The Roundtable Advisory Group has expertise in one or more areas of fitness, health, performance, and coaching. The Spartan Coaching Team consults with the Roundtable regarding the latest trends in the field to ensure that we are providing content that is relevant and timely for our fitness practitioners.
JOE DESENAFounder & CEO Spartan Race
All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable in our own lives. We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make things easier, seeking what we consider personal fulfillment. We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can't, and we become conditioned to that distinction. It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves. Enter Joe DeSena, the man who will turn that world upside down.
Growing up in Queens, Joe's mother valued healthy eating and living and passed on that value system to Joe. It's been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune. He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape. Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.
It's also well-documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion. His racing resume is the stuff of legends - over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone. Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix. (He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was "adorable.")
To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra... in one week. For those that don't know or just don't want to hear the gory details, the elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120's. Joe also rode cross-country to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined "The Toughest 48 hours in sport." It's no wonder his favorite quote is, "Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it."
In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never been done. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles. Racers couldn't and wouldn't know what to expect. The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive. The race waiver consists of three words: "I may die." It doesn't get any more real than that. No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end. And don't expect any love from Joe or the volunteers. They want to break these people, make them quit. Joe's been quoted as saying, "There's no light at the end of the tunnel. We're basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?"
MARK DIVINEFounder & CEO U.S. Tactical
Mark Divine is from upstate New York and did his formal undergraduate education at Colgate University. His years at Colgate University were focused on athletic endeavors such as competitive swimming, rowing and triathlon racing, interrupted by brief episodes of academic activity. After graduation from "the Gate" Mark started his professional career as a CPA with Coopers & Lybrand in New York City. Clients included luminous and no-longer existent financial firms such as Solomon Brothers and Paine Weber.
Four painful years later, with an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business and a CPA in his briefcase, he left behind the suit to pursue his inner vision to become a Navy SEAL officer. He was 26 when he graduated as honor-man (#1 ranked trainee) of his SEAL BUD/s class 171. Mark was fortunate to serve with many great men and women on active duty for nine years and in the reserves for eleven - retiring at the rank of Commander in 2011.
After leaving active duty in 1997, Mark started his second business career as an entrepreneur. He co-founded the successful Coronado Brewing Company and launched NavySEALs.com in the year he left the active duty Navy. NavySEALs.com is the leading web site for gear and information about the SEALs. US Tactical was next, gaining contracts with Naval Special Warfare Group ONE for training support, and the Navy Recruiting Command for a nationwide mentoring program for SEAL, SWCC, EOD and Diver candidates.
Mark's business career was interrupted by a stint as an Adjunct Professor of Leadership at the University of San Diego, where he was pursuing his Doctorate in Leadership, then by a one year recall to active duty in 2004. The recall took him to Baghdad with SEAL Team One to conduct a special project for Naval Special Warfare Command surrounding the role of the USMC in Special Operations.
In 2007 he launched his CrossFit affiliate and the now internationally known SEALFIT program to provide transformational personal and team training experiences. The training utilizes an integrated warrior development model he developed, called Unbeatable Mind, which draws from his 20 years as a SEAL and business leader, 25 years as a martial artist and 15 years as yoga practitioner.
SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind are uniquely effective at elevating clients to a higher level of operating, thinking and leading - encompassing the full spectrum of human experience - Body, Mind and Spirit in Self, Team and Organization.
Certifications, experience, honors:
- CPA, New York State
- BUD/s class 170 Honor man
- SEAL TEAM 3 Platoon CDR
- Commanding Officer, NR SEAL TEAM 1
- Commander, US Navy Reserves
- Colonel, Kentucky Order of Colonels
- Ambassador, SEAL (NSW) Foundation
- Ashtanga Yoga Instructor training
- Combat Defense Master Trainer
- S.C.A.R.S. Military H2H instructor
- Seido Karate: black belt
- Goju Ryu Karate: black belt
- Saito Ninjutsu: brown belt
- Various CrossFit and Self Defense certifications
JEFF FUNICELLOAmerican Pankration Master Instructor
- 2010 World Championships, Beach Wrestling
- 2010 World Championships, Submission Grappling (No Gi)
- 2010 World Championships, Submission Grappling (Gi) ~ Bronze Medal
- 2009 World Championships, Submission Grappling (No Gi) ~ 5th place
- 2009 World Championships, Submission Grappling (Gi) ~ 5th place
- 2009 World Championships, Beach Wrestling
- 2008 World Championships, Beach Wrestling ~ Bronze Medal
- 2008 World Cup, Submission Grappling ~ Bronze Medal
- 2007 World Championships, Beach Wrestling ~ Bronze Medal
- 2007 World Championships Sambo ~ 7th
- 2007 World Championships Submission Grappling (DQ)
- 2006 Pan American Masters Judo ~ Silver Medal
- 2006 Pan American Open Weight Masters Judo ~ Silver Medal
- 2006 Pan American Masters Judo Team Cup ~ Gold Medal
- 2004 France, Henri De'glane International ~ 5th
- 2004 Pan American Wrestling Championships ~ Silver Medal
- 2002 Sunkist International Open ~ 4th
- 2002 Bulgaria, Petrov Tournament ~ 6th
- 2001 Dave Schultz Memorial Classic Silver Medal ~ 2nd
- 2000 Sunkist International Open Silver Medal ~ 2nd
- 2000 Arizona, USA vs. Germany Dual Champion
- 1999 Sunkist International Open Bronze Medal ~ 3rd
- 1998 Concord Cup International Open Bronze Medal ~ 3rd
- 1997 Sunkist International Open ~ 4th
- 1997 Concord Cup International Open ~ 4th
- 1997 Winter Classic International Bronze Medal ~ 3rd
- 1997 Cuba, Gramma Cup Championships ~ 5th
- 1996 Michigan International Open Bronze Medal ~ 3rd
- 2010 Final World Beach Wrestling Team Trials ~ Bronze (3rd Place)
- 2010 US National Beach Wrestling Championship ~ Gold (Champion)
- 2009 World Submission Team Trials/National Championships ~ 4th (All American)
- 2009 Final World Beach Wrestling Team Trials ~ Silver (2nd Place)
- 2009 US National Beach Wrestling Championships ~ Silver (2nd Place)
- 2008 Final World Submission Team Trials ~ 5th Place (All American)
- 2008 World Submission Team Trials Qualifier ~ Gold/Champion
- 2008 Final World Beach Wrestling Team Trials Silver ~ Silver/2nd Place
- 2008 US National Beach Wrestling Championships ~ Gold/Champion
- 2008 US Final Olympic Trials ~ 8th Place
- 2008 Northern Plains Olympic Qualifier ~ Gold/Champion
- 2008 Northeast Regional Olympic Qualifier ~ Bronze
- 2008 East Regional World Team Trials ~ Bronze
- 2007 East Regional World Submission Team Trials ~ Bronze
- 2007 National Sambo Team Member
- 2007 US National Sambo Championships Silver ~ 2nd
- 2004 Final Olympic Team Trials ~ 8th
- 2004 West Regional Olympic Trials Champion2003 World Team Trials ~ 8th
- 2003 Northeast Regional World Team Trials Champion
- 2003 Rocky Mountain Regional World Team Trials ~ Bronze
- 2002 Rocky Mountain Regional World Team Trials Champion
- 2000 South Regional Olympic Trials ~ Gold/Champion
- 2000 Central Regional Olympic Trials ~ Silver
- 2000 West Regional Olympic Trial ~ Silver
- 2000 East Regional Olympic Trials ~ Bronze
- 1998 Arizona Submission Wrestling Champion
- 1997 American Grappling Champion
- 1996 Central Regional Olympic Trials ~ Gold/Champion
- 1996 West Regional Olympic Trials ~ Bronze
- 1996 East Regional Olympic Trials ~ Bronze
- 1995 AAU National Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion
- 1995 Grand Canyon State Games Champion
- 1995 American Grappling Unlimited Champion
- 1991 Southwest Regional Judo Champion
- 1990 Arizona State Judo Champion
- 1990 Arizona Amateur Kickboxing Champion
- Graduated from Arizona State University BFA Fine Arts (Wood/Sculpture) 1995
- 1989-1994 Arizona State ASU Wrestling Team member (Varsity Team 1992-1994)
- Founded American Pankration in 1990
- Kickboxing: Coached by Grand Master Andy Bowman
- Judo: Coached by Olympian Peter Renick
- Coached at ASU by Bobby Douglas & Lee Roy Smith
- Became Sunkist Kids Wrestling Team Member while wrestling at ASU
- Team-mates/training partners with:
- Dan Henderson
- Heath Sims
- Randy Couture
- Don Frye
- Dan Severn
- Kevin Jackson
- Mark Kerr
- Rulon Gardener
- Assisted in training of UFC's (Team Phoenix) pioneering Champions from above list
- Training partner for Pride Champion Dan Henderson/Team Quest Training Camp
- Wrestled for Sunkist Kids, Coached by 1982 Greco-Roman World Champion Roman Wroclawski, Bob Anderson, & 1976 Olympian John Mathews
- Voted Most Up & Coming Greco-Roman Wrestler of the year in 1996
- Voted USA Wrestling's Most Versatile Combative Athlete 2008
- 3 X World Championship Team Member (Submission Grappling)
- 3 X World Championship Team Member (Submission Grappling, Gi)
- 1 X World Cup Team Member (Submission Grappling)
- 4 X World Team Member (Beach Wrestling)
- 1 X World Team Member (Sombo)
- 4 X US Olympic Alternate (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) Greco-Roman Wrestling
- 4 X US Final Olympic Team Trials Qualifier (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) Greco-Roman Wrestling
- 2 X US World Team Trials Final Qualifier Greco-Roman Wrestling
- 2 X US World Team Trials Final Qualifier Submission Grappling
- 2 X US National Champion Beach Wrestling
- 2 X US National Championship Finalist Beach Wrestling
- 2 X US World Team Trials Finalist Beach Wrestling
- 1 X US World Team Trials Finalist Sombo
- 1 X AAU National Wrestling Champion Greco-Roman
- 8 X All American 3X Greco-Roman, 1X Sombo, 2X Submission Grappling, 2X Beach Wrestling
- 1 X US Pan American Team member (Silver Medal)
- Training partner for Pride World Champion Dan Henderson/Team Quest Training Camp
- A Sunkist Kids Wrestling Team member for 20 years
- A Volunteer Alumni Wrestling Coach at ASU
- An American Pankration Master Instructor Since 1990
- Starting to work Combatives program with US Special Forces Groups
- Awarded Congressional Citation 11/20/08
- Member of Team USA 2009 World Champions
- Team American Pankration Head coach & Team Captain, (2009 US National Championship Team Title winners) in Submission Grappling, at 2009
- US World Team Trials 10/22-24/09, qualifying 7 American Pankration athletes for 2009 World Championships.
- Member of Team USA 2010 World Champions
International Competition sites competed in:
All over the US, 1995 Sweden, 1995 Finland, 1997, 1998, 1999 Cuba (3X), 1998, 1999, 2002 Hungary (3X), 1997, 2002 Greece (2X), 1998 Italy, 2003,2009 Bulgaria (2X), 2004 Guatemala, & 2004 France, 2007 Turkey, 2008 Albania, 2010 Poland, 2010 Montenegro.
Countries Trained in:
1997,98, 99 Mexico, 2001 Germany, 2001 Japan, & all over the US, including much time spent at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
CHRIS GAGNONFounder & CEO CrossCycle Fitness
Private in-home personal trainer, and professional endurance off-road cyclist with over 25 solo 24 hour races.
Chris currently resides in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts where he has developed a professional in-home private personal training business. As a current elite endurance cyclist, Chris has recently combined his functional training knowledge with the world of cycling and developed a one-of-a-kind workout program called CrossCycle. Chris' is experienced working with youth and adults of all abilities however mainly enjoys working with the true fitness enthusiast and athlete looking to take their training to the next level.
Asides from motivating clients to reach personal goals and establishing life-long relationships, Chris spends a lot of time practicing what he preaches outdoors on the trails or in the snow; hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and creating healthy meals in the kitchen.
- Tufts University (BFA)
- School of the Museum of Fine Arts (BFA)
- ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association)
- NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
- Mad Dogg (Spinning)
- Schwinn Indoor Cycling
- Adult, Child, & Infant CPR & AED
Chris has numerous athletic achievements including:
- 32nd overall of 1400 Spartan Vermont Beast - 2011
- 1st overall 12 hours of Bradbury - 2011
- 2nd overall 12 hours of Millstone - 2011
- 15th overall BC Bike Race - 2011
- 1st overall Solo 24 hours of Great Glen - 2010
- 3rd overall 12 hours of Bradbury - 2010
- Completion of 24 solo 24 hour mountain bike races - '02-'10
- World Solo 24 Hour Championships - '05,'06,'08,'09
- 1st overall 12 hours of Pats Peak - 2009
- 1st overall 12 hours of Great Glen - 2009
- 2nd overall 12 hours of Bradbury - 2009
- 3rd overall Solo 24 hour Granny Gear Series - 2007
- 1st overall 4-man pro team 24 hours of Great Glen - '05,'06,'07,'08
LIZ COTTERCertified Bikram Yoga Instructor 2002 Certified Advanced Bikram Yoga Practitioner 2005
Liz Cotter is from Washington State and did her undergraduate studies at Western Washington University. While at WWU she earned a four year letter in Crew leading the women's lightweight eight to a first place finish at West coast nationals in 1990 & 1991. Simultaneously liz trained for the US national rowing team. After completing a series of rigerous strength and endurance tests, her scores placed her seventh nationally landing a seat in a USA Olympic women's training team in 1991 & 1992. Rowing in a lightweight women's pair, she went on to train for the Olympic trials in 1992 only to miss an Olymic bid by 8/10ths of a second.
Committed to training, living a healthy lifestyle and feeling good, Liz continued to run competitively, teach snowboarding, enjoy mountaineering and stay active through her many entrepreneurial adventures including a ten year stint of international modeling. Landing back in NYC the Fall of 1999 with little time, and nowhere to run but on the streets, a dear friend introduced Liz to Bikram Yoga which was life changing. Soon she found herself skipping casting calls and readjusting her calendar just to make a daily or twice daily yoga class.
Following 9/11, Liz took a break from her work and NY to attend the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training looking at it as just a Vacation. With little knowledge of the practice except that it worked - once there she realized how life changing the 26 posture series really is transforming her from the inside out.
Graduating from Bikram's Yoga College of India in 2002 Liz chose to search out senior teachers and dive into all that was Bikram. She relocated to SF, a short drive from Bikram's LA headquarters and the home of many senior teachers; a hotbed for heath and nutrition. Liz taught and trained with Mary Jarvis, one of Bikrams' first and most demanding instructors for five years where a daily routine of teaching two classes, taking two classes as well as an advanced series workshop was routine. Competing in the first ever West Coast Yoga Competition and two competitions following she was able to foster her competitive spirit, while in the classroom understand and witness miracles happening daily. Simultaneously, Liz continued her modeling career appearing on the cover of Yoga Journal, Shape, and inside the pages of Natural Woman, and Fitness magazines to name a few. She studied at The Clayton College of Natural Medicine and started InBloom Foods. InBloom operated as a high end, raw delivery service & health education platform. They serviced both high end clients, families, cancer patients, group retreats, seminars and held regular nutrition and food demonstration classes with the SF Bay Club. Liz worked hand in hand with other health professionals in the Bay area including Dr. Gabriel Cousins, Dharma Mitra, Brian Clement of Hippocrates Inst. as well as high end main stream chefs such as Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klien. The goal: educate the masses on the importance of fundamental foods.
In 2005 Liz relocated to Vermont as part of the team to revitalize that which is now Pittsfield. She started and successfully runs Riverside Farm Weddings, against all odds started her own Bikram Yoga Studio in a town of 400 and manages a thriving Bikram Yoga retreat business with Lynn Whitlow which offers the best of all things Bikram Yoga and Raw foods.
- Life Coach
- Public Speaker
- Wrestling - Nationally certified coach.
- Have coached youth wrestling for 10 years, working with provincial and national champions. Competed at university level.
- Crossfit - 3 years as Crossfit athlete. Level 1 Crossfit Trainer.
- Running - Completed several marathon/ultramarathon distance races per year.
- Death Race - Finisher of both Spartan Death Race and Winter Death Race (5th Place)
- B.A. Psychology
- CHt - Certified Hypnotherapist (National Guild of Hypnotists)NCCP - National Coaching Certification Program (Level 2)
- PTS - Personal Trainer Specialist (Can Fit Pro - Canadian Fitness Professionals)
- Crossfit Level 1 Trainer Certificate
- Mindfulness Meditation practitioner and instructor
- Business Leader of the Year - Two-time Nominee
- Citizen of the Year - Two-time Nominee
- Certified Skydiver
- Certified Scuba Diver
- Certified Windsurfing Instructor