast of the East in October. I helped out a few CFSBKers last year and the competition was NO JOKE.



July 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

WOW!!!! Thank you so much management on picking us out of so many great candidates at CFSBK .You guys are awesome and always there when we need help or advice you have pushed us through many WoDs even when willie tries to hide from the coaches they find him and tell him to keep moving. We love this box and can not see us not being here ever! We love the community and have built great friendships along the way. We often talk about how friendly everyone is and how cool it is to work out with each one of you, because each one of you have a special quality that keeps us motivated! The way you guys encourage us and motivate us is amazing and how you scream out our names to keep us moving! We look forward to working out with all you guys and every class we have joined we always have a great group of people! we loved reading the little special moments you guys remember from us which put a smile on our faces and remember with out all of you guys and great coaches making it so great to come we would not have made it this far! We look up to many of you at the gym and look forward to many WODs together !

Thank you again!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy and Willie

@ Josh, re: swim coach
a few years ago when I was triathloning I met John Stewart (not the Daily Show guy). He's a great coach and helped my swim technique immensely. You can find him through the Jack Rabbit store website or these links. I know he teaches classes at the Berkeley Carroll pool.
www.racedaycoaching.com or by email at john@racedaycoaching.com

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard G

I've really got nothing to add. Willie and Nancy are the bees knees. High school sweethearts who love and also like each other. Great role models. Loved interviewing them.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFox

SO happy to pass the torch to super couple Nancy and Willie! Your dedication to CrossFit and the support you so evidently give to each other are an inspiration! Congratulations! Mare

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMare (aka Marian)

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>