UNAIDS Fitness has a new coach: Denise Soesilo, who many of you will know as a regular crusher of WODs ever since her partner gave her a special birthday present last year: unlimited B3F classes. What a great gift idea!

Denise recently took a big step in her functional training: getting her CrossFit Level 1 certificate. The weekend course isn’t cheap, but Denise says it’s worth it. The course provides detailed instructions on how to do and coach the nine foundational movements of CrossFit, a nutrition guide and plenty of practical guidance on how to be a good coach. It’s motivational, and it’s a little humbling. The most memorable part for Denise: “The lead trainer took apart my squats. It surprised me because I’ve done so many of them over the years.” The takeaway lesson: we can all improve our form, even on the seemingly simplest movements.

Since she started coming to B3F workouts a couple years ago, Denise has displayed particular skill on the Olympic lifts. Her secret? She used to be an Olympic athlete! Denise, who is German, has been playing competitive ice hockey since she was six years old, rising through the minor leagues all the way to Canada’s Western Women’s Hockey League in 2005 and the German national team that went to the 2006 Olympics in Torino. Off the ice, her training regime was designed to build explosive strength and balance. Lots of Olympic lifts, and lots of interval workouts that were similar to functional training. “I think that’s something that CrossFit got right,” says Denise. “No matter who you are or what you do, Olympic lifts are good for you.”  

Shortly after the Olympics, Denise collided with a teammate and suffered a head injury that ended her professional ice hockey career. More than 10 years later, she is working as a consultant to humanitarian organizations, specializing in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. And to our great benefit, she’s now coaching B3F functional strength classes (she and Peter are sharing the duties). Her next challenge: setting up a small gym in the house she and her partner recently bought. “Slowly. It starts with cleaning out the garage.” 

Author: unaidsfitness