Brett Hall

Partner/Head CrossFit Coach

Through my experience as an athlete, a trainer, and a coach, I have learned that true confidence can only come through preparation; and nothing will prepare you like CrossFit. CrossFit has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of my daily life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring CrossFit to you. You will experience the feelings of accomplishment, freedom, and empowerment that come with taking control of your life through CrossFit. I practice what I preach because I believe in it and I know that it works.

I truly believe that CrossFit is the most efficient and effective way to achieve fitness for anybody, regardless of age or current fitness level. I am wholeheartedly committed to providing the highest quality coaching, the best training facility, and the most supportive and inspiring atmosphere for our athletes to not only reach your goals, but to surpass them and redefine what you thought to be possible.


  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified Coach
  • CrossFit Level 2 Certified Coach
  • CrossFit Olympic Lifting Certified
  • CrossFit Endurance Certified
  • CrossFit Football Certified

Athletic Background

  • Illinois state heavyweight boxing champion – Silver Gloves – l999
  • Top 10 two-sport high school athletes in the nation- (football/baseball)
  • Ranked in Heard’s “Top College Quarterbacks” 2004, 2005, 2006
  • Professional football in Europe 2007, 2008 Berlin Eagles- Captain of 2008 European Champions
  • #1 Draft Pick in US and Europe for inaugural AFX Professional Football League
  • Played for Milwaukee Bonecrushers in the Continental Indoor Football League. Set several franchise passing records – 2009
  • Played in the Arena Football League for the Milwaukee Iron and the Chicago Rush.
  • Men’s 500m Sprint Champion – Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships 2011

Justin Lawrence

Partner/Director of Operations

The moment I was introduced to CrossFit I knew instantly that I had found something more than just another workout.  CrossFit is a world apart from the many fitness fads that come and go. The benefits of CrossFit go far beyond the gym walls, its a community. CrossFitters motivate one another, helping each other prepare for the unknown and unknowable. I take my coaching responsibility seriously because I know that if you do CrossFit right, it can make a great difference in your life.

The endeavors that I have pursued throughout my life have never been without the presence of a strength training and conditioning program. I am a former high school and college athlete, an avid snowboarder and sport climber, and I have trained hundreds of individuals over the past several years of my professional career.  As director of operations, I also bring considerable business savvy to this organization. I started three businesses from the ground up, two being within the futures derivatives industry.

Improving the lives of others is important to me and CrossFit Freedom was built to do just that. I have found that my CrossFit coaching responsibilities are integral to a successful and fulfilling life. I have four young sons, my personal CrossFit kids’ team, and their success is depending on it.


  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified Coach
  • CrossFit Endurance Certified

Kirsten Hall

Coach, Chef/Owner – Real Clean Paleo, LLC

I was introduced to CrossFit in the spring of 2009, and have been hooked ever since. What appeals to me is the effectiveness of the program. I never would have thought I could get such a good workout in such a short time period, but I did and continue to do so. I have seen a continual progression in my fitness since beginning CrossFit, and enjoy having an avenue for self-improvement through skill perfection, strength increases and improved endurance and stamina. CrossFit is a no-nonsense, no-frills fitness program that appeals in its ability to get results.

There are so many reasons I am excited to be coaching CrossFit. I have never seen anything bring a community together for health and fitness like CrossFit has done. It is one of the most uplifting, encouraging, and supportive atmospheres I have ever been a part of. To see the successes that have come from this program has been amazing, and I am very grateful and lucky to be able to help people achieve their goals and better their quality of life.


  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified Coach
  • CrossFit Kids Certified Coach
  • CrossFit Gymnastics


Athletic Background

  • Division 1 basketball player at University at Albany
  • Conference Carolinas Women’s Basketball Champion and member of all-tournament team
  • MVP, Anderson University
  • Athletic experience in track and field, cross-country, basketball

Cathy Paulsen

Coach, L-1

Cathy-editWhen I first started CrossFit I was looking for a way to get healthy and lose the baby weight I had been trying to lose for the last two years. I had tried several different exercise programs and diets with varying success but had never found something that really worked for me. What I got from CrossFit from results, I lost 10 pounds in the first month, but more importantly I found something that I loved to do.

Finally working out wasn’t a chore that I had to drag myself to the gym to do, I wanted to go to class everyday because it was so much fun,  I loved the way it made me feel, and I had great support from all of the people working out next to me. I lost weight, became faster, stronger, improved my endurance, and made great friends, all of which made me more confident and gave me more drive to continue improving myself.

I still get all of that same joy as when I first started, but now as a coach I get to help others on their fitness journeys as well. I love to see people improve from their first classes, where most everything can be a struggle, to a month later when things are getting easier, they are moving faster and lifting more weight. It’s an honor to watch somebody exceed their own expectations for what they are capable of, because having been through that myself, I know that accomplishments in the gym lead to accomplishments in other parts of our lives.

CrossFit builds confidence, it builds work ethic, and gives us a supportive community in which everybody is growing together and all of those things not only make people more fit, they make us strive to be better in all aspects of our lives.


  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified Coach

Keith Lilja

Coach, L-1

As my mom dragged me into my first CrossFit class, I thought, “This CrossFit stuff is for the birds. I’m in great shape and will totally crush whatever the coaches throw at me. They will praise my name for being the best first-timer they had ever seen.”  I had just ran the Chicago Marathon for the third time a couple weeks before, which concluded a year’s worth of tough endurance training. I was also an avid rock climber, spending long hours in the climbing gym. I thought I was as fit as I would ever be and I over-confidently got ready to do my first workout. Six minutes later, while I was laid out on the floor, trying to catch my breath and stop my muscles from shaking, I realized I wasn’t nearly as physically fit, strong, or prepared as I had thought. I’ve never felt so humbled yet motivated before.

That was over two years ago. Since then, I’ve seen a massive physical transformation and hit PRs far beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. However, the two feelings from my first CrossFit experience remain constant. CrossFit is still incredibly humbling, and I’m more motivated than ever to get better, faster, stronger, and more fit than I was the day before.

That motivation carries over into my passion for being a CrossFit coach. It’s incredibly amazing to get to help foster people into being the best person they can be physically and mentally. In order to do so, as a coach, I aim to be as approachable, supportive, and motivational as possible, as well as provide a fun and enjoyable atmosphere with a bit of comedic relief. CrossFit can seem ridiculously intimidating from the outside looking in, so I try to get athletes, both first-timers and veterans alike feeling comfortable. This leads to having confidence in going out of their comfort zones to do things they never thought possible, all with end goal of being healthier and more fit and sticking with it for the long haul.

The athletes I have the opportunity to work with and call friends endlessly inspire me as much as I hopefully inspire them. I can honestly say that I’m a better CrossFit athlete personally because I coach.

CrossFit Level 1 Certified Coach

Frank Lesniak

CFF Kids Coach

Through all my experiences with teaching and coaching, I have learned how to work with children and young adults.  I am extremely confident in my ability to develop positive rapport with my athletes.  While coaching CrossFit would be a new opportunity for me, I will be able to apply all I have learned from teaching and coaching as well as all I have learned from being an active member of CFF, to help the CFF Kids program grow.

I really enjoy coaching.  I believe that all athletes should be challenged to push beyond their limits.  I also believe that sports and fitness should be fun.  The constantly changing workouts is what draws me to CrossFit.  It is the coaches job to create an environment where the athletes can have fun, excel, and push themselves.

I am thankful for this opportunity and ready to work.


  • Dean of students at Lake Forest High School (2011-present)
  • Educator since January 2001
  • Special education teacher at Lake Forest High School (2001-2011)
  • High school baseball coach (2000-2013)
  • High school football coach (2006-2015)
  • Off-season weight lifting coach (2006-2015)
  • Youth baseball coach (2013-present)
  • Youth football coach (2014-present)
  • CrossFit athlete (2013-present)