James Engesser



While many of us take a lifetime to discover our true selves and purpose, every now and then we meet an individual who is living the exact life they know they were born to live – AOCF Co-Owner and Head Coach James Engesser is that person, and our community benefits daily from his passion and example.

Before graduating high school, James told his father he wanted to own a gym; James can cross that goal off his list before his 10 year reunion. He has done so not because he has had significant life advantages or great luck. James is where he is because it is exactly what he is here to do. His laid-back, California style paired with sincere love for fitness, and commendable discipline, got him to this point. It is THIS living example that inspires and reminds Angel Oak CrossFit members every class of all they can accomplish.

James completely and sincerely loves what he does. Period. He doesn’t view working out, eating well, coaching long hours, programming for classes and individuals or personal training as “work” – it is his passion; it is his purpose. James sees everyday as a new chance to fulfill that purpose and each member and client reaps the benefits of his commitment and ease of routine. He shares his passion and enthusiasm openly and frankly with members every day; every class. This is James. Being in the gym every day, all day is exactly where he wants to be and what he wants to be doing. No one can ask for a better coach or owner than that; his drive is infectious.

James’ mental game isn’t too shabby either, and the behind the scenes force to his success with fitness and as a coach. Being of average height with average athleticism, he sought out CrossFit to make himself a competitive varsity athlete despite these factors. And he was. In fact, James continues to push competitive boundaries. In 2019, James will compete at the CrossFit sanctioned event “Wodapaloza” after finishing 12th out of 1,800 who registered in the online qualifier in the Intermediate Division. An invite only given to the top 20 in each division.

After high school and college, James pressed forward with his calling and sought opportunities to further his knowledge in fitness; and he succeeded.

He earned an internship to Pepperdine University’s Strength and Conditioning Department where he was exposed to fitness programming for all types of athletes and sports including swimming, water polo, baseball, soccer, and basketball. From there, he earned the opportunity to work directly with Villanova University’s football team. In this role, James developed players’ speed and agility on the field and raw strength in the weight room. Today, James channels this passion for coaching young athletes through his popular Teen Athletic Development class! Twice a week, James leads 15+ teenagers through basic strength training, weight lifting, and aerobic sessions while educating them on proper weight room etiquette and safety.

In order for him to have these valuable learning experiences, James had to accept a life where his own workouts were pushed to late nights and his general way of living was humble, to say the least. And he wouldn’t have traded one minute of it.

By the time James transitioned into coaching CrossFit full time, he had developed a comprehensive understanding of the relationship and importance of mixing CrossFit with traditional body building and strengthening – a blend that was and remains unique to the CrossFit community, and sets James apart from other coaches and owners. This knowledge can be seen through Angel Oak’s programming across all classes: CrossFit, Bootcamp, AO-GO!, and even in our personal training sessions.

The Angel Oak CrossFit community offers a lot that separates it from other gym communities; James is one of the biggest. He lives to show others how to be their best while living up to his best, day after day.