Head Coach Russell

Russell was born in Plymouth, England in 1974. From the age of 15 he was obsessed with rowing, aiming at being on the UK team for the 1996 Olympics. He won gold at the UK National Championships in 1992 but discovered Aikido soon after and it quickly took over his life. In 1995 he moved to Kobe, Japan where he financed his Aikido habit by teaching English.

In addition to teaching Aikido for 3 years in Kobe Russell gained a Kiatsu massage certification in Osaka and in 2002 became one of the first certified Pilates teachers in Japan.

Russell moved to Kyoto in 2005 after meeting his meditation teacher Doug Duncan and ended up helping to establish Clear Sky Meditation Center in Cranbrook, B.C., serving on the board for 2 years and running meditation retreats part-time.

It was through Clear Sky that Russell was first exposed to CrossFit. In March 2008 he was part of a Clear Sky film crew on a trip to Bhutan. He wanted to be ready to carrying piles of equipment up and down mountains and a quick google search for functional fitness led him to the CrossFit website. After a few months of scaled WODs running up a Bhutanese mountain with a bag full of sound equipment was no problem.

Returning from Bhutan Russell continued his pursuit of CrossFit, taking to heart its philosophy of improvisation, adaption and scalability, using the convenient pile of millstones around his house instead of barbells (see pic above) and constructing his own pull-up bar out of bamboo and webbing straps. He got his first muscle-up in 2008 and his 35th birthday present was a head to floor handstand push-up, all thanks to CrossFit. Russell attended his first Level 1 Cert in September 2009 and decided to open CrossFit Kyoto after receiving permanent resident status in Japan at the end of 2010.

CrossFIt Level 2 Trainer
CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer
CrossFit Movement & Mobility Trainer
CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting Trainer
Risto Weightlifting Academy Olympic Lifting Trainer

Assistant Coach Kris

Kris Teaching OHS to group

Kris began his journey into fitness at age 14, joining his high school Ultimate Frisbee team. Over the coming years, this team won multiple statewide competitions as well as a few ‘spirit of the game’ awards at invitationals and nationally within the US.

Moving from the low altitude of Loveland, Colorado (1,500m) to the slightly higher Santa Fe, New Mexico (2,100m) for university. He took up long distance cycling, sprinting, and yoga, because that’s what you do at high altitude. Teaching yoga to other film students, he eventually found himself with weekly classes full of artists hoping to learn more about the intricacies of movement. He also spent time learning the fundamentals of Judo and Karate before leaving for New York to further his film education.

From there he moved to the countryside of Japan with the hope of learning the language alongside the methodology of martial arts practitioners of the past. Living in Yamaguchi, Japan he regularly practiced Iaido and began learning Jodo before being tempted into the world of weightlifting, powerlifting and acrobatics.

While he continued long distance cycling, he spent roughly two years learning powerlifting skills under the direction of elderly powerlifters and weightlifters from some of the earliest Japanese national teams. He continued his yoga practice until embarking on the Shikoku O’henro-san and volunteering in Tohoku after the Great Northeastern Earthquake of 2011.

In 2013, he decided to travel around the world, stopping in various countries, volunteering, and trying to decipher how each country sees physical fitness. He swam in Thailand, ran long distances in Kenya, and did pushups on the beach in Senegal before stopping in America to spend time with family. While in his hometown, he joined a few races noticing one sponsored by a local Crossfit gym.

He dropped in, thinking he was going to be treated to the regular gym experience he was used to, lifting heavy weights – or possibly the long distance cardio he came to expect from century races and half-marathons. Instead, he could barely lift himself off the ground after a mere 15 minutes and nor could anyone else in attendance that day from the most inexperienced elderly man on his left, to the high level athlete on his right. He knew he had found a well-rounded path towards physical fitness and wellbeing.

Returning back to Japan, and cycling/running in various races, he got his Crossfit Level 1 certification in September, 2015. Since then, he has been rekindling the fire of team sports, building mobility, and pushing everyone he knows to be a better version of themselves.


CrossFIt Level 1 Trainer
CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer
500 hr Hatha Yoga Practitioner
200 hr Vinyasa Yoga Instructor


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