The CrossFit Coach: Kelly Kelly

ByCrossFit May 4, 2023

Kelly Kelly (CF-L3) was a competitive soccer player focused on sport-specific training for much of her athletic career. Kelly, who became a well-known coach and competitive CrossFit athlete under her maiden name Kelly Clark, says her fitness lacked balance before she found CrossFit.

“The mindset was to strengthen all of the muscles you needed to play the sport instead of to make you a well-balanced athlete,” Kelly says of her soccer days. 

When she decided to make a change, Kelly dabbled in conventional gym training before walking into a CrossFit affiliate — and finding the community and camaraderie she was accustomed to in team sport. 

After experiencing positive changes in her own life and becoming more fit, strong, and balanced than she had ever been, Kelly pursued coaching, an experience she says has been incredibly rewarding. 

“Coaching made me fall in love with CrossFit more,” Kelly says. “You learn more when you have to explain to people what you’re doing as an athlete. I had to figure out how to break things down and how things worked.”

These days, Kelly spends her time training for the CrossFit Games season and coaching athletes at CrossFit Up, an affiliate in Santa Cruz, California, where she works with athletes of all levels, each with different abilities, and goals. Her designation as a Certified CrossFit Trainer and commitment to continued education through that role has earned her the skills necessary to train each individual safely and effectively.

“I love watching beginners who have done nothing athletic in their whole life discover what it feels like to move their body and to be healthy and feel capable and strong,” Kelly says. “It’s just the coolest thing to watch people go through, it’s so transformative for them.”

Kelly says the pairing of coach and competitive athlete has served her and her athletes well. 

“I live my life on the edges of human optimization,” she says. “There’s a million things that I do to optimize my performance as an athlete — and no, the regular person is never gonna do even a fraction of those things. But if one of those things can help somebody, then I’m doing my job.”

Kelly missed qualifying for the Games by just one spot last year at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge. You can watch her compete at the North America West Semifinal, May 25-28, 2023, in Pasadena, California.