1210 McGee St.
Norman, OK 73069
228 NW 60th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
8037 NW Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73162
Vanessa Wynn is a renaissance woman – and we are not just referring to her triathlete ways. She is a software engineer, who has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and she knows Kung Fu (no, I we are not making a joke. She knows Kung Fu – you should probably not mess with her). She also competed in the only activity more hardcore than martial arts – roller derby. A few of her derby girls started doing CrossFit and their arms magically grew “and they were so much stronger!” Wynn did some detective work and found that their magical arms came from Koda; four years later, she’s still here.
Wynn says of KXN: “The community at Koda is so positive and welcoming. I always felt like I was receiving top notch instruction and met many friends that were on my level; we were all learning together. I started doing triathlons about the same time and started learning how to swim (side note: now she’s one of our resident Koda fish). CrossFit has aided in that journey, helping to build muscle and endurance to keep me fit but also reduce injury. [With triathlete training] you’re always targeting the same muscle groups for extended periods of time. However, with CrossFit you build up those stabilizers and other muscles to be a more well-rounded athlete. This had helped me to become a stronger swimmer and runner, which in turn allowed me to qualify and compete at two Aquathlon World Championships on Team USA.” The moral of this story is that structure work will make you a champion. Vanessa Wynn said so – must be true.
Now that she has broken 200# on her deadlift and completed First Timers last year, Wynn is looking towards her next CrossFit competition. She keeps getting stronger: “I love my 6:30am ladies crew, we’re all on a similar level but can push each other too.” She also espoused her love of the Koda coaches saying that, “I love all the coaches at Koda. They are all so encouraging, regardless of the level you’re at and your personal goals.” What can we say to that except we love you too, Vanessa! You always bring your positivity and your game face to the gym, pool, and anywhere else you may roam. Happy 4 Year Kodaversary!
This is the story of the wit, wisdom, and follies of Bess Jackson from Bess Jackson:
My athletic career began when I was five – I played t-ball and was the only female on the team. I was one of the bros, if you will. After a year of kicking butt and taking names, my parents decided it was time to get me into a “girl” sport. As a tomboy this was devastating, but I gave my new sport a chance. For the next twelve years, I played soccer and ultimately learned to love it. My mom always jokes around about how I used to randomly sit down and start hysterically crying during my first couple years of playing, but I eventually figured out how to stay on my feet and to quit the waterworks. After a broken nose, more strains/sprains than I can count, and a state championship my sophomore year, I decided that after high school I would no longer pursue playing soccer. I loved soccer and still do, but I’m glad I made that decision.
Once I got to college, I took up running to try to stay in shape. Up until I started CrossFit, that’s literally all I did. My best-friend, Calli Cooper, went to Koda CrossFit in OKC and had been saying that I should try it for a while. After watching her compete at Battle Over Redlands 2013, I figured if all of these girls could do it, so could I.
I was in grad school at the time and my schedule wasn’t super great, but I could go to the 5:30 a.m. endurance class at Koda HQ (since I was running marathons and all, this worked out perfectly). I had creeped on the website and saw that Ryan Doonkeen was typically the coach for that class, but when I showed up? Chad Hamilton. He scared the living daylights out of me with his serious (or so I thought) demeanor and just about killed me with his warm up (that would never change). For the next three months following that day I was incredibly sore, but I wouldn’t have traded my start at Koda for the world.
My funniest memory from Koda Norman is a spike ball game with Kevin and Casey. I can’t tell you why the neurons in my brain were firing the way that they were, but I kept yelling out “wiener” anytime I was nervous that somebody was going to make a play or not. To this day I cannot explain what happened.
Some words of wisdom for those of you out there trying to get your first muscle up: I could not for the life of me transition from the kip to the dip. Finally, one day, my buddy Bart Terrell said, “just get up there.” Next try, I got up there.
It’s one piece of advice that I still love to hate.
My favorite thing to do outside Koda CrossFit (yes, I do things outside of KXN) is to be with my dogs. I LOVE DOGS. My second favorite thing is the time I get to spend with Yager (whom I met at KXN) – we drink all the craft beers, eat all the yummy food, and enjoy all the good company. It’s the best. My goal for my fifth year at Koda would be getting washboard abs but I love beer too much.
I typically go to the 5:30 p.m. class. I really like that because my workout buddy (Hannah) is pretty consistent about going to that class as well, so it’s that much more fun when we get to make gains together. I am proud of myself for continuing to improve at this sport even four years into it. There is always something to work on or to improve, and I feel as I have continued to develop into a better athlete. I’m proud of myself for not getting complacent and comfortable, but instead continuing to push myself beyond what I could have ever imagined when I first started.
I know I’m not going to say everything that I want about Koda, but Koda is my second favorite place other than my bed. Just like I look forward to sleeping every day, I look forward to going to Koda to workout. It’s such a positive environment that I know when I leave, I have improved myself in some way. Whether it’s physically or mentally, I am challenged there on a daily basis, and over the years that has led to so much growth for me. I am thankful for that. Not to sound like a total cheese ball, but I like and accept myself more now than I did before Koda was a part of my life. Some of that was just growing up, but I know that being a part of the Koda family helped to facilitate that.
What can possibly be added except that we love you, Bess, and the joy you bring to Koda Norman. Happy 4 Years and here’s to many more!
Rick Wedel doesn’t do anything half way, if he’s going to go – he’s going to go big. So, of course, his most memorable workout is doing Murph as prescribed, “I was the last one to finish,” he said, laughing at himself. But he finished the workout.
As a big game hunter, he recognized the importance of all around fitness, leading him to Koda Norman four years ago. “I hunt all over the world, often times in extreme conditions. My favorite place to hike and travel is Africa. I’ve been four times thus far. I may have to carry a 60+ pound pack all day long through mountainous territory and carry a 100+ pound pack out. I learned it wasn’t enough just to be strong, I had to have overall good fitness. I used to think you either could be strong or really fit; now I have learned that you can have both and prosper.”
Rick is a 6:30am(er) but his schedule is so hectic that he works out whenever he has the chance. He knows he just has to make it happen: “I stick with CrossFit for a number of reasons. But one of the biggest is that despite my age, I am getting more and more fit and stronger each year, at least the last few years.”
Outside of the gym, Rick is a radiologist, with two great children and a rock star girlfriend (who you might spot around Koda). Rick recognizes, “I’m extremely blessed in my life, work, and friends. I am a Christian; my primary goal is to serve God and others around me.”
Casey McCallister is known for many things: frothing at the mouth during workouts, being the loudest coach at Koda, and, of course, holding the title of Fittest Cop in America for two years running. But who is Casey “Crazy Eyes” McCallister?
After high school, he knew he wanted to be a first responder. His father, Rory McCallister, was a firefighter and he wanted to be just like his father…almost. After a ride along he realized that he wanted to be a police officer. So he did what he does – set out to be the best possible police officer that he could. He trained for the police academy and became really good at running in circles and “basic bro workouts”. He started CrossFit by completing daily hero workouts with another officer. Then one day he drove by Koda Norman while on patrol. “I wondered ‘how much different can that really be from my daily hero workouts?’ My first day was humbling. I used a girl’s bar, not even realizing that there was such a thing. (I didn’t tell anyone for at least two years that I used a girl’s bar by accident.) I realized that my version of CrossFit was much different than Koda’s. Overall, the environment was the difference maker for me. There were some studs walking around with their shirts off and I wanted to just be able to keep up.” Who knew that in his attempt to keep up, Casey would find his swolemate, Kevin Schuetz. “The most fun I ever have competing is always with my OG training partner, Kevin. Whether it’s against him, with him, or just training alongside, after hundreds of hours, you can’t help but have fun.” In fact, this dynamic duo just took fourth in the 2017 CrossFit Team Series against some of the biggest names in CrossFit.
Casey thrives on overcoming obstacles. His favorite workout is one that he failed at the first time. “In the final Regionals workout from 2014 I failed to complete the workout in the time cap. I was physically incapable of completing 205# overhead squats for eight reps. I only completed four reps after being the 2nd person to finish the 64 pull ups in my heat.” We actually have this moment captured and immortalized – there is a photo blown up in the corner of the kids’ area at Koda Norman. This may seem strange but Casey isn’t basking in his failure. He’s recognizing the fact that only months later, when he redid the event, he went unbroken on the overhead squats. Casey explains, “The workouts that highlight my weaknesses are the ones I have come to love the most.”
Anyone who has ever taken a class with Casey knows he has fun (pretty much all the time) but also knows that he takes his roles both as coach and police officer very seriously – and sometimes he even combines the two. Casey won the 2017 World Police and Fire Games: “It was painfully fun competing against other first responders from all over the world. In a two-day competition, I felt like I was competing against friends I had known for years. I’m really proud of being able to make fitness a priority even with a busy schedule. It’s easy to be complacent and find excuses working in law enforcement but it shouldn’t be that way. We represent the community and have a duty to serve. Part of that service attitude is being able to take care of yourself as well as anyone else who may need your help.”
Casey is either working, working out, or spending some well earned downtime with his amazing wife, Kalyn, and their dogs. For Casey, “Koda is an outlet. With all the craziness that surrounds us every day, Koda is a place you can count on to be positive and uplifting. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to help motivate and inspire like minded people to achieve their goals both inside the gym and in life. I have met people from all walks of life inside the walls of Koda and through those interactions I have learned an incredible amount about others, but also myself. My physical strength gains cannot compare to the amount of personal growth I have gained since joining Koda Norman.” Casey has been part of Koda Norman for over four years and has brought so much to it. For some it’s a sense of safety, the knowledge that as a coach, a cop, and a friend, Casey has their back. For others, it’s his ebullient personality and high energy. For whatever our reason, every one of us has become stronger, better, and more confident for having Casey in our lives. Thank you, Crazy Eyes McCallister – and happy four year Kodaversary.
Lorin (CrossFit Lolo) Brown is actually starting her 5th year as part of the Koda family. Before CrossFit Lolo existed, Lorin was a gymnast for nine years and competed in cheerleading at the collegiate level. After a gymnastics injury, Lo was looking to fill the void. “My first class was Jared’s 7am class and I fell in love. This is also where I met Kevin – he coached a few of the morning classes in the city! I had a bit of a rough start – I was still recovering from an ACL surgery.” Lo has recovered and then some, helping Koda Norman represent at Regionals in Nashville this past year.
Crossfit became much more than a physical outlet, leading Lo to her career as a firefighter. “[As firefighers] are put in stressful and physical situations often, we are taught to adapt and overcome anything. CrossFit has not only kept me in shape physically, but mentally…. I love becoming the best version of myself. With CrossFit there are always so many things you can work on to become better – and I love that.”
Anyone who has seen Lo do bar muscle ups knows that she is the epitome of grace. There is a very good reason we call her Lolo Bird as she calmly perches on top of the pull up bar between perfect reps. But while she may rest on the bar, she never rests on her laurels. “If I’m not at the station…I’m probably at the gym. I take CrossFit very seriously. My at home schedule revolves around training. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Lo loves us so much she took a piece of KXN home with her. “This place is truly my home. I have made lifelong friends here and even found a future husband. Koda has done so many great things for so many people. This community is like nothing else.” The aforementioned “future husband” is Toby (one of our coaches) and this article would be incomplete without mentioning the other man in their lives, Lloyd the Basset.
Happy 5 Years, Lolo!
What do you do after playing baseball, golf, football, and wrestling – CrossFit, of course. At least that’s what Tyler Sharbutt did once he got to OU. “I always watched the CrossFit Games and all the elite athletes so when I got to OU I knew I wanted to start CrossFit. My first day was eye opening…. I remember the strength was front squats and I’m pretty sure that 90% of the girls in the class were doing more than me. I was like, ‘Dang, this gym must know what they’re doing; these girls are strong!’”
Since then Tyler has brought the whole family to Koda, his brother, Branden, and parents, Melodee and Paul. You will usually spot Team Sharbutt at the 4:30 or 5:30 evening class. They are busy competing against each other while simultaneously cheering each other on – it’s complicated. But there is an end goal. “I want to compete again one day and hopefully, do a team competition with my family.”
Tyler brought his family with him but he also added some new members from the KXN crew. When describing KXN, Tyler said, “Koda makes people feel at home and included in the family.” Thank you, Tyler, for including us in your ultra-competitive, ridiculously awesome family for four years and counting!
Rodney Burt is our latest 4 year Kodaversary from the 5 AM crew; Rod says, “It feels very productive to have finished a tough workout before work.” Besides, he has a lot to do – he is a man of many interests. Before CrossFit he was a lifter, played racquetball, coached high school rugby, and rode motorcycles. Not to mention his schedule is insane: 5 AM KXN, globo gym for sauna/whirlpool/ and shower (a great reason for a globo membership), work, dinner, work, 9 PM bedtime. So he must REALLY like us.
Rod’s dedication is pretty clear. His daughter got him started but he keeps coming back because “I keep thinking that someday my front rack flexibility will magically appear” and when it does, he will “get on the leaderboard as the squat king.” All hail! He recently completed Koda First Timers in the advanced division at 10-25 years older than the rest of the field. He said of the experience, “Although I ran out of gas on the 4th workout, I finished, I am still alive, and I wasn’t last.” In CrossFit, survival and winning become regularly interchangeable.
There are many ways to win. Rodney said, “To be honest, CrossFit probably saved me from a heart attack and diabetes.” Additionally, KXN provides a lot of laughs. “The first time jumping the fat ropes was a train wreck that we should have been filming. Names withheld to protect fragile egos.” Between the health, the laughter, and the fact that we have been able to have Rodney as part of our community for four years and counting – that’s a lot of winning.
If you haven’t met Harley, it’s because you are not awake early enough. She’s another one of those “crazy morning goers” (yes, that’s a quote). She says, “you will find me at anytime between 5am and 6:30AM, with an occasional 7:30AM. It’s my favorite way to start my day and I can always count on a good laugh with all of the crazies that go early in the AM.” She started CrossFit the summer after her freshman year of college “after experiencing the real and ugly freshman 15”.
Harley has fond memories of her first Koda workout, “It was the weekend I moved back to Norman for my second year at OU. I attended the class with my dad and my sister and THE Rachel coached. And of course the workout sucked so I knew I was going to love Koda.” Her subsequent memories have a running theme: “I have a lot of memorable workouts, such as the first time I did Murph, or Karen, and of course, Fran. In each of these workouts I feel like I am going to die but once they are completed I feel so accomplished. And of course, I HATE wall balls more than anything. I complain every time I do them.”
So what keeps Harley coming back for more wall balls? “The thing that keeps me motivated each day is everyone that I see when I am at the gym and of course the way I feel when I leave there (even though I may fall over as I walk out the door). Being at the gym just sets the tone for each day and I really enjoy that fact. Being a CrossFitter helps me to be more attentive in school and work and be more productive.”
Speaking of productive, Harley recently got her first pull up! “It was so exciting and my adrenaline was going crazy; I did not even realize I ripped my hand! I am looking forward to continuing to get better and seeing which movement I can accomplish next.” So are we, Harley! Happy four year Kodaversary!
Cody Gayer is probably our most sarcastic member at KXN, rendering 90 percent of his interview unusable. The usable portion may or not be true – we didn’t fact check.
“I tried Koda because Sarah Lohaus, Steph Malone, and Jen Copelin wouldn’t stop with the wet willies until I agreed to come.” While we would believe this of Steph and Jen, Sarah would never.
When asked about his first day at Koda Norman, Cody explained, “My first day wasn’t memorable because I don’t remember it. Obviously I didn’t hate it because I kept coming back.” He is motivated by the fact that he has “nothing better to do between 5 and 6 AM.” Yes, he is a 5 AM(er). And unlike the majority of the 5 AM and 5:30 AM who readily spout their allegiance to really early morning workouts, Cody bluntly states, “I like nothing about this time slot.” But Cody wakes up “at the absurd hour of 4 AM, just in time to brew and guzzle some coffee before the 20 minute drive to Koda”.
4 Years ago Cody started at Koda Norman and we wish him a very happy anniversary! When you see him in the gym, say hi! Give him a hug! Cody loves hugs.*
*The author of this piece cannot be held responsible for the repercussions of hugging Cody Gayer.
Jill Herlihy is not usually the center of attention. She is the one who takes the amazing pictures that put all of us in the spotlight.
Jill started CrossFit because she burned out on marathons. “My friend Rawson had been raving about this CrossFit stuff for months, talking about this guy named Rich Froning. He had just started at Koda Norman and invited me to come workout with him.” So her first day was Memorial Day Murph. “It was Justin Nolan and me holding up the back of the train of people running on the first mile. He and I became close friends shortly after we realized we were both new employees at Boeing. I soon learned I’d never get rid of him after that. Rawson made sure I met this girl named Tessie on my first day; we hit it off instantly after finding out that we had just run the same marathon and that we were both from WA state.” They would go on to become roommates and so much more that makes the Cruce Crew (Jill, Tessie, Kaitlin) who they are. Shenanigans.
Another memorable workout for Jill was Open Workout 15.4, which was an 8 minute AMRAP that started with 3 handstand push ups. “I was determined to do it Rxd after having to scaled 15.3. I think I had only ever done a single HSPU once or twice before, never in a workout but just when practicing skills. I was determined to get at least ONE for this workout. I think I set a world record for the number of attempts on one Open workout. I’d go through the whole 8 minutes sometimes. Others, I’d get a few minutes in and stop, reset the clock and go again. Be the end of it all, I had probably 40-50+ attempts at this workout, and ended with a score of 1 rep. One. Single. Handstand push-up. And it was probably one of my proudest scores.” It’s worth stating that she recently completed 30 HSPUs in just over 5 minutes.
When Jill isn’t at work or hanging out with the Cruce Crew and her mini horse at home, Jill is at Koda. “I spend a large percentage of my free time at Koda because that’s where I can find my Oklahoma family. For me, Koda Norman isn’t just a gym. It’s a community of like-minded individuals. (Yes, she’s saying we are all a little crazy – in the best way possible.) We all have our reasons for being here but at the core of it all, we’re all trying to improve ourselves and provide support for others trying to do the same.”
Jill might not like being in the spotlight but she is a central figure of our community. She makes us all better (and makes us look awesome even when we are sweaty and gross – she has a way with angles).
Diane Milligan drove 190 miles to do an aquathon (2 mile run, 1k swim, 2 mile run) with the Koda Fishes – that pretty much says all that needs to be said about Diane!
Diane is a runner, power-walker, swimmer, softball and volleyball player, full time employee, and a grandmother. She’s one of those individuals who proves that age is irrelevant; it is our actions that define us.
She defines KXN as “friendly, fun-filled, and hardworking” and she defined herself in the process. She can be found in her natural Noon class habitat since she power walks across the parking lot from work. She is a woman with purpose but also the first one to say hello.
Diane does every workout thrown at her. Her attitude? “Who knows what will be possible, I am willing to give it a try.” One of her most challenging workouts was 17.5: 10 rounds of 9 thrusters and 35 double unders. While it was one of the longest and hardest Diane had ever attempted, she completed it. The willpower is strong in this one. She doesn’t just workout to do kipping pull ups or in the hopes of gaining toes to bar in the coming year (although that would be appreciated). “I’m trying to maintain the best level of fitness possible in order to enjoy life to its fullest. I want to be able to run around and play with our grandchildren for years to come.”
Diane will be running laps AROUND her grandchildren for years to come.
Hannah Deutsch is one of our resident gymnasts. She competed in gymnastics from three years old through college. Her recollections of her first day at Koda Norman are few but specific. “HOT. It was the middle of July. There was running.” She came, she saw, and she never left.
Motivated by friends and the promise of some unwitting soul willing to get into a handstand competition with her, Hannah’s favorite thing to do is to be in the gym. “I work 8-5, and it is a great feeling to get to the gym after a full day of work. I’m in better shape than I have ever been, and because of that, I feel great not only physically but mentally. I’m the most confident in myself and comfortable in my own skin that I’ve ever been.” Her consistency at the gym allows us to tell time.
If it’s 5:30pm, Hannah is at the gym (unless she gets confused and shows up at the 5:30am class again).
So if it’s 5:30pm and someone is contentedly hanging around upside down, you know it’s Hannah Deutsch. “I’m the girl that always wants to play handstands. #HandstandsWithHannah” If you were at either of the past two anniversary parties you have seen her handstand prowess in action AND she won the handstand competition at Regionals this year.
Speaking of winning, Hannah, and Team Thundercats (a breakoff from the original Team TacoCat) just won the scaled division of the Free For All Throwdown. This was a gold medal first for Hannah, who just keeps getting faster, stronger, and even more competitive (if that’s even possible for a collegiate gymnast).
Even more exciting than her first gold medal was Hannah’s first muscle up. “I felt like as a former gymnast people thought those would be easy for me. Girls don’t compete on the rings! It took me a good two and a half years to get one. It was a Sunday at open gym. I was trying 15.3 again which began with 7 muscle ups. I had been so close for so long but just could not turn it over. I ‘accidently’ did my very first one while warming up, and I just remember yelling to Kevin, ‘Start the clock!!!’ I ended up doing 7 muscle ups that day. Who knew?!”
Trumping the 2.5 year pursuit of a muscle up was the four year pursuit of a 200+ pound backsquat. Her recent success was followed by Hannah running around the gym with her arms up, yelling “I finally did something in the 200s!!” If you would like a reenactment please contact Bess Jackson.
So if you see a girl standing around upside down, she’s one of ours. Just say hello and high-five her foot!
John Briski, AKA Briskit, Brewski, Gummi Bears or any other name you care to apply to our 6’5” gentle giant is one of the friendliest, most welcoming Kodites (which is probably why he will answer to pretty much any name you give him and offer you gummi bears). His first day at Koda was actually at OKC. “When I first walked in, Brice and I geeked out for a bit, then I did class. The workout involved two 1k rows so I thought I was pretty hot stuff my first day!” Briski transitioned from snacks, naps, and video games to “eat, sleep, and CrossFit” and transformed physically from “260 pounds with almost no muscle” to all the muscle at 225. To be fair, his activities outside the gym include going to concerts, drinking beer, and watching movies (it’s all about finding balance).
Strangely enough, regardless of or perhaps in defiance of his height, Briski’s favorite workout is “Grace”. His most memorable workout was certainly not his favorite. “My most memorable, and humbling, workout was definitely the last workout of the 2015 Koda First Timers: 20 chest-to-bar pull ups, 30 front squats, 40 jump ropes. I didn’t even make it past the pull ups and everyone else was finished and watching me struggle through eight pull ups before I got capped. That was when I decided I wasn’t ever going to be beat by another workout the way that workout beat me. I am pretty competitive actually. I want to make myself stronger, better, and more skilled at everything to do with CrossFit, especially surrounded by so many talented individuals as Koda. Getting to see my buds when I go really helps with the days where I just don’t feel motivated.”
Briski’s welcoming and outgoing nature has earned him more than just nicknames. “Koda is great if you want to get in shape, or if you want to become a competitive Crossfitter. But the thing that surprised me the most was how many friends and role models I have met through Koda. My favorite KXN memories usually center around anything that comes out of Hutch’s mouth. I love that dude. He’s a national treasure. And I honestly believe we have some of the best and most knowledgeable coaches around. Special shout out to Toby for putting up with me on a regular basis.”
He has accomplished many things in his four years of CrossFit but his gymnastics feats have garnered the most pride (with his wingspan that pride is hard earned and well-deserved). “I’m not built for this stuff being tall, heavy, and lanky, so any small progress I see always makes my week. Surprising fact: I’ve actually gotten pretty decent at handstand push ups since I’ve practiced so much. Emphasis on decent. Pull ups are still a definite work in progress. Don’t ask about muscle ups.” But Briski never stops working, never stops progressing, because he is on a mission. “I have at least two competitions to end the year and competitions are a blast for me. Even though it can be stressful, competing is still one of my favorite things.”
From major physical changes, to being able to dunk (when he couldn’t even touch the rim when he first started), to eating clean (minus the gummi bears), Briski has made a lot of changes at Koda Norman. But some things never change. He’s still the first person to say hello to you when you walk in the door and can usually be found handing out gummi bears after a workout. Some things should never change.
Stephanie Malone wears many hats – She’s a mom, coach, competitor, cheerleader, (the kind with pom-poms and the mental support kind), chauffeur, chef, and bootcamp sadist. As hard as she pushes us during Kodafit or Koda Norman Bootcamp, it’s hard to complain when she is right next to us doing the same workout. Coach Steph’s main goal is to stay healthy. “Being a busy working mom – it’s sometimes hard to fit workouts in (which is why I go before my family is awake) but I know that in order for me to be a good mom, wife, and trainer, exercise has to be a priority and I always feel better when I leave the gym.”
Her first day at Koda Norman was a 5:30am class. Like so many of our 4 year veterans, Coach Steph is a early morning regular. “I love the people – 5:30 definitely has more ‘regulars’ than any other time slot. Us ‘old’ people have to stick together and I love starting out my day with a good workout. It’s the best way to wake up.”
In case that last statement wasn’t crazy enough, Steph’s favorite workout is – Murph. “I love that we do it on Memorial Day – it’s more than just a workout – and it’s amazing to see how many people show up for it.” That community is what Steph loves about Koda Norman and what she brings to us. “Koda is an amazing gym with SO many different athletes, coaches and classes. There is a class for everyone from the beginner to the elite athlete. The environment is very motivating. There will always be someone there to help push you, to make you better.” Steph is that person. She pushes us, makes us work harder, be better. “My favorite thing is to see someone get their first pull-up, handstand, muscle up, etc. It’s truly rewarding to see someone achieve something they once thought was impossible.”
Maria Kroeker can be described in three words – one bad momma. It’s not the steely eyes of doom that can quell her boys in an instant, it’s her all fight, no quit attitude. CrossFit didn’t make Maria who she is (although it might have enhanced the jacked-ness), but Maria has been a big part of making KXN the community that it has become. Before CrossFit, Maria was doing 5ks, mud runs, and working out in a “jacked bro gym”. Then she got bored; “I was sick of the mirrors. I was sick of seeing people flexing instead of picking up some weight.” Maria hasn’t the time nor patience to deal with that. And this is a woman with a lot of patience.
She is a Master Sergeant in the Army and a first grade teacher. We’re not sure which of those tasks is more daunting but we’re leaning towards the first graders (or as she calls it – “herding cats for 7ish hours”). She starts at her day at 5:30am and ends her day when she can no longer function but she always makes the gym a priority, scheduling her workouts around her first priority, her boys, and their soccer, basketball, and baseball practices and games.
Maria has never let any obstacle stop her from her goal – keeping up with her boys (and let us just tell you, they are FAST). After having her shoulder repaired 2.5 years ago, she recovered intelligently and conservatively and has PRd all her lifts predating surgery. Additionally, muscle ups hold a special place in her heart after being the first female to get a muscle up in the gym. She didn’t even know it was a rite of passage until she had passed right on through.
June 26th, 2013 Maria walked in the door of KXN and we are happy that she calls this place home four years later. She will yell at us to go faster, try harder and do more. Maria is a fighter; she fights for her boys, her students, and her country. And we are so thankful she’s on our side.
Jennifer Copelin, aka Coach Jen, aka Jen Fit, has been cheering on the athletes at Koda Norman for the past four years but she was a cheerleader in high school before that. Growing up with gymnastics and cheer and growing into running marathons and triathlons, Jen was a CrossFitter before the term existed.
Jen’s favorite thing to coach, however, is Olympic lifting. She remembers taking the weight lifting certification with fellow coach, Stephanie Malone, and it clicked. “I became so much stronger over a weekend just by tweaking my technique so I love being able to teach others that and see their amazement at their progress.” Jen also has hate-to-love movements, those movements that took forever to get but once she got them the good feelings abounded. Hers are double unders and pull ups.
Jen calls her life crazy and it’s difficult to disagree. She gets up at 5am to workout before wrangling her 3 kids and getting them to school and then at night she works as a child dance and gymnastics taxi and chef. In between, she has “free” time in which to coach, do interior design, and photography.
As a part of the obscenely early morning crew, Jen says, “It’s always the same dedicated group of early birds. I feel like the morning class takes a certain type of person to get up that early to work out, plus most of them have jobs and kids and it’s nice to be around people with common interests. Most of them have been there as long as I have and they begin to feel like a second family.” As others have attested to, this group has been running long and strong because they keep each other accountable. “We make sure everyone is planning on showing up and give each other a hard time when we don’t.” You don’t want to be the one that doesn’t show up…
For Jen, family and friends are what she values above all else so when she calls you second family you know you are loved. But anyone who has seen her coach knows how much heart she puts into her classes – that’s why Jen Fit has their own t-shirts. She loves watching members in her classes grow, succeed, and feel good about themselves. She pushes them to be their best and stay healthy – the same goal she has for herself. “As I get older my goals have shifted a bit. I more look forward to staying fit, mobile, and healthy. I had to let go of trying to do what the girl next to me was doing and learn to just do me and be okay with that and that took a lot of time but I’m getting there.” Just like every one of us at KXN, we are here because “Koda is fun, the people are amazing, and you are always guaranteed to get a good workout – whether it’s your 1st day or your 4th year. It’s always challenging and there is always room to grow. “ Yoda has nothing on Coach Jen. We are so glad that we have her words of wisdom and coaching prowess as such a big part of KXN.
Katie Byers is in it for the long haul – and no, we are not just referring to the fact that this is her 4 year Kodaversary. Prior to CrossFit, Katie ran 40+ miles a week. She decided to try CrossFit because she needed to give her body a break.
Her first day at KXN, she was the only athlete to show at the 6:30pm class so Kevin joined her and Liz coached (like an episode of the Twilight Zone). Her memories of that first day are fond, “I remember burpees and feeling like I would die by the end of the AMRAP. I knew after that class that I was hooked….” Burpees, it’s like the ultimate pick-up line – works every time.
Shockingly (or not so), Katie loves the long endurance workouts and the Open workouts because “I really push myself to do more than I think possible and to finish the workouts.” Katie never stops pushing herself. CrossFitters are a competitive breed but not just against others, we compete against ourselves. Katie motivates herself by “seeing if I can do better than I did last week or the last time I did a movement.” And when she’s not celebrating her workouts, she’s celebrating OU football. I think we can all agree that her priorities are on point!
There are few things better in this world than Tessie Time. Anyone who has had a massage with Tessie Taleu knows this to be true, but it’s not just her magical hands, it’s her magical personality. Tessie is probably the strongest girl you know but you might not know that because she would never tell you. She is incredibly humble and more comfortable telling you her struggles of the past rather than glory in the present.
Tessie started her journey in a Washington. She played volleyball in high school and college but when that stopped – so did she. Eventually she got moving again (running) and eventually ran into Koda CrossFit Norman and Kevin Schuetz. That was four years ago on April 30th 2013. It’s been shenanigans ever since.
For her, the most memorable of these experiences are doing sled pulls/drags in triple digit heat, and that time she fell off the rig while doing pull-ups (don’t worry, everyone was there to witness this feat). This is why Tessie describes KXN as a “beautiful chaos of shenanigans.”
“Every person that walks into the gym makes KXN the amazing place it is by pushing, encouraging, playfully bantering, and embracing each other for the beautiful individuals they are.” Tessie is projecting; she is the embodiment of beautiful chaos, those around her are the echo.
Tessie’s strength is only surpassed by her determination. You will always see her at multiple classes only to later spot her in the corner continuing her efforts. Her goal is to constantly be better than yesterday and she puts in the work to make that happen. “My daily schedule is constantly varied, just like the Koda programming, but it almost always includes being at Koda at some point in the day.” Whether she is working out or working; coaching Moga (a variation on yoga that is uniquely her own), massaging clients (Relax For Time), or front desking, she is always working to be better or make someone else better.
Tessie is known for her strength but she has worked hard to get gymnasty. She now has bar/ring muscle ups and contributed three top scores for the Koda Norman team in order to get them their first Regionals appearance. Tessie Taleu is one of a kind – she’s one of our kind (fierce, determined, with a dash of crazy) – and if she puts her mind to getting somewhere you had better get out of the way.
Cole Gillock played football in high school and baseball from the womb – he is a born competitor. During his first few years of college, he was regulated to swimming, running, and body weight exercises due to an extreme loathing of globo gyms. He had heard of Koda CrossFit in the jungles of OKC but that was in another land far, far way. And then Koda Norman opened and Cole was in the door on week one.
Cole’s first CrossFit endeavor was a 4:30 class coached by Brice. “My ol’ buddy Kyle Smailey was there so how could it be a bad time?” The workout was a ladder of cleans at 135# and burpees with a 400 m run. “Brice made me do front squats because I was getting worked – didn’t matter though,I came right back and signed up.”
KXN, for Cole, is about friendship and competition – and for him, those go hand in hand. His favorite class times are 4:30 and 5:30pm; everyone is getting done with work (the unfun part of the day) and coming in for a good time. He has been attending the early morning classes but is “physically and emotionally weak that early in the morning.” He cannot afford weakness – he thrives off of working out with and against his friends. This competition, this camaraderie, has pushed Cole as an athlete. “For one competition I ran a 6:30 mile. I didn’t know I could do that. I felt horrible afterwards, but it was still pretty cool.”
Outside of the gym, Cole and his fiancé prefer to stay outdoors (unless they are battling with projects in their new home). They can be found on early morning hikes traipsing around the Wichitas.
Cole has been with KXN since its infancy; he has been there through growth spurts, the terrible twos, and new homes. Here is to another year filled with competitions and camaraderie. Here is to another year of accomplishing feats that he didn’t know he could.
The few, the proud, the Marine, Phil LeBaron started out tough (it’s in the definition of a Marine). However, he was pleasantly surprised when his definition of “in shape” was challenged at KXN. He walked through our front door four years ago because it was too close to his front door for him to make up any valid excuses not to.
Four months into CrossFit, July 2013, Phil completed Murph – slowly. “I was so smoked that I was walking the second mile. I remember Tessie passing me and giving encouragement, and after appropriately berating myself I was able to trudge the last half mile or so to finish…. I think both Justin Nolan and I were happy to be alive.”
A 5am(er), Phil describes his people as “a unique band of cantankerous old men, younger men seeking wisdom from the aforementioned party, and lovely ladies of all ages. We are a tight-knit, semi-masochistic family that may suffer from insomnia, but we enjoy each other’s company enough to keep coming back.”
Koda is “a place to better yourself alongside others of like mind, and a place where you can make lifelong friends” but that is not really why Phil keeps coming back. Phil keeps coming back because Ted Blodgett created an “accountability group message” so that he can harass athletes when they miss a workout. Now we know why so many of the 5am crew have made it four years – Ted.
Outside of the gym, unlike so many of us, Phil actually does have a life – his wife. “I enjoy spending time with my lovely wife; camping, cooking, vacationing, volunteering, doesn’t matter what we do, as long as I’m with her.” It doesn’t get much sweeter than that. Except for maybe his feelings towards Koda.
“Koda is more than a gym. Koda is a community, a family, and I am looking forward to another year in this great community that reaches far beyond the walls of 1210 McGee Drive. I look forward to successfully stringing muscle-ups together (fingers crossed), and Ted keeps telling me about ‘old-man strength.’ Maybe I can get me some of that.”
Here’s to muscle ups, “old-man strength”, and Phil. Oohrah!
A member of the elite KXN Dad crew, Deren crossfits at 5AM (long before most of us are alive) with the “old guys”. He also attends the early morning Saturday class because the earlier the better for the dads of Koda.
What motivates him on these ridiculously early mornings? “The satisfaction of accomplishment.” Deren wakes up before the sun because, “Koda is a place where you can challenge yourself and be encouraged by others.”
He has stuck with us through no air conditioning, barbells that were so cold that they necessitated gloves, and itty bitty workout space over the past four years; in fact, he reminisces fondly of doing 12 Days of Christmas at the old location where 40 crossfitters packed themselves into the significantly smaller gym (which made it warmer). He recollects the shared spirit of the holidays and sharing of equipment all while trying to avoid dropping weights on one another.
In his next year at KXN, Deren looks forward to continuing to show up to those 5am sessions; to waking up not to the sun but to the promise of shiny barbells and burpees. So if you want to workout with Deren, you better be ready to rise and shine!
Give me a B, give me a R, give me an O! What does that spell? Justin Nolan, our very own bro cheerleader. Justin describes his OU cheerleading career as follows, “Do I throw her now? Now, do I throw her? Do I throw her yet?” Yes, he is also the typical bro; he likes to pick heavy stuff up and put it down (and bench press – mostly bench press). However, his favorite movement in all the land (the aforementioned bench press), is not his most memorable. That award goes to the hard fought, hard won hand stand push ups (hspus) and bar muscle ups.
You all probably know Justin from the 5:30pm class or just from his curly hair. When he started his career at KXN he was “very strong – and very – round (I wasn’t “out of shape” – round IS a shape, right?).” Then he decided to try a different shape.
Koda Native’s Daniel Laakman who once convinced Justin to become an OU cheerleader is the very same guy who convinced him to compete in Koda CrossFit’s Balls of Love fundraiser workout over four years ago. So really, Justin predates KXN – he’s prehistoric. Rocking the tight tights, Justin went balls out on the sprints and cleans – but then came the handstand push ups. Justin tried to kick through the drywall on his first attempt ever – and almost succeeded – at kicking through the drywall, not the hspu. Apart from that, “and Daniel having to do the majority of the pull-ups, and all of the HSPUs, and [Justin] getting fairly sick about half way through – it was fun and all went off without a hitch!” But he hasn’t heard from Daniel since, in fact, no one has….
So he had to make new friends. Justin describes the community at KXN, “It’s a safe place. Coming into Koda, I just figured it’d be another place to go workout, probably make some friends, but I didn’t know then how deep-rooted those friendships would become. We’ve all been through a lot in four years, and fortunately we’ve all had each other to help us through the tough times and celebrate the victories. No mater what’s going on in life, I always know that my Koda family has my back every single time. End sappy response.” Yes, his heart is as big as his pectorals.
Kaitlin Henry can be spotted in the wilds of the noon classes or at Barbell class. She showed up to a 5:30am class once – but it will never happen again. If you do happen to spot her early in the morning, be certain to be the bearer of coffee. Between CrossFit, classes at OU, and working at The Mont, Kaitlin’s favorite thing to do in the time between is nothing. Like her spirit animal, the sloth, she is a creature of naps. She can traverse land and sea and even has a tendency to be more horizontal than vertical when running (yes, she falls down a lot). Her natural habitat includes barbells, canines, and tacos, and she is known for hoarding shaker bottles.
Kaitlin started CrossFit in her hometown in Montana but she moved to Norman in 2013 to learn how to do double unders (and attend OU). After a few months of flying solo in the gyms of Norman, she drove down Lindsey and saw a sign that would be a life changer. CrossFit. She attended her first class at KXN that same day.
Kaitlin’s first day at KXN was memorable; she was the only female in a sea of bros but she persevered. A month later, at Kevin’s insistence, she consented to befriending her kindred spirits, Tessie and Jill, with whom she moved into a house a year later, and that is the genesis story of the “Cruce Crew”.
We have all witnessed Tony’s infamous “Tony Silva moves” – really, there is no better way to describe them. And because of his absurdities and outgoing nature, it is very hard not to know Tony Silva. One of the first coaches to join the ranks at KXN, he was actually a late bloomer in terms of his athletic prowess.
Tony Silva, the double under king, the fastest rope this side of the Mississippi, started out as a “tremendous bench warmer” for his high school football team. To counteract the Freshman 15, Tony started CrossFitting in the OU student rec center. For any of us who have done CrossFit in a globo gym, we know it gets old – fast. When “Jon B” told him about the CrossFit gym opening up on Lindsey Street, Tony was one of the first people through the door.
The first workout can make us or break us and for Tony it was Helen with double unders – talk about a match made in heaven. He professes his love of double unders, saying that, “they are fun and require rhythm.” Fun? Maybe in a 17.5 fifth circle of hell sort of way – but his score for 17.5 actually helped our Regionals team get where we needed to go – so that’s fun. As for rhythm, any of us who have seen Tony dance know that double under rhythm only goes so far.
The rest of his journey has been paved through perseverance and the pursuit of excellence – traits that he says trickled down from Kevin, our fearless leader. These traits have led to his pursuit of his Masters in Data Science and Analytics (which might explain why double unders are “fun”), his fabulous fiancé, Mackenzie Lynch (a match made in Koda heaven), and his podium finish at the Fittest in OK.
To Tony, Koda means community and he has been such a big part of defining our community. He has been here from the beginning and we cannot imagine a KXN world without him (and his “Tony Silva moves”) in it.