Success Stories

Click any of our members’ names below to read their personal success stories with our program at Iron Fist Athletics.

Jim Dos Santos

Iron Fist Athletics (IFA) has been a huge improvement to my life in various ways. I have been training at Iron Fist Athletics in Nanuet now for about one year.Prior to IFA I would work out on my own at a ‘regular’ global gym. When I worked out on my own, I only made progress and then it stopped at a certain point. At that time I thought I was “strong.” To me strength meant how many pounds I could lift. Once I started training at IFA I realized I really didn’t know much about this stuff like I thought I did. I quickly learned that ‘strength’ means much more than how many pounds one can lift.

I started being coached by a fantastic coach, Saro at IFA who holds various certifications. He teaches me correct form, howto breathe properly, and every little detail on how to improve or fix my form.These are things that I never thought about when I was just trying to just “lift heavy” prior to IFA. I soon realized that the word ‘strength’ has much more meaning to it. Now strength to me is defined as the dedication of an individuals well as the growth of that person over a period of time.

IFA has taught me that it is really important to do lifts correctly, even if that means using lighter weight so I can nail down proper form. I also learned to control my breathing during workouts when I felt like I was going to blackout. I am now able to still do that last rep or round by controlling and slowing down my breathing. At IFA my entire team is there to cheer me on even when I miss a lift. Those are just some things that define my new meaning of strength and just a few reasons that made me committed to Iron Fist Athletics. For me it’s been more than just a“gym membership”. It’s been an entire lifestyle change. The skill of coaching is not just that of a personal trainer at a gym. It is also knowing all of the microscopic details of each movement, breaking them down, and being able to modify anything and everything for anyone’s athletic abilities and needs.

My coach has been an instrumental part of my experience at IFA. The amount I have learned in just 1 years time from him quickly surpasses any of my own “skills” or lack there of when working out at the gym prior for years. So the second part to my experience at IFA and life change definitely lies on my coach. The progress I have made can only be attributed to his knowledge and strength as a coach to teach me, because I can only be as good as the one who teaches me. I can honestly and proudly say that Iron Fist Athletics has changed my life starting with a great coach, and all the other details fall into place from there.

-Jim Dos Santos (Daaaad)

Jim Guarasci

My Addiction.

In July of 2013, I walked into Iron Fist Athletics in Nanuet. At the time I joined I was operating a Restaurant around the corner from IFA. I decided to give my new neighbors some support. As a man in my late 50’s I was always in decent shape, but never in the shape I really wanted to be in. I spent the past 10 years working with several personal trainers, but was not 100 percent satisfied with results. At the time my cholesterol and blood pressure were high. I never had enough energy or focus to get through my days. The doctors wanted to treat this with medicine but I told them I wanted to try to correct it naturally on my own. That is when I decided to go full force with an unlimited membership at Iron Fist Athletics and went to the 7am class 4-5 days a week.

I am addicted to Iron Fist Athletics, my coach, his family, and the great people that surround our amazing box. Coach Saro also introduced the Paleo diet into our exercise regime. I will never forget my first 30-day Paleo challenge. Owning a restaurant and constantly being around food made the Paleo challenge very challenging for me. I took the negatives and turned them into positives. I not only excelled on this plan but also created a full Paleo menu at my restaurant,which became quite popular with my regular guests.

I can now do things I could never do in the past.I now can jog with a medicine ball, box jump like a kangaroo, do 200 sits up in a flash, and do pull ups with almost no resistance. My new best friend is the rowing machine. Other movements I can now do are squats, thrusters and weighted push-ups. After all of this hard work I lost four waist sizes and have a six pack. When I get out of the shower and look in the full-length mirror, I am still amazed at the change in my physique.I jump out of bed and cannot wait to get to IFA each morning to workout. The guilt I have when I miss a day is terrible. Only the people that are addicted to IFA like me understand that. I now live and enjoy the Paleo life style. Yes, I cheat occasionally, but for the most part I live a clean life. I am sleeping through the night, I am more focused and my energy level is through the roof. IFA changed my life. The doctors are stunned with my health now. My life performance both on and off the job has gotten better. I want men in their late 50’s to know that if you want to feel like you are 38 years old at 58, you really can.

Thank you Saro and your incredible team. It’s a pleasure to be part of the IFA family!!

Jim Guarasci

Alexander Sallahian

If you knew me two years ago, you would have never thought I would be part of a functional training gym but taking a friend’s advice to try her cousin’s gym that was way out of my price range at the time was one of the best decisions I could make. I had always been athletic and could hold my own in the gym…or at least I thought I could. I didn’t realize the power IFA had, not only physically but mentally as well. Now IFA is not your typical gym. In place of the treadmills and elliptical machines, you have kettlebells and rowers.

I remember coming in my first week and Coach Saro was explaining the WOD. I don’t remember the full workout but I do remember it required me to do an OHS (Overhead Squat). I thought I was strong so I started with 15 pounds on each side of a 45 pound bar. I did the clean but I couldn’t hold it up above my head. We went down to 5 lbs on each side. I could now hold it above my head with my hands as far out to keep my arms in line but it was impossible to do 1 squat, let alone 10. We went to just using the bar but I could barely do 3 reps. Finally, Saro told me to use the PVC pipe and practice on form. Keep in mind, I had just transferred from a commercial gym where I was squatting about 185 pounds. I felt like crap. I think Saro sensed it (the way he does) and came over to tell me “Don’t worry about how much weight I was putting up. Practice form. You will eventually increase in weight when you are able.” It was all I needed to hear to keep working hard and hold a level head. Today, I can do an OHS at about 115 pounds 10 times! It is a long road to get to where I am now, but that is what you call progress that guidance from IFA coaches can give.

-Alexander Sallahian

Nayron Garcia

IFA is not about just lifting heavy weights or doing obscene unnecessary amounts of cardio. It incorporates all different types of movements into one amazing workout. Since I started at IFA in 2014 I have noticed a significant increase in my overall fitness. From kettlebells to jump rope, deadlifts to overhead squats, and everything in between you never know what concoction of exercises the trainers have in store for class. Not to mention how motivating they are throughout the workout. Along with the other members you won’t find a better group of people. No other gym compares

-Nayron Garcia

Nikki Klein

When I walked into my first IFA class I had no idea what I was getting myself into. A few months later at my first class at IFA I still didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was doing, or why.

From that very first class I felt comfortable at IFA. I had never taken a group class at that point, but Saro had someone (Thank you Kayla!) workout right alongside me so that I would know exactly what to do. Gradually I figured it out.

I went to my first class as a reward to myself for having finished my second 5K, and yet after several months at IFA (mostly not running very much) I ran my best 5K, jogging the whole way for the first time.

Saro will push you way out of your comfort zone. I was being asked to do things that I had never done and thought I couldn’t do – and (for the most part) finding that I could do them, safely. I have done so many things for the first time this past year.

Before I started at IFA I had never attempted a rope climb. It took some time but I can now make it all the way to the top of the rope. In a year I have gone from barely able to hold onto and hang from the bar to getting my first chin-up.

In addition to the new skills I’m learning I have gotten so much stronger my first year at IFA – I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

-Nikki Klein

Natalie Nicodema

IFA is where I first discovered functional training. My son Andrew had been telling me about how awesome it was for some time.

I finally took the plunge and tried it a little over a year ago. My reason for going was I wanted to get stronger and found traditional “Classes” at gyms very boring and repetitive.

Well at IFA is anything but boring.

At IFA I met wonderful people who came up to you, introduced themselves and encouraged you.

At first I found myself sore, a lot. Soon I noticed how much more energy I had, unlike anything I had experienced before. This comes in very handy when you are picking up and hauling around 50 pound bags of feed for your chickens. Or piloting a 1500 pound horse around a jumper course requiring strength and stamina.

We all could use a little extra energy for our everyday lives. IFA made the difference for me.

-Natalie Nicodema

Nes Mendoza

Tired of the same boring cardio at your local gym? This was the reason I originally started at IFA. I read and heard that high-intensity workouts for 15 to 20 minutes each will produce far better results than running on a treadmill or doing other cardio machines for an hour or more. I met with IFA head coach Saro a little over a year ago and found him to be genuine and easy to talk to. The box is clean, and the members are friendly. I intended to check out other boxes in the area, but when I got to IFA, I knew I was at the right place. As I suspected, the results from the high-intensity workouts were accurate, and to my surprise, I have gained a lot more strength. I still have a lot to learn and much to improve on, but I’m off to a good start.

I’d like to thank all the coaches for their continued guidance during training. They always pay close attention to detail and proper technique. In addition, they have taught me how to mobilize and warm up properly. To the members, you’re all an inspiration every day I step into the box. Thank you for your support.
For those who are reading this post who are interested in this type of training, please know you do not have to be fit when you start and you don’t have to be an athlete. The IFA coaches will see what you’re capable of and scale movements when necessary. At IFA, you get the best coaches – they are your personal trainers. Every day you come to class, a workout is already set. These are not just a group of exercises that are put together without a purpose. They will help you in everyday life.

-Nes Mendoza

Greg Biddy

I used to be one of those people that poked fun at HIIT classes. I also used to think I new a thing or two about fitness. I read books, I read forums, I spent a number of years in commercial gyms following the programs found in these books or, worse yet, designing my own programs. One day, while attempting to learn barbell cleans from a workout book, I gave myself the worst injury I ever had. For weeks, I could hardly move without severe back pain and spent the better part of a month in bed. But even this experience wasn’t enough to stop me from going to gyms without any professional guidance. Over the next few years, I kept reading my fitness books and going to gyms and, sure enough, the injuries stacked up, my progress halted, and my motivation fell off a cliff.

Realizing I needed some serious help in all departments (technique, program design, motivation), I decided to drop by IFA to see what it was all about. That was probably one of the smartest decisions I have made in recent memory. Now, almost two years later and with my 40th birthday quickly approaching, I am completely free of injury, have added 200 pounds to my deadlift, 100 pounds to my squat, and can perform all manner of movements previously unthinkable (even that dreaded barbell clean). Not too mention my conditioning is the best its ever been.

I can’t say if results like this are typical at other gyms, but they certainly are at IFA. This is a testament to the quality of coaching they provide. Coach Saro is super attentive, scaling workouts and movements to each individual based on their skill and fitness level. He knows his athletes, what they are capable of, and always knows when to push them harder or scale them back. He and the other coaches are extremely dedicated to all IFA members and, as a result, we all benefit and progress in our training. Couple this superior coaching with the peer encouragement of other IFA members and a spectacular workout space, and you have the IFA experience.

I always look forward to a class at IFA. We work hard, we laugh a lot, we sweat a lot (in my case, an awful lot), and we have fun doing it.

-Greg Biddy

Melissa Saravia

I joined IFA 2 years ago and it was the best decision I could of made. I have heard about so many other gym that do not concentrate on form or technique, not this place. They take the time to make sure all their members not only work to improve everyday, but also concentrate on correcting their form with all the many lifts we do. The coaches push you to do your best and take it to the next level each and every time. The members are amazing its like a family and I look forward to going every day. I am 40 years old and I continue to get stronger and make improvements everyday, its not about how old you are, its all about being dedicated and never accepting defeat. I would never leave IFA because there truly is no other place like it. I always said that it is all about the quality of the coaches, are you just another number? This place has the best of the best and you will never just be a another member, they care about each and every person and want everyone to succeed!!

-Melissa Saravia

Kerri Kralik

Historically, I had always done the typical weightlifting regiment for your major muscle groups, plus your standard hour of cardio mixed in. It wasn’t until I became a member of IFA that I learned the true benefits of combining both, as well as other total body movements to get the quickest and best results for my body. IFA changed my life in many ways. I feel stronger and healthier than I have ever felt before. The workouts are all feasible, not matter what your athletic ability may be. The workouts also give you quick results, like physical changes in your body. More importantly, you become part of a team when you join IFA. Members are very supportive and motivating to each other. The hour class flies by because I’m actually having fun and laughing, all while simultaneously getting an insane workout! Prior to joining IFA, I was so intimidated because I had never done anything like this before. However, the coaches at IFA are amazing and experts in their field, and made me feel comfortable from day one. They are the best around who also put safety first. They take their time to go over every movement until you feel comfortable and can do it correctly; while still encouraging you, coaching you, and guiding you to become the best you can. I am so thankful for the coaches and the friends I’ve made at IFA!!


Michelle Rendo

If someone would have told me a year ago that I would turn into a “gym rat” I would have first laughed.

It was exactly one year ago that I made a decision to seriously focus on shedding the extra weight from three pregnancies and get in shape. I knew that to reach my goals, I had to make a lifestyle change in my exercise routine and eating habits. I started personal training with Saro in June of 2012 and through his trainings and following a Paleo diet I was able to lose more than 40 pounds in 6 months, drop 3 dress sizes and feel stronger and more energized than ever.
I truly believe all things happen for a reason and that is why my path crossed with Saro. Every personal training session was challenging, motivating and a learning experience. I had never done a burpee, didn’t know what a kettle bell was and could barely run 200 meters! And while I looked forward to the trainings with Saro, I also feared I would not make it through the next workout – but I did every time because Saro pushed me past my “I Cant’s”. I’m glad I found someone who is as dedicated and knowledgeable as Saro because personal training is just that – personal! I had to put 100% trust in someone I didn’t know but I soon came to realize that Saro is a perfectionist who truly cares about teaching you proper form and, with time and dedication, get you to your goals. Over the past 12 months, Saro has taught me to believe in myself, to go beyond my comfort zone and most importantly, to have fun.

I’m glad I’ve made the decision to continue this journey and join Iron Fist Athletics. I always look forward to the next WOD no matter how challenging it will be. I’ve learned to appreciate every bruise, callous, blister and sore muscle because it reminds me of what I have accomplished and how strong I’ve become thanks to the rigorous workouts. Thank you Coach Saro!

-Michelle Rendo

Barbara McNaughton

My fitness ourney started in Oct 2011 when I started training with Saro. At that time I was VERY overweight, on blood pressure meds and facing a family history of heart disease and diabetes. I wanted and needed to make a major life style change for myself, my husband and 3 children. For years, I considered myself an active person going to the gym 3x/week and playing tennis 2-3x/week but in reality I had very little strength or cardio endurance to speak of. Saro designed a detailed fitness plan for me and I became a girl with a mission.

Saro scaled workouts to fit my ability and gradually increased level of difficulty/ weight as I progressed. There was always a HUGE emphasis on correct form and technique. I was pushed well outside my comfort zone during his workouts. At first this was a shock to my system but as I gained strength both physically and mentally I became better prepared to get through his workouts. As the intensity of workouts increased so did my results. Saro set goals for me and worked with me to achieve them. My first goal was to stand up off the floor without using my hands. As my fitness level grew so did my goals. Strict pull-up…check, pistol…check, 20/24” box jump…check. I’m amazed when I think of all the fun things I can do now… handstand push-ups, rope climbs, ring dips, Olympic lifts, etc. In addition to having more energy to play with an active family, my training has helped me run better and have more strength and hustle on the tennis court.

The first 8 months I lost a substantial amount of weight. Now 20 months later I’m the fittest I’ve been in my entire life. I could see and feel the results; however the definitive moment came during my last physical when I saw the dramatic change in blood work/vitals from the previous year. My results didn’t come easy. I endured butt kicking workouts, sore muscles, calluses, bruises and gashes on my shins but I wore them proudly, as a badge of honor to my accomplishments.

Saro’s passion and knowledge in fitness is unsurpassed. His coaching and personal attention is the reason I made incredible gains in my health and fitness. The energy and camaraderie at Iron Fist Athletics is great and continuously helps me push my limits. I enjoy being around the positive and encouraging people who make up its community.

-Barbara McNaughton

Chris Miele

My name is Christopher Miele and I have been with IFA for 6 months.

Throughout my life I have always been an active person. I spent the majority of my early childhood and teenage years wrestling. Wrestling has taught me many things, mainly to always push yourself and to never give up. During college I found myself getting the urge to compete in something again, so I took the next step any wrestler would take and started training MMA. When I started training for my fights, I was introduced to interval training, this high rep fast pace workouts helped me to build my endurance. Once I got older, I realized that I had to focus more on my business. I stopped training and buried myself in the daily motions of life.

After my longest break ever from any athletic training, I found myself waking up in the morning with so much tension in my neck and back that it would take me hours to straighten out. I decided it was time to find something that a 29 year old could do to still keep that competitive edge. I wanted to push myself to the breaking point and most importantly make my body feel in shape and healthy again. I found out about Iron Fist Athletics from a friend and decided to try it out. After my first workout, I knew IFA was going to be my new home; the only problem was that my body was not reacting to the training like it used to. From all the years of not being active, I had become very tight, and my mobility was virtually nonexistent.

I’ve been training at IFA five times a week, and I feel again that competitive edge that I was looking for. The high intensity classes and team spirit push me to go harder and faster. One night after class, Coach Saro had a long conversation with me stating the only way I would get better at this sport and achieve my goals is by learning the proper form, as well as focusing on my mobility, and if I did that, everything else would fall into place. After a couple of months of taking Coach Saro’s advice, and his constantly staying on top of me in class, I found myself being able to do movements that I thought I would never be able to do. I would wake up in the morning with no pain (other than the muscle soreness that every cross-fitter feels the next morning). Not only did my body feel better, but I felt alive again. I found myself wanting to do better in every aspect of my life because my mind was put back into training mode. The camaraderie of this sport is second to none. It is unbelievable to be in a box on a daily basis with a wide variety of ages and lifestyles, and we are all pushing ourselves to our breaking points.

After a few weeks of training at IFA, I asked my wife to come and check it out with me. Since that day she was hooked. Now we both have something we can do together, and we can compete with each other, too! We find ourselves talking at the dinner table about the WOD and checking out the website to see the next day’s workout. My training partners at IFA have pushed me to do better every single day. They have grown from strangers to FAMILY.

Coach Saro is very particular about his gym and makes sure that it is ALWAYS clean and ready for the next class. The gym is definitely the most organized and immaculate gym I have ever been to.

I want to thank Coach Lannie, Coach Danny, and especially Coach Saro for sticking with me, and for teaching me to not only be a better athlete but to focus on the little things that will make a huge impact in the long run. I look forward to what IFA has in store for me in the future.

-Chris Miele

Paul Horan

I started training at Iron Fist Athletics around mid-April of 2013.  I first found out about IFA through the internet and noticed that it was a CrossFit gym.  This made me very interested because I’ve always wanted to try a CrossFit workout and see what it was all about.  I decided to give it a shot because it seemed like I was always hitting a plateau at the gym I went to and had stopped making progress.  When I first met Saro, the IFA coach and owner, he showed me all around the gym and and all of the equipment.  Instead of trying to throw me into a CrossFit workout, he urged me to take his on-ramp Fundamentals course to learn proper form and technique for lifts and other movements.  During class, Saro was always there to help and make sure my form was perfect so that I wouldn’t hurt myself.  This made me really like IFA bc I had a coach guiding me along and teaching me everything about form, lifting, even stretches, and more.

Once I moved on from Fundamentals and into his CrossFit classes, it was a huge change from my normal gym routine to say the least!  From a kid who grew up playing a ton of different sports, weightlifting in the gym, and doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), I thought nothing could phase me.  I was certainly wrong!  The workouts that Saro puts you through are amazing and will get you into fantastic shape.  To me, CrossFit is awesome, but a major reason is because of Saro.  During the workouts, he pushes you and makes sure you don’t quit, which was exactly what I needed to reach my goals.  Because of Saro, my endurance and strength have gone through the roof.  For example, my deadlift has more than doubled and I can now deadlift 415 pounds; a number I would have never even thought of before I began training at IFA.  For only weighing 168 pounds, I’d say that’s pretty good!  Even with all of my hockey training, I never had as much strength in my legs as I do now.  Through Saro’s coaching me, my goals became a reality… and so can yours!  If you’re looking for a gym to go to, or just need something different like I did, I highly recommend checking out this gym.  It’s worth every penny!

-Paul Horan

Evan Greenberg

My name is Evan. I have a Degree in Kinesiology: Exercise Science, a NASM Certification, Crossfit Level 1 Certification, and was part of a college track team. Coming to Iron First America I thought I knew a lot about fitness and programming, but boy was I wrong. Since joining IFA I have learned so much more than any certification has taught me. IFA has shown me so many different ways to stretch, warm up, and all around workout. I have adapted to a new workout routine and gained knowledge of olympic lifting.

Before coming to IFA I did more of a bodybuilding style workout program. I never did legs and have only done a few cleans. During my first few weeks I continued to do my regular workouts along with training at IFA, but it was not long before I completely transitioned to only training at IFA and olympic lifting. The crazy thing was that I was getting better results and gaining a lot more strength than I had previously. My squat went from 275lbs to 390lbs. My deadlift jumped from 400lbs to 500lbs. My clean went from a sloppy 185lbs to 305lbs, and my non existent snatch, from lack of mobility, went from the PVC pipe to 215lbs. Besides my strength results, my mobility has increased, making everyday movements and activities much easier. Coming off a grade 2 pulled hamstring, I was never able to run like I had previously. I went through an extensive amount of physical therapy and worked with an athletic trainer twice a day. Nothing seemed to help. The stretches coach Saro has shown me and workouts he has given finally allowed me to heal properly and progress. My former injury is no longer a concern of mine.

All of the results I have gotten could not have been done without the amazing coaching and programming that IFA provides. I am now a part of an amazing family and community. We continue to push and motivate each other while achieving goals. My coaches and fellow members are what makes the overall experience enjoyable, allowing me to look forward to coming in everyday.


Aine Mairead

I was always athletic growing up and participated in various sports. When I went to college I didn’t put effort into working out and even during grad school. I was unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin. After going through some life changes last January, I started working out on my own for my mental health. My two friends had mentioned IFA and boasted about not only the workouts but the people who ran it. I was intrigued and ready to do something new so I signed up for a trial class. I was instantly hooked and quickly became eager each day to go to a class. I’m challenged each time I walk in that door and coach Saro and Naz are such great and positive motivators. After 9 months, I’ve never been stronger, healthier, and happier in my life. I can honestly say IFA was the best thing I could have ever done. I’ve grown so much and love each and every person who attends. Thank you IFA!! Aine Ross

Cristina Guerra

I’ve been a member at IFA since October 2017 and only amazing things have come from my time here. Lifting as much as possible was my main focus, and I quickly learned that the only way I’d hit heavier lifts was to be patient, focus on technique even if that meant lighter weight, show up even when I don’t want to, take the coaches feedback, rest & recover when I needed it and celebrate the small wins. While my priorities have evolved in the gym, the lessons remain. Over the years I’ve watched members come through the doors with little to no background in lifting who now inspire and motivate me during workouts. Their progress is proof that you learn at this gym and you can get healthier, stronger, and faster if you put in consistent effort. Coach has programmed workouts to fit the needs of those who have injuries, who are post-surgery or who need special modifications, myself included. He’s on point, so knowledgeable, really knows how to teach movements and in my opinion doesn’t miss a beat. He knows his members well. If nothing else, his coaching style keeps me at IFA. I’ve achieved some cool things here and pushed myself in a way that I know I wouldn’t if I just went to a commercial gym to exercise by myself. Aside from the physical aspect, the mental aspect is a major benefit of exercise, but also of being a member at IFA. I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for what my body can do and have more respect for it now than ever. Any time I feel ‘weak’ or tired or lazy, I tell Coach and he doesn’t accept excuses, he just says ‘you can do it, you’re strong’. He doesn’t allow us to hold ourselves back- he’ll say to grab a heavier weight, do 2 more reps or go faster, and you do, because if he’s telling you to do it it’s because he knows you have it in you. His belief in his athletes is constant and it makes you believe in yourself. But he also wants us to be safe & have fun, so he modifies appropriately. IFA has been my support system for over 5 years, getting me through some of the hardest moments in my life. I attribute it to the coaching staff and the unwavering support from members who have become my close friends. We are family at IFA, figuratively and literally… our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, cousins, aunts, and children are members at IFA. I highly x1000 recommend IFA if you’re looking to start your fitness journey or are looking for a new gym with awesome members, coaches and equipment that will only ever be in amazing condition for our use!!
-cristina guerra