Jared Knowles, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, CrossFit Weightlifting, OPEX CCP Level 1 Assessment & Program Design
Jared started his athletic journey with wrestling at Lake Region High School here in Florida. He started CrossFit in 2009 when he was living in Naples. When he moved back to Tampa in 2011, he started his affiliate in his carport. Growing too big for just his driveway, Jared moved CrossFit Thumbs Up to its current location and has been growing since. Jared’s passion for coaching is evident in the time and effort he puts into both programming specifically for the members of CFTU, but also personal programming for private clients. He is a follower of James “OPT” Fitzgerald, the first winner of the CrossFit Games, and is CCP Level 1 Certified in the Assessment and Program Design courses offered by Opex Fitness (formerly OPT). He is proficient in Olympic Lifting and has his CrossFit Level 1 Certificate for weightlifting. He is our fun and fearless leader!
Lauren Knowles, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Nutritional Therapy Consultant, CPR Certified
Lauren found CrossFit in 2011 after becoming frustrated with her usual workout routine of going to the gym, taking a class here and there, and even hiring a personal trainer. She decided to try something new to get the results she was looking for and went to CrossFit with a friend. After becoming hooked as many people do, Lauren decided she wanted to continue to pursue training and assist others with their own training. She got her CrossFit Level 1 Certificate in June 2013 and has been a Coach at Primal Empowerment since then. Lauren is also CCP Level 1 Certified in the Assessment course with as part of the OPT program. She has participated in several competitions and took her highest placement of 2nd place in the female RX division of the One More Rep competition in May 2015. After becoming pregnant in 2016 with her daughter, Maisie, Lauren became increasingly interested in prenatal and postpartum fitness, using modifications based on BIRTHFIT's recommendations, and using this experience to help other pregnant and postpartum women in the gym.
Lauren is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant through the Nutritional Therapy Association. She is trained in assessing the bio-individual needs of her clients and provides solutions based on a properly-prepared, nutrient dense, whole foods diet.
Christina Damin, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Christina has been an athletic person as far back as she can remember. She played sports throughout school and was on the dance team in college. While still living in New York, she attended a gym and tried boxing for about a year before moving to Florida. Since August 2012 when she was first introduced to CrossFit from a coworker, she has been hooked! Christina received her CrossFit Level 1 Certificate in June 2014 and has demonstrated her ability to instruct others and help them in making strides on their athletic journey. One of her many strengths includes endurance as she has completed five half marathons to date. She has participated in several local CrossFit competitions as well and works excellently on a team!
Mark Sollenberger, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Mark has been an athlete his whole life from participating in several varsity sports to completing a marathon. After starting in the business world and putting on weight while working out in traditional gyms, Mark found CrossFit in the summer of 2012 and has been fully committed since. Despite traveling nationally for work, Mark finds local boxes to work out in wherever he goes. He received his CrossFit Level 1 Certificate in August of 2015 and enjoys helping Crossfit ThumbsUp athletes perfect their form as well as get the most out of each work out. Mark has competed in multiple individual as well as team competitions locally, winning one.
Halley Miller, CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, AFFA Certified Personal Trainer
Halley’s journey to CrossFit began in 2013 when she made a commitment to herself to get strong and live a healthy lifestyle. From the very first workout she was hooked and knew that someday she wanted to coach. Growing up she didn't play any sports and it wasn't until she started CrossFit that she considered herself an athlete. CrossFit has changed her life in so many positive ways both inside and outside the gym. In February 2016 Halley completed her CrossFit Level 1 and began coaching. Through coaching she hopes to help others reach their potential and pass on what CrossFit has given her.
Wendy Davis, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Wendy's CrossFit journey began 6 years ago when her husband insisted she give it a try. A reluctant participant for 6 months – she finally fell for the sport after doing a 6-week boot camp at the gym. Wendy have always been active – participating in various high school sports and later, running. Exercise and fitness have continuously been a priority for her to stay in shape; spend time with friends and deal with the occasional stress that life can bring. CrossFit introduced a whole new perspective to her fitness experience – “functional fun”; a tight knit community and the confidence to take on new challenges. As an Army wife, Wendy has had the opportunity to move around and be a part 5 great CF communities – all have contributed to the athlete and coach she is today. After many years of being a CF athlete, she is excited to grow even more in the sport through coaching! She truly enjoys getting to know athletes and pushing them beyond their comfort zone toward a new PR or mastering a movement.
Dana Mies, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, CrossFit Master's Specialty
Dana started CrossFit in 2011 to maintain a healthy lifestyle and shortly after realized her talent for it. Dana has competed at a high level in CrossFit - making it to the Granite Games in 2018 and placing in the top 100 in her age group for the 2018 CrossFit Games Masters Open Qualifier. She is a caring and passionate coach, and recently attended the CrossFit Masters Specialty course.
Michelle Busby, CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, CrossFit Scaling Course
Originally from South Africa, Michelle's CrossFit journey began in Cape Town at Cape CrossFit in 2011. Cape CrossFit was her first CrossFit family and their ethos, "Doing all the right things, for all the right people, for all the right reasons.” is something that deeply resonated with her, and she tries to live by it daily. CrossFit inspired and empowered Michelle to quit her desk job in Cape Town allowing her to follow her dreams of travelling the world and grow as an individual. Michelle knew that no matter where she went she would always have a community of like-minded people at every box she dropped into along her travels. Michelle happened to meet her husband while coaching at CrossFit Dublin in Ireland and she has made so many incredible friends at almost every box she has dropped into along the way.
Being an athlete inspires her to push harder, test her limits, and always strive to be better than yesterday. Being a coach inspires Michelle to constantly pursue improvement as a person and a leader. It is a very humbling experience to be able to change a person’s life, sometimes in the smallest way like getting their first pull-up or helping to refine someone’s technique and watching them snatch the equivalent of a small house. Sometimes that change is even bigger like getting someone off 90% of their diabetic medication or helping to be a part of a life changing transformation in a person who never believed they could be capable of personal greatness.
Patrick Townsend, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Jen Hettinger, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
After spending grueling hours training for triathlons and road races, Jen decided to look for a new challenge that would fit her busy schedule. In 2012 she found CrossFit and hasn't looked back since. She has completed multiple local competitions including her first Olympic lifting competition in 2019. She loves the challenge of strength training and wants to encourage and empower other women and girls to try it out! You'll find Jen doing what she loves most, relaxing with family, coaching, swimming, and chasing her 2 daughters around.
Momen Waly, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Kids Class Ins
Jesse Fentross, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Marvin Rottenberg, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Rich Hall, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Michelle Hall, Certified Yoga Instructor
Yoga has been an essential part of Michelle’s life since 2012. As a runner and now CrossFitter, her practice has helped her gain strength and flexibility, preventing injuries and enhancing performance. It has also been a form of stress management helping her focus and better manage everyday stressors.
Michelle completed 200 hours of yoga teacher training with Pose by Pose Yoga in 2015, which exposed her to many forms of yoga such as gentle and power yoga. She has been teaching ever since and has over 130 teaching hours. Her practice focuses on a challenging, yet relaxing Vinyasa sequence followed by deep stretches for all athletes. She also recently became trained to teach Prenatal Yoga. You can expect to leave her classes with an invigorating workout, greater range of mobility, clear mind and peaceful heart.