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


The "Ginja" was referred to us by a former client and female Firefighter, Chelsea Grigsby.  Dean is a great athlete and a fun dude who enjoys gymnastics as much as I do.  I love his energy and general joy he brings to the gym.  Dean is overall a healthy example of what our next generation of wonderful human beings can be.
Coach Dusty

Q: What was your health and fitness like prior to CrossFit?
A: Prior to CrossFit I spent fifteen years surfing recreationally and competing through the NSSA (National Scholastic Surf Association) during high school. I also did karate for 11 years starting from when I was six.

Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit and what inspired you to start?
A: I started CrossFit in 2013. One of my first friends when I moved to Santa Barbara for Art School had been doing CrossFit for a couple years and wouldn’t stop talking about it. That had me interested.

Q: What are your favorite movements and workouts and what are your least favorite?
A: Movement wise I would have to say my favorites would be the snatch and clean and jerk. They are so technical and when you have a great lift it feels satisfying. For workouts anything quick where I can push the consequences to the end and move fast. Least favorite movement has to be heavy box step ups or heavy sled pushes. So much leg pain that turns into overall pain.

Q: What is one of your most proud CrossFit moments and what is one of your more embarrassing ones?
A: Proudest moment so far was squatting more than 300lbs. It was amazing to look at where I started and see how much stronger I had become. So that ties into my most embarrassing story pretty well. I was really skinny but I thought I was ‘fit’. My friend Aaron had got me to come to CrossFit for the first time in Carpinteria. The warm-up for that day was some moderate running and broad jumps up and down the street. I gave it my all during the warm-up, felt terrible by the time the workout started, and went home early. I ended up with the worst DOMS I have ever had in my life. It took a week to walk down stairs with bent legs. Painful and embarrassing lesson to start.

Q: What are your CrossFit goals?
A: I started CrossFit because it sounded fun and that has always been my main motivation. I want to get stronger, move better, and keep improving every day.

Q: You are a regular at the Thursday night Gymnastics class. Two part question: How has that helped you in your overall CrossFit fitness? And is that how you became nicknamed Ginger Ninja?
A: I’m a smaller guy and gymnastics has always been fun because it plays well in my strengths. My body awareness has also improved a lot because of gymnastics. I feel like I pick up new things quicker and have a better mental picture of how my body is supposed to move through space. As for the second part I really don’t know where the ‘ginger’ in my nickname comes from, but I was trained to be a silent assassin from a young age in Japan.

Q: You recently participated in a team competition. What was that experience like?
A: It was a great experience for all of us. I had done four other competitions before that so I was used to the process but it was really fun to prep and compete with Geoff and Ahmed. I love competitions because they are a great representation of all the work you have put into your body. You get to show up with the support of your friends and teammates and push yourself.

Q: Any advice you can give to a newbie at DogTown?
A: Come in as consistently as you can and have fun. Check your ego at the door.

Q: What have been the most surprising changes in yourself that you have experienced since starting at DogTown?
A: How much I enjoy seeing everyone. I have a great group of friends from this gym and I will always appreciate that.

Q: As a photographer, what CrossFit athlete would you love to get to work with?
A: I would love to work with Pat Vellner. Promote redheaded athletes!

Q: What 2 things can you share with our DogTown family that they may not know about you?   
A: Genetically the mutation that gives people red hair also comes with an increased pain tolerance and sensitivity to temperature fluctuations. Also redheads were burnt as witches during the dark ages (These count right?).

Let’s all make 2019 the perfect formula of technique, progressing smartly, being challenged and having fun! And of course, crush those goals!

To start, let’s chat the basics

Be present and in the moment.

Yes, that does mean ditching your phones when you walk into DogTown. For many of us, the 1 hour we spend at DogTown is the only true hour we have for ourselves. Make the most out of it.

Being present also means listening (I mean, REALLY listening) to our coaches. The more we can tune in to those queues they give us, the better our technique gets. And the better our technique gets, the faster and stronger we get. Coaches intentionally repeat themselves when it comes to explaining and breaking down movements because that is what creates that body awareness and performing movements almost on autopilot.

Everyone needs coaching.

Even those who have been at this CrossFit thing for years, it is never mastered and there is ALWAYS room to improve. Having proper coaching is what keeps us safe and continuously getting better. Noone is above needing coaching.Look at professional athletes. They have teams of professionals coaching them.

Stay Positive.

Firstly, no one likes a complainer. Show up to class ready to work and be positive. It is infectious, so be the person that everyone is inspired to work out next to.

Being positive is what can make or break us and get us to our goals. It is so easy and common to become our own worst roadblock so think positively and be kind to yourself.

It also means celebrating every little thing. Maybe you are still struggling to get full depth in that Overhead Squat, but recognize that you are getting lower than you did yesterday. Celebrate those PR’s, even if they are “just” a pound more. Every little bit gets you closer to where you want to go.

Be Consistent.

If you do not want each time you come to CrossFit to feel like your first time at CrossFit, show up consistently. That soreness you experience gets better when your body adapts to the intensity and volume.

Also, think about consistency in terms of how you pace yourself during those wod’s. Strive to have a consistent pace and if anything, instead of starting off like a bat out of hell, pace and at the end, go crazy.

And about them 2019 goals.

For some goals, we will organically hit them simply by showing up and giving the regularly scheduled programming 100%.

For other goals though, we will need to put in extra time and effort. Which means, goals have to be more specific than “get 1 strict pull-up” or “hit a 300 pound back squat”.  HOW do you plan to accomplish that? Are you going to ask one of the coaches (or youtube) for extra accessory work? Are you going to come in during Open Gym to work on strength?

Really put thought to the plan to hit a goal because merely wishing it and putting it out into the universe may not result it in magically happening.

Also, just because you hit a goal once, does NOT mean you are golden for life. You must continuously work at it. (Just look at myself and Bar Muscle Ups. I have 4 under my belt but my success rate is like 1%).


Alright, 2019, let’s do this!

On Behalf of the DogTown Staff,


Erica Mendel reached out to us about possible work early this past summer, before she relocated to Los Angeles with her boyfriend. We get hundreds of requests for potential coaching positions at DogTown, which 99 percent of them are dead ends. From time to time, we find real gems like Erica. Upon meeting her, I immediately liked her perspective on life, her approach to coaching people and her belief in the basics when it comes to Strength and Conditioning. Please welcome Erica to the DT family if you haven't already!
Coach Dusty

Q: From Maryland to California, what brought you to Los Angeles?
A: My boyfriend and I both started school at UCLA this past fall. He is getting his PhD in Sustainability and I am doing an Acting program. I want to be an actor (I am an actor – gotta get used to saying that), so moving here was going to happen eventually. UCLA just sped it up a bit.

Q: What has it been like adjusting to West Coast life?
A: Honestly it’s been great! I was ready for a change, and getting the opportunity to start our own life here has been really nice.
Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit and what were you doing before?
A: I have been doing CrossFit for 5 years. I was a swimmer from the age of 7-18. I got pretty sick my last year of high school and had to quit. To be honest, I was also pretty burnt out. I dabbled in climbing and yoga and Muay Thai before I finally went to a CrossFit gym and got totally hooked.

Q: What are your CrossFit and fitness goals as an athlete?
A: I actually don’t have any goals as an athlete. I have a really obsessive personality, and I have found that if I set goals in CrossFit, I stop enjoying my training and just obsess over why I am not achieving things as fast as I want to.
I am not a competitive CrossFit athlete and I never will be. So I just focus on doing what I like to do, and letting whatever happens happen. It took me a really long time to learn to enjoy the ride and not focus on the end result. If I am looking for longevity in this sport and in my general fitness, then I need to just focus on keeping myself healthy and happy. That said, if setting goals keeps you coming to the gym, by all means keep setting those goals and crushing them. I think it’s important for each person to find what works for them and stick to it.

Q: As a coach, what advice do you give both veterans and rookies of CrossFit?
A: For veterans: Pay attention to your movement. After years of lifting it is easy to think that you know it all and don’t have to focus on what the coaches are saying or what your body is doing. Everyone can improve, forever, especially when it comes to movement. Our bodies change over time, so what you did 5 years ago won’t necessarily work for you anymore. Take joy in continuing to learn. Don’t take it as an attack on what you think that you already know.

For rookies: Take it slow. We all start somewhere. If you kill yourself trying to beat the people who have been doing this for 5 years, you’re going to end up hurt and with bad movement patterns. Just focus on you and your journey! Nobody else can affect the work that you put in and the results that you get out of it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing things (i.e. kipping pull-ups: Do NOT do them until you have strict pull-ups). That is how people get hurt. Trust the process and be patient (and diligent).

Q: Mobility is one of those areas that often is neglected. Thank you for always adding even a few extra minutes of mobility to the classes you coach! What are the benefits (aka selling points) of mobility you would like for DogTown to cash in on?
A: I LOVE MOBILITY! I like to think about it this way. If you have mobility restrictions, you are not able to do anything at your full capacity. If your shoulders are super tight, then your overhead squat is only going to be 30% of what it could be if you were more mobile. Mobility (and stability in those end ranges) opens up a whole new level of gains that you will never be able to reach if you never work on it.
If you watch Olympic Lifting competitions they often have a stream of the training hall. All of the best lifters in the world also have INCREDIBLE mobility. You can be big and strong, but if the guy/girl next to you is big and strong AND mobile, he/she will out-lift you every time.

Q: As the new coach for Saturday classes, you get to take liberties with the programming. What is the method behind your madness?
A: HA! This is a great question. I love those Saturday classes. I like to try to introduce odd objects and movements that you wouldn’t see in a normal class during the week. Mostly, I try to think of workouts that I think would be fun and that force people to work together (hence the partner workouts!). The mobility is there for all the reasons mentioned above, and the question of the day is there to force us all to get to know each other. I love the conversation that those questions spark and the laughs that usually ensue!

Q: What do you find to be unique about the DogTown community?
A: DogTown has a really welcoming community. Oftentimes gyms can be very exclusive, even though they advertise inclusivity. From the start of my time here, the people at DogTown have been incredibly kind and supportive of me and from what I can see, of each other. It’s really nice to watch people really care about one another!

Q: What are two things about you that our DogTown family may not know?
A: First…. I used to have (slash still struggle with) an eating disorder. It is often touted that CrossFit can cure body image issues; at least, that is largely what I have seen. CrossFit is wonderful for many people, but it is not guaranteed to cure anything.
My body image ideals just shifted from being skinny, to being lean and “ripped” when I started CrossFit. Neither of those things are healthy for me (or anyone) to obsess over. If you struggle with really unhealthy eating habits (and that can include obsession with sticking to a “healthy” diet), get help! My eating disorder did not go away when I started CrossFit, even though I tried really hard to pretend it did. Just be really aware of the messages that you are telling yourself with regards to training and eating. Secondly… I am 24 years old. I like to try to pretend that I am older and wiser than I am, but really I am just a youth masquerading as a grown-up

Q: When you are not at DogTown, what are you up to?
I am usually spending time with Russell and my dog, working on my acting/photography, or cooking.

Final word: In regards to health, working out and eating well are great, but if you are not getting enough sleep, you are severely hindering all of your hard work. Sleep is the cornerstone of health. Get some sleep kids.