Elizabeth Pongo

President & Owner
Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Elizabeth received her Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College with a major in psychology and a minor in education. Having studied psychology and education, in addition to kinetics and physiology, Elizabeth places a strong emphasis on life-style coordination when training clients and teaching proper form and technique.

Our Valuable Team Members

Elizabeth Pongo, President & Owner
Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Barefoot Training Specialist by the Evidence Based Fitness Academy

Elizabeth received her Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College with a major in psychology and a minor in education. Having studied psychology and education, in addition to kinetics and physiology, Elizabeth places a strong emphasis on life-style coordination when training clients and teaching proper form and technique.

After he suffered a stroke, Elizabeth was her 78-year-old father’s primary caretaker at the age of 29. During that time she discovered how important it is for everyone in life to be physical. Elizabeth resigned from her corporate job in order to become a Certified Personal Trainer upon realizing that proper exercise prescription, truly saves & improves lives.

“I’ve always felt great joy when being physical. From learning how to ride a bike or go downhill skiing with my Dad; to training for the NYC Marathon and the NYC Triathlon: I’ve elevated my spirits and improved my health through solid program design and exercise science. I take great pride in teaching other people how to cultivate that lifestyle, truly.”

Judy Jerome, Vice President & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist by The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Cancer Specialist, and Pre/ Post Natal Certified

As a personal trainer, dance teacher, and choreographer; Judy focuses on proper alignment, flexibility, and core strength. She strives for her clients to work to their full potential; creating challenging programming, in a safe environment.

Judy has a passion for running and functional strength training. She successfully completed the New York City Marathon in November, 2014.

“My favorite part in a training session is when there is an, ‘Ah ha!’ moment: a client’s discovery about his or her body, and what it is capable of, when a piece of the puzzle is placed. Very satisfying!”

Desi Mulcahy, Space Captain and General Manager, Pongo 5th Street & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Weight Loss Specialist and Women’s Fitness Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Through education and attention to detail, Desi promotes weight loss through strength and cardiovascular training. She has seen much success in keeping pre-natal clients fit throughout their pregnancies, and thereafter.

Desi enjoys tailoring her workouts to each client’s specific goals, while focusing her workouts on core strength. Postural correction is very important to Desi, as well. When applicable, she works speed, agility, and quickness training into her programs for fun!

“Correct your posture, and correct how you and others perceive you. The benefits are limitless!”

Alexandra Taylor, Yoga Ambassador and Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer by The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Pre and Post Natal Certified; 200 Hour Registered Yoga Instructor

Ally is not only a certified personal trainer. She is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, having completed the requirements for the 200 hour yoga certification. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Alexandra knows the stress that can be brought about by city living; and believes that self care is of the utmost importance.

“Taking the time to honor your body by strengthening and correcting muscle imbalance, can lead to greater wellness; and a feeling of core strength, throughout our days.”

Karin Meessen, Fitness Director & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist by National Academy of Sports Medicine, Medical Exercise Specialist

Karin has been a long-time health and fitness enthusiast. She knows what it takes to go the distance, having completed two NYC marathons and numerous long-distance, multiple-day road cycling events.

She believes strongly in the connection between mind and body to promote overall well-being. Pairing an emphasis on balance and stability, with development of core strength; Karin helps her clients to improve all areas of their lives, through safe and enjoyable workouts.

“I became a personal trainer to help people create lasting changes in their lives. Seeing a client discover the emotional, mental, and physical strength derived from exercise, is extremely exciting and rewarding.”

Margo Donohue, Public Relations Manager
Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine

Margo Donohue is a Brooklyn resident with a passion for fitness and healthy living. She is the founder and creator of the health & fitness Blog Brooklyn Fit Chick (www.brooklynfitchick.com and is a Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer with certifications from NASM, AFAA, ACE and TRX.

Margo believes in helping people achieve their healthiest selves by finding activities that are challenging and pleasurable and making food choices that are simple and easy to follow.
She is also a featured writer for Fit Bottomed Girls, Diets in Review and Sweat Guru.com.

Gardy Reglas, Medical Exercise Manager & Personal Trainer
Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, Certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Certified by National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association

As a Medical Exercise Specialist, Gardy designs exercise programming for the clients with medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, lower back disorders,joint replacements, stroke patients.

As a personal trainer, his favorite aspect is working one-on-one with clients using functional tools such as Stability and Medicine balls, and tubings

He believes that this way of training is critical and essential for helping his clients to ”move the way they were meant to move.” Gardy is also a big believer that continuing education a must for the fitness professional

“The fitness industry is always revolving, so it is essential that as a fitness professional, I keep abreast of the latest trends in health and exercise science.”

Sarah Arikian-Coe, Human Resources Assistant & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer, Women’s Fitness Specialist and Senior Fitness Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Sarah is a firm believer in the idea that “anything worth doing, is worth doing right,” and this is a tenet that she includes in her personal training sessions with her clients. She understands the toll that society takes on the body, and she strives to help clients correct muscle imbalances and postural distortions that have developed over time.

Understanding that it can be a process to help clients relearn how to use their bodies more efficiently and effectively, Sarah encourages her clients to be patient and methodical in their approach.

Strengthening the core musculature and focusing on balance is something that Sarah likes to incorporate into her sessions. This is of particular importance when working with Senior clients, but she has found that all clients feel empowered and more confident when they feel strong and stable. She wants to help people learn that they can do anything they set their minds to, and that beginning a fitness routine doesn’t have to be intimidating.

“It’s imperative that we take care of ourselves, and it is never too late to get started on the road to a healthier body. We only get one, and we have to make sure that it lasts!”

Ryan Farrell, Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Being Canadian, naturally, Ryan grew up playing ice hockey, and has been exercising at a high level most of his life. The basis of his training was formed during his seventeen year ice hockey tenure, and now plays a primary role in his training approach.

Ryan is a firm believer in the science of systematic progressions and periodization. Through applying this practice, he utilizes science that ensures goals are met, and results are achieved.

“I believe in meeting and exceeding client goals through smart, systematic progressions, all while keeping workouts fun and engaging.”

Azure Rae, Human Resources Director & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Azure is a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist who has military experience and has worked with people ranging from Junior Olympic athletes to the elderly population. She has 15 years of experience.

Azure is an intuitive trainer who customizes program design not only according to each client’s goals, but also the client’s physical, emotional and mental considerations. She takes a mind, body, spirit approach to exercise. Azure believes that becoming strong physically though personal training can be a spring board for becoming strong in all areas of life.

“Through personal training I am able to share my positivity toward physical fitness and whole body wellness. I help clients slowly change daily habits to create a healthy lifestyle. Motivated by their fitness success clients look forward to their training sessions and become eager to add important elements to their wellness, (such as eating a healthier diet and adding meditation into their lives). It is seeing how clients do make these profound changes, that makes personal training so rewarding!”

Ralph St. Juste, Personal Trainer
National Academy of Sports Medicine, Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

Ralph is a certified personal trainer and a certified strength conditioning coach who holds a degree in Health Promotion & Science. He is also a corrective Exercise Specialist who has worked with people ranging from Division 1 Athletes to the elderly population.

Ralph believes that a life full of joy and bliss consist of the strengthen of the physical body, the spirit, and the intellect. His beliefs have ultimately lead him to doing public speaking events in schools and non-profit organizations.

“As a personal trainer my duty is not only to help my clients strengthen their body, but to help them take the virtues that are learned through training (discipline, courage, confidence, self-esteem) and apply it in everyday life.”

Julie Petrusak, Marketing Manager & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist, by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Julie is a certified corrective exercise specialist, who holds a B.FA. in Dance from the Alvin Ailey-Fordham University Dance program. She is a certified kettlebell instructor, and has taught extensively in barre fitness and high-intensity interval training.

Julie believes that moving body is a happy body. She pursues her passion for human movement practically, by training clients and instructing group fitness classes, and artistically by choreographing and directing her dance company JP Dance Group. Julie’s dance background and fitness experience allows her to offer her clients a well-rounded, diverse offering of expertise. She takes a holistic approach to training and strives to help her clients transform not just their bodies, but also their mind-body connection, positive self-image, and overall well-being.

David Garaffa, Director of Business Development
Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

David started swimming competitively at the age of four and since has developed a broad approach to staying fit. He emphasizes functional variety in his workouts while focusing on safety and proper body mechanics.

David ran his first marathon in 2011 (the Rock-N-Roll Marathon in DC) and enjoys competing in triathlons and other endurance events. Also a jazz guitarist, David is currently working toward his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at New York University.

“As a personal trainer I help my clients through safe and effective exercise routines that make them more active, stronger and happier. I want to be a physical therapist so that I can help a broader spectrum of people, the fit and infirm alike.”

Shannon Kim Wagner, Media Director & Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Certified NSCA Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Certified Yoga Instructor by Yoga To The People

Shannon is passionate about empowering others to love their body and to understand all that it is capable of.

She got her start as a yoga instructor, encouraging her students to find optimal alignment and power through technique. In addition to having years of experience as a teacher, she loves strength training and sharing her knowledge to help trainees become stronger and fitter. The combination of these two passions leads to creating bodies free of muscle imbalances with the necessary lean body mass to continuously push through strength plateaus.

“Everyone deserves to love their body; everyone deserves to be given the tools necessary to do so.”

Brie Hemluth, Morning Manager & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Clubbell Yoga Instructor and Lead Eastern Regional Ambassador

Brie Helmuth, a Brooklyn resident, originally from Boulder, Colorado, grew up on organic food grown in her mother’s garden, yoga, hip hop, and physical fitness. These early influences shaped who she is today and her outlook on life and overall wellness. Brie is an experienced and certified NASM Personal Trainer, Circular Strength Training (CST) Instructor through RMAX International, Lead Clubbell Yoga Ambassador, Elite Personal Trainer at Pongo Power, and Member of Brooklyn’s dance crew’s Mastermind Rockers and NYC’s only all female breakdance crew, Ladies Adios.

Dedicated to the progression of fitness and wellness, as well as hip-hop dance culture, she seeks opportunities to teach movement based workouts to any-body. Brie is enthusiastic to teach what she knows and aims to improve the way people move for their sport and lifestyle, become a catalyst for positivity in people’s lives, and improve people’s perception of themselves through physical movement.

“Take a moment to appreciate your body, your machine, and recognize your movement patterns. Now ask yourself, where am I going and what am I trying to accomplish? That’s where it all begins.”

Jamece Grey, Community Outreach Director & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Jamece is a NASM certified personal trainer with 7 years of experience as a physical therapist assistant. She has a Pilates Mat and TRX certification. Currently she is training for her second Brooklyn Half Marathon coming up this May.

“I find it very satisfying when clients finally have a breakthrough during a session, busting through a mental or physical block.”

Stephanie Severe, Project Manager & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Stephanie has been a Personal Trainer for over 9 years, as well as a Yoga and Qoya Instructor, and carries with her a deeply rooted passion for moving with women through their journeys of life. She advocates for regular movement as a tool for honoring the body and the capacity it has to express, support and guide us along our paths.

Combining Exercise Science, Functional Strength and Yoga Asana techniques, with each clients health history and current lifestyle, Stephanie aims to create programming that builds strength, body awareness, and an accessible balance between effort and ease.

Jessica Stone, Executive Assistant & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Women’s Fitness Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Jessica is a Buffalo, NY native who can find the sunshine in any snowstorm. She is a seasoned Personal Trainer who has experience training clients ranging in ages from 14 through 76; all with varying levels of fitness and goals ranging from peak performance to being able to properly stand up from a chair. Jessica is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, a competitive Olympic distance triathlete and martial artist, with experience training in Judo, Shotokan Karate, and Thai boxing.

Jessica is a firecracker of personality who, through the discipline of martial arts and triathlon training, understands the importance of focus, commitment and the will necessary for an individual to effectively attain their goals. Her training sessions can be high-energy and funny, or mellow and meditative. Either way, Jessica’s training sessions involve developing our clients’ knowledge and understanding of their own bodies, the exercises and the science necessary for each client to achieve and maintain their goals.

“You provide the focus and commitment; I’ll provide the expertise for you to achieve your goals.”

Alyssa Nastasia, Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine

Alyssa is a firm believer in providing her clients with a strong foundation in diaphragmatic breathing, spinal alignment, and overall bodily awareness. Each exercise that she teaches inside of the gym has it’s purpose, and ultimately leads to healthier movement patterns outside of the gym.

She is currently working on her Precision Nutrition Certification and cannot wait to add Nutrition Coach to her list of credentials. Her interest in nutrition started at the young age of 16, when Alyssa fought her own weight loss battle and lost over 50 pounds. She has kept the weight off for over 10 years, and understands the challenges involved. This personal journey has inspired Alyssa to become a Certified Nutrition Coach, so that she can offer higher-level information about nutrition science and coaching to her clients.

“My favorite part of Personal Training is the moment when a client’s progress inside of the gym translates to his or her daily life. When clients can run after their kids without getting out of breath; carry their groceries without feeling fatigued; or, just simply feel more energized, I realize how much I love being a Certified Personal Trainer!”

Ben Kennedy, Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Registered Yoga Instructor (RYT 200hr)

Exercise has always been an integral part of Ben’s life, providing an outlet for both stress relief and fun. As a winter sports enthusiast, he played 12 years of competitive ice hockey. He also snowboards, and isn’t afraid to go for a run when its 10 degrees out. In his twenties he became bored with traditional weight lifting, so he tried Yoga. He so loved the practice that he decided to become a registered instructor. His workouts combine his different experiences and skill sets. They emphasize building both balance and strength.

In addition to being a lifelong athlete, Ben is also a dedicated musician. He has a bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music, and plays guitar. The common thread in all of Ben’s interests, pursuits, and passions, whether they be learning music, practicing handstands, or deadlifting heavy weight, is focus and precision.

“My goal as a personal trainer is to help others stay active, feel good, and be prepared to live a fuller, longer life.”

Caitlin Cook, Director of Hygge
Musician, comedian, designer, illustrator, photographer, and world traveler. Always seeking creativity and empowerment.

Growing up in Los Angeles, California with a chef for a father and a choreographer for a mother, Caitlin was raised with a respect for the mind and body. She trained for 10+ years in various forms of dance (primarily ballet but also modern dance, jazz, and tap) before diving into yoga, pilates, and zumba. While earning her bachelor’s degree in art history and studio art from Kenyon College and her master’s degree in maritime archaeology from the University of Oxford, she also became an avid rugby player and still enjoys a good game of rugby, soccer, and intramural sport from time to time. Exercise and mindfulness has always been a part of everyday life for Caitlin, but she has learned that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is less a goal and more a continuous journey of education and exploration.

An avid world traveler who has lived in Los Angeles, London, and Chicago, Caitlin has finally settled in Brooklyn to pursue music, comedy, and design. Touring frequently for music and comedy and regularly performing in the city with her band Frankly Benjamin, Caitlin thrives off immersing herself in happy, creative communities, all while continuing to maintain a healthy lifestyle and mindset. Caitlin was drawn to Pongo Power for precisely these reasons and is excited to be an integral part of the Pongo Power community as it continues to grow and flourish.

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

Michael Pisarevsky, Personal Trainer
NSCA CSCS (Specializing in Strength and Conditioning, Balance, and Mobility)

Mike’s experiences in competitive athletics have instilled an ability to persevere through hardship, utilize teamwork, and constantly reach for bigger goals.

In addition, his experiences in traveling have allowed Mike to gain a better understanding for the beauty and diversity of our world and it’s many cultures, and a recognition of the physical and emotional needs of other people.

“I believe all aspects of personal training are intertwined through the constant progression in exercise science studies.”