Meet the Coach Monday:

1. How did you get started on your fitness journey

I was very much involved in sports all throughout my childhood. I was relatively athletic, as long as it was hockey lol. I also played soccer, baseball, and ran track and cross country but was not good at them, whatsoever. Hockey was my best sport and what I focused all of my time on. 

My fitness journey first started when I was a freshman in high school. We were required for hockey to do lifting in the weight room. I was so scared the first time I went to a weight room. I was never properly taught how to do anything. I had to learn from watching others do stuff and trying it out myself. I was never a big fan of lifting. Intimidated more than anything. 

Fast forward a couple of years and I eventually started liking it and going after school. I bench pressed every day because that was the cool thing to do. My 1RM back squat and bench press were about the same, so that was cool. 

I eventually went on to play junior hockey for 2 years in Iowa after graduating high school. My coach had wanted me to put on weight in between seasons. I’m pretty short (5’8”) and weighed around 160 lbs, which doesn’t make for a very big hockey player. I ended up working with a personal trainer who helped me gain 5 solid pounds. I had always struggled to gain weight, so this was a big win for me. 

From there, I decided to attend Hamline University to play hockey. I ended up not making the team, which was extremely difficult for me. I’ll spare you the details but I was more than good enough to have made the team but unfortunately didn’t. I had been playing hockey since I was 3 and this was going to be the first time where I wasn’t on a team. 

I had been somewhat consistent with working out and stopped altogether once I didn’t make the team. I continued to eat like I normally had, which was to eat everything and plenty of it. My metabolism was fast and I had always been active, so I was able to get away with this before. 

But when I returned home for winter break, I stepped on the scale for the first time in a while and saw myself come in at 201lbs. This shocked me. I thought “How could this have happened?? I could never gain weight before? Why now?!?!”

I shortly figured out the obvious and decided to act. I cleaned up my diet, which mostly consisted of me starting to eat salads, which I thought I hated but really enjoyed! I also started working out every day with a friend who was into lifting as well.

I ended up transferring to UMD after a full year at Hamline, with the intention of studying Exercise Science. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that degree, but I loved working out and knew I would be able to find a job I loved.

My fitness routine had started with me doing more of a bodybuilding routine. I wasn’t following programs and was making up my workouts on the fly. I was seeing decent results but this didn’t allow me to progress very quickly. I then started following a powerlifting program and started seeing fast results. I accomplished my goals of sumo deadlifting 500lbs, squatting 405lbs, and benching 315lbs. 

As I was coming into my last semester of college, I was looking to do an internship at a local gym to get experience and shadow. I talked to my advisor and she recommended of few different gyms in the area, one of them being Aerial Athletics. I emailed Ryan and set up an interview, and got my internship!

Coming into my internship, I had never done any sort of CrossFit. I wasn’t against it but had never considered doing it. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but it turned out to be one of the best things ever. Shortly after starting my internship, I completely transitioned my training style to CrossFit.

I ended up moving to the Twin Cities after my internship and graduation, to work at a Lifetime Fitness. I did not enjoy the job I had at all. Lucky for me, Ryan had a job opportunity opened right as I decided to quit my job, and the rest is history! 

2. What motivates you 

What first motivated me was to be strong. I didn’t want to look or feel small anymore and took to working out to help with that. Once I had reached those lifting goals I had mentioned before, I didn’t feel the need or want to pursue weights that were heavier. 

I am now motivated by wanting to live a more healthy, active lifestyle. When I wasn’t doing CrossFit, I didn’t do cardio-focused activities. When I would go for hikes or play hockey, I would find myself getting tired very quickly. My endurance has gotten far better and I’ve been able to enjoy the activities that I do much more. I am no longer the lazy bum that I once was!

3. What are your biggest struggles 

I struggle to take care of myself when it comes to nutrition, mobility, and sleep. I almost never stretch before/after workouts. I have cleaned up my nutrition in the last year but still find myself not always eating the best foods. I also like to stay up late. These are easy fixes that I am constantly working on but just haven’t made them a priority. 

4. What is your biggest fitness accomplishment 

Some of my favorite accomplishments are the lifts I have been able to complete

  • 500lb sumo deadlift
  • 405x3 Squat
  • 315x2 Bench
  • 235lb Snatch
  • getting 2 reps at the 275lb bar in the 20.4 open workout

My favorite CrossFit moment was my first Competition at Game Day Saint Paul where we took 3rd place as a team. I had so much fun being on a team and can’t wait for the next competition I am able to do. I hope we can have a bunch of Aerial folks at the next one so that you all can experience the fun!

Through hockey, my favorite memory was winning a National Championship in my first year of Juniors and being National Runner-Ups the following year. 

5. What made you want to become a coach 

I cannot pinpoint any one specific moment where I knew, but I have coached a lot of my life. I first was a hockey coach at a camp, which I did for 11 straight summers. Being able to teach people skills is very gratifying to me. When they get that “a-ha” moment, it is very special and satisfying! It’s what helps keep me motivated to be better at my job.

I knew I wanted to be a coach in the fitness industry because I wanted to help people achieve their goals. Living a healthy life is very important to me and I feel it’s important to help people incorporate that into their own lives.

6. Pet peeves in class 

Hm, where do I start…jk!

I don’t get annoyed that easily. The obvious ones get on my nerves, as they would for anyone. But what bothers me most is when people don’t work hard. I always want everyone to give their best effort in a workout. I know that sometimes you have a tough day at work, or you aren’t feeling your best. But leave that all at the door when you walk in and have a kick-a** workout. In my experience, I have found this to make myself feel better more often than not!

I am also annoyed by people being dramatic before/during/after workouts. Sometimes this is me though, so I shouldn’t talk haha.

7. Favorite/least favorite movements


- Olympic lifts. I am not the best at these and am still learning, but I think they are so fun to do.

- Handstand Walking. It was tough to figure out initially and I had a ton of awkward falls, but I find them very fun to do now that I figured them out!

- High Box Jumps. I have pretty good vertical for a short guy.

Least Favorite:

- Moderate-to-heavy high-rep deadlifts. These take so much out of me and I usually find myself staring at the barbell more than picking it up.

- Burpees. Cause burpees. Need I say more?

 8. Current fitness/life goal 

I want to be happy and feel fulfillment. I have been able to add and subtract stuff within my life to help me be where I am today, which is the best I have felt! I attribute a lot of this with my move back up to Duluth to start this job. I am very thankful for all our members for being who they are. You bring a lot of joy into my life!

I don’t have any major fitness goals. I would like to continue my current trend of staying strong and functional. I would also like to continue to do competitions as they help fulfill my competitive nature.

9. Who inspires you, your role model

First person that comes to my mind is my Dad. He instilled a lot of values in me that are important to me. He was tough on me growing up and made me who I am today, which I am extremely thankful for. 

All of you inspire me as well. You all come to the gym and kick butt daily. I enjoy being able to connect and help everyone!

10. Most memorable coaching moment

I haven’t been coaching CrossFit all that long, but my favorite memories have been when members first learn a movement, hit a PR. I love the camaraderie that we have at our gym. You all support each other to the fullest and make my job a ton of fun! I also enjoy seeing members go full send on the Assault Bike and cry after the workout. 

I feel very lucky to be a part of the family and community that we have at the gym. You all have welcomed me with open arms and I’m glad I can call each of you my friend! I am excited to hopefully see you all back at the gym again soon! 



Matt Kaitchuck

Coach/OnBoarding Specialist