Big Dawgs Coaches work with athletes of all ages and stages of their fitness; from weekend warriors to athletes training for specific competitions like the Open, Sanctionals, and the Games.
We have a storied history in the sport of functional fitness (our founder was the inaugural fittest man on earth) but we work with athletes in all sports and those who are just plain serious about their fitness.
Our coaches have mastered the OPEX System of Coaching and been mentored by James Fitzgerald himself. We take that education to another level by meeting weekly as a team to share client program design knowledge and dissect real client case studies. We take a team approach so that we always design the best program for you to perpetually progress forward. Yes, your program design will most likely be evaluated and supported by the entire coaching staff.
Our athletes love winning. Winning the day, the workout, and winning in competitions. Creating challenging goals, achieving them, then celebrating the success is what we live for.
Meet the coaches
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.Learn More
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...Learn More
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.Learn More
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”.Learn More
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.Learn More
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.Learn More
Megan Mondelli-Digital Marketing Strategist
Digital Marketing Strategist Megan drank the kool-aid back in 2014 while living in Texas during her masters degree. Once she finished up school, Megan began working as a general manager of a gym do...Learn More
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.Learn More
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, ...Learn More