Founder, Owner, Coach

Christa Doran’s passion and life mission is helping women discover their power. Christa founded Tuff Girl Fitness in 2009 because she wanted to revolutionize the gym experience for women, and as a result help women learn to love themselves and find peace with their bodies. She has her graduate degree in Occupational Therapy, is a level two kettlebell, bodyweight and barbell instructor through StrongFirst and has been working in the fitness industry since 2002.

“I want women to realize that they are more powerful than they know. 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— mind, body and spirit.”

Tuff Girl is Christa’s entrepreneurial child, but she also happens to have three human children (Livia, Lea, and Keira) with her husband Mike. When she’s not coaching or spending time with her family, you can find her reading, sipping coffee (or wine, depending on the time of day), and cooking up a storm.




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.




Coach Gina started training at Tuff Girl as a member in 2015 while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. 

Gina hails from Methuen, MA and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from the University of New England where she played soccer and lacrosse. In May of 2017 Gina earned her Masters degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition from Sacred Heart.

You can find her hiking, backpacking, and enjoying photography, videography, OCR racing, and picking up heavy things. Gina is not only an amazing coach, but she is also a super-duper organizer with fabulous handwriting and a gift for creating amazing videos which you will see all around Tuff Girl. 




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.