An Interview with Dr. Hays Estes

We sat down with Dr. Hays Estes ahead of his seminar at CrossFit ABF to discuss his background and why functional screening is an important step in the CrossFit journey.

How did Premier Physical Therapy & Sports Performance get started in the Clearwater area?

Premier Physical Therapy started around twelve years ago. Eric Schweitzer, the original owner, had a background with endurance athletes. So, he built up a clientele of those athletes, which we still see. He decided to step away and retire, but he wanted to keep the business as a private practice.

I was in the corporate world, but was getting burned out by the business model. I wasn’t able to deliver the quality of care that I knew I could deliver. We were introduced by a mutual friend a few years ago, and I eventually joined Premier as Eric’s successor so he could step away. I became the owner a little over a year ago. My background is strength and conditioning related, but I still love my runners.

Based on his running background and yours in strength and conditioning, I guess your prime demographic really is CrossFitters.

Exactly. In addition to my degree, I sought out certification in related fields. I’ve worked as a CSCS. I’m a USAW Level 1 Certified Coach. I don’t plan on training athletes, but I need to have a background and something behind my name. I can say, “Listen, I know what these movements are and I know how to break down these movements. I can get you back to doing these movements with the people that are going to train you and progress you.

What are some general inefficiencies you see in CrossFitters?

A lot of what we do is education. We see a lot of “overuse” injury or repeat injury, where there’s a lot of cumulative effect on the body. Maybe you do handstand push-ups on day one of the week and cleans on day two. A couple days later you’re going to do some snatches, then some strict military presses, The next thing you know, you’re having trouble just lifting your shoulder up to wash your hair.

You can do all these things, but we need to modify the intensity, or maybe we need to talk about taking a day off here and there. I do as much as I can to keep people going as often as they want to, but a lot of CrossFit injuries, and research supports it as well, comes down to overuse.

It’s nothing against CrossFit itself. I love CrossFit. I think it’s great. But, I think people want to push themselves to the limit and forget that the body needs a chance to recover.

Additionally, CrossFit certified coaches teach proper technique, but they scale down very easily. I take it down to a muscle-specific level. If I see someone’s shoulder caving in on a snatch, I don’t just automatically modify and say we need to do cleans or squats. It’s more like, “Okay, I need to figure this out.” Is it your middle trap? Is it your lower trap? If so, there’s a specific way we can get that person back to that muscle group or that muscle itself.

This shows ignorance on my part, but if I’ve got something going on – I don’t segment it out. I say “my traps.” I don’t designate a certain, particular muscle and work on that individual spot. I’m sure that’s something most people don’t do, either.

Let’s talk about what happens if you modify your workout. Are you going to hit that muscle group? Yes, you probably are.

But, part of what I do is determine what you can do. Just because you can do one thing doesn’t mean that you can’t do another. There’s a step-by-step process to gradually expose people to those types of movements to get them back to it.

So what are you going to cover in the seminar?

Well, we’re not going to cover mobility. We’re going to assume that everyone has perfect mobility and that mobility, or lack thereof, is not playing a role in somebody’s pain.

I’ll take people through the same functional screenings I use for my patients. A functional screening for CrossFitters is pretty high level, but I can modify them for lower level patients, too. I’ll pull a volunteer and, based off what we find, we’ll go through how I diagnose and provide corrective exercises.

We’ll do some breakout sessions, have people practice these exercises and then go from there. If your mobility is great, but you have some areas of weakness… you’ll have some exercises you can do. If those don’t help, you really need to come see me.

To learn more about Dr. Hays Estes or his practice, please attend his seminar at Crossfit ABF on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM.



Premier Physical Therapy & Sports Performance is a physical therapy clinic that employs only doctors of physical therapy who treat and diagnose musculoskeletal aches and pains, weakness and balance, as well as specializing in headaches and vertigo. The clinic is also a 5x “Best of the Bay” winner for physical therapy. Learn more at


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Amy Bell has always been into sports and fitness all her life, starting soccer at a very young age, playing competitively through high school. Once she started college, being an athlete and staying fit wasn’t really important to her at the time but quickly realized she needed to do something to get her fitness back in check. Her sister participated in CrossFit for over a year before she finally talked Amy into trying it. Once Amy did, she was hooked. She started CrossFit in Georgia as she finished her bachelor’s degree and then moved to Florida. Shortly after her move to Clearwater, planning on testing different gyms in the area, she bought a Groupon for ABF as her first one and stayed, never trying anywhere else.

Amy enjoys the community, the programming and the overall atmosphere of ABF. She been with ABF for four years now, making huge improvements to her fitness and dialing in on her nutrition. CrossFit has become a passion and a lifestyle for Amy. Working in the medical field, she realized how important fitness and nutrition are and if more people could make this kind of lifestyle change, even just a small change, there could be less people with illnesses and more living healthier lives. CrossFit has also given Amy the competitiveness she’s always loved playing sports, competing against other athletes at ABF as well as competing in local competitions and the CrossFit Open.

She has been a large part of how we’ve kept the gym clean the last three years. She has been planning to coach for some time now and finally completed her CrossFit Trainer O-L1 course in September 2021 to become an official coach at ABF. She is excited to be able to share her passion with others, to encourage and help fellow athletes reach their fitness goals.


CrossFit Level 1 Certification



Brandi fell in love with all things barbell after watching the CrossFit games in 2012. She hadn’t been into sports or fitness in her younger years, but had been looking for ways to improve her strength and conditioning between a desk job and being a mom. After failing to make much headway in a standard globo-gym, she bought a Groupon for a local CrossFit box and immediately realized there was no turning back. The supportive community and infinite scalability of CrossFit has kept her engaged and coming back for more. Years later, Brandi continues to grow into a well-rounded athlete.

Her passion and dedication has lead fellow athletes to look to her for guidance on their lifts, so when Brandi was offered the chance to coach she jumped at it. Brandi earned her ABF L1.5 in 2020 and runs our foundations program. If you’re new to CrossFit, she will likely be your first coach.


CrossFit Level 1 Certification



Fitness has always been a piece of her life, but things didn’t change until she found a Groupon for CrossFit ABF. Andrea gave ABF a chance after years of attending a regular gym that left her wanting more out of fitness. This was the best choice she made as it combines her love of being social with new and old friends and a newfound love of lifting weights and pushing herself to the limits. CrossFit ABF has shown her what a FitFam really means as she looks forward to working out with them every week.

Andrea is an inspiring mother to her daughter Layla and her giant fur babies, Storm and Thunder. You can catch Andrea killing a workout, rollerblading down the causeway, or enjoying a night out line dancing (yes, she loves her country music!). She enjoys the adventures of life and encourages others to strive towards their goals. Andrea continues to take her skills to the next level and wants to be there to help you do the same.


CrossFit Level 1 Certification



Amber Krumn, lovingly referred to as “Krumncake,” joined CrossFit ABF (and the overall discipline of CrossFit) in 2017 after she grew tired and bored of the “typical” gym atmosphere. Different from anything she’d done before, she grew to enjoy CrossFit due to its varied workout types. Every day’s workout finally became exciting! An avid runner, Krumncake also fell in love with the sporting aspect of CrossFit. Recently, she’s become more interested in the nutritional aspects of functional fitness and you’ll often find her trying to improve the sport’s various skills, which, in turn, make the sport all the more challenging.



CrossFit Level 1 Trainer



Ryan McElhaney is a CrossFit Level II Trainer, USAW Level II Coach, CrossFit Gymnastics, and CrossFit Movement and Mobility Certified. He has been an athlete for as long as he can remember. His father built box jumps and agility courses in the backyard rather, than sending him to summer camps. He’s participated in soccer, track & field, cycling, golf, basketball, paddle boarding, 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and extreme napping.

In February of 2012, he realized that he needed more than what the standard Globo-Gym could offer, so he finally took the advice of a good friend and gave CrossFit a try. He was hooked somewhere between 3-2-1 Go! and the gut-wrenching feeling of never having conquered a workout like this before. Continuously-varied challenging workouts, strong community support, constant improvement, and a proper diet are what fueled his passion to coach and inspire others to share in his success. Two years later he completed the CrossFit Level I Trainer course followed by CrossFit Movement & Mobility.

“I love to coach, it’s the highlight of my day when one of my athletes becomes proficient in a lift or movement and I’m extremely passionate about helping others improve their fitness. I’m also a big fan of any career that promotes flip flops and t-shirts as the standard work uniform… coaching!”

Ryan is married to Linda and they have an adorable puppy named Bella.


CrossFit Level II Trainer


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