Crossfit Illumine (Niles)-Athlete of the Week: Oli Santos



Occupation: CDW – Sr. Account Manager

Illumine Family Member Since: June 2014

  1. How did you get started with CrossFit?An ex-coworker of mine decided to quit his day job one day and leave behind a lucrative business to start up a CrossFit gym. My initial thoughts were, “Man this guy is nuts!”  I tried to talk him off the ledge a few times but after hearing him vent that although the financial ramifications of this decision was idiotic, he simply was not happy.  I also had already seen his transformation over the past couple years from a guido looking, beer drinking, poor decision making man to this passionate, determined and most of all, ripped human specimen.  I thought of the days we did bro workouts at lunch and how much this guy hated to do legs and finding every excuse to tell me lets skip legs today! lol.  Then seeing videos with his shirt off back squatting hundreds of pounds and I thought to myself, “Wow this CrossFit stuff must work as this guy is willingly doing legs!”  He then of course tried to convince me this is for me.. yaddy ya, you all know that CrossFit sales pitch!  I was already doing functional training with a respectable trainer (Dr. Willes Ko), focusing on specific basketball movements so I felt no need to change my routine.  Then, the day that lives in infamy, my wife decided to On-ramp so I knew my time was limited in joining the community! Lol.  I did Murph last year even before I On-ramped and survived (disclaimer – some bro reps) but I did complete the whole wod by myself. (2 miles and everything ugh lol.)  But what striked me the most was how genuinely happy everyone was especially putting in all that work on a gruesome workout.  On top of that, I am a competitive guy and saw myself getting smoked in movements I thought I was great at.  So I decided:  “Screw it lets drink the kool aid and get after it!”
  2. Favorite and least favorite WOD and/or movement? Favorite movement: anything body weight related including burpees and box jumps! Least favorite: over head squats, I mean who the heck even invents a movement like that?!
  1. Give us a long term AND short term fitness goal: Long term would be to hang with the L2 macho’s and have lines in my stomach like them. Short term would be to be consistent on my form in anything barbell related as that is my achilles heel during workouts.  Is there a workshop that goes over how to breathe during those suckers?!
  1. What would you tell someone that is on the fence about CrossFit and not sure whether they should give it a try or not?Man up! lol.  The first impression that most folks have when seeing or hearing about CrossFit is, “Damn these fools are crazy!”  But what that really tells me is fear of trying something new.  So it’s easy to point the negativity in anything when your mind first tells you no I can’t do something, so you result to hating it!  If you try it and it’s not for you then so be it and find something that works for you.
  2. What is your proudest CrossFit accomplishment thus far?Signing up on Wodify and spending the best $200 and joining the community. I’ve always been in shape one way or another and go through cycles falling out of shape as well.  Being at Illumine each day you get pushed to your limits.  As long as you can walk your lazy butt through those doors, sky’s the limit in terms of your fitness.
  3. Tell us something about you that nobody knows, preferably an embarrassing story! I once ate Hooters, Buffalo Joes and Popeye’s in separate meals in 1 day, your coach Donny Diaz was a witness! Also, I love me some chick flicks!
  4. If you could workout with ANYONE…who would it be and why? Michael Jordan. He maybe the greatest but I may or may not be able to beat him in a wod that is in my wheelhouse! I’d also love to see his competitiveness and determination that made him the greatest.
  5. If you could have dinner with 3 people, any lifetime, who and why? 1. My dad to get a chance to see him again and introduce him to Tito’s! 2. Michael Jordan because he was my favorite athlete and idol growing up.  It would be interesting to hear his views and hearing stories of how he got to where is now.  Also he is a billionaire so I would order the whole menu! 3. Teressa Bellissimo (I know you are googling at this moment) for her brilliant invention that is responsible for 80% of my protein intake.
  1. What do you love most about Crossfit Illumine? The atmosphere! You walk in and you feel the energy of every athlete wanting to better themselves in one way or another. Illumine offers a plethora of different workshops and meal preparation that is flexible with what your goals truly are.
  2. What is your favorite quote and/or motto…one that you live by? “Practice?!? You talking about practice?!” “Allen Iverson” lol JK.

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, and others make it happen.” -Michael Jordan

“Happy wife, Happy life!”

Mind, Body, Beatz @ CrossFit Illumine – This Saturday Night @ 6pm!


Come out for a HUGE party that will stimulate your mind, body and spirit! Live music and breakdancing from the fusion band Satori Rebellion, live DJ Benny G, beginner CrossFit exercises, Sculpt Yoga, mind-centering Meditation and Barre Method! Stay for all or some! 10% of all ticket sales will benefit the Windy City Habitat for Humanity Chapter. Jump out to rejuvenate, energize, dance, and have fun with friends in the health-conscious community!

Here are the bios:

About the Hosts:
Brian Alexander – CrossFit Coach/Owner and Fitness Philosopher – CrossFit Illumine

Ben Garvey – Ben is a certified Sculpt Yoga instructor. He is a professional DJ and lead singer / guitarist of Satori Rebellion

Rod Gingrich-Rod is the bassist for Satori Rebellion and instructor at the Old Town School of Folk Music

Eric Lieb – Eric is a Mindfulness Trainer and the Director of Mindful Strides. He is the drummer for Satori Rebellion

Joann Noche – Barre Method/Ariel

Thursdays @ Illumine!

CrossFit Illumine – WOD

View Public Whiteboard


Coaches Choice


Split Jerk (1RM)

Take 15 minutes to find your 1RM split jerk! :)

Be quick! Get under it! Punch up!


That Burn Though. (AMRAP – Rounds and Reps)

12 Minute AMRAP:

50 Cal Row

50 Wall Balls (20/14)

20 Bar Facing Burpee Bar Hops

Tuesdays @ Illumine!

CrossFit Illumine – WOD

View Public Whiteboard


Coaches Choice


Turkish Get Up

Work up to a heavy weight per arm.


Hollow Body Hold

10 x 30 seconds


Metcon (No Measure)

20 Minute EMOM

1st minute: 5 Power Snatch @ 65% + 5 Burpee 6″ Target

2nd minute: Rest


Saturdays @ Illumine

CrossFit Illumine – WOD

View Public Whiteboard

Limjoco-licious (Time)

50 Deadlifts (225/145)

200m Partner Run

50 Clean & Jerks (135/95)

200m Partner Run

50 Power Snatches (96/65)

200m Partner Run

50 Overhead Squats (75/45)

800m Partner Run

1 partner works at a time

Thursdays @ Illumine!

CrossFit Illumine – WOD

View Public Whiteboard


Coaches Choice


14 Minute EMOM:

1st Minute: Strict Pull-ups

2nd Minute: :30 Hollow Body Holds

Focus more on quality rather than number of reps.

*Scale down with box pull-ups or less reps

*Scale up with C2B strict pull-ups


Metcon (Time)


500m row

25 Pullups

10 Thrusters (95/65)

Crossfit Illumine (Niles): Athlete Spotlight: Brian Alexander

Brian Alexander 2

Occupation: CrossFit Illumine – Founder/Coach/Philosopher

Illumine Family Member Since:  January 2012

1. How did you get started with CrossFit? I had always been a “Gym Rat” guy doing the typical Meathead stuff like Chest on Mondays and Back on Tuesdays etc…  As I got older I got stubborn with my routine and started getting fatter, lazier and unhappy with myself and who I had become (In the gym and in life).  Friends would tell me to try CrossFit and that I would love it but my answer was always, “I am too old for that crazy shit.” Then I saw the pictures from my bachelor party in Miami in the pool and was shocked.  How had I let myself go that badly?  The minute I got back and saw those pictures I googled the closest CrossFit gym and took the plunge.  From my very first “Baseline” I was obsessed and had found what I had been looking for all of my life in CrossFit.

2. Favorite and least favorite WOD and/or movement?  Favorite WOD – Fran. Favorite Movement – Muscle-up / Butterfly Pull-up. Least Favorite WOD – Kalsu. Least Favorite Movement: Pistol.

3. Give us a long term AND short term fitness goal:  Long Term Fitness Goal – Gymnastics Levers, Front rolls to supports, Iron Cross.  Pretty any high level Gymnastics movement. Short Term Fitness Goal – 100kg Snatch.

4.  What would you tell someone that is on the fence about CrossFit and not sure whether they should give it a try or not?  Seek out an affiliate that has a 12 day Onramp program like CrossFit Illumine.  Complete it, then if you decide it’s not for you at least you tried.  However, I haven’t met many people who haven’t loved it no matter what their fitness background is.  This stuff really is for EVERYONE!

5. What is your proudest CrossFit accomplishment thus far? At the risk of sounding corny, my proudest CrossFit accomplishment was in building CrossFit Illumine, the culture, the community and watching everyone fall in love with CrossFit the same way I had fallen in love with it.

6. Tell us something about you that nobody knows, preferably an embarrassing story! I used to sleep walk and wake up outside of my house, under my bed and in random places.  (Side Note from Editor: I also heard he was in a boy band.)

7. If you could workout with ANYONE…who would it be and why? Chris Spealler.  I admire and look up to the little guys, the giant slayers.  CrossFit as a sport is designed to find the Fittest person on earth regardless of weight-class, but you have to respect a guy that weighs 30 lbs less than the champions and holds his own.

8. If you could have dinner with 3 people, any lifetime, who and why? Budda, Jesus, and Steve Jobs.   From a philosophical standpoint I would love to hear what Budda and Jesus think of where we are today, where we are headed and if they are mad at Steve Jobs for ruining personal interaction with the iPhone and iPad.

9. What do you love most about Crossfit Illumine? The people.  I have been lucky enough to attract amazing people who believed in the message Illumine had to spread.  I truly believe CrossFit itself is amazing and it is really hard to screw this whole “CrossFit” thing up, but Illumine is one in a million when it comes to the people and culture we have here.

10. What is your favorite quote and/or motto…one that you live by?  This one is extremely tough for me.  I literally am a man of quotes, metaphors and analogies.  It is how I make sense of the world around me.  With that said, it I will leave you with the two on the walls of Illumine.  These quotes had a direct impact in the inspiration for the name Illumine and everything we have built up until this point.

We are our own worst enemies more often than not and everyone needs to continually remind themselves just how great they are.

Note from Brian. – Sometimes when you see someone you assume they have been that way their entire life.  You don’t know where they came from or where they are at in their journey.  When people see me they assume I have always been in shape, assume I always had self-discipline and assume I have always been an extremely motivated individual.  This is far from true.  I was actually a failure many times over.  I was lazy.  I made excuses.  I blamed everyone else for my problems.  Every day you wake up you have a choice.  You decide who you want to be that day.  If you aren’t happy with who you are then make a conscious effort to change.  Start small.  Fake it until you become it.  The power of habit is unlike anything in the world.  Every decision you make re-enforces a habit, good or bad our brain doesn’t distinguish between the two.

If you want to take a look into my mind at my one year point in CrossFit take a look at the blog I wrote.  I was a different person then.  I have grown so much as a human being and that is a good thing.  Every year, my goal is to look back at the previous year’s version of myself and be absolutely disgusted.  Not because I made bad decisions or I was a bad person, but because I have grown that much as a person over the last year.  Every year, aim to be better than the previous.  Everyday aim to be better than yesterdays version of yourself.  That is how you impact change.  Incrementally and consistently.

Brian’s old blog from 2011

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. our playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson

“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” – Man of Steel


Brian Alexander

Brian’s Journey with Crossfit & Paleo