Alexia Cervantes has been sharing her passion for health and fitness here at UCSan Diego Recreation since 1989. She is honored to be the Director of FitLife and work with an amazing team of professionals, instructors, trainers, therapists and support crew. Alexia has taught everything from aqua fitness to kickboxing. Her current classes include Cycle and her signature Pilates-Yoga blend. Away from UCSD, Alexia enjoys time outdoors with family, friends or her dog. The energy and efforts of her students are her biggest inspiration and greatest professional reward. Favorite workout song: Give It To Me (Madonna) Go to food: Greek yogurt, fresh blackberries & peanut butter, Yum!
Amy Comalli has been teaching since 2005 and is certified via the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer and through UCSD Extension’s Fitness Instruction and Exercise Science training program. She holds additional certifications as a Schwinn cycling instructor, TRX Group Fitness instructor, and Gravity instructor. In addition to personal training and wellness instruction, she has taught Total Body Workout, Cycling, and Core Conditioning. When not teaching, you can find her running after her five year old twins and competing in triathlons & mountain bike races. Her go-to fuel for workouts is PB & honey toast and Hammer Strength HEED. She is inspired by seeing people exceed their own expectations and dance music playing on her iPod.
Angela Davies has spent her entire childhood teaching and inspiring others. An original "aerobics instructor" back in 1987, Angela has evolved to be a jack of many trades and has taught virtually every workout format. Currently, she teaches any body shaping style class, anything that involves the STEP, indoor cycling, and core training. She was a master trainer for the aquatic exercise association for 7 years and has worked as the manager of active programs for a worldwide company since 2005. In that role, she supervises personal trainers and group ex instructors in San Diego, Memphis and New York. She is certified by several organizations including ACE, AFAA and the AEA. Over the years, she received numerous trainings and awards and brings that to each class, each work project, and any of the trainings she conducts. Recently, she caught the RIPPED fever and has been teaching RIPPED for UCSD since the summer. She lives in San Diego with her husband of 20 years and four sons.
Ashley Franz has been teaching fitness classes since 2000 and holds certifications from the American Council on Exercise Group Fitness, Personal Training, Yoga, Physical Education, and her Health Science Credential. She currently teaches Power Sculpt and Ultimate Conditioning for FitLife, but has also taught spin, cardio, water aerobics, and more. The following quote by Winston Churchill is a daily, sometimes even minute by minute, mantra in her life: “Never, never, never, never give up." In her off time, she likes to chug water with lemon, cinnamon, mint, cucumber and ginger and brew beer.
Brenna Joyce began teaching in the summer of 2000 teaching Abs ‘n Buns. She has her Master’s in Kinesiology from SDSU, UCSD Extension Exercise Science/Fitness Instruction Certificate, ACE Personal Trainer, Gravity Personal Trainer, and Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor. Currently teaching FitLife Student Wellness and personal training at UCSD, The Salk Institute and in-home, Brenna finds inspiration in role models, in and out of the fitness industry, as well as traveling abroad…giving her a new perspective. She was also lucky enough to have lived one year each in Bordeaux and Paris, France, and speaks French fluently. J’adore Paris!
Brooke Kettering began practicing yoga in the Iyengar tradition under the tutelage of Arturo Galvez at UCSD, while studying for her BA in psychology. She then began exploring other styles of yoga, especially vinyasa. After rehabilitating a broken wrist in 2010 and realizing how important her practice had become both physically and mentally, she completed teacher training in the vinyasa style in the spring of 2011. She strives to constantly learn more about the mind/body connection through all styles of yoga in order to pass these lessons on to her future students.
Christine Gonzalez has been teaching for about 6 years and is currently certified in Zumba, Aqua Zumba, and YMCA Fitness Instructor Training. She teaches Zumba, Aqua Zumba, and Water Aerobics. When she isn’t teaching fitness, she is a Landscape Technician here at UCSD. Look for her around the Chancellor’s Complex, Student Services Center, Center Hall, Town Square, Visual Arts, Music Bldg, etc. and feel free to say hi! Her inspiration comes from her mother’s love, positive outlook, and incredible tenacity during her mother’s fight with cancer. She keeps a card from mom at work that says “Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden.”
Danielle Steussy was born on July 17 and has been teaching at UCSD for about a year. Before then she taught in San Luis Obispo. She holds a cycling certification through Spinning. Outside of the fitness world, she works at the University of San Diego as an Art Director in the Marketing Department. Danielle loves going to other cycling and fitness classes. "It’s fascinating to see how other instructors run their classes, the language and music they use, and what tools they use to motivate their students." A fun fact? She traveled across India for two and half weeks in the summer of 2010 and only got sick once…thanks to McDonald’s.
Donna Shaw has been teaching Pilates for many years now. She holds certifications in Pilates from Body Arts and Science International, Gravity Pilates from efi Sports Medicine, Spinning from Schwinn and, most recently, R.I.P.P.E.D. Donna currently teaches Pilates Power for FitLife as well as teaching at other venues around San Diego and North County. Never without her Starbucks, she is inspired by her students and looks for ways to inspire them in return!
Dora Graham currently teaches classes in Step, Body Pump and Yoga here at FitLife. She holds certifications from ACE Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, AFAA Personal Fitness Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor, Powder Blue Productions Turbo Kick, PiYo, and Hip Hop Hustle and Les Mills Body Pump. She has been teaching for 14 years and also works as the Executive Assistant at the Scripps Research Institute. Dora likes happy, upbeat songs and is constantly inspired by her friends.
Emily Kel ler is an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor and e njoys teaching bootcamps, high intensity interval trainings (HIIT), and total body circuit workouts. She loves to teach group classes that incorporate full body exercises and functional training to ensure everyone gets their maximum fitness challenge and has fun doing it! Her passion is in motivating others to find their healthier, happier selves. In addition to teaching group classes, Emily is currently preparing to become certified as a personal trainer and works as a coordinator for a non-profit high school foreign exchange program.
Fay McGrew, M.A., Certified Qigong Teacher, Q.T.P. (Medical Qigong) Adjunct Faculty Palomar College. Teaching in San Diego for over 16 years, Fay established Qigong programs at UCSD as well as Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, San Diego Cancer Center Research Institute, Tri-City Medical Wellness Center, Silverado Senior Living for the Memory Impaired, and recently at US Naval Medical Hospital in San Diego integrative programs on PTSD and pain management. Fay has 40 years experience studying from masters of various mind body & meditation practices including Qigong, Women’s Qigong, Tai Chi, Zen (mindfulness) Meditation. She effectively applies modernized versions of these ancient health practices into integrative medical care programs.
German Cervantes was born on November 22nd and has been teaching for over six years. He is currently certified in UCSD FITP and Schwinn Indoor Cycle. For FitLife, German teaches Beach Body Boot Camps and Cycle. During the day he is a substitute math teacher who finds his inspiration in his students. He loves the beach because no one is using any gas or batteries to move around. People are swimming, bicycling, running or walking to get around. His top workout song is “Ring of Fire.”
Irina Telyukova has been teaching vinyasa yoga since 2004, and more recently has begun teaching restorative yoga for cancer recovery as well. She seeks to bring a sense of acceptance, non-judgment, peace and relaxation to each class, encourages the understanding in her students that yoga goes far beyond the physical postures, and loves watching her students grow through the practices. Irina is also an economist, and in her spare time, loves to run, especially in good company.
Ivonne Avila has been teaching cycling since 2004. She holds certifications as a Fitness and Cycling Instructor. Currently teaches cycling and Weight Training for Women. By day, she's an Academic Counselor for the Computer Science & Engineering Department. Ivonne's three children are her inspiration; keeping her young playing basketball and volleyball with them. In fact, she is one of six children and learned how to play football, wrestle and box with my brothers. For some pre-workout fuel, she turns to a banana and peanut butter and during workouts I get pumped listening to anything by the Black Eyed Peas.
Jo-Anna Mitrano has been a fitness professional since 1987. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Holistic Nutrition, American Council on Exercise National Certification and Reebok Step Certification. (She is one of the very first instructors to pass it.) She currently teaches Cardio Dance, Stability/Medicine Ball Challenge, and Step/Sculpt for UCSD. Jo-Anna’s greatest achievement was in raising her two identical sons to be independent, strong, athletic men. Now she is raising two world champion mutts. Jo-Anna is honored to be working with the fantastic team at UCSD.
Karen Dobkins taught aerobics/ calisthenics for 3 years when she lived in Seattle for her postdoctoral fellowship at U Washington. She is certified in, and has been teaching, IntenSati since March 2012. She is a Neuroscientist professor in the Psychology Dept at UCSD. She teaches “Physiological Psychology” (Psych 106) every Winter. Her laboratory at UCSD studies how the brain develops, in both typical infants/children and those with clinical disorders.
Karri Skelton has been teaching for over 8 years and holds a number of certifications including AFAA Group Exercise, AFAA Personal Trainer, YogaFit - Level 4, Prenatal Yoga, Zumba, Pilates Mat, Floor & Core, Hoop Fitness, and Zumba Toning. She currently teaches a wide variety of classes like Zumba, various Yoga classes, Core Conditioning, and Total Body Workout. Her passion (besides fitness) is traveling abroad. Over the past 18 months she has been able to fly back to Japan for the tsunami relief effort, Bali twice and delivered donations from my UCSD students to an orphanage, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Canada and will soon go to Spain for a friend's wedding. Inspired by female empowerment and strength, Karri loves “So Beautiful” by Superchick often playing it in her Zumba class to celebrate the female body.
Kelly Scaramella has been teaching group exercise classes at UCSD for over 4 years. She started with kickboxing, and then branched out to strength and Zumba. She is certified in Turbo Kick (cardio kickboxing by Powder Blue), Bodypump (barbell strength training by Les Mills), and Zumba. Because all the classes Kelly teaches are choreographed, she spends lots of time at home perfecting choreography! Kelly grew up in San Diego and earned a business degree from the University of Southern California, before deciding to become a teacher. She taught Kindergarten for four years and has recently earned her Math credential. She currently teaches 6th grade math and science. Kelly is fueled by protein bars, bananas, and Powerade…because water just doesn’t cut it. Kelly’s favorite workout quote is by Nike. “Yesterday you said tomorrow.”
Laura Ramirez has been teaching Zumba for a year now, but the rhythm and music has run through her veins since she was a little girl. She's been part of several Salsa dance companies in San Diego in which she has performed and competed. Zumba is a place where Laura goes to spread her wings and release those everyday stressors. She is Zumba and Zumba Toning Certified. Her inspiration starts with a "rhythm that hits my ears in a way that sends my heart, body and soul to a higher place." In elementary school she was part of a roller skating team, The Rainbow Rexers and participated in a competition in backwards roller skating and won multiple trophies.
Lauren Donovan has been teaching Beginning Ashtanga & a Vinyasa flow yoga to students, faculty and the community for 5 years. She taught the UCSD Swim/Surf Instructors, The Zone, Cross Country Team, Computer Engineering, In Service, Torrey Pines Center South, Outback Adventures Conference, Swim with Mike Fundraising yoga adjusting. She also teaches Corporate Yoga, Yoga Therapy for Cancer & Multiple Sclerosis students, and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla yoga, Prenatal/Postnatal, Mom& Me, Kids Yoga classes. For fun she loves taking workshops like the Dynamax Medecine Ball Trainer Certification, Barre and Zumba sessions.
Lauren Labagh has been teaching fitness classes since 2007, having had a passion for staying active and fit since childhood. She was a varsity athlete and collegiate rower while attending CSU Sacramento and continued playing competitive volleyball, softball, and weight training while earning a Master’s in Sports Management. She is originally from San Francisco and joined UCSD FitLife as the Fitness, Mobile, Massage & Pilates Coordinator in 2011. She has experience teaching core, aerobics, pilates, yoga, circuit training, aquatics, and sport specific personal training. In her spare time she runs her own business, BalancedBodi. Her workout fuel is usually almonds or eggs and finds inspiration in changing people’s expectations of themselves, after they’ve pushed past their plateaus.
MariaChiara (Miki) Pappone is a BASI and STOTT Certified Pilates Instructor. For the last 3 years she has been teaching group and private Pilates classes at UCSD Fitlife and La Jolla YMCA. Lately she also joined White Light Studio in La Jolla. The path to greater health and fitness is the inspiration to her programming for conditioning in general and reconditioning from injuries recovery. She also enjoys creating jewelry and clothing, tending her vegetable garden, flowers, and pets, and preparing homemade dinners to enjoy with family and friends.
Melinda Gafford started teaching in January 2006, but has always had a love for movement and the health that movement brings. After receiving her BA in Dance from CSU Fullerton she went on to get her Pilates' Matwork certification from Body Arts and Science International. She also teaches at the Salvation Army Kroc Center and the Academy of Dance in Orange County. Melinda teaches a variety of movements: Pilates', Ballet, Modern Dance, Jazz, tumbling, footwork classes, pre-pointe in classical ballet, pointe in classical ballet, and has been known to get away with teaching a tiny bit of tap and hip-hop. When she is not teaching she is auditioning for companies and training to improve her abilities in dance and Pilates'.
Merilyn McGirr currently teaches water aerobics, cycle, and weight training at UC San Diego. She has over sixteen years of experience teaching group fitness courses. She is inspired by the vastness of nature and fuels her body with fresh fruit. Merilyn enjoys laughter and working out to “Have a Nice Day” by Bon Jovi.
Michelle Jimmink has been teaching at UCSD for Recreation and Fitlife since 1996. She originally taught in the gymnastics program at UCSD and the JCC, and was the Recreation Program Coordinator for the Gymnastics, Dance and Surfing programs from 2004-2006. In 2006 Michelle made the transition to teaching exclusively Pilates after using Pilates for the rehabilitation of many of her coaching injuries. Michelle currently holds Pilates certifications from Body Arts & Science International (BASI) under the study of master trainer Rael Isacowitz. Michelle has a passion for working with pregnant women and holds the Pre- and Post-natal Pilates specialist certification under Carolyne Anthony of The Center For Women's Fitness. This certification includes three areas of specialization: Pilates for Birth Preparation™, Pilates for Postpartum Rehabilitation™ and Healing Exercises for Diastasis Recti and C-sections.
Narciss Greene is certified by ACE and has been teaching for almost four years. She currently teaches Step, Sculpting, Spin, Total Body Circuit, and Cardio Blast. Narciss is a Master’s student here on campus studying Latin American Economics at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. This summer, Narciss is planning on running her first half Ironman; she is inspired to continue to work hard to obtain her goals by friends and good conversation. Only about 3% of the world’s population has completed an entire marathon (26.2 miles) – Narciss says, “Let’s work to increase this number!”
Rachelle Berglund has been teaching for over seven years and holds AFAA Personal Training and AFAA Group Exercise certifications as well as the Mad Dog Spin certification. Here at FitLife, she teaches Cycling, Circuit, Boot Camp, and Strength Training. During the day she is an Event Manager for Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series at Competitor Group, Inc. She is inspired by the individuals that push through and find a way to finish – it is amazing to watch participants cross a marathon finish line after a 7+ hour journey and see them breakdown with joy over their accomplishment. Her favorite thing to do is run up the hill at Torrey Pines while listening to “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida.
Sasha Briskin has been practicing different types of yoga for over 20 years, ever since she started her studies at UCSD in Cognitive Science. She now teaches Kundalini Yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan) because she has felt its powerful effect on herself and sees its immediate healing effect on her students of different ages. Upon being awarded a Yoga Teaching Certification from UCSD, she continued her yoga journey in the Himalayan Mountains. Living in an ashram in Rishikesh (a holy Indian town) by Ganges river, Sasha studied Kundalini Yoga and Meditation with some of the best Kundalini masters. She currently teaches Kundalini Yoga at University of California, San Diego, and other locations.
Stacey Becker has been a certified Star 3 “Spinning®” instructor since 2005. She’s been a personal trainer, 6th grade teacher, gymnast and dancer. She’s loves working with athletes and has been a competitive soccer coach (undefeated) and also a strength and conditioning coach for club soccer. She currently works with the UCSD swim team using indoor cycling as a cross-training tool to improve performance and is excited to start teaching FitLife classes this fall. She believes that everyone has an “inner athlete” and loves helping people realize their potential.
Susana Jones has been teaching swim lessons for over 25 years, Aqua Fit for over 20 years and CPR for over 10 years. She is certified in WSI, CPR, and Aquatic Arthritis Foundation. While she is not teaching for FitLife, she is in her day job as a chemist. She finds inspiration in nature and her friends and family, including five surfing brothers and a little mermaid sister. Her favorite music to listen to when working out is calm, relaxing water sounds to help her get focused.
Tyler Dean began teaching after completing UCSD’s Fitness Instructors Training Program in Fall 2011. He teaches primarily strength and conditioning classes, Super Core and Total Body Workout. Currently he is a full time student and part time instructor. Tyler's go-to workout fuel is definitely coffee and you can often catch a glimpse of him shuffle dancing as he sets up for a class.
Vanessa Pilney has been teaching Turbo Kickboxing for the past few years. She is certified by Powder Blue, the company that owns Turbo Kick. Her birthday is July 12, so she is an energetic Cancer who loves to turn an hour of cardio into a party! She spends her days earning her Multiple Subject teaching credential. She is most inspired to live a healthy life because of the fabulous way it makes her feel every day. Vanessa loves eating a delicious peanut butter and honey sandwich before a good, hard cardio session, and her favorite workout song currently is, "We Run the Night" especially when she's going on a long run while training for her first full marathon!