1210 McGee St.
Norman, OK 73069
228 NW 60th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
8037 NW Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73162
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.