228 NW 60th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
8037 NW Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73162
1210 McGee St.
Norman, OK 73069
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.
If you start your day early at Koda, you have undoubtedly gotten to know what a fun guy Gary Wood is to be around. He’s a light-hearted, funny man whose friendliness helps to brighten you up 5:30 in the morning.
He says he likes the morning because it feels good to start the day off by accomplishing something positive, and Gary is almost unflappably positive. Gary is modest, and even if you ask him to (as we did), you’re going to have a very hard time getting him to
brag about himself, but when he comes in he works hard and always lightens the mood around him. “Getting frustrated or upset because I cannot do a particular movement or struggle in every workout is just not worth it,” says Gary.
Outside of Koda, Gary takes joy in traveling with his family, tailgating for Sooner football games, and cheering on the OKC Thunder. Gary and his family love to visit Disney, Seaside, Scottsdale, and he uses his functional fitness on a yearly snow ski trip. He says it’s his accomplishments at home, at work as an attorney, and in the community that bring him the most pride. Gary serves as board president of the OKC Metro Alliance. The group provides drug and alcohol treatment at no cost to hundreds of men and women each year.
Like many crossfitters, Gary came to Koda after a friend told him about our early morning classes. His preferred workout time is before he goes into work, so he came by and gave it a try. Gary’s found that working out at Koda allows him to manage his weight while enjoying many things in life, like travel and good food. Four years later, he’s one of the longest standing members of the gym. He says, simply, he works out at Koda to have fun, and the people at Koda make it fun. Perhaps that’s the secret to his longevity. “When I stop having fun is when I will stop coming to Koda.” That being the case, we hope Gary never stops having fun at Koda.
Taylor Looney was always an athlete. His sport of choice throughout his childhood was football, and even in his youth, Taylor was not afraid to take on more than most would. In high school he played left guard and defensive end, and remembers being about 30 pounds lighter than any of the other linemen. He kept up with fitness after high school, but stuck to the traditional structure of weightlifting until he stepped into Koda.
After some time of that traditional workout routine, Taylor decide he wanted something new, and when he saw a fraternity brother post some Crossfit pictures, that sparked Taylor’s interest. He called his friend and asked about Crossfit and Koda. That conversation was enough for him to give this new way of finding fitness a try. His first day at Koda feels like a blur four years later, but Taylor remembers being surprised by the class setting because working out had always been more of a solo activity for him.
Taylor enjoys the competitive aspect of crossfit, and one of his favorite moments happened during the final workout of Fittest in OK II. He was sitting somewhere around sixth to eighth place. The last work out was broken up into four parts, and each part would knock out two
people out of the running. Taylor described the final moments of that competition with such intensity. He hung in the competition until he came head to head with the person sitting in first place. The last portion of the work-out involved completing thrusters and pull-ups for 15-12-9
“The best part was being one of the only two people on the floor, and what seemed like the entire Koda gym on the railing cheering. It was back and forth. I would beat him on the thrusters then he would catch me on the pull ups for all 3 rounds,” says Taylor.
This ended up being a hard fought loss for Taylor, but a memorable moment, nonetheless. Taylor is especially proud of figuring out double-unders. It took him years of practice to get it right, but his hard work is an example of working on a weakness until it becomes a strength.
Outside the gym Taylor says he loves to go to brunch. Kidding, kidding! He spends most of his free time remodeling his home and is nearly finished. He also spends a lot of time in his shop making furniture, and looks forward to getting back to knife-making once some of his bigger projects are complete. Photography is another of Taylor hobbies, and there is a good chance he’s taken a picture of you, because he often assists Chad Hamilton during Koda events.
For the last several years Taylor has made a habit of attending the 5:30 pm class. He has found a community of like-minded people in Koda who place importance in bettering their physical and mental selves. Taylor knows Crossfit workouts can be grueling, but after four years, metcons and strength training have become a habit. Taylor sits at work for long hours, and he now depends on the stress relief he finds after a tough workout at Koda. The relationships he’s built at the gym also keep him coming back. There is something special about seeing friends and talking to fellow Crossfitters regularly.
His current goals include qualifying for Wodaplooza in the next year and improving his position in the 2017 Crossfit Open. After years of work, Taylor has his sights set on achieving a 300 pound clean, 225 pound snatch, and 405 pound squat, and hope that he will hit one of these numbers this year. Taylor says he will continue to work on becoming a fitter version of himself, and there is no better place to do that than at Koda in the company of all his friends.
Eric is a lean, soft-spoken man, with an easy way about him that belies how busy a man he really is. When he’s not out in the field playing his trade as a geophysicist, he’s spending time with family, out rock-climbing in Arkansas or the Wichita Mountains, camping or fishing around the country, or right here at Koda getting fit. Even in a short conversation with Eric, it’s clear that he relishes a challenge.
His work as a geophysicist sometimes keeps him at the office for long hours, but he says he loves it. He cites the challenge of the job and the opportunity to work with smart, dedicated people. Eric says it’s really that team dynamic that makes him love the work. They share long hours together “just solving problems,” as he says.
Eric, like many people, was introduced to Crossfit through a friend. He says that after some time of his friend recommending he give it a try, he decided to come and watch a class. He thought it looked fun. Eric saw there was a month long on-ramp class, and he thought, “Yeah, I can try anything for a month,” so he signed up. It was there he met co-owners Brice Collier and Jared Muse, along with other future Kodites. Eric says that from day one he was hooked for life. Now he is celebrating his four year Kodaversary with us. “It’s just a team. It’s kind of a little family of people who enjoy suffering together,” he laughs, adding that apparently he’s drawn to odd groups.
In addition to his work colleagues, he’s talking about his fellow rock climbers, whom he describes as “an interesting tribe,” and circles back to his desire to be around other hard-working individuals. His assessment of rock-climbing and working out: “It’s no fun by yourself.” In his calm, easy style, he tells a story of trying to do “Fran,” a well-known and notorious workout in the Crossfit codex, alone. He says that without other people there to push him, that it just felt “flat”. “I realized it’s not the workouts, it’s the environment, it’s the people – especially here at Koda.” He’s quick to point out, however, that he doesn’t do it simply for the camaraderie, but also for the tangible gains, including in rock-climbing. “I was a mid-5.11s climber for a long time, [Crossfit] pushed me up into the mid-5.12s.”
It’s hard to get even a mild brag out of Eric. When asked about other gains he’s made in his time at Koda, he replies that what he really loves is being able to walk into the gym for an hour, get a workout in to wind down, and feel good. “All I need to do is show up. I don’t have to make myself do anything. They’re putting me through this workout, so if I can get my butt through the door, I’m going to get a great workout, and at the end of that hour, I feel great. I just go home feeling better.” And Koda is better for having him.
Originally from Colorado, Doug Bridges moved to Oklahoma about five years ago. He was looking for something to do, and attended a nutrition seminar at Koda led by Koda coach Chad Hamilton. Doug found the seminar interesting, an that is what drew him to attend Koda to workout. Now, Doug is celebrating his four year Kodaversery.
“I was hooked from then on out, I was in it.”
Doug was athletic as a child, and played every sport available throughout his grade school education. He was awarded the All- State title in both football and baseball. His sports career ended in college after knee surgery. He hit pause on his college education a few years ago, but has since continued onto Oklahoma State. He has a few more semesters to complete his degree in mechanical engineering.
Doug says Crossfit has change every aspect of his life, and allowed him to have a more positive outlook, while he was finding himself.
“When I first moved here I was probably in the deepest, darkest, part of my life. A big reason I moved out to Oklahoma was to get away from things.”
For Doug, Crossfit is more than just moving stuff around, before coming to Koda, Doug says he was acting just like many young people often do. There were a lot of parties and a lot of drinking, but he realized these fleeting moments were not who he wanted to be, and were not helping his progress. Crossfit, and the community he has found within Koda have helped him find a more balanced life that he is proud of living.
Doug says his early days at Koda feel far away, but he remembers being comfortable at the gym because cousin Katie Walker was already a member. He is also proud to say he was a able to master double-unders quickly, and remember admiring the fitness level of co-owner Brice Collier.
Doug still considers gymnastics movements a weakness, an you will often see him before or after class working on becoming more proficient at handstand pushups. He talks about the importance of working on your weaknesses to become a better athlete, and says it took him 2.5 years to complete a muscle-up. He credits the competitive nature of Koda’s top athletes with making him a fitter version of himself, and says it gives the every day member something to shoot for.
It may be his love of athletics and competitive sports, but Doug does his best on game day. He has a habit of hitting his biggest numbers on Olympic lifts during Crossfit competitions, but there is no better time to succeed then on the day it counts. He also enjoys the workouts most athlete wish they could avoid because Doug is able to push hard even when it hurts, like on long workouts using the Assault Bike. He is currently working on building his upper body strength to pick up on some other weaknesses, and he has notice a positive change in his ability to perform in upper body focused workouts.
“I have been blessed with great friends from Crossfit, and helped me establish myself as a person, and help me become who I am today.”
Expect to see a lot more of Doug. He is now a coach at Koda, and he will be spending a lot more time at Koda Native, Koda’s third and most recent location. As a coach he hopes to be fun and friendly while placing a special focus on proper movement. He wants the people of Koda to always know how to move the body well, and feel confident in their own movement whether they are trying to do a handstand for the first time or doing a squat for the hundredth time.
“It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I have never been outspoken about it… it was something that was exciting for me.”
Though he has built many strong friendships during his time at Koda, there is one that is particularly special. Doug and fellow Koda athlete Elizabeth Le have been together for several years now, and first met at co-owner Jared Muse’s birthday party. Doug was dressed like a cowboy and Liz was dressed like a hippie. Other than a love of costume parties, the two especially enjoy Olympic lifting, and you will sometimes see them take on Crossfit competitions together. All the people at Koda have had a profound effect on the person Doug is becoming.
A life time of classical dance training turns into mornings at the squat rack. Life is funny sometimes, and that is not lost on KodaAthlete Taylor Sohrwide. She looks back on her 15 years of ballet and tap dancing as a girl and says she doesn’t consider herself athletic, but she is now celebrating her four year Kodaversary. Taylor is a nurse who frequents the 9:15am and noon classes.
In college she jogged as her main type of fitness. Back then, if she walked into a gym, she would wander around saying to herself that she could probably use this or that machine available on the gym floor. She had never touched a barbell until she came to Koda, and says she very seriously believed barbells were only used for bench press. The experience of her first lesson with a barbell was life changing.
“It was fun. I liked that I came and did things that I would never think to do, or have the courage to try to do on my own.”Crossfit has made Taylor more effective in her job as a nurse. She is regularly helping the injured or sick move on and off beds and needs to be ever-ready in the event of an emergency. Crossfit has allowed her to do her job with more ease,and her co-workers have noticed her fitter appearance and her increased level of energy.
One of Taylor’s most memorable first workouts is Filthy Fifty. She remembers almost falling off the curb after class on the way to her car because her legs felt wobbly after giving that workout every ounce of effort she could give. She recalls being incredibly sore for several of the following days, but she was never sorry she had worked so hard.
“After you do something like that, you are very proud of yourself.” Her favorite lift is the power clean because something about the precision and grace of the Olympic lifts reminds her of dance. Taylor has been dealing with a hip injury and had to take some time off from Crossfit, but after starting physical therapy, Taylor was able to return to Koda. She is excited to be working out with her community again, and says she is focusing on mobility to make sure her hip does not get hurt again. She says she appreciates that Koda is able
to modify and scale movements to make sure she remains safe while enjoying getting fitter, and de-stressing.
Koda has been more than a place for Taylor to build her physical fitness. It is a place she has built a very important relationship. Adam Snapp is Taylor’s fiancé, and though they didn’t meet at Koda, it definitely played a role in their early relationship. The pair was set up on a blind date, and during their first date they discovered that both of them were Koda athletes. It just happened that Adam frequents the afternoon classes, so he and Taylor had not cross paths. “I don’t feel like I have been coming here for four years. It really is weird for me because I feel like this hasn’t gotten old.”
Taylor is still working on pull-ups and double unders, and says she hopes to be able to devote more time to working on these movements now that she is done with her studies. She enjoys a good workout as much as the next Koda athlete, but says her favorite thing about Koda is how uplifting and encouraging the classes are. Koda is the place where Taylor grew to love the sport of fitness, so why mess with a good thing. She says she is here to stay!
Matt McGee started Crossfit on a whim. He was recovering from an injury and was still running around with a knee brace, but there was no time like the present, and he walked in to a Crossfit box. That was years ago, and in January he celebrated his four year Kodaversary.
Back in 2009 when Matt was at Oklahoma State University, a roommate would do Crossfit workouts off of the main site to stay fit. At the time, Matt didn’t join in, but after he graduated, he decided it was time to try something new to get in better shape, and the idea of doing that through Crossfit was still in his mind.
He started at a different Crossfit box in the Oklahoma City Metro. Though he didn’t know anyone there, he quickly met Brice and Jared. Matt liked Brice Collier’s confidence and experience with fitness, and enjoyed Jared Muse’s fun coaching style. After finding out that the pair of coaches would be opening Koda Crossfit, Matt decided to make the swap, and he says it was an easy decision.
Years later he still feels the same way, and frequents the 6pm class coached by Muse. Matt says he isn’t the only one who thinks Koda developed something special, and points to several people he has known his entire time at Koda who still attend the same class. Matt is happy for Koda’s growth and success, but happier still that members stay, and that through its growth, Koda’s warm environment remains the same.
After years of working for a large company in the oil and gas sector, Matt caught the entrepreneurial bug, and opened Mach Energy Services, a trucking, oil and gas services company. The change is both exciting and stressful, so Matt has made a point of coming to Koda more regularly to be able to feel more grounded in his new adventure.
“It just makes life better. You feel better and you sleep better…I just feel better.”
Matt has developed powerful and life changing friendships at Koda. Through Crossfit he met Charles Te, who went on to perform a procedure on Matt’s heart to treat a heart arrhythmia that was growing more unbearable during intense workouts. It has been a year since the surgery, and now Matt says he feels great.
Matt’s other friendships in Koda are far reaching too. This year Matt and several past and present Koda members took a fishing trip together to Lake Tenkiller, and for Matt getaways like this one symbolize what is most important in his life, friends and family.
“People come here from all walks of life, income levels, backgrounds. It is just so diverse, and I think that says a lot of the type of community Jared and Brice have cultivated here.”
Matt says he doesn’t focus on his weightlifting numbers, and instead chooses to trust Koda’s programming to make him stronger as long as he shows up. His favorite workout, though, is Annie. The double-unders and sit-ups really make sense for Matt. It did take at least six months, or maybe more like eight, for him to figure out double-unders, but Matt jokes that after Brice yelled at him too much, it finally clicked.
His proudest moments came when his Koda team podiumed at Fittest in Oklahoma in the scaled competition for two years in a row several years ago. He has since stopped competing regularly, but hopes to get back into a team comp soon.
“Maybe trying to get the band back together for a Fittest in OK scaled. Maybe 2020 or when we get to the masters. It’s all about timing.”
Whether it’s until he can qualify for master’s competitions, or sometime soon, Matt says the quality of the training and his friendship will keep him at Koda.
There is a hum in the air as the last members of the class Chad has just taught chat about their days. We’re sitting in the office where the sounds of fitness on the other side of the door are muffled. I know Chad is quite cerebral so he must have plenty to share; we don’t waste time starting our interview.
Chad has been involved in the health & wellness realm for nine years. While focusing on functional movements; basically, he has been striving to help people become better human beings. He started
Crossfit around its inception before its concepts were more widely accepted.
He ran a successful nutrition consulting business in Washington D.C., spending years attempting to break the ingrained eating habits of everyday folks who find themselves trapped in American poor
eating habits. Eventually, Chad moved back to Oklahoma City with the goal of affecting people’s health in a more tangible and clear way.
Back in OKC, Chad’s D.C. connections led him to Crossfit 405. Through word of mouth he heard of a tiny, brand new gym near where he and his wife, Lisa, lived at the time. One night during a Lululemon trunk show, they decided to drop in at Koda Crossfit, bringing Lisa’s mother, Denise, along for the ride. Chad was just barely out of chemotherapy at the time and laughs when he remembers Jared freaking out when he mentioned that he “might have to scale a bit”, because of his “just got out of some cancer stuff”. Thrusters, double unders, pull-ups and sit-ups were on the menu for the six member class.
I asked Chad to share why he finds Koda a unique place to train. He mentioned the kind of person who willingly walks into a big, loud, open space filled with kinetic energy. “The intensity puts a lot of people off. It’s not for everyone.” He appreciates that side of our culture, but he is also keenly aware of the people who want to make a positive life change but never make it out of the parking lot due to nervousness. He sees power in Koda’s ability to meet the needs of so many different people with differing goals. He’s striving for inclusiveness as we grow. There should be a place for anyone willing to work hard at Koda Crossfit.
Chad’s wealth of knowledge about training and wellness are a huge value to our gym. He truly cares about Koda and its members. If you haven’t had the opportunity to jump into one of his classes, make the effort. You might even get to see him teach his whole family! They’ve all made Koda their second home.
Michael Chandler is a dentist, family man, crossfitter, and a seriously funny guy who is simply known as Chan to his friends. The waiting room of his office is very homey with cozy furniture, pictures of his family along the walls, and scarcely a fluorescent light in sight. He’s constantly cracking jokes, and you never need to fake a laugh when talking with him. One does not need much time with Chan to learn that putting people at ease is clearly a gift of his.
Chan is Koda’s very first member. “The first 5:30 AM class…I show up, and it was me and Jared for the first week.” Chan did not find himself in this brand new gym by accident. He and co-owner Jared Muse have been close friends for 20 years, before Chan had even gone to dental school. He says he was convinced by Muse and his wife to give Crossfit a try. He had been working out on his own or with the aid of at-home fitness programs, and was ripped, according to himself. He was shocked by how out of shape he felt when faced with his first Crossfit workout. Chan says he fell in love with Crossfit because of that experience, and he has been doing it ever since. Well, that or Chan-fit/Blakfit, which he explains with a laugh, is like Crossfit, but works on pretty muscles and doesn’t include any of the movements he doesn’t like.
Chan is a regular of the 5:30 AM class. He says the timing works well for him because it lets him get his day off to a healthy start before he heads in to the office. He also points to the truly special advantage of leaving his evenings free to spend time with his family. Those are the reasons he started attending the early class, but since making the switch to the AM, he says one of his favorite things is the camaraderie and friendly competition of the 5:30 regulars. “You’re around people you enjoy being around, and that makes all the difference in the world to me.”
“Having that friendly competition made me work harder. Harder than I would ever work on my own.”
– Michael Chandler
But Crossfit isn’t just a way to exercise and a place to chat with friends. Chan points to the fact that many dentists retire with neck and back injuries from long hours hunched over patients. Since he began Crossfit, he says discomfort in his neck and back that had begun to creep in has been greatly reduced, he has more energy, and generally feels better. With a teenage daughter and pre-teen son, he stresses the importance of being fit so he can run around with his kids and truly enjoy their time together. He also states-with a sheepish grin-that his kids know dad is in shape, just in case he has to put the smackdown on one of them. He credits Crossfit for helping him to be a better dentist, a better husband and father… and besides feeling good, it never hurts to look good either.
Not only is he an active member of the gym and a staple of the morning crew, and holds the longest tenure of any Koda member, but Chan also sponsors nearly every event that Koda holds. He said, “A lot of people ask for my time, but those guys have earned it.” Koda is lucky to have him, and his fellow members are lucky to have him too, bright and early, getting Chan-fit.
– Nick Piche
Jarred Smith is reclining easily in a large leather chair inside a coffee shop near the gym. He appears simultaneously focused and relaxed, with an almost austere expression that is quickly replaced with a warm smile when he sees a friendly face. A conversation with Jarred feels like a microcosm of Koda itself. There is a feeling of purpose, but it’s always fun. It is, perhaps, no surprise that Jarred reflects that dynamic so closely, considering he is truly a founding member of Koda. He speaks fondly of going with Mai and Jared Muse on scouting trips to possible gym locations, and smiles as he reminisces about those early days as Koda took shape.
“Me and Jared put together the first rig…and moved it [to the new space], and we did the first workout in there in November or December of 2011 before the doors opened.”
Jarred moves with the ease of a lifelong athlete, and that may be because that is exactly what he is. When asked why he does Crossfit, a big smile breaks across his face and he laughs, “Because I’ve done everything else…” Originally from Cheyenne, Oklahoma, Jarred played every sport his high school had to offer. Then, there were his college years at Oklahoma Christian University where he played basketball, golf, and studied physical education. He worked as a golf pro for seven years, he still skis and snowboards, and has always made fitness a priority.
“If you can get two guys who…have a passion for something you will get a following…and Mai is the glue that keeps everything together.”
CrossFit entered the picture through Jared Muse, co-owner of Koda Crossfit. “[Jared Muse] has been one of my best friends since 1998…he’s a big reason.” They’ve known each other since their golf days at Oak Tree Country Club while Jarred was studying and playing golf at Oklahoma Christian University. Muse invited Jarred to come give Crossfit a try before Koda had even been founded. Jarred celebrated his four year Kodaversary December 2015, and says what he loves most about Koda is the community, and he credits its owners for cultivating that community. “I really think [Jared and Brice] are the reason it has been successful. If you can get two guys who believe and have passion for something, you will get a following of people who have that same passion…and Mai is the glue that keeps everything together.”
Jarred is charmingly self-deprecatory, and he downplays his own fitness before admitting he has a fondness for gymnastic movements and a general aversion to all squats. The work he puts in at the gym isn’t just in the pure pursuit of fitness, though, it’s also to spend quality time with friends. To Jarred, who golfs weekly, and takes ski and snowboard trips regularly, this is what fitness is about. When asked if he’s brought any friends into the Crossfit fold, he laughingly replies “too many.” “Everything I do has to do with being out with my friends, that’s why Crossfit has been perfect for me. It’s just another thing I can do with my friends.” Koda means friend, and Jarred epitomizes that relationship to the gym, its owners, and its members.
– Nick Piche
It is loud at Koda HQ, so loud the laughter and cheers are echoing inside the gym’s office. That’s where Katie Walker is sitting, after having just finished coaching the 6:30 class on a Thursday night. Everybody else is out on the gym floor chanting the names of people giving the newly announced Crossfit Open workout a try, but Katie is taking a moment to look back at her four years at Koda Crossfit. She celebrated her four year Kodaversary February 2016.
One of the qualities that make Katie a stand-out in the Koda Community is the importance she places on building meaningful relationships with all the people in her life. It was a friendship that brought her to Koda, and newly formed bonds that keep her here.
“What keeps me here are the people that are here.”
Katie remembers she and her friend, Ryan Cunningham, talking about getting fit for his upcoming beachside wedding. After some conversations with friends in Tulsa, she decided Crossfit was the way to get fit. Her first workout, as she remembers it, involved hill sprints and thrusters on a cold day. Now, Katie was no athletic newbie, before Crossfit she had focused on long distance running, but she remembers her first Koda workout lighting a fire in her for more—more movement, more heavy weights, and more challenges, even if it was cold outside.
As an Oklahoma original, Katie has a lot of her family living in the area, and she’s even brought cousin Doug Bridges along for the ride. He joined Koda, with Katie’s encouragement, shortly after moving back home. She even met her fiancé Taurean Singletary though the Koda community. Katie works as a buyer for Hobby Lobby, and her job involves some globetrotting, but she is always so happy to return home. Family, friendship, and love are all things Katie holds dear, and pieces of them are all at Koda.
Even the newest of members are likely familiar with Katie’s signature smile, unending encouragement, and refreshing optimism. As a Koda coach, she has the skills to keep you safe and give you a solid workout, all while being your loudest cheerleader.
Katie has successfully dropped 25 pounds since starting Crossfit. She remembers showing-up in these t-shirts several sizes too big and thinking pull-ups would be impossible for her, but that is the old Katie. Now, Katie can power through a pull-up workout, no problem. She is especially proud of her back squat and deadlift numbers, and her next goal is to break 200 pounds on front squat.
“I just thought I would never get there, and now it is no problem.”
About her future with Koda, Katie says she hopes to continue challenging herself, have fun with the occasional completion, and one day get a muscle-up. She knows that last goal will require focused effort, but let’s face it, it would be cool.
– Mireya Garcia
Josh Taaca describes himself as an easygoing and lighthearted man who appreciates intensity. That’s the reason he feels a strong connection with the atmosphere and leadership at Koda, and in January he celebrated his four year Kodaversary.
Looking back, Josh remembers a bit of a rocky start in his Crossfit journey. He struggled with mobility which made him unsure of his place as a Crossfitter. Four years later, he has grown stronger and more confident in his abilities. It took years for Josh to get his double-under game in order. Now he is able to consistently string together 10 to 20 double-unders. That is a success only earned by taking the time to practice the skill no matter how many times you get whipped by the rope. Josh has earned that skill.
“When I don’t exercise, physically I don’t feel as well, mentally I don’t feel as well.”
– Josh Taaca
Outside of Koda, Josh is a realtor. It is easy to tell he is passionate about helping people find a new place to call home. He talks about his profession as enthusiastically as he talks about his latest PR—355 on deadlift, in case you were wondering.
While sitting in a coffee shop near Koda sipping on some iced green tea, Josh reminisces about what first brought him to the Crossfit box, and why he will continue to be a part of the much admired #915 class. He says fellow member and childhood friend Emily Pomeroy talked Koda up so much, he decided to leave the globo-gym life behind to give Crossfit a shot. Just then, who should walk into the coffee shop, but Emily herself. She is coincidentally picking up some drinks to-go after a morning of tennis with the family.
Josh says one of the many things that keep him at Koda is the strong community. The Koda community, Josh has found, consists of friends, old and new, who have a passion for what they are doing, and keep each other accountable.
“If you want to be around fun people, work your ass off, and know you’re going to get something out of it, it is the best.” – Josh Taaca
It’s a big year for Josh. He celebrated his 40th birthday in 2016, and participated in the Crossfit Open for the first time. He plans to continue working on gaining muscle mass, developing his aerobic base, and loosening his affectionately dubbed ‘meat sticks’ so cleans and front squats become increasingly comfortable.
Josh remembers life before Crossfit, and he says it is so much better when there is an intense workout to look forward to, with friends.
– Mireya Garcia
When most people think of CrossFit they automatically think of physical strength. However, strength is not just physical; CrossFit often requires mental strength as well. Laura Martinez is the perfect example of a person who exhibits both physical and mental strength in her life every day.
After moving to Oklahoma City from Houston by herself to start her Residency in Urology, Laura found Koda via a simple Google search. Laura’s husband had done CrossFit so she had an idea of what was in store for her. With a little bit of self-encouragement, she attended her first class and became hooked.
“The first time I attended Koda, I was the only person in the class and Jared just made stuff up as we went along!” – Laura Martinez
Laura’s everyday life after joining Koda has consisted of long, hard hours at the hospital and Laura has found Koda to be a key for stress relief. In addition, Laura appreciates having a place she can identify with outside of school and work.
“Koda holds a special place in my life. It made moving here a lot easier. Being in an industry that is male dominated, it is nice to have people I can identify with.”
In addition to celebrating her four year anniversary at Koda in February, Laura celebrated five years of marriage with her husband, Mathew, on March 5, 2016. Although Laura and Mathew have been married for five years, they spent the first four years apart as they both worked to complete their residency programs with Laura in OKC and Mathew in Tulsa. Mathew is now in OKC and works as an ER doctor while Laura finishes her residency. Her love for Koda rubbed off on her husband, and he will be competing in next year’s First Timers competition!
Laura’s strength and dedication to her marriage, school, career, and health are qualities that are treasured by others at Koda and will be sincerely missed when she and her husband return to Houston after Laura completes her residency in OKC next year.
– Lexie Garrison
Although Kenneth and Lori describe themselves as “not very exciting,” writing their bio is an honor for this Koda journalist. Knowing Lori as the star basketball player, cheerleader, and student in high school, there was no doubt that her husband would be just as awesome as she! Despite their self-labeled, non-exciting life, the Wohls have made their mark on not only Koda but the Oklahoma City community and countless individuals.
As some of the original CrossFit OKC members turned Kodites, the couple also followed Jared and Brice as they embarked on their new business venture. The Wohls followed the entrepreneurial pair based on their enjoyment of the training and the variety of workouts. In addition, the couple credits their current healthy habits to what they learned in the early days with CrossFit OKC and Koda and that crossfit itself is not just an hour a day but a lifestyle.
“The couple credits their current healthy habits to what they learned in the early days with CrossFit OKC and Koda and that crossfit itself is not just an hour a day but a lifestyle.” – Lori Wohl
Kenneth and Lori are both graduates of the University of Central Oklahoma and will be celebrating 11 years of marriage this May. Four years ago, the Wohl family grew with the adoption of their son, Tripp (the next, and biggest fan of, Russel Westbrook). Tripp keeps his mom and dad extra busy with sports and is a key component for Saturday morning WODs at Koda.
Outside of Koda, Kenneth and Lori love to travel but also are passionate about dedicating themselves to their community by volunteering for U R Special and Citizens Caring for Children. Their leadership and desire to help people is also seen at their places of work as Kenneth is the Vice President of the Residential Lending Department at RCB Bank and Lori is in IT Staffing at The Addison Group. Kenneth is also active with the Planning Commission for the City of Edmond.
“Outside of Koda, Kenneth and Lori love to travel but also are passionate about dedicating themselves to the community…” – Kenneth Wohl
The Wohl’s fitness isn’t contained to Koda as they also enjoy running, yoga, bootcamps, and other high intensity workouts. As Lori admitted, she has to always have some type of workout since she can eat more than Kenneth!
Although this power couple may not consider themselves very exciting, the excitement that they bring to Koda and that Koda shares for them is almost as great as the impact they are leaving on the world around them.
– Lexie Garrison
Anthony Robb is the man who will make you comfortable with Crossfit even if you have never seen a barbell before in your life. He coaches Koda Movements, the highly encouraged class for people new to the scene.
Better known as ARobb, Anthony celebrated his four year Kodaversary in March, but he has been Crossfiting for more than five years. It all started when a coworker introduced him to Crossfit, and Anthony decided to try a couple of workouts in his own garage. Soon he realized that this was something he enjoyed, but probably shouldn’t do alone.
“I realized they were kicking my butt, and I had no idea what I was doing.” – Anthony Robb
In the early days, Anthony was trained by a combination of people including Brice Collier and Jared Muse well before Koda even existed. He remembers feeling incredibly frustrated by many of the movements early on– Olympic lifting didn’t click and even jumping rope felt impossible.
Anthony says he would need to jump twice to accomplish single-unders, but he’d chip away at every work out. Anthony once completed a scaled version of a double-under work out known as Annie, and it took him 16 minutes. Now he can do the as prescribed version of that same workout in only eight minutes.
“That was a huge proud moment in my life. There is a Facebook post out there somewhere about it.”
– Anthony Robb
It may be that struggle and the work it took to overcome it that makes Anthony especially patient with beginner athletes. His naturally welcoming personality helps new members feel at home, and a degree in nutrition and fitness from the University of Missouri means the guy knows what he is talking about.
On an average day at the gym, you’ll find Anthony laughing and joking around while getting in a tough workout. Don’t let that easygoing look fool you, Anthony is a busy guy. He usually gets a workout in during a morning session, then heads to work as an accountant, then comes straight back to Koda to coach some classes.
“I am just an average person, and I try to live that out to show that anyone can do Crossfit.”
Anthony is one of the tallest athlete’s in the gym, and every year around Crossfit Open season you will find him prepping for the famed Tall Man Open workout where he and other tall athletes in Oklahoma City battle it out to see who the tall man winner will be for the year. This year he is focusing on chest to bar pull-ups and other gymnastics movements to up his game.
Anthony’s favorite lift is the clean because he loves the way it feels when all the movements are executed correctly so that the lift feels explosive and crisp. His unicorn– or the movement he hopes to achieve one day– is the handstand push-up.
His favorite things about Koda are the solid and safe coaching within a positive atmosphere. Those are the things that brought him to Koda after Brice, Jared, and Mai opened the doors, and it’s what will continue to keep him here.
– Mireya Garcia
It’s a big day for Nicole Johnson, because minutes before this interview she defeated her own doubts about her physical abilities, and achieved her first bar muscle-up. Then she went on to do it five more times during 16.3 in the Crossfit Open. Many Koda members might be more familiar with Nicole as Snookie or Snook. She picked up the moniker at Koda during a conversation about Halloween costumes, and it just stuck.
Nicole celebrated her four year Kodaversary in January, but this athlete has a total of six years of Crossfit experience. She has come a long way from her early days of being nervous around a barbell. One of her first max lifts was a dead lift, and she topped out at what felt like a heavy 80lbs. Six years later her PR is 225 lbs, and she has set her sights on the big 300.
Nicole’s introduction to Crossfit involved elite athlete Tanya Wagner, though Wagner might not know it. A friend working in California chatted with Wagner after she won the Crossfit Games, and that friend called Nicole to tell her all about it. That piqued her interest, and she decided to buy herself access to an on-ramp class as a birthday present. One of her favorite things about the sport of fitness is that it’s not just about being strong or fast, but that an athlete has to be well versed in the technical aspects of their movement to effectively use their strengths.
“Every time I come in, it is like home or family.” – Nicole Johnson
Shortly after Koda opened its doors, Nicole thought the move would be a good fit for her as a developing athlete. She remembers the early days working-out in a room that was “as big as a garage” and Koda being a close knit group of people who had a lot of faith in owners Jared Muse, Brice Collier, and Mai Muse. As Koda has grown, Nicole says she is happy it has not lost its familial feeling, and she appreciates the important emotional support friends at Koda provide during stressful times in her life.
Nicole plans to keep challenging herself at Koda while also challenging herself with a career change, and going to Nursing School. She also wants to put in the practice on one of the most technical movements, the snatch, so she can achieve a long term goal of hitting a body weight pr on her favorite lift.
“You’re working out with students and you are working out with CEOs, but everyone is the same….titles get left at the door.”
As a woman who has gone from no experience with barbells, to a motivated and strong contender, Nicole encourages people never to be too intimidated to walk into Koda. She likes to say that Crossfit is not just the Crossfit Games you see on TV, and that when you find the right fit, it will bring positive change into your life.
– Mireya Garcia
It’s not very often that any one person walks into a Koda location and doesn’t feel the warmth of being welcomed like the afternoon sun on an Oklahoma spring day; whether the sun is shining or not. However, there is one Koda member that radiates that warmth more than almost any other and her outgoing, bubbly personality has become a staple at Koda.
Solange Eddy came to Koda after having met Brice at the Air Force Academy and when stationed in OKC she was quick to join the Koda crew. When Solange is not working on an AWACS at Tinker or completing her Master’s degree in US Law you can find her coaching, training, or supporting others at Koda. And if you have spent any time at Koda you have undoubtedly seen her busting out some dance moves or serenading the other Koda members with whatever song might be playing over the speakers.
In her four years at Koda, Solange feels that her gymnastic capabilities, once her weakest area, have improved exponentially and now compliment her brute strength. Overall she feels that she is now well-rounded in her fitness and has put all of her hard work to the test in numerous competitions since 2012 and has represented Koda in the CrossFit Games North Central Region every year since 2013.
Outside of work, school, and Koda, Solange keeps herself occupied with swimming, her fiancé, her two dogs Luna and Sue, and her two cats Ollie and Little Kitty. Oh… and if you ever feel like a good, happy cry… just watch the video of her then boyfriend, Eric Douglass, proposing to her at the end of a Koda WOD.
With all this being said, the brightest sun at Koda is setting as Solange has received orders to be stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. It is an understatement to say that Koda will not be the same without the warmth that radiates from the smile of Solange. However, it is no coincidence that the Latin meaning of her name is the solemn one; Sun Angel/Earth Angel as her presence brightens up any room that she enters. Likewise, her departure from Koda can be seen as a sunset. Not to be sad though, poet Beau Taplin said it best with, “Sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful too.”
– Lexie Garrison
Dara Nordstog has big hair, a big smile, and a shining personality. She is out of breath as she starts talking about her last four years at Koda Crossfit because she just finished a burner of a workout, but she looks happy. Dara celebrated her four year Kodaversary in May and remembers driving up to one of the gym’s earlier locations, and feeling hesitant.
“I remember the first day, I showed up, I waited in my car until Katie (Walker) got here. I wasn’t going to come in and say, ‘Hi, I am Dara.’ I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”
Dara credits her mother with first introducing her to Crossfit, and after some thought she asked college friend Katie Walker about what Crossfit gym she liked. “Luckily she came to the greatest place,” said Dara.
After spending 12 years as a gymnast, Dara developed an impressive amount of mid-line control and body awareness that she has kept into adulthood. Before walking into Koda, Dara had never touched a barbell, but her years of athleticism developed her into an easily coachable athlete, and she is now frequently used as an example in the 6:00pm class because of her solid lifting technique on Olympic lifts.
Crossfit can be a challenge to even the most coachable athletes, though. Dara remembers finishing one of her earliest workouts, and becoming so sore a friend had to help her up a stair case. She also shared an embarrassing moment during the first Fittest in OK where she dropped an 85 lb. snatch on herself in front of all the spectators. However, these minor setbacks have never made Dara afraid to try new movements, and become a fitter version of herself. She also enjoyed helping others become a fitter version of themselves during her time as a Kodafit coach.
“I have found my groove. Just coming in here, having good sweat, and having a lot of fun. It keeps you in good shape even if you are only here to have fun.”
Dara doesn’t fancy herself a social butterfly, but long-standing friendships with people like Katie Walker brought her to Koda, and the friendships she has built during her time at the gym have been life changing. Dara is now engaged to fellow Koda Crossfitter Shane Laisle. She met him at the gym through mutual friends Justin and Alyssa Terrell.
“It really is the best gym. The coaches are serious about the workout, but they are also so good about having fun.”
Dara enjoys her job as an accountant, but says that Koda is a daily escape that helps her feel healthier. She plans to continue having fun with gymnastics movements, like muscle-ups, and make slow and steady gains in her strength, like reaching a body weight snatch in the near future.
Did you hear an excited woman high-fiving the newbie after their first clean and encouraging the last person on the floor finishing a punishing workout in the middle of summer? That was probably Gina, and she celebrated her four year Kodaversary in February.
Gina Dunseith has been an athlete since her childhood and remained active all the way through college. Like with many people, sprinting from class to class turned into an easy stroll to her office, and her life turned somewhat sedentary for several years after graduating from college. Her adventurous personality landed her inside her first Crossfit box when she joined an Arkansas facility on a dare, and love it.
Her job as a geologist and an important relationship with her now husband brought her to Oklahoma City. She knew that Crossfit would remain a part of her life, and Google maps brought her to Koda Crossfit. Gina says one of her earliest workouts was The Sevens, and it was a memorable one. “I remember it was awful. Awful,” said Gina.
Prior to Crossfit, Gina had no experience with a barbell, and only used five pound dumbbells as part of her track training in high school and weight machines in college. It only took a few months before she felt comfortable with a barbell in her hands, and started to hit bigger numbers.
During the years of 2012 and 2013, Gina was training heavily and focused on competitor workouts while spending a couple of hours a day at Koda regularly. Her hard work and athleticism earned her a spot in regionals as an individual. She declined and formed part of the Koda regional team.
Gina has a competitive nature and uses the talented athletes within Koda to keep herself accountable. She says Koda’s atmosphere allows for friendly competition no matter your fitness level.
“It is not that we want to beat each other. It is that we want to push each other to make each other better. Koda really captures that. Koda just does it.”
Since those tough and long training days, life has changed a little for Gina. She continued to work full-time as a geologist in the oil and gas industry, and decided to go back to school for her Master’s degree in the same field. The change was difficult, and she had to take time off Crossfit to keep up with her studies.
“That was hard for me because really this is my stress reliever. I have a bad day at work, and I come here…Mentally I was torn up inside. ”
She is nearing the end of her studies and now has more time to devote to hanging out and working hard at Koda. Since returning, Gina decided to worry less about the amount of weight she is moving, and focus on moving weight more efficiently. That shift in focus has not been detrimental to Gina’s advancement as an athlete. She was happy to find that she is still hitting PR’s during training sessions, like a recent bodyweight bench press for five reps.
Other high-points for Gina as a Crossfitter include her comfort with performing workouts as prescribed, her ability to do muscle-ups and her focus on mobility which has allowed her to point her toes forward while squatting.
“When you want to get better, and you want to be more efficient, you do the reps right. If you do them well, they make you faster. They make you better.”
Gina’s latest goal is to push the intensity in her workouts. She once again feels confident in her form and comes to class regularly, but was dissatisfied with how tired she was getting during high intensity workouts. So, she plans to push her intensity until it becomes a strength, and she plans to do it alongside the latest member and the most seasoned veteran, all having fun, together.
“That is something Jared and Brice have really done well at Koda, better than any other gym, we are a gym for everybody, and they mean that.”
The bustle of the Starbucks at 8:30 at night is an appropriate backdrop to set the stage for getting just a small glimpse into Charles Te’s life and his history at Koda. Charles starts nearly every day as a 5:30 am regular before he ventures off to the Heart Hospital where he is a cardiac electrophysiologist; although Charles will humbly tell you he’s a just a cardiologist.
As with so many of the others celebrating their four year kodaversary, Charles followed Jared, Brice, and the crew from CrossFit OKC but has been a crossfitter since 2009. The people and comradery of the 5:30 class are part of his love for Koda, but the coaches’ genuine care for their members’ ranks much higher on Te’s list of reasons he loves Koda. As Charles’s states, “Koda is a judgement free zone.”
“The people and comradery of the 5:30 class are part of his love for Koda, but the coaches’ genuine care for their members’ ranks much higher on Te’s list of reasons he loves Koda.”
Charles does have at least one thing above some of the Koda OG’s and that he is the one of the four members of Koda’s Asian Mafia. Charles, Mai, Ed, and honorary member Chan made a deal with Brice that he could join but he had to pass the test which consisted of completing math problems while working out at the same time. Needless to say, the Asian Mafia still consists of the original four. Rumor has it that Brice is still slightly jealous.
As closing time nears at the Starbucks, the bustle quiets and resembles the wind down of how Charles describes the remainder of his day after crossfit and work at the Heart Hospital. The later part of his day revolves around his wife of seven years and three children. Spending time with his family is a priority and he really enjoys the spunk and innocence of his two sons and daughter who are four years old, two years old, and seven months old.
As if Charles’s dedication to the gym, his career, and family isn’t enough, he and his wife support the Humane Society and have two adopted dogs and are huge supporters of the Central Oklahoma Alzheimer’s of the Association, attending the association’s gala each year.
You’ll often find Emily Pomeroy sprinting around the gym with the early risers at 6:30 am. The woman has a tightly packed schedule, but she makes fitness a priority, and that’s why she shows up bright and early most mornings. Emily celebrated her four year Kodaversary in May, but she has been doing Crossfit for well over two years before Koda existed. Her husband Trent Hancock is a longtime friend of co-owner Jared Muse, and one of her earliest Koda memories is sitting in the original location, while she was very pregnant with twins, watching Trent, Jared, and others putting together a rig and setting up walls before the gym officially opened.
Emily has also known Jared and Mai Muse for years, and even went to their wedding, though she will be the first to tell you that she was not invited. A fact her now husband Trent may have forgotten to mention before they showed up.
Emily is a lifelong athlete, and her talents earned her a spot on the Division I volleyball team at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. After college, Emily found she missed the competitive fire that brought light to her life as a child and collegiate athlete. She says Crossfit turned out to be a way to feed that competitive drive she has against herself.
“Honestly, Crossfit for me was that taste, that competitive fire that I loved so much playing sports my whole life.”
In her early Crossfit days, and even during her four years at Koda, Emily found she did well with explosive movements, like jumping or bounding, and considers her conditioning strength because of her athletic history. She has also learned that strength based movements are a struggle, but she is always willing to try a new movement as long as it results in a challenging and fun workout.
Emily works out with the fearlessness of a lifelong athlete, and doesn’t let a missed snatch or small tumble slow her down. She feels lucky that eagerness did not diminish after getting an arthritis diagnosis in her mid-twenties, or as she has gotten older. Outside of the gym, Emily often plays tennis with her family and has even participated in several tennis competitions.
“It is a balance of me not being willing to crumple up or just sit on the couch. That would be really easy to do, but I refuse to do it.”
When she isn’t at Koda, Emily works as an attorney at the Center for Economic Development Law, and she is passionate about the growth and renewed vibrancy of Oklahoma City. Emily’s early start as a Crossfit athlete has allowed her to see the growth of the sport in Oklahoma City, and she believes that Koda has captured something special because it satisfies the needs of many different types of Crossfit athletes. She enjoys being a part of a community that develops competitive athletes into podium finishers while pushing working mothers, just like her, to have fun and sweat, so they become a healthier version of themselves.
“Everyone has different goals. Though I love it when I do get stronger… I just want a damn good workout, and at the core of it, I think that is what Crossfit does.”
Emily’s twins are Simone and Will, and they know the importance of an active lifestyle. She jokes the kids will often do burpees on command, and they were especially excited to try after watching Emily give her all during an Open workout. She fondly remembers sitting on the floor after that workout covered in sweat and chalk with her son Will on her lap. Her daughter Simone often keeps her accountable on mornings she doesn’t make it to the gym by saying, “It’s good to take a day off, but you better go tomorrow.”
Emily’s best lift is the power clean and her favorite movement is double unders. She set a personal record of 89 consecutive double unders during the 2016 Cupid’s Revenge, Koda’s annual mixed team competition. Squatting, especially at heavy weight, is a weakness Emily hopes to eventually feel more comfortable executing. However, she says there is no movement she is currently focusing on, because she trusts in co-owner Brice Collier’s Koda programming, and her main goal is to go in and to get a great sweaty workout.
“Every coach will allow you to make it what you want it to be, and I think that is great.”
Justin Terrell is an early riser. You’ll often find him at Koda during the 5:30 am class greeting the coming day with sweat and heavy lifting. Fitness has been important to Justin for a long time, but he says it started with the same generic workout of the same muscle groups on the same days five times a week. It was a glance at Crossfit on television that piqued his interest, and sparked a fitness revolution in his life.
The change was rocky at first because Justin didn’t mesh with the first box he tried. He decided he was not enjoying himself and was ready to give-up on Crossfit when neighbor Steve Michaels told him about Koda. Steve explained that Koda has a different type of coaching and a special atmosphere. Justin says he’s glad he gave Crossfit a second shot.
“I was about to say screw Crossfit, and go back to my normal routine.”
It was significant to Justin that he could see, even early on, that classes at Koda were never about how much weight you could put on the bar and throw over your head. The importance placed on the quality of movement made him feel he had found the right place.
“You can tell from the coaching and teaching that they are out to help you improve.”
Justin says he was not an athlete growing up. Sure, he hung around with the athletes, but he never played any sports. He developed a love for fitness with the help of his brother Bart and knows the importance of staying active. He says that he was hit with a major reality check when it came to Olympic lifts four years ago, but Justin likes challenges and this was one he wanted to overcome. The idea of moving in different functional ways and having the opportunity to constantly improve is what keeps Justin coming back to Koda.
One of Justin’s most memorable workouts is the first time he completed Murph. The workout includes hundreds of repetitions of squats, push-ups, and pull-ups all sandwiched between two one mile runs, and basically just knocks you on your ass.
Moving big weights is fun, but one of Justin’s greatest accomplishments was figuring out double-unders. It took him six to eight months of constant work at Koda and at home to overcome this challenge, but he succeeded. Now he gets excited every time he sees double-unders on the board, and also enjoys workouts with toes- to-bar, and muscle-ups. He does struggle with shoulder flexibility which affects his front squat, but that has been a focus in his workouts to continue making process and hitting that next pr.
Justin is married to Alyssa Terrell, and his wife’s love of running inspired him to do more running in addition to Crossfit. They have two young children named Beckett and Madison, and the family goes on runs together, including weekend 5Ks with the babies in the stroller. Fitness has an important role for Justin within his family because he wants to lead by example, and be a healthy parent who can keep up with his children. Because of the distance between his home and his work at Total Beverage Service, Justin has taken advantage of Koda’s multiple locations including Koda Norman, Koda HQ, and Koda Native. He says there is something special about the coaching and the people at all of these locations, and he values the experience and personalities of each coach.
“All you have to do is show up. The programming is on the board for you. Show up and bust your butt.”
For Justin, Koda has been a place that catered to his evolving fitness needs and allows this busy family man to come in, do work, and leave a better version of himself before the sun rises.