Get to Know Coach Your Coach | Michelle Jatagandzidis

Ask a CrossFitter to describe their CrossFit box (in the odd instance they aren’t already talking about it), and you’re sure to leave the conversation knowing the name of at least one of their coaches.

Why? Because they’re that impactful.

Unlike so many – if not all – other sports, in CrossFit, the last person to finish is the one cheered on the loudest. The person who fails rep after rep is greeted with the same high-five as the person who cycles through Rx’d movements with ease.

It’s these unique characteristics that separate and define CrossFit, and it’s the coaches we owe thanks to for putting them into practice day in and day out. 

While day after day, they’re reminding us to keep our elbows up in a front rack and break parallel in a squat, CrossFit coaches serve a deeper purpose.

They create an environment where one can scale movements without being overcome by embarrassment, where neither the number on the scale nor the barbell define worth, where confidence is built rather than broken.


Where does your passion for fitness and a healthy lifestyle come from?

Fitness has been a lifelong pursuit. At a young age I played a number of competitive sports, eventually committing to a career in soccer where I played varsity at Ryerson University. Playing, running, training was just the norm in our family - at a young age I didn't even recognize that this was a passion for fitness, it just was.  

After graduation, and like many competitive athletes who go from training 7 days a week and being a strict diet I felt the effects of not living a health lifestyle; weight gain, low mood, aversion to activity. As I was reaching a very unhealthy stage something awesome happened, CrossFit Crux opened their new location on Sandiford down the street from where I was working. After dropping in for a free trial I was hooked, but I had a long way to go. I have a distinct memory of a noon class, which happened to be just me & Rhonda, and I was struggling to complete a set of push-ups from my knees. From then on I embraced the journey and have enjoyed every second of it. CrossFit allowed me to feel like an athlete again, something that I believe is important for everyone. It become about constantly challenging myself to try new things and celebrate the small accomplishments I made along the way.

 I'm not sure who said this first, but we should always remember: fitness is not about being better than someone’s about being better than you used to be.

Why do you coach, what motivates you to teach?

The motto I live every day by is, “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re living yours wrong.” I've personally seen the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle through CrossFit and want to share this with whoever will listen! Thank-you for letting me do what I love allowing me to help you through your own personal fitness journey. 

What do you think separates a great coach from a good coach, and a good coach from a poor coach?

For me, being a great coach consists of understanding the body and how it moves, understanding people and their unique learning styles and creating an environment where people are encouraged to be their best selves. Great coaches strive to make themselves and their athletes better in both body and mind, and are committed to continuous learning.

What is a typical day in the life for Coach Michelle?

A typical day for Coach Michelle starts with multiple cups coffee, a meeting (or two or three or four) at my day job at a local construction company where I work in HR, an afternoon trip to Whole Foods where I meet Coach Allen to discuss CrossFit (of course), my evenings are usually at Crux where I'm either training, coaching or both; and finally ends with an episode of the Real Housewives and some relaxing Saje scents.

What is the most rewarding part of coaching?

As a coach, I love seeing our members gain strength and confidence in their abilities and get excited about overall health. The moments that keep me motivated as a coach is when someone conquers a box jump, or moves from a blue KB to a yellow KB, or starts to care about what there body can DO instead of what it LOOKS like.

What is your favorite movement/benchmark workout and why?

Benchmark workouts: Annie (seems pretty innocent but can get spicy) DT (Heavy Barbell, when you think you've had enough there's still another round, or two)

Movement: Yoke Carries (no explanation needed!)

What is your most hated movement/benchmark workout and why?

Over my years at Crux I have learned not to hate movements or workouts. Embracing the movements that challenge you the most generally gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment. Being able to face fears and take on challenges is a skill that we all need to learn in the gym and in our daily lives. Just say NO to CHERRY PICKING.

Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t LOVE seeing running in a WOD…

What is something most people don’t know about you or something interesting?

One of the most interesting things about me is that I’ve lived on three different continents! North America, Europe and Australia. I caught the travel bug at a young age and take any opportunity to experience somewhere new.

What type of music do you like to work out to?

This depends on what I’m training….

1.       Bieber goes with everything.

2.       Maxing out on my lifts: something aggressive (so I can’t hear myself think!)

3.       Accessory work: anything Country

4.       Coaching: Khloe Kardashian Workout Spotify playlist

What is one highlight from your athletic career?

My personal athletic career has had many highs and lows – Captain of the Ryerson Varity team, becoming player of the game in my graduating game, 500lb Yoke Carry, multiple knees surgeries… but the real highlight is the friendships that I’ve made along the way. Sport has a great ability to bond people.

Where do you spend your time when you aren’t at the gym?

I’m either planning my next trip, relaxing with a little Law and Order or sharing a drink (likely a tequila on ice or a Mill St.) with friends.