Our Coaches: Creating a Community of Caring
Danielle Owen – Coach & General Manager
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CrossFit Level 1
Danielle has always lead a healthy and active lifestyle. She started sports at a very young age (soccer, dance) but found her passion in cheerleading. She learned the dedication, discipline and teamwork needed to compete on a top-ranked national high school team. After high school, Danielle continued competing on an All-star level. Other fitness endeavors during her cheer days, include coaching tumbling classes (Rochester Elite All Heat) and becoming a gymnastics coach at Northern Hemisphere Gymnastics. Turning her focus on to building strength, she started working out at a conventional gym. A friend of hers (Katrina) introduced her to the world of bodybuilding where she competed in two shows in the figure division. She placed first in three categories and earned her NMA “pro-card”. After a couple years of the traditional gym routine, it became mundane and rather repetitive, so a friend (Again, Katrina!) convinced her to try out a class held at Forge Fitness (garage days!) She was hooked ever since! She enjoys not only the physical aspect but also the mental toughness that comes with CrossFit. For Danielle, CrossFit became more than just a hobby but a huge part in her life. She looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for a happy, healthy lifestyle with others. Helping people improve their lives through fitness is invaluable to her!
Favorite Thing: Her Puggle Abby!
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CrossFit Level 2, USAW Sports Performance Coach
Isioma got serious about fitness during his first year at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He primarily trained alone using body building programs he found online. Slowly, mostly out of boredom, he began to modify his programming and eventually he found himself training in a powerlifting style. Although powerlifting was fun he was more interested in overall strength and fitness, so he continued to evolve his programming to include more calisthenics, dynamic movements, and some body building in a circuit style.
Isioma began dabbling in strongman with the RIT Weightlifting club in preparation for their annual strongman competition. There he took first place and, more importantly, he learned about Brian’s small garage gym named Forge Fitness.
After his first class he was hooked. CrossFit captured all of his fitness interests and offered so much more. At Forge Fitness some of his accomplishments include taking 1st place in a local power lifting competition with a 1375 lb total (600lb deadlift, 300lb bench press, and a 475 lb squat) and 1st place in the 2014 RIT WLC Strongman competition.
Although Isioma likes to train hard, also loves to keep the mood light with jokes and random outburst of song and dance. So if you love to train and love to laugh, he’s your guy.
Favorite thing: Learning (or eating)
CrossFit Level 1
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Brianna found CrossFit in 2013 which allowed for the structure she needed to stay on the fitness track. Growing up she was more focused on outdoor activities, like: hiking, skiing, backpacking, running, and recreational sports. She has always enjoyed the friendly atmosphere that these activities brought. Since the gym scene lacked a community feature, CrossFit allowed her talkative side to flourish. In addition to her want for an outgoing community, she needed a workout routine that lacked movement consistency. CrossFit has the constantly varied, high intensity trait that is needed to keep Brianna interested and wanting more. She fell in love with combining weightlifting and cardio movements for a full body workout. With that, she was able to discover her strengths and weaknesses and have a routine that will last forever.
Favorite Thing: Penguins & Smiling
Kara Baer – Coach
CrossFit Level 1
Kara has always been an active, outgoing individual. Growing up, Kara competitively participated in sports, primarily soccer and softball. During her College years, Kara spent time coaching for a travel soccer club (Canandaigua Attack) while participating in intramurals and club teams. After college, Kara fell out of her routine, had an unhealthy diet, and found herself lacking motivation and energy. Throughout this period of time, Kara continued to run, completing multiple half-marathons and marathons, often without training properly and struggling to finish. In 2016 Kara convinced her fiancé to try CrossFit with her, as a way to spend time together and live healthier. Quickly, Kara appreciated the variance within the workouts and the opportunity to become competitive. This led to weight loss, muscle gain, increased energy, and increased ability to perform while running. CrossFit has become a lifestyle for Kara and she looks forward to sharing this new found passion with you.
Favorite Thing: Running!
Brian Lelli, Owner (16yrs of experience under the bar)
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CrossFit Level 2, USAW Sports Performance Coach, CrossFit Gymnastics
Brian’s training history starts back in 2001 at Rochester Institute of Technology where he and a group of his friends started the first RIT Weightlifting Club as a club for like-minded individuals to get together and train with one another. This was his first chance to learn coaching others. From his freshman year in 2001 through 2010, Brian trained in a powerlifting style and competed in close to a dozen competitions. From 2011 to early 2013 Brian took it upon himself to create a better and healthier body for himself. This included dropping nearly 55 lbs in the course of a year dropping from 232 lbs to 179 lbs. This transitional year included the adoption of CrossFit training and Brazilian Ju Jitsu. During his time on the mat, he went from a slightly large “ex power lifter” with horrible muscular endurance and no cardio to speak of to have competed in many BJJ competitions and coming away with many medals at each one. Since 2010 he has found his home in training CrossFit and has been excelling at it ever since! Brian is always there to welcome questions and keep the mood light so if you have anything on your mind while reading this or when you’re in the gym, he’s the guy to ask!
Favorite thing: High Fives!
Katrina Lelli, Owner (10yrs of experience under the bar)
CrossFit Level 1
Katrina, for a short period of time fell into the “normal female routine” that included lots of cardio, ab exercises, push ups and dips. Thankfully she met folks in college that broadened her athletic horizons and introduced her to the barbell. Shortly after meeting the barbell, she started incorporating movements like squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press into her trips to the gym. She soon found much love for these and saw her progress steadily increase. Her highest achievement to date is having an IPA World Record Squat, Bench & Deadlift in the RAW category. While keeping her raw strength numbers up, she decided to put her efforts into CrossFit and again; found that her “gymnastic style body” combined with her raw strength would allow her to excel at yet another form of fitness. Most people at this point would hang onto these two paths knowing that greatness has been achieved and will continue to be. Not Katrina. She turned to the Figure Athlete stage in 2012 for her first Natural Figure show and came home that night with two 1st place trophies and a 2nd place trophy.
Favorite thing: Her Puppies (Turbo & Cooper)