Favorite WLC Snack
I eat them like apples.
I’m a self-improvement junkie, a nut-job, an early adopter, a tinkerer, a quick-start, and a life-explorer. I walk my talk, love change, and love to work on developing and improving myself — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have lived my life based on the words my grandfather taught me, “Never stop learning. Never stop growing.”
I spent the first twenty years of my life surrounded by music. The son of two classical musicians, I played at least ten instruments by the time I reached high school. My favorite (and the one I truly excelled at) was the trumpet, culminating in my acceptance to the Eastman School of Music as a college freshman.
Many things changed for me at school, including my interest in studying music. I left the trumpet behind, joined a fraternity, and got involved in intramural sports. I had earned a Naval ROTC scholarship to attend college, and by sophomore year, became a Marine “option”. Upon graduation, I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Four years as a Marine took me all over the world, including into the Middle East for Operation Desert Storm. I was in charge of groups from as small as four to as many as 200. Many of the leadership and character traits I possess today are the result of my training and experiences as a United States Marine.
Wanting to experience more of life outside the military, I elected to leave the USMC after four years, and landed in the world of outside sales and engineering. With a continued desire for action and adventure, I began mountain biking, mountaineering, and spending time in the great outdoors. Quite by accident I discovered the Eco Challenge, a 350-mile, adventure race, requiring teamwork, outdoor, endurance and navigational skills. It sounded so radical, epic, impossible, and “fun”, that I knew I had to find a way to do it! I went “all-in”, writing a check for $10k (which I didn’t have) to register my team (that didn’t exist). It changed the course of my life.
For eight years, I participated in dozens of adventure races that varied in length from three hours to seven days, and became known for my ability to navigate in the wilderness, carry heavy loads, get through obstacles quickly, and persevere in even the worst conditions. I also started snowboarding, outrigger paddling, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing and long distance running. My efforts eventually earned our adventure racing team a sponsorship from Red Bull.
In training for sport, I developed a hunger for knowledge about the body and how it works. After getting certified as a massage therapist, I left my job as a sales rep and started working in nutrition at Gold’s Gym, Venice. I also went back to school to learn as much as I could about the body, nutrition, and movement. I found teachers, attended seminars, and enrolled in programs at both UCLA and the internationally renowned C.H.E.K Institute. I also started a personal training business that focused on strength, conditioning, endurance, corrective exercise, and health and well-being. Over eight years, I built a strong and consistent clientele.
It was in 2004 that I stumbled upon CrossFit. The philosophy was in direct alignment with mine, and the workouts stunned me in their difficulty, adaptability, and simplicity. Testing the program out for three months, I saw all aspects of my general physical preparedness improve. I was hooked. I attended my first of many certifications, and later that year, opened one of the first ever CrossFit affiliates in the world, Petranek Fitness (aka CrossFit Los Angeles).
By 2011 I had grown the gym to over 350 members and I had started to teach my business methods to other affiliate owners. I had also trained myself into the best shape of my life. This lead to qualifying for and competing in the 2009 CrossFit Games as an individual, and in the 2011 Games as a member of my affiliate team.
In spite of my personal athletic achievements, as a coach I focused my attention on the “normal” people of the world – business people, moms, dads, public servants, writers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, etc. These were the people who had real-life challenges, commitments to work and family, time constraints, sleep issues, stress. They wanted help improving their lives in order to look and feel better, and be in a healthier state of mind and body. This singular focus, and my strong desire to empower people to change their own lives was the impetus for the first iteration of the Whole Life Challenge. It was a gamified and community-based extension of what I had been doing for years – helping clients stay committed to make better choices each day, outside of the gym, where it really mattered, in their everyday lives.
The Challenge was a massive hit among our community as it kept them engaged and helped them develop new, sustainable habits. These habit changes had major, life-changing implications – reducing stress levels, increasing quality and quantity of sleep, losing weight, building confidence, lowering blood pressure, getting off of medications, and reducing symptoms of diabetes. It also had a major impact on building teamwork and community.
The Challenge grew from 150 players in 2011 to over 22,000 worldwide in 2017. Now a small, successful start-up company, it has been responsible for changing the fitness, health, confidence, and lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Today, I continue to live by my grandfather’s words. I’m a huge believer in coaching, and have worked with them consistently over 20 years to broaden my view of the world and grow expansively. I’ve studied Zen Buddhism, attended countless personal growth seminars, earned a Master’s Degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica, and now work with a very select few individuals as a life coach, in addition to being the co-CEO of the Whole Life Challenge.
I coach kids soccer and baseball, love to backcountry ski and snowboard. I also run, mountain bike, surf, read, meditate, journal, CrossFit, and practice handstands. I live in Los Angeles with my wife, Julia, and son, Dashel, who both challenge me to learn and grow daily.