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Meet the coaches

  • Big Dawgs Brian Foley

    Brian Foley

    Brian’s experience with competitive sports gave him the drive to pursue fitness and help others on their fitness journey. First starting in the CrossFit community, he became a coach for two Southern California affiliates. His expertise allowed him to manage and program for one of those facilities. While coaching, Brian continued to put in work and his commitment landed him on a team at Southern California regionals with the privilege of having James Fitzgerald as his coach. As with anyone truly passionate and invested in learning, Brian has tested most research of fitness and diet on himself which has allowed him the experience to personally program for various things for others. He believes that having a mentor or coach is the best investment a person can make no matter what stage they are at because you gain the wisdom and experience from your coach. Working with Brian means you will not only be coached but also become educated on your journey within program design because he is truly a lover of teaching.

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  • Big Dawgs Henry Torano

    Henry Torano

    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 Matt Bryant

    Matt Bryant

    In 2012, Matt Bryant came into our system with years of experience coaching. He's worked with kids, the general public, fitness enthusiasts, sports teams, and high level athletes on program design, personal training, and group classes. Matt was a college basketball player, and shortly after finding the efficacy of mixed modal training for himself, he began using it with success on clients and as a men’s and women’s college basketball strength and conditioning coach. Matt decided to continue to grow as an athlete and moved to Scottsdale, AZ where he trained under James FitzGerald. He has dedicated his life to this purpose and has learned from experiencing what he teaches first hand. His competitive attitude helps motivate his clients to achieve more than they thought possible. Matt’s experiences as an athlete allow him to work exclusively with individuals wanting to take their fitness to the next level. 

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  • Big Dawgs Matt Springer

    Matt Springer

    Matt Springer has taken a meticulous journey in becoming the coach you see today. His interest for strength and conditioning arose as a means of preparation for the gridiron and wrestling mat. E...

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  • Big Dawgs Michael Bann

    Michael Bann

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

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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 Sean McGovern

    Sean McGovern

    A 22 year veteran of skateboarding, Sean‘s background in sports and movement is deeply rooted in the experience around the result. “Growing up, the goal was always to get out with the older guys, l...

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  • Big Dawgs Sam Smith

    Sam Smith

    A former professional golfer, his interest in movement led him to pursue further study in Physical Therapy. After five years in the clinic, Sam turned his attention to coaching competitive athletes, where is true passion lied.   Sam enjoys coaching athletes who are seeking to compete in the Sport of Fitness at any level and writing programming that aligns with all aspects of the athlete’s life so that they can maximize their growth inside and outside of the gym. His favorite moments in coaching are when his athletes achieve things they never thought were possible. After seven years in the profession, Sam now combines his love of coaching with his passion for learning as a Head Coach and Research & Development Assistant at Big Dawgs.

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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 COO 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, Hardwick b...

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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
Dominic Scalzo | Big Dawgs Athlete
Dominic Scalzo
Big Dawgs Athlete
Janice Hardwick | Big Dawgs Athlete
Janice Hardwick
Big Dawgs Athlete
Andreas Skog | Big Dawgs Athlete
Andreas Skog
Big Dawgs Athlete
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5 Habits of Elite Athletes

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Recent Podcasts

  • 30 Sep 2019
    Ep. 29 | Intensity is NOT Healthy
    On episode twenty-nine of the Big Dawgs Podcast, James FitzGerald talks about metabolic intensity and why intensity is NOT healthy. He covers what he means by that by starting at a basic understanding of what metabolic intensity is, the history of programming it, why the dose response is not sustainable, especially for the general population.
  • 24 Sep 2019
    Ep. 28 | 30 seconds HARD
    On episode twenty-eight of the Big Dawgs Podcast, James OPT FitzGerald talks about what it means to go hard for 30 seconds. James references the 30s x5 Assault/Air Bike test (rest 5 mins), he gives the history of this workout prescription, how and why to program it and for who, and what the results of this test could mean.
  • 12 Sep 2019
    Ep. 27 | Easy Training For Mixed Modal
    On episode twenty-seven of the Big Dawgs Podcast, James OPT FitzGerald talks about easy training for mixed modal athletes, what is it, how does "easy" compare to "hard", and how will "easy" training help you achieve higher levels in the sport of fitness.


And just like that, we’re out of the gates with the 2020 - in 2019 which still weirds me out a little bit haha. We saw that CrossFit Open Workout 20.1 was: For Time: 8 Ground To Overhead - snatc...

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Big Dawgs Coaches Sam Smith and Brian Foley walk you through everything you'll need to be successful in the 2020 CrossFit Open.

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So many people ask us “how do I get better for a competition,” so I decided to ask coach Sam Smith to help me better understand how athletes can spend a year building the important movements for a competition. More specifically, I asked him how to improve from one year’s CrossFit Open to next year’s CrossFit Open.

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We have been discussing the CrossFit Open with everybody inside of Big Dawgs, so I decided to ask coach Sam Smith to help me better understand how athletes can view the Open for themselves to get their best performance inside of it. Something important to note, though, is that this isn’t an article about how to train for a year - or 5 years - to peak physically for it. No, this article and video are about how to take wherever you sit, right now, and put your best result forward.

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Start here: 5 Habits from elite athletes

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