Amalia Suarez


Amalia was born in Bogota, Columbia and lived there for most of her life. She is the oldest of three (one brother and one sister) and was very big into family growing up. After High School Amalia went to design school for clothing and soon after met her husband. Through work, Amalia and her husband left Columbia and moved to New York where she spent three years. She has always been into working out but not necessarily sports, she just enjoys being healthy. After a short stint in New York her and her husband moved to Jacksonville FL where she found SoFit Athletics. Amalia primarily speaks spanish but still wanted to join the gym and see what CrossFit was all about.


When you joined the gym, what made you feel comfortable enough after fundamentals to actually be a member, especially one that primarily spoke Spanish?
When I came into the gym for the first time people were very friendly to me. Even though I don't speak much english and most of them don't speak spanish they would still try to help me and would say hi to me. It made me feel comfortable and Ruben and Ryan also worked hard to make me feel comfortable.


What are some things you enjoy doing outside the gym?
I like to go to the beach, restaurants and to travel around. Jacksonville is a very peaceful place and I enjoy the nice weather here compared to New York which was very cold, and people weren't as friendly as they are here.

What's your favorite restaurant?
I like Ruby Tuesday because of the Salad Bar. I like to eat healthy.

Do you have any quotes or phrases of inspiration that you live by?
I am a Christian so I use the Bible to give me strength especially in being away from my family. I really like Philippians 4:13 which says "I can do all things from Christ who gives me strength."


What are some things that you have liked about SoFit Athletics?
I have worked out at a lot of different places and it got so boring riding on a bike or elliptical for an hour and then lifting weights alone. This gym feels like a family and I like the competitiveness in the gym that pushes me. I have a lot of fun when I'm there and it works the entire body. I am sad that I have to leave.

You have been a real inspiration to us. You came in to a new place not speaking the same language a majority of the people in it, but you trusted us to be able to help you. We really appreciate the opportunity to work with you and that you gave to us to help us grow as coaches. We're sad to hear you're moving but only wish the best for you! Do you have anything in closing that you would like to say?
The gym has been one of my favorite places to go and it feels like a family to me. I am really going to miss it and am sad I have to leave. Thank you to everybody for being so friendly and thank you to Ruben and Ryan for working with me!

Zack Haygood

Zack is originally from Tampa, FL but spent some time living overseas as well. In high school he was big into basketball, traveling up and down the east coast playing in tournaments and out of state schools. After high school he went on to college in South Carolina, but got bored and joined the Army where he spent the next 8 years as an Infantryman at Fort Drum, NY. Currently, he is a Financial Analyst for MGA, but recently got accepted to a position in D.C. with the Capital Police. 

This has been a big year for you. Can you tell us about some goals you have achieved recently?
This has definitely been a crazy year. This year I was able to compete more than ever, received my MBA from Liberty University, and most importantly, tried a ton of donut shops.

Competition seems to be something you enjoy very much about CrossFit. What can you tell people that don't compete the importance of potentially entering a local competition one day?
In the words of the late Shia Labeouf, "Do it!" Competition brings out the best in you and shows where improvements can be made. Don't worry if you don't think you'll win, that's not the point. Get out and push yourself. You might just be surprised at what you can do.

What's your favorite Donut Shop?
Hands down Donnies Donuts in Daytona Beach. Pretty sure it's the stuff unicorns are made from.

Why are you trying to ruin a good thing and move somewhere else?!
I've always loved D.C., and who doesn't love a new adventure?!

When you leave and enter local competitions in other places, are you going to fly Taylor to visit so she can do all the weightlifting portions of the event?
Absolutely! You don't expect me to lift anything heavy do you? The first team competition we did, the judge told me to just stand there and let her do all the lifts!

If you had a billboard that you couldn't use for advertising, what would you want it to say?
Look in the mirror. That's your competition.

What do you think you'll miss most about Jacksonville?
Honestly, the gym. Hands down the best group of people I've ever known. I've been to many gyms, but none have been as great of friends and community as it is here. 

The world wants to know... what's realllly going on with you and Taylor???
That's my donut partner in crime. We know how to push each other to bring out our bestin one another.

We're really sad to see you go but wish you the best of luck. We'll continue your billing cycle in your memory and incase you ever decide to come back. Do you have any final thoughts, comments or words of encouragement?
Thank you for everything over the past year. I've learned so much from all the coaches and have learned to push myself harder because I don't want Jen or Charity to yell at me. The biggest thing that I can say is to have fun, stick with it, eat a donut, and do it again the next day.

Tori Hope

Tori is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and first moved to Florida just before high school. Since then, she's been a bit of a nomad, both with and without her family. She's moved states or cities 8 or 9 times since 2004, most recently landing here in Jax to attend UNF. Besides being a student Tori works in Human Resources for an engineering firm. Outside of that she's just a crazy dog lady, a wine lover, an aspiring home cook, and a wanna be photographer. 

Who got you started doing CrossFit? 

Kinda of just wander in to a box by myself a couple years ago. I use to work out in a big box gym with my Dad, which I loved, because it gave us time together. But as I got older, that past time slipped away. When I was ready to go back to the gym, I knew I did not want another globo gym. So, I tried Crossfit, and we've had an on/off relationship ever since.  

What were your initial feelings about the program?

I loved that everything was programed. No need to think/plan my own workout. However, I hated how it blatantly exposed how unfit I had become. 

You come very regularly to class and have even been coming early/staying after to work on personal goals. Where do you find the motivation to be so diligent? 

Rather than finding the motivation, I ran out of excuses as to why not. I got sick of constantly being at the same level due to inconsistency and lack of effort. So I committed to myself to go at least 4 days a week, no matter how or when I had to make it happen. I'm very goal oriented, so I asked Ruben for some help with goal setting, and what to do to work towards those goals regularly. I started celebrating the mini victories, even if it's just 1 second faster, or one more rep. Lastly, I'm just stubborn and competitive. 

Do you have any favorite quotes that you live your life by or resonate with you?

"Change begins at the end of your comfort zone."
"If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough."

(No idea who actually said either of those) 

What are some career or life goals you have outside the gym?

My main goal right now is to finish school and become a Registered Dietitian. I hope to one day help prevent and treat chronic disease with nutrition and lifestyle changes. 

Zack Morris or A.C. Slater?

A.C. Slater, hands down. 

What are some things you really enjoy about the gym?

Our growing community is pretty awesome! The more I started leaning in to the gym and the community the more I started getting out of it. Which, in turn makes me want to lean in even more. In recent months many of the Bold City members have become not only friends but, the closet thing I have to family here in Jax. I'm incredibly grateful for them, the gym, and our community. Whether they are pushing me in a WOD, offering to run extra with me, or just reminding me to work on mobility, I wouldn't be as far as I am with out their support. I also love the strength work we've been doing on Tuesday and Thursdays.  

Thank you for being you! We hope to have 100 members like you and are really proud of all the effort and energy you bring to class everyday. Do you have any closing thoughts or comments?

I can't really thank you and Ruben enough! It's obvious how much you guys pour into your athletes, and all you request in return is that we show up and work hard. I'm excited to see where SoFit is headed, and I'm looking forward to growing with y'all. 

Isabella Horning

Sports have always been a huge part of Isabella's life. She lettered in three sports in high school (basketball, volleyball, and softball) and also loves to play Beach Volleyball. Isabella attended Bishop Kenny High School and recently graduated on May 20! She received a Falcon Scholarship from the Air Force Academy and will be attending New Mexico Military Institute for a year of prep school before going to the Air Force Academy. Isabella has always wanted to serve her country and after some back and forth between the Army and Air Force is happy with her decision and what the future has in store for her.


How did you find out about Bold City CrossFit and what made you want to join?
I just looked up CrossFit gyms near me and Bold City CrossFit was one of the ones that came up. It stood out to me because there was a picture of all the military flags hanging in the gym. 

What were some of your goals coming into the program?
I was coming back from a bad concussion and needed to get back in shape. I wanted to be in the best shape I could be in when I went to the Air Force Academy.

You seemed a little shy initially coming into the gym but lately we've noticed you've been much more out going. Are you having a least a little fun when you come in?
It always takes a little time for me to warm up and come out of my shell. I love CrossFit and going to the classes. It's the best part of my day!

For being so young you're very motivated, where do you think that comes from?
Being motivated to me is just part of being an athlete. In any sport or exercise I tried I wanted to be the best. I think my motivation also comes from wanting to achieve my dreams. Once I knew I wanted to go to a Service Academy I pushed myself to the best I could be. 


What are some goals you have for school and down the road?
My goal is to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy and be commissioned as an Air Force Officer.

If you had to give some advice to someone interested in becoming a member of our gym, what would you say?
Join! Don't have any hesitations because I wish I had joined sooner. Also just go in and do your best every workout and don't hesitate to try new things.

Plamen Ratchev

Plamen was born and grew up in a small town near the mountain areas of Bulgaria (it may be difficult to spot on the map, look North of Greece). It is a place of extreme heat and cold weather with good snowfall in the winter. Growing up he had two passions: school and sports. Math and reading/writing were his favorite subjects in school. He played and competed in variety of sports: soccer, chess, orienteering, cross country skiing (the sport he enjoyed most), and biathlon. Computers became his passion in high school and that shaped his professional life. He met his better half Val on a bus ride to his home town. Ironically, they lived very close in a small town, her cousin being his best friend, and they never met until college. He started a software consulting and development company 17 years ago and has been very fortunate to work with some very bright and talented people. His passion for computers allowed him to meet technology leaders, present at conferences, and write articles and books.

I believe Nate and Mina said you were the 1st official member to Bold City CrossFit. How did you find out about CrossFit back then?

I was practicing Krav Maga at the karate center where our twin boys Dante and Tristan were having taekwondo classes. Our instructor Erik had a passion for fitness and was torturing us with these conditioning exercises he said were the base of something called CrossFit. Burpees, running, box jumps, pull ups, and more burpees… What can I say, very exciting! I started looking for a CrossFit gym nearby and the closest location I could find was Bold City CrossFit. The only problem was that they were opening the following week… I survived.

What are some things that keep you motivated and consistent after being a member for so long?

Most definitely the people at the gym. Both coaches and athletes. Seeing people to go from struggling to do their first pull up to stringing muscle ups, or not being able to do a squat with a PVC pipe to lifting heavy weights overhead, and all that regardless of age or physical condition, what can be more motivational! The variety of exercises is also a big factor. There is always something new to learn, being a new skill or a better way of to perform a movement. When it starts getting boring there are always coaches around to challenge us (or to entertain us).

I think your son is a fan favorite in the gym, does he currently out squat you?

Funny you should point that out! Pavel most definitely is getting to the point of squatting more than me. I am not sure if I am getting old or there has been somebody coaching him behind my back at the gym… But forget squatting, his favorite movement by far is burpees! That is when somebody else does them (he always laughs at people doing burpees).

Do you have any montras or words of wisdom you live by?

Balance and patience in everything, and always find reasons to laugh! And a glass of wine.

After being a CrossFitter for so long, do you have any words of wisdom for newer people or anybody interested in trying it out?

Here are the simple rules to enjoy CrossFit: read the words on the front door mat when walking into the gym; listen to your coaches, they say things for a reason; it is usually heavier or higher than you think, go lighter or lower until you get better; cheer others; laugh at yourself when you fail, then try harder; have patience, unless you are one of those genetically gifted athletes it takes time to get better; never give up, failures are the road to success; most important - have fun, at the end of the day the numbers on the board do not matter, it matters how you feel.

Are there any accomplishments you've done in your life that you look back on that really make you proud, or any memories of really defining moments in your life?

Perhaps the most defining moment in my life is meeting Val. She is that person that will always help you to be the best that you can be. Supporting me in difficult moments, pushing me when I need pushing, being the best cheerleader, and telling me the truth in the face even if it hurts. I am proud to be her best friend and dad of our kids!

Thank you for being such a long and consistent member to Bold City CrossFit, we really enjoy having you around and hope to have you around for another 5 years! Do you have any closing thoughts or comments you'd like to add?

Only another 5 years? What do you mean, there will be no Bold City CrossFit after 5 years, or you plan to enforce some age limit for members?!Thank you Ryan and Ruben!!! Keep doing what you are doing. Your coaching, patience, and encouragement makes us all better, one WOD at a time!