Member Spotlight: Mariela Olivares- Bikini Bodybuilder

Written by Jamie Potter. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

Mariela Olivares has been a RCSC member since 2005 and decided to compete in bikini bodybuilding in 2016, at 40 years old. A full-time law professor and single mother to two daughters (who spent lots of time at the RCSC daycare), Mariela loves training as a stress relief and for the mental and physical challenges it provides.

Nationally qualified in each of her competitive seasons, she placed in the 2016 and 2017 competitions and started her 2018 season with two wins at the NPC Maryland State Championship and East Coast Classic. She followed up with a strong finish at the national level competition, Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh! She plans to move onward and upward in the rankings! 

Mariela trains seven days a week, with five-six days of weightlifting. She is part of a bodybuilding team and coached by professional bodybuilder, Jami DeBernard, but trains on her own at RCSC.

“[I am] very grateful to the wonderful RCSC staff and community for the support, excellent upkeep of the facilities and fantastic equipment,” Mariela says.  

We see many big wins in future competitions! Congrats Mariela!

RCSC Member Climbs Mount Washington

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

Sarah on Mount WashingtonRock Creek Sports Club is so proud of member Sarah Pekkanen for climbing Mount Washington, New Hampshire last week


Known for having the most extreme weather in the world, this climb was a testament to Sarah’s true grit! And how hard she worked to prepare physically for this challenge – thank goodness she had RCSC to help. Hey girl – you’re awesome!

RCSC Breaks World Record

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, RCSC News

rc-weightliftingExciting news from this past weekend’s 100% Raw American Challenge Powerlifting competition!

Rock Creek Sports Club member Bibi Campos Seijo broke the WORLD RECORD for deadlift, ages 40-44, weight class 148, with a lift of 321.7 lbs!

Bibi’s RCSC trainer, Devin Knox, also competed. Not only did Devin PR in deadlift (633 lbs) and bench (407 lbs) he is now ranked 6th IN THE WORLD for strict curl, weight class 242, with a curl of 165 lbs!

Awesome and inspiring!

Member Spotlight: Jeanne Liu – Powerlifter

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, RCSC News

image1When Rock Creek Sports Club Personal Trainer Zach Tolchin spotted member Jeanne Liu at the gym – he noticed her commitment to hard work . However, he also noticed that her workout routines were… “a little all over the place.”  So he offered her a orientation session and a  couple of things became obvious right away.

“I saw that she was quite strong for her size and I also saw she was incredibly determined and focused, ” says Tolchin , adding that her background in dance also gave her a solid foundation of core and lower body strength.

After some discussion, Tolchin had peaked Liu’s interest in powerlifting, so Tolchin wrote her up a plan to help her train, and told her to check in with him once in awhile, to discuss her progressions.   Well, fast forward to November 2015, and Liu was taking part in her first competition — The Maryland State Championships — and with Tolchin coaching her, she won gold for her weight class!

And  23-year-old Liu has kept going!  Earlier this month, she also competed at the USAPL Terrapin Open – and walked away with another gold in her weight class – 114 lbs.

Her lifts in this past competition were as follows:

  • Squat – 192.7 lbs
  • Bench – 88.5 lbs
  • Deadlift – 253.5 lbs (almost 2.5 times her own bodyweight!)

Check out the video of her squatting:

“Jeanne has come a long way in a short time, she’s incredibly determined, competitive, and focused and I’m incredibly proud of her and her accomplishments,” Tolchin said.  “I’ve had so many people come over to tell me they’ve seen her lifting in the gym and seems so focused that it’s almost zen.”

Member of the Quarter: Vernon Drew

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, Member of the Quarter

Zach and VernonIn 2009, after turning 60 years old, Vernon Drew went to his doctor for a physical, and was surprised to hear that at 200 pounds, it was time to lose weight.

“I got mad and decided to get even,” Vernon said, and he joined Rock Creek Sports Club, mostly because it was close to his house and it looked like a “community gym.”  It was then that Vernon was offered a free personal training session with Zach Tochin, which little did he know at the time, was just the beginning of new, fit and healthy lifestyle.

Now here we are almost seven years later, and Vernon is our latest Member of the Quarter!

After Vernon’s first assessment and session with Zach, he was offered another free session in order for Zach to show him how to use several of the machines and a couple of bodyweight exercises.

“ [Afterward] I thought he would say, ‘See you around,’ Vernon said. “Instead he said, ‘ I could work with you if you want and think we could make some progress.’”

For the past six years Vernon has worked out twice a week with Zach, and recently added a third day in order to increase his weight-lifting numbers.  He says he appreciates Zach’s experience, knowledge, attention to form and safety, and his ability to program so that Vernon gets the most out of each session.

“Zach challenges and encourages me so that I meet goals and progress, “Vernon explained.  “He is fun, gives me the right grief, but always ends with ‘good job.'”  “Most importantly, Zach sees me as a person not a session, meaning he makes sure my session and the advice I get for working on my own is tailored to me not some set scheme.”

Vernon push up on Bosu

In addition to working out with Zach, Vernon also gets in some lighter weight work about two days a week. Plus he also gets in some cardio, such as using the stair-stepper, three days a week.

Vernon says that not only did he lose the weight his doctor his doctor had recommended, he has reduced the amount of medicine he was taking (including cholesterol meds), was able to say goodbye to using a CPAP machine, and has more energy.

“Also, I like that I can lift more than my 25 year old son.” Vernon joked. “Vanity, I know, but it is nice to have something on him.”

One of Vernon’s favorite things about Rock Creek Sports Club, is how friendly everybody is, even if you don’t know everyone’s name. So make sure you congratulate him next time you see him at the club!

FUNDRAISER for Footwork: The International Podoconiosis Initiative

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, RCSC News

footphotoPlease join us for a FUNDRAISER on Monday, November 9th 2015 for Footwork: The International Podoconiosis Initiative.

8:30-10:30 am and 5:30-7:30 pm

Meet Wendy Santis, a RCSC member and Executive Director of Footwork, and learn about “podo”.

footphoto2Podoconiosis, “podo”, is a form of elephantiasis or swelling of the lower leg triggered by prolonged exposure to certain minerals in red clay volcanic highland soils. The disease is widespread in more than 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Podo is both preventable and treatable. Footwork is active in Ethiopia, Uganda and Cameroon.  Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS SHOES, is one of Footwork’s biggest supporters. 

Refreshments will be served. Donations accepted through Footwork’s website, cash or check.

Learn more at
Twitter: @PodoDotOrg


Gino, Devin and Ashleigh at USAPL Raw Nationals!

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, RCSC News

powerliftingBest wishes for a successful competition at the 2015 USAPL Raw Nationals to Gino Panamino-Castro, trainer Devin Knox (of Knox Power Company) and Devin’s sister Ashliegh!

Gino lifts tomorrow (Oct. 15), Ashliegh lifts Friday (Oct. 16) and Devin hits the platform Sunday (Oct.18).

Follow the events with this link to live streaming:

Member of the Quarter: Joff Pincher

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, Member of the Quarter

Zach and Joff 1When it comes to making positive changes in your life, it really helps to have a good attitude, and anyone here at Rock Creek Sports Club will tell you that Joff Pincher has one of the best.  With his upbeat personality — along with his hard work and outstanding progress— Joff was an easy choice for our Rock Creek Sports Club Member of the Quarter!

Joff tells us that there was a time he would have described himself as very fit, but after taking 10 years off from exercising, he decided to join Rock Creek Sports Club back in February to shed some weight and get healthy. Or as he joked, “I wanted to get fit enough to get fit.”

Joff, who’s a 52-year-old stay-at-home dad with twin 4-year-olds, says he was also looking for ways to combat diabetes, and he had read that strength training would be very beneficial.  So in addition to joining the gym, he also signed up to work with RCSC Personal Trainer, Zach Tolchin .

Joff works out with Zach twice a week now, focusing mainly on strength training, such as squatting. In addition to these sessions, with guidance from Zach, Joff also works out on his own 2-3 times a week, with free weights, plus some cardio work.

It’s paying off.

Since joining in February, Joff has lost 45 pounds, reduced his medication to 10% of what it was, and his blood pressure has dropped.

“If you pick up a 45-pound dumbbell, or plate, it’s a lot of weight,” Joff says enthusiastically. “ I had a made-to-measure suit and it simply doesn’t fit anymore. I told Marc (RCSC Manager) that I think he has to pay for it. None of my original gym gear fits either.”

These awesome results are especially encouraging for anyone on the fence about joining a gym.

“I’ve been super fit in my life,” Joff explains. “I was wondering if I was going to be disappointed in myself. I had a lot of catching up to do. My first ambition was just go to the gym, and nothing else.  And it’s been brilliant.  The Rock Creek Sports Club atmosphere, the coaches, the members, they are all very encouraging.”

Meet Dr. Michael Manyak: RCSC Member, World Explorer and Author of New Safety Travel Guide – Lizard Bites and Street Riots

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

Manyak.HeadshotHere’s an interesting fact to get your day started — more people have been to outer space than have been to the Titanic. Even more interesting, one of those deep-sea explorers just happens to work out with you right here at Rock Creek Sports Club!

His name is Dr. Michael J. Manyak , and he is a professor of Urology, Engineering, Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine at The George Washington University; and the Executive Director for Global Medical Affairs for the urology products of GlaxoSmithKline.

In short, Dr. Manyak is a physician who specializes in urology and what is known as expedition medicine, or remote travel and wilderness medicine. This has allowed him to join teams of explorers all over the world on a number of adventures and his incredible stories don’t end at the collecting relics from Titanic.

For example:
• He served as a medical officer aboard the Norwegian icebreaker MV Polar Star for an expedition to Antarctica.
• He was part of a team that uncovered early human footprints in Tanzania.
• He helped a group of scientists who used DNA samples to identify a new species of highly endangered wild camels in the Gobi Desert.
• He and his son helped excavate early human artifacts and animal fossils with the Smithsonian Human Origins program at the edge of the Rift Valley in Olorgesailie, Kenya.
• He was part of the first scientific dive at Lake Khosvgol in Mongolia, the second largest lake in Asia.


(Click Here to Here to Read About Dr. Manyak’s Expeditions and See More Photos)

This is the kind of guy you would want to take travel tips from right? Well you’re in luck! Dr. Manyak, along with two of his colleagues and fellow world travel experts, Rear Admiral Joyce M. Johnson, DO, USPHS (ret) and Warren J. Young, recently published Lizards Bites and Street Riots , which covers every sort of precaution you should possibly take or may have to take when touring abroad.


Dr. Manyak told us the idea for the book came to him while he was writing a chapter for his textbook on expedition and wilderness medicine. “I wanted to provide guidance and help to anyone that travels,” he said. “It was a labor of love.”

packinglistThe book is proving valuable for those who travel, including Dr. Robert Gates, former US Secretary, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and president of the Boy Scouts of America.

“This relevant resource for travelers combines two intersecting components of travel today, health, and safety. The up to date information makes for a great travel companion to help you sort out problems on the road and protect your security.” Dr. Gates said, according to Lizards Bites & Street Riots website. “Whether traveling for business or pleasure, on a Scouting adventure or an expedition, stow this in your carry-on luggage!”

So now one of the important questions for us at Rock Creek Sports Club — how does one so obviously very busy, find time to work out?

“You have to make time or it gets away from you.” Dr. Manyak, a member at RCSC for about 10 years, said, adding with all the traveling and work he has to do, it’s important for him to stay in reasonable shape. “On average I train four days a week, doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) for about 30 minutes. Hard, quick workouts.”

For more information about Dr. Manyak’s adventures check out his website at You can read more about his book, Lizard Bites & Street Riots at

RCSC Member Shares Her 85-Pound Loss Success Story in Bethesda Magazine

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 6.58.31 PMWe are so lucky to have so many amazing members here at Rock Creek Sports Club! Not a day goes by where we are not inspired by all of the hard work and dedication we see from all of you here in the gym. 

One those members is Jackie Judd, who recently shared her success story Bethesda Magazine.  As she neared her 60th birthday, Jackie decided she needed to make some changes, and with the help of Rock Creek Sports Club and Personal Trainer and Health Coach Jean Simons, she lost 85 pounds and found a new healthy lifestyle.

“Weekly nutrition sessions with Jean were candid assessments of what had gone right and wrong. She listened without judging, while reminding me that a setback did not have to be permanent. I will also confess that fear became a great motivator. The idea of reaching my 61st birthday still overweight scared me. Success motivated me, too. Feeling less winded during workouts and seeing changes in my body undoubtedly kept me going.”

Read Jackie’s Full Story Here

We also talked to Jackie’s trainer, Jean, to ask her what factors she attributes to Jackie’s success, and lessons we can take away from her story.

RCSC: What is it like to work with Jackie?
Jean: It has been wonderful working with Jackie. When I first met her, she made it clear that she was ready to make difficult but meaningful changes to improve her health. She just needed some guidance and support. She also understood that I was not going to wag my finger at her like a drill sergeant on the “Biggest Loser”. She knew it was up to her to set her own goals based on her personal challenges and her specific health needs.

RCSC: What do you think some of the main reasons she was able to succeed in reaching her goals?

  • She did not want to follow a fad diet or extreme fitness program. She knew that she would not see results right away, but she wanted a program that she could sustain for life. 
  • She was ready to learn about herself – her food triggers, habits, reasons she had not moved her body much — and make significant changes in what she ate, how much she moved, her sleep habits, and her stressors.
  • She was ready to accept help in getting to her goals.
  • She used her husband and friends as support
  • She made a big commitment, financially and emotionally – she met with me twice/week to plan food and to do personal training.
  • She learned to cook and eat real food
  • She stuck to exercising 5 times/week or so

RCSC: Are there any important lessons we/women/older adults can learn from Jackie?

  • Focus more on how you feel than how you look. When you embark on a new eating and fitness plan, think about how much more energy you will have and how strong you will become rather than what the scale says. I encourage my clients to appreciate what their bodies can DO and not dwell on extra fat or sagging skin.
  • Women really can get stronger at any age, even if they have never exercised before or are suffering from old injuries or arthritis and other joint pain.
  • Midlife challenges are real: hot-flashes, weight gain, hormonal changes, joint issues; stress, sleep problems, and more. But it is also a great time to focus on yourself.
  • It is extremely helpful to have a positive support system of family, friends, and experts.
  • View this as changing for life, not a quick fix 

Capitol Communicator Features RCSC Member Debra Silimeo

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, RCSC News

Photo from Capitol Communicator

Here at Rock Creek Sports Club we love to share news about all the of the amazing accomplishments of our members, both inside and outside the gym!

Just recently,  Debra Silimeo, member since 2002, was profiled in the e-magazine Capitol Communicator for her outstanding achievements in the communications field and as the executive vice president at Hager Sharp in Washington, D.C..

In addition to her full time job, Debra adds that she is also  a member of the DC Chamber of Commerce, has served on the board and is a member of the Leadership Greater Washington, is on the National Press Club’s Speakers Committee, serves on the Washington Women in Public Relations, and co-chairs the Girl Scouts’ Women’s Advisory Council.

WOW, that is mouthful!  So how does Debra find time to stay fit? 

“I make Saturday morning my must-do “appointment” for myself, and work in exercise other times whenever I can,” Debra tells us.  “It is a challenge, for sure, but I love to do it, always feel better afterward. I truly would not be able to keep up with my work and volunteer schedule if I didn’t exercise. It’s the best way to hit the ‘recharge’ button!”

To hit that “recharge button” Debra says she has to have her weekly spinning fix, and loves to do just about any exercise on a BOSU ball. Plus, she says she’s also a fan of our Zumba, yoga, and Presidential Arms classes, free weights, and hiking.

“I think that trying new things keeps it fun and interesting,” she explains.  “So thanks, Rock Creek, for consistently introducing new things.”

Check out the Capitol Communicator Article Here – and don’t forget to say hello next time you see Debra in the gym!

Rock Creek Sports Club – Powerhouse of Power Lifting!

Written by Sharon Sellers. Posted in Blog, Meet The Crew, Member Highlights, RCSC News

Push Pull competition 2014 Congratulations to the Power lifters of Rock Creek Sports Club!

 Four Rock Creek Sports Club employees and three members competed in the USAPL Colosseum Push/Pull Challenge Saturday, June 14, 2014, with spectacular results!  Held in Columbia, MD, RCSC participants broke personal records and walked away with four medals!

 Personal Trainer, Devin Knox

 A strength and conditioning specialist at Rock Creek Sports Club, this was Devin’s third power lifting competition and his first without a weight belt.  With a personal best of 529.1 lbs in the deadlift and a 352.7 bench, Devin earned a gold medal in his weight class!

Personal Trainer, Zach Tolchin

For his second power lifting competition, Zach went 6 for 6 of his lifts. He had a personal best of 468.5 for the deadlift and a personal best of 270.1 for the bench press. Zach also performed his lifts without a weight belt.

Personal Trainer, Robert Giles

Competing in his third competition, Robert earned a silver medal in his weight class, completing 5 of his 6 lifts!  His winning deadlift was 523.5 and his bench was 308.5.

Front desk staff, Emily Karl

Competing for her first time, Emily completed 5 of her 6 lifts!  After months of training with Devin, Emily was able to pull in a personal best of 253.5 for the deadlift.

Member, Ashleigh Kling

Ashleigh is Devin’s sister, power lifting runs in the family! Ashleigh not only won the gold medal in her weight class but also broke the Maryland state record for the deadlift with a lift of 325.2!

Member, Kristy Lang

Competing for the second time, Kristy won the silver medal for her weight class!  She pulled a 319 for the deadlift and pushed 132 for the bench.

Member, Kevin Severs

Also competing for the second time, Kevin hit personal bests of 512 in the deadlift and 265 on the bench.

Once again, congratulations for a very successful competition! We are very proud of the hard work and focused dedication that these Rock Creek Sports Club employees and members demonstrated to reach their goals and achieve these results.

“Tales from our Near Future Book” Signing with Jackson Coppley!

Written by RCSC Writer. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights, RCSC News

Join us at Rock Creek Sports Club on June 23 from 5-7pm for a “Tales from our Near Future Book” Signing with Jackson Coppley!

talesJackson Coppley has always loved to tell stories.

“”I used to make up stories for my kids when they were little,” Coppley says. “And when I was dating my Ellen, I use to call her in the evenings and tell her stories over the phone.”

With all these stories and ideas bouncing around in his head, since he can remember, Coppley knew that someday he wanted to write when he could find the time.

Now that time as come! We’re excited to announce that Copley, a Rock Creek Sports Club Member, has recently published his first book, “Tales from our Near Future.” 

Tales from our Near Future is a collection of three stories, which Coppley categorizes as “Techno Romance” and asks the question “What happens when the age of high technology encounters the human need for love?”

Coppley — whose career included a top-secret clearance working in tech with national security and the military — says he has often speculated about where we were in technology, where we are going, and how it will affect people.

“I think about how quickly we can Google information,” Coppley explains. “How that affects our nature at a conversation at party, or from a privacy view point — knowing everything about someone.”

Coppley is excited about the release of “Tales from Our Near Future,” and is eager to get started writing his next book, starting with trip to Italy that will include some time for research.

For Coppley, any day that he sits down and writes something, (he tries for at least 1,000 words on a daily basis), he says he knows it’s going to be a good day.

“I like the writing part the best,” he explains. It’s a pleasure. When I start writing, it’s like the story starts telling itself to me.”

To learn more:
Purchase Tales of the Near Future
Purchase the Kindle version of Tales of the Near Future


Meet the Member: Author and Journalist Phil Dine

Written by Web Admin. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

It seems like every day we learn about a Rock Creek Sports Club member who is working on a big project, achieving something amazing, or doing something wonderful for the community. Today we would like to recognize member Philip Dine, author of the recently released book, State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence.

Rock Creek Member Completes Tough Mudder

Written by Web Admin. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

For those of you unfamiliar with Tough Mudder events, they are no joke. These events are “hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.”

So you can imagine how proud we are of Rock Creek Sports Member and college student Lily Kehoe who recently completed the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder held in Frederick, MD!

Meet the Member: Pulitzer-Winning Journalist David Wood

Written by Web Admin. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights

You may have seen Rock Creek Sports Club member David Wood around the gym. He, like many other members here, comes in as often as possible to build strength and endurance to keep up with a favorite hobby — in David’s case, Alpine Climbing.

What you may not know about David though, was his recent impact on journalism history. This past April, David was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for his series “Beyond the Battlefield” for the Huffington Post. This was a first for both David, and for the seven-year old web-based newspaper.

Meet the Member: Talking with Author Sarah Pekkanen

Written by Web Admin. Posted in Blog, Member Highlights


Today we’re speaking with Rock Creek Sports Club member Sarah Pekkanen. Sarah’s third book, These Girls, was recently published and is receiving rave reviews! On Monday, May 21, Sarah will be at Rock Creek Sports Club from 5:30-7:30 for a book signing. Copies of Sarah’s books, The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, and These Girls, will be available for purchase for $15, cash or check.