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Big Dawgs Coaches work with athletes and those dedicated to reaching their full potential in fitness.
Whether you're training for life or competition, your coach is committed to your success.
Stop wasting time scaling workouts that weren't built for you. Get a coach to achieve next level results.

Meet the coaches

  • Big Dawgs Henry Torano-Head  Coach

    Henry Torano-Head Coach

    There isn’t a sport that Henry hasn’t played, from football and volleyball to triathlons and ironmans, he’s done it all. But he quickly learned that to gain an edge on the field, there would have to be even more commitment, off the field. So Henry started hitting the gym and that’s when he found functional fitness. In 2014, Henry qualified for the Latin American CrossFit Regionals and again in 2015 as part of Team Aggressive. After college football, training became Henry’s new passion, as he found himself fascinated with the ability to establish a physical training program with predictable results. Because he truly loves program design, Henry’s ideal client is passionate about what he does, wants to get after it every day, and is excited about the process, whatever his goal may be. Together, Henry and his clients identify weaknesses and relentlessly getting after them.

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  • Big Dawgs Michael Bann

    Michael Bann

    Michael Bann started his career holding multiple positions in the strength and conditioning industry such as the Head Strength Coach for a law enforcement academy.  While studying exercise scie...

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  • Big Dawgs Mike McElroy

    Mike McElroy

    Mike found CrossFit in 2004 and quickly started following the original Big Dawgs blog. It was with the help of this blog that he made it to CrossFit Regionals in 2010. Following these Regionals, Mike then began working with Michael FitzGerald (James’ brother) to prepare for the 2011-2012 regionals. As a strong competitor himself, Mike’s passion lies in helping others see their potential and helping them overcome obstacles. For athletes who may feel their training has come to an end due an injury or otherwise, Mike is there to help change their perspective and continue to push them to the next level. “I think there always has to be a balance of keeping you healthy and pushing to new boundaries to get to that next level of competitiveness.” Even as a coach, Mike still trains to be competitive but more from a coaches perspective. In other words, his focus has shifted and he trains to learn, which in turn increases value for his clients.

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  • Big Dawgs Mizar Fuentes Ortega

    Mizar Fuentes Ortega

    As a former gymnast and gymnastics coach, Mizar found himself looking for another physical challenge and that’s when he found CrossFit (2009). He quickly realized this was something he wanted to purse as both and athlete and a coach. With the mentorship of James FitzGerald (Founder of OPEX Fitness), he qualified for the CrossFit Regionals multiple years in a row. Seeking to understand more, he joined the OPEX CCP program and continued to develop his mind, body and spirit and looks to do the same with his clients. He became coach for competitive fitness athletes to share his findings. Why? Because he enjoys having a positive impact on people’s lives.  As a coach, Mizar believes, starting with the basics is a must and the reason why we do things is important because it will set your priorities straight. There will be no more excuse “I don’t have time”… it’s more like: “its not a priority at the moment”.

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  • Big Dawgs Sam Smith

    Sam Smith

    Sam has had quite the experience when it comes to athletic endeavors. At the age of 9, he decided to pursue competitive golf and never looked back. His dedication to the sport and a desire to reach his true potential landed him a golf scholarship at the University of Southern California where he played from 2009-2013. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Sports Psychology and Interpersonal Communication. Throughout his junior and college career he attained multiple honors: No. 1 ranked 2008-2009 Junior Golfer in California 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Division I PING All-West Region 2010, 2011 All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention 2012, 2013 All-Pac-10 2nd Team 2013 All-American 2013 USC record tying 62 (-10) in first round of NCAA Regionals 2013 National & USC 36-hole scoring record 126 (-18) at NCAA Regionals 2012, 2013 Team Captain Towards the end of his golf career, he quickly found that his purpose in life laid elsewhere. Early in his college years he came across Crossfit and was instantly hooked. This led to a deep exploration into exercise, performance, psychology, movement to better understand what we are doing with our bodies, and why. The idea of becoming a Physical Therapist was a strong possibility for quite some time. After spending hours in the clinic and hospital, it became clear to Sam that the rehabilitation world was not the right fit for him. After some discussion with James FitzGerald, he quickly realized his true purpose was rooted in helping others reach their true potential whether it be in performance or health. One of his favorite quotes to help him keep perspective on life (a condensed version of the original quote by Charles Swindoll): “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life…The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so, it is with you ...we are in charge of our attitudes.” When Sam isn’t designing programs or consulting with clients, he enjoys playing golf, tennis, hiking, reading books, BBQing, finding the perfect ice cream shop, or spending time with friends building memories.

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  • Big Dawgs Georgia Smith

    Georgia Smith

    Georgia believes that physical fitness is an essential part of living a fulfilling life. Through her role on the OPEX Fitness team, as an individual design coach, and instructing kids in BJJ, she is passionate about helping others realize their physical potential and making fitness a part of their lifestyle. Moving from Australia to the United States in 2014, Georgia pursued her love of fitness and quickly found herself coaching and managing a CrossFit gym. In the search for further education she discovered OPEX, and within a few months of undertaking the CCP program knew it was a movement that she needed to be a part of. When she’s not talking to coaches, writing programs, and creating awesome fitness education content, you’ll find Georgia in her happy place—on the mats practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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  • Big Dawgs Whitney Reese

    Whitney Reese

    Whitney has been a lifelong multiple sport athlete. She’s competed in tennis, karate, basketball, track, cross country, and soccer. After an ACL injury as a teenager, she focused exclusively on soccer, attending UIW on an athletic and academic scholarship where she was a 4-year starter, freshman defender of the year, and multiple year scholar athlete. After college, she completed a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in Denver then returned to Texas. Whitney has competed in the CrossFit Games, is a 6x Regionals competitor, participated in the NPGL Combine, and is the Texas State Champion for the 63 kg weight class in the snatch, clean and jerk, and the total. She has also competed and placed in the top 10 at USAW Nationals and American Open. Outside of clinical practice and coaching, Whit enjoys hiking with her Partner and their dogs and playing with her niece and nephew.

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  • Big Dawgs Carl Hardwick

    Carl Hardwick

    OPEX/Big Dawgs CEO Carl Hardwick has dedicated his life to health and fitness. Already as a teenager, Hardwick lived at the gym. A 3-time All-Conference football player at Saint Mary’s University, ...

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Meet Some Big Dawgs Athletes

Colleen Fotsch | Big Dawgs Athlete
Colleen Fotsch
Big Dawgs Athlete
Nick Bloch | Big Dawgs Athlete
Nick Bloch
Big Dawgs Athlete
Amanda Goodman | Big Dawgs Athlete
Amanda Goodman
Big Dawgs Athlete
Jonathan Gibson | Big Dawgs Athlete
Jonathan Gibson
Big Dawgs Athlete
Joe Ames | Big Dawgs Athlete
Joe Ames
Big Dawgs Athlete
Corrin Lemieux | Big Dawgs Athlete
Corrin Lemieux
Big Dawgs Athlete
James St. Leger | Big Dawgs Athlete
James St. Leger
Big Dawgs Athlete
Torrey Penn | Big Dawgs Athlete
Torrey Penn
Big Dawgs Athlete
Anna Reed | Big Dawgs Athlete
Anna Reed
Big Dawgs Athlete
Kristine Best | Big Dawgs Athlete
Kristine Best
Big Dawgs Athlete
Janice Hardwick | Big Dawgs Athlete
Janice Hardwick
Big Dawgs Athlete
Andreas Skog | Big Dawgs Athlete
Andreas Skog
Big Dawgs Athlete

Join the Pack


"If you’re an athlete who competes in an individual sport and you can’t train alone or struggle to train alone, you need to stop trying to compete. " A bold, powerful statement made by Coach Sam Smith after working with hundreds of competitive athletes. Check out his reflections on training for an individual sport and how understand if it's really what you want.

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As a coach, it’s imperative to have metrics that allow you to track progress across a multitude of areas, otherwise what are you really doing? In my opinion, the key to progress in any program is a comprehensive selection of lead metrics. If we pigeonhole ourselves to just 1 or 2 metrics that could negatively impact our understanding of growth along with our athlete’s mindset around their own growth.

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Ten repetitions of rope climbs vs ten repetitions of pull ups is vastly different when it comes to total time. Determining your rate of reps during any given workout can be extremely complex and strategic if you look closely. Dive into the breakdown of comparisons with Coach Sam Smith as he lays out his thoughts of determining how to be successful by mastering your rate of movements in the sport of CrossFit.

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As the 2021 CrossFit Open and subsequent Quarterfinals come to an end, only a very select few of the world’s top athletes advance to the next Semi Finals stage. This also marks the end of the season for everyone else. For this majority of athletes, the Monday following Quarterfinals is day 1 of preparation for the 2022 season. But what exactly does this mean?

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