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Personal Trainer Bios


Brenda Alexander

"What can I do to help you do what it takes to get what you want?"

Brenda Alexander in the weight room

About me: It only takes desire, determination, consistent effort and time. What is it that you desire? How strong is that desire? What are you willing to do to get it? What is really stopping you?

#1 - Designing exercise programs can be challenging when faced with limiting factors. I learn something from each and every client I work with. First I demonstrate the exercises in a particular sequence, discussing the rationale behind each. Then I allow you to practice mastery independently or with my supervision. I follow up with a review and modifications. Sometimes a completely new program is warranted if you bore easily, plateau or set new goals. Repeat this process again until your goals are met. Sounds simple, yes?
#2 - Motivating is a far more difficult task, for it involves the mind more than the body. Attitude is everything. If you hate exercise, I can make it more fun. However, it is still hard work and only hard work (or prolonged easier work) will produce results. Depending on your genetic factors, this progress may be faster or slower. There are drugs and surgeries available, but they are expensive and carry risks. You can NOT change the fact that your body requires movement to sustain health; you can however change the methods of movement as well as your attitude towards movement.
#3 - Consistency is crucial, for no plan in the world will succeed if you are not consistently following it. Most people need some support. I can only hold you accountable when you are physically with me or by an available attendance binder. I can “check in” on you from time to time, but I can’t MAKE you exercise when you’re determined not to. Hold on to your strong desire and refer back to #2.

This is what I love to do: I have knowledge and I have experience. I’ve been “addicted” to weight training and sports and I’ve been more relaxed and casual too. I’ve been able to maintain an active lifestyle regardless of my changing attitudes and circumstances. I’ve had my own small gym and I’ve had nothing but a broom stick and milk jugs. I’ve worked at 24-Hour, YWCA, YMCA and here at PSU.

I love this stuff! I want you to learn to love it too. My ultimate goal is to empower you to take ownership of your health.
Please allow me to offer you my professional services, share my experiences, have some fun and get you moving in the right direction.

Experience:

  • 7 years as a professional trainer
  • Various ages and populations
  • Lumbo-pelvic stabilization
  • Shoulder and knee rehabilitation

Credentials:

  • ACE Certified Personal Trainer
  • YMCA Fitness Testing Specialist

Contact:

Phone : 503-261-3907 - Does not accept texts.
Email : Brenda.alexander@pdx.edu

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Brendon Miller

"The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character" – Arnold Schwarzenegger 

About me: Good health is the key to living and enjoying life. If you enjoy the competition that participating in a sport offers or exploring the great Northwest, incorporating fitness and healthy nutritional choices helps each of us achieve our goals and enjoy our passions.

I am a driven, energetic and hardworking individual who has an inner drive to compete in sports and enjoy the great outdoors. Through fitness, I have been able to build physical and mental strength that allow me to compete in ice hockey and motocross and enjoy leisure activities like hiking, snowboarding, kayaking, waterskiing and snowshoeing.

Incorporating fitness into one’s lifestyle offers many rewards, including; improved overall health, increased self-esteem and greater focus. I enjoy the opportunity to work with individuals who are ready to make a change and enjoy the benefits of physical fitness. Together we will build a workout plan that is fun and sustainable.

Credentials :

  • WITS Certified Personal Trainer
  • American Red Cross – CPR, AED & First Aid Certified

Contact :

Phone : 971-732-4318
Email : brendon2@pdx.edu

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Charlie Arellano

"I may never be the strongest, I may not be the fastest but I work the hardest!"

Charlie Arellano flexes his bicep in front of a scenic backdrop.Introduction: Aloha! My name is Charlie Arellano and this is my 3rd year attending Portland State University. I am from the island of Oahu, Hawaii and Hawaii was where I started my journey into fitness. Coming from a small state, let alone island, people would either do sports or they would do drugs and alcohol. I fell under sports because I love to exercise. Throughout my life I've played Football, Basketball and Wrestling. I’ve participated in Fun Runs, Group X classes (Zumba FTW), Cross-Fit and placed 3rd in a bench press competition. I was also a former Vice-President of the Kickboxing Club held here at the Rec Center. Living a life of health and fitness is important to me and influenced my decision to become a personal trainer so I can promote to others how to live a healthy lifestyle. I love the idea of high intensity! The foundation of my workouts is based off of my athletic background. However, this does not mean that everyone is going to get the same workouts since it depends on the individual that I am training. From beginners to advanced, I will do my best and try to make sure that everyone walks away with something new to add to their training. All in all, I want everyone to have a phenomenal workout.

About me: Growing up I was a couch potato who played video games every day. I drank soda like it was water and stuffed my mouth with pretty much anything. I was really overweight at this point in my life and I knew I had to do something about it. Luckily, I lived in a neighborhood where a lot of my friends had an active lifestyle. One day, one of them persuaded me to join Pop Warner football and let me tell you now, I was scared! After a few practices I wanted to quit but my friend constantly told me to, "Finish what you start." So, I stuck to it because I wanted to be athletic like him and I didn’t want to be a quitter. I told myself, if I wanted to be like him, I had to keep my eyes on the PRIZE. Without a doubt, that prize was definitely worth it. With that being said, I believe anyone can achieve their goals either by themselves or with the help of a friend and the thought of never giving up. This is where I come into play. I could be that friend and give you that little spark to help jump start your training and to motivate you into achieving your healthy lifestyle just like my friend did for me.

Certifications:

  • B.S in Physical Activity/Exercise (Expected 2015)
  • Red Cross CPR, AED, Firs Aid Certified
  • WITS Certified Personal Trainer

Contact:

Phone : 808-382-2095
Email : acharlie@pdx.edu

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Gabe Feit

 "If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

Gabe Feit lifts a barbell in the weight room.

Introduction: Are you new to the gym and looking for some guidance and support?  Or have you been going to the gym for years and want a new perspective?  Maybe you're somewhere in the middle. They are all good places to be!  Just reading this bio means you have made the choice to address and improve your fitness in some manner.  Good decision! The path to physical fitness is a journey that can transform your body and mind. It presents itself differently to everybody, but one thing is for sure, it takes hard work!

Why do it? Aside from disease prevention and physical health, those old chestnuts. Exercise encourages the brain to produce chemicals that help us deal with stress (norepinephrine) and make us feel happy (endorphins). Exercise also helps improve cognitive function and alleviate depression.  Not to mention how good you'll feel when you look in the mirror!

About me: My philosophy is that even hard work should be fun! Idealistic? Yes. Unrealistic? No WAY! I love to play! From organized sports such as ice hockey and soccer to weight lifting to frisbee in the park. It is so important to have fun...   Seriously!  Playing encourages curiosity and helps us problem solve.  It strengthens our connections to other people, the world around us and perhaps most importantly, ourselves.

I am a nurturer by nature. I love to help people become the best version of themselves. In the gym this translates to a focus on helping you achieve your goals through a combination of guidance, external motivation, helping to keep you on track and overcome personal challenges.  College is a time of exponential growth that often leaves little time for play.  But the benefits couldn't be more relevant to a student's needs. Even the act of working out regularly, keeping a schedule and tracking your results are skills that transfer directly to college and the rest of life.

The path to physical fitness is right in front of you.  You have already taken the first step.  Let's work our way down the path together for a bit!

Certifications: 

  • World Instructor Training Schools - Personal Trainer
  • American Red Cross - CPR, AED & First Aid for the Professional Rescuer

Contact:

Phone : 503.866.2470
Email : gfeit@pdx.edu

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Griff Tovey

"Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something...You want something, go get it. Period." -The Pursuit of Happiness

Griff Tovey holds a medicine ball.

Introduction: Fitness can be achieved in many ways. Whether you enjoy swimming, weightlifting, yoga, or dancing, the benefits of exercise are numerous and have an incredibly positive effect on the way that we live our lives. While fitness can be challenging, it can also be extremely fun! My philosophy is "put forth the knowledge, hard-work and dedication and the possibilities are limitless."

About me: My passion for fitness began in my junior year of high school when I received a gym membership for my birthday and began working out on a regular basis. I had previously played organized sports including basketball and swim team but was relatively unfamiliar with weight training. To many of us, a lack of knowledge or unfamiliarity with weights or cardio equipment can make the gym seem both a scary and intimidating place. By choosing to participate in personal training you have taken an important step in ensuring that your fitness questions will be answered and your goals will be met!  Whether you are a novice who has never set foot in a gym before, or an experienced gym goer who is bored with your routine and looking for something new, I look forward to working with you!

Experience: I have been weight training for almost 6 years, and have participated in sports such as basketball, and swim team on a regular basis. I also enjoy climbing and hiking, but am always on the lookout for other fun ways to exercise! 

Certification:

  • W.I.T.S. Personal Training Certification
  • American Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid

Contact:

Phone : 520-990-2930
Email : gtovey@pdx.edu

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Emily Caffee 

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." – W.H. Murray

Emily Caffee poses with her dog.Athletic background: I grew up in the sports powerhouse city of Pittsburgh, PA, and spent my days in constant motion like a little freight train of fury. Inspired by Penguin’s hero Mario Lemieux, I started playing ice hockey at age five – the first in a long line of athletic pursuits that would include sprinting, soccer, and rowing.

Nowadays, I train as a competitive rower with a local masters crew team. In a sport where you’re moving backwards at full speed in a racing shell barely wider than your hips, stability and power are key. My workout routine includes a hefty dose of strength and endurance work, along with a regular yoga practice and daily mobility exercises.

Training philosophy: Following NASM’s Optimum Performance Training Model, my training sessions are designed to progress clients through stabilization, strength, and power stages depending on individual goals. Workouts consist of functional movements with an emphasis on pelvic, core, and shoulder stability. I also specialize in corrective exercise techniques to address muscle imbalances and aid in injury recovery/prevention. 

Whether you are new to exercise, recovering from an injury, or simply looking to enhance your existing workouts, we can work together to design a program that fits your time, energy, and interests. You can expect to work hard and have fun while developing functional movement patterns that will serve you throughout all life stages!

Certifications:

  • Certified Personal Trainer – National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • Corrective Exercise Specialist (in progress) – National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • First Aid, CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer – American Red Cross

Education:

  • Pre-Med/Health Science major (graduating June 2016
  • B.A. Liberal Arts, focus in Sustainable Food Systems, Portland State University (2009
  • Physical therapy internship in an orthopedic/sports medicine clinic (ongoing
  • Future plans: Doctorate of Physical Therapy graduate program

Contact:

Phone: 503-421-7365 (text ok)
Email : caffeee@pdx.edu

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Jackie Long 

"Do not exist, thrive."

Jackie Long poses on a trail in front of a mountain.My life in a nutshell: My life has been a whirl of sports, hobbies and interests. At first I had thought this a negative aspect of my personality; that I was never excelling in one area. What I began to realize was that everything is connected; dancing, Muay Thai, Judo, Gymnastics, Ice Skating, Running, Strength Training, Soccer, etc. The movements our bodies can make are the same, and when learned how to do so correctly, we begin to reach our full potential. Many will say it in different ways and countless times, but there is no greater feeling than the act of challenging your physical body and your mind and finding out just how strong they can be.

What I can do for you: As a personal trainer I can help you achieve these potentials or any goals you might have. Everyone needs a little kick start and motivation to their day and to their life. My personal flair is to show you how to draw power from all potentials and aspects of physical and mental fitness such as strength, endurance, balance and power. 


Certifications:

  • American Red Cross- Standard first aid, CPR/AED.
  • WITS certified personal trainer
  • B.S. Psychology (Expected 2017)
  • B.S. Health Studies: Physical Activity and Exercise (Expected 2017)

Contact:

Phone : (530) 588-8934
Email : jacqlong@pdx.edu

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Kristin Spurkland

"Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners." -William Shakespeare

Kristin Spurkland poses in a garden.Introduction: In working as a trainer, my goal is to help my clients be prepared to meet anything that comes their way with energy, enthusiasm, and ease, be it an all-day hike in the gorge, running a 10K, or a softball game at a family picnic. I believe that health and fitness should be available to everybody, regardless of current fitness status or difficult experiences with exercise in the past. Let me help you feel comfortable, confident, and “at home” in your body.

About me: My workout programs generally focus on functional strength and fitness, plus balance, coordination, and stability. In addition to drawing inspiration from my current studies in Fitness and Exercise as a Health major at PSU, I also incorporate my experience with dance and yoga into the gym setting. I like to keep things dynamic, and use a lot of intervals and hybrid workouts (combinations of resistance and cardio work) to increase both strength and cardiovascular fitness while also developing whole-body awareness and integration. My personal fitness routine is centered around my role as a dancer with Bloco Alegria, a Rio-style samba band; I have also recently taken up hula-hooping (kids make it look easy, but it's a pretty intense workout!).

I bring empathy, humor, and strong communication skills to my sessions. I want to assist all of my clients in feeling empowered to take charge of their health and wellness. Whether you were picked last in gym, or are a seasoned exercise pro looking for a new routine, I want you on my team!

Certifications:

  • World Instructor Training Schools – Personal Trainer
  • American Red Cross - CPR, AED & First Aid for the Professional Rescuer
  • B.S. in Physical Activity & Exercise with a Psychology minor (expected 2016)

Contact:

Phone : 503.997.0807
Email : ks8@pdx.edu

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Tommy Gibbons

"In order to have what others don’t you must do what others won’t."

Tommy Gibbons lifts weights in the weight room.About me: Hello, I’m Tommy Gibbons. I’ve been involved in fitness for 8 years. Everywhere from sports to weight lifting, exercise has changed my life over the past several years, both physically and mentally. Health and exercise are two of the greatest passions in my life; I want to help others along in their journey to bettering themselves, not just their body but their mind as well. Once you start meeting your goals you will realize how much more you can do as long as you stay focused and committed! I currently have my Associate of Arts degree and am working toward my Bachelors in Health Studies with a concentration on Physical Activity/Exercise.

My philosophy: I am a firm believer that if your heart and mind are in it, the physical part will follow. We are all capable of molding our bodies to our satisfaction and further. I am here to share my experience and knowledge to help you in your fitness endeavors. I believe in specific measurable goals and all the work it takes to achieve them. I have met many of my personal aims and have seen myself grow beyond what I thought possible. I am ready to devote my time and effort to make sure you reach your fitness goals and stay motivated! My program design will be personally tailored and well-rounded to make sure we are optimizing neuromuscular efficiency by working flexibility, stability, balance, endurance, strength, and power. Are you ready to make the difference?

Certifications:

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine- Certified Personal Trainer
  • American Red Cross- Standard First Aid, CPR/AED
  • Pediatric Plus- CPR, AED, and First Aid

Contact:

Phone : 541-212-8439
Email : tgibb2@pdx.edu

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Veronique Nyounai-Herrera

"Success is the result of motivation, dedication and consistent effort."

Introduction: Committing yourself to your body and health is the greatest gift you can give yourself. The trick is to try various activities, find what you enjoy, and make it a priority. Fitness is definitely not one size fits all! As a trainer, I’m here to push you and help you realize that you are capable of achieving every goal you make for yourself. I’m here to show you just how strong you really are!

About me: I have always enjoyed being active. As a kid, I participated in practically every sport there was. This included ice-skating, gymnastics, volleyball, and even horseback riding. In high school, I stuck with basketball and tennis, becoming a tennis captain my senior year. Upon entering college, I quickly fell in love with strength training. I love knowing that I am getting stronger every day and am pushing my body to its full potential. For me, it’s all mental. I know that by pushing myself past my perceived barriers, I am becoming both mentally and physically stronger, and that mentality in the gym, can easily be translated to real life. Anything is possible! With that being said, my approach as a trainer involves nudging clients out of their comfort zones. I start off by understanding how you learn best, create a program that progresses in intensity, and gradually push you out of that pesky comfort zone.

I believe that a successful trainer is one that is well-rounded and able to relate to clients that have various fitness levels, goals, and interests. The best part of my job is getting to coach a diverse population of clients. No matter where you fall, the number one thing to remember is that in order to achieve the results you desire, it takes dedication, and perseverance. I am here as your coach, friend, teacher, and cheerleader. Let’s work on being the best version of you yet! 

Certifications:

  • WITS Certified Personal Trainer
  • Licensed Zumba instructor
  • AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor 
  • Red Cross CPR, AED, First Aid Certified
  • Pending minor in community health education
  • Tennis player 10+ years
  • Other sports: basketball, volleyball

Contact:

Phone : (503) 708-0970
Email : nyounaih@pdx.edu

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Stephanie Symonds

"Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth, 'You owe me.' Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky." -Rumi

About me: Hola! My name is Stephanie and I am fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French. First things first, I love music and dance. I spent the majority of my childhood and adolescence in all kinds of dance performances and types. A few years after high school I reignited my passion for fitness after a long period without any sort of physical exercise or dance which left me feeling really lost and unhappy. At that point I hadn’t run a mile since the mandatory 8th grade “7 minute mile” and wondered if I could ever achieve such a thing. I then began training for a half marathon, participating in Zumba daily and found my niche in group fitness classes and setting monthly and yearly challenges for myself. That half marathon was my first of many fun physical and mental obstacles. As time would pass, exercise just became a hobby and something I absolutely loved helping others with. From my own experience, achieving any sort of physical fitness goal is one of the greatest feelings ever! 

Interests: San Diegan born and raised, I love the sun and outdoor activities! I still love to dance more than anything but really enjoy all sorts of exercise types including tough T25/P90X type workouts, strength training and marathon training. I enjoy helping individuals develop a lifestyle change and help them through it as I have personally experienced that process myself. I enjoy making things challenging and am quite an energetic person so I tend to find the fun in things that might seem impossible or difficult. Tell me your goals and I will help you manifest them! I am always up for a challenge and love to challenge others.

Certifications:

  • W.I.T.S. Personal Training Certification
  • American Heart Association CPR/AED/1st Aid (January: American Red Cross

Contact:

Phone: 619-518-1144
Email: SLS8@pdx.edu

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Sabrina Wilken

"Every artist was first an amateur." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Training Purpose: In my experience I have found that many people are intimidated by working out at a gym for fear of being judged. My goal as a personal trainer is to help people overcome any personal inhibitions and to help them reach their full fitness potential. No matter what ability level you are at I hope to help you feel comfortable and confident at any gym.

Athletic Background: Participating in dance and gymnastics in my youth, my love for fitness developed at an early age. In high school I began my career as a competitive cheerleader for four years and went on to cheer competitively at a collegiate level for two years as well. After retiring from my cheerleading career I sought out other forms of exercise such as weightlifting, distance running and Zumba. I have always had a passion for fitness and I hope to inspire others to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle as well.

Certifications:

  • American Red Cross CPR/ AED and First Aid certified
  • AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor
  • WITS Certified Personal Trainer

Contact:

Phone: (503) 490-4561
Email: swilken@pdx.edu

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