#MakingMonsters: Macebell and Club Workouts with BCCF

Written by SavvySleever.  Edited by SportsAngle.

Lily Over Lodi

When you walk into Bergen County CrossFit on Garibaldi Street in Lodi, you might not even notice owner Daniel Ramsay at first.  In this day of the CrossFit Games and gyms on every corner, Danny stands 5’5” and weighs 130-something pounds.  But, rest assured, Danny is a complete badass, and his vast experience and knowledge is immediately obvious when you talk to him — or watch his feats of strength.  

“I’ve seen Danny literally rip a phone book in half,” said my husband, Bryan, an 8-year veteran of the gym.  “Decks of cards, drilling a nail through a board with his bare hands, knife training, martial arts… Danny can do anything.”

Trainer and co-owner Iliana Orozco is also not necessarily what you would expect — a gorgeous 5’2” woman who has a certificate in cosmetology and performs makeovers for many of the women in the gym.  But, hand her a kettlebell and she transforms into a complete monster.  “It’s like Dr. Frankenstein and his creature,” Lily said with a laugh. “Danny is a mad genius when it comes to this stuff.”  

While Lily casts herself as a monster — which no one can deny after watching her during a sweat session — I think it may be more accurate to call her Danny’s Mona Lisa.  She is the perfect elite athlete, putting literally everyone else in the gym to shame during workouts, including guys more than double her size.  

But, it’s not their appearance that sets them apart in the oversaturated fitness industry — it’s their methods.  BCCF is consistently ahead of the curve, possessing an incredible resume to back it up.  

Danny and Lily began small group, semi-private training a decade ago, long before it swept the nation, and they were one of the very first CrossFit gyms in New Jersey.  They also started a KettleBell Sport program like nothing else out there, and they have spent the last year developing a revolutionary macebell and steel club system.  It is the latter that has Danny and Lily more excited then anything else they have done, after seeing the results they can achieve.
Continue reading →

Evil Genius: A Chat with the Creative Minds at BCCF

After a particularly challenging macebell and club workout last month, Daniel Ramsey and Iliana Orozco – owners and trainers at Bergen County Crossfit of Lodi, N.J. – invited my husband and I to lunch to discuss the history of their gym and the new workouts at BCCF.  Danny, the self-proclaimed master of chicken cutlets, made his specialty as we picked his brain for about an hour.  Jake, my newborn son, and Conan, their black pug, happily slept through our heated chat – that is, until lunch was served and Conan looked eagerly at his plate.

The following is an abridged version of my in-depth interview with Lily and Danny.  You can also read more about their revolutionary macebell and club workout here.LilyMace2ON MACEBELL AND CLUB TRAINING

SavvySleever: How did you first learn of macebell and club training?

Danny: How long ago was it that we saw catch wrestling? Because that was the first I heard of it, Karl Gotch.

Lily: 13 years ago?

Danny: Yeah, so somewhere between 12 and 13 years ago, it made a resurgence.  Karl Gotch was a famous catch wrestler, and Lily and I were really into Jiu Jitsu, and we learned a lot about leg locks from catch wrestling.  For their conditioning methods, Karl Gotch would use this bell and swing it around his head.  So some people started to do 360’s for shoulder endurance and mobility. It never really picked up, but every once in a while, you’d still see people doing 10 to 2’s and 360’s. 

When we really started thinking more about it was when we considered why the kettlebell was so much more effective than anything else we were doing metabolically.  And we made the conclusion that it’s because the weight was distributed away from you on a handle, that you were using more force than the actual weight of the bell. We went to the mace and clubs to try to amplify that, because we thought if six inches away was good, what would 3 feet do?  And we started thinking backwards from there, coming up with movements that would be safe but still provide a lot of ballistic effect to take advantage of that off-centered weight.

SavvySleever: So why now? Is it because the Kettlebell Sport was so popular in the gym?

Danny: Once people got really good with the kettlebell, I knew they’d be ready for this.  Like, I don’t know that I’d take a total beginner and not even show them kettlebell swing, clean and press — I think they should do maybe a few months of that before going to the mace.  No. 1, conditioning-wise, but I also think they’d appreciate the movements more.

SavvySleever: Did you get trained in this? Or was it just seeing it 12-13 years ago and knowing it was going to work?

Danny: We adapted a lot of the kettlebell stuff to it, and then we just worked on it for about eight months creating new exercises.  It’s the same movements that we’re known for doing with metabolic conditioning, but how do you do it with the mace?  

One, you have to check that it’s safe, so you have to try it yourself.  Two, you have to see the effectiveness of it.  So over the course of time, we did 100 new exercises.  Maybe 30 made the cut — the ones that were most metabolically demanding, the ones that would make you stronger and the ones that were safest to teach.  We’re always coming up with new exercises, but we’re 8 months into the process of getting rid of some and bringing some back in — tweaking this one, tweaking that one.  So the workouts that people are getting now have been done multiple times and shown positive results.

SavvySleever: What’s it like when you see something like this and you know it’s the future?

Danny: I mean, I’ll let Lily answer her part, but I always have her as a sounding board.  I’ll do something and think, “Wow, that killed me, I really think it’s doing something.”  But because Lily’s in better condition than me, I’ll say, “Now you do it,” because I want to see for a conditioned athlete, how it’s going to feel — what weight would be good for her, what time she can do it in.  

Even today, you saw me timing Lily.  It’s because the timings were long for that workout, they were dragging over an hour.  So is it that it was new or it was so demanding to them, or do I have to set stuff up better?  So I said to Lily, “Do me a favor, do this one again. Push yourself, use 80% of your maximum weight, we’ll see how long it takes you.”

SavvySleever: How long did it take her?

Danny: It was 31 minutes. Continue reading →

Day in the Life: One Month

Jake One MonthI’ve always been a fan of reading people’s day in the life posts, whether it be about their time with their little ones or what they eat during the day.  Call it morbid curiosity about how the other half lives.  I totally eat it up.

Day in the Life posts are also like tiny snapshots, mementos if you will, of what someone’s life is like at a given time.  And, let’s face it, on the 2 1/2 solid hours of sleep I’m currently averaging there is absolutely no way I’m going to remember the details of how Jake and I spend our days down the line.

So for your amusement – and mine – here is a Day in the Life of Jacob and I from yesterday, when he was a little over the one month mark (but just two days after his original due date should have been).  Enjoy!

As a side note, since our little one is still eating around the clock, Bryan and I have taken to doing shifts during the night.  Sometimes, that means Jake stays in his bassinet and one of us half dozes, calming him down when he starts to grunt and stir.  Other nights, our shifts involve lots of Apple TV while the other one sleeps peacefully in the bedroom.

Fortunately (or not – it is so hard to tell), last night was one of the bassinet nights; this meant that B and I got to spend the night together (a rarity), but it also meant that neither of us got a good night’s sleep.  I took most of the shifts watching over our little one, but B was there to help with the bottle portions of feeds and to hold him when I needed to pump.

12:40 am – Jake wakes up and we feed him 2 oz of breast milk.

1:44 am – Jake’s still hungry, so I feed him again.

2:50 am – Jake’s still hungry – seriously, my newborn is a bruiser – so we breastfeed for 20 minutes, after which I pump.

3:28 am – Jake has what possibly is the largest poop ever.. it goes on and on, he poops on the changing table, 2 diapers, and Bryan’s hand.

3:45 am – Yep, you guessed it – hungry again.  After this feed, B and I go back to bed.  B sleeps peacefully and I wake every 5 minutes either because of Jake’s incessant grunting (seriously, why would anyone want to “sleep like a baby”; anyone with a newborn knows that saying doesn’t make any sense) or to check that he is breathing because he hasn’t made a sound.

5:30 am – Jake eats some and falls back to sleep.  I wake B up to take a shift because I’m so tired it hurts at this point.  (Note: I only slept 2 1/2 hours the night before.)

6:55 am – He eats again.

7:20 am – I kid you not, we feed again – this time both breastfeeding on me as well as a bottle.  While B does the bottle I sneak out to get coffee for my day ahead.

8:00 am – Snuggle with the baby as I eat my Dunkin Donuts’ breakfast over his head.

9:11 am – Jake’s still hungry so he gets another bottle.  I pump.

10:15 am – Make beef enchiladas for dinner, finish my coffee, and congratulate myself on what a good day it is going to be as Jake sleeps peacefully in his Rock and Play.

10:50 am – Breastfeeding followed by a bottle.

12:15 pm – I congratulated myself too early.  Jake starts screaming/crying.  (This continues on and off – although mostly on – throughout his next few feedings until around 4 pm.)

Continue reading →

Our Little Man: Jake’s Birth Story

JakeJacob Peter was born a little over 5 weeks early on August 26, 2015, at 11:28 pm.  He weighed a robust (for his gestational age) 5 pounds, 15 ounces, and was 18 inches long.  His early entry into the world was somewhat dramatic for us, but the moment they put him on my chest I knew our family was finally complete.

Now, approximately 28 hours prior to that…

Continue reading →


This workout was originally posted on the Finish Line Blog as part of the CrossFit Diaries series I did for them this spring.

Fifteen minutes. It’s not even long enough to catch up on your favorite TV show, drive to the gym, or do a load of dishes, especially if you’re my husband. But if you want to make the same 15 minutes feel like an eternity? Try an AMRAP workout. 

AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds As Possible, and is a common workout used at CrossFit gyms throughout the world. I’m a fan, because it’s a great way to challenge yourself and get a killer workout in about the same time it takes you to check your e-mail.

They are perfect workouts for CrossFit beginners and longtime enthusiasts alike, because they work for every level; as your fitness increases, so will your speed and your ability to get in a few extra reps. They are also a fun and easy method for measuring your progress. I recommend doing this workout once, writing down your totals, and then repeating it in a few weeks to see how you improved.

AMRAP Collage

1. The workout begins with Goblet Squats, which are a variation of the classic squat using a kettlebell or dumbbell. Hold the kettlebell on either side of the handle in front of your chest below your chin throughout the movement. This not only works your bottom half, but also your biceps and arms from holding the weight static during the squat.

2. Snatches can also be done with either a kettlebell or dumbbell, beginning with the weight in one hand hanging down between your knees. The goal is to bring the weight up your body and over your head in one fluid movement.

3. Push Ups are great for both upper body conditioning and core strength. If you are not able to do a standard push up yet, don’t worry, there are plenty of variations to choose from until you are ready. I recommend trying push ups performed on the knees and even push ups on an incline. Do you have the opposite problem and standard push ups are too easy for you? Try doing them on a decline with your feet up on a block to increase the difficulty and really break a sweat!

4. Lateral Mountain Climbers seem easy, but I promise you’ll feel them the next day. Start with your hands in a push up position with your right leg extended and left knee bent in. Next, kick your left leg out to the extended position, bringing your right leg in to a bent position. Repeat until you get to 30.

5. Lunges basically work your entire bottom half — your Glutes, Calves, Quadriceps, and Hamstrings — so you know it will kick your butt (literally) into gear for the summer! Alternate lunging forward with your right and then left leg, making sure that your front knee does not extend past your ankle to avoid injury. 

* Remember, always consult with your doctor before beginning a workout regimen, especially when pregnant.

Photos: @SportsAngle

This entry was posted in Fitness.