Personal Reflection on a Six Year Endeavor

Six years may seem like a long time to work towards a goal, but for Nicolette Palermo, the journey is worth every bit of success and setback.

Palermo started CrossFit in 2011 and completed her first Open in 2012 as a member of CrossFit Lodi. It was after that Regional she realized a new goal – to compete at the Regional level as an individual athlete.

Life answered and in March of 2013, Palermo moved to Mississippi to begin her nursing career. Fate brought her to the doorstep of CrossFit Iron Sharp and OPEX Remote Coach Mike McElroy. It wasn’t long after discussing some of Palermo’s goals that McElroy moved her to an individual design program and started her road to Regional’s.


In 2017, Palermo achieved her goal and competed in the California Regional as an individual athlete. Through injuries, career challenges and a move across the country, McElroy worked with Palermo to design a program that turned goals into reality.

What changed for you when you started with OPEX and an individually designed program?

I was fortunate enough to spend my first year with Mike training with him side by side, so we were able to develop a much closer relationship. A lot of what came from that first year was friendship and trust to be able to talk to him about things that weren’t necessarily about training but affected my training and we are still at that same comfort level even though we’re across the country.

What is your coach/athlete relationship like?

To me coaching is more than just programming. What Mike provides for me is a lot of lifestyle things too. I have a very stressful career and it’s a huge balancing act trying to balance my nursing schedule and my training life. Every week is different for me. If in the middle of the week something isn’t going right, we’ll change everything right there and make adjustments based on my stress levels and how that affects my training. Mike has programmed for me during my first year of nursing school and through injuries – the coaching/athlete relationship is something I wouldn’t give up for the world.

Has the program always worked for you or have you had challenges?

I left Mike for about a year. I was burned out on CrossFit and was balancing my career and training and didn’t really know what it was [I was looking for] at the time but I knew I just had to figure it out, so I took time off and did whatever I wanted. I realized that my career had to come first because my career has longevity. CrossFit is something I’m probably always going to do, whether a competitive nature or I’m just showing up for my one hour a day class. But, I know an athletic career has a life span to it and I had to figure that out.

What is your favorite thing your coach tells you?

“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

               – OPEX Remote Coach Mike McElroy

I’ll often say this to myself before a workout because there’s this anxiety and hype and it’s really easy to go out way too fast. If you think about slowing down just a little bit, but you’re still moving smoothly, typically you can out run somebody else if not everybody else.

What area have you seen the most improvement?

I think there’s two:

  1. My overall mental approach has changed dramatically
  2. My gymnastics are more evolved now.

Anything you want to add that you think is important?

The biggest thing is I’ve spent six years training for a goal, the goal was to get to Regional’s. This year was the year I finally met that goal, the first time as an individual athlete at 30 years-old with a full-time career and I think that speaks for itself. People need to realize if you want something, you have to really work hard for it.

If you make that commitment, its damn well worth it in the end and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t or you are too old or too busy or you have too much going on.

I’m like “no.” I’m going to figure this out. I’m going to make this work and that’s exactly what I did. Don’t stop working. Just don’t. Don’t stop, you can put your head down and just do the work and you’ll get there…

It’s difficult to find balance the between your career and competition.

Start optimizing your lifestyle and aligning your training for competition by consulting with an OPEX Coach today.