Introducing the Strive Health and Fitness team

Meet the fitness experts that are here to help you achieve your goals


Our Staff

Jeff Rice coach at Strive Health and Fitness

Jeff Rice

Head Coach

One thing I’ve learned from coaching people on their fitness journey for over 20 years is that hard work pays off. Rewards might not be instant, the road is not always easy but we do get out what we put in.

It’s possible for us to make a difference in our fitness, it’s necessary we give our best effort and it’s worth the sacrifice we put in to feel our best.

My name is Jeff Rice and I’m a Coachthat can help you at whatever level your on to becoming the strongest version of yourself.

Blake McDonald coach at Strive Health and Fitness

Blake Rice

My training journey is unique. I was not the ex-athlete trying to get back into shape. I had played with different globo gym ‘routines’ but didn’t stick with anything. I had some health issues such as type two diabetes, first signs of anemia and I was about 40lbs overweight. I walked into Crossfit for the first time in January 2011 and I knew THIS is where I would turn my life around. That very day I gave up smoking, started eating right and committed to going to CrossFit 5 times a week. Within 4 months I was off all meds and had dropped a good bit of weight and gained muscle I had no clue I was capable of doing!!!

My love and belief in Crossfit and fitness quickly grew, and I became a Crossfit L1 Certified coach in 2013. My passion for coaching is out of this world! I love seeing new people start their journey and I instantly have flashbacks to being in their shoes and have the deep intuition “Oh gosh, they are going to love this!” The excitement I feel seeing new members/athletes is so refreshing, but to also see our seasoned athletes succeed in their fitness journey is nothing but pure excitement!

Within Crossfit I found a special love and appreciation for Olympic weightlifting. I became a USAW Certified L1 coach, as well as a Burgener Strength L1 Coach. I now specialize in coaching Olympic Weightlifting our Strive family! I love that moment before a lift where nothing else in the world matters…No other thoughts are in your head other than the calmness of focusing on nailing the lift. It’s a special type of calmness. A feeling of powerfulness, strength and being invincible. I enjoy sharing this passion with our athletes and help them grow physically and mentally!


Conner Pickett


Everyone’s journey begins with a single step.That first step may lie miles away from where we want it to but it’s about getting on the path. It is my mission to meet everyone, at their first step, and show them there is no wrong way to start. Just get up and get moving. Movement and the building blocks of our nutrition are the secret to unlocking the possibilities of life we only dreamt of. Here at Strive, we are able to put forth these beliefs in a place where strangers come in, work hard, and walk out family. As a nutrition coach and CrossFit Level 1 trainer, I have vowed to bring others along in this quest to build the best version of myself and live life with vitality. Knowing where to start is simply asking yourself: how close are you to becoming the person you say you want to be?

Sheridan Smith

Nutrition Coach

My name is Sheridan and I am one of the nutrition coaches here at Strive! I am certified in Holistic Nutrition and am a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach. I love CrossFit, lifting weights, hanging out with my little family and going on adventures to beautiful places.

I started having health issues in my mid-20s and after several years of trial and error to figure out how to help my body regain health, I wanted to be able to help others as well. I know first-hand how hard and frustrating it can be when you don’t feel well, when certain foods don’t agree with you and when you have no energy to accomplish the things you want.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help people reach their goals, feel like themselves again and do things they didn’t think were possible.

Lindsey Gross

Coach Lindsey has been a CrossFit athlete since she was 12 years old and fell in love with the sport. Her dad got her started with CrossFit until she was 13, and could join in classes with Coach Jeff. In 2021, at the age of 17, she earned her CrossFit Level 1.

Lindsey played competitive soccer for 10 years. In the fall of 2022 she will start attending Kennesaw State University to pursue a degree in exercise science.

Caralynn Doese

My name is Caralynn, and I am one of the youth coaches here at Strive! I am a freshman at Kennesaw State University, pursuing a degree in Kinesiology. I played multiple sports throughout my high school career, before finding my passion for Crossfit.

I started at Strive in the fall of 2020, working at the front desk. In January of 2021, I started my journey as a Crossfit athlete, and fell in love with the sport. Months later, I became a certified youth coach and am loving training our young athletes.

Kelly Tustian coach at Strive Health and Fitness

Kelly Tustian

Gilbert Pena

Soft tissue specialist

Gilbert is a native of South Texas and has lived in Seattle, WA and moved to Atlanta, GA with his family in 2005. He has worked in the Information Technology field for 20+ years in the customer support and project management arenas of the healthcare and manufacturing industries. His passion, though, has been in fitness and nutrition, having been involved in the martial arts for over 35 years. He studied Kenpo karate, the American Karate System, and WTF style of Tae Kwon Do, in which he holds a 2nd degree black belt.

It’s this passion for fitness, nutrition and human movement that led Gilbert to study massage therapy. After years as a massage client, he decided to study massage therapy at the Atlanta School of Massage in 2012; and was also a certified Active Release Techniques® provider. He continues to pursue modalities that are complimentary.

Being a technical type, his attention to technique, form and function all play an important role in how he approaches each client. Using his skills in various bodywork techniques, a keen eye for human movement, and innovative corrective exercise he is able to help his clients overcome problems with chronic pain and mobility due to injury, as well as functional limitations due to overuse.

Gilbert and his wife Blanca have been married for 31 years and they have five children; Andrea, Tammy, Sonja, Dominic & Josh, ages 44-30, and have 7 grandchildren; Diego, Chloe, Bella, Carly, Gabriel, Enzo & Rosalyn; with another coming in August 2023!. Gil enjoys spending time with Blanca, working out, hiking, golf, and playing with their 4-legged kids, Delilah their Chocolate Boston, and Reba their Mini Goldendoodle.

Conner Pickett

Trace Pridgen

Dylan Reach

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