Meet Our Coaches

Crystal Canez, General Manager

Crystal has been CrossFitting since 2010 and coaching since 2013. She loves the sport and is obsessed with helping others excel beyond what they thought was possible. She has competed at the elite level, on a team at regionals and also was a testing athlete for the 2018 Crossfit Games under Dave Castro.

Her main passion is providing a safe place for EVERYONE to get fit, build relationships and have a good time.

“We want to make Hillcrest Athletic Club a leader in the industry so that we can inspire other gyms and sports to be more inclusive and affirming. I 100% believe that all the love and positivity we provide to our members will transfer over into the world. Together, we are creating something special that I’m proud to be a part of.”

  • CF-L2
  • USAW
  • CPR
She can be reached at

Shaye Patel, Head Coach

Shaye has been an athlete his whole life from playing waterpolo at the national and international levels to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Along his athletic journey he discovered the amazing sport of fitness – Crossfit – in 2015. Since then, Shaye has competed at an elite level in the masters age group (40-44, 45-49) and began his coaching career a few years ago. Now as a CF-Level 2 Trainer, he is primed and ready to continue to help others purse their fitness goals and help everyone along their health and wellness journey.

Mike Stoll, Owner

Mike is a retired US Navy Helicopter Pilot who discovered CrossFit while hanging out with some Navy SEALS in November of 2010 during a one-year deployment to Bahrain in the Middle East. He quickly fell in love with the constantly varied methodology, the rapid gains in strength, endurance, power and agility, and the significant improvement in his rugby game. He participated in the 2013 CrossFit Games Open and finished 161st in his age category for Southern California. He is currently a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer and a USA Weightlifting Level 1 Coach.

David Barron

Growing up in a household where strength sports were a big part of daily life it was no wonder David found himself seeking the intensity of CrossFit.  After a year of participating in group classes at a local box, the gym owner offered David a job as a coach.  From then on he has been honing his skills as a coach and as an athlete.  He enjoys the mental challenge of coaching and looks forward to helping others every time he’s on the roster.

Erica Brandelius

From a small town in Washington I’ve always loved to learn about new cultures. I’ve seen more countries than states.

I worked throughout Latin America, Australia and Asia. Most recently moved back from Hong Kong where I was an operations manager at a training facility.

I’m passionate about movement, aim to be transparent in communication and enjoy creating a place where people feel at home.

I love a good hug, coffee and little moments like eye contact and a smile with strangers. I’m excited to be part of this community.


  • CF-L1
  • CPR

Pierce Cooley

Pierce has been CrossFitting since 2006 and coaching since 2020. After playing collegiate and semi-professional rugby, CrossFit was the perfect activity to satisfy the physical and competitive hole left after retiring from playing. He loves the sport, and is passionate about helping his athletes reach their goals.


  • CrossFit L1 Trainer
  • CPR

Carlos “Chacho” Fernando Martini Costa

The Hillcrest Athletic Club, is a place without judgments, where we have the support and the incentive to do our best and try to find our best version!

I was born in Argentina and lived most of my life in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Having lived my whole life practicing diverse sports like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, surfing, skating etc., I found in Crossfit the perfect combination to be as fit as possible for any activity.

I learned how sport can change lives, and since then my passion for training and helping others grow only increases.

After opening two gymnasiums in Argentina and working with the most diverse levels of athletes, I humbly hope to contribute to this community by helping it continue to grow and together be as great as we can be.”


  • CF-L2
  • SDUIS- Sport Coach
  • Power monkey gymnastics
  • Klokov Weightlifting
  • CPR

Vanessa Laniawe

Vanessa discovered a passion for health and fitness in college after beginning a kickboxing program. That passion further flourished into healthier eating, studying other forms of fitness, and becoming a certified personal trainer. Expanding on her love for working with kids and educating others, she enjoys leading group classes of all ages and backgrounds. She has recently received her M.S. in Kinesiology, Integrative Wellness, through PLNU, and has a well-rounded, holistic approach to health. She is very excited to grow with the Hillcrest Athletic Club community!


  • CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
  • CrossFit Kids Trainer
  • A.C.E. — Certified Personal Trainer
  • A.C.E. — Fitness Nutrition Specialist
  • A.C.E. — Sports Conditioning Specialist
  • A.C.E. — Youth Fitness Specialist
  • A.C.E./YMCA — Foundations of Group Exercise
  • E.T.C. — Senior Conditioning Specialist
  • TRX Suspension Trainer
  • American Red Cross Adult/Child/Infant CPR/First Aid/AED Instructor
  • San Diego State University — BA in JMS, Minor in PoliSci

Fun Fact: She was bitten by a tarantula, nipped by an igrit, and peed on by an alligator, all in one day!

Ruben “Dez” Resendez

Ruben (Dez) is Active Duty Navy with 11 years in and counting. 8 years ago while stationed overseas he took an interest in CrossFit and fell in love. With multiple years as a Command Fitness Leader and supervising more than 50 sailors on a day-to-day basis, helping people achieve personal goals is nothing new to him. In 2019, he was diagnosed with a rare heart disease that required replacement of his aortic heart valve via open heart surgery. 3 months post-surgery he was back in the gym. He accredits his quick recovery to the disciplines / mental toughness instilled in him as a leader in the US Navy and CrossFit.


  • CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
  • Navy Enlisted Classification, Command Fitness Leader: 95PT
  • Adult and Child CPR/AED/First Aid

Julianne Russell

Julianne has been coaching fitness in San Diego for 12 years. Starting as a yoga instructor and building upon her knowledge of movement and the body through a decade in studios, she began coaching strength and conditioning in 2014. As her career grew through hard work and relentless commitment, she worked full time at her last gym and was the Head Coach and programmer for about 4 years. Her own fitness path has resulted in strength gains as well as body composition changes ranging from a 40# fat loss to a 370# deadlift. As a coaching professional, Julianne’s goal is to help you with your mindset and challenge you to surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. Her confident nature and command of a room allows athletes to trust her and leave class feeling successful no matter what.

Julianne also firmly believes that gym is not life, and it’s important to find balance. Outside of the gym she loves her family, her dog, Stella, skiing, surfing, mountains, the beach, and a good Hazy IPA with friends.


  • CrossFit L1
  • USAW 2
  • ISSA
  • FRC (mobility)
  • TSAC (tactical strength and condition)
  • RYT-500
  • Yoga Therapy
  • PPSC
  • professional Level CPR for adults/children