Meet Coach Oz, CrossFit West Seattle Head Coach


We are very excited to introduce Oz Andren as CrossFit West Seattl’s Head Coach. We sat down with Oz to pick his brain about why he is so passionate about CrossFit, his background and the importance of CrossFit’s fundamental movements.

How did you first get into CrossFit?

It all started when I broke my back playing football. I was no longer able to participate in sports, so I took up weight lifting and personal fitness in general as an athletic outlet. In college, a close friend and lifting buddy (who happens to be a Marine — you’ll see a lot of them in CrossFit) came to the gym one day — circa 2008 — and was like “D ude, I heard of this new CrossFit thing. I tried it the other day and I bet you can’t finish a workout.” I accepted the challenge.  We did “Filthy Fifty” which ended in complete demoralizing chaos. I was hooked and that day was never spoken of again. We both became dedicated advocates of CrossFit, opened a gym together — CrossFit West Ames — which we ran with a talented and passionate team of friends, and the rest is history.

Why do you like CrossFit so much?

Honestly, there isn’t a thing about the method of CrossFit I dislike. In its true form, to me, it is the key to greater wellbeing. But specifically, CrossFit aligns with one of my main life passions — empowering people to be better than they imagined. If you truly dedicate yourself to the CrossFit methodology — incorporating it as a lifestyle as intended — that is exactly what will happen. Even if your expectations are high, if you are committed and really ready to make change, those expectations will be surpassed.

I take physical and mental well-being seriously. What we do as a community in boxes around the globe is significant, it transforms lives. When I train, I approach it at my highest capacity each day (that just means I show up and give it my best even though “best” will mean something on any given day) and most importantly, I do it with full presence of mind — it’s important to focus and be aware of the now.

A little bit about my CrossFit career:

I have been programming for 12+ years

I have been part of CrossFit and coaching 8+ years

I have coached, trained, and competed with some of the top athletes in the Midwest, including regional and games athletes

I have studied and learned from some great olympic lifting coaches and gymnastics coaches such as Carl Paoli

I broke my back 17 years ago, recently had a lumbar fusion, and have devoted a piece of my life to understanding movement, controlling pain, and sustaining mobility

My hopes are to continue competing after I fully recover

Side note: I may seem quiet at times but please, always feel open to asking me for help with anything. I don’t claim to know the answers to everything but I sure do love figuring them out.

What are some of the exciting things we can expect coming up at the gym?

Consistency is key when it comes to strength and skill. You will be seeing consistent work on fundamental movements. Examples of those movements are things like squatting (back squat, front squat, overhead squat) and pressing (shoulder press, push press, jerk). As they say, “a squat a day keeps the doctor away” — they say that, right?

Variety is key when it comes to metabolic conditioning. You will see an even mix of weight lifting, gymnastics, and mono structural movements performed over a range of short, medium, and longer workouts (th

Those medium range workouts are really the sweet spot, though). This helps to dictate even stimulus of your metabolic pathways and gives you variety of challenges to hone in your mental and physical capacities.

You stress the fundamental movements of CrossFit a lot in your coaching, why is that?

One of the most simple and beautiful principles we focus on is a thing called “skill transfer”. Skill transfer is based off of the understanding that all movements are made up of the same fundamental and less complex movement patterns. Simply put, if you master the basics you will then be equipped to quickly and safely adapt to new and more advanced tasks. Analogy: a house built without a foundation will deteriorate and crumble over time just as your ability to keep progressing as an athlete will deteriorate over time if you don’t master the basics mechanics in movement patterns. An example of skill transfer: if you master the ability to push — a pushup — that skill can be transferred to barbell movements like shoulder press, push press, jerk, or gymnastics movements like dips, handstand pushups, press ups or even support in handstand walks.

Above and beyond the benefits of skill transfer, the fundamental movements teach your body how to be safe (not hurting your shoulder while opening a door), allow you to generate your maximum potential of power (getting that next big PR on your Snatch), and when performed correctly, foster mobility leading to a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Favorite music to workout to?

My favorite genre — in general — is the realm of Metalcore / Post-hardcore. I dove deep into “the scene” in the late 90s early 00s and it really set the stage for who I would become. Some of my fav bands: Underoath, Bring Me the Horizon, The Chariot, The Devil Wears Prada, Norma Jean, Chiodos. So if you see me in the gym with my headphones on, I’m most certainly jamming hard. 

Biggest fail and biggest win in CrossFit for you?

Biggest fail: It took me years to come to terms with my injury despite all of the signs along the way. An ultimate fail / low came during competing about 3 years ago. I was doing quite well, started off with a first place finish in event 1 and had a good start to day two. In the middle of a chipper, there was a series of Snatch at a weight that was no big deal to my capacity at the time. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but my back gave out to the point where I wasn’t able to get through more than about 5 reps. After many failed attempts, I sat down on the barbell with what dignity I had left and wait for the clock to run out. After that day, I began the process of learning to be happy with performing the best my back would allow…but after recently getting surgery, I am quite hopeful to unleash a new era of increased performance!

Biggest win: I am a long term fan boy of Carl Paoli. Over the years, I have followed his progress, growing and learning with him. He served as a sort of…distant mentor, as I have been greatly influenced by him as a coach, athlete, and as a human. I had the opportunity to meet him a few months ago and we are now on talking terms! Woo!

What’s your favorite thing about CFWS?

I am far from the first to say this, but the community is amazing. Everyone is a rockstar. Before I even stepped foot in the gym, I was greeted with a warm welcome. Being the new kid on the block can be hard, but the group at CFWS isn’t there to judge. Oh, and it’s in West Seattle which may as well be called Best Seattle AMIRIGHT?? Thanks to everyone who welcomed Sabrina and myself with open arms.