Founder, Owner, Coach

Christa Doran is the owner and founder of Tuff Girl Fitness, In 2017, nine years into Tuff Girl's wild, word-of-mouth success, Christa and Mike's six-year-old daughter, Lea, was suddenly diagnosed with DIPG, a fatal, incurable brain tumor. Lea died nine months later, leaving the Doran family devastated, but--Lea's bravery as their guide--with a new story of strength to tell. Now, in addition to inspiring hundreds of women to feel stronger in their bodies and minds, Christa is teaching the lessons Lea taught her: that bravery is being present; that power comes not from avoiding pain, but from naming it and living unapologetically as you are. Christa lives in Hamden with Mike and their daughters, Livia, 10, and Keira, 5. Lea would be 7 now.   

You can read about the love and loss she experienced at

“I want women to realize that they are more powerful than they realize. I want them to see that they have worth and value and a voice that needs to be heard. I want them to learn that they can love their body and still want to change it… and then I want to help support them as they make positive changes to their lives and live bravely ...with purpose and passion.




Karin Christley fell in love with fitness at age two when she put on a leotard and walked across a balance beam for the first time. Since then, she’s tackled and owned marathons, obstacle races, women’s rugby and dance. For the past 20 years, Karin has made training and motivating clients her career, training at gyms all over New England before landing at Tuff Girl. As if her time here isn’t enough, Karin also owns INDY Dance, New Haven’s all-adult dance company.

When she’s not dancing or training, Karin’s spending time with her husband and son, sipping wine, and watching any movie with a gnarly sword fight. ::swooshing noises::




With a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Exercise Science and Nutrition, Hillary Maxson knows all there is to know about training at Tuff Girl. She’s an avid runner who competed in both high school and college and still races today. She loves to run – so much so, in fact – that she even does it when she’s off the clock. Keep an eye out for Hillary along the shoreline of Old Saybrook.

If you train alongside Hillary while sporting some New Balance kicks, she’ll be able to drop mad shoe knowledge on you. She used to work for New Balance and had the chance to check out the New Balance Performance Lab in Massachusetts.




Aynsley has been a Tuff Girl since March of 2016. Tuff Girl has given her confidence and helped her realize what she is capable of. She is so excited to help others do the same thing. 

She has received her bachelor of science in athletic training/sports medicine from Quinnipiac as a certified athletic trainer and is currently working towards her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Quinnipiac, set to graduate in May of 2020.

Aynsley was a dancer for fifteen years, loves spending time with her family and friends, and loves watching the NY Rangers.




Lindsay was born and raised in Hamden, CT. She has her Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Springfield College and her Masters Degree in Exercise Science with a specialization in Sports Psychology from SCSU. She played volleyball in college and still plays in competitive co-ed leagues. She enjoys binge watching Bravo, craft beer, chocolate, and puppies. 

Most importantly, Lindsay is committed to the mission of Tuff Girl and loves helping people achieve their goals, both physical and mental.




Sally was raised in Cheshire, but she now resides in Branford. She has her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Exercise Science from Adelphi University where she also played soccer. Sally decided to continue her education through Quinnipiac’s accelerated nursing program. She graduated in 2017 and currently works full time as a nurse at Yale New Haven hospital. Sally loves being a student and has aspirations to further her education in order to become a sports medicine nurse practitioner. She has a passion for coaching and loves being able to work at Tuff Girl when she is not saving lives. When Sally is not working she enjoys watching the New York Giants, drinking craft beer with friends, playing soccer, hiking or kayaking in her backyard.