Trainer Bios

Gene DeNota
Training & Exercise Director
gdenota@darien-ymca.org

Gene has spent the better part of the last 20 years in the health and fitness industry helping people create healthy lifestyles. He has worked as a fitness instructor, personal trainer, in member services, and fitness management throughout many area health clubs. Gene has also worked in the fitness equipment retail sales industry where he set up and installed home gyms in lower Fairfield County, CT.

Too many people struggle with daily life activities, and never achieve their goals because of lack of exercise and poor health choices. Gene has seen and experienced all of this first hand, and is dedicated to helping people put an end to these bad habits. He has successfully helped transform many clients (as well as himself) through proper exercise and nutrition choices.

Gene specializes in strength, cardiovascular, and endurance training, as well as stretching to help increase flexibility. In addition to one-on-one small group training, he also teaches group classes which include; kettlebells, extreme conditioning boot camps, and group weight training. Along with his passion for training, Gene has a passion for the world of bodybuilding and actively participates in competitions on a regular basis.

His philosophy is simple: walk before you run. It is so important to first build a strong and stable foundation. Start with the basics. Then, with proper guidance of exercise and nutrition, you will be able to create your fortress of solitude. Gene feels that if you set realistic goals for yourself, both short-term and long-term, and stick with it, you will see results. Gene constantly reminds his clients of one very important thing: if this (exercise) was easy, everybody would be doing it, and they would all be in shape!
Beata Kelemen
Personal Trainer

My name is Bea Kelemen, and I am truly passionate about good clean food and fitness. I want to help all of you reach your wellness goals, get back into shape and feel good about your body too!

My passion for sports and healthy food originates from growing up in Europe, and this stayed with me through university and professional life. Since coming to Darien 15 years ago I have, like so many of you, juggled homemaking, community work, special education, and teenage children - all while focusing on my own health and wellness. I strongly believe in our search of virtue, being fit, and healthy makes us better equipped to meet life’s daily challenges.

My philosophy is that there is no miracle path to wellness. Not one approach works for everyone in fitness and nutrition. Learning to listen and trust what our body tells us, and taking the time to look after it, will bring the results we want. I want to help you to discover this inner power. I will be the honest and supportive voice that stays with you and works with you, as you reach your goals. What motivates me is to see clients discover their strengths and realize that they can push themselves further, all while enjoying it!

I am a NASM (National Institute of Sports Medicine) graduate and currently working towards a nutrition certification as well. I’m convinced that building lean muscle and a strong core is the key to functional strength, all the more important as we age. I believe in the transformative power of customized and carefully planned strength training, combined with consistent cardiorespiratory exercise and core workouts. Away from the training floor, I am most likely running or paddle boarding, enjoying art or creating simple and delicious clean recipes.
Beverly Wagner
Personal Trainer

Beverly has over 15 years of experiences in the fitness industry, and has been teaching at the Darien YMCA for over 15 years. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and teaches spinning and TRX.

Beverly trains a wide range of individuals; some of whom want to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, while others are looking to compete in their first 5K race. Whatever your goal is, Beverly will assess your strengths and weaknesses and help you achieve it. Beverly uses various tools to make your workouts both functional and fun!

When she is not working, Beverly can be found directing her passion for fitness towards her own physical pursuits. She often competes in running and cycling races, as well as triathlons. More often than not, you will find Bev running or cycling around Darien, training for her next race with her Darien YMCA buddies!
Carrie Werning
Personal Trainer

Carrie holds health and human performance certifications including, ACSM Personal Trainer, Parisi Speed School as well as Red Cross First Aid/ CPR. She is currently attending Norwalk Community College in the Exercise Science program and is working towards achieving a degree in Adapted Physical Education. Prior to working as a personal trainer, Carrie’s background was in programs for adults and children with disabilities. “I have always been happiest when I am empowering and inspiring others to be the best version of themselves, and fitness has turned out to be a great way to do that!” Carrie, a firm believer that wellness is more than just hitting the gym a few times a week. She believes that wellness is a lifestyle, made up of daily choices about the food we eat, the people we surround ourselves with, and the activities we participate in. “True wellness involves finding balance in all areas of our lives”. Some of her personal strengths include sprint training, sports-specific skill-building, corrective exercises, and body-weight-only exercises. Carrie loves working with all ages, but she particularly enjoys working with youth, older adults, and those with disabilities.
Connie Bocchetta
Personal Trainer

Connie has been in the fitness field since she was 15. In her career, Connie has worked with athletes who were training to compete in the Olympic trials, clients who were undergoing cancer treatments, and youth and adults undergoing eating disorder treatments.
 
Connie specializes in working with seniors to improve their flexibility, balance, strength, and overall range of motion. Her oldest client lived to be 102!
 
"Bring your goals; I’ll bring your motivation!"
Chris Vitrano
Personal Trainer

Chris was born and raised in the town on Massapequa on Long Island. It was there that Chris developed his love for all sports especially with football. Chris started playing football at the age of 10 and continued to play through high school for Massapequa High School where Chris was elected to the All-County Team for Nassau county as well as being elected team captain.

Chris went on to earn his bachelors degree from Ithaca College in History with a focus on Education. While attending Ithaca College, Chris played 4 years of football for the Ithaca College Bombers playing Offensive Line. After graduation Chris took his passion for the weight room and fitness as well as his schooling in Education and became a personal trainer.

Chris trained for over two years at a gym on Long Island before making his way to Norwalk CT where he went on to graduate top of his class at the National Personal Training Institute. At the Institute Chris gained valuable knowledge in exercise theory, application, as well as nutrition. Chris has worked with both young athletes ranging from Middle School to Collegiate ages as well as elementary school children teaching basics in running techniques and overall fitness. Chris has also worked with everyday clients of all ages in one on one settings as well as small group sessions. 
Cynthia Lazzara
Personal Trainer

I am a licensed Physical Therapist. I enjoy using my thorough understanding of anatomy and my love of movement analysis to customize training sessions; honing in on what you need. I also look at the whole picture, helping you include fitness in your schedule. Training sessions with me are focused and targeted to compliment your favorite activities. My goal is your goal PLUS keeping you healthy and strong. That way you can continue to do what you love, when you want, wherever you want.

I graduated from Colby College in Waterville, ME and then attended University of Southern California where I received my Masters in Physical Therapy. After many years of working in a variety of hospital and out patient orthopedic settings, I taught anatomy and biomechanics at NY Medical College in Valhalla NY. While there, I ran the orthopedic section of the curriculum. Now, I'm very excited to be a member of the YMCA Team helping folks Live Longer Stronger.

For years I swam competitively and in graduate school began participating in triathlons. I also played tons of beach volleyball. (What else does one do when one lives at the beach in Southern California?) I continue to dabble in the triathlon sports; even offering the 1:1 Runner's Clinic here at the Y. Although I've always been a relational skier, in the last few years skiing has become a passion for me. So much so that I set a goal of getting my instructor certifications; I'm currently a PSIA Level 1 and Children Specialist Level 1 ski instructor at OKEMO Mountain in Ludlow VT. Plus I am the Ski PT: (www.skiptcynthia.com).
Gina Bocchetta
Personal Trainer

Gina is a NASM-certified personal trainer who specializes in pre-/post-natal fitness, strength, plyometrics, flexibility, and barre/Pilates mat training. She is currently studying to earn the Certification of Applied Functional Science from the Gray Institute.

Gina grew up in the fitness industry with the gym as her “second playground.” With male and female clients ranging from youth to seniors, Gina brings a variety of exercises to each session to ensure a safe, effective, and challenging workout that is different for every client, every time.

Change “tomorrow” to “today.” Let’s kick start your fitness goals!
Jacek Stryjewski
Personal Trainer

Jacek joined the Darien YMCA in 2005 after 15 years of military service in Poland, when he decided to focus on helping people achieve their goals, and feel better. Jacek joined the Y as a lifeguard and swim instructor where he taught all levels of swimmers, special needs, and future Ironman athletes.

Jacek graduated from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in 2012, so he could pursue his goal of helping others. He is a Licensed Massage Therapist, a member of the American Massage Therapy Association, as well as a Certified Medical Massage Practitioner, and Oncology Massage Therapist. Jacek is part of the massage therapy team at the Darien YMCA, specializing in sports and rehabilitation massage. Most recently, Jacek completed his certification as a Cancer Exercise Specialist in 2014. He is part of the Revive team at the Darien YMCA, a three month progressive health and fitness program designed to give cancer patients plenty of stamina to transition from treatment to day-to-day living.

Jacek’s other interests include music and triathlons. He has been an active triathlete for over 10 years and participated in the 2014 Ironman in Lake Placid, NY.
Jermaine Morgan
Personal Trainer

Jermaine believes that “the gym” should be a great place to have fun, get excited about your goals, and release tension and frustration from your body. Jermaine’s previous and current clientele can tell you that working with him involves core strength training, improvement in posture, intense cardiovascular workouts, upper and lower body strength training, target weight loss, and increased flexibility.

For the past 7 years Jermaine has been working with clients as young as 13, to clients as old as 75. He loves being a personal trainer and watching people transform their lives. Jermaine’s ultimate goal as a trainer is to motivate and educate his clients towards a healthier lifestyle.

At the age of 17, Jermaine started to compete in body building competitions. From these competitions he has learned how to drop body fat, and obtain lean muscle. Jermaine graduated from Norwalk Community College with an Associate of Science in Exercise Science and Sports Studies. Jermaine is a certified Personal Trainer through the American Council of Exercise (ACE), the International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA), APEX, and RENEGADE. He is also CPR certified. Jermaine’s training tools include; TRX, kettlebells, weight lifting, velocity ropes, and the basic machines and cables. Jermaine’s personal approach to training will help you reach your physical goals, improve your nutritional health, and achieve the body of your dreams!
Kent Houseknecht
Personal Trainer

Kent started personal training in 1993 while a sophomore at Penn State University. He started teaching classes in 1997 and has continuously worked to improve himself as a teacher and instructor for more than 2 decades. Kent brings a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and passion to his clients.

Helping people realize their potential is what motivates Kent. People of all ages and backgrounds find more than just physical strength from working out. They find inner strength, confidence and peace of mind. He can help you build a balanced and complete physique.

Kent specializes in injury recovery and prevention, posture training, metabolic training, weight loss and pre/post natal training. He incorporates all modes of traditional and non-traditional training methods, including boxing and kickboxing. “My brand of fitness is what I call A-Z fitness. All modes and levels of fitness used in a variety of sequences to break you down and then build you back up stronger than before. “

Degree:
- Penn State University, Bachelors of Science, Kinesiology

Certifications:
- NSCA, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
- NSCA, Certified Personal Trainer
- Crossfit, Level 1 Trainer
- Crossfit Gymnastics
- TRX Certified Instructor
Linda Parentice
Personal Trainer

Linda has been in the fitness industry for over 20 years. Her athletic background is diverse and includes participation in intercollegiate sports at the competitive NCAA level. Linda was a Division I scholarship diver at Louisiana State University, and is currently a master trainer in a variety of traditional and adventure sports.

Linda brings creativity to her style of training for youth, older adults,
and professional athletes. She brings a passion for personal training and instruction in multiple sports including: swimming, biking, and running, and enjoys inspiring her clients in fun and exciting ways. She has competed in a multitude of marathons, biathlons and triathlons locally, nationally, and internationally with her Fitness Inspired Travel company where fitness inspired fun is the main focus while engaged in adventure travel worldwide.

Linda's expertise in strength and cardio conditioning for sport-specific training will elevate your training to new heights. She has been working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer since 2003. All of her programs emphasizes a healthy lifestyle balance through proper nutrition, fitness, and sports. She will devise specific exercise programs and track your progression for success while having fun achieving it.

Linda’s current certifications include: Master Personal Trainer, AAA/ISMA; AFFA certified PT & Group Fitness Instructor; Triathalon/Biathalon Coach & Instructor, Certified in TRX, Kettlebell, Kaiser Spin Instructor, Group Power Instructor, Group Fight Instructor, Speed & Strength Coach, Core Instructor, Yoga Fit Vinyasa Certified and Cancer Exercise Specialist.
Marysa Fiorita
Personal Trainer

Born and raised in Stamford, CT, Marysa attended the University of Connecticut where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. After spending over four years as a Property Accountant with Property Group Partners, LLC, she decided to pursue her passion for fitness. In July of 2011, she committed to the change and enrolled in the National Personal Training Institute where she excelled at learning the hands on application of fitness and nutrition. Marysa is highly motivated when it comes to teaching clients new techniques and tips about fitness health. Her passions in the fitness world are Pilates and yoga; the balance and core stabilization exercises are her favorite.

Over the past four years she has exposed herself to many facets of the fitness industry. She has spent her time enjoying yoga, Pilates, Bar Method, boxing and kickboxing, TRX, spinning, and competing in CrossFit. Balance is the key to Marysa’s life, and she is committed to promoting that kind of lifestyle to all of her clients. She has certifications through The National Personal Training Institute (NPTI), The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and The Kane School.
Maya Ratiani
Personal Trainer

Increase motivation and get results all while having Maya`s personal training sessions!

Maya has been a successful personal trainer for twelve years, with experience training a wide range of clients of all ages, abilities, and goals. Over the course of the twelve years, she has developed many skills including therapeutic exercises in physical rehabilitation system, Pilates, bosu ball, total body, transformation, weight loss, Brazilian butt and also specific workouts for before and after pregnancy. She also has dancing skills and teaches salsa, bachata, guaracha, and merengue.

Maya will help her clients to control their weight and give information about nutrition dietaries. Maya will keep a close watch on your progress and give alternative exercises during workouts to get the best results.

If you want to enjoy your training, make your time at the gym worthwhile and get the results you want, Maya is available for both personal training and group lessons as well. Get in touch with her today by visiting the Wellness Center.
Nick Somma
Personal Trainer

Nick is incredibly enthusiastic about health and fitness, as well as helping others achieve their own personal goals. He holds a certification in a specialized form of training known as Ken Hutchins' super-slow training method, which is proven to be an extremely safe and efficient method of exercise. Many of Nick's clients have benefited from utilizing this form of strength training.

In addition, Nick has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Manhattan College. His degree in engineering has not only allowed him to excel in the engineering world but also helped him to gain a better understanding of different forms of exercise and how the human body can progress with proper exercise and nutrition.
Saad Mustafa
Personal Trainer

Born and raised in Darien, CT I am currently attending the University of Connecticut for my Business Degree.

Throughout my time at Darien High School I wasn’t much of an active lifter, I didn’t know much about lifting until I signed up for the Darien YMCA. Signing up for the Darien YMCA was the start of my fitness career and the start my progression as a person. I wasn’t much of an athlete but that didn’t stop me from actively lifting. Before I even knew it they welcomed me to their family by employing me as their Rock Wall Fitness Instructor & a part of their Wellness Desk Team. As time went on I developed a sense of achievement of what I was doing and decided to further test my limits, but then I realized I had no limits. I could see myself growing and they did too! The Darien Y’s encouragement and support led me to where I am today, a Certified Personal Trainer through the International Sports Science Association [ISSA].

Fitness can lead anybody to any direction, whether it's mentally, physically or emotionally. Every aspect of your life has an influence on how you will perceive fitness. It’s just up to the individual of what their specific goal is and what they want to achieve, I received my first job because of fitness. I like to share my story with individuals to show how the impossible is possible. How one can become great externally and internally. I want to take people out of their comfort zone and transform them to the person they want to become. I specialize in the social aspect of lifting. Through encouragement, commitment, and support anything can be achieved through the right instruction.
Sally Bocchetta
Personal Trainer

Sally has been training clients in gyms and in-home settings in CT and LA for over 30 years, and finds great satisfaction in the work she does. She considers herself a teacher and life-coach of fitness, stressing the importance of form and technique in all movements, while somehow making it interesting and fun!

Sally has a colorful and successful history in the world of bodybuilding and powerlifting. She has entered and placed in many competitions. Sally also has extensive experience with nutrition, and as a result, her knowledge of the fitness industry is very well rounded. Sally is able to work with clients of all ages and abilities, and can adapt to anyone’s fitness needs and goals. If you just want to keep up with the kids, lose those winter pounds, increase your athletic performance, or train for an event, Sally can get you there!

Her interests outside the gym are very diverse. Sally life-coaches many into emotional balance and wellness through many channels. In her spare time Sally is a volunteer firefighter with the Glenbrook FD in Stamford, and has been an Emergency Medical Technician. She also enjoys fishing, motorcycle riding, writing, and all of the arts.
LaShawn Simpson
Personal Trainer

LaShawn’s passion for health and fitness drives her desire to help individuals live a healthier lifestyle. LaShawn received her Personal Training certification through ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association). Through her experience over the past seven years in the health and fitness industry, she has proven to have the ability to train a variety of all ages and requirements. She is known to keep you motivated and energized to reach your fitness goals. Every client is unique in their own way, and LaShawn utilizes different and personal training techniques to help each client achieve results.

LaShawn’s sessions range from one-on-one training, small group training, Bootcamp training, functional training, injury prevention and rehabilitation, flexibility and core strength training.