228 NW 60th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
Bella Trachtenberg is an athlete, community advocate, and Archie’s best buddy. She is also celebrating her four-year Kodaversary.
Bella first started attending a gym to supplement her school sports training, and then she made her way to Koda. She was certainly one of the younger members, but as driven as anyone working out on the floor. “I remember both of my parents driving me and signing the waiver because I was in the 5th grade. I was too short to reach the rig, so when we were warming-up I couldn’t put the band on the rig and I refused to let anyone help me,” says Bella.
Her home class is in the early afternoon, and she would go everyday after school from 5th to 8th grade. There she became great friends with Mai Muse, co-owner of Koda. Later, Bella bounced around classes as life got busier, but the feeling of community no matter the class she attends. “Even being an awkward 10-year-old, I was always welcomed and treated with respect. In the toughest part of my life, it was the Koda community and coaches that were there for me unconditionally,” says Bella.
Bella says she became interested in CrossFit after reading a book called “Inside the Box.” She tried a scaled version of Fran on her own and she was hooked. That makes Fran, Bella’s favorite work out—bet you don’t hear that every day.
For Bella, Olympic lifts are the most rewarding movements. She recalls spending Saturdays with coach Solange and working on each piece of a lift understanding that breaking it down is the way to get it right. “The rush of endorphins after a PR is something I haven’t found anywhere else,” says Bella.
When she isn’t working out at Koda, Bella maintains an active lifestyle. She enjoys backpacking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Outdoor sports make her feel happy, and training at Koda makes Bella feel like she can get the most of her favorite sports.
Life is changing fast for Bella; she just graduated high school and will be moving to college soon. She isn’t leaving her team, though, because once Bella makes the move to college student, she will join Koda Iron View in Colorado. She looks forward to the relatively quick drive from her dorm room and plans to focus on gymnastics movements over the next year.
“Koda has been monumental in my happiness. The exercise part plays a large role in my mental health and the atmosphere gives me something to be a part of that is bigger than just myself,” says Bella.
Thank you for being part of the Koda community Bella. It has been a joy to watch you grow as a person and an athlete. We are excited for you to expand your education in Colorado along with your health and fitness at Koda Iron View.
Lauren Roton has much to celebrate. In the year 2020 she graduated as an M.D., welcomed her daughter Vivienne into the world, and is celebrating her four-year Kodaversary. Wow, that is a lot of cool stuff.
Lauren loves being competitive and feeling like she is part of a team. She played soccer throughout her childhood and had been a CrossFit athlete for some time before finding Koda, so she knows how happy the atmosphere of working with friends makes her feel. “…when I tried Koda I instantly knew this is where I belonged,” says Lauren.
She remembers her first workout was a partner workout with Koda Athlete Jessica Keaster who was 8.5 months pregnant at the time. Lauren says she remembers being impressed by how Jessica killed the workout, while Lauren felt being left in the dust.
Typically, you will find Lauren up bright and early in the 5:30am class. She says she loves seeing the same people every morning and enjoys experiencing the quiet in the gym not often found during the hustle and bustle of the evening classes. Before graduation, the morning hours also worked best because she would be able to get her training in before she had to go to school or clinical rotations. You may still see her some afternoons because she loves to stop in after work to visit with friends and lift something heavy.
Fran, believe it or not, is one of Lauren’s favorite workouts and the power clean is her favorite lifting movement. Though a good workout is its own reward, Lauren says she feels a special connection to the people and the atmosphere at Koda CrossFit. “I love when the girls get together some afternoons outside of a class and do a lifting session. I also love knowing that no matter what class I go to I will get a really good workout and good instruction,” says Lauren.
Of her most memorable moments as a Koda Athlete, Lauren is proud of being able to compete in the Fittest Experience pro division as an individual down in Austin. Originally, she has been training to try to make the regional team, but when that changed, she decided to set her sights on something different. “I worked with Brice individually for a couple of years leading up to this and it was such a fun experience learning how to tackle workouts and strategizing to play to my strengths,” says Lauren.
For her next year at Koda, Lauren says she is looking forward to making her return after having her daughter. She is excited to make her way back to the competition floor, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you when that day comes. Lauren, thank you for being a part of the Koda community, and we are so excited to welcome baby Vivienne into the world.
Rob Wienecke is one of those crazy folks who can, and does, get up to workout at 5:00 am. We are both impressed and excited to celebrate the fact that he’s been doing this with Koda now for four years! Rob comes from a background of endurance sports, including running, triathlon and biking. Rob says that he was enticed to give CrossFit a try after reading a book, called The Unbreakable Runner. The book mentions CrossFit as a supplement to high mileage runs as a way to reduce injury frequency and improve over multiple domains to support endurance sports.
Rob came into Koda, perhaps unsure of what to expect, for a private session with co-owner Brice Collier. “It was an eye opener for sure. I realized there was a lot to learn.” He has indeed learned a lot, and though there are still milestone movements that he’d like to master, such as the notorious muscle-up, he says he is proud of the strength he’s gained, and is most concerned with holding onto those gains.
He makes his gains by getting up early and taking care of business first thing in the morning. You can find him at the 5:00 or 5:30 am classes, after which he’ll go to work, leaving his evenings free to spend time with his family, which he mentions is of especially importance to him.
When asked how he stays motivated, he cites getting it done early as one contributor. “If I don’t get it done in the morning, it usually doesn’t happen.” Besides that, he credits weekly one-on-one sessions with Brice as a consistent motivator. “Koda is an impressive organization. It’s well-run and full of great people. Koda has been a very positive force in my life. I appreciate that Brice has been willing to wake up early for our sessions – now for four years!” Rob, Koda is impressed by your dedication and grateful for your presence as a force in the community.
The woman killing some squat cleans in a cat t-shirt is Katie Schneider. She is a fun loving, friendship building Kodite, and is celebrating four years with Koda CrossFit. Her decision to first visit Koda was to see what, then boyfriend now husband, Jacob, was spending so much time doing. Turns out, Koda became a home and community for Katie too.
Katie was a competitive cheerleader from fourth grade all the way to sophomore year of college. That’s a long time to build some specific skills that have translated well into her adult fitness. One of Katie’s favorite movements is the handstand walk, a notoriously challenging movement for many athletes.
Though she doesn’t remember her very first workout at Koda, she does remember that it included running, and she jokingly asked co-owner Jared Muse for her money back. Four years later, Katie doesn’t shy away from movements she finds difficult. She is especially proud of the growth she has seen in any gymnastics bar movement. It took her five months to get a kipping pull-up when she first started, and now she can do large sets of butterfly chest-to-bar pull-ups, as well as many other gymnastic skills. “It feels good to know that I worked to get these skills, and they didn’t come easily,” says Katie.
Katie goes to whichever class is most convenient, but considers the 5pm her home class. Some of her closest buddies attend that class too, so she enjoys the feeling of community. No matter what class she attends, it will be a good and challenging workout. “The programming keeps me on my toes. Just as soon as I feel comfortable in one area, I realize I have neglected another,” says Katie. Though her main goal is general fitness, Katie will never turn down a chance to do her all-time favorite movements: squat cleans and handstand walks.
One of Katie’s favorite Koda memories happened during the First Timer’s Open hosted at Koda. She won the squat clean ladder while all her friends were cheering her on. When she isn’t preparing to bring #KompKatie out for competition, you’ll find Katie taking pictures of her cats at home. Seriously, check out her Insta for some quality cat photos.
In her fifth year at Koda, Katie wants to continue to grow her Koda friendships and stay healthy. “Koda is like the Disneyworld of OKC– I can’t wait to get there and I’m exhausted when I leave,” says Katie. Thank you Katie for being a part of the Koda family, and for introducing some much needed cat-centric gym wear to the Koda floor.
Winston Fong is part of an elite group that often works out in the shadows – that is to say, he is with the 5am and 5:30am CrossFit crew. Now he celebrates his four year Kodaversary with plans to continue to grow in his functional fitness.
Winston has been an athlete since childhood, and his interests have always been diverse. There was football, wrestling, and track in high school. Then there were triathlons, and finally CrossFit. Originally, Winston started CrossFitting at a different gym, but says he soon knew that he needed to give Koda a closer look. “It had such a strong presence in social media, in competitions…” says Winston.
If you’re not the early-bird type, Koda’s earliest morning classes can feel like a commitment, but Winston says it’s the best way to start the day. He also has a busy job with longer hours in the healthcare industry, so the early wake-up time ensures he can get a workout in, no matter what the day brings. “I like the routine. I like not having to think too much about working out. There is always variation,” says Winston.
His favorite workout is one of the most dreaded for some, and a true test, showcasing how much fitter he has become – Fran. The workout is simple, but gets him every time. No matter your fitness level, you’ll be out of breath and wondering what hit you at the very end.
Winston says one of the most memorable moments in his time as a CrossFitter was when Ben Williams and he won the team scaled inaugural competition “Battle at the Base”. The day played out as a tough and hard fought win, as they went into the final event in 4th place and nailed the last workout to come out on top.
Winston likes to take his functional fitness outside Koda by learning how to wakeboard and wakesurf in the summer, and snow skiing and snowboarding in the winters along with his children.
In his fifth year at Koda, Winston hopes to get faster, stronger, leaner, more flexible, taller, and better-looking. “I am counting on Koda to accomplish this,” says Winston, and we can definitely help you with most of those, Winston! He will also continue to enjoy the community that owners Brice, Mai, and Jared have created, and the enthusiasm shared by members and the coaching staff.
Thank you, Winston, for being a part of the Koda community, and the always committed early-risers.
Shane Woods has participated in sports and outdoor activities most of his life—from the high school days, to a few years playing college baseball. Outside of that, fitness has allowed him to enjoy other aspects of life, like hiking on the weekend, enjoying time with his family, and even shooting sports and archery. As Shane celebrates his four year Kodaversary, he says he had never really enjoyed the day-to-day grind of fitness until CrossFit.
His journey to Koda CrossFit is basically a New Year’s Resolution that stuck. He’s been relying on the memory of workouts he did from his days playing sports, but decided CrossFit might be the thing to freshen up his routine. When he first walked in to Koda he felt welcomed, and liked that the coaches were attentive. “It didn’t have the “big gym” feel at all. It was more tight knit, and really felt like an individual session, but on a team level,” says Shane.
You’ll find Shane bouncing between the mid-day and early afternoon classes, and he says that he has found he feels comfortable in each class no matter what coach might be on duty. The coaching staff, good people, and solid programming have kept him coming back, and feeling like he is getting better every class. In his early days at Koda, Shane remembers being impressed by the more experienced athletes as they did the prescribed muscle-ups, snatches, double-unders, and handstand movements. Now, four years in, it feels good to have put in the work to be able to learn those movements in the right way.
As for memorable workouts, Shane points to Murph as one that he will never forget, and the feeling he gets during Open season as athletes challenge themselves and work together. The moments he was first pushed out of his comfort zone to try Olympic lifts and gymnastics movements are moments that will always stick with him, too. “Those are exercises that would have never been possible, nor would I have ever felt comfortable with them if there wasn’t incredible coaching at Koda,” says Shane.
For his future at Koda, Shane says he would like to participate in the Memorial Marathon, which Koda helps its members train for every year. He’d also like to continue to work on fine tuning his diet because it could help him improve some of the more difficult movements prescribed in workouts. The big goal for the coming year is to practice handstand walking, because he hasn’t yet accomplished it. Practicing is easy when you enjoy coming to the gym every day. “The culture is very welcoming and definitely addicting, because it is very friendly,” says Shane.
Thank you for being a part of this friendly Koda community Shane. We’ll be here, ready to help you continue to achieve all of your fitness goals.
Jennifer Gray is a motivated woman who makes her family and fitness a priority. She shares her time with Koda, and is now celebrating her four year Kodaversary. Athletics have been a part of her life for years—she was a sprinter in high school, and ran the 100m, 200m, and 400m. She has also cycled for several years.
A family move brought her to Koda CrossFit for the first time. After she moved from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, she decided to visit a place she’d heard good things about. Thinking back, she recalls walking in, and seeing co-owner Brice Collier sitting at the front desk, and remembers him as a man of few words. Her first coach while at Koda was Drew Hymer, and she remembers his stand out phrase to break the ice with all new comers—“She is new. No one talk to her.” Between her first interactions with Brice and Drew, Jennifer says she was sold.
You’ll often find Jennifer working out in the 9:15 class. Yes, it works best with her schedule, but the friendships she has made over the last four years keep her coming back. That’s because part of Koda’s secret sauce is more than just solid programming, but also the people. “I’ve made life-long friends and met people that I genuinely enjoy being around,” says Jennifer.
When it comes to the actual working out part of being a member at Koda CrossFit, Jennifer says she enjoys looking forward to something new from day to day. Her hard work over the last few years even earned her the CrossFit Holy Grail—muscle ups. They may not be an everyday occurrence, but she did complete two about a year ago, and that is something to be proud of. “Drew videoed it, so I have actual proof,” says Jennifer. We totally believe her, but she should cue up the video just in case.
Muscle ups aside, the movement that Jennifer is most proud of accomplishing is the double under. The movement took her some time to get right, as is true for many CrossFit athletes, and now that she is able to reliably perform the movement, it is a reminder of how far she has come. She self-describes as “not very coordinated,” giving even the less coordinated among us some hope of improving our own double unders.
When Jennifer is not at the gym, you can find her enjoying the outdoors, with her family, or having a fun and memorable time with her dogs—add a little Champagne to the party, and it would be the perfect time.
How would Jennifer describe Koda? Well, as “A place where everyone knows your name, and spells it correctly–except Jared.”
Sorry Jennifer, we swear he tries, though probably not very hard. Thank you Jennifer for being a part of the Koda CrossFit community, and part of the reason it is so special.
Sometimes fitness is about putting your head down, getting the work done, and finding drive in whatever place you can. This is true for Koda athlete Ross Stuart who shares, “Anyone in class who knows me knows that my motivation level regarding CrossFit is low to begin with, so the fact that I continue to come in week after week is really a testament to the coaches and cohorts in the 11:30 class. Shawn, Rob, Mini, Nick, Lee, Nikolai, etc. and the coaches are the reason I come back. Also, I think Jared knows the more he talks golf with me the more likely I am to come back, so here I am 4 years later.” And Koda is glad for it, Ross; happy four-year Kodaversary!
Ross was no stranger to CrossFit before coming to Koda, having begun way back in 2013 while living in Tulsa. He then relocated to OKC for work, and needed to find a new gym. “I remember Brice showing me around and asking me if I wanted to get a punch card and I had already informed him I had joined full-time. He was surprised that I had joined sight unseen, but from what others I knew in Tulsa and OKC had told me, this was an easy decision. Brice almost scared me off though.”
Ross has always been an athlete. He played baseball in high school and even college. More than competent at any movement, he has even figured out the elusive triple-under, which he points out Coach Drew Hymer can’t do. These days, the focus of his fitness is “to break up [his] day and delay the certainty of a dad-bod a little longer,” and he spends his free time playing golf, and spending time with his wife and 8 month-old daughter. He comes five days a week to the 11:30 class, but keeps weekends and holidays for his family and golf.
Ross credits the quality and diversity of people at Koda for his longevity as a member. “Koda is so unique because the people there have the ability to fit into all different kinds of lifestyles and personalities… they always find a way to keep me motivated, and also mesh with my personality.” We know Ross has plenty of personality, and we’re glad he chooses to share it with Koda.
If it’s bench day, you will find Adam Snapp doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression while he moves impressive amounts of weight. Snapp is celebrating four years of being a Koda athlete, and he says that the Koda Community continues to be something he values in his life.
Snapp has always been an athlete, though his focus has changed over the years. He ran Cross Country and played soccer in high school and continued with soccer into college. He also proudly proclaims his bro-atude, when he talks about all of the time he spent in commercial gyms as a growing athlete and into adulthood. Unlike many CrossFit athletes, Snapp did not leave the commercial gym life behind after becoming a fan of functional fitness. He actually includes both types of fitness during his weekly workouts now.
CrossFit was not love at first sight for Snapp, when he first started at a different local box that has since closed, he was close to quitting altogether. A friend convinced him to give Koda CrossFit a try before he walked away from CrossFit entirely, and Snapp says he “immediately fell in love.”
Even with his athletic background, Snapp says he felt intimidated by some of the Koda athletes. He remembers a group of guys working out in the middle rig, and they were using weight he knew to be above his maxes at the time. “I jumped into class, and found that it had good coaching, and was way more structured than what I was used to, which I liked, so I came back, “ says Snapp.
Other than the structure and quality workouts, Snapp says the friendships he has formed keep him coming back. You’ll typically find him in the 4:30 PM class, because he enjoys the laid back attitude with a focus on both fitness and fun.
When we talk about Snapp being a fan of bench press– that’s really an understatement. “I like bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline bench press, dumbbell incline bench press, floor press, chest flys, bench press with kettlebells, bench press with bands, bench press with a slingshot,” says Snapp. Even though there is a common theme with his favorite movements, he doesn’t shy away from a challenging workout with movements that were once a struggle. Snapp recalls not being able to do a double under to save his life, and it took about two years for them to click. Now he prefers them to single unders.
When he is not working out Snapp loves to Hunt, like many other Koda Outdoorsmen, and spends most weekends September through April enjoying his hobby. Looking back at his time with Koda, Snapp says that he has noticed that he is in much better shape and stronger than before. He has noticed this remains true in spite of the fact that there is no specific strength goal outside of programing that he is looking forward to achieving.
Koda is a place Snapp continues to enjoy for its community and ability to be a dependable stress release. “I’d says Koda is everything you want in a fitness community…It’s got great programming and great coaches,” says Snapp. Thank you Adam for growing with us, and being a part of what makes the Koda community whole.
Kenya Hardy was no stranger to fitness even before she joined Koda. She played basketball from the time she was a child through her first year in college, and after that, she continued to stay active with bootcamps, personal training sessions, and group training sessions. She has also run half-marathons and obstacle courses! (for fun, of all things). Kenya’s first experience at Koda was during our annual “Bring a Buddy Week” when she was invited by current members Sherri and Latricia. The sled pulls left her exhausted, but Kenya remembers thinking, “…that was bad, but I bet I could lift some weights…and it was time for a change.” That was over four years ago, meaning that we now get to celebrate Kenya’s four year Kodaversary!
As with many new members, Kenya started in our “Movements” class, getting comfortable with the movement patterns and lifting techniques. Since moving onto regular classes, she likes to frequent evening classes. “I enjoy the folks that are in class during those times. Although we laugh and play, we get it done and still get a great workout.” Kenya says it’s that community of coaches and friends in which she gets to work out that keeps her coming back. “AND the results…I have noticed a change in my body since I started…”
As an example, Kenya shared one of her most memorable workouts. During her first month at Koda, the CrossFit Open had begun, and she had been encouraged to participate. “Latricia and I were doing the 1st [workout] (I believe it was lunges and burpees)… I recall seeing Joseph for the first time, at that time didn’t know who he was, and thinking ‘this dude is hard core, I don’t know what Tricia has gotten me into cause I am gonna die’.” Well, she didn’t die, though she couldn’t really walk afterwards, but that day was fun and solidified her decision to stay at Koda.
Over the years, Kenya says her fitness and body have changed for the better. She recalls that during the second CrossFit Open in which she participated, she got her first unassisted pull-up. “…we were doing snatches or lunges and then the pullups and Jared said, ‘just go real fast on those and then you have more time to get pull ups’…I spent like 3 min and finally got one, I could have cried, but instead I did like 7 or 8 more and after I was super excited!”
At the gym, Kenya says she looks forward to mastering double-unders and becoming more consistent with her pull-ups. Outside the gym, Kenya looks forward to continuing to travel and spend time with friends and family, especially her niece, to whose basketball games in Kansas Kenya travels to regularly, rarely missing a home game.
“Koda really does mean friend, and I consider it another family for myself. I appreciate and love all of the coaches that have worked with me (Tre and Katie were the firsts) and it really is a community there. We work hard and play hard at Koda.” Koda is indescribably grateful for your kind words, Kenya, and for having you year after year, having fun and lifting heavy stuff with us.
You might find Jimmy Cliburn competing with his Masters buddies on an average midday class. The man describes himself as a work in progress, but he is an award-winning athlete who makes Koda proud and is celebrating his four year Kodaversary. Looking back through his time at Koda you’ll find many memorable moments, but for Jimmy we are going to start by talking about his elbows.
An athlete since high school, Jimmy ran track as a sprinter. Later he played in competitive leagues of a variety of sports. He understands the importance of speed, strength, and the benefit of team building relationships— but what he couldn’t understand the day he first walked into Koda, was how in the world anyone could get their elbows up in the front rack position. In spite of this mobility setback, Jimmy says he was excited by the classes early on and enjoys their structure and challenges to this day.
Friend Shawn Olson was the reason Jimmy decided to give Koda CrossFit that first try. He’d started a month prior and loved what he was doing. Now, Jimmy remembers the support he felt as a newbie that first day, and is happy to report it’s still there, whether he is with his “old Master’s buddies” at Koda HQ or if he is stopping in at Koda Deer Creek. Healthy competition with fellow athletes keeps him motivated and pushes Jimmy to try harder every day.
When it comes to memorable workouts, Helen tops the list. It serves as an example of how showing up and pushing yourself will lead to improvement. Early on his Helen time say at around 15 minutes now his personal best is 9:14. Jimmy’s favorite movements include both ring and bar muscle ups. It took time, effort, and patience to achieve what many consider one of the more difficult CrossFit Rx movements, and he is excited to be able to string a few together now. Front squats had to be somewhere on the list too, of course. Jimmy says he continues to work through mobility issues but can perform the weighted movement and had a personal best lift of 315 pounds— an accomplishment he is proud to have achieved.
Hard work at Koda can yield some amazing results. Jimmy decided to participate in the Legends of the WOD competition in Grapevine, TX— and, basically, kicked butt. He won first place in the scaled division by winning first place in all of the events that day. Bragging rights didn’t come for free. “I trained extremely hard leading up to the comp. I worked on building my motor by doing interval training outside of classes. Running 400’s and miles mostly,” says Jimmy of the extra steps he took to be prepared.
When he isn’t prepping for a competition or having fun in class, Jimmy enjoys trying out new restaurants with his wife and friends, and playing golf. In the coming year he plans to continue having fun with his family and Koda buddies. There will also be the opportunity to improve many of his lifts after having surgery on his elbows and achieving greater mobility.
Of his time at Koda, Jimmy says, “I get the chance to visit many CrossFit gyms outside of the area, and very few are even close to the level of Koda. It has been a very positive experience for me thus far.” Congratulations, Jimmy, on deeply understanding what effort and focused work can get you. Thank you for making Koda your fitness home, and we know that you will continue to do your part to make it the positive place it is.
Lee may be a confident CrossFitter now, but when he stepped into Koda for his first class ever, he describes his experience as a lot more embarrassing. The warm-up involved rowing, so he grabbed himself a rower, sat down, strapped his feet in. When the word was given, he gave a pull and promptly fell off the seat, feet still strapped in. Now we celebrate four years of Koda-hood since that mishap, and Lee is none the worse for wear.
Lee is an experienced athlete. He was an All-State football and soccer player at Heritage Hall and even played soccer at SNU before transferring to OU. That athletic background has served him well in accomplishing his goals in the gym. Lee recounts early at his time in Koda resolving to learn how to do muscle-ups on the Olympic rings: “I remember making a goal to do my first ring muscle up before 2016. I have a video of me performing my very first ring muscle up 12/31/15. It was an awesome feeling. On the video you could hear Jason Miller yelling for me, it’s pretty funny.”
A regular of the “old man elite class” at 11:30, Lee says it’s that sense of community that keeps him coming back. “I love the people there. I like how encouraging and helpful people are to each other. I look forward to being there every day except for when Jared’s there.” (We understand).
Lee is a family man. Each morning, he wakes up early to make bacon and cinnamon rolls for his kids, reads his devotional, then takes his kids to school before getting to work. Outside of Koda, Lee says he enjoys playing sports, hanging out with his kids, and taking his wife out on dates.
It’s telling that his most memorable CrossFit memory also involves his family. “I enjoyed doing first timers a few years ago. It actually took place on the day I turned 40. My family, friends and my kids were all there supporting me. It was a fun day.”
When asked what’s in store for the coming year, Lee says he’d like to win an RX Master’s competition. We have no doubt Lee can do it, and while he trains for it, we look forward to having him back in the gym each day, contributing to the feeling of family and fraternity that he enjoys about Koda, and the people of Koda enjoy about him. Happy Kodaversary, Lee!
Koda athlete Kelsey Clary bounced around sports and exercise disciplines from grade school into adulthood. She even tried to convince herself that she loved to run, but no amount of trickery could make that happen. The issue, for the most part, was always a loss of motivation after a few weeks. All of that changed when Kelsey found Koda CrossFit, and it’s now been four years of motivation and strength building with a side of fun.
Let’s rewind the clock to Kelsey’s first day at Koda. Her most prominent memory isn’t the work out or how she felt once she was done, but how nervous she was just stepping through the threshold. “I was so nervous, and just kept thinking I was going to die, “says Kelsey. Spoiler alert, she didn’t die. Despite her initial concerns, Kelsey decided to give Koda a try after her sister-in-law’s daily insistence that she come try CrossFit out with her. Another thing she remembers about her first workout is a minor fashion faux pas. “I was coming from the college scene where Nike shorts and XL t-shirts were the thing, so that was what I showed up in only to find out that is not the attire that most of the others were wearing,” laughs Kelsey.
You’ll usually find Kelsey in the 6pm class with coach and co-owner Jared Muse. She calls it the fun and laid back class where athletes like to chat while they get fit—and maybe explains why Jared occasionally says it feels like he is trying to herd cats. The class atmosphere is one of the elements that keep Kelsey coming back. After four years of attending the same 6pm class, Kelsey has also built friendships with her fellow athletes which means she can always count on having a good time and getting in plenty of laughs between workouts.
Koda longtime athletes know that this community is full of good-natured ribbing, but more importantly, it’s full of people who support your efforts and want to see you succeed. It’s one of the reasons Kelsey says she knew she could successfully do the whole CrossFit thing. Her favorite movement is the power clean, and she recalls one particular workout where she was excited to be performing heavy sets at her max, and once she was done, Kelsey realized she had actually done the rep at five pounds above her former personal best. That’s what happens when you are working and having fun; you get stronger without even realizing it.
Koda isn’t all burpees and kipping pull-ups. Sometimes you have to figure out the in house trick shot master. Another of Kelsey’s favorite memories is helping form the Koda Trick Shot Crew. Summer 2018 she and some fellow athletes played a lot of basketball post workout. “My all-time favorite memory is beating Jared at PIG, probably by shooting the ball backwards over my head. I’m not saying it happened often but it definitely happened!” says Kelsey.
Trick shots aside, she is proudest of the time she competed in the Koda First Timer’s CrossFit competition. Much like her start in CrossFit, Kelsey didn’t intend to participate in a competition, but Coach Jared and some friends from the 6pm class talked her into giving it a shot. “I was so nervous, and it was really hard doing that many workouts within a few hours, but I did it, and didn’t finish last place so I felt very accomplished,” says Kelsey.
The last few years have been busy for Kelsey. She works full time in education, has coached, and is in grad school. Somewhere in there she is planning a wedding, too. Like many of our members leading such full lives, getting to Koda can feel nearly impossible, but Kelsey says she is always happy and feels much better when she makes room in her schedule for Koda’s tough workouts.
When it comes to her experience during her four years at Koda, Kelsey keeps it simple and says, “I just go for a good workout with some really awesome people! No matter where you are on your fitness journey, everyone at Koda is always supportive and encouraging.” Thank you, Kelsey, for never thinking twice when it comes to heading into the pain cave with your fellow athletes, and for choosing to stick with this community no matter how busy life gets. We will always do the last ten burpees with you!
Latricia Major is a strong woman and an even stronger dancer who can fashionably match her workout shirts to whatever kick-you-in-the-pants workout Koda has programmed for the day—and she is celebrating her four year Kodaversary. Before CrossFit, Latricia participated in Zumba and group training, but was introduced to Koda by fellow athlete Sherrie Jefflo.
That first day at Koda felt, in a word, rough. She started in the Movements class with Coach ARobb to make sure she was well prepared for the intensity of the demanding workouts at Koda. Now, you’ll find her mostly in the 6:30pm class, but every now and then she’ll be busting a move with friends in the 6pm class.
Latricia is continuing to grow as an athlete, and says that the feeling of struggle is part of the process, and can see that she has gotten better over time. She is a stand-out athlete when it comes to her strength. Her most memorable moment at Koda so far was hitting a 405 deadlift. She really didn’t think she’d hit the lift, but with proper form and encouragement, she tried anyway—the outcome really showed her how far she’d come. Any time raw strength movements are on tap, the Koda community will rally around Latricia to see what impressive numbers she will demolish. As it stands right now, some of Latricia’s favorite one rep maxes are 405 deadlift, 320 back squat, and 275 front squat.
“If someone said it would have happened 4yrs ago, I wouldn’t have believed it,” says Latricia of her climbing one rep maxes.
Latricia also regularly participates in the CrossFit Open, and counts many of those workouts among her most memorable. It was during a CrossFit Open that Latricia accomplished her first kipping pull-ups. It’s also exciting for her to see how she stacks up against other people in her age group. The Open also creates the opportunity to nurture her friendships at Koda. Several athletes from the classes Latricia attends will meet on Fridays during the Open, tackle the workouts, and then enjoy a meal together afterward.
During her fifth year at Koda, Latricia says she wants to check a few things off her fitness to-do list. She plans to practice her double unders, work on her Olympic lifting form, and (maybe) a little more running work—even though it’s the worst and every CrossFitter knows that.
During those first few early days at Koda, Latricia says she was intimidated, and often very nervous, but the encouraging community environment and coaches have helped bring out the best in her. Latricia, thank you for making Koda a part of your life. Your development as an athlete has been a joy to watch. Keep dancing and smashing PR’s.
You know that little girl who is obsessed with horses? That was Amanda Martin. During her younger years, she rode horses competitively. Now she is riding the heck out of the rowers at Koda CrossFit, showing up both men and women in the gym as one of the fastest rowers at HQ. The savvy communications and marketing professional, local lifestyle blogger, and CrossFit athlete is celebrating four years as part of the Koda family.
Before CrossFit, Amanda did a lot of running, which she hated, and some yoga, which she enjoyed. It was her now husband (then boyfriend) Cole Martin who first introduced her to Koda. In true CrossFit fashion, he and then roommate, Ryan Doonkeen, just “wouldn’t shut-up about it”. Amanda went as a spectator to The Fittest Games in Austin, Texas. She was in awe of the competitors. Watching the athletes lit a fire in her that pushed Amanda to give CrossFit a try.
“My first day at Koda I remember Jared making fun of Cole for bringing a date to class. Typical Jared,” says Amanda of co-owner Jared Muse’s laid-back style. She doesn’t remember the exact workout, but can’t forget the kettle bells and backwards jump rope movements that gave her a bit of trouble. The third movement that first day, was the rower. “Someone commented that I would probably be good at rowing because I was tall and broad shouldered, and it offended me,” says Amanda. She laughs now because they were right. That is a skill she is proud of to this day.
You will find Amanda at the 6 pm class most days. She enjoys co-owner Jared’s fun approach to coaching and is continually motivated by the results she sees. For Amanda, regular class attendance means obvious improvement in her strength, endurance, body composition, and overall health. Competitions have also been a regular part of Amanda’s CrossFit journey. Her most memorable workout is from the Koda First Timer’s competition which was ten rope jumps and ten Cleans, back and forth for 8 minutes. Each round the Clean weight increased with a max weight of 123—her one rep max at the time. After an exhausting workout, Amanda got to that final weight and hit 8 reps at that weight until the clock finally hit zero. “That will forever and always be my favorite workout to retest – last time I did it, I got about 20 reps,” says Amanda. It was then that Cleans became her favorite lift. Now, her all-time best lift is 180 pounds.
Her Clean max will always be a point of pride, but her proudest Koda moment is her 500m row time. Amanda had the fastest time on the Koda board, and was able to make the Cupid’s Revenge podium for her performance on a 500m row time trial too. “Not much makes you feel as terrible as a true 500m row time trial. You’re on the floor, rolling around in pain, not able to see straight. However, the satisfaction it brings me to know I gave it my all and succeeded makes it worth it every time,” says Amanda.
When she is not at Koda, Amanda enjoys spoiling her two beautiful dogs Chloe and Kylo, traveling, photography, and working on her lifestyle blog — Amanda’s OK. You might have noticed Amanda was missing from Koda for some time. That is because she decided to undergo surgery after a shoulder injury that was limiting her ability to perform movements as prescribed, and causing her to lose motivation and drive.
After months of recovery, she is back and is excited by her fresh outlook and new-found motivation. For the coming year she plans to work on becoming faster, stronger, and an all-around better athlete than before. Thank you, Amanda, for being a part of the Koda family and for making the gym look very cool when it is time to row.
“I am happy to be an OG.” The inimitable words of Karen Brown echo Koda’s own deep appreciation for her OG status as we celebrate her four-year Kodaversary!
To start from the beginning, Karen truly is a founding member, having joined when owners Brice, Jared, and Mai first opened the doors of Koda. She remembers those first days fondly, saying, “There were only a few of us, but we all knew each other. I was over-the-moon happy for the guys for starting this journey. I still get emotional when I think about it. Oh, and it was COLD!!!!”
To start from before the beginning of her time with Koda, Karen recounts keeping an active lifestyle throughout her lifetime. “I was never one for ‘sports’, but I have always been involved in some sort of physical activity, mostly in a typical gym.” She even taught aerobics for 10 years before moving from the class scene to a personal trainer, but she says it lacked the community aspect she needed. “I needed someone to suffer right along with me,” she recalls facetiously.
As a regular of the 6pm classes, she gets the camaraderie of working out with the friends with which she moved to Koda. Asked what keeps her coming back week after week, she tells us it’s “The people, and the results… but, mostly the people. They give the best hugs!!” That being said, she’s not there purely to socialize. She works hard, and the results she’s enjoyed are a good example.
A particularly memorable demonstration of her growth came during the Cupid’s Revenge competition that Koda holds annually. Up to this point, Karen had been unable to do unassisted pull-ups, and one of the workouts in the competition required, you guessed it: pull-ups. “My partner (Izzy) was having to do all the pull-ups, because I didn’t have them down yet. He was such a trooper, but that was too many pull-ups for one person, so I had him tap me in (not knowing if I could even get one). I strung seven of them together!! I was so excited!!” Asked about her ambitions for the coming year, she shared that she’s looking forward to continuing to grow at Koda. “Koda has evolved, and membership has exploded over the years, but one thing stays constant, and that’s the feeling of belonging. The people here are the BEST!!! I get excited every time I walk through the door,” Karen says.
Now, were it left to owners Mai, Jared, and Brice, the following might have been omitted out of modesty, but since I’m writing it, and it showcases how kind and thoughtful Karen is, here it is:
“I have to say a few words about the leadership at this box, because I think they’re the best in the industry, and clearly the reason Koda has become the giant that it is.
[About Brice]: The first time I went to one of Brice’s Geek Out sessions, I was blown away! His knowledge of the human anatomy and functionality is impressive… He’s not just pulling a few movements and reps out of a hat and calling it a WOD…”
[About Jared]:”… He makes everyone feel welcome, no matter what your abilities, and makes the workouts fun. He knows every member by name, knows their capabilities (and pushes them to be better), but also knows when someone has a limitation, and coaches them in a way that they don’t feel ridiculed or embarrassed…”
[About Mai]: “Mai is the backbone of this organization… For every 100 things we see her do, there are 100 other things we don’t see her do. She benefits the members in ways they will never know, and never asks for anything in return…”
It’s members like Karen, though, that help make Koda the place it is. As a founding member and steady presence, Karen has helped to shape the welcoming and positive culture that makes it a home to so many. Karen, thank you for your four years with us, and we hope to celebrate your friendship for many years to come!
Andi Atkinson is a certified B.A. and we aren’t talking about a bachelor of arts. She is an attorney by trade, and a perfect example of what makes the Koda community so memorable.
She is celebrating her four year Kodaversary, and in that short amount of time she has surpassed her own expectations and made Koda proud.
When asked about her athletic background as a child, Andi says she does have a letterman jacket, but it’s in debate. She didn’t run a mile until she was 24-years-old, and decided to join the Army Reserves. Her fitness journey started there, and expanded into more running, yoga, and dumbbell classes. Life took a bit of a turn, and working through it is what brought Andi to Koda for the first time:
“I started CrossFit in the midst of my divorce from my high school sweetheart. I didn’t want to end things but I knew I had to; I was so sad and defeated. My life wasn’t turning out as I planned and I was just kind of stuck and down on myself. One day I decided, ‘Well if I can’t be strong on the inside, I’m going to get strong as shit on the outside,’ ” says Andi.
With time and work, that plan to focus on that exterior strength made her stronger on the inside too.
Andi remembers her very first time at Koda, perhaps better than most. She started the first Saturday of August and says, “Gina was my partner and I remember her telling me ‘This is your first day of CrossFit. This is like my thousandth; don’t worry if you can’t keep up.’ I’m competitive so I (stupidly) took it as a challenge.” After class she walked directly to the front desk and gave Mai Muse her card information. That first day was transformative, and she knew she needed to commit that same day, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I love the support I get from my classmates and coaches. No matter what my goal is (get stronger, run faster, learn a new skill, etc.) the people at Koda are there to give encouragement and helpful tips,” says Andi.
Over the past four years, there are many memorable moments, and one of them happened in this year’s Open. She completed a 188# clean during 18.2a, and it was somewhat accidental. She had miscalculated the weight on the bar and when her judge told her she’d beaten her previous score by 2 pounds, there were happy tears. Learning unbroken double unders is another major accomplishment. It took about six months to learn, a single-double-single-double pattern, and then about a year to break that pattern. “I remember doing Annie without scaling the first time. “It took me FOREVER, like 10 minutes, but I was proud of myself for doing the hard things,” says Andi.
For the coming year, Andi is excited to start working on more complicated gymnastic skills, do another powerlifting competition, and maybe run the OKC marathon half. “I did really well in powerlifting two years ago, but took a break. I think it’s time for a return to the singlet life. And I’ve been promising my mom that I would run a half marathon with her for years, and I can’t put it off for much longer,” says Andi. Now that it’s written down here, there is no getting out of it.
Andi sees Koda as a place to make friends, and exceed your own expectations, but that doesn’t happen without hard work. Andi, you put in the time and unyielding effort, with positivity and friendship for your fellow Koda athletes. Thank you for being a shining example of the Koda community.
Joseph Arguello, Koda athlete, famed Koda party celebrator, family man, and all-around boss, Has his four-year Kodaversary with us!
In his formative years, Joseph tells us he lived quite actively. “I grew up playing basketball. There were not many days where I was not shooting hoops in the driveway or at the gym. Unfortunately, I stopped growing in the 9th grade and all dreams of playing at the next level were dashed.” Joseph says he continued being active, joining recreational leagues for basketball, indoor soccer leagues later, cycling, running, and even racquetball.
A software developer by trade, Joseph says that when he began with us, despite his consistent prior activities, he had taken up a more sedentary lifestyle; he says he was overweight, had lost strength and mobility, and was tired, grumpy, and injury prone. His wife, Lydia, who had already joined Koda, convinced him to give CrossFit a try. “Lydia told Jared to keep an eye on me because she was afraid I would die. I did 2 rounds of 5 [touch and go] squat cleans at 53 lbs, and sure enough, almost died (or felt like dying). I spent the rest of the class rolling out my triceps on a bar while watching everyone else do complex movements. Of course, this was all captured on video and posted to Facebook.” Not the faint of heart, Joseph came back the next day, and the next, and has carried on coming back for over five years now.
Joseph will tell you he’s a “super-scaled, recreational, masters athlete”, who is most concerned with simply getting a good workout in without injury, but Joseph is modest. He has voluntarily competed in multiple CrossFit competitions, and is consistently not a last place finisher as well! He cites a particularly exciting moment as being one of his favorites as a Koda athlete: “If I could narrow it down to one thing, though, it would be competing in Battle Over Redlands III (Tulsa, Ok) and getting a PR on my Power Snatch (Part 2 of WOD) after doing rowing and burpees (Part 1 of WOD). I worked hard on that lift since it was the second part of the workout. I screamed like a Viking when I made the lift. Did not finish last, either…”
And Joseph is a great workout buddy to have in your class. He always manages to work hard while still keeping a smile on his face (not always directly post-workout, admittedly, but that’s understandable.) Joseph is all about enjoying the “fitness journey.” “I can lift more, run faster and do things I haven’t done since I was in my late 20s. Friends from the past see me and tell me I look great.” He credits the programming at Koda for his continued success. “The coaches care about your safety and technique first. You are accepted and not judged if you have to scale down. Each day has a different workout that keeps things interesting. The people are genuine, fun, and encouraging.”
About Koda, Joseph generously shares, “Koda CrossFit is more than your local CrossFit Box. Some people believe it is a community (it is). Some people think it is a top-notch training facility for athletes (it’s that, too). I see it as a refuge. Koda gives me a place to not worry about things for an hour several times per week.” It’s people like Joseph, though, that make Koda a community. Work ethic like his makes it a top-notch training facility. And the genuine friendliness and camaraderie freely given by people like Joseph make it a refuge. Thank you for sharing over half a decade with us, Joseph. Koda is lucky to have you.
When making the decision to join a CrossFit gym, you may come in with any number of varied goals. Perhaps you are new to fitness, looking to start an exercise regime, and the one hour class format with a coach delivering your programming feels like the structure you need. Perhaps you have friends that already go to a gym and you want your workout buddies. Maybe you are sick of your old routine and just want to mix things up. Or maybe, you somehow happened upon an elite athlete working out or competing and marveled at their physique and capabilities. If you’re in this last group, you might well have watched Tucker Hood and thought, “THAT is what I want for myself: to be like that guy. How do I do that?” Athletic, immensely strong, and with a physique fit for a poster, Tucker now celebrates his four-year anniversary of joining the Koda ranks. Tucker had seen other Koda competitors at various CrossFit competitions, and says he was persuaded to join because “[he] always loved the intimidation of Koda when they painted their faces for competitions, and it just made [him] want to be part of that team. And Koda always wins…” For Tucker, the transition to Koda was smooth, and he says he jumped in “eager to get to work and start winning competitions.”
Tucker has a lifelong history of athletic competition behind him. He played football, basketball, baseball, track, powerlifting, and has even competed in physique competitions. It’s no surprise, then, that once he found CrossFit he quickly jumped into the competitive aspect of the sport and fitness philosophy. He’s not been disappointed by the decision either. His accomplishments are too many to concisely mention here, but surely a few highlights are in order. He has competed in the official CrossFit Regionals competitions, the penultimate step to the largest CrossFit competition on the planet: The CrossFit Games, a feat few can claim. A personal favorite of Tucker’s is his first competition with Team Koda at The Fittest Games in Austin, Texas. The event requires qualification, and draws high level competitors from all over the country. Out of 60 teams to make it to the competition, Tucker helped Team Koda achieve a 4th place finish.
This type of dedication is as difficult as it is uncommon. How does one stay motivated? For Tucker, “Training for me is a priority. It’s a part of my life that is automatically routine. I will never stop training and building my body to be stronger and better every day.” After his day job in the oil and gas industry, Tucker can reliably be found at the 5pm class at Koda. Several other Koda competitors are staples of the class. The camaraderie and having the opportunity to push and be pushed by others is an important part of effective and enjoyable training for Tucker. His favorite movements are muscle-ups, squats, cleans, and snatches. Tucker even boasts an incredible 300 lb. snatch personal record, an accomplishment he cites as one of his proudest, and a day he will never forget.
Outside of the gym, Tucker likes to keep it simple. He likes to “Spend time with friends and family. Watch movies. Drink coffee in the morning and whiskey at night. Eat red meat.” We asked Tucker what year 5 has in store. He says, “continuing to come to Koda and socializing with all the great people I’ve met, and to help people get better.
Koda is lucky and grateful to have you, Tucker.
Scott Interwicz may not always know what day of the week it is, but he knows it’s time to work when he steps through Koda’s doors. He has been giving assault bike workout’s at Koda everything he has for the last four years, even though he would rather be doing burpees.
Scott was a high school athlete, then fell into a predictable routine at the gym. He admits that he thought of CrossFit negatively for a long time, until a girl talked him into giving it a shot. He remembers his first day being rough, but Scott was hooked. That first day was all Olympic lifting and assault bikes, and you can certainly say he gave it his all. “I threw up for about an hour after my first time. I was sore for about a month after. It was very humbling to get that much fitness into a 60min workout,” says Scott.
The atmosphere and coaching staff keep Scott coming back, and so do the other talented athletes at Koda CrossFit. “I also like working out around other people that are better than I am; (it) helps provide a little bit of motivation to get better,” says Scott.
In his four years at Koda, Scott says he has become proud of his overall fitness level. He remembers working out a lot before CrossFit, and feeling strong, but not in-shape. Even the idea of running 800m on a treadmill left him winded. Though he entered the CrossFit world with some trepidation, Scott now knows he is a more well-rounded athlete, “complete with strength, flexibility, and endurance.” Not all his accomplishments are as easy to see, but they are life-changing and meaningful. “My resting heart rate before CrossFit was about 85-90 bpm, now it’s closer to 55-60bpm. That to me is a big accomplishment,” says Scott.
Scott’s dedication to CrossFit and his personal health and fitness becomes clear when you learn he works in an ER in 24 hour shifts. His work schedule is all over the place, but he makes time for that hour that’s just for him. “No matter how long I take off, or gaps between my workouts, Koda is always there to welcome me back and get me going,” says Scott.
For his fifth year, Scott says he is ready to jump onto the competition floor. He says the level of competition is intimidating at this point, but he is ready for new goals to strive for.
Scott, thank you for your commitment and hard work. You are a part of what makes Koda a friendly and supportive community of athletes.
There is a beauty in strength, and that is something Ashley Williams embraces wholeheartedly. She is celebrating four years of becoming stronger and athletic in different ways at Koda CrossFit. Ashley ran cross country in high school and at the college level. After graduation, her passion for running continued and she began training for half and full marathons. Unfortunately, an injury meant she needed to think about what else she would enjoy doing to continue exercising. It was fellow Koda athlete and Koda coach Anthony Robb who suggested Ashley give CrossFit a try.
Her first day was a tough one, and that is common for many members. Ashley says the movements at CrossFit differ greatly from her long distance training. She did have the opportunity to start with the onboarding class, and that made her transition easier. She was struck by how supportive everyone was right away, and in all her time at Koda that community support has not waned.
“I keep coming back because of the class atmosphere. I like that you have coaches pushing you and you are not able to give up or quit,” says Ashley.
Her athletic confidence has grown during her four years at Koda. Ashley’s favorite time of year is Open Season because it is a regular opportunity to be thrust outside of her comfort zone. In one especially memorable moment last year, Ashley realized she was feeling more comfortable performing overhead squats after needing to do so many of them. That same Open year, she was able to complete several kipping pull-ups.
More than a year later, Ashley is thrilled to be able to string more than one kipping pull-up together at a time. “That movement is not easy for me, and took me a lot longer than I care to admit, so finally accomplishing it made me feel like I wasn’t completely terrible at CrossFit,” says Ashley. She is also proud of hitting 300 lbs on a deadlift, her strongest movement. When she is not pulling impressive amounts of weight from the ground, Ashley is capturing beautiful photographs and developing content for her popular lifestyle blog, Sass and Satin.
For her fifth year at Koda CrossFit, Ashley plans to be more consistent about attending class, and will be working on her double-unders, so she will be able to accomplish and become more comfortable with the movement. We know you got this Ashley! Thank you for being a part of what makes the Koda Community a kind and supportive place.
Koda means friend, and it’s exactly because of a friend that Brian Eagleston found himself standing at Koda HQ feeling pretty awkward. That awkward feeling quickly evaporated after he was knocked down by the misery that comes after way too many wall ball shots. That was four years ago, and now Brian is celebrating his Kodaversary at the place he now describes as a little piece of Heaven on Earth.
Brian has always had an adventurous spirit and a deep well of energy. As a child he played baseball, wrestling, basketball, and, perhaps most impressively, BMX. FYI, Brian was good at BMX. He was once the reigning Grand National Champion of the 10X division, or as Brian put it, it “just meant I beat all the other 10-year-old’s ass(es) in the world.” In high school, he continued to keep busy with golf, more wrestling, more baseball, track, and football.
Friend Michael Hollman had worked hard on his fitness, and Brian wanted to know his secret. Turns out Michael was working out at Koda, and Brian wanted in. He specifically remembers his second day at Koda meeting a tall guy named Joey and having to do 150 wall ball shots for time. That. Was. Tough. Four years later, Brian frequents the early afternoon classes. He enjoys the vibe of the classes at that time of day, and there are other perks too. “I also normally get a chance to beat Chad or Jared in some Koda Trick Shot before these classes,” says Brian.
When Brian is not at Koda, he still enjoys staying active through wakeboarding, waterskiing, winter sports, and mountain biking. If he wants to take it easy, a long walk through nature can bring him some peace. What doesn’t bring him peace? That would be double unders and thrusters. These are some of his least favorite movements. Still, Brian will make the best of any workout because he likes the way he feels both mentally and physically after spending just one hour with the Koda community.
Recently, Brian has started doing bar and ring muscle-ups. He is excited about the gains he has made and wishes he had attempted some of these complicated moves sooner. Perhaps it is a lesson he can take with him, as he starts his fifth year with Koda. Brian is planning on doing his first CrossFit competition in the coming year: Koda’s First Timer’s Open. We are excited for you Brian, and the Koda community will be there to cheer you on to (scaled division) glory.
Mike Fiedler, a six year Air Force veteran and former college athlete, is celebrating four years at Koda CrossFit. He has come a long way from the first day he stepped through Koda’s garage doors. Mike’s first day confirmed his suspicion that he just might have gotten out of shape. “I definitely had to scale down my exercises. I required special attention from the coaches because I had never done any lifts, and my form needed some help,” says Mike. He also remembers having to ask about CrossFit’s many acronyms—AMRAP…EMOM…RX, just to name a few.
A busy life pointed Mike in the direction of CrossFit. He had just started a new job, and was making regular trips to Dallas for a part-time graduate program. It was then that Mike found he didn’t have much time to work out, and even when he did, there were concerns about how effective his workouts really were. “I heard about CrossFit, and had been impressed with the balance of cardio and strength of the athletes I had seen,” says Mike about his decision to give CrossFit a try.
Mike is a 6 o’clock class regular because it works with his schedule, and he enjoys the mix of fun and seriousness the class has developed. He also appreciates that coach and co-owner Jared Muse has a good understanding of what motivates him as an athlete. Mike’s most memorable workout was a grudge match for scaled competitors during the CrossFit Open. Jared encouraged him to sign-up for the Open, and he was surprised by the competitive fire the workouts lit within him. Koda makes Open season fun by developing an in house competition, and Mike found himself sitting in second place after two workouts. This made him realize he had a shot, so it was time to work. “I pushed myself harder than I had in as long as I could remember, and ended up taking first place,” says Mike, who also had an impressive finish in the scaled portion of the region.
Though Mike has improved in every aspect of his fitness, there is one continued struggle—double unders. Still, he called them one of his most memorable movements, because he had put in some work in developing the skill. “I once got 36 in a row about a year ago, and I thought I had it figured out, but it hasn’t happened since,” says Mike. So, we know he can do them—you can keep practicing with us, buddy.
In addition to being more consistent with double unders, Mike says that in his fifth year he will continue to enjoy his time having fun while he gets fit. He wasn’t sure what to expect when he joined and what he found was that everyone did everything they could to make him and every other member feel comfortable no matter their level of fitness. Thank you Mike for making Koda your fitness home, and for letting us push you to be the kind of athlete we know you can be—except for the double under thing, but you’ll get it.
Tre Benefield spends more time warming up for a work out and perfecting his movements than completing the workout itself. It is that kind of focus that has gotten him far at Koda, and he is now celebrating his four year Kodaversary.
Tre was fortunate enough to have a middle school with a weightlifting program, so he has been around barbells for longer than your average athlete. He also grew up playing soccer and still plays indoor soccer from time to time. Tre started experimenting with CrossFit in 2011. “I’d read a bunch of articles on the Journal and watched a ton of videos, but I’d never actually been to a gym,” says Tre.
When his last duty station with the Air Force landed him at Tinker Air Force Base, he decided it was time to find a CrossFit gym. He researched gyms across Oklahoma City, and Koda was first on the list. He never made it to check out gym number two—and Koda is better for it.
Ever the planner, the day before Tre was set to go to Koda for the first time, he drove all the way to the gym but didn’t go inside. On his first workout day, much like any new Kodite, Tre wandered in and was pointed toward the front desk to speak to Koda HQ’s general manager, Mai Muse. He remembers John Ta being his partner for that first workout and having to struggle through some Overhead Wall Ball Lunges.
Four years in, Tre has grown with Koda. He became a trainer and now heads up Koda’s latest location, Koda CrossFit Deer Creek. As a result, he is not loyal to any particular class and is, instead, happy to jump in with any group. Tre has a special appreciation for incremental progress because he understands that is the best way to hit his long term goal of being as strong and fit as possible, for as long as possible. “Feeling like I moved the needle forward after a good workout is an addicting feeling,” says Tre.
Each workout serves a purpose for Tre, but he says there isn’t any one that sticks out as a favorite though he enjoys those workouts that really tests his mettle. If there are air-squats and muscle-ups involved, that is always a plus. What does stick out clearly in his mind is seeing all the smiling faces and fist bumps that everyone is so generous with through the post workout haze.
Tre’s focus on long term goals means he is not a fan of regularly maxing out, but he does recall his excitement the first time he hit 315 pounds on a clean. He doesn’t remember the particulars of what led up to the lift, but does remember being peer pressured into attempting it—the one time peer pressure worked out. Of the moment, Tre says, “I’m really glad I recorded it.”
During his fifth year at Koda, Tre is looking forward to bringing the Koda Culture to Koda CrossFit Deer Creek. “ We care. There aren’t many communities left, outside of your home, where people encourage you to be more, and care about your well-being,” says Tre.
Thank you Tre, for seeing the Koda community and deciding it was something you wanted in your life and for believing in it enough that you wanted to grow with us. For the curious– what does a fit man do when he’s not at Koda? For Tre the answer is drink coffee and re-watch episodes of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ or ‘The Office’—mystery solved.
Taylor Tinsley is a staple in the 6pm class, and she has been bringing herself and her Lulus to Koda for the last four years. It was a budding romance that first brought her to Koda CrossFit, just not her own. Her then roommate, Lauren Storts, was looking to get flirty with her now husband at Koda, and invited Taylor to join a workout. Looks like it worked out for everyone.
Taylor’s first day at Koda showed her the type of community she was back-squatting into. Day one was a JWOD and it was also a birthday celebration. “Everyone was drinking, and I was so confused, but in the best way! I went home and googled what a “JWOD” was. Didn’t have much luck with that one,” says Taylor.
If you’re a gambler, you can bet you’ll find Taytins at the 6pm Monday thru Friday. She works in Norman and heads straight to Koda HQ after work to make sure and get her workout done, before any other life responsibilities pop up. Luckily, the 6pm class happens to be the perfect combination of kick your butt fitness and socializing. “You make friendships in those classes, even if you don’t do much outside of just your normal gym time. It makes it fun to go, even when you feel like you’re dying,” says Taylor.
Her most memorable workouts went down at the First Timers Competition in 2016. Taylor says she never expected to participate in a CrossFit competition, but after some encouragement/unyielding nagging– probably from Jared– she went for it. The results of the competition ended with her doing better than she had anticipated, and that made her think about how she wants to take on her workouts in the future. “I got in a habit of scaling everything down rather than trying to work on a new skill. In the past year or so, I have been trying to get out of that habit, and push myself to work on basic skills like double unders, pull ups and toes to bar,” says Taylor. The results of her hard work are undeniable, as she has seen measurable improvement in those movements, and is excited to no longer have to scale every workout.
In these four years, Taylor says she always leaves Koda in a better mood than when she walked in, and says she is happy Koda can give her exactly what she needs– a tough workout and a good time. In the next year, she is looking forward to the CrossFit Open as a way to continue pushing her limits, and getting to know more of Koda’s community outside of her normal 6pm crew. Taylor, thank you for being a part of Team Koda. We are excited for what you will achieve as you continue to challenge yourself and develop new athletic skills.
Shane Laisle. His name brings to mind countless titles of distinction: Player of college football (kickers and punters DO count), Regular of the 6PM class, Wearer of exotic sweat-bands, Marryer of Dara Nordstog, and of course (perhaps most proudly, we’re sure), Four-Year Kodite. On this auspicious anniversary, we’re here to celebrate him, to share a little about Shane, and show why we’re so pleased to have him as a member of the Koda family.
It will surprise no one who has met Shane that he comes from a background of athletics; he certainly looks the part. “I grew up in a household that was all about sports and being competitive. I played just about every sport you could think of growing up as a kid, and when I got to high school I played football, basketball, and soccer. I was lucky enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Rhode Island to play college football.” College athletes are worked hard, toiling unceasingly under squats, cleans, snatches, and deadlifts, sometimes long after the fun has gone from the workouts. After college, Shane decided, as many athletes do, to continue to work out, but also to find a regimen that avoided the movements he had tired of.
“I held true to that and became the typical gym member that would do the same old routine of back and bi’s Monday, chest and tri’s Tuesday, etc. Then after about a month or two I would be burnt out of doing the same thing and would have to take off for an extended period of time.” Another 4+ year Kodite, Justin Terrell had been Shane’s long-time workout partner, and the two moved from gym to gym together until Justin joined Koda. Shane resisted Justin’s urging to try CrossFit at first, but eventually he gave in, and conceded that he would do ONE workout, and that it MUST be the 10AM class so he didn’t have to wake up early. “I don’t remember much about that first class or the exact workout that we did, but I do remember that it had toes‐to‐bar in the workout. Watching the demonstration and seeing others do the movement, I thought that it couldn’t be that difficult… I was probably one of the last ones done with the workout, which was very humbling.” Shane says he was left feeling a little overwhelmed, but definitely intrigued. He decided to give it a month or two, “and four years later, here I am.”
Shane says there are three things that keep him coming back to Koda. First, he enjoys the variety. “As someone who gets burnt out of doing the same workout over and over, I enjoy so much that the workouts constantly change from week to week.” Second, he enjoys the competition. “I view the WOD’s as a competition against everyone else in class to see who can finish first (as well as a competition to beat my wife in the workout).” Finally and most importantly, Shane cites the relationships he’s built. “I have been able to enjoy Koda parties, lake trips with Koda friends (Thanks Matt McGee & Jason Sumner), weekly golf outings during the summer (still a better golfer than Kyle Kauk), but most importantly through these friendships I was able to meet my wife.”
Shane wanted to offer these kind words to Koda HQ owners Jared, Mai, and Brice: “You guys have built something special that goes beyond just a business, you’ve built longstanding relationships with your members.” Koda offers its thanks to Shane, who embodies those values that Koda aspires to.
You help make Koda the place it is, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have you.
Bart Terrell knows about fitness. He has he worked his way onto the competition floor of a couple of men’s physique competitions– so we guess he knows about little board shorts and spray tans too. After those physique competitions, he was ready to take on a different challenge through CrossFit. Now, he is celebrating four years at his fitness home, Koda CrossFit.
Bart did not start his CrossFit journey at Koda, but says that friends, family, and the excessive use of the color purple lead him to come to Koda. Bart was a dedicated member of the Koda Athlete class through its entire run, and it made him appreciate developing good form and being aware of movement patterns. His favorite movements are heavy thrusters, heavy deadlifts, and heavy squats– see a pattern there? Let’s not talk about Olympic lifts, though, except to say that Bart thinks they can suck it.
Outside of the gym Bart enjoys family time and still making an appearance at the globo gym to work on his guns. At Koda, you’ll often find Bart in any class coached by Chad Hamilton or Jared Muse. He enjoys how serious they are– even if it’s about different things. “Chad is super serious about form and strict movement patterns and Jared is serious about making class fun,” says Bart.
A goal oriented athlete, Bart likes knowing that Brice Collier has thought out and written Koda programming in advance for 8, 9, or 10 week cycles. Dedicated work during different cycles allowed him to reach weightlifting accomplishments, including a 425-pound squat, and a 500-pound deadlift for multiple reps. He has also overcome a bicep injury and is stronger than before. Double-Unders took him some three years to be able to do consistently, but now it’s done.
This upcoming year Bart plans on keeping up the fun he experiences every time he sets foot in Koda CrossFit, but he is going to mix it up a little by doing more metcons. Expect to see him giving it his all during The Lion workout– a workout that holds special significance to Bart because he knows what it
means for co-owner Brice Collier– and he is always willing to show fellow Kodites how to perform a good curl and make those muscles really pop for the judges.
Thank you Bart Terrell for being a motivating part of the Koda CrossFit community.
Elizabeth Rathgeber loves a challenge, from building the strength to perform strict handstand pushups to holding a beer stein for extended periods of time, and she credits Koda for helping her get to both of those. Elizabeth is celebrating her four year Kodaversary, and we are happy to celebrate her accomplishments.
She was one of those cool marching band kids way back when, and kept fit while in college with your standard cardio and light weightlifting routine. The sharp turn came during a summer internship in pharmacy school when Elizabeth decided to try Olympic Weightlifting—then enter CrossFit.
“I heard CrossFit included aspects of Oly mixed with cardio and bodyweight movements…I wanted a healthy outlet from pharmacy school stress relief,” says Elizabeth.
Her first class included one of CrossFit’s notoriously mentally challenging workouts, Grace. It was a memorable day—co-owner Mai Muse was her partner, and she cheered Elizabeth on during what had to have been five minutes of struggle with 53 pound clean and jerks for thirty reps. Co-owner Jared Muse jokingly says he thought she’d never come back, but of course Elizabeth did, and she is a stronger and more capable version of herself for it.
One of Elizabeth’s most memorable workouts happened during her first CrossFit Open. Workout 13.4 involved a combination of 95 pound clean and jerks and toes to bar in 7 minutes. She stepped toward the bar knowing 95 pounds was her 1 rep max in the lift. Determination and proper form lead to great things during that work out. Elizabeth managed to hit the weight multiple times, and even made it well into the third round. It was something she was proud of—she posted the scorecard on her fridge for over a year as a reminder of what she is capable of accomplishing.
It is the curiosity of what more she could do, that keeps her motivated to return to classes. From not being actively involved in athletics, to being able to complete strict handstand push-ups and pull-ups doesn’t happen without effort. “If you just want an open community that supports your progress and endeavors, Koda is perfect for that. Class members support one another in their fitness goals, and Koda is a community that cares,” says Elizabeth.
As a pharmacist for Children’s hospital, Elizabeth says the fundamentals she’s learned at Koda have transferred into the professional aspects of her life including moving heavy fluid boxes at work. CrossFit has also helped build Elizabeth’s stamina and explosive strength while skiing and racing NASTAR. Perhaps most impressive, Elizabeth was able to hold a full beer stein for over two minutes last year– though we can’t believe she held it that long without taking at least one sip.
Elizabeth is quiet about her work in the gym and out of it. The woman walked into Koda four years ago, and needed a lot of assistance and scaling options to complete a single pull-up. Now, she is realistically setting her sights on achieving a muscle-up in her athletic future, but there is no pressure there because her main focus in the next year will be on consistency.
“This next year, I’m looking forward to being as consistent with training as possible, valuing my physical fitness and strength capabilities, doing this by working no more than 50-hour work weeks. Whether it be a muscle up, sets of 20 straight double-unders, 20-meter handstand walks… what I get from Koda and CrossFit only reflects my effort and input,” says Elizabeth.
Spoken like a true athlete, and the kind of person that makes Koda what it is– keep your head down and do the work, all while offering a smile and encouragement to the person standing next to you. Thank you Elizabeth for choosing Koda. We value you, and now we know who’s hauling the beer into the gym for the next party.
Cole Martin and his wife Amanda are staples of the 6pm crew. I mean, it seems like Cole has been coming here forever. Around 4 years? Actually 4 years! Happy four-year Kodaversary, Cole! We’d like to celebrate the stubbly half of the Martin power couple by sharing some stories about Cole.
The first thing I’ll note is that Cole is as modest as he is charming. He’s not eager to advertise his fitness and athleticism, but that’s okay because we will! Cole will only say he’s done a lot of running and a little bit of basketball, but for those of us who have tried (and often failed) to match him in a WOD know that he’s hard to keep up with. In his very first CrossFit competition, Koda’s “First-Timer’s”, no less, he finished second against a very competitive field.
It’s probably not too surprising that Cole entered the CrossFit scene with a high level of fitness. He was brought on board by a former Koda Endurance Coach, as a matter of fact! One of the earliest workouts Cole remembers, though, was a challenge. “I remember showing up to do the filthy fifty in like my first
or second week. It was a long workout so I thought I could just smoke everyone because I thought I had good endurance. I think it took me 45 minutes because I did the first 2 movements as fast as I possibly could.” Live and learn, as they say.
Cole has certainly learned. Though he states a mild interest in perhaps trying out a morning class, he currently holds it down at the 6 O’clock Koda class, after work. Each day he pushes himself and his workout comrades, and he makes it a more fun place to be. He says he likes the 6pm because of coach
and co-owner Jared Muse’s humor and style, and he cites the variety and intensity as the reasons that keep him coming back to Koda. “It’s a great place to keep motivated with programming that is varied from week to week with people that will push you through each movement.”
As a man who values his free time, when he and his wife aren’t making the rest of us look unfit at the 6pm class, Cole likes relaxing, drinking beers with his wife and dogs on a patio somewhere. At Koda we appreciate that he chooses to spend some of that time with us, pushing himself and those around him to be better and bringing a charm and ease with him that make it a pleasure to be there.
Thank you, Cole.
From a decade of classical ballet to a certified badass CrossFitter, Katie Nimz is a quick study with a love for giving her all to achieving the challenges before her. She celebrates her four year Kodaversary cherishing the memories behind her, and looking ahead to the promise of her athletic future.
Katie “The Hammer” Nimz– but like really, how cool is that nickname– was always an active person, and started doing CrossFit workouts sometime in 2005 while she was in OSU for college. Her very first CrossFit workout was Cindy, a sounds-easy-on-paper workout consisting of as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. “While I thought I was going to die, I liked it because it was more of an endurance workout and pushed me more than anything else had since high school,” says Katie.
In 2012, she was back in OKC, and after some time creating a good baseline, Katie attended a CrossFit level 1 certification class where she met Koda co-owner Brice Collier. “I knew he was a big part of Koda, and I knew he was a good competitor, so naturally I picked Koda to be my new home,” says Katie.
Her first day at Koda is a blur but Katie is sure she was wearing running shorts, her Asics tennis shoes, and a cut off t-shirt. What she does remember well is an early conversation she had with member Solange Eddy Douglass where the impressively strong Solange told Katie she was the Sam Briggs to her Lindsey Valenzuela. “She was the muscle; I was the engine. I thought that was one of the best compliments a girl could ever receive,” says Katie.
Of her most memorable experiences, Katie recalls her time on the 2014 CrossFit Regionals floor with Team Koda. The entire experience will always remain close to her heart, but overcoming one specific challenge when the pressure was on, is her favorite moment from that weekend. Two weeks before the competition she did not have a solid handstand, and learned that handstand walks would be a part of the competition that required a 10-foot minimum. “We practiced every day, even in hallways of the hotel in Chicago…Going from not being able to hold a handstand at all, to being able to walk 10 feet was huge in my book,” says Katie.
For now, Katie is taking a step back from her intense training. She is newly married, back in school for a nurse practitioner program, and prioritizes spending quality time with her step son and Bernese Mountain Dog. Still, she manages to come to Koda three times a week, and expects to be back to more Koda time once she is finished with school. Moments, like back when she achieved her first muscle-up, keep her loving the hard work and dedication required of CrossFit athletes. You need to know, that muscle-up, that one successful moment in time only came after practicing, trying, and failing over and over for six months. That day, though, the day it clicked, the running around the gym, the crying with joy, and the achievement of what she thought was not possible for her– that made it all worth it.
Katie’s description of Koda is heartwarming and simple. To Katie, Koda is loyal. “I can trust that what I put into Koda is what I will get out of Koda. While my world is chaotic outside of the gym, I can count on Koda to be my ‘constant’. It never lets me down and I leave better than what I entered,” says Katie. In her fifth year, Katie says she hopes to continue growing the close friendships she has made at Koda. She will also be finishing school, is thinking of expanding her family, and going back onto the competition floor. Thank you, Katie, for your dedication to a sport we love, and no matter where life takes you, Koda will be here with a tough workout and a high five.
Angie Bowers is a pro at modesty. She’ll tell you before CrossFit she was skinny and not very strong, but she was an athlete, playing softball, volleyball, and all sorts of intramural sports, all through childhood and college. She can also do pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and freestanding handstands.
She’ll also tell you she has no desire to participate in a CrossFit competition, but she’s pretty sure she will probably participate in “Cupid’s Revenge” next year, and it was her very competitiveness that brought her into the Koda fold in the first place. What can we say? CrossFitters are complicated people. This year we celebrate the four-year Kodaversary of this tough athlete, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have her in the Koda family.
To rewind a step, how Angie came to be a member is a revealing story. Her husband has been a long time member with Koda as well, and before she joined, she would listen patiently to his recounting of the day’s workout, thinking all the while how little she was interested in participating. Even her children joined in for Kids’ CrossFit. Dropping her children off one day, she saw a member had brought her mother. “Seeing this woman who was at least 35 years older than me doing it lit my competitive fire. I thought, ‘oh hell no, if this lady can do it, and seemed excited about being there, surely I can eke my
way through this.” And thus, the legend was born.
Angie hit the workouts hard from the get-go. She recalled several of those early workouts really taking the wind out of her. One, in particular, “We were doing sled pulls…Jared was coaching, I think, but Chad was there, just hanging around, like he’s known to do. It was the last pull, and I had taken a weight
off, because I couldn’t even run at the end. It was a slow, painful to watch, grind. Chad saw me take the weight off and told me that I had better bring it if I was taking weights off. Jared then came down the line putting more weights on. Chad just looked at me and said, ‘just try to get down there and back’. So I did.” That’s how Angie rolls. She comes in, and gets the job done.
By her own admission, the desire to come in and work hard is one of the things that keeps her coming back. “I just like the constantly varied workouts, I love the people, and I love the [encouragement] from the coaches. I need that fear of being shamed from stopping mid-workout to keep me going. I also like getting stronger and faster.” Community is big in Angie’s book. When not at Koda or work, Angie enjoys spending time with her neighborhood friends, and, especially, spending time with her girls.
It is clear how her children inspire her to be the best version of herself. Says Angie, “I want to be a strong 40 year old, which hopefully will lead to a strong 50 year old. And I want my girls to see the women at the gym and me as having a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body image, rather than trying to achieve a ‘thigh gap’.” Koda is lucky to have such a strong, confident woman to inspire us and our members too, and for that we say thank you, Angie.
Elizabeth Le is a powerhouse with a good sense of humor, and she is celebrating her four year Kodaversary. She is a kind and happy part of the Koda family, but when it comes down to business she doesn’t mess around. Elizabeth, or Liz as you may know her, is an award-winning Olympic lifter with big goals she will surely reach.
As a girl, Elizabeth never played any sports, other than three months of ice skating, but she has always been a social butterfly who puts value and work into the relationships she builds with the people she meets along the way. As an adult, boot camp classes weren’t cutting it, and she noticed a friend posting about CrossFit on social media, and it peaked Elizabeth’s interest. Some life changes came her way, and that was the catalyst that launched her into Koda CrossFit, or as Elizabeth put it, “eh- what the hell….”
The first time anyone does a CrossFit workout, it can be a tough, panting, roll on the ground after you’re done sort of experience, but Elizabeth says hers wasn’t too bad. What she does remember clearly about that first day is meeting co-owner Jared Muse and Mai Muse, and her interaction with them is what brought her back to what would eventually become her new home.
Elizabeth would frequent the 4:30 pm class with coaches Jared Muse and Chad Hamilton for a long time. Now she has shifted from CrossFit classes to training exclusively in Olympic lifting, so it should be no surprise that some of her favorite movements include the back squat and the snatch. Seriously, have you seen the woman perform Olympic lifts? They are graceful and powerful, and award-winning. She credits Coach Jared with peaking her interest in the sport, and challenging her regularly in her early CrossFit days.
“I also remember getting a 1:1 session with Jared on snatching at the old gym because I always got to the gym so early.”
Some of her memorable workouts include competitions she has participated in with Doug Bridges. Elizabeth says it is fun and challenging doing competitions with your significant other, and that she is happy Doug can push her to do things she feels are out of reach once fatigue sets in.
From developing a love for new sports to adding a whole new group of people that are important to her life, Elizabeth says Koda has been a blessing that allowed her to start fresh when she needed it.
“All my friendships and my relationship with Doug have all evolved from Koda. Yes, I have my high school friends and yes, I have my college friends, but I love all of the friendships that have evolved in my adulthood from this gym.”
When she is not at the gym, Elizabeth likes to play with Cash Bridges. That’s Doug’s pup, but she claims partial ownership. She has taught him some impressive tricks after all, like taking off socks, and taking clothing to the laundry basket.
Elizabeth says she is driven to train because she wants to continue to be better and stronger as an Olympic lifter, and she knows that will only happen if she puts in the work. Her goals for her next year at Koda include breaking state records and qualifying for national meets. We know you’ll succeed Elizabeth. You make Koda proud.
Steven began his CrossFit journey while in college on summer break. His brother introduced him to the exercise regimen and when he returned to Norman he came into the new Koda Norman. Four years later, he’s still with us, and we thank him for his trust and dedication on his four-year Kodaversary!
Steven comes to Koda as many do. He’s a former high school athlete who competed in football and track, who needed an athletic pursuit and way to keep fit after high school, and his success over the past four years shows his progress since what he describes as his days before CrossFit. “I am more proud of how steadily I have progressed and how much more rounded I am physically and mentally compared to when I used to just be a “gym rat”. Nevertheless, we’re going to brag at least a bit on Steven’s Koda accomplishments.
Since he started with Koda Norman during college, he’s graduated and now works a full-time job. Despite the new time constraints on his training, this past year he competed in Koda’s “First Timer’s Open” where he placed second overall in a tough competition against a strong field. The accomplishment is all the more impressive because of his busy work life. According to Steven, “If I’m working: I wake up at either 1:30 am, or 1:30 pm, depending on whether I’m working day or night shift. Do a crossfit(ish) workout in my apartment gym. Eat and head to the job site for work. Work for 12 hours and then drive home. Go to sleep, rinse, repeat.”
Despite the constraint of not being able to make it to Koda on workdays, he is diligent to make it in on his days off. “Recently, with my rough work schedule, I have been going to any class that I can make it to. I’ve gone to a couple of 5:30 am classes and met a whole new group of Kodites. I mainly try to go from around 4-6 pm on my days off.”
He says it’s the community that keeps him coming back. “The community, the coaches, the programming, and the competition…Koda is a community of people from all different walks of life that come together with the goals of self-improvement. The unique thing about Koda is that on top of getting fitter and healthier, members come away happier, with new friendships, and a new community to belong to.
He spoke to us about Rawson’s Memorial workout last year. “I hung out with him quite a bit in the gym when I was still in Norman, and when I heard he passed, it hit pretty hard. The memorial workout was a good way to remember him and come together to support each other.” Steven always keeps what’s truly important in perspective, and for that, we thank him and celebrate him. Steven is one of the Kodites who really helps us and our members remember why we come here each week, and he helps make Koda a community, rather than simply a gym.
Koda is celebrating the four year kodaversary of TV-man, photoshop expert, and recreational exerciser extraordinaire, our resident sportscaster, Carson Cunningham! While Carson can
reliably be found on the Channel 5 evening news and at the Koda noon class, the best way to give you a sense of the man is through his own words.
We asked him what keeps him motivated to keep coming back, week after week, workout after workout, to which he replied, “It reminds me so much of grueling high school practices where the coach would run us to exhaustion. The ones where you reach a breaking point. Each class I reach that breaking point where I say to myself, “There’s no possible way I can keep going.” Yet, fighting through those thoughts and finishing the class is truly a rewarding experience. I’m addicted to that feeling.” That ethic exemplifies one of the noblest values Koda, as a gym, and CrossFit, as a whole hopes to engender, and that’s what Carson brings to the table every day.
Carson developed his work ethic and athleticism over more than 10 years of soccer, in club and high school play. But after starting college at OSU and putting up the cleats and shin-guards, Carson says he put on the infamous “freshman 15” and realized that he now needed to deliberately seek out exercise. Unfortunately for Carson, he found his new regimen unfulfilling. At the persistent urging of a friend, Carson decided to give CrossFit a try.
Carson remembers that first day vividly. He describes sitting in the car for 10 minutes, watching current Koda members working out in the parking lot at the height of summer, and trying to summon the courage to walk in. “Once I dodged all of the barbells and people running a 400, I was greeted, kindly, by Chad Hamilton. Chad was so thorough (is he anything but?) and accommodating. I felt like I was home before I took a single class.” He also lauds co-owner Jared Muse: “He makes everyone feel at home and eases the tension of newbies. The reason Koda is so successful is the
ownership.” Recounting a workout from those early days, Carson says, “In my second week we did Fran. I could only do strict pull-ups and I remember getting to the 18-minute mark and Jared told me to quit and go lay down. I did.”
Whether that merciful recommendation from Muse biased Carson’s opinion of him for the better, we will, perhaps, never know for certain, but we do know that Carson kept at it, and I’m reliably told that Carson has improved his Fran time over the past 4 years. In fact, Carson has improved many things over the past 4 years: He’s regained his fitness, he’s mastered the elusive double-unders, he’s gotten stronger, and this coming year Carson says he wants to participate in the “RX” division in the CrossFit Open, avoid injury, and get his first ring muscle-up. Koda is grateful to have a hand in helping Carson to achieve his goals, but Koda is also grateful to Carson for how he contributes to Koda. The dedication, the attitude, and the ethic that he brings every day into the gym that helps to positively shape the gym into the kind of place Koda strives to be, and for that, we not only celebrate Carson’s Kodaversary, but thank him for being a part of the family.
Steve Michael is an all-around family man. He takes his role as a father and the health of his children very seriously. It was his relationship and care for his children that took him from CrossFit main site workouts at home to now celebrating his four year Kodaversary as a part of the Koda family. He started his fitness journey with basic bodybuilding style weightlifting in high school, and added running into his fitness regimen as he got older.
It was Steve’s brother who first introduced him to CrossFit, and in 2011, he jumped into those main site workouts. He remembers enjoying the challenge, and soon he realized these workouts had potential to be an activity to bond over with his oldest son. The garage workouts were fun, but Steve realized he and his son needed more of a challenge. Once his son Jake hit his teen years, they signed up with a gym together. Then, Steve soon moved to Koda with friends and fellow members Justin and Alyssa Terrell.
“We knew we did not need to look anywhere else. This vibe was so different, and we felt right at home.” Despite his experience in weightlifting, Steve was nervous on his first day. He says he enjoyed co-owner Jared Muse’s lighthearted demeanor, and appreciated how well the coaches treated his son. Steve says he
truly feels the Koda community in and out of the gym and mentioned that co-owner Brice Collier has attended several of Jake’s football games.
“I think it is the best place on the planet, even better than Disney. Jared, Brice, and the crew have done such a great job building this little empire.”
One of Steve’s proudest moments at Koda is making it onto the board for his time in the Koda Press and Run. He also fondly remembers the first time he hit big numbers on some of his lifts, like his first time squatting 300 pounds and the first time he stuck a 400-pound deadlift. Though he still struggles with saying
no to doughnuts and other assorted treats, Steve says Koda’s challenging workouts have kept him in line, and that is especially valuable to him as he ages.
Four years into Steve’s time with Koda he says his oldest son Jake has surpassed him in “every aspect of fitness,” and that he is now looking forward to his youngest son, Josh, doing the same. Steve views CrossFit as an excellent way for children and adults to learn the importance of health and the development of grit and mental toughness. Thank you, Steve, for believing in Koda and the power of CrossFit beyond the physical. We will continue to enjoy your hard work and humor and can’t wait to welcome another one of your children onto the team.
Kyle Smailey is, to put it plainly, just the best kind of people. When you hear something like, “I really like the people at my gym.” They’re talking about people like Smailey. He’s the kind of guy who makes you look forward to going to the gym and makes that experience better than it would have been otherwise.
He’s great to hang out with outside the gym, too! That’s why it is with extreme pleasure that we celebrate Smailey’s four-year Kodaversary!
Yes, the man, the myth, the legend has been a member of Koda for four years now, and though that means he wasn’t always a Kodite, it’s certainly hard to picture the place without him. Smailey comes to us from a background of high school and collegiate sports. He played football, swam, and was on the
water polo team in high school, and during college he ventured into cheerleading at the University of Oklahoma. As he began nursing school, though, his exercise regimen migrated over to a standard gym while he attended nursing school.
Smailey says it was actually his father who inspired him to try CrossFit for the first time. “My dad had been talking about it for several months doing it on his own in his garage.” He says after seeing the CrossFit Games on TV for the first time, he dropped in at Koda to try a few workouts. That experience,
Smailey says, was revelatory. “Both times, I threw up, and I realized how out of shape I was, staying in my own comfort zone…” When he heard Koda Norman was opening, he decided to make the commitment, signed up, and came to his first class as a member. “Wearing my most athletic and best-fitting gym clothes, drinking tons of water, and taking my pre-workout at the exact, precise time to exude maximum performance…” From there, Smailey says it went a bit downhill. He says he doesn’t remember the workout, but he remembers he didn’t finish under the time-cap and that he lay on the floor trying to recover for some time after.
He’s come a long way from that first day though. Just this January he competed in the Fittest in OK and smoked the competition during “Swimmer’s Delight,” a swimming ladder in which Smailey was the last one standing (so to speak). He went on to take the gold for his division. He says that he’s especially
proud of his placement in the highly competitive “scaled” category at the Fittest Games in Austin, Texas in 2016. To even enter the competition requires beating out a sizeable number of entrants. According to their website, even 3 years ago The Fittest Games boasted over 500 athletes and over $20,000.00
combined winners’ purses, and it hasn’t gotten smaller. Smailey took 2nd in his division. His growth matches his dedication.
Until recently, Smailey worked a hellacious schedule that would convince most they simply didn’t have time for the gym. “My work schedule for a while consisted of working nights as an intensive care unit registered nurse from 7pm – 7am, driving 100 miles back from Tulsa, going to [Koda’s] 9:15 class, sleep from 11am – 4pm, then driving back to Tulsa for work.” When we asked how he stays motivated, he gave us two reasons: first he cites the constant push and improvement. “I’m able to do things, physically, now that I never thought I’d be able to.” And he says he sees those physical gains translate into mental gains as well. Second, he says the community keeps him coming back, “to see my friends and the relationships I’ve made at Koda. It’s probably one of my hangout spots, that just happens to be a gym too.
Smailey says, “[Koda] is just fun and warm…it doesn’t matter your skill level…I doubt I would have become this involved if it weren’t for all the individuals and atmosphere at Koda.” Well, Smailey is the kind of person that helps create that positive atmosphere and camaraderie we’ve all come to enjoy, and for that, Koda is indescribably lucky.
Tall, strong, and lean, Kyle is a walking advertisement for CrossFit and for Koda, but he’s not just a piece of meat, people. He’s a human being with hopes and dreams, and we’re not just here to ogle his shorts, which used to be far too long, but now may be a little too short. We’re here celebrating his four-year Kodaversary!
It’s perhaps somewhat ironic that he’s now one of the longest-tenured athletes at Koda considering he was a long-time hold out. He says Jarred Smith, one of Koda’s very first members, invited him “several times” to come give the new gym a try. Though he wasn’t initially interested in trying CrossFit, eventually Jarred wore him down and he came in. Some box jumps, burpees, and 200 meter runs later, Kyle says, “I signed up after my first day and have not worked out anywhere else since.”
Kyle is a long-time athlete, having played baseball, basketball, golf, and run cross-country throughout high school, but he says he first became motivated to become more serious about fitness and weightlifting while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Kyle tried to make it onto the baseball team as a walk-on, but was unsuccessful. To look at him now, you’d be surprised he’d attribute that outcome to a lack of size, which is a testament to the hard work he’s put in.
Kyle is competitive, but he has fun. He reminisces about a workout he did with Heidi Mahken and Koda co-owner Jared Muse during that first week: “Part of the workout was to complete 100 pull-ups between the three of us. After the two of them knocked out a set of 20ish butterfly pull-ups, I did 3 strict pull-ups that took about 20 seconds. They both laughed then got mad at me.” As a side note, he and Heidi have since competed in Koda’s “Cupid’s Revenge” year after year since, even winning best-dressed in 2016.
With an air of levity, Kyle describes one of his favorite accomplishments since starting CrossFit: mastering double-unders. “It took 32 years of my life to learn double-unders, so I was especially proud when I became able to do them unbroken for large sets. Also, I was embarrassed because it’s basically just jumping rope…”
For Kyle, the friendships he’s developed at Koda are just as important as the workouts. He golfs and goes fishing with some of the friends he’s made at the gym. For the following year, he hopes to maintain his friendships, and build new ones as more and more athletes join the Koda team. He is also already preparing for the 2018 Open Season where he hopes to do big things now that he will be qualifying for the 35 to 40 age division. Thanks for giving Koda a chance, Kyle. We are happy to have you and your legendary stretching skills.
It takes some people a little longer to find a love for athletic competition. John Ta was not interested in athletic pursuits until he became an adult, but now there is no turning back. After hitting the gym for the very first time John says he made it his religion. Then he started participating in mud runs with friends, and learned that competitive races can feel refreshing. That’s the man we know at Koda, and he is celebrating four years with the team.
Though John thrives in Koda’s challenging environment now, that was not exactly the case early on. His first class was at 5am. He remembers people being friendly and accommodating in spite of the
early hour, and he noted it was a different feeling that he enjoyed. John doesn’t remember his first work out, but will never forget needing to stop halfway through, and just lying on the floor. He was exhausted, and says his legs were crying in agony. We’ve all been there.
Though he first started with Koda bright and early John has settled into a dependable schedule with the 4:30 pm class. It is a good way for him to wrap up the day. He also makes a point of showing up at 8:00 am on Saturdays, to justify his cheat meals, he says jokingly. In his four years at Koda, he has found the community shares a common interest in not just physical challenges, but the mental challenges that arise from digging deep and finishing a tough workout. John’s most memorable workout is Murph, and it feels special every time he completes it.
“It is not just about my performance in the workout, but also how it gets the Koda community together, and supporting our beliefs,” says John.
After four years, John says he keeps coming back because of the community and the dynamics between the coaches and athletes. The coaches know his skill set and push him in a safe yet challenging manner. He celebrates when his fellow Koda athletes achieve something new, and it pushes him to become better too. For John, Koda allows him to do other things he loves outside of CrossFit. He still participates in mud runs or obstacle races a few times a year, and being fitter allows him the energy to travel outside the country on a yearly adventure.
Though he is not one to keep a log of his PR numbers, John is especially proud of being able to
complete a muscle-up. He is still working on perfecting his kipping motion which will allow him to more easily complete consecutive muscle-ups, and next on his list is figuring out the handstand walk. Next time you chat with John, you should know he is also a proud nerd at heart. Whether it’s movies or comics, he’s a fan, so quiz him, preferably during handstand walk practice to make sure he really knows his stuff.
Sherrie Jefflo is a multi-talented woman. She is a business owner and mother who makes the time to take care of herself and develop her fitness. Her ability to do it all is admirable. You know Sherrie. She drives a VW bug with a picture of her face on it to promote her business as an insurance agent. If that doesn’t ring any bells, you may know her as the woman who is dancing between squat sets and smiling through the toughest metcons most afternoons, and she is celebrating 4 years with Koda CrossFit.
In high school Sherrie played basketball and ran track, but eventually decided to become part of the marching band full-time. She led the band her senior year along with the drum majors. She took this talent to college and participated in band there as well. Sherrie maintained her fitness by attending traditional gyms and even took on the challenge of participating in several fitness competitions. She was then ready for something different, and that led her to Koda. To be more precise, it was fellow Koda member Katie Bevers’ thighs that led her to Koda CrossFit.
“One evening setting up for our annual gymnastics meet, I slapped Katie Bevers on the thighs and was like whoa your thighs are like concrete what are you doing? She said Crossfit at Koda. I looked it up and said I would try it,” says Sherrie.
She remembers driving by and seeing people running around with balls on their shoulders which she found overly intimidating. Sherrie eventually got over that concern and decided to send an e-mail for more information. Parts of her first workout at Koda are crystal clear, like Chad Hamilton and Ryan Doonkeen coaching the noon class on a snowy day. The workout itself is a little less clear. She remembers there were renegade row and dumbbell thrusters. She didn’t like it.
One of Sherrie’s most memorable workouts involved hill sprints, and it didn’t go very well. She remembers being unable to finish the workout. On the walk back to the gym, Sherrie had to sit on a curb because she felt ill. That sounds tough, but the memorable part actually came moments later on the street curb. Fellow CrossFitters Jason Littrell and Israel Solis walked by and immediately helped her get back inside. Jason pulled his shirt off, poured water on it and put it on Sherrie’s neck. Then Mai came running around the corner to help. Sherrie knew in that moment that the people at Koda really cared about each other.
Four years later, Sherrie frequents the 6pm class. She says she likes Jared’s fun approach to fitness and enjoys Coach Espy’s taste in music and barbell tips. She is especially proud of her increase in strength and her ability to do pull-ups. Going from being unable to do a single pull-up to your first strict pull-up can be a long journey, so it was especially exciting to finally get there.
Sherrie enjoys the variety of athlete levels at Koda. From the newbies to the competitors, everyone can get something out of the same class. Though she doesn’t consider herself a competitor, Sherrie says she enjoys the friendships she has made, and is living up to her one Koda CrossFit goal…. “I am here to look good naked.” Great work Sherrie. You can sure make us blush.
Henry Schmidt is celebrating his 4 year Kodaversary with us! If you’re not familiar with Henry, it’s probably because when he comes to the gym he has a laser-like focus that you might expect from a dedicated serviceman.
Henry has some impressive credentials, having served as a platoon leader and battle captain in Iraq and Afghanistan. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that he cites one of his most memorable workouts as “Leehan,” one of CrossFit’s hero WODs that honor the memory of fallen service personnel. Henry says that doing a workout named for a fallen friend was especially poignant.
Outside of the gym, he works as a construction project manager, and outside of work, he also attends a paramedic class and volunteers as a firefighter, so it’s a special honor for Koda to see him so regularly at the 9:15 class. “It’s never crowded and I’m finally awake,” he explains concisely. As long as things line up right, he’s not a hard man to please.
Nevertheless, he’s come a long way since joining Koda. He recalls having made the error of trying to keep up with Ryan Doonkeen his first day on the workout ‘Nancy,’ a leg intensive workout including 400 meter runs and far too many overhead squats. Since then Henry has developed his conditioning, and he has also improved all of his lifts. Referring to the deadlift, he says, “I started at 315 with terrible form, and now I’m at 425 with good form.”
Besides coming back for general fitness (and “to disappoint Jared”), Henry says this year he is looking forward to gaining consistency with his double-unders and muscle-ups. Koda looks forward to watching his continued progress in his 5th year as a Kodite.
Josh Wolverton is one of Koda’s competition regulars. So much so that he was in attendance at the very first Cupid’s Revenge competition before he had ever tried CrossFit. Now more than 4 years later, he has participated in numerous competitions including his most recent team competition at Wodapalooza in Miami with fellow Kodites Jacob Schneider and Doug Bridges. “We had competed in the Intermediate Individual group the year before and decided to take it on as a team.” They brought home the gold in their division. It’s almost enough to make you forget about the time he face-planted during a sled drag during the First Timer’s Open. Almost.
He says that watching that first competition inspired him to come in and try it for himself. It’s perhaps fitting that his first week of CrossFit was during the CrossFit Open of that year where any individual who wishes can sign up to compete on a world-wide scale. That day he was competing against our own Jared Muse, and though 0 days of CrossFit hadn’t yet granted him proficiency in all the skills, he says he enjoyed watching Muse and the competitive nature of the workout.
Though he competes quite a bit, Josh is an easy-going, amiable guy who is fun to chat and hang out with. He comes to the gym and hits his workouts hard, but in the interim, he has an air of relaxation and calm. For Josh, Koda is important for the social aspects as well as the physical. “It’s a community of people that enjoy working out. Everyone is accepted…it’s a place where you can meet a lot of good people that you can connect with socially and meet some great friends.
It’s for this reason you can find him anytime between 4:30-5:30pm, straight from work as a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors. He says he enjoys working out with the regulars from those hours. If you find him though, you’ll notice he’s usually there longer than the standard 1 hour class, “depending on who ‘cons’ me into doing extra workouts,” he says, only half-jokingly.
Outside of work and the gym, Josh says he enjoys, “golfing, going to the lake, and if it’s Saturday, then we all know what Saturdays are for…SAFTB!!!” Well, maybe we don’t all know that, but we do all know how glad we are to have Wolverton prowling the gym, and generally being awesome.
Fitness is more of a journey than a destination, and that journey rarely happens in a straight line. Michael Bowers was always active in sports and enjoyed working out, but after he and his wife Angie decided to have children, his priorities started changing. He thought there was not enough time to care for himself until he realized it was better for his family if he made the time to care for his health.
After some weight gain, he decided that CrossFit might be the answer to taking control of his fitness once again. Anxiety over trying something new held him back until he met former Koda coach Ryan Doonkeen. Knowing one person in a new place was enough for Michael to jump in.
“It was scary and exciting all at once. I have so much respect for any new member who comes to Koda and doesn’t know anyone. I can’t imagine walking into our new gym and seeing all the great athletes and just be beginning my journey.”
Michael recalls focusing on one of Koda’s specialty classes for a full year before he decided to try the general CrossFit classes. He even admits to looking up CrossFit’s many acronyms before class for several months, to avoid looking like he did not know what was going on. He remembers his first class being difficult and sadistically fun at the same time.
“I had no idea what to expect or what to do. I got to the old gym and Dooner introduced me to Jared. I just sat in the area up front pretending to stretch, in reality I was just looking around at all the people.”
Michael’s favorite workouts are Kelly and Murph. He enjoys the long grind involved in completing these two workouts, and sees them as equalizers for many athletes because they don’t require a significant amount of strength to complete.
“My first Murph was so cool. So many people coming to do a workout that is just brutal, and all to show support for those who gave themselves to something bigger. It was truly amazing to be a part of it.”
Michael’s schedule has shifted over his four years at Koda, but he has settled into the early morning groove. He says the 5:30am classes were difficult to get accustomed to, but that he likes to have his evenings free for family and chores. Michael says the coaching variety and tightly knit group of early morning athletes is special to him.
“Koda is a supportive community of likeminded people bettering themselves and having fun. No matter your goals or your starting point, the coaches and members at Koda are there to support you and guide you towards being better.”
Michael’s growth during his four years as a Koda CrossFit athlete has been impressive, and this year he tied for first place at the Legends of the WOD competition in Grapevine, Texas. He is still working to improve his Olympic Weightlifting skills and says he spent probably six to seven weeks preparing for the Snatch portion of the competition. That hard work paid off because Michael was surprised at how much he was able to improve.
“Winning was a total surprise, but the feeling made all the Sundays at the gym worth it. What was more surprising was how much fun the day was. Everyone loves winning, and everyone knows it’s awesome, but spending the day with all of the Koda team was far more fun than I imagined.”
Moving forward, Michael says he is “looking forward to all of it.” Koda loves his excitement. Here is a peak at the things he plans to enjoy in the years to come: Going to class, seeing friends, getting stronger, participating in the CrossFit Open, running the OKC Memorial Marathon, doing more Masters competitions, cheering on my friends, being ridiculed by Jared and Brice, getting better at Olympic movements, doing more workouts RX’d, and most of all, setting an example for my kids.
Michael Bowers, if you want to do it all, thanks for doing it at Koda.
Denise is celebrating her four year Kodaversary, marking her as one of the longest standing members of the gym, but she is a relative late-comer to the world of fitness. According to Denise, since the end of her cheerleading days in college, she didn’t work out until she turned 47! She says it was family that brought her to CrossFit.
Denise had begun exercising and had lost weight, but she became bored with her routine. Her daughter, Lisa, had begun dating Chad Hamilton, Koda Coach and the man responsible for our professional photos, and she convinced Denise to give CrossFit a try. She says she fell in
love with the new regimen, and so she joined her family at Koda.
If you thought based on her late start that she’s not competitive, you would be wrong. Denise not only competes; she wins. She has stood on every spot on the podium, including the top, in the Fittest in OK CrossFit competition 3 years in a row. This coming year, she still has her sights set on mastery of new movements, including double-unders, butterfly pull-ups, and even muscle-ups.
Despite all this, however, Denise says it’s her family which she values most of all, and she makes time with them her priority. She says she chose her preferred workout time, 5:30 am, so that she can be sure to have time to spend with her granddaughter after work. She loves
spending time with her husband and planning vacations that include “all the kids.” Koda means friend, but Denise is family and makes the Koda family better by her example. She truly shows that fitness and fun make no excuses and have no expiration date.
In some ways CrossFit is an individual sport because you are responsible for yourself and get better competing against yourself, but in some very important ways there is forever a team feeling to this sport. We suffer together, we wait for the last person on the floor, we succeed as a box. After more than four years with Koda, Caleb Chrismon says one of the primary reasons he loves CrossFit is because of its parallels to the military. “The workouts suck, but they build a team,” says Caleb.
Caleb spent eight years in the Marines, four of those years in active duty, and spent time in the Middle East. He went inactive in 2010 and currently works for the government. Originally from Cyril, OK, Caleb is a farm boy who grew up on 85 acres, and says he sometimes misses the lack of people and the open spaces. When not working or at Koda, Caleb enjoys hunting, fishing, and “raising humans” with his wife, Tara.
Caleb remembers first watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN at Alfredo’s restaurant. When he first saw co-owner Mai Muse and fellow member Gina Dunseith running the McNellie’s Pub Challenge in their Koda gear, he wanted to join the team. Though he was familiar with functional movements because of his career in the military, concentrated CrossFit training allowed him to make improvements in Olympic lifts.
As he improved, Caleb caught the competitive itch and participated in several competitions his first four years at Koda. He enjoys the feeling of doing well in a competition, but knows that there is always the chance you will be reminded of your weaknesses. After all, not doing the way one expects in a competition is, perhaps, the most in your face reminder that we are never done improving as CrossFit athletes.
He admires that each coach brings something different to the table: co-owner Jared Muse and Coach Natalie Pulgini make the workouts fun, Coach Chad Hamilton pays special attention to technique, and Coach Tre Benefield builds endurance. He credits all the coaches in helping him improve in his overall strength, and become a more well-rounded athlete.
Leila Adlamini is an avid runner, weenie dog lover, and she is celebrating four years with Koda. Leila is no stranger to fitness. She grew up doing gymnastics and then started running in middle school. It was in her athletic development at a young age where she found excellent body awareness and learned that exercise is much more than a way to develop muscles. It has always been a way to develop friendships with people who prioritize their health and wellness.
Leila enjoyed her college life and kept up with runs and other work outs, but she says the drinks and 2am fast food adventures eventually caught up with her. By the time she graduated, she knew it was time to have a healthier adult diet and workout schedule. She joined a large standard gym, and did her best with little direction. She really enjoyed a class called BodyPump, and when she noticed some muscle gain, it felt like weight lifting was for her.
“This was my first real experience with lifting weights and once I started to see little baby muscles pop up I was hooked,” says Leila about her time as a BodyPump regular.
Social media clued Leila into Koda CrossFit, and she pushed herself out of her comfort zone to give it a try. “It took me a week before I finally built up the courage to walk in there by myself. I didn’t know a single person,” says Leila.
She fondly remembers co-owner Mai Muse introducing herself, and giving Leila a tour of the much smaller Koda building. Her first workout felt like a lot of pressure. She remembers working out with Dara Nordstog and Megan Trulove, and trying to be an impressive partner. “Of course I was nervous and felt like I had something to prove so I would sprint every run and go crazy fast. I am pretty sure Dara and Megan didn’t like me that day,” jokes Leila.
It was love at first workout for Leila. From the intensity to the friendly atmosphere, she felt welcomed at what would become her new fitness home. She remembers leaving Koda after her first workout feeling ecstatic because she had found people just like her. Leila frequents the 5:30pm class, and her attendance is very much like keeping an appointment to meet with friends. She meshes with co-owner and head-programmer Brice Collier’s “science-y” coaching style, and says it’s fun to be able to ask about why certain movements are important.
Leila is unlike your average CrossFitter because she still loves running. She has met other runners and was introduced to the OKC Running Club through Koda. She will also regularly use her CrossFit training to participate in races throughout the racing season.
Leila says everyone should consider having something more than work in their life. This is her adult extracurricular activity, and four years in, her daily one hour appointment at Koda has become a habit. She says it feels weird not to be at the gym everyday, and we think it would be weird not to see her everyday too.
It’s a quarter until class starts at Koda CrossFit. Some people are walking in, others are chatting about this or that, but there is a man mobilizing before the warm-up has even started. That man is Israel Solis, you may also know him as Izzy, and he is celebrating his four year Kodaversery.
Israel says he is proud of the improvement in his strength and endurance during his time at Koda. He also enjoys the camaraderie within Koda’s walls. Humorous verbal sparring often breaks the tension that comes with intense workouts, and getting into your own head before a major lift. Israel’s favorite class was one of Koda’s specialty classes where coach Chad Hamilton taught athlete’s about the importance of perfecting movements starting right at the warm-up, and continuing that special attention throughout the strength portions no matter how much weight was on the bar.
“He pushes us to do more than we think we can. All the coaches do push everyone, but in a safe manner.”
Israel says that one of his occasional struggles at Koda is failing to push himself as hard as he should, and says that he is happy that coaches are familiar with his strengths and weaknesses, so they are able to tell him when he needs to work a little harder. Israel appreciates Koda’s focus on longevity, and he believes long focused warm-ups and special attention to proper form have made him able to keep doing tough workouts surrounded by athletes of all ages. Israel has also enjoyed participating in competitions including the Bricktown Throwdown, Red Dirt Classic, and Cupid’s Revenge.
“When you are working, find someone that is at your level or a little bit better, and try and keep pace with them. That way, it will push you.”
Outside of the gym Israel works for one of the top architecture firms in Oklahoma City putting his OU Architecture degree to work. He also enjoys spending time with his wife of eight years, and their children. You can also find him, and his black belt, teaching Tae Kwon Do, and supporting the OK Kids Korral.
Israel plans to continue starting his CrossFit appointments a quarter before class to get in an especially solid warm-up. If you’d like to join him, he says he is still looking for participants, so feel free, after all, Koda means friend.
There are few women you’ll see 8 months pregnant and lifting weights and conditioning, but Virginia is one. Celebrating her four year Kodaversary with us, Virginia is one of the most prodigious athletes on the Koda roster. Though caring for her new daughter has taken some of her training time, that much has certainly not changed. She even competed in the “Fittest in OK” competition only four
months after having her daughter!
Like many people who walk into a CrossFit gym for the first time, Virginia is a life-long athlete who was looking to maintain her fitness. She participated in gymnastics and dance growing up, and dance brought her to Oklahoma City to major in dance at Oklahoma City University. Though she ultimately chose to become an attorney, she continued to dance on OCU’s first competitive dance team as the dance captain. It was there she met her future husband, Dan, who was the cheer captain at the time. “I was always asked to attempt all the crazy, dangerous-looking dance tricks that no one else wanted to do because my fellow coaches and teammates knew I would try just about anything.”
Virginia says she found a match for her competitive nature, athleticism, and team mentality at Koda. Of her first day, she says, “I walked in thinking I’ve always been pretty active and strong, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Boy was I wrong! I immediately realized I had a long way to go.” At this point, her competitive nature took over, and she knew she would be back to attack her weaknesses, of which
there are few.
She says she loves the Snatch Olympic lift and anything “gymnasty” (referring to gymnastic-centric movements), which helped her towards one of her favorite moments since joining: taking the top spot on the ladies’ leaderboard with a sub-4-minute “Fran” time, though this memory has some competition with the time she nailed herself in the face with a wall ball during the “Anarchy in the OK” competition (Don’t worry, she was fine, and lay there and laughed). Since coming to Koda, Virginia says she is proud of getting her first muscle-up, mastering double-unders, and vying with her husband for the title of Best Dancer in the household.
Outside of the gym, Virginia and her husband keep it fun. “Dan and I love cooking…having any kind of party at our house (especially if it involves food and football)…playing Dance Dance Revolution, and riding bikes with their daughter around Lake Hefner.
Virginia is a little harder to track down these days, attending various class-times as she continues to practice law in addition to caring for her little girl, but she doesn’t let that be an excuse to stop coming to Koda. In fact, she cites her daughter and her “impressionable eyes” as being a reason for her continued fitness. “I am so glad that we are raising Lily and our future children in an environment that
not only promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle, but that radiates the fact that healthy and strong doesn’t have to mean boring and unattainable.” And Koda is glad to have her and her family sharing those values and that positivity.
Dan describes his perfect day as one spent with his family, woodworking, stunting, Nintendo, watching OU football, and crossfitting at Koda. If that sounds like a lot, it will only surprise you if you don’t know what a busy man Dan is. He is currently working on his Master’s to become a Nurse Practitioner, he works, he does clinical hours, comes to Koda, and, of course, spends time with his wife
and baby girl. Perhaps even more so because of his incredibly busy schedule, we’re happy not only to see Dan regularly, but to celebrate his four year Kodaversary with us.
Dan’s background is collegiate cheerleading, for both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University. It was at OCU where he met his future wife, Virginia. He tells the story of working out with the strength trainers at OU. “I remember loading the leg press machine with all the weight it could carry and feeling pretty good about myself being able to lift it, until one of the coaches came by and told
us Adrian Peterson could do the same thing with one leg,” says Dan. His inability to best a professional athlete in a leg-pressing competition notwithstanding, Dan is a great athlete.
He says he first became interested in Crossfit after hearing about it while at a wedding then subsequently watching the 2012 CrossFit games. He talked to a current crossfitter (now a fellow Kodite) and decided to give it a try. That very first year Dan would go on to win Koda’s “First-Timer’s” competition.
Dan talks about those early days with enthusiasm. “I remember how great it was to see my name on the leaderboard for the different workouts…we used to put our times on the board for each day…I would always compare myself and try to beat people who had already gone.” Though that early motivation may not be as important to Dan these days, he still makes it a point to show up and work hard. “I just feel better when I come to class. And everyone has been so accommodating even when I bring my baby and she becomes a fuss nugget,” says Dan.
It’s that type of community feeling that makes Koda special for him. “Koda is a great place to grow as a person and a community. It’s for everybody. I’ve learned so much about myself and developed so many relationships that would not have been possible otherwise,” says Dan. And he has certainly had a hand in growing that community.
Dylan Stewart had some fun with soccer and golf a few years back, but saw it more as a chance to socialize, and less as an athletic pursuit. He was familiar with the basics of weightlifting, but after moving to Oklahoma City from a small Oklahoma town, he was ready to try something new. A friend first talked to him about Koda CrossFit, and Dylan decided it was worth a try. Now, he is celebrating four years as a part of the Koda community.
He remembers his first day at Koda as a humbling experience. He remembers walking in, and thinking, “this isn’t too tough,” but then quickly finding out all that work he was doing was just part of the daily warm-up. He gave it his best, but was unable to finish his first work-out.
Dylan’s four years with Koda have been more than a time to get fit. Being a part of Koda provided him some comfort during a difficult time in his life. His most memorable work out is Volkswagen. It was the fundraiser workout his community put together after a house fire took away everything he owned.
“The fire was the most stressful thing I have ever experienced, and I was completely overwhelmed by the love and support from the members at Koda,” says Dylan.
Dylan is comfortable in the challenge provided by Koda’s daily workouts, and has a special appreciation for developing his strength with solid body movements. He learned to become stronger by focusing on maintaining a solid foundation and efficient body movements in one of Koda’s specialty classes. Dylan likes to take a break from his chaotic and complicated daily schedule when he steps into the box, and says he will continue to use the tools Koda’s coaches have given him to reach his goal of continuing to get stronger. He fondly remembers stepping into the gym early on and hitting 250 pound on his deadlift. It took three years of work, and now his deadlift is sitting at over 400 pounds. Dylan’s new deadlift PR is a perfect example of how an hour of hard work with the Koda community can change your life. His next year at Koda will be a new and exciting adventure. Dylan will continue to use CrossFit as a tool to relieve stress and become a fitter and healthier version of himself, but this time he will be doing it as a first time father. Dylan and his wife Breann are welcoming their son in 2017.
Brett Marchbanks has been a Crossfitter for about 6 years, and Koda has been lucky to have him for the last 4 of those. Though he was a high school athlete, playing football, baseball, track, and basketball, Brett says after he graduated fitness became a less important part of his life. When his son was born in 2011, however, Brett recounts how he felt motivated to take care of his health again. “I
knew how important it was to get in shape and to be able to be the best version of myself for him,” says Brett. He now enjoys his fitness by going on fun family activities with his wife and son.
Brett joined the Koda family early, having trained with co-owners Jared Muse and Brice Collier before Koda’s founding. Though an ACL injury kept him out of the gym for nearly a year, he says, “Once I heard Jared and Brice were opening their own gym, I knew I would follow them.” Since then, he’s exceeded his expectations for himself in the Crossfit Open, he’s placed third in the Koda First Timer’s Open, mastered double-unders (which has had the added bonus of removing a joke from Jared’s repertoire), learned muscle-ups, and increased the number of classes per week he attends. The determination with which he’s attacked his goals is on display each day, whether he’s hitting a daily noon class or PRing the traditional Memorial Day Murph workout.
As he points out, “What we do in the gym is hard. If you didn’t keep it fun as well, it would be hard to keep that motivation to come back each day.” He cites the camaraderie, friendship, and competition between athletes and coaches as being a big motivator for his continued dedication. “Koda is all about the people for me… We all push each other to be better and cheer each other’s achievements,” says Brett.
Brett is excited for the Crossfit Open, which is his favorite time of year at Koda, and will continue to have fun and intense workouts with his fellow fit friends.