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Meet the coaches

  • 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 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, learn from them and feed off that vibe of progressing to the next level. We always wanted more – to take things further, but we knew there was a progression and we had to surround ourselves with like-minded people that were better than us.” Designing different lines for the next skate-video started his passion for movement, flow and performance – later leading into a short lived career in film editing upon discovering CrossFit in 2007. Anxious to become part of building a different story, he pursued coaching – interning under Justin Marcis(Windy City Strength & Conditioning). Within the next 7 years he opened, operated and sold his own facility to focus solely on being a strength coach. “My old spot was CrossFit, and the new approach just didn’t fit there; it was obvious with the flux in clientele and the want for metcon after metcon that they weren’t getting. Upon finishing my first CCP course, I knew James Fitzgerald had those missing pieces that I had been looking for in CF – progression and the individual nature of an athlete.” Completely intrigued with that essence, he finished his CCP courses and dove into Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. This understanding of the biochemical aspect, helped his clients achieve their health and performance goals at a whole new level. Outside of work, Sean pursues both skateboarding and olympic weightlifting recreationally. He is passionate about his wife Becky & his son Jace. He loves Jesus and is thankful for every opportunity to work with clients as a strength coach.

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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
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
Big Dawgs Home

5 Habits of Elite Athletes

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Recent Podcasts


  • 04 Dec 2019
    Ep. 32 | Mushing about the CrossFit Open
    On Episode 32 of the Big Dawgs Podcast James FitzGerald muses about the CrossFit Open 2020. He covers topics of Time, Movement, Volume, Season, and Rate as they relate to the Open. Sponsored by Oxygen. 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.
  • 04 Dec 2019
    Ep. 31 | Strength Supporting Endurance
    On episode 31 of the Big Dawgs Podcast, James FitzGerald talks about strength supporting endurance. 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.
  • 31 Oct 2019
    Ep. 30 | How to get better at upper body gymnastics
    On Episode 30 of the Big Dawgs Podcast, James FitzGerald talk about organizing upper body gymnastics training. While gymnastics training should cover multiple muscle groups, such as the core, shoulders, scapulas, and legs, James sees many people going wrong in their upper body gymnastics training. Thus he breaks down upper body gymnastics organization your yearly plan of strict strength, then into a focus on max contractions, then into a focus on dynamic power endurance work, while pay close attention to scapula strength and fatigue.

Blog

It’s better to be a small fish in a large pond, than a big fish in a small pond. Big Dawgs Athlete, Rachael D’Angelo competed at Beetle Extravaganza in November 2019. Like many competitions, ...

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Coach Sam Smith programs Open workout 17.5 for Big Dawgs Athlete, Colleen Fotsch.

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THE CONVERGENCE OF FUNCTIONAL TRAINING AND BODYBUILDING Too many coaches and functional fitness athletes, the term “Functional Bodybuilding” may seem like an oxymoron. But since we’ve begun using b...

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I worked with another well known company who assigned me a coach. I was with them for a year, but there were a few things that were not working for me. I felt that I was being put on the back burner because I am not "elite" or "competitive" yet. When I had the opportunity to attend an in person seminar and their attention was on the athletes that already had big numbers.  I actually didn’t even go back the second day, I felt like I was wasting my time and like I didn’t belong there. 

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