About Us

We Are

CrossFit Anistemi

Our coaches are committed to the success of each member. CrossFit Anistemi has created a training system that includes world class coaching that is inclusive for everyone from competitive athletes to weekend warriors to complete novices.

James Vassell


My name is James Vassell and I'm one of the head coaches for CrossFit Anistemi and I love what I do. With a history of loving athletics for the past 22 years, I've had the opportunity to compete in the sport of soccer, dance, tough mudder, endurance races, mixed martial arts, triathlons, and track! There was nothing like the thrill of finding discipline, using my athletic ability, and finding competition to better my skill to drive me and my motivation for life. With the opportunity to train to get a faster pace for my running career, I found a CrossFit gym to get stronger. Through that gym, I found myself not only getting stronger but also healthier, faster, and happier. It's so funny that I would wonder while breathing heavily and feeling ousted why in the world I would be paying somebody to put me through so much pain, but the proof is in the pudding and I was hooked. I loved how I felt, where I improved not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally. I have many passions in life but one of the main things I found most of my passions still centering around was health and fitness. With a Masters in mental health counseling and a degree in ministry, I still found myself encouraging others to reach physical goals as well as live a healthy lifestyle to enjoy who they are as a person. To have someone be encouraged spiritually and emotionally is great, but I have found myself wondering why we never encourage everybody to be healthy in the same manner. This is what CrossFit Anistemi is all about. Our gym focus is not only on being physically healthy, but also spiritually and emotionally healthy. With degrees in ministry as well as counseling, we have incorporated the full gamut of wellness for our clients. I would love to be able to encourage my clients to not only lift heavy with great technique, run faster than they ever could, but also feel encouraged that they know their life is worth living and it's also worth enjoying!

Angela Vassell


Since I was a young girl, I envisioned a future where I was impacting the community around me and helping people feel empowered. I am grateful to say that vision is becoming a reality by the grace of God. I grew up in South Dakota. I am so proud of my roots and thankful for the family and friends who helped shape me into the woman I am today. I grew up quite the energetic girl and loved sports from a young age. I made the move to Knoxville, TN to spread my wings and enrolled at the University of Tennessee. I couldn't shake my love for athletics and the fascination of the human body, so I decided to make it a career! I majored in Exercise Science and graduated totally in love with what I'd studied. Upon graduation, I hit a slump and couldn't find a workout I consistently enjoyed. When I started CrossFit, I was sold! Not only are the physical results exciting, the breaking of mental barriers is so valuable to me. I have trained for 3 years, as well as trained competitively, and have obtained my L1 as well as my CrossFit Kids certification. I LOVE this sport and I love coaching. I truly believe there are life skills embedded in CrossFit that can change the world. I don't say that lightly. I am grateful to God for this opportunity to share my passion. I am currently enrolled in a Masters program to obtain a degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Human Performance. Our property is nestled at the foot of the mountains where we provide a safe getaway from the hustle and bustle to disconnect and spend some time bettering yourself. I look forward with joyful expectation to begin working with you!

Alissa Long

Youth Club Director, Coach

Hello! My name is Alissa Long, I am the Director of the Rise Up Youth Club and a Level One Trainer at CrossFit Anistemi. My biggest passions in life are identifying and cultivating the potential in others, and doing everything I do with my whole heart. My background which lead me to join the Anistemi team was a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Lee University, Master’s degree in Holistic Child Development from Lee University, and my work in the foster care field. I came to CFA in the fall of 2018 and fell in love with CrossFit immediately. I felt compelled to receive my Level 1 CrossFit designation because of the tremendous impact the coaches at CFA have had on me, physically and in so many other important ways. Coaching is a vulnerable exchange between the athlete and coach and I am honored every chance I get to lead a class or an individual into that space. I am married to my best friend, Nathan Long, and we are constantly competing with each other in workouts. We have a crazy pup named Jack, and two cats—Winston and Leslie, and expect our first child in February of 2020!

Shannon Lunsford


Shannon joined the CrossFit Anistemi family in the spring of 2016 and has been a prominent member ever since. She is always seen with a smile on her face and a stony determination to give every workout her all. Shannon's favorite thing about CrossFit Anistemi are the people. "This is not just a place to come and workout, it's a family. The second I stepped in the door at CFA I knew this place was different. I never felt out of place or nervous about what people would think of me and everyone is just like family." Shannon's favorite part about coaching is the fact that she can make a difference in someone's life every time they walk in the door. "We are all at different levels of fitness and different walks of life. Getting to be in this journey to help people better themselves is what it's all about." Shannon's favorite movement is cleans; "I surprise myself every time at how fast I can whip my elbows up with weight. It's really a fun movement for me!" She went on to say that her favorite WOD is any Hero WOD because they are all hard and "just have such meaning that keeps you going to the end." Shannon is driven by her family, stating that she wants to be able to enjoy every moment she has with them and to set a good example. A quote that describes Shannon is "Motivation will fail you, depend on your discipline to reach your goal." Shannon elaborated on why that quote is meaningful to her: "I have been on a great journey over the last year and a half and the quote is so true. So many times when we try to figure out nutrition, health and fitness, the motivation starts to disappear during the hard times when you see no results and it's at that point that you must depend on your discipline to reach those goals."

Hayley Janke


Hayley is an experienced CrossFitter who discovered her love of the sport at a young age. We are thankful for the energy and passion she brings to our team! Hayley's favorite thing about CrossFit Anistemi "has got to be the leadership. James and Angela Vassell have this ability to connect with their members on such a deep and caring level. They genuinely care abou you, your goals, and your well-being." Hayley joined CrossFit Anistemi in the summer of 2018. Her favorite thing about coaching is "being able to take part in each person's lifestyle journey. It's so cool to watch and experience each member's individual journey and help overcome his or her personal obstacle to achieve personal goals." Hayley's favorite CrossFit workouts are grinders. She went on to say that, "the workouts that put you in that dark, dark place you have to dig yourself out of when it's over. The workouts that slightly rob you of your humanity. As rare as they are, these kinds of workouts really put me out of my comfort zone and test my mental strength more than physical. You can lift weights all day long, but putting yourself in that pain cave is rare." When asked what motivated her, Hayley said, "There are some days, even weeks, I just want to stay glued to my bed, eat nothing but Oreos and Nutella, and not ift a finger, but that is not me. That is not my purpose. I have been doig CrossFit for about 8 years and it has become routine for me to workout, but anyone can drive to a gym and give minimum effort. What drives me to stay motivated is simply my health; my body is a car, the gym is the mechanic. To keep my car going, I have to maintain it, fuel it, keep it up to date and efficient. You don't want to drive a rundown, nearly totaled car, so why would you want to live in a body that is run down?" Hayley can be described by the quote: "Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't." -Jerry Rice.

Stephanie Colbaugh


My name is Stephanie Colbaugh. I am married to a Cleveland Police Officer, have two crazy Goldendoodle pups, and currently teach mathematics at a local high school. When I am not working at school or spending time with my family, I teach people how to improve their nutritional habits through Resilience Reborn Nutrition Company and coach athletes at CrossFit Anistemi. My life is very busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. My journey to CrossFit was honestly unexpected. It all started in the fall of 2013. I was moving into an apartment to continue my master's program at Tennessee Tech, and my mom came along to help. As we were carrying a random assortment of hand-me-down items up the stairs, I slowly started to realize how strong my mother was and how weak I was. Even though my athletic background is in basketball and track, my workout regime in college was that of a cross-country runner. I ran a few half marathons, tried to hit a certain mileage per week, and eventually dropped down to about 98 pounds to improve speed. As a result, I couldn't lift anything and started to realize just how fragile I had let my body become. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, and she said, "Hey why don't you try this thing called CrossFit?" I can't explain in this short bio what CrossFit has done for me, but I would not be who I am without it. It has been the one constant in my life since I took a leap of faith and dropped into a CrossFit box during Christmas break. It has given me so much opportunity. Through CrossFit I have met countless people, discovered my love for all things nutrition, and accomplished things I never thought possible. Best of all, it led me to my husband. As a coach, I hope to help all athletes accomplish goals beyond their wildest dreams and be a witness to their own CrossFit story.

Aaron Mitchell


Hey there! I'm Aaron Mitchell and I am a Level 1 Trainer here at CrossFit Anistemi. I started doing CrossFit in high school and fell in love with it! I continued training and competing throughout my college career at UT Knoxville (Go Vols) which has been close to 7 years now. I have always had a passion for sports and a more holistic fitness. CrossFit satiates that desire within me to encompass many different sports and sport styles because it incorporates gymnastics, weightlifting, cardiovascular endurance, and so much more. Olympic Weightlifting has come to be a big part of my life and I enjoy developing athletes in their strength. One of the best things ever is seeing an athlete dial in a technical position they've been working on for a while and then look at me with wide eyes and say, "That's what that's supposed to feel like?!" It's awesome. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this opportunity to be on this team of awesome people who push each other to be better both in the gym and in our spiritual and emotional lives!

Mikenna Varvel

Public Relations Manager

Mikenna is a senior at Lee University receiving her BS in Public Relations. Her passions for fitness and community have been combined into one as she has joined our team. The thing that she loves most about CrossFit Anistemi is that she feels so connected to the members and so encouraged by the coaches. Kenna is a valued member of our team and we are thankful for her area of expertise on staff.