Written by SavvySleever. Edited by SportsAngle.
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.
Steel macebells are based upon an ancient Hindu weapon, which was then adopted throughout the Middle East. However, they gained popularity hundreds of years later as an exercise tool for wrestlers and MMA fighters. Similarly, the steel club found its roots in ancient Persia as a means for conditioning soldiers, but has now found popularity in modern day fitness because of its ability to train in all aspects of functional fitness.
Danny swears by them because the weight is distributed away from your body, creating an amplifying metabolic and strength effect. If a kettlebell is good – and we all know it is – a mace is better.
“We really started thinking more about it when we considered why the kettlebell was so much more effective than anything else we were doing metabolically,” Danny remarked after a workout last month. “We made the conclusion that it’s because the weight was distributed away from you on a handle, so you are 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?”
Danny and Lily worked backwards from that premise, developing movements that would be safe, but that would still provide a lot of ballistic effect to take advantage of the off-centered weight of these tools.
BCCF recently launched a combination macebell and club program at their gym, with more than fifty people trained in the basics and using them each week. Each workout builds upon the next, and if you’re lucky enough to follow BCCF on Instagram – which I highly recommend – you can get a sneak peek at some of the more advanced movements coming up in the next few months. The basic training given by BCCF features approximately 30 exercises with these instruments, and Danny and Lily develop more by the day; they are up to approximately 80 totally unique exercises at last count.
Others tend mainly to swing these devices around their heads, but it is the dynamic nature of the programming that has achieved almost miraculous results at Bergen County CrossFit. BCCF flawlessly integrates kettlebells, bandwork, and body weight exercises into their mace and club workouts, which torches body fat and adds muscle like nothing else. That amazingly accomplishes the slimming and toning that women want while simultaneously creating bulk for people like my husband, who admittedly has a rather small frame.
And in an industry where people race to put out the next “big thing,” Danny and Lily take the time to research and intelligently program these tools into their system. They develop exercises based upon not only their years of kettlebell experience, but also athletic training, martial arts – the gravedigger-spartan kick combo will kick your ass, literally – and combined decades of experience in the business.
Danny and Lily’s certificates line the walls in their office, but it is the successes of their clients that are their true accomplishments.
After working out in our fair share of gyms, what we find most refreshing about BCCF is the commitment that Danny and Lily exhibit to their vocation. They easily could have stuck to their highly effective 21-day program, but they never stop learning and adapting. They watch workout videos like most do Netflix, and invest a significant amount each year bringing in the best in the industry to train them in-house. Fitness isn’t a part-time gig for Danny and Lily – they live, eat, and breathe their gym.
While their overall models work across the board – the macebells and clubs are employed by police officers and grandmas alike – BCCF’s inclusive dynamic and responsive nature are the main reasons my husband and I drive 120 minutes round trip to work out. Danny didn’t miss a beat when I told him I was pregnant with my first child, immediately developing a personalized program so I could train as long as possible. It was this encouraging atmosphere that kept me working out into my 8th month of pregnancy, and in fact, up until the day before my water broke! (Jake surprised us by coming 6 weeks early, but I would have been working out until the very end regardless.)
It was a stroke of luck that once I got the approval to go back to the gym following Jake’s birth, BCCF was about to debut their groundbreaking mace and club program. In just a few short weeks, I have already seen remarkable gains in my post-baby body, earning many compliments along the way.
The effectiveness of Danny’s program makes sense – crazy metabolic training, featuring real-life strength exercises. For example, a recent workout featured a killer mace complex that left most gasping for breath and sore for days.
While everyone else out there is programming maybe one of these exercises – if they are lucky – Danny is an exercise scientist who comes up with unique workouts that string movements that hit all the planes of complete training. What do you get? Something that really, really works.
I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours picking Danny and Lily’s brain about the history of their gym, steel and club workouts, and training in general. Click here for our in-depth interview to learn more about the revolutionary system they have developed.