Physical, Mind & Body Challenges

View from Catalina TrailWow Catalina!  When Amy announced the 20M and 50K Trail Run-Trek Event on Santa Catalina Island, I was on board from the start. It had been a desire of mine since I heard of AVC Elite Training’s previous experiences there. Amy guided us through the Tough Mudder experience successfully in February 2013 and I was ready for another challenge for 2014!

Amy, our coach and mentor, worked with diligence in creating a trail running and trekking program that would simulate the terrain of the Trans Catalina Trail. Her coaching provided us with an incremental program of increased miles, trail difficulty, in addition to support in all aspects of preparation for this event. Weekly emails informed us on fluid and food intake, trail direction and any outstanding questions. Amy provided throughout hydration and fuel information helping us learn how much and when we needed to consume both.   She provided products that were invaluable for our time on the trail. BONK bars and FLUID drinks were easy to digest and gave me the energy I needed to accomplish increasing miles and time on the trail.

As the weeks advanced so did our miles (and our groans)!  Ten, thirteen, fifteen, miles…oh my! I am a lifelong runner and the most I had ever run in one distance was 13.2 miles (a half-marathon) so one can only imagine how overwhelming a 50K distance would seem not ever completing even half that mileage let alone 31.7 miles!

As the miles increased, so did my two nagging injuries that I have been battling off and on for years. Amy was insistent that I care for them and offered alternatives and possible remedies. I utilized Rock tape, which I had learned about from my Tough Mudder experience with Amy, as well as Sore No More. These were beneficial in coping with my piriformis syndrome and lower back issues. Amy encouraged massage, vibration, foam rolling and checking with my podiatrist to cope with a nagging neuroma that has been plaguing me for quite some time.

The next “gentle nudge” from her  proved beneficial as well. Though resistant at first, I acquiesced to Amy’s suggestion in using trekking poles for our long endurance training Saturday’s in preparation for the super steep climbs that we would be tackling in Catalina.  Trekking-Poles-NewtonsI must admit, I had never used poles before and was skeptical. Amy instructed me on the proper use of the poles and encouraged me to practice carrying them on my runs. She explained how to implement them on super steep climbs for efficiency and economy. These proved to be a lifesaver, as they helped take the pressure off of my injuries and allowed me to complete the required miles on our long endurance trail runs.

Catalina-Boat-RideFinally, the day had come for all of us to head to Catalina Island. Amy made the trip carefree and a success. She arranged for our ferry ride providing terrific accommodations at a lovely boutique hotel which also included breakfast each morning for all of us.

This was so much fun as we had the whole place to ourselves taking up the entire hotel! There was a celebration dinner along with optional dinner arrangements for other nights.

This certainly took the anxiety out of our anticipated Trail Run and Trek, which was challenging and definitely an experience to remember.

Catalina Trail Run FinishAh, the feeling of elation when I completed the 31+ miles, and ran towards those who were camped at a restaurant waiting for us! I must admit, that I was a little tired, but felt great! As with Tough Mudder, I did not experience any debilitating soreness or discomfort, which I know is directly related to the training I received under Amy’s instruction. I can’t emphasize enough, how critical Amy’s method of training has assisted me in completing this challenging goal.

Catalina Training GroupA most significant aspect of this experience is the friendships I have developed and treasure with the AVC Elite Training Family.  My hat is off to you Amy, as you continue to provide not just a physically challenging experience, but one that encourages growth in both mind and body.

I am thrilled to be part of the AVC Elite Training Team!


Are you ready for a new challenge of mind, body and spirit? Stay tuned for another AVC Elite Special Event coming soon. We promise more adventures are on the way!

Fitness, Family and New Experiences

AVC Elite Training guarantees you more than a great workout and great training. It is a welcoming and uplifting environment that you soon will call “family.”

Kristina and Amy WeddingI first met Amy Van Cleve through her SPORTBOX and Maximum Pump classes that she taught at a local gym in 2007, thanks to some very convincing family members.

I hadn’t really been very athletic up to this point. After one exciting year of freshmen track and field and being a college student, I found that I could use a little tune up with my cardio and overall fitness. I was overwhelmed at how hard Amy’s classes were at first, but my mom made a good point that I remember to this day. My Mom told me…  “that it is so hard to get yourself up and go, but once you get done you sure are glad you did because you never regret a workout!” It’s funny because with the all of struggles of everyday life, I still have to remind myself of that every once in a while as we all do.

Fast forward to 2009 when once again I was encouraged to try something new in the way of working out with AVC Elite Training. I had never heard of Trekking. I jumped on the band wagon with my mom and dad and several of Amy’s faithful trainees. Every Saturday we would learn new tricks of the trade and spend hours out in Las Sendas and the surrounding trails. At 23 years old, waking up at 4:30 am on a Saturday morning was the last thing I wanted to do and that is probably why I was the youngest trekker for quite some time.

As the trails got longer, harder, and the training became more challenging, Amy was there every step of the way coaching us on how to properly fuel, hydrate, and all of the many other things that are involved when training for an ultra distance and surviving the trails. We had to learn how to be completely self sufficient with no support or help at all as we would be out there on the trails for hours on end.

What was the end result? I can honestly say it was one of the most memorable journeys of my life. In April of 2010, AVC Elite Training traveled to Catalina Island to trek the 31+ mile stretch of trails from one end of the island to the other. Never mind the fact that we may have taken a few wrong turns here and there as it was such a blessing to accomplish such a big goal.

The best part was being surrounded by so many fellow trekkers on that journey that I have since learned to call family. This experience was such a hit that we did it again in 2011 and 2014! We added even more new trainees while hitting the Trans Catalina trail and ended up seeing some of the most amazing scenery, wild buffalo, and breathtaking panoramic views.

In the midst of all the Trekking, I had also decided to take up another one of Amy’s  endeavors, which was the Group Training. Taking away the stresses of commercial gyms, we were outside in fresh air, rain or shine learning how to lift and cross train. Tough Mudder KristinaAmy is always quick to make sure you have good form and that you aren’t slacking, always pushing yourself to your personal hardest.

While there were men that had trekked with us, it was pretty exciting when we started getting men involved in our Training Groups. From Amy’s husband, to my father, to some cute guy that was my age… I was feeling pretty tough now that we were a mixed group of gender, age and abilities.

The next chapter with AVC Elite Training was Amy (who is also a Newton Running Coach) teaching all of us Natural Running. Basically, we learned how to run “The Newton Way” which is simply the natural way of running. We had to re-teach ourselves how to run using proper form and footing and ridding ourselves of habits that put us at risk for injuries.

Amy introduced fun and creative Running Clinics for us so that we could integrate natural running into our regular training. In addition she helped fit all of us in proper Newton footwear that would help guide us in running and training properly.

Amongst all the training, Amy also started organizing social gatherings for us to have the opportunity spend time with each other without sweaty hair and tight schedules. This enabled us to get to know and bond with our fitness family on a whole new level.

Remember that cute boy I mentioned? Well, turns out we bonded a little too and began dating in the beginning of 2012. Amy called us a match made in “AVC Elite Training Heaven” (so I guess they approved?)

Amy’s training was ever changing, keeping all of us on our toes with new and exciting challenges. We were on such a roll that when Amy approached me in the Fall about doing the next Tough Mudder in February 2013, I said yes before asking what it was… come to find out she was trying to kill us. Okay, I’m kidding.

tough mudder kristinaBut we had a very vigorous training schedule in preparation for this Military style obstacle course. To prepare for one of the obstacles “The Arctic Enema,” Amy thought we should all jump in her ice cold pool (about 39 degrees) in the middle of winter and then run up and down the streets and canals in basically a “wet suit” while hitting other various obstacles like jumping over fences, pull ups, bleachers, pushups, you name it. It was so embarrassing, but when it came time to actually do this, our “wet suites” (actually it was compression gear that would save our lives) turned out to work to our advantage. They provided not only water wicking, but kept us warm and our muscles awake while our skin was protected from the harsh elements. Whether we ran, crawled or fell over that finish line we ended up getting our orange head bands that we will forever cherish.

Kristina's WeddingNow fast forward to 2014, to my wedding. Aaron and I got married on February 1st, 2014. (That’s right we got engaged in the mean time!)

At our wedding, if you were to stop and look around you would see almost all the faces that Aaron and I have come to know and train with over the past few years.

They were everywhere…On the dance floor, in the photo booth, at the bar, singing in the band, doing my hair (thank you Mindy) and at my side (Amy was a bridesmaid).

GroupDue to the circumstance, I was honored to ask Amy to be one of my bridesmaids. I asked a fellow trainer and Mudder, Mindy to do my hair and be the source of entertainment via “The Mindy Harris Band.”

Needless to say, I not only took up new workouts, new training and gained a healthier lifestyle seven years ago, but I also gained a “fitness family” of all different ages and all different types of people that I love dearly.  I am so honored to know and train with each and every one of them.

~ Kristina

What are you looking for in a workout?

Fitness, fun, encouragement, strength, endurance and self-confidence?  AVC Elite delivers…plus matchmaking, bridal party attendants and musical talent. We may be able guaranty the fitness results, but the rest is up to you.

Strong, Fit & Happy

I first was introduced to Amy and her Trekking program through a friend in 2009. After a few months of trekking, I began Amy’s small group training program as well. I have to say that I have never felt so energetic, so strong and so fit, along with feeling a sense of overall happiness, in my life.

renegade rowbacks

I have experienced and done things I never thought possible! From trekking 20 miles on the rugged terrains and spectacular vista of Catalina Island, to long distance running, to some very challenging group training. I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment in so many ways.

In 2012, I found out I was pregnant and later diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. kettlebell-goblet-squatWith the help of Amy’s training and the right nutrition, I was able to keep my blood sugar levels stabilized without the help of medicine. After my pregnancy, I was able to shed the pounds within a few months. I felt and looked fabulous!

One year later I married Jeremy. It was a time in my life where I felt such a great feeling of happiness BOTH  inside and out. I loved the confidence I felt in walking down that aisle in my wedding gown.  It was a moment I will remember forever.

Amy is a truly excellent trainer. She makes each workout challenging, creative, and most importantly… FUN!

I think I can speak for everyone of Amy’s trainees when I say not only is Amy our trainer, but she has become much more than that… she’s family!


Looking for the confidence that comes from your strength and fitness?  AVC Elite Training may be right for you.  Learn more today!

Best Fitness Program for Your Money in Arizona

I am not a fitness enthusiast at all. I was a former high school athlete that has let the last 30 years go by and watched my once 155 lbs. frame balloon to over 215 lbs. I hit 50 years old and my health dictated that I needed to make a drastic change with my life.

I started with the trekking program first as it seemed like an easy way to get back into the swing of things. Coach Amy made the program fun and challenging and at the end of the program I was able to complete over a 30 mile course on Catalina Island!

Not bad…but it made me want to do more. So I joined the AVC Elite Training small group training sessions and I was hooked.

Amy’s expertise in workout design and structure ensured that we were all working our bodies in a safe, efficient and challenging manner.

My endurance, strength and body image has improved during my one year of the small group training format.

I think this is the best fitness program for the money BAR NONE. Thanks for all that you do for us trainees. You are truly motivating.


Check out upcoming AVC Elite Training Sessions and contact Amy today to reserve your spot in these challenging workout programs right here in Mesa, Arizona.

Embrace the Journey

I had a life changing event in February of 2009. My husband of 32 years, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 58. I had to create a “new normal” for me, as I transitioned into this new phase of my life without Jack, I was 57. I decided one of the things that would help “go on with my life” was to try new things, activities I never dreamed I could do.

So I signed up for AVC Elite training classes created by my good friend and fitness expert, Amy Van Cleve. I also began her trekking program.  Before, I was not at “outdoors” person. I preferred to be in a cool, air conditioned gym (with a TV), than be outside exercising.

Trekking was quite a new experience for me.  In 2010, with lots of training from Amy I trekked the Catalina trail for 30+ miles!.  I did it again in 2011, but did 20+ miles. Who would have thought that I could do this, certainly not me.

But Amy never doubted I was capable and was always so encouraging. I was older, slower, was usually at the back of the group, but I was steady at my own pace, and I was able to finish both Catalina treks.

After the trekking program, Amy sponsored a running clinic with the Newton Running shoe company in March of 2011.  Again I was hesitant to sign up, because as a 59 year old, I had never run…..or had any desire to run, plus I thought I was too old for this. But once more, Amy encouraged me to try it.

I was a “blank slate” as far as learning the correct techniques of running. I had no idea about form, foot placement, correct shoes, cadence, body position. I thought you just ran.

In the fall of 2011, Amy offered a running program for all abilities –  from seasoned runners to novices, like me. I decided to try it, with a lot of misgivings, but I was determined to continue my goal of trying new activities. So I became a part of this group, learning how to run correctly.

Throughout the fall and winter we met and Amy taught me how to run the right way.   I learned that good running shoes make all the difference and are a “must.” So, I bought good Newton running shoes, used my heart rate monitor, bought a small metronome for the 180 beats cadence, and actually did some running on my own in my neighborhood.

Each session with Amy was a learning experience, where, she observed my running and made corrections/adjustments where needed.

In December of 2011, I decided to try something really out of my “comfort zone.”  I entered the Phoenix Marathon 10K race that would take place in March of 2012.

With Amy’s running group, and her continued advice/help, I trained for the 10K……me, who never wanted to be outside doing anything, was running 3-4 times a week to get ready for the race. Oh, look where I placed….never in a million years would I have thought this was possible at 60 years old!

Next came the Tough Mudder training. I know my body’s limitations, and I knew Tough Mudder would be too much of a challenge for me, but I wanted to do the running training with the group.  So I joined team AVC Tough Mudders. I did what I could, and I was able to keep up with the team when they ran.

I was slow, but steady, and I had the endurance, thanks to Amy’s running training. It was quite an experience, and worth every early Saturday morning training session (in heat and freezing cold).

It has been quite a journey/adventure. I am so appreciative of my friend (hermana), Amy. She always had faith in me, even when I didn’t. Due to Amy’s expertise and encouragement, I was able to reach my goal of “trying new things,” particularly with my running. So, that’s my story……who knows where the road will lead me next.

~Helen H.

Ready to try something new like Helen? Check out AVC Elite Training Small Group Sessions, Newton Natural Running and/or Tough Mudder with Coach Amy. The only limit to your accomplishments are the hurdles in your mind. Contact Amy today and embrace the journey!