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.

An Ageless Accomplishment in Fitness

Earlier in the week, I was talking with some friends at work and Tough Mudder Arizona came up in the conversation. The more we talked and looked at some of challenges online, the more we convinced ourselves that this Tough Mudder thing is insane and maybe would have given it a go in our 20’s, but certainly not in our late 40’s.

Medicine Ball Squat WalksOkay so later that week, I am in Amy’s training and she issues a challenge to the group to sign up and finish the next Tough Mudder as a team. You know we have a couple younger pups in the group, but the majority of the Team are right up there in age with me and quite a few even a bit older.

I am thinking this is not going to be much of a “team” for Tough Mudder as we will probably be the oldest Team out there! (As a side note: we discovered during TM that there were a few older Tough Mudders participating in the event that day, but we by far the oldest Team in the size of our Group out there for TM AZ).

So…..Before I realized it, I am signed up for the challenge with 20+ others. How do things like this happen??? Tough Mudder Sign upI mean I got plenty of sleep the night before, I was sober, not taking any medication legal or otherwise… It happened because Amy convinced us that we could do it and as many times before, she has made me and each and every person in the AVC Elite group reach goals that were thought to be impossible.

So now you know how I got to signing up for this very understated “challenge”…. Now let me tell what it took to get us prepared.  Kettle Bell Squats with ChinsFirst of all, Amy worked harder than any of us and that says a lot since I have never worked out as hard or had as much fun working out as I did in preparing for Tough Mudder. We all still attended our normal 2 days a week training, which she stepped up a bit to incorporate moves, exercises and then some that would be needed to prepare us for Tough Mudder.

Later on, Amy added marathon Saturday sessions incorporating running and obstacle courses along with interval training.  Then, she added exercises that you might see iRope Crawlingn the “World’s Strongest Man Competitions.” I think Amy came up with a few tricks that Tough Mudder could use to make it even more challenging. The great thing about it is that we gradually built up our strength, endurance and abilities over this approximately 8 month training period if you take our start date of training beginning with the Fall Group Training in September and leading to the Marathon Saturday’s which  were added on later.

We all came out of it in the best shape of our lives.  I say this not only because we were all stronger, faster, had more stamina, endurance and agility, but because I dare say we all looked HOT!

Tough Mudder Team FinishThe day of Tough Mudder Arizona came and we conquered it with ease! We did it as a Team staying together, supporting one another and having a blast while doing it. We celebrated our victory afterwards as “official” Team AVC Tough Mudders.

One thing that some fail to realize is that many people get injured (and many times severely) during Tough Mudder Events. We are all proud to say that not one of us got injured other than your expected and typical bumps and bruises. It was an experience none of us will ever forget!

Okay Amy so what’s next??? Climbing Mount Everest…Seriously Just Kidding!!!

Thank You Amy and the AVC Elite Tough Mudder Teammates!


Let’s warm up to Mount Everest…with a 50K Ultra trail run perhaps? Are you ready to be inspired by training partners and reach new fitness goals you never dreamed possible?  Start with your AVCs…Elite Training that is and achieve the ultimate.

Memorable Mudder Moments

In June of 2011, I received a text from my brother that had the link for the Tough Mudder event on it asking me to check it out. I said I was down for it, but couldn’t get any other family members to commit. The race was going to be in February 2012. I remember texting Amy Van Cleve that I wanted to do the Tough Mudder. We both half-joked that we should do the event and then promptly went about our lives.

When Amy decided in May 2012 to train a group of athletes for the Tough Mudder Race in 2013, I was excited and a little fearful. Having done other events, I knew that I would just have to go through the training and be as prepared as I could be for the event.

I spoke with a co-worker who had done the race in 2012 and he shared some pictures of his team going through the obstacles.

The only obstacle that took my breath away was the 15 feet jump off a platform into water ( the “Walk the Plank” obstacle.) I sent Amy these pictures and suggestedWalk-the-Plank-Obstacle that she share them with the group that would be going through the training. She opted not to share the pictures since she didn’t want people to get preconceived ideas about the obstacles.

She knew what we were up against…we did not fit the mold for the participants that usually join the race (we were predominantly 40-60 year old women..not 25 year old stud muffins.) I knew we could accomplish this event, especially with Amy carefully watching us every step of the way and making sure we stayed uninjured.

We began training in October 2012 for the race in February 2013. The requirement from Amy was that we be enrolled in AVC Elite group training Monday and Wednesday sessions and she would add a Saturday training day.  We were on our own to run two to three days a week to get the base conditioning in. I can’t even guess how many hours we put in from October 2012 to event day on February 23, 2013 but needless to say there were a lot of hours involved.

Agility Training with TiresAmy worked predominantly on our endurance in the Saturday training sessions.  The basic training session was warm-up, run, cardio exercises, run some more, and yet more cardio exercises. Towards the end of our training we were up to 13 miles in total with 20 or more obstacles lasting 4 hours.

In addition to endurance, Amy placed an emphasis on proper running with your weight balanced underneath you, 180 steps per minute strides, proper arm movement and no over-striding.  She constantly emphasized hydration, proper nutrition, proper sleep, all components that made us the best condition that we could be in.  Not to say that I couldn’t have run more or had better nutrition but her constant reminders were always there making sure that we were giving it our all.

The training sessions all run together but the memories that come to the forefront for me are the following:

  • Mudder Team TrainingFirst training session running, doing 2 minute cardio exercises, and walk/running up and down Kong with Kettlebells
  • Training session at Mountain View High School where the temperature was 20 degrees and we had frost on our running shoes
  • Carrying a telephone pole across Mountain View practice fields to utilize it for the Twinkle Toes obstacle
  • Crawling through John’s tarped-covered “Trench Warfare” obstacle
  • Training sessions in which you looked at your watch and realized that you were two hours into training and you still had a minimum of an hour to go
  • Jumping into Amy’s pool in January to get ready for the Arctic Enema obstacle
  • The look of horror on some of my teammates faces as Amy described some of the obstacles we would be encountering in the race (planning meeting at the Monastery)

The spirit of camaraderie in our training was unparalleled.  When someone achieved an obstacle that they hadn’t previously been able to do, the entire group cheered.  When someone had an injury, (and there were plenty of them) the entire group rallied around that individual.  We had such a fantastic collection of personalities all melding together to conquer this achievement.

Most everyone on the team had an obstacle or a fear that they would need to overcome to complete the entire Tough Mudder event. We didn’t dwell on the obstacles we weren’t going to try…we would simply try every one and if we couldn’t get it done after a couple of attempts, we would move on.

Finally it was race day… The 15 of us showed up at the training facility at Ellsworth and Guadalupe. After an inspirational speech by Sean Corvelle (boo-rah), and we were off for 12 miles of running and 21 obstacles.

Mudder Memories from MargieWe had an amazing group of friends and family there to support and cheer us on. They couldn’t have done more for us than cheering us on at each obstacle.  Big Kudos to Helen, who trained with us through every Saturday session, and took amazing videos and pictures of the all the FUN we were having.

The actual race itself is a blur, with the hardest obstacles for me being the Berlin Walls and Everest.  Everything else was doable. I was definitely fatigued during the race, but felt I had the endurance to complete it. We stuck together as a team and although it took us a bit longer because of that, we were there for each other the whole way.

Team AVC MuddersThanks Tough Mudder team!  You guys are the absolute best. You guys are the toughest Mudders I know…thanks for helping me cross this off my bucket list…

Memorable moments:

  • Kendall completing the monkey bars…go Kendall!
  • Cynthia jumping off “Walk the Plan” the 15 foot platform…conquering one of her fears
  • Patti getting through the obstacle Trench Warfare which can be horrible for claustrophobic people
  • My whole team working together to get up Everest…thanks, team

After a couple of months had passed since the Tough Mudder event, the daughter of one of my friends did the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder where one of the participants drowned.  I realize that many accidents happen especially in such a difficult event, but I sincerely feel that Amy trained us to prepare for the race and we were the most prepared we could have been.

Thanks, Coach Amy, and I can’t wait to do the next Tough Mudder event!

What will you check off your bucket list this year?  Rim-to-Rim at the Grand Canyon? Tough Mudder? Ironman? An Ultra Trail Event?  What ever your fitness goals, AVC Elite Training can help you achieve them. Contact Amy today and let’s get to work!

Mudder Memories to Last a Lifetime

When Amy first mentioned she was interested in putting together a team for the Tough Mudder event, I was uncertain I could complete the run, let alone challenge myself to jump into 36 degree ice cold water, get shocked by electrical wires, and jump off a 20 foot wall, just to name a few of the obstacles we had to endure. Once I came on board and Amy started the training, I knew I was in good hands.

Tough Mudder Arizona TrainingAs a team, we trained just as though we were on the course at the actual TM event. We crawled thru tunnels, ran an average of 10 + miles each time we trained on those Saturday mornings, got down and dirty in the mud, crossed monkey bars, scaled walls and even jumped into a freezing cold swimming pool in winter months.

Amy went above and beyond to train us and prepare us for the endurance and stamina needed to complete Tough Mudder Arizona. Her dedication to this event was encouraging and propelled us all to do our best. We all accomplished physical and mental feats that went beyond our expectations.

When we trained we were out for 4 hours many times in the dark, cold and rain (and mud).  I truly think that is why we all finished Tough Mudder with such success.Tough Mudder Fire Run

We were well prepared and knew what we had to do. Becoming a part of the team and being trained by Amy is a memory I will never forget. The feeling of accomplishment in completing this physical and mental event was beyond description especially working together as TEAM AVC.

We shared something together that created a special bond of sister and brotherhood that will always remain in our hearts.  A life time memory indeed!

~ Patti

When was the last time you were inspired by being part of a team? Twice a week small group training gives you that opportunity. Challenge yourself, grow strong and share in the fitness accomplishments of a team again. Now in session – learn more today!

Tough Mudder Delivers for This Doctor

I have known Amy Van Cleve for many years. Amy’s enthusiasm and love for fitness motivated me to participate in 2 half marathons, a 10K and a duathlon.

When Amy asked me to participate in the Tough Mudder race, initially I was terrified. As I heard that the Tough Mudder race was the most grueling obstacle course created, so I was a little nervous.

toughmudderAnd also, I didn’t think I could sacrifice a lot of training time because of my busy work schedule. As a busy solo obstetrician and gynecologist, I am always on call so I was concerned about the time.

After much thought and soliciting back up coverage during training, I agreed to participate. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but knowing Amy, the training was going to be a well-organized training schedule with the focus on increasing endurance and reducing risks of injuries before and during the event.

Tough-Mudder-Training-AZOur training consisted of weekly Saturday morning workouts, 3-4 hours in length in addition to twice weekly small group workouts (3 hours). The training was long and grueling but fun.

We trained in the heat, cold and rain. We ran over 100 miles, lots of pull ups, jumps ropes, jump squats to name a few. Every Saturday morning, our Tough Mudder training group would receive a wake up text from Coach Amy encouraging us to be on time for our 7:00 am training.

Speaking of my training crew, we had an awesome time training together. I love each and every one. We complained together, laughed together and encourage each other when we were not pushing hard enough and nurtured each other during some of our minor injuries.  What a great team spirit!

Arizona MudathonThrough out the entire training, Amy was also encouraging and selfless. Even when she was injured and not feeling well she always gave it her all, encouraging me to give it my all.

I have always enjoyed exercising, but Amy pushed me to get into the best shape of my life. I am a better runner and cyclist since my Tough Mudder training. And by being in excellent shape I have started training for my first triathlon. Never prior to my Tough Mudder training or working out with Amy, would I have ever thought of training for this type of event. But I know I can do it!

The Tough Mudder event was a blast! The Tough Mudder event wasn’t as tough as I thought, because of the training readiness facilitated by Amy.

Amy bring on the next challenge.

~ Dr. Stephine

Are you looking for a fitness challenge? Stay tuned for an exciting announcement from Team AVC,  with big plans for additional training involving a special destination event in 2014.