September Featured Athlete: Hollie Siegel

Lover of back squats, box jumps,
sushi, and her husband John!

Get to know this month’s Featured Athlete! She is an inspiration to many and is a pretty good writer too. It’s a delight to read her answers below. Enjoy!

“And I am excited every day (it’s true!) that I get to walk through those doors…There is no greater gym on planet earth, let alone the known universe!”



  1. What’s your athletic background?
    I grew up playing all kinds of sports — basketball, flag football, tennis, soccer, softball, etc. My Dad played high school basketball and he felt it was critical for the three of us (me, my younger sister and brother) that we play sports to learn teamwork, to work hard, and to build character. In the past 20 years, off and on, I worked out at traditional gyms — doing the usual stuff, running on treadmills, using weight machines, light strength work, etc.A few years ago, I was watching a pretty silly reality show about WWE women wrestlers. One day we (me and my husband John) and I were flipping channels around on TV and saw a couple of the wrestlers. It’s funny — people think wrestling is fake, but it’s just scripted. The athleticism is real. and there is a limited roster of people that make it to the top. I am continuously amazed at what professional wrestlers can do. Freaking incredible.So, we continued to watch and I fell in love with a three-man team (The Shield) and one of the members was Seth Rollins. I started reading articles about him, reading his Twitter and Instagram — he is an elite CrossFit athlete along with travelling up to 300 days a year. Yet, he finds time to workout at least five days a week. And people that follow Seth have dubbed him “CrossFit Jesus” as so many people, including myself, joined a CrossFit gym because of him. To be that strong is inspirational.So the more I read, I was positively intrigued. At the time I was tied into a traditional gym contract, and felt like I almost had to train to join a CrossFit gym, because what did I know? Once my gym contract was up, I immediately contacted Matt to meet with him and Josh.
  2. What was your first experience with CF?
    John and I went to buy his new Playstation a couple years ago and went for sushi at Stix (out at The Legends in KCK). Brian Z. was sitting at the sushi bar wearing a CrossFit Memorial Hill T-shirt, so I sat down and quizzed him for at least a good hour about the gym, CrossFit, Seth Rollins, visiting WWE personnel, etc. Following that, I went in for an evaluation with Coach Josh (Joshy!) and I was hooked. CrossFit reminded me of what it was like to be an athlete when I was younger — all the things I did so easily — handstands, running, climbing a rope, etc. — was something I knew I would have to work to regain those skills. It’s so appealing! And highly addictive! I just can’t fathom ever doing anything else. People on the outside think all we do are high-intense workouts. Which we do, but there is method to our programming and CrossFit is truly more about becoming mentally stronger than anything else. It’s about pushing ourselves when our brain says “Stop.” It’s about digging deep and knowing you can drive to the finish line. It’s checking your ego at the door and essentially surrendering to the process. We are asked to do uncomfortable things, outside of comfort zone and we do it because we love it.
  3. When did you start CF?
    I joined CrossFit Memorial Hill the first week of November 2014 and went through Fundamentals with Coach Josh. I was in a group of 10 to 12 members and it gave us the foundation to be able to go onto class. I was initially hesitant about going to class as I didn’t know all the terminology, where certain equipment was stored, etc., but there were always people and coaches to explain and encourage us. The relationships formed have bolstered me and made me a better person.
  4. Why did you choose CrossFit Memorial Hill?
    I had driven by CrossFit Memorial Hill every day on my way to work for a few years and had that, what I call, cosmic meeting with Brian Z., who is a great coach and ambassador for the gym. I never considered looking at another gym, especially after I met with Matt (Scannie), Coach Josh and Coach Bri. I met my gym BFF (Liz Sedlock) and so many great people that made me accountable and also provided great camaraderie, support and encouragement. I feel so lucky, seriously and really, to be part of the CrossFit Memorial Hill family.
  5. What keeps you coming back?
    It’s the people. I love the coaches, Scannie, and all the amazing people I get to work out with. I feel like I am always meeting someone or getting to know people better. I think CrossFit Memorial Hill has a great environment — everyone is working hard toward their goals and is supportive of each other. It’s a true community. It’s a true family. And I am excited every day (it’s true!) that I get to walk through those doors.
  6. Why do you live in KC and how do you like to spend your free time?
    We live in Roeland Park (KS) — I grew up in Lenexa from the time I was 11 and met John when we both worked at an engineering firm 20 years ago. John is a corporate trainer at Olsson Associates (a civil engineering firm) for Civil 3D and AutoCAD. I’m the Sales Coordinator at The Fontaine on the Plaza thanks to Mimi Kippes!Free time is the best! We are HUGE movie fans — we love anything with superheros (Marvel and DC), action-adventure (James Bond, Indiana Jones), Middle Earth (dwarfs and elves, oh my!), science fiction, and lots and lots and lots of collateral damage (ha!). My running joke is that if a movie is up for an Oscar, has lots of talking, pets dying or is remotely depressing, I will never, ever see it. Life is short — I learned that the hard way when my super healthy Dad had a genetic mutation and died of stomach cancer six years ago. That completely changed my life and outlook.So I try to focus on keeping movies, TV shows (even “Game of Thrones”), books, etc., relatively light. We do watch documentaries and I keep up with a little bit of news, but for the most part, I select activities that will brighten my life. Life is just too short to spend time on dark, depressing, sad stuff. Maybe it puts me in a bubble, but I am good with it.Lastly, my Mom was a middle-school librarian, so we all grew up reading like crazy — everything we could get our hands on. And reading is a great way for me to mentally relax. I’m really into murder mysteries that involve British detectives, bakers, etc. Again, nothing to serious or grisly, just smart, well-written, fun reads.
  7. What do you like about KC?
    Kansas City is so easy to get around and there is a lot of diversity, which we appreciate and value. There’s tons and tons and tons to do, along with a wide variety of restaurants (we’re kinda foodies!). Kansas City has everything a large city has to offer (arts, culture, sports, etc.) and yet isn’t overwhelming like a big city. Works for us, we just need a beach!
  8. What are one or two improvements you have seen in your life since starting CF?
    I have a completely different outlook on life — I’m happier, more positive and approach adversity from a position of strength. Yes, I’ve worked toward weight and body-fat loss, and yes, I’ve gained muscle and those successes are celebrated and ongoing.The biggest piece is that I am mentally tougher — I’m stronger between the ears. But I am also equally pleased that CrossFit has made me a better person overall. My parents always wanted us to be good, decent people and CrossFit Memorial Hill has continually moved me in the right direction. So grateful!
  9. What are your goals for 2017/2018?
    My first goal is successfully completely my internship, starting this week!, at CrossFit Memorial Hill — that will run until December. It’s something I take very seriously — it’s an honor to be selected because it’s a first-class program and I am going to gain an immense amount of knowledge from the best and brightest. Again, I am so fortunate.My other goals include continuing my kipping progression — just accomplished the basic movement thanks to Coach Josh and now I want to do sets every day. I can’t wait to continue to get stronger and eventually progress to a kipping pull-up. Very excited about that.I’ve just started the handstand progression — just doing lots of ring rows, strict presses, push-ups, and kicking up to a handstand and I expect that to take at least a year, probably longer. Already psyched to see where I’m at this time next year. Doing the same thing with learning how to double-jump — that’s gonna be huge!Finally, I want to successfully complete my second Murph! And watch John finish his first!
  10. What would you say to someone thinking about starting CF?
    Just do it, you will be so happy! It may seem intimidating at first, but you will gain mad skills, accomplish more than you could ever imagine, and be part of something greater than yourself. You will be part of a family, a true community that wants to you to be successful and will cheer you on. It’s just a dreamy experience, even when you are sweating buckets and your body is like “No More!” because you are doing something extraordinary.
  11. What’s your favorite & least favorite CF movement?
    The easy answer for my favorite movement would be the back squat, followed by box jumps because they both use my lower body, which is my area of strength. I remember when I first learned how to properly execute a box jump, what that meant as far as technique and then being able to put sets together in a workout. That was rad! Now, I am really into kipping and am jonesing to see what I will accomplish in a year’s time. Lastly, I know it will be epic when I can do a handstand. It’s gonna be a moment made up of all the moments that it took to get to that point and I will value it that much more. And at some point I need to start working on my double-jumps, but I have to work one skill at a time as Coach Josh instructs.My least favorite movements are the overhead squat and the snatch, both Olympic lifts. Anything that requires me to throw a barbell over my head is taxing and both my technique and form requires an immense amount of work. Which I am committed to.
  12. What’s your favorite cheat meal?
    I love a weekly “rewards” meal! My favorite is a hamburger with french fries and onion rings with some kind of chocolatey dessert — preferably a giant piece of chocolate cake with chocolate icing. That’s probably totals out my weekly caloric intake, which is why I try to alternate rewards meals between sushi, burgers, pasta, dim sum and Chinese food. Sometimes just having a few appetizers and double desserts is most welcome after eating clean all week. Food is fuel and I’m good with that, but my eating program is about sustainability — what I do now for eating has to be the way I will eat in 6 months, a year, five years, etc. And a weekly rewards meal is part of that.
  13. Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family?
    I am passionate about two things in my life — my husband (John), he is the sun I orbit and CrossFit Memorial Hill. I love, love, love that John and I are part of the CrossFit Memorial Hill family. We are surrounded by a tremendous community of super awesome people. Everybody seems to be on the same page — improving their athletic ability while connecting with others. I dig that.Lastly, thanks to Matt/Scannie, Josh, Bri, Caitlin, Mindy, Sami, Matt, Kyle for always making me welcome and valued and to all my classmates who power me through with cheers, encouragements and lots of laughs. To everyone who belongs to the gym and those that have moved on, your impact has been immeasurable. And hope you know that. You’e shaped my experience and equally hope that I have been a positive light for you. There is no greater gym on planet earth, let alone the known universe!

Next Post: