3456 South Motor Ave., Suite 107, Los Angeles, CA 90034 (310) 558-4496


Nik has been a part of the DogTown family for 7+ years.  He actually helped design one of early website renditions with Jason Pang. 

Having Nik in class has always been a pleasure, and his personal journey has been remarkable and a true measure of persistence and personal change.  He has most recently hit his stride.

I think it is most important to understand for everyone, we battle at times with even being in the gym, let alone being consistent.  With Nik’s story, it shows the concept of how training has changed for him over time which is very compelling and inspirational.

-Coach Dusty
Crush Cancer 2012

Crush Cancer 2012

Q: Well first, congratulations are in order! You have been working so hard and have the pounds coming off to show for it. You are so inspiring to so many of us. Can you tell us what lead you into DogTown?
A: Way, way back in 2012, my good friends Omid Khalili and Claudia Padula did some serious recruiting that proved rather effective. I needed to get off my lazy ass, and this seemed fun enough to try. After the intro session, I was hooked.

Q: What was your first session at CrossFit like?
A: It was a Saturday morning intro class coached by Mike Vacarella, and I distinctly remember afterwards needing to sit on a box for about half an hour just to avoid throwing up. The workout was only mildly more strenuous than our warm-ups are today. It was the most physically difficult thing I'd done in my life up to that point. I haven't felt that awful after a workout since, either.

Q: What have been the most surprising changes in yourself that you have experienced since starting at DogTown?
A: I've never found a fitness activity I truly cared about. I lazily played basketball as a kid, and cycling got close, but I never pushed myself before, and CrossFit made me discover a switch in my brain that I can turn on to do things I never thought I could.

Q: CrossFit really gets us ready for anything and it opens so many doors to try things we may not have done before.  Have you taken on anything new with the help of CrossFit?
A: I took my cycling hobby up a few notches, having completed two centuries (100-mile rides, you should try it). I also started taking my diet seriously, since you can't out train a bad one no matter how hard you try. And I no longer generally fear physical activity.

Q: What are your favorite movements and workouts and what are your least favorite?
A: My favorite movements are generally strength related, especially the heavy lifts like deadlift and back squat. Running is probably my least favorite thing, though wall balls and burpees aren't far behind. My favorite workouts are set time AMRAPs and least favorite are ascending ladders. The rest is all details.

Q: What has been one of your fondest accomplishments at DT?
A: I'm a little over 70 pounds down from last February, which is pretty good. However, the real win is the fact that I keep coming back even if I step away from it. Fitness became an inextricable part of my life because of this gym and what happens inside it.

Feb 2019

Feburary 2019

Jan 2020

January 2020

Q: What are your health and fitness goals?
A: All Advanced, all the time? Maybe 500 pound deadlift some day? Are muscle-ups too much to ask for? Maybe I could work on being able to dunk on a regulation height hoop? I just want to keep a high level of activity part of my life forever. The current weight loss progress is just a side effect of taking my health seriously. Getting older is a lot more fun with a body that doesn't feel like it's about to fall apart, but quite the opposite.

Q: What advice can you give to a newbie at DT?
A: Two things:
 1. The first day is the worst by far. Just keep coming back.
 2. It doesn't get easier, but you do get better.

Q: What do you do outside of the box?
A: I mostly write software, ride motorcycles, and drink bourbon. And preach on and on about CrossFit in general and DogTown in particular, of course.

Q: What 2 things can you share with your DogTown family that we might not know about you?
A: I talk a lot, so most people probably wish they knew less about me, but here we go:
1. I'm one of the complaint champions of the morning classes, regularly suggesting we go get breakfast instead of doing the workout at the end, but I secretly treasure that part of the class the most, as conditioning has always been my weakness and I now cherish the progress I'm making.
2. I'm originally from Bosnia and keep forgetting to get a Bosnian flag for the gym. Someone remind me, please?
In what seems the blink of an eye, Celia Cruz has been a member at Dogtown for 8 years.  A thoughtful, quiet, hard worker in the gym she helps set the standard as a member for commitment to movement standards and consistency in workouts! We love having as a part of the family.

Coach Dusty

Q: What was your health and fitness like prior to CrossFit?
Looking back it wasn't really a priority in my life. I mostly ran on the treadmill a few days a week. However, my secret obsession was the Gunnar Peterson "Core Secrets" DVDs featuring Brooke Burke. Not sure if anyone remembers those or her, ha!

Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit and what inspired you to start?
I would drive by the old location when it first popped up and always wondered what went on behind those windows. It wasn't until I met Elda that we both dared to try it out together. We loved it and signed up January 2011, 8.5 years ago! It's so funny because, in the beginning, we were so intimidated, we would only go to class after confirming the other one was going to be there. How far we've come.

Q: What are your favorite movements and workouts and what are your least favorite?
Favorites, I love squats, burpees, deadlifts, and pretty much everything else except for what follows. I hate wall balls, haven't figured out the breathing and there's nothing I can do about the vertical challenge. Rowing is ok. I'm not a fan of snatches in workouts.

Q: What is one of your most proud CrossFit moments and what is one of your more embarrassing ones?
Anytime a fellow member says they tried keeping up with me or that I did well on a workout makes me happy. There are so many movements I've learned and gotten better at. I've thought, "Oh, I hadn't been able to do that, but now I can," I count those as accomplishments. Nothing embarrassing so far, fingers crossed.

Q: What are your CrossFit goals?
Overall, my goals are to stay active, keep moving, and prevent injury. I don't set specific gym goals. If you have patience, take no short cuts, work hard, stay consistent; naturally things get checked off "the list."

Q: You are an Energizer Bunny during workouts. What’s your secret sauce for being able to move so fast and efficiently during metcons?
 I like to pace myself from the beginning, and then once I find a groove, I know how much I can push myself the rest of the workout. Breathing is also essential so I make sure to concentrate on it, especially when I feel like I'm hitting a wall. It's one of the things I have noticed makes a difference in workouts.

Q: With a demanding work schedule, you always find time to still get workouts in. How do you stay so disciplined?
I make time to fit it in because I see all the benefits it provides. It helps me relieve the stress of dealing with parents and gives me the energy to keep up with the kids. It keeps me sane, so it doesn't feel like a chore.

Q: Any advice you can give to a newbie at DogTown?
Don't be intimidated! You are showing up all by yourself, that's more than I did in the beginning. Just keep coming, you will slowly start enjoying it and having fun!

Q: What have been the most surprising changes in yourself that you have experienced since starting at DogTown?
My taste buds. Let me explain. Nutrition is a subject that unfortunately was not emphasized in medical school. While at DogTown being exposed to meal prep, nutrition challenges, and food delivery services, forced me to get educated on the subject. I won't go as far as saying that food is only fuel because I do love food, but I do find myself enjoying the taste of healthy food. It supports my workout performance and enhances the results of my hard work in the gym. Maybe it's discipline, but perhaps it's just my brain tricking my taste buds (since it knows better) that nutritious is enjoyable. Whatever works.

Q: What 2 things can you share with our DogTown family that they may not know about you?                    
I never played recreational or competitive sports growing up. I know it's hard to believe! The last few years I've made sure to make up for that. I've picked up ice skating, tennis, skiing and now can say I enjoy swimming (had a traumatic sink or swim childhood experience). It's never too late to learn new things and step out of your comfort zone! I think DogTown had a lot do with that. Also, some may not know that I'm a pediatrician, which explains some of the answers above. Make sure you eat your veggies and get your sleep kiddos!

With the 2019 CrossFit Open behind us, it is a great time to get some discussion going around what we walked away with. I know from past years, one common pattern is this feeling or realization of “I am not doing enough during the year.” And my response to that is always, what is enough?

Every one of you is different from tenure to background to your own personal goals. The concept of “enough” or “not enough” is so relative. That is why Adam and I are excited and encourage you to set up one-on-one goal setting sessions with us.

Are you looking to run a half marathon? Do you want to train for a Tough Mudder? Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Do you want to add 30 pounds to your back squat or 50 pounds to your deadlift? Are you trying to improve at Gymnastics?

Maybe your goals are a combination of the above. It is common for someone to want to increase what they can lift while still training for a half marathon and also wanting to work on a gymnastics skill, like a pull-up. It can be really overwhelming also to figure out a plan that attacks all your goals SMARTLY.

That is why Adam and I are here to make sure you do have the right plan for YOU from how to tackle the daily workouts to additional work you need to perhaps do outside of normal class hours.

*Private Training is available with any of the coaches.
** Coaching/goal setting is available by Adam and myself.

Speaking of Goals, Let’s Chat “Why”
Adam and I always want to make ourselves available to have 1:1 goal setting sessions (and we encourage this!) It is a great opportunity to have an open, honest discussion about your personal goals and how to realistically get there. We want to dive a little bit into the “why” behind a goal.

For example, sometimes we feel that if we focus on getting stronger by having a goal to increase our back squat by 20 pounds, that it will automatically transfer to being stronger in metcons or be able to move faster (or mean that we will lose weight). It might but there may be other ways to go about it. The “why” is important to make sure that the goals we set align with what you really are after.

A theme that I often see is that we can be easily influenced by what we see on the Internet and Social Media. A common scenario is being exposed to a different Lifting Cycle and wanting to try that. My first question always is “why?” What is the purpose behind it? Does it align with your goal and your “why”? Does it compliment the training you are doing or does it potentially add too much volume too fast? Do you need to assess your overall training for it fit in? Are there other options to explore to reach your goals? I do not mean that to sound negative by any means or that someone should not try something. My intention is to put thought into it before jumping right in.

As Always, Safety First!

Our primary goal at DogTown is the safety of our clients. The speed and pace of conditioning absolutely can contribute to injury, and that is why we have a constant focus on keeping you safe. We are very proud of the extremely low injury rate at DogTown.

That is why we want to take the time to remind everyone of our protocols when it comes to safety. Accidents can happen (and will happen) but hopefully they will be minimal if we can collectively as a community, both staff and members, accept and practice the following:

  1. Please stage hanging bar elements (pull ups, toes to bar) appropriately prior to conditioning workouts and please listen to the prompts of the coaching staff. 
  2. If an injury occurs let the Coach who is certified in First aid and CPR lead and direct.
  3. No personal headphones in class.
  4. No extra training will be done during class time.  We just do not have the space.  If there are lifts you missed, extra training etc. there are Open gym times for that including Sundays from 10-12pm that is coach lead.

The noise level at the gym can get high with music, barbells clinking, etc; and that is why we want to alleviate any extra distractors, like wearing headphones. It is also so important that EVERYONE can hear prompts from coaches at all times.

It is in the same spirit of community that we want to keep an environment that is positive and inclusive. Think about the last time you went to a global gym and everyone was wearing ear buds. They are cohabitating in the same space without interacting. That is the opposite of what we have cultivated at DogTown. We are about community and connection and we always want that to be on the forefront.

I am anticipating some questions around the policy of not being able to do extra training during class time. We completely understand that it happens that perhaps you miss a lifting day and want to make that up or you are front loading before an upcoming trip. During many of the hours we have classes, the gym can be at capacity between main classes, Personal Training Sessions and On-Ramp. In an effort to keep our gym safe, our policy is to do that extra work or make-up training during Open Gym hours.

I also recognize that depending on what your individual goals are, you may need to be at the gym outside of main class. Please plan to use Open Gym to work towards your goals.

We pride ourselves on the product we deliver at DogTown through our programming and coaching that we implement within an hour. I want to take a minute to mention that Coach Mike does a stellar job of programming to make this possible. It is also a big factor in why our injury rate is so low. There are reasons why the RX weights are set as they are and a method behind cycles and every day metcons and skill work.  (For specific questions on his programming, reach out to him directly).

If your goals are beyond that, please, reach out to Adam or myself. Let’s make sure you are getting the most out of every hour (and plan for additional training). 

DogTown Is About Reaching Our Best                                                        

With the discussion of goals and wanting to perform at our best, just a few reminders on some of the classes we have outside of Main Classes.

Adam has been coaching Olympic Lifting for over 10 years, and he coaches a class Tuesday nights at 7:30 dedicated to it. It is a great opportunity to get proficient at lifting, which also will help you move better in your daily workouts. For anyone who has specific goals around Olympic Lifting, I encourage you to come to this class regularly.

I also lead a dedicated Gymnastics Class Thursday nights at 7:30. Read more on that here

We have some of the best coaches in the world who have coaching pedigrees rooted in traditional strength and conditioning that is not just CrossFit specific.

We are here to help find solutions and build a community that is stronger by training folks that are to be at their optimal mental and physical states.

Coach Dusty