March 8, 2012
Staying Strong: Elyse Umeda
By Leah Lutz

Elyse Umeda's athletes know she has what it takes to lead them, both in athletic skill and mental fortitude.


Hawaii. Do not forget this key part of the Northern California region. Out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, CrossFit is a large and growing part of the state. Eighteen CrossFit affiliates dot the islands, and there are many fierce athletes working hard to make sure that the rest of their region, and the CrossFit world at large, don’t forget about them. CrossFit 808, in Honolulu, has 63 members registered for the Open and its team is currently in 6th place in NorCal.

CrossFit 808 is clearly producing amazing athletes, and there can be no doubt that founder and coach, Elyse Umeda, the 2011 NorCal Regional winner, and the athlete currently tied for 1st place in our region, is a key element to this success. Umeda has qualified for the Games for three years, including a 23rd place finish at the Games in Carson last year. A long-time athlete, college basketball player, and college basketball coach, Umeda brings an abundance of experience to every one of her athletes. 

Umeda knows not everyone who comes to her box wants to be a competitor, but her competitive experiences have significantly influenced her coaching. We all know that gut-wrenching, all-consuming fear that comes before so many workouts, and, according to Umeda, her CrossFit Games experiences have made her “a more passionate coach and box owner.”

After three years at the Games, Umeda is more empathetic than ever toward her athletes, knowing that central to everyone’s CrossFit experience, from the newest gym athlete to the seasoned competitor, is facing fears and challenges, whatever they might be.

She has experienced much, so she brings much, standing there with them, supporting them every step of the way. Her athletes know she has what it takes to lead them, both in athletic skill and mental fortitude. The hardest part of the 2011 Games, mentally and physically, for Elyse was the open water swim. She came to the first event scared and nervous, a “wreck.” Her coach reminded her to stay calm and above all to “not grab on to the lifeguard boards.”

Steering clear of the lifeguards, she doggy-paddled her way through those “freezing” 200 meters. But she finished, regained her focus, and did what she does best – fought for every rep in every workout. Her mental focus and physical drive brought her back from the swim to finish strong in many of the remaining events, most notably the Killer Kage, one of her all-time favorite CrossFit workouts.

The CrossFit Games have been a fantastic experience, and she is definitely bringing that passion and commitment to her own gym. She knows the Games have brought this community of athletes closer together. Hawaii is the only part of the NorCal region that really has to travel to get to the Regional, and having your gym members fly over for both Regionals and the Games just to support you is a remarkable display of commitment, and it is of immense value to any competitive athlete.

Umeda says she so appreciates the support of her members, explaining that even for this seasoned competitor, “It was so comforting for me to look out into the crowd and spot them. They definitely put me at ease before a big workout.”

Umeda is already making her mark on the 2012 Games season. She comes into this season with the coaching of CJ Martin of CrossFit Invictus. Being under Martin’s guidance is the greatest change Umeda says she has made in her Games training. With his programming, motivation, and mentoring, she is excited about this season.