Meet the Coach Monday

1. How did you get started on your fitness journey?

Growing up with active parents, it was required that we played a sport or were involved in some form of physical activity. We were able to choose what that was, but once we started we weren’t able to quit or switch until the season was over. 

My first 13 years, I was a dancer. Although I enjoyed dance and the friendships I made, this was never my passion. I didn’t look like a dancer, I didn't have the long lean legs or the petite ballet body. I didn’t really care about the recitals or competitions, it was more of just an activity to keep me moving. Within that time, I also dabbled in gymnastics and even tried softball...NOT my sport. I would never swing the bat, I just prayed that the pitcher would walk me every time. That lasted one summer...

When I got to high school, I restarted gymnastics and made the East Cheerleading team. What started out as a fun new activity, quickly became a nightmare. I broke my wrist (had to have a screw put in), fractured my knee cap, and dislocated my thumb requiring surgery to put it back in place. That was a solid end to my sports career… I finished up my junior year cheering and decided not to try out my senior year.

From my senior year of high school, through college up to present day, I have been a group fitness instructor/personal trainer which has kept me extremely active. Before I started coaching CrossFit, I used to lead 14-20 group fitness classes/week. “Lead” not “coach”, which meant I did the ENTIRE workout with the class (sometimes up to 6 in one day). I could literally eat whatever I wanted and basically did! (think all the pasta and ice cream!)

In 2012, I started adding more strength training into my routine (bodybuilding style training) and started paying more attention to my nutrition. This, drastically, changed my body, I put on a ton of muscle and leaned out fairly quick. That spring, I started competing in bodybuilding shows. I had what was classified as the “perfect” physique for a figure athlete. I had muscular shoulders, decent lats, a tiny waist, and strong legs and glutes. My first 2 shows (in the cities), I did really well at and qualified for a National show in Vegas. I ended up placing 14th in Vegas (out of 200) but have not competed since. I LOVED the training, but hated being on stage and didn’t like how expensive everything was. 

So… after a few more years of just training however I felt, I decided to try Crossfit. Because of my strength background, I picked everything up pretty quickly. Humblebrag, but my first day I split jerked 165lbs, never doing the movement before. I also excelled at the strict gymnastic movements. I had built up the perfect base for jumping into the sport and competed in my first RX team competition, 2 months after starting.

Since then, I have competed in a few other team CF competitions, I have run a couple of half marathons, completed the Iron Maiden challenge (1 KB clean and press, 1 KB pistol and 1 weighted KB strict pull up with the 53lb KB), done 1,000 burpees (3x), did the Tactical Strength Challenge, and a bunch of other random things. I still feel like my fitness journey is just beginning. I love a new challenge and am excited for what the future holds. Fingers crossed that they reschedule Gameday Mankato so that coach Matt and I can compete with everyone else from the gym who has signed up, it is such a fun experience.


2. What motivates you?

This is a tough one for me because I don’t really rely on motivation. My workouts are my favorite part of my day and I consider them my “me time”. If you ask anyone that knows me, if I don’t get my workout in, I am a crabby individual. So whether I’m on vacation or stuck at home (Covid), I’m still going to workout and do what needs to be done, to maintain my fitness/health. 

Thinking about the question a little more, I guess I kind of use my job as motivation. I believe in practicing what I preach. As a fitness professional, I feel like I am held to higher standards as to what I look like, how I perform, and how I live my life. I would have a hard time asking someone to eat a certain way or to change their habits if I couldn’t do that myself. Maybe that is just me, but I do take pride in what I do. I want to be able to inspire and motivate others to live their best life. 


3. What are your biggest struggles?

I am someone who is EXTREMELY regimented/disciplined so when something is “off” from my normal routine, it really messes with my head. I get up every day at the same time, workout at the same time, eat my meals at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. When one of these things is off, I struggle a bit. I prefer to know ahead of time so that I can plan my day around it. I can get up earlier to workout before a flight or commitment, pack snacks if I can’t make an actual meal, or prepare myself if it’s going to be a late night. I am “that girl” who can politely decline any food or going to an event if I don’t care to go or indulge. It has taken years to develop the confidence and discipline to be able to do this. But if something doesn’t serve me and my goals I don’t believe that I should “have to” do it just to please someone else.

I also struggle with working on my weaknesses. It took me forever to learn doubleunders, but part of me didn’t really care if I ever got them. I wanted to be able to do them (and I knew I had to in order to compete RX) but they weren’t a big enough priority to work on them daily. I would put them on the back burner and then be mad at myself when they came up in an open workout or for a qualifier. Lately, I have been better at practicing my weaker movements and trying to balance things I like with things I don’t... but I still just blame the doubleunders on the rope… hehe


4. What is your biggest fitness accomplishment?

I have a few accomplishments that come to mind... One of my biggest fitness accomplishments would probably be winning my first ever figure competition, I won both my division and the overall title (70+ women). Another one would be placing 1st in the world for the Tactical Strength Challenge last April and then placing 3rd overall for the larger fall competition. This competition consisted of a 1RM deadlift, max unbroken strict pull-ups, and max KB snatches in 5 minutes. It was tough but fun! The last one would have to be a fun personal one which would be completing the burpee mile. You do one burpee and broad jump forward for a whole mile. I did it at the UMD track and about ⅓ of the way through the football team showed up for practice haha.  I used that as motivation not to quit or rest.


5. What made you want to become a coach?

Well...Considering my mom has been a fitness instructor since before I was born, I’d have to say that it is in my blood. But in all honesty, I have been teaching group fitness classes since I was 19 (13 years). I got certified my sophomore year of college and mentored with an instructor/began teaching classes and personal training that fall. I have taught just about every form of group fitness there is; bootcamp, pilates, spin, LesMIlls BodyPump, interval training, water aerobics, strength training, I even taught a group class that was completely on a treadmill. When I say that this is my passion and my life, I mean it. 

About 8 years ago, I got certified in Crossfit, not knowing anything about it but I was wanting to continue to expand and grow in my profession/education. And 4 years ago, I actually began my journey as a CrossFit athlete/coach. At first, I was super hesitant because of my background in fitness and my typical style of training. But I slowly began to understand and accept the concepts and methodologies behind the madness. I believe that myself, and the coaches at Aerial, put the safety and health of our members first. This is our main focus before the sport aspect. This is what got me hooked and has kept me at the gym. You have to build the basics before you can move onto the “sexy” movements. CrossFit has gotten a bad rap for poor form and injuries but if it is done correctly, just like any sport, it is safe and effective.


6. Pet peeves in class?

I would have to say that my biggest pet peeve in class is negative self-talk or continually using the word can’t. We all have bad days and we all struggle with certain movements but saying “I can’t” or referring to yourself in a negative way will never help you overcome obstacles. Your mindset plays a huge role in your success (or failures) in life and in this sport. The workouts are tough and some days we fail, but I will always be on your side and cheering you on. Everyone just needs to try their best, and that might look a little different from day to day, but never say can’t.  Or if you do say can’t be sure to add yet after. 

Also, I am not a fan of people talking WHILE I’m talking or explaining. I try my best to keep my descriptions short and to the point, but I feel like it is rude and disrespectful to other members in the class when someone talks or is disruptive while others are trying to listen. 


7. Favorite/least favorite movements?

I would have to say that burpees, toes to bar, and handstand push-ups are my absolute favorite movements. I get pretty excited when I see any of those in a workout. As for least favorite, it used to be doubleunders but now I would say snatches. I have the strength to move a decent amount of weight but the snatch is such a technical movement, and I haven’t mastered the correct form yet… 


8. Current fitness/life goal?

A big goal that I just completed was passing my CrossFit Level 3 Exam. Another one that I am currently working towards is my Precision Nutrition Level one. Other than that, life goals are just to be genuinely happy, to spend as much time doing the things I love, with all the people that bring joy into my life. And right now, that is exactly what I am doing… I get to workout/be active/challenge myself every day and I get to see my family and (normally) all of you :) Everyone of you in the community is like family to me, you guys bring so much joy and happiness into my life, I can’t wait to see you all again soon!!


9. Who inspires you, your role model?

I would have to say that my parents have been huge role models in my life. They have instilled values, morals, and work ethic into me that truly make me who I am. I am blessed to have such amazing, caring, loyal, determined, and compassionate parents and to have had them teach me to become the person that I am today.

In a more professional role, I really look up to Ben Bergeron and Mike Bledsoe. Although I have never met either of these guys, I spend a lot of time reading and listening to their content and advice. They have grown their coaching businesses with ethics and values that I, both, admire and share. They put relationships, hard work, teamwork, self-development, and humility as the core of their businesses and base all decisions from these values. They inspire me and have instilled even more of a desire to “never settle”, and to ALWAYS continue to grow and learn.


10. Most memorable coaching moment?


How in the world do I pick?!?! In this profession, I get to have memorable moments every day!! I love the little wins; getting your first double under, jumping onto a 20” box for the first time, hitting parallel in a squat, running your first whole mile, the list goes on and on. 

However, one moment that will stick in my head forever was at Essentia with one of my personal training clients. She was a client who was 76 years old and the sweetest lady ever. We trained together 2-3x per week for about a year and her biggest goal was to be able to go up the stairs without holding onto the railing. (Seriously, the things we take for granted.) I remember the day she accomplished that goal, oh my goodness, it was AWESOME!! She was so excited and I felt so fulfilled and blessed to be able to experience it with her.

Yes, personal training/coaching is my “job” but my goal, my calling, is always to get to know people on a deeper level. I want to understand and hear what makes you happy. I love learning about your family, sharing your highs and lows, helping you reach your goals is really what I believe I was meant to do. I don’t have to go to work every day, I get to and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Coach Ariel

Ariel Jauss

GM / Head Coach