Our Coaches & Staff

CrossFit coaches play a huge role in a member’s overall experience at any CrossFit gym. We are proud not only of the credentials of our CrossFit coaches, but also in their passion for fitness, proper movement, and each members’ success. If you ever have a question about health, fitness, nutrition, movement modification, or fitness goals, please don’t hesitate to approach any member of the coaching staff and ask for help.

Meredith Smith: Manager

Meredith_webBachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Western Kentucky University, ISSA Personal Trainer, ISSA Nutritional Specialist, CPR Certified, Yoga Instructor, Group Fitness Instructor, CrossFit Level 1 Certificate, Specialist in Fitness Nutrition Certificate

I fell in love with the methods, atmosphere and community of CrossFit, and it didn’t take long before I knew it was a field I wanted to pursue. I took my L1 and became a Certified CrossFit Trainer. I strongly think everyone should be a teacher at some point in their life. Not only within schools but in general. I have found my way of teaching through fitness. It is what I am passionate about and study so I can teach to others who are willing to learn. What I love specifically at RFS is the community. The commitment and drive from members makes coaching enjoyable. RFS is a family and we grow and improve together which makes it an amazing and fun place to work. Come to me for: Nutrition, mobility and yoga.

Matt Saeler: Head Coach

matt_webBachelor of Science in Athletic Training from California University of PA, Masters of Science in Exercise Science: Performance Enhancement & Injury Prevention from California University of PA, Certified in NASM: Performance Enhancement Specialist., Certifications: USAW Sport Performance Coach, NASE: Speed and Explosion, CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit Level 1 Certification, CrossFit Endurance Athletics from Max Wunderle.

“I really enjoy coaching and programming the WODs and Barbell Club at RFS.  I’m particularly excited about starting the Training Program for Teens. It’s great to coach teens because they have such a high energy level, their bodies respond well to training, and we see results fast. It’s so satisfying to educate them about how their body works and then see them succeed when they move and control their body with the proper technique. Come to me for: Physical therapy questions, injury treatment, goal setting and programming.

Tanya Poppa: Owner

tanya_webBachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Eckerd College, CrossFit Level I Certificate, Olympic Lifting Certificate, CrossFit Endurance Certificate, CPR/AED Certified, Specialist in Fitness Nutrition Certificate

“I could go on and on about all of the reasons why I love CrossFit.  But what I’m most excited about now is not only being a part of the Crossfit community  (I am Level 1 Certified and also have my Olympic Lifting Certification) and culture that I so strongly believe in, but sharing it with others and watching them reach their goals.  There are few things more rewarding than to see a person mentally and physically changing for the better on a daily basis, fight through self-doubt to achieve a goal and reach a point where they truly  feel good about themselves.  I hope I get the opportunity to see that happen to YOU!!” Come to me for: Any and all questions!! If I can’t answer it I’ll point you in the direction of who can!

Jason Kucera

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Illinois State University, Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida, Florida Teaching Professional with certification in: Elementary Education K-6, Physical Education K-12, Health K-12, Educational Leadership (All Levels) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Endorsement

As an athletic child, I loved all sports, but more often than not, overbearing coaches turned me off from playing organized athletics. When I became an educator and a coach, I was determined to not only teach and motivate my athletes, but to always be conscious about making it a positive, productive and engaging experience. I have been a Florida public school teacher since 2002 and have coached: Middle School Volleyball, Basketball, Track and Football; High School (Varsity) Volleyball, Track, Golf and Softball. For two seasons, I was the Asst. Volleyball Coach at Pasco-Hernando State College. For five years, I was an Assistant Golf Professional at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Trinity, FL where I implemented a large youth program with children aged three to sixteen. In 2007, I created and directed the Wolf Pack Volleyball Club, which became the largest youth volleyball club in Pasco County with over 150 players, ages six to eighteen. I am currently the Physical Education Teacher at Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota. I am married and have two children, Taylor (5) and Janey (3).

Over the course of my career, I have cultivated a coaching style which is always focused on keeping everyone engaged and active through the course of a practice or lesson. There is nothing that makes me cringe more than seeing kids “waiting for their turn” at a practice. I have fallen in love with CrossFit and all that it represents. I am excited to share my knowledge and passion with you and your kids in a fun-filled, challenging and goal-oriented setting.

Ray Jester (Intern)

BA in Ministry from Kentucky Christian University, CrossFit Level 1, CrossFit Striking

When my wife and I and our 6-month-old son moved to Sarasota in 2005, I began looking for a place to study martial arts.  During that time our family grew from 3 to 10 through the birth of our daughter and adoption through the foster care system. I had the makings of my very own kung fu school so everything I learned from sifu, I taught to my kids.  After 8 years of training with him I was trying to figure out how to increase my strength and stamina beyond what my then current workouts had provided.  I tried going to a few different gyms to lift by myself but just couldn’t stick with it.  I saw a FB ad for the 90 day challenge at RFS and was immediately hooked.  Last year I completed my Level 1 training and then took the CrossFit striking class.  I am also in the process of  becoming a certified personal trainer.  I love learning and working hard to develop new skills.

CrossFit has a huge impact on my coordination. strength, and stamina.  It has helped me start to get control of my nutrition and be more serious about recovery.  I want a share all of that with people.  I look forward to attending class everyday not just for the workouts but for the people that have become my friends though burpees.

Brittany Page (Intern)  

I moved to Sarasota, FL in March of 2015 from Boston, MA. Before moving here, I was an athletic trainer at various High Schools, physical therapy aide, a gymnastics coach and a personal trainer at an all-women’s gym. I graduated from Bridgewater State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training in 2011. During my tenure, I competed in collegiate track and field. My specialties included, shot put, discus and the hammer throw, in which I was named ECAC champ in 2010.

Growing up I competed and coached both gymnastics and track & field. This has sculpted my passion and affinity for fitness. I thoroughly enjoy helping people and take pride in the knowledge I have gained through both school and experience. I started CrossFit back in August of 2016, and my love for this sport and the community is like no other. I am excited to join the coaching world and look forward to continuing to encourage and educate people on exercise and healthy living.

Lisa Stuart

CPR & AED Certified, Mom

I started out at RFS as a member with no athletic background. I started basic strength training with my husband. I remember very vividly how it felt to be new: confused, unsure, terrified, and excited all at once.  One dayTanya approached me about working here and the rest is history. For 5 years RFS has been my second home, and I cannot imagine my life without it. I have had some of the best and the worst moments of my life inside these walls, and this gym and the people here have helped get me through it all. I can say without a doubt that the methodology of CrossFit and the community at RFS has forever changed me for the better. As the mom of two beautiful girls, I am so happy they get to grow up in an environment where girls aren’t admired for their looks, but for their grit, their strength, and their perseverance. After the birth of my second daughter, I had an extremely tough adjustment both mentally and physically, and from that experience I have learned this:  JUST KEEP MOVING. Come to me for any and all questions regarding RFS, classes, motherhood, babies, food, and life’s ups and downs.

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