Each month, we’ll be profiling three members of our community.
We truly value our community at Easton Training Center, from our students to coaches and staff, and all those who put in extra time to help around the academy. It’s the heart and soul of the whole operation.
Time and time over, we hear our members say how it’s the people – their friends, partners, and classmates — that kept them coming back. The disciplines we teach are important, but in the end, they are tools. They’ll only go as far as the people who use them.
This month, we have the girl gang! We highlight Coaches Jen Mills, Ashley Dunn, and our newest Kickboxing coach, Kristina Khuu.
Coach Jen Mills, Easton Kids
Jen Mills – former competitive gymnast, kids’ gymnastics teacher, and runner – has trained with Easton since November 2018 and this year we’re fortunate to have her as our Kids Department Head.
Jen tells us that she’s been lucky to have created a work life that involves two areas that she’s always been passionate about: child development and athletics. Previously, she had dabbled in other sports but nothing stuck the way it did when she was a competitive gymnast and runner. She found boxing which she enjoyed to her surprise, and eventually came to Krav Maga in 2001.
“Being driven athletically or mentally was never an area I lacked,” Jen recounts, “but Krav brought out a whole new side of warrior spirit. I was hooked.”
But because her work caused her to move around a lot, she never found a martial arts home she adored. Walking by Easton Boulder, Jen tells us, was pure kismet. She knew she had to try it.
What drives Jen?
“Before I became a children’s coach, I was driven by the determination and desire to excel at something I never (or anyone else) envisioned myself doing,” Jen says. “The exhaustion, being humbled…repeatedly, the ability to rise while applying both physical determination and intellect appealed to every aspect of my character. Simply put, BJJ and Muay Thai drive me.”
Now, having little humans looking up to her to set the pace, Jen has found that new things drive her, like setting an example of what a martial artist and human can be and stand for in challenging times.
Jen’s favorite part of Easton is that it “emulates life in that there is always someone who knows less, someone who challenges us, and someone who knows more.”
We agree with Jen’s sentiment that little lessons exist everywhere, and she loves that she gets the opportunity to learn from our kids everyday!
Coach Ashley Dunn, Easton Jiu-Jitsu
Ashley Dunn, one of our newer Jiu-Jitsu coaches, first put on a gi in February of 2017. Her husband had started training at Easton about three months beforehand and was loving it.
“He would come home and talk about choking people, arm bars, and about the instructors,” recalls Ashley. “I thought, I have got to give this a try. I was so nervous and also excited to start something new and to bend my brain in a different way.”
Four years later and she’s still here – helping other newbies get on the mat nearly every day.
What drives Ashley?
Despite her busy schedule with taking care of her family, including her husband and three teenage girls, Ashley has also managed to devote the last few years to her masters program at Naropa in Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling, and has just started her internship at Empowered Play right around the corner from Easton Longmont.
“I would have lost my mind this past year if I hadn’t been training,” laughs Ashley. “I was so lucky to have a great small group through the strict quarantine. I was able to focus on my leg game and feel like the dexterity in my lower body really improved.”
One of her favorite things about BJJ is seeing the newer folks come in with little skill and watching them get better and better. The culture that we have at Easton really lends itself to welcoming new people, Ashley notes; it’s one of the reasons that she feels so comfortable here.
While it can be easy to become complacent with your game and simply stick to what works, Ashley loves that the professors and other coaches at Easton have always encouraged her to keep trying new things, things she didn’t even think she was capable of!
“It gives me a good template to keep trying stuff and to not write anything off,” says Ashley. “Who knows what you can do? Professor Amal used to tell us to just keep coming. I am so glad that I did.”
Coach Kristina Khuu, Easton Muay Thai
Our newest Kickboxing coach, Kristina Khuu, first started training martial arts at 22 when she joined a Taekwondo club which she stayed with for three years. Although she loved the sport, she wanted to become a more well-rounded athlete. Enter: Easton Training Center, and again she fell in love.
Since she first did the trial month, Kristina has trained off and on at Easton (about one and a half years if you don’t count the breaks.) Earlier this year, she started assistant teaching and we can’t wait to have her in coaching rotation!
What drives Kristina?
“I love learning and the feeling of getting better at a skill,” she tells Easton. “It’s a feeling of accomplishment that keeps me going and now that I’m coaching I get to see that feeling in others.”
We agree with her when she says that sharing the joy of learning and encouraging others is incredible!
Like most of our members, Kristina’s favorite part of Easton is how friendly and inviting everyone is, especially when it can be quite scary to enter a new community and know nobody. We’re certainly happy to have her!
Ready to start your Easton journey?