The power of transformation

  • Jason Blasco / The Garden Island

    CrossFit owners Adam Tabalno and wife Marisa get cozy Saturday morning at their newly acquired gym in Lihu‘e. The Tabalnos, who took over ownership in 2020, now have nearly 100 members.

  • Jason Blasco / The Garden Island

    CrossFit instructor Marcus Stevens, right, instructs member Joseph Temple during a session Saturday afternoon in Lihu‘e.

  • Jason Blasco / The Garden Island

    CrossFit instructor Marcus Stevens, right, examines the form of member Joseph Temple during an exercise Saturday afternoon at the Lihu‘e gym.

LIHU‘EDozens of pictures of various Kaua‘i CrossFit members involved in numerous activities are displayed above the workout area of the Lihu‘e location, like family snapshots.

The clients’ pictures are as diverse as their individual fitness needs when they walk in the door.

The photos aren’t just pictures of people going on vacation or achieving new milestones in their hikes or marathons, according to new Kaua‘i CrossFit owner Adam Tabalno. They are stories of a subtle transformation.

The success is the result of participating in a CrossFit program that never is monotonous.

Tabalno, who began in the fitness industry during his teenage years residing in Roosevelt, California, has been involved with CrossFit since 2011, and even owned and operated another franchise on the East Coast.

As a military veteran of over 20 years, Tabalno claims he has never found a workout as beneficial as CrossFit.

CrossFit, which is a form of high-intensity interval training combined with a strength conditioning workout, allows for functional movements that you perform, such as squatting, pulling and pushing. It is a workout that never gets monotonous because it incorporates a combination of these different elements with each session.

According to Tabalno, who purchased the Lihu‘e franchise in early 2020 after being a member of the location for four years, this type of workout can be tailored to suit all fitness levels and goals.

“We have everyone from college students to anesthesiologists to older gentlemen and moms here,” Tabalno said. “Every type of person that you can think of is involved here at CrossFit, and it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Every day is a new workout, so it keeps your interest at a level high. The enemy is the routine, and we don’t want that.”

Tabalno met his wife Marisa Tabalno at a CrossFit gym on O‘ahu. She collaborates with him in the business to help achieve results.

Marisa Tabalno is a nurse practitioner at Wilcox Medical Center, and works with Adam Tabalno to help clients achieve optimal results.

“A big piece of it is the programming. We know the community, and Adam is quite the genius behind that,” she said. “We emphasize a balance, and teach them that you can change at the moment. I can tap into my background of fitness physiology of the human body to help change things for people.”

Creating a natural high

Howard Chen, an anesthesiologist working at Wilcox Medical Center who has been involved with CrossFit since last December, has seen the significant benefits of working out.

“It is hard to objectively measure it because, after a workout, you feel so tired and good,” Chen said. “This is better than a natural epinephrine shot. It is best for your health and stress, and to modify your workout. It releases endorphins, and it is a natural benefit for me.”

Gracia Stark used CrossFit as a coping mechanism to overcome her battle with anorexia.

“It is just a great way for me to get in shape, stay strong and not get sick all the time,” Stark said. “It keeps me ready for things in life. My dad, who was cutting down a tree, had to cut the tree in each piece, and needed help lifting those things, and because I was working out consistently, I was just ready for anything.”

Check your ego at the door

The methodology of CrossFit establishes various rules to live by when you begin a class.

Some of them include leaving your ego at the door, and discussing your fears with the trainers and coaches to help you overcome them.

A portion of the Kaua‘i CrossFit mission statement reads like this: “…is to provide world-class coaching in a welcoming, diverse environment, to create a value-based system of operations to help positively transform lives and promote a deep sense of health within our community.”

These include Tabalno’s core values: fitness, faith, ‘ohana and resilience.

A fitness sanctuary

The Tabalnos understand that walking in the door requires courage.

“It takes a few leaps of faith, and we try to work on small goals for our clients,” Marisa Tabalno said. “We work with each client differently, depending on what their background is and what we can do to help achieve their goals.”

She said she obtains a spiritual connection with the gym in addition to the physical benefits.

Kaua‘i CrossFit, which now boasts nearly 100 members, has allowed her to grow.

“The gym has always been my church, and we now have close to 100 members,” she said. “People come here to talk story, work out, and it truly becomes a community. These communities bring more people. This was especially important to allow them to bring themselves together to give them emotional relief and see benefits on the physical side of things.”


Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or

  1. Dran Dana August 4, 2020 3:30 am Reply

    I’m sorry is this the sports section or the paid for advertising section? I thought this was gonna be some kind of story. Unclear on why anyone needs to read this.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.