Cheyann Essley

  • LV 1 Cert
  • Rosenbach Warrior Training Branches Black Belt – Advanced Instructor Status
  • Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Martial Arts Instructor Trainer (MAIT) – 1st Degree
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt

I was born in California, but raised in Cassville, MO. Growing up I played soccer, basketball, and ran track and cross-country.  Outside of school sports, I developed a passion for mixed martial arts and at 16 I earned my first black belt as well as began my journey as a coach by instructing our children and adult martial arts classes.  Upon graduating high school in 2009, I accepted an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD (Go Navy, Beat Army!).

While at the academy, I struggled with the height and weight standard, so I tried every fad diet I could and threw myself into long distance running, swimming, weightlifting, and anything else I could do to lose weight in addition to meeting my academic and military duties.  When I say long distance running, I have completed 4 marathons, 3 ultra-marathons (50k distance), and multiple half marathons and 5k’s.  To answer your question, no, no one was chasing me, I actually paid the registration fee to run these races.

Eventually my hard work paid off and I earned a commission in the United Marine Corps.  Once I graduated from USNA in 2013, I reported to The Basic School in Quantico, VA.  When I arrived in Quantico, the fad diets and extreme exercise started to catch up with me.  My weight started going up and there was nothing that seemed to work to help me cut the weight I needed to lose.  I again tried many fad diets and running, but it was not working this time (found out years later that this was due to PCOS).  Fortunately, I was assigned to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE) and was able to continue my training in martial arts.  During my 7-week MAIT course, I experienced a leg injury during week 6, but I wanted to finish the course. So, with an ACE wrap and I lot of Ibuprofen, I graduated the course in 2014 and became the 6th female in the USMC to earn that certification.

As time went on, my leg was not getting any better and I found out 5 months after I had injured my leg that my right fibula was broken, and I also had fractures up and down both tibias. To say I was upset would be an understatement. I was reassigned from the MACE and to a company Training Officer position. Approaching 2015, I was at my lowest point mentally and physically. I felt lost and was not sure where to go from there.  The worst part was I could not run or do martial arts, my biggest stress relievers, due to wearing a boot for my leg.  Then in spring of 2015, someone asked me, “Have you tried CrossFit?”  “CrossFit? Can’t you see I’m wearing a boot?” I asked.  My friend replied, “Oh that’s okay, you can scale.”  Thus, my CrossFit journey began with me walking into Ardent CrossFit in Stafford, VA wearing a boot for a broken leg.

Obviously, I was limited until I got the boot off, so I got a lot of practice on my strict and bench presses (a couple of my favorite movements now).  What I liked about CrossFit was that no one cared if I was losing weight.  What mattered was that my performance improved and that I was enjoying exercising again.  I felt better than I had in a long time and knew I had found something in addition to martial arts that would always be a part of my life.

I left the Marine Corps in 2018 after serving as a MAIT, Training Officer, Family Readiness Officer, and Special Projects Officer and moved back to Missouri.  I immediately went to Google to find the best CrossFit gym in the area, and CrossFit Republic was the apparent winner.

I joined in October of 2018 and quickly knew that I wanted to become a coach here someday because I came into a realization once I stepped through the CFR doors.  I realized that no one does CrossFit because it feels good.  The workouts are designed to push you, sometimes to the point of tears, and make you uncomfortable because that is when change happens.  The reason people come back to the gym after ripping their hands on a pull up bar or bruising their shins after attempting a box jump is for the community of athletes and coaches that become like family.  CFR is that community.

The CFR athletes and coaches not only had my back while I earned my Level-1 certification in 2021, but they also supported me while I was coaching and pregnant with my first child.  My focus for the future is to continuing honing my craft as a CrossFit athlete and coach, earn my black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and be the mother my daughter would be proud of.

I am excited to be a coach at CFR and to help others reach their fitness potential.  CrossFit Republic has helped me through some rough times, and I hope it does for every athlete who walks in our doors.