Athlete Spotlight – Shirley and Emman

There aren’t enough adjectives that could possibly describe the coolness these 2 athletes, Shirley and Emman, embody.  They are part of Merge’s Filipino Mafia and they are nothing but incredibly awesome!!!  I had the privilege of hanging out with them at the Reebok 2012 CrossFit Games where I not only had a blast, but was absolutely blown away at their love and dedication to each other and to CrossFit.  In the short time that they’ve been with us, they’ve become a HUGE part of our box!  In fact, I don’t think we could imagine Merge without the Filipino Mafia anymore 😉

I know you guys don’t care to read much about what I have to say…so here’s the real reason why you’re reading this post…Shirley and Emman!!!

How long have you been doing CrossFit?

Shirley: I’ve been doing CrossFit for about 4 months, but not as often as I like. I will be upgrading my membership soon! I miss the box pretty often.

Emman: I’ve been doing CrossFit for little over 3 months now.

How did you hear about CrossFit Merge?

Shirley: It was Merge’s Bring-A-Friend Day in March and Icee and Miguel dragged me there. I was really questioning our friendship at that point. I mean, what kind of friends would do such a thing? But, 4 months later, we’re all still friends and maybe even closer now because of CrossFit (and Paleo) and now I’m really thankful for that day they dragged me in. Our Paleo relationship started before CrossFit which I think Paleo indirectly led us all to CrossFit.

Emman: I heard about Merge through Shirley. Icee and Miguel had brought her along on a Bring-A-Friend Day. Shirley was so nervous the night before. She then came home after her workout completely exhausted, but she would not stop talking about how fun it was. She couldn’t believe the things she did, nor could she believe that she enjoyed doing them. I was completely shocked and a little bit jealous. I’ve always enjoyed being physical and I also wanted a sip of the kool aid.

How much of your day (sleeping/awake) do you spend thinking/talking/dreaming about CrossFit?

Shirley: A LOT! Well, it doesn’t help that I work with Icee and Miguel and it seems all CrossFitters do is talk about CrossFit. So 40+ hours per week, every week is A LOT. And that doesn’t count the times we all go to class together or the times we hang out outside of work. Then I go home and I have Emman to talk to about CrossFit. And then if no one else is around to talk to, there’s Google and Youtube…I google/youtube anything CrossFit – CrossFit athletes, CrossFit clothes, CrossFit shoes, CrossFit Merge’s Blog…etc. Wait, is this too much? I don’t think I’ve actually dreamt anything CrossFit yet, though. Wait, does Jason Khalipa count? OMG! I hope he doesn’t read this ever 😉

Emman: I think I could best answer this question by quoting Babyface, although I’m not sure how many Mergers would know who he is…
“I only think of you [CrossFit]……..
on two occasions…..
That’s day and night.

Shirley, what was the first thing Emman ever said to you?

Shirley: Well, I don’t think he said anything to me the first time we met, even if he did, he wouldn’t remember. It was at some house party and we danced – not sure how that was all set up. Maybe we introduced ourselves and said “bye” and “thanks”? But I can tell you the first thing he said to me when he first called me. And what a line…totally worked! Hook, line, and sinker! Totally got me…till this day…many, many years later. Mind you, it was our first time communicating a few months after dancing with each other at that house party and it was only because his friend gave him my number to set us up for homecoming. So I answer the phone and the first thing he said was, “Why didn’t you call me back???” And of course, I didn’t have his number so all I could say was “Cause I don’t have your number.” So that’s how he made sure I got his number…to eventually call him back.  😀 This was the OG, “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe?” Haha! Anyway, it totally worked…here we are, after several homecoming dances together and A LOT of years later.

Emman, what is the first memory you have of Shirley?

Shirley: Can I guess? I’m sure it was that night we danced – probably has to do with a short brown mini skirt.

Emman: I remember asking her to dance at her best friend’s house party. I showed up with a few friends, and I don’t know how but I mustered up enough courage to ask her to dance. Now, this may get me into some trouble but, the asking part is now a blur along with the actual dancing and any conversing that may have occurred. The only thing that I can still clearly remember was her SHORT brown skirt and boots…..

How has doing CrossFit impacted your life as a couple? Do you talk about WODs over dinner? Do you help/encourage/etc each other?

Shirley: CrossFit has changed our life as a couple A LOT. Emman was always very active – working out, martial arts, surfing, and running. My kind of working out was walking around shopping and lifting (heavy) shopping bags. Before CrossFit, for me to run around the block or get on the elliptical or treadmill, I had to know there was an ice cream treat at the end of it. But now, we WOD together, shop for workout clothes together, and we talk about CrossFit all the time. It has also helped to keep our nutrition in check. So, I don’t eat ice cream at the end of every WOD. We talk about it over dinner and even all the way home after class. We usually say how much fun we had in the class we just took and then talk about things we can do to improve the moves we just did. But mostly, I’m talking about how I can’t believe what I just did in the WOD or with the skill. We definitely encourage each other to keep going and push ourselves to be better. But that’s what you do when you’re with the right person, right? Always push yourself to be a better person. Also as a couple, I think it’s given us something in common…finally! We’re such opposites!

Emman: Crossfit has become a huge part of our lives. Not a day goes by that we don’t talk about it. We’re constantly recalling previous workouts and talking about what we would like to achieve. We talk about it over dinner, email, text messages, facebook, on long drives, at the beginning of the day, and at the end of the day. Shirley and I have always had something to talk about or laugh about, but now, our conversations and laughs throughout the day are peppered with CrossFit references. Now if we’re amongst, friends and family we also always manage to end up talking about it to them. It doesn’t really matter if they bring it up or not, we just start talking about it. This is often done with Shirley leaning over to the nearest person and asking questions like: “hey, wanna see my dead lifts?” or “hey wanna see a video of Camille Le-Blanc Bazzinet?” I usually jump in at this point and strongly encourage the Camille video.

CrossFit has also inspired us to keep our health and nutrition a major priority. So, if we’re not talking about Crossfit, we’re talking about paleo. I often hear people say that CrossFit is like a cult, and once people join, it’s all they talk about. Shirley and I are a perfect example of how true this is. However, she’s got it easy, because she works with 3 other CrosFitters that she could talk to. I spend about 75% of my days in a classroom full of teenagers that don’t hear anything I say, and the adults I work with have no idea what it’s like. So I have to wait a whole day before I could talk to someone who knows exactly what I’m talking about. As a couple, we always had fun together no matter what we did, but CrossFit is the first sport we’ve come across that we are both passionate about.

What are your favorite WODs?

Shirley: I love WODs that involve the barbell! I love deadlifts, front squats, and hang/power cleans. I prefer AMRAPs over rounds for time. But definitely like WODs that mix lifting and cardio.

Emman: I don’t think I have a favorite WOD yet. I’ve enjoyed every single one so far. Although I do have a few favorite skills or exercises such as: power cleans, kettlebell swings, burpees, plyometric pushups, and pull ups.

What are your greatest Crossfit accomplishments individually and as a couple?

Shirley: I feel like everything I’ve done in CrossFit has been great accomplishments for me. I mean, considering shopping was my kind of workout before CrossFit, everything I’ve done so far has been a PR! (Yay for me!) (Insert us – Bryce, Cory, MN – doing a little happy dance here!) And now, all I want to do is live CrossFit. Oh! Also doing a WOD on 1 hour of sleep on my birthday at CrossFit Invictus – we went to meet Camille Leblanc-Bazinet who pretty much ended up coaching me during the WOD! So awesome! Best birthday present ever!!! Thanks to Icee!!!! She set the whole thing up for me.

I think our greatest accomplishment in CrossFit as a couple was participating in the Merge’s last Summer Throwdown (thanks to Icee, again, for signing us up without us knowing). We didn’t get to finish, but we got to participate a bit and we had a blast!!! We had to leave early due to prior engagements, but we were so sad to leave and all the way home talked about how much fun we had, then went to our friend’s party and talked to everyone about how much fun we had. Oh! We also recently did a WOD with about 2 hours of sleep after driving about 6 hours in the middle of the night to get to San Jose. We went to NorCal CrossFit and did a bunch of partner/team warm-ups and a crazy 4 round WOD on 2 hours of sleep…and met Jason Khalipa!!! So happy!!! Dreams really do come true!

Emman: Recently we just had a timed mile run as a skill, and I completed it in 5:40 which is the fastest that I have ever ran a mile…ever. I think Shirley also had the same experience with her timed run. We were both shocked at how much we’ve actually improved.

What have you told your friends about Crossfit Merge?

Shirley: What I usually tell my friends about CrossFit Merge is that it’s nothing like any typical gym they know of and that the kind of workouts we go through are the kind that will leave them sore for a week – even if it was only a 10 minute workout. I always tell them at the next Bring-A-Friend day I’m dragging them in so they can experience it for themselves. I think I talk about CrossFit like a madwoman and in the end, they just think I’m crazy and I joined a cult usually because my CrossFit talk is accompanied by Paleo talk. But hey, at least it’s a good cult, right?

Emman: The one thing we always talk about in addition to the insane workouts, is the friendly atmosphere.

What words of advice would you give to newbie crossfitting couples?

Shirley: I would tell them to always encourage each other and to push each other to come to class when one is feeling tired or trying to come up with excuses. Don’t compete with each other because their strengths and weaknesses will definitely be different. And don’t hold each other back. If one person is advancing faster than the other, don’t ask that person to wait, instead push them to keep going and move on up.

Emman: Eat right, show up, don’t give up, and always encourage each other.

If someone wrote a biography about your life, what should the title be?

Shirley: “The Never Ending Story” – because I hope that wherever that book ends, the adventures in my life don’t. The last page of the book will read, “To be continued…”

Emman:Two possible titles come to mind.

The Endless Summer… Yes, the title could play metaphorically about my search for the perfect wave, my journeys in Life and finding peace, or it could speak of my passion for surfing, but another reason would be because I live in the San Fernando Valley and it is ALWAYS FREAKING HOT!

Another title would be: Doing What You Love. The book would talk about how my life has always been in the pursuit of play, whether it be in my practice as an artist and art teacher, or in my passions for surfing, martial arts, running, hiking, and now CrossFit.

What is your favorite music to workout to?

Shirley: I’m with Icee on this one – hip hop/rap, but would definitely love to work out to anything by Santigold. To be honest, I kind of zone out and sometimes I don’t even hear the music after a while. All I hear is Bryce, Cory, or Marianoel telling me to fix something in my form or technique – they’re the only ones that somehow manage to break through the zone I’m in. I do also hear them when they say, “Good, Shirley!” And that’s nice to hear! Also, since they’re the ones that call time at the end of an AMRAP and I’m always definitely waiting for that call!

Emman: Again, I don’t have a favorite type, but I do have a playlist that I listen to before merge which helps pump me up. It consists of artists such as: Santigold, James Brown, Rage Against the Machine, A Tribe Called Quest, Murs, Mos Def, Nas, and Sublime.

Is there something about yourselves you’d want to share with us?

Shirley: It depends, what do you want to know? 🙂  And if I tell you, then I’d have to kill you. 😛
Kidding! I’m a lover and not a fighter. So maybe here, what I can tell you about myself is that I pretty much live up to the definition of a Gemini – something like multiple personalities…just not the crazy kind. Haha! I was born and raised in Cali, but I’m an island girl at heart. If only I could wear slippas all day everyday. By profession I work with numbers and stats. However, outside of work, i’m more artsy and crafty (but I can’t draw for the life of me). I hate reality TV, but I can’t stop watching it sometimes. I hate zombies, but LOVE watching zombie movies/shows (Walking Dead! YEAH!). I’ll always order a burger/steak/beef ribs over a salad…oh! And fried chicken wings (HOOTERS). I’m fascinated with sharks and look forward to Shark Week on Discovery Channel every year. I hate working out, but I LOVE CrossFit!!!

Emman: I can’t really think of anything else interesting about myself that I could share. So I’m just going to throw out some random facts:
favorite color – blue
favorite beverage – COFFEE!
favorite beer-New Castle (too bad it isn’t paleo)
Favorite movie – Blade Runner
Favorite Author – Alan Watts

If aliens landed in front of you and offered you any position on their planet, what would you chose and why?

Shirley: I would choose to be their leader so I can make sure they follow my orders when I tell them to send me back home.

Emman: I would love to be in charge of and a pilot in THEIR space exploration program.

Where do you guys see yourselves in one year?

Shirley: A year from now, we will have attended the 2013 CrossFit Games and hopefully will have pinned a few more countries on the world map hanging in our living room, preferably somewhere in Asia or the South Pacific. Oh, and I will hopefully have my own athlete spotlight…not that I’m asking for one, just hoping I’d be deserving of one.

Emman:I see us continuing to enjoy life and doing what we love. I also hope to see Shirley taking my old longboard and joining me in the line up at one of my favorite spots.

Shirley: to add on to Emman’s last answer, that is a goal I set for myself that I think CrossFit can help me with. I have tried surfing a few times and haven’t really had any luck here in California. It’s always easier in Hawaii for some reason. 🙂 But one of my goals which I’m I’m hoping CrossFit will help me with is to get me strong enough to handle the waves here in SoCal by next summer. 🙂

Shirley and Emman, we can’t tell you enough how happy we are to have you be part of our Merge family.  Your love and enthusiasm are absolutely contagious!  We are proud of all that you’re accomplishing and look forward to your continuing athletic growth.  And the rest of you, if you don’t know Shirley and Emman….you MUST MEET THEM ASAP!  Seriously, make a point of it.  They are simply rockin’!


Intermediate Skill:

Pistol practice

Workout of the Day (WOD):

3 rounds for total reps:

2 minute AMRAP of:

-5 squat clean to thrusters (135# for men/93# for women)
-25 double-unders

1 minute rest

1 minute AMRAP of:


1 minute rest after the burpees then start round 2.

Score is total reps

All Levels/Beginner


Headstand practice
Review the dumbbell front squat

Workout of the Day (WOD):

3 rounds for total reps of:

2 minute AMRAP of:

-5 dumbbell front squats
-50 single-unders or 25 double-unders

1 minute rest

1 minute AMRAP of:


1 minute rest between rounds

Score total reps

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3 responses to “Athlete Spotlight – Shirley and Emman

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