Trainer Bios

Gene DeNota
Fitness Operations Coordinator

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!
Cheryl Curthoys
Personal Trainer

Cheryl has been working in the health and wellness industry since 2007, opening a juice bar in Darien (Robeks Juice) then as a fitness instructor (2009) and becoming a certified personal trainer (ACSM) in 2012. She continues to pursue educational opportunities to broaden what she can bring to her training clients.

She is a Cancer Exercise Specialist certification (CETI) and breast cancer survivor and brings a unique perspective to her REVIVE clients. Her integrated approach to wellness involves understanding how the body processes food, identifying foods that can cause inflammation as well as those with healing properties, and managing health through diet coupled with a focus on taking care of your emotional well-being – learning to manage stress, getting quality sleep and being kind to yourself.

Cheryl is experienced training people afflicted by a variety of medical conditions as well as seniors and those new to fitness and seeking to get healthy for the first time in their lives. She can also be found teaching group classes in cycling, TRX, weight training and yoga.

In her spare time Cheryl enjoys spending time with her dog, Addy, playing racquet sports, gardening and socializing with friends.

Chris Bellantoni
Personal Trainer

Chris is a certified personal trainer with over 27 years of experience in the fitness industry. He's worked with a range of clients and fitness levels through the years, from 12 to 92 year old clients.

There's nothing more valuable to him than helping clients through an experience that makes them happy, confident and strong. He realizes how being deconditioned, overweight, dealing with ailments and health issues affect many aspects of life. For him, an optimal healthy lifestyle is about lifting weights, aerobic/cardio, stretching, eating healthy, and getting enough rest and sleep. He loves helping clients see and experience what a body is capable of.

His goal: Helping you achieve a happy and well-balanced lifestyle that will minimize the risk of future health-related issues.

His specialties include training general and special populations, master flexoligist, boxing, kettelbells, post-rehab, and sport specific training for golf and tennis players.

Stay strong!
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!"
Dan D'Andrea
Personal Trainer

My name is Dan D’Andrea, and I’ve been apart of the Darien YMCA family for 15 years. I was born in Massachusetts, but was raised locally here in Stamford.

In my early adolescence I struggled a lot with my weight, and had a 60 pound fat loss journey that changed my life forever.

Now I’m here to impact the rest of the world.

Through my experience as a trainer, I’ve worked with many populations to support them with fat loss, and muscle gain/toning. I specialize in working with triathletes, youth fitness, and people with diverse abilities through an adaptive fitness for special needs program that provides support with corrective exercise.

I believe in a safe and healthy fitness lifestyle. I prioritize teaching about resilience, mental toughness, self accountability, and the confidence you’ll need to accomplish your goals.

Results won’t occur as a result of what you do solely in the gym, rather how you treat yourself outside the gym.

My motto: "Before reaching your goals, you must learn how to visualize your end result."
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. 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!
Julienne Camhi
Personal Trainer

Julienne has over twenty years in the health and wellness industry. Her programs have spanned the age range with Yoga for Kids classes to Tai Chi for Better Balance Senior classes.

In addition to leading and inspiring others to move with Group Fitness classes, Julienne is a certified through ACSM Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) and Balanced Body Mat Pilates & Reformer to offer one on one personal training.

Her past employers include Norwalk Community College, Norwalk YMCA, Wilton Senior Center, Director of Group Fitness at Tully Health Center, and General Manager oat Club Pilates Shrewsbury, MA. Julienne has recently returned to CT and we are all very grateful she is here!

"My passion is FITNESS and helping others along their wellness journey!"
Kai Bjornstad
Personal Trainer

My name is Kai Bjornstad. I was born in Greenwich, Connecticut but from age 7 I was schooled in Darien and Europe, as my family is from Norway and Luxembourg. I travelled a lot and feel equally at home in Europe and America. My Scandinavian roots also meant that from early on I led an active life and sports became the center of my upbringing.

My special interests and gifts showed in soccer and swimming. I played soccer in Argentina and played for the Luxembourg national youth soccer team and naturally, for Darien soccer and swim. I also spent two high school years in the hub of Europe, attending the International School of Luxembourg, with a colorful student population and even more diverse curriculum, including learning French.

I played cello through my teenage years and studied under some of the top professors at the music conservatory in Luxembourg, as well as playing locally for Norwalk and Stamford youth symphonies. After graduation, I attended UConn Storrs as a music major.

In 2017, I took my passion for sports, exercise and fitness to the next level and became a NASM certified personal trainer. I have helped people in Connecticut and New York towards their goals by applying my practical knowledge, boundless energy and humor to each session. With clients as diverse as my training methods, I emphasize training that can transfer from the gym to daily life, from the weight room to game day. Before coming to the YMCA, I studied one year of exercises sports and science at Lunex University in Luxembourg. Currently I am enrolled in their online program to complete my studies with a special focus in rehabilitative training.

In October 2019, I returned home to Darien to share my personal training knowledge and expertise, and to give back to the very community that has given me so much. In my free time, I like to research new fitness material and hang out with my childhood friends.

I am also an aspiring dog owner.
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. “

- Penn State University, Bachelors of Science, Kinesiology

- NSCA, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
- NSCA, Certified Personal Trainer
- Crossfit, Level 1 Trainer
- Crossfit Gymnastics
- TRX Certified Instructor
Nick Somma
Personal Trainer

Nick has been incredibly enthusiastic about health and fitness since a young age. He played various sports, including baseball and basketball, and competed in amateur youth boxing. At age 14, his passion for weight lifting began and he has not sopped training since then. Nick started his personal training career while successfully pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Manhattan College. He currently holds certifications with NASM and Ken Hutchin’s SuperSlow method of training, which is a very unique, but effective and safe style of strength training.

Nick also trains under the tutelage and guidance of 4x Mr. Universe and 2x American Gladiator, Mike O’Hearn. He understands how to improve a person’s health and physique through proper strength training, nutrition, cardio, mobility, and recovery. Nick trains clients of all ages and passes on his knowledge of over 20 years in the industry with an individualistic approach to training. His main areas of focus are on longevity, strength training, power bodybuilding, and athletics. In 2022, Nick competed in a Muscle & Fitness magazine competition where he finished in the top 3 with over 50 competitors in his group.
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 power lifting. 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!

Sally is also a part of the revive team at the Darien YMCA, a three month progressive health and fitness program designed to transition cancer patients from treatment to a renewed stamina for day to day living.

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.
Shawna O’Brien
Personal Trainer

Hello new friends! My name is Shawna and I am a Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist. I am here to help and guide you along your fitness journey! Through years of education and experience, I believe I have the tools you may be seeking to improve your very own health and wellness. My focus is to help you achieve your personal goals in a safe, fun and effective way.
I have experience with many different types of limitations including, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, joint replacements, etc. With hard work and perseverance, on both ends, they were able to build their strength and endurance with workouts that focused on functional fitness, mobility, and balance. It is working with these clients that I have gained the knowledge and confidence to accommodate everyone on their fitness journey.

NASM Certified Personal Trainer
AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor NASM Certified Corrective Exorcise Specialist NASM Certified Senior Fitness Specialist TRX Certified Mad Dogg Spin

Pilates Personal Trainer Bios

Julienne Camhi
Pilates Personal Trainer

Julienne has over twenty years in the health and wellness industry. Her programs have spanned the age range with Yoga for Kids classes to Tai Chi for Better Balance Senior classes.

In addition to leading and inspiring others to move with Group Fitness classes, Julienne is a certified through ACSM Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) and Balanced Body Mat Pilates & Reformer to offer one on one personal training.

Her past employers include Norwalk Community College, Norwalk YMCA, Wilton Senior Center, Director of Group Fitness at Tully Health Center, and General Manager oat Club Pilates Shrewsbury, MA. Julienne has recently returned to CT and we are all very grateful she is here!

"My passion is FITNESS and helping others along their wellness journey!"
Steve Whitaker
Pilates Personal Trainer

Steven Carroll Whitaker brings to the Darien Y over twenty five years experience in the health, wellness & fitness industry. Holding certifications with NASM- CPT, Peak Pilates Level III, 300 Hr Yoga Aura Wellness Center, Floor Barre Method, IIQTC- Tai Chi Easy, AFFA- Prime, ICG- Indoor Cycling, Red Cross- CPR/AED/First Aid.

Steve has over 12 years experience teaching Pilates. Turning to the “Classic Pilates” approach in recent years, utilizing the teaching methodology as Joseph Pilates originally designed almost 100 years ago as a movement system. Using precise connecting flowing movements to develop the powerhouse (core) strength. This traditional flow develops the body into a better balanced, lean and stronger physic as it develops a strong sense of being at the peak of one’s ultimate level of physical conditioning.

Steve also brings to the Y program over 25 years experience as a personal trainer, teaching yoga, Tai Chi/ Qigong, along with various other modalities of strength and conditioning programs.

Karyn Hall
Pilates Personal Trainer

Karyn Hall is a Pilates instructor with the Darien YMCA team. A long time exercise class enthusiast, she has followed the trends over the years from 80’s aerobics to step classes to Zumba. When she tried a Pilates mat class for the first time, Karyn knew she had found a permanent fitness home. Her passion for Pilates led Karyn to pursue certification as a teacher. She received her education at the Kinected Pilates Center Kane School, a rigorous training program combining the classic principles of Pilates with a modern, clinical perspective on the human body.

Karyn teaches Pilates Mat class on Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. and Apparatus training, including Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair and Ballet Barrel in private and small class settings.

When not teaching Pilates, Karyn works as an independent consumer research and marketing strategy consultant. Karyn lives in Darien, CT with her husband and 4 children.