Head Coach, Co-Owner
From Elmhurst, IL (although he grew up in a farm community in WI)
Training Group: Strength Bias, Powerlifting, Life Lifting & Strength Café: All things strong.
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Endurance Coach, Westside Barbell Certified Powerlifting Coach, Charles Stanley Olympic Lifting Certified, USAW Sports Performance Coach, Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Interests: Listening to podcasts for all things training and personal development related, documentaries and statistics.
Before opening CrossFit Defined, David was a multi-sport athlete and played basketball, volleyball and rugby. Through team sports, he found his passion for coaching and helping athletes reach their true potentials. While working at a Martial Arts Gym, David was introduced to CrossFit and hasn’t looked back since. Having trained with mentor and friend, Ed Coan, David currently holds five national lifting records.
With over a decade of coaching experience, his greatest passion is helping athletes improve their athletic potential by building a strong foundation to push past their limits. In 2010, he and co-owner, Noal, founded CrossFit Defined to spread the rigorous, inclusive and community-centered mission that the gym is now known for.
David is the creator of the Strength Bias and Powerlifting programs at CrossFit Defined and has both competed at and coached athletes to the national level. He brings the fun of sports to the toughness of this type of training and is known for his driven and positive coaching style.
Head Coach, Co-Owner
From Boston, MA
Training Group: Defined Barbell WeightLifting Team Coach.
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Level 2 Coach, CrossFit WeightLifting, Gymnastics, Power Lifting and Movement & Mobility Coach, USAW Sports Performance Coach, BA Business Communications with a Minor in Public Relations from Bridgewater State University.
Interests: traveling, rock climbing, swimming, martial arts and being outdoors. He also likes cookies.
Noal got hooked on CrossFit in 2009 after completing his first WOD at a commercial gym in Lakeview. He was humbled by this experience and quickly realized that his previous workouts did not prepare him for this type of functional training. He quickly saw the profound effects that functional fitness could have on many people’s lives and knew that this was the path for him.
Prior to CrossFit, Noal studied and taught Jeet Kune Do martial arts for over a decade while transitioning from corporate sales into making his passion for helping others into a full-time career. In 2010, Noal and his co-owner, David, founded CrossFit Defined to spread the rigorous, inclusive and community-centered mission that the gym is now known for.
Noal pushes athletes to perform at their highest level and achieve goals they never thought possible. He’s been a CrossFit Games Regional team competitor and leads the gym’s primary strength and conditioning program and Weightlifting Team. He has a passion for the application of biomechanics to sport and utilizes his knowledge to build strong athletes and diverse programs.
From Chicago, IL
Training Group: CrossFit Games & Trodo Competitions, Beginner’s Foundations.
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Level 2 Coach, Certified Eleiko Strength Coach, CrossFit Strongman Coach, CrossFit Mobility Coach, Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, Competitive Lifter: Power and Olympic.
Interests: When Kevin’s not at the gym, you can find him at Heritage coffee shop drinking an iced coffee (black), riding his Honda Ruckus during the summertime, rocking out to the “Biebs,” or enjoying his favorite cheat meal: buckets of fried chicken and jasmine rice.
Kevin remembers resting in between sets of E-Z Bar Preacher Curls at X-Sport Fitness—and seeing Rich Froning and Jason Khalipa competing at the Reebok CrossFit Games on TV. He found CrossFit Defined while working near-by at Illinois Masonic, and the rest was history.
Kevin immediately stood out to the coaches for his magnetic personality and talent as an athlete. He soon transitioned from athlete to coach, and now he uses his background in football, powerlifting, track & field, and Strongman to help lead the CrossFit Defined Strength Program. Kevin loves coaching and competing at the highest level—and has a knack for helping his athletes find confidence in themselves and reach their highest potentials.
From Rochelle, IL (but Chicago has been home for over 15 years)
Training Group: Mobility & Recovery, Beginner Foundations.
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Level 2 Coach, Yoga and Recovery Techniques, Kinesiology, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Columbia College, pre and post-natal training, CrossFit Kids Trainer.
Interests: traveling, strong coffee, healthy cooking, and Chicago culture.
Cara combines art with athletics and has been a professional dancer in Chicago for over a decade. She has taught and toured nationally and internationally as a member of The Seldoms and found CrossFit while looking for a smarter way to cross-train for her dance career. Her first CrossFit experience—which happened to be on a first date—left her rethinking everything she’d ever known about functional fitness.
Cara became a coach because she loves seeing people discover confidence within themselves. Teaching is her love, and it gives her the opportunity to help people reconnect with their bodies and with their potential, both in and outside of the gym. She enjoys coaching a wide range of athletes and leads the Beginner’s On-Ramp, mobility program, Olympic lifting, recovery, injury prevention and rehab, and pre and post-natal training. Cara is one of the original coaches of CrossFit Defined.
From Edwardsville, IL (but born in Chicago)
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, with an emphasis in English, 2016 NAACP Educator of the Year.
Interests: Spending time with her husband and adorable Yorkie. She’s also a High School English teacher, so you’ll always find her reading or attending events that her students are participating in.
MiKala was a D1 track and field collegiate athlete and has always been mindful of staying active since graduating college. She was the girls Head Track and Field coach for Edwardsville High School and led them to an IHSA State Championship for the largest division in IL. When she found CrossFit in 2014, it was a mind and body transformation—and she fell in love with its constant challenges and the ways it continued to motivate her to become a better version of herself. Plus, she fell in love with its community.
MiKala found CrossFit Defined when she and her husband moved to Chicago in June 2016. She was concerned about two things: finding a place to live and finding a CrossFit home. But it only took one visit to CFD and she was SOLD.
MiKala believes in a safe, energetic, motivational, and fun environment. She encourages athletes to dismiss all mental roadblocks in order to grow into the best version of themselves. For her, CFD is a place where people can learn to break through barriers they never knew they could—whether it’s physical or mental.
From Merrimack, NH
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, M.Ed from the University of Notre Dame, CPR/AED Certified.
Interests: running, cooking, exploring Chicago’s food scene with friends, discovering coffee shops, and coaching soccer and basketball at her school. She is also the Vice Principal at St. Sylvester.
Allyn is a natural and talented athlete. She was a 3-sport Varsity athlete in high school—cross country, basketball, and softball—and a Varsity Cross Country team member and captain at Saint Anselm College: a two-time U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division-II All-Academic Team; named to USTFCCCA Division-II All-Region Team in 2011. She is now a competitive CrossFit athlete.
Being an educator, Allyn loves watching athletes’ progress and enjoys helping others recognize their capability. She believes that CrossFit provides people with so many great opportunities to challenge themselves and to test their limits—which is what makes her such a fun, compassionate, and patient coach.
From Mason City, IA
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Interests: All animals, but especially her dog Wistrom and cats, Walter and Payton. She loves watching college basketball, football, and the CrossFit games. And, she’s seen every sports movie ever made. She also enjoys the manmade beauty of Chicago architecture.
Kay has always loved sports and competition. She was the captain of the Mason City High School Swim Team and helped lead her team to three state championships, eventually joining the Iowa State University Team. Her love for weightlifting started in the garage at the age of ten, where she would lift with her Dad. She was later introduced to CrossFit at a work event, where Coach Noal immediately noticed her potential. Needless to say, she joined CrossFit Defined as an athlete that same day.
Kay became a coach because she gets so much joy out of watching athletes improve, hit PRs, get healthy and leave with a smile. She is known as a patient and supportive coach who will be your biggest fan. Everyone may not always enter the gym in a good mood, but Kay makes sure you leave with one.
From Milwaukee, WI
Education: Associate’s Degree in Business Management, Level 1 CrossFit Trainer
Interests: Volleyball, softball, running, biking, collecting vinyl records, and being front row at pop concerts.
In my younger years, I was never very active, nor in the best shape. I was also too nervous to be a part of any sport or team activity. As I got older and more confident in myself, I started getting involved in other team sports. When it came to fitness, I stuck with traditional gyms, although they didn’t motivate me.
Four years ago, I was introduced to CrossFit and quickly became hooked. I found it to be a great way to socialize, meet new people who had similar interests, and to get a kick-ass workout.
After moving to Chicago and joining a newer box, I found myself getting involved with coaching, which inspired me to get my Level 1. Not only was it an opportunity to learn more about the sport and improve upon my own goals, but it also allowed me an opportunity to work with newer athletes who might find themselves in a similar situation to mine before I joined: nervous and intimidated. Coaching has developed into a very rewarding experience, and I always look forward to helping athletes to achieve their fitness goals.
IGOR J. MELNIK
From Chicago, IL
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, American Counsel on Exercise Trainer
Interests: Powerlifting, CrossFit, endurance sports, biking, podcasts, live music
Igor grew up playing hockey, soccer, wrestling, and riding his bike. In 2010, he started taking fitness very seriously when he began working out with a personal trainer who taught him about movement mechanics and the body’s physical responses during exercise. A few years later, he decided to change careers and began training others.
In 2014, Igor wanted to take his own training to the next level, so he followed a friend to CrossFit Defined. Shortly after, he met Noal and David, who not only became his mentors, but also challenged his understanding of the phrase “strength and conditioning.” From first-hand experience of Defined’s programming and coaching, Igor began to understand his true potential as an athlete and coach.
Igor enjoys learning and sharing his knowledge in order to help athletes reach their goals; but he also loves developing meaningful relationships that support them. “Meeting people of all different backgrounds who have similar fitness goals is really cool because it creates pathways for learning about each other and from each other. I’m genuinely happy to help anyone, for any reason.” Igor enjoys being a part of the Defined team because we all share a common goal.
Nickname: Big Ben
From Louisville, Kentucky
Training Group: Weightlifting & Powerlifting
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, USAW level 1, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, currently enrolled in Northwestern’s Masters program for Prosthetics and Orthotics
Interests: All things strength, adaptive athletics, climbing, hiking, beer, and bluegrass music
Ben began CrossFit over 5 years ago in Lexington, Kentucky while looking for new ways to challenge his current training; and soon after, became a coach. He believes that fitness and strength greatly impact everyday life, especially when they’re being developed within a team-oriented community.
Before joining CrossFit Defined, Ben was a coach at Crossfit Maximus (Lexington) for 4 years, where he specialized in Olympic Weightlifting and strength training. After being accepted into Northwestern’s Prosthetics and Orthotics program, Ben and his wife, Wynni, made the move to Chicago, where they both fell in love with the CrossFit Defined community.
Ben coaches a variety of athletes, through his current classes include CrossFit WODs, Olympic Weightlifting, Strength Cafe, and the beginner’s On-Ramp.
From Gettysburg, PA
Education: Level 1 CrossFit Trainer and Level 2 Coach, BA in K-12 Health and Physical Education
Interests: cooking, reading, painting, and trying new sports
It’s easy to see Danny’s enthusiasm for exercise based on some of his adventures and achievements. Running was always a hobby in high school and college; so to add to his bucket list, he did his first 26.2 mile race when he was 26. Two months later, he conquered a 62.6 mile trail run. An avid cyclist, he took a year off from teaching to become a bike messenger, completing roughly 30-40 miles daily.
Danny found CrossFit in 2013 after finishing a semi-professional rugby career. An All-American in college and overall leading point scorer at the USA 7’s National Championships in 2011, he continues to work with local rugby teams in the city by coaching, hosting clinics, and refereeing.
Danny currently leads St. Sylvester CrossFit, a non-profit for Pre-K through 8th grade students, in Logan Square.
COMMUNICATIONS Manager, Coach
From Milwaukee, WI
Education: CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Bachelor of Arts in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa, CPR/AED and First Aid Certified, pre/post natal training, and arts education and outreach.
Interests: coffee, reading, writing, photography, design, traveling, and burpees
Sarah is a dance artist and movement educator. As an ensemble member of The Seldoms and Kristina Isabelle Dance Company, she has toured and performed both nationally and internationally. Prior to moving to Chicago, she taught dance and movement in Milwaukee Public and Bi-lingual schools through Danceworks’ arts education and outreach programming. She currently teaches dance and fitness to children and adults throughout Chicago.
Sarah manages all athlete memberships and is responsible for daily operations, scheduling, writing, and creative content development. She holds weekly office hours and is always available to assist current athletes and new members. She is the newest member of the CrossFit Defined family and was introduced to the community by Coach Cara. She was fast-tracked into classes after completing a private On-Ramp with Coach Noal, excited by the challenges of functional fitness. While she’s still embracing her “rookie” status, you can expect to see her in Olympic lifting on Thursday nights.
From West Olive, MI
Education: Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT® 200); Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies, University of Michigan; Masters of Healthcare Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health
Interests: Painting, writing, meditation, camping, and surfing
Stephanie took her first yoga class in 1998, beginning her on-again/off-again practice.
At that time, Stephanie’s relationship with her body could best be described as antagonistic. Holding herself to unrealistic standards of perfection, food and exercise were simply tools for molding her body into what it “should” look like. By 2011, she’d be in recovery from alcohol abuse. Two years later, she’d be in recovery from an eating disorder. Learning to live life without anesthetic, she turned to yoga as a way to calm her nerves and quiet her mind.
She wanted to share that gift with others, especially those who might be reluctant to try yoga for themselves. In 2015, she completed her 200-hour teacher training and CPY1 extension classes through Core Power Yoga. After graduation, she began teaching yoga at a CrossFit gym in Chicago. In addition to her day job as a strategy consultant for a large health insurance company, she continued to share her passion for yoga by specializing in teaching pop-up yoga classes at corporate events.
Stephanie joined Crossfit Defined in November of 2017 to prepare for a 13-week trip surfing along the coast of South Africa and Mozambique. She fell in love with the energy, support, and quality of coaching she experienced at CFD. Upon returning to the states, she knew CFD would be her Midwest substitute for surfing, pushing her to expand beyond her self-imposed physical and psychological limits. Since April, she has completed the Conjugate Defined strength training course, her first full Murph WOD, and competed in Reptember, her first Powerlifting meet.
Stephanie is grateful to be a part of the CFD community and humbled by the opportunity to share her unique spark with all.