Ruskin Griffith is a rising Sophomore at Arizona State University, earning his Bachelors in Psychology, with the ambition to attend law school after graduation. Despite being born in the dry state of Arizona, he found a passion for hockey at age 6, and added Hammer CrossFit to his training regimen at age 9, strategically switching gyms to CrossFit Blade a few years later at 13.

By age 15, Ruskin was already ranked 51st in the world for CrossFit in his age group. At this age Ruskin also competed in his 1st weightlifting meet and qualified for youth nationals; overall ranking #1 nationwide for his age group and weight-class along with winning 2/3 gold medals. He played competitive travel hockey with professional dreams as well up until the time he was in a traumatic car accident which resulted in a broken neck and permanent spinal cord trauma. Though Ruskin had to face the challenging reality that professional hockey would no longer be viable as a career, he committed himself to remain an elite athlete. 

Since the time of Ruskin’s accident, about 2 years ago, he has become a USAW Level 1 Weightlifting Coach and has earned 11 USA National weightlifting medals; including sweeping 3 gold medals at the 2019 University Nationals. 

Ruskin! Thank you so much for making the time to talk with Invest In Access today. Gretchen O’Neal has spoken very highly of your training. Before we discuss your training of @StrongEllie05, can you please share with our readers: if you could choose one sentiment to instill within all the clients you train, what would it be? 

It would be that every bit of progress is important, from the small victories to the big victories – they are all to be recognized. Although one learns from their failures just as much as the victories and is a key part of discovering flaws. When training, it’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to be great and becoming discouraged in yourself for not progressing as much as you would want. I encourage my clients to see that the little victories will amount to the ultimate victory that they are training toward.

Photo Description:  Two photos of the same physical fitness trainer are seen side-by-side. In the 1st photo, the physical fitness trainer is wearing dress attire; standing, smiling, in a neck-brace. In the 2nd photo, the physical fitness trainer holds the position of a completed heavyweight standing barbell shoulder press.

Way cool and so true! So, how did Ellie become a client of yours?

Photo Description: Ellie, a young girl and client of Ruskin Griffith’s, smiles for a photo with her right arm flexed. She is wearing a shirt that reads I AM ENOUGH.

I started training Ellie in June of 2019, but I’ve known Ellie and her mom Gretchen for a long time. 

When I started attending Hammer Crossfit at a young age, Gretchen was training there. She and my mother ended up forming a friendship that would last for years to come. As I grew older, I became a student at Arizona State University, and Gretchen was an academic tutor of mine.  This led to Gretchen and I having more of a rapport and over time she expressed that she wanted to get Ellie more into strength training; Olympic weightlifting specifically. 

Gretchen asked if I would help her coach Ellie. We met up, established what her goals were for Ellie, set a schedule, and we never looked back.

Photo Description: A physical fitness trainer models a postural squat position for their client, a young girl, and the young girl models the posture.

What growth have you seen in Ellie that you’re most proud to be a part of?  

I’m most proud to be a part of how she’s grown as a weightlifter. Despite odds, she exceeds all expectations and her knowledge of weightlifting has grown and continues to grow every session. Every session she comes in, works hard, and focuses her best. She has made leaps and bounds in weightlifting and this is just the beginning for her.

Photo description: a young girl holds the position of a completed heavyweight standing barbell shoulder press.

How has training Ellie strengthened you as a fitness professional?

Training Ellie has definitely shaped me as an athlete and a coach.

Through Ellie’s dedication and love for weightlifting, my own passion has been strengthened. I’ve learned a lot about how to adjust and build around the athlete, as well as, when and where to step back as the coach and just let the athlete be the athlete. It’s also taught me great patience while I am at an age of impatience. 

What is your hope for the fitness industry as it pertains to accessibility and inclusion? 

I hope that in the future there is more representation in the fitness industry for people who live with mental and physical differences.  It is not uncommon in the fitness industry to make people with mental and physical differences feel unwelcome – they should be accepted with open arms, hearts, and minds. 

It is our job to make this cultural change, so the fitness industry can be an outlet for all people, no matter their condition or difference. There is a way to work around any and every form of obstacle. It is our job as leaders in the fitness industry to engage and educate ourselves in a manner that allows us to help all people achieve their fitness goals.

Photo Description: A young girl is featured in 02 different photos. Both photos show side-by-side images of the young girls’ extensive physical gains from personal training; the 1st photo is front facing, the 2nd photo is side facing.

Well we at Invest In Access are certainly grateful for leaders like you. Are you taking on any additional clients at this time in Arizona? If so, what’s the best way for people to connect with you? 

I am open to taking on new clients of any age or type and can be best reached at

Photo Description: a physical fitness trainer is in elite physical shape; competing in a 2020 national weightlifting competition.

Outstanding. Thank you again Ruskin, and keep up the exceptional work!