Meet Blue House Fitness

It all started in the garage of a blue house here in North Portland. It was a courageous experiment more than anything: could we actually build a community from something so small? We always wondered if the grassroots approach still worked and if the garage could serve as a gateway into something more. For us, health and fitness means more than just a group of people who like CrossFit–we’re a family. Our story began several years ago and our family has grown since then, but our values remain the same; humility, hard work, and connection. HUMILITY means I embrace feedback, I seek to understand, and I never avoid what must be said. HARD WORK means I pay attention to the details, I embrace long term habits, and I put in the work over time. CONNECTION means I am part of a community, I am honest, and I believe that together we go further.

We believe health and fitness shouldn’t be a privilege, but should be accessible and approachable to everyone–because that is exactly how we were invited in. We wouldn’t be where we are today without our first coach, Aush Chapman, who helped us gain access to this world of CrossFit. The methodology is proven–it truly creates the fittest people on Earth, and fitness is a super power to extend your quality of life and resilience for the uncertainty ahead. CrossFit is our foundation to build health & fitness, which means we use constantly varied, functional movements and high intensity to help you meet your goals. The beautiful thing about this type of workout is that we can scale to meet you wherever you’re at.

Fitness looks different for everyone; there is no one-size-fits-all, and progress doesn’t happen overnight. We focus on every member’s individual goals to establish long-term habits founded on how you sleep, eat, move, recover, and, ultimately, how you manage your time. We foster community in which you can see yourself, and that’s been a huge focus for us as we continue on our journey to make everyone feel welcome to take that first step. We’re not just a gym, we’re a group of like-minded individuals who believe that pursuing longevity is the ultimate goal.

Book a free intro

Tara Benavente



Tara is from the beautiful island of Guam and grew up as a competitive swimmer, while participating in all the high school sports. She moved to Portland for college, where she played water polo, became a TRX instructor, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Tara met the founders of Blue House when they first moved to Portland in 2016 and came into Cathedral Coffee where she worked as a barista. She started working out in Anton and Courtney’s garage back in the day, and then became a consistent member of Blue House in 2021. She received her CrossFit L1 certification that year and began coaching at Blue House in 2022. Outside of the gym, Tara works with houseless individuals and manages a transitional housing shelter in St. John’s. She lives with her fiancé Kim, and their cat Snax, in the St. John’s neighborhood. When she is not coaching or working, you’ll find her swimming, surfing, climbing, camping, traveling, and taking photos.

Jamie Carroll coach at Blue House Fitness

Jamie Carroll

Administrative Support


Jamie is originally from Eastern Washington and grew up in the Tri-Cities area. She graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2017. In college, she found lifting and indoor cycling, which both helped grow her passion for fitness. She has been a spin instructor in the area since 2021. After spending a few years in education after college, she transitioned to Operations and Project Management. Jamie is passionate about personal growth and wellness.

Nate Coldham



Nathan Coldham is originally from the UK, but has been living in Portland since 2013. He started CrossFit in 2015 & coaching in 2017. He loves all things gymnastics & weightlifting! He is a massive music nerd; in his spare time, he produces music and is currently on the path to earning his degree in music production.

Certifications: CrossFit Level 1, USAW Level 1, movement & mobility specialist, clinical weightlifting coach, Power monkey certified.

Jesse Dammann



Jesse got into CrossFit in high school after burnout from 8 years of swimming. The movement diversity was a great change in pace and redefined his relationship with physical fitness. He is a self-taught weightlifter now and recently competed at University Nationals. Jesse spends his time outside of the gym building bikes, producing music, and telemark skiing. Jesse will be focusing on movement coaching and personal training here at Blue House. Certifications: Level 3 CrossFit Trainer

Vanessa Dickens

Head Coach


Vanessa has been in the fitness industry for 20 years, from an aerobics/pilates instructor to weightlifting coach. She started CrossFit in 2009  and coaching in 2010. She competed for several years in local CrossFit competitions, Strong Man/Power Lifting and finally settled with Olympic Weightlifting; she currently competes in the USAW Masters National level. She absolutely loves coaching weightlifting and gymnastics! Throughout the years Vanessa has never stopped learning, researching, and pushing herself to grow, both as a coach and an athlete. Her coaching philosophy is that movement can be JOYFUL, and, through a trauma-informed lens, it can be healing. Movement doesn’t have to look or feel any particular way to make “sense.” Strength, stability, flexibility, balance, power, mobility, endurance; all support our brains, mental health, and cardiovascular system. Movement helps us show up in our lives in the way we want to; hiking with friends, learning new sports, lifting kids. Vanessa has helped amazing humans strengthen their bodies for the marathon of pregnancy, the trauma and healing from surgery, and for feeling stronger in their everyday routines. In her spare time, she runs around with three crazy dogs, binges on Netflix, and eats all the cookies!!

Credentials: USAW Level 2, Power Monkey Alumni/Weightlifting staff, Brand X Kids, Carl Paoli Gymnastics, Human movement specialist.

CrossFit certificatios: CrossFit Level 2, Gymnastics, Kettlebell, Weightlifting, Mobility, Football, Aerobic capacity, Adaptive Training. ACLS/CPR.

Melanie Hendry

Cooking Class Instructor


Melanie is originally from the UK. She joined Bluehouse as a community member in 2018 and has been the in-house cooking instructor since 2022. She graduated from Kent institute of Art and Design, and following a brief career in the fashion industry, packed a backpack and went traveling. After a few years and some restaurant gigs in London, Sydney and Hong Kong, financing her trip, this third generation baker/chef has never left the kitchen. She is also a full time professor at the McClasky Culinary Institute at Clark College and is ServSafe certified. She loves learning about nutrition, and is currently enrolled in The Baking as Lifestyle Medicine Program at the Sourdough School in Nottinghamshire, UK. When she’s not at the farmers market, cooking or eating with friends, she’s probably drinking coffee and doing something fun outside.

Miguel Moreno



Miguel found CrossFit in the Fall of 2017 while he was on the search for a good gym to work out. He immediately fell in love with the sport and the supportive community that it brings. After earning his CF-L1 in December 2019, he was immersed in the fitness world and being mentored by some of the best coaches in the industry. Wellness coaching, group exercise, and he is even a kids trainer where he loves inspiring and helping our young athletes to make fitness more approachable and accessible. In 2020, Miguel Moreno Lule started working here and you can catch him in the evening and night classes every weekday! Certifications Crossfit Level 2 (CF-L2) 2022

Al Stengrim



Al is from the frozen tundra of northern Minnesota. They grew up playing basketball, softball, track, soccer and competing in powerlifting. They moved to Portland in 2010 after college then obtained a Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies at OHSU. They currently work at Randall Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric ICU and the Pediatric Transgender Clinic. They have been a member at Blue House since 2019 and received their Crossfit L1 certification in 2021. When Al is not at the gym or work, you will find them backpacking, rock climbing, traveling or riding their motorcycle. They are also obsessed with their cats, Roger and Miguel (not named after Coach Miguel despite what he says).

Kathleen Szambelan

CrossFit Kids/Youth/Teens Coach


Kathleen Szambelan joined the Blue House team in the early fall, getting the opportunity to coach the amazing kids of the community. In her classes she prioritizes the growth of our kids in a holistic manner, supporting their physical skill development alongside team work and leadership. The participants shine, and she works to give them the tools and space so they can shine as bright as they are! CF-L1, CF-Kids.

Jim Tung

Sales Representative


Jim is a husband, father, Oregonian and lifelong scientist. He’s proud to be part of a gym that emphasizes humility, hard work and connection, and looks forward to meeting you and connecting you with Blue House.

Sam Cathcart

Operations Manager/Coach


Sam is an Oregon native with roots up and down the West Coast. In 2017, a very persistent friend dragged them to their first CrossFit class in Ashland, OR. Sam was instantly hooked and fell in love with the sport and the sense of community it provided. They also loved the way it decreased their anxiety, and improved their overall health and confidence. They’ve been working out at Blue House since 2018 and started Bespoke training in 2019. Sam is passionate about helping people achieve their health, wellness and fitness goals. As a non-binary coach, Sam is inspired to serve the LGBTQ+ community and is proud to join the Blue House team. Certifications CF-L1 CPR/AED Certified

Anton Fero



Anton was born outside of Seattle and has lived all over the country over the last ten years. Anton attended a performing arts school in NYC where he met his partner Courtney. Anton and his family have lived in PDX since 2016. They started Blue House Fitness in their blue house in 2017. He is extremely passionate about health and wellness. You will see him training most mornings at the gym.

Courtney Fero



Courtney has been a part of Blue House since it began in the garage of her Blue House. She keeps the back end of Blue House running through her favorite pastime…problem solving! She values family and community and you will likely meet her and Anton’s awesome daughters if you live locally.

Get started

Click the button to book a free intro. See if Blue House Fitness is right for you.
Free intro