Success Story – Dennis Cajigal

By shannon
In December 18, 2016


Dennis Cajigal

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to join, Sonya in her one-on-one training session she had with Paul.  She attempted to explain to me what CrossFit was and how exciting and horrible the workouts she had to do were.  Paul too had talked to me about it, but I wasn’t comprehending what CrossFit was.  I assumed you had to be in good shape to do CrossFit.  I told Paul I’d come check it out after I did more running.  It was curiosity and ego that led me to the front door of then, South County.   I figured if Sonya could do it, then so could I.  That was almost 4 years ago, summer of 2010.

Dennis - IMG_3646 Edited

Before CrossFit, like most people I went the gym.  24 Hour Fitness to be exact.  I’d workout 3-4 times a week.  I’d lift then do some sort of cardio on the treadmill, elliptical machine or stair climber.  I’d leave the gym feeling good about the workout I just completed.  I usually left sweaty from the bit of cardio and pumped/swoll from lifting.  I also tried P90X, with my old roommate, for a couple months. We were pretty serious about it.  We followed the meal and workout regimens laid out for us and did the workouts on their designated days.  I really liked the program and had success losing weight and gaining strength, but committing to six days a week was tough and it was hard to stay motivated.  Aside from working out, I really enjoyed being active outside.  If I didn’t go to the gym, I would either go surfing or I’d go mountain biking.  I was a fairly active guy and I thought I was in ok shape.

Now I don’t remember my first CrossFit workout, nor do I remember how I felt after time was called.  I can’t imagine I did well, and I most likely felt like crap while lying on the floor.  I don’t know why I went back but I did.  And back again.  And again.  I kept going back.

The start of my CrossFit journey was shaming.  I vividly remember using a blue band to do pulls ups and Paul still assisting me by pushing me up towards the bar.  I couldn’t do ring dips without a red band which was quite humbling and aggravating because the band kept ripping out my leg hairs.  I had to use a wall-ball, as a guide, to make sure I was getting low enough on my air squats.  I couldn’t climb a rope.  I would try but fail.  I hated them.  Honestly, they scared me.  I feared plummeting to the gym floor.  My first successful rope climb was done with a technique only seen used by tribesman trying to get the coconuts atop of tree.   My Olympic lifts were not at all what they are today.  I had horrible technique which consequently resulted in a couple of lower back injuries.  My lifts needed work and I needed to practice.

Dennis 1

Happily, things are relatively different now.  I only use bands to stretch and for added resistance.  I am able to climb ropes now.  Usually in 3 pulls, 4 if I’m tired.  My Olympic lifts have vastly improved; it’s the stuff I’m most proud of and happy with.  I still have off days when I pull early or I don’t get me elbows through fast enough or I land on my toes rather than my heels, but I have more days when it just clicks and when it does the feeling is amazing.  WODs with cleans or snatches, programmed in, are the days I love.  UNLESS, the word DUMBELL precedes the words snatch, clean or squat.  I hate dumbbell anything.  Those days, I avoid. Those days, are rest days.

Along the way, I’ve been successful enough to change PR’s and benchmark scores.  My most notable personable bests are a 190# snatch and a 1:28, 500 m row.  I am certain, I am in the best shape of my life.  I am the healthiest and the fittest I’ve ever been.  To that matter, Sonya is healthiest and fittest she has ever been as well.  We, together, suffered and stuck it out and kept going back.  I’m unsure if I would have had the same as success without her.  She always kept me grounded and reminded me that it’s just a workout and that next time try harder. 


A lot has changed since 2010.  I was single, now I’m married (to an amazing woman).  I had zero kids, now there are 2 (good looking ones).  Banded pull-ups and dips to a competitor in local and in-house competitions.  From a gym member to a Level 1 Certified Trainer with the opportunity to be a part-time coach at Ruination.  Healthy and fit-ish to healthier and fittest.



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