Yoga & Fitness Teachers
Hillary McDonald, Yoga Teacher + Group Fitness Instructor:
E-RYT 500, YACEP
FreshJax CoFounder &
As a Certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher, Hillary’s mission is to create a sense of joy, happiness, and well-being in others by sharing the gift of yoga through classes and workshops. She fell in love with yoga in 2002 when she attended her first class. Throughout the years yoga has always provided a space for relaxation, stress relief, and movement. As an Interior Designer sitting in an office Hillary dreamed of the day when she could leave her desk job behind and pursue her yoga passion. In 2012 the time had come to do just that. After an intensive teacher training program with Deva Parnell and Christopher Baxter at Discovery Yoga her love of yoga has intensified and continues to bring her joy every day.
Hillary also teaches yoga as an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida and organizes the North Florida Yoga Meetup Group.
Yoga Teacher: E-RYT 500
Suzanne is a Kripalu Yoga Teacher who began flirting with yoga in the early 90's and a few years later, had fallen in love with the path. Wanting to deepen her knowledge and personal practice, she completed a 200 hour training with Deva Parnell at Discovery Yoga in 2001, followed by a 500 hour certification with Christopher Baxter. Suzanne continues to be a student of Yoga and is passionate about sharing yoga with others, guiding classes and workshops for the past 15 years. She currently serves as assistant director on the teacher training staff at Discovery Yoga. Suzanne has an ongoing appreciation for the balance and wholeness of the practice. Believing that our greatest teacher lies within, her intention is to create an atmosphere of self-acceptance and affirmation to open a path for self-discovery.
Yoga Teacher: RYT 200
Teaching people through their yoga practice a form of self improvement dealing with the whole human being that anyone can achieve. The discovery that the same principles that bring out the best in you on the yoga mat can be applied to daily life. Learning to meet challenges with a sense of relaxation, self acceptance, courage, strength and openness to change bringing about an unbroken awareness of our oneness with mind, body and spirit.
Pamela's mission is to be a light that helps people to feel safe and inspired to discover and deepen their yoga practice. Helping others through yoga to benefit not only physically but mentally and spiritually, carrying a sense of peace, kindness and acceptance into the world touching the hearts of others with the light they share.
Yoga Teacher: RYT 200
Emily discovered yoga while pregnant with her daughter when a friend suggested she try a Mind Body yoga class to help her relax. She was immediately hooked and has benefited from the multi-faceted healing power of yoga: Mind, Body, and Soul.
For her 200 hour teacher training, Emily studied under Deva Parnell of Discovery Yoga Center in St. Augustine, FL. As a teacher of Kripalu style, she focuses on honoring the individual needs of her students, making them feel safe yet challenged in their practice. Emily lives for the euphoria that comes from a powerful yoga practice, and she loves sharing that priceless experience with her students.
“I see every challenge as a blessing that teaches us something and moves us in the direction we are supposed to go. Yoga has taught me that by letting go and not being attached to perfection, things will work out in a way that can transform your life.”
Savanna Venier, Personal Trainer + Group Fitness Instructor
Savanna is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, is DaVinci Bodyboard certified, and is a certified Mad Dogg Athletics Spinning Instructor. She discovered her passion for wellness after taking kickboxing classes the summer before she started college. She realized how great it made her feel to push herself and to feel strong. During college, she found herself putting off studying for her actual classes in school to, instead, research new exercises and healthy recipes. She decided she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others discover how to live a healthy lifestyle from the inside-out, free of body-image issues and free of chronic diseases that contribute to a poor lifestyle.
She has been a personal trainer and group fitness instructor since 2013, and plans to use her background in psychology to become a certified Eating Psychology Coach and Licensed Holistic Nutritionist. Her favorite classes to teach are indoor cycling and Tabata (a form of high intensity interval training). She encourages those who take her class to leave feeling as though they couldn't have worked any harder. She believes "mental toughness" is the first step toward reaching one's goals by pushing past comfort zones. Her goal as a trainer is to motivate and inspire.
Kristen DiCarlo, Yoga Teacher: RYT 200
Kristen has been teaching yoga since 2006. She studied and received her 200hr RYT under the instruction of Deva Parnell (Discovery Yoga, St. Augustine FL). She since has taught numerous classes and movement workshops. Teaching and participating in classes and conferences throughout Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and California has allowed Kristen to enjoy the teaching methods of instructors from a wide variety of backgrounds – allowing her to constantly grow in her understanding of self, community and joyful practice. Kristen focuses on the light side of yoga, keeping laughter and lightheartedness in constant action while bringing awareness to body alignment and anatomy in a way that is easy to understand and fun to apply.
Yoga Teacher: RYT 500
Tru began a dedicated yoga and meditation practice in 2005 and in 2008 completed a 200-hour Vinyasa Flow teacher training; in 2009, she also certified in prenatal yoga, and she enjoys teaching both gentle and athletic styles of practice. In addition to teaching yoga, she is certified as a level 2 Reiki practitioner and has a certificate in herbal studies as well. In 2012, she completed a 500-hour, Tantra based yoga teacher certification, continuing to deepen both her personal practice and her teaching of yoga. Tru appreciates the meaning of yoga as “union” and encourages students to find a deeper understanding of yoga beyond the physical postures. Her classes incorporate pranayama and meditation in addition to asana, as Tru hopes students will realize not only physical benefits from the practice but spiritual and emotional ones as well.
Tru also works as a professor of English at the University of North Florida.
Mandy Fitzwater, Yoga Teacher: RYT 200
Mandy discovered yoga while studying to be an elementary school teacher in Lakeland, FL. She and her husband moved to Jacksonville Beach in 2010. Around this time she decided to change her eating and lifestyle habits and started TRX, spinning, SUP and running. It wasn't until Mandy became pregnant with her first child and started prenatal yoga that the passion inside begin to truly grow. After 2 years of daily asana practice she noticed a strong desire to teach yoga. Mandy then decided to leave her desk job to pursue her dream and in 2015 she received her 200 hour TT at Yoga Den. She is so excited and gracious to share her love and passion for yoga with the community. In her spare time she loves playing outside with her son and dog, cooking with her husband, and going to music concerts and festivals.
Cheryl Steven, Yoga Teacher: E-RYT 200
Cheryl took her first Kripalu yoga class about 20 years ago to alleviate the stress of her job at a busy law firm in Upstate New York. She feels blessed to have learned and received from the many Kripalu teachers she encountered along the way over the next ten years. Looking back, she can see that each teacher had specific strengths and gifts, which they each offered with great compassion and love. Acknowledging the profound effect the practice of Kripalu yoga had on her life both mentally and physically, she received her yoga teaching certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts in 2006. She also holds certifications in Mindfulness Yoga, Yoga Warriors International (addressing the needs of veterans and others with PTSD), and Adaptive Yoga for MS.
“My goal is to share some of the gifts I have received along the way through this rich practice and inspire others to navigate the many struggles and difficulties of life with a greater sense of balance, equanimity, inner strength and self-empowerment. Yoga is transformative, has great depth and encourages us to rely on our own inner guidance as we learn and grow through our lives.” A favorite quote by Swami Kripalu is “Growth can only be gradual. The seed that is sown today does not sprout into a tree the next day. It does so only in the course of time, at its own pace, and by its own order.”
Cheryl’s other interests include fostering wellness and vitality by supporting local organic farming and learning new ways to prepare and enjoy healthy foods. She has a deep love of the outdoors and enjoys hiking in the woods, exploring the local waterways via kayak, and finds the beauty of nature feeds her soul.
Kylie Mae Stein,
Yoga Teacher: RYT-200
Kylie Mae considers herself a student of life and feels called to share space, healing arts and natural therapies in a way that is synergistic and sustainable. These healing arts are a representation of sharing this ability, this magic we all have as humans to use our intentional mind for creation & wellness in our daily lives. She likes to blend styles of Hatha, Restorative and Yin yoga as well as utilizing aromatherapy and reiki in classes.
Kylie came into the practice's of Yoga at the age of 17 - after years of playing volleyball, seeking a practice to heal body and mind. She found a local studio & began to take 1/2 weekly vinyasa - kundalini - yin classes, it was terrifying and exhilarating to be the youngest one by 10 years, however In classes she saw herself, body, & anxious mind shift for healing. She was able to learn how to become in tune with her feelings and channel them in a different way.
"Each time I stepped onto the mat, I took the time, space & rhythm I needed for myself. I learned what it was like to be surrounded by a supportive environment, and I learned boundaries - by doing this on my own. Upon finding this simple spark of wholeness within, I knew I wanted to share practices of cultivating inner stillness with others. May we all find subtle yet real connection with our bodies, our minds & our spirit."
Brigid Murphy, Yoga Teacher:
Brigid discovered yoga in 2006 while studying for her Exercise Science degree in her home state of Pennsylvania. With a deep interest in health and wellness, she was initially pulled to yoga because of its incredible physical benefits, but quickly found that yoga has so much more to offer. After college, she moved to Tampa, Florida (to be in the sunshine) and found herself embarking on her yoga teacher training journey. She completed her 200-hour RYT in 2011 though the Find Your Voice Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training program. Since then, she has also completed Gentle Yoga Teacher training with Lifespan Yoga, and finished her 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training from Yoga Den in December 2015.
Through her teaching, Brigid emphasizes the importance of honoring your body and breath, cultivating awareness, and embracing your unique strengths and talents. She strives to create a friendly and inviting space that allows her students to be comfortable, learn about themselves, HAVE FUN, and experience the inner peace that exists within each of us. She is currently working towards her graduate business degree at UNF, and loves to spend her free time exploring and appreciating nature, experimenting with healthy vegetarian meals, and listening to music.
Jason McDonald, Personal Trainer
FreshJax President & CEO
Jason has always had a passion for fitness. Like many kids who grew up in Indiana, he spent much of his free time playing basketball. In high school he ran track and excelled at tennis. As a personal trainer, Jason creates customized workouts for each of his clients. Using a variety of training techniques, he is able to meet the needs of his clients at their current fitness level and help them achieve their health and fitness goals. His classes are always a mix of fun and challenge.
Nan Renjel, Yoga Teacher: RYT 200
Nan’s yoga journey began in 2003 when she dragged a good friend to a community vinyasa class at the YMCA near her home in Arlington, Virginia. What initially drew Nan to the mat was the challenge of focusing on breath and movement and NOTHING ELSE for a whole hour. What kept her coming back was the sense of tranquility, peace and physical prowess that seemed to accompany each class. When she wasn’t exploring the many yoga studios and disciplines in the Washington DC area, Nan taught History to teens transitioning out of drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. This work was beyond rewarding, but she “retired” upon having her first child in 2006. Nan attributes a weekly post-partum yoga practice to helping her regain her pre-baby body as well as maintaining a healthy emotional balance after giving birth. In 2009 Nan and her family relocated to north Florida. She finally began her journey as a yoga teacher at Yoga Den in Jacksonville. Under the guidance of teacher/mentor Alyson Foreacre, Nan earned her 200 hour certification in 2016. Nan lives in Ponte Vedra Beach with her husband and two children.
Yoga Teacher, RYT 500
Heather has been integrating the spiritual and meditative aspects of yoga into her personal and professional life for many years; and in 2010 when she rolled the mat out for her first asana practice she was instantly connected with the wisdom and benefits it had to offer. Heather completed her 200hr teacher training in 2012 and has been providing individual yoga sessions that focus on restoring proper alignment, postural correction and connection with one’s divine self at her wellness clinic Jacksonville Health and Wellness Center in addition to teaching yoga classes.
Heather also holds degrees in massage therapy and mental health counseling and has recognized the value of integrating yogic wisdom and principles into both of these practices. She views both physiological and psychological dis-ease as emerging from a fundamental disconnect from one’s higher self and the resulting development of maladaptive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Through the integration of yoga with massage and/or counseling she has seen individuals transform their lives into more meaningful, purpose driven paths.
Yoga Teacher: E-RYT 200
Sara has been teaching and practicing yoga for 15 years. She has studied with many Authorized Ashtanga teachers including Sharat Rangoswami, Tim Feldmann, Greg Nardi, David Swenson, and David Keil. Sara also has a 20 year background as an Occupational Therapist specializing in Outpatient Orthopedics. Sara understands how to incorporate her rehab experiences to help her students achieve the optimal benefits from each posture. Sara loves helping students overcome physical and mental challenges and provides intelligent, supportive guidance throughout her classes. For more info contact Sara: Storbett@icloud.com
Ashland Rahn: Personal Trainer + Group Fitness Instructor
Ashland has always lived an active lifestyle. She grew up playing sports all the way through high school and then shifted to group and individual health and fitness. She found her love for group fitness by taking some indoor cycling classes and loving it! She currently teaches indoor cycling, HIIT barre, HIIT circuit training and speed and agility classes. She carries Schwinn cycling Instructor certification, AFAA Primary Group Fitness Instructor, AFAA Personal Trainer, IBBFA Barre certification and CPR/AED and is First Aid certified.
She is a current student at the University of North Florida studying Exercise Science with a minor in Sport Management. She plans on continuing to impact others lives by teaching HOPE health or Physical Education to students while continuing to teach group fitness classes. She hopes to be a positive light in lives who want to change to live a healthier and happier lifestyle! Her favorite classes to teach are anything full body and high intensity and indoor cycling. Her constant motivation is “be better than you were yesterday, not for anyone but YOU!”.
Beverly Jund, Yoga Teacher,
Group Fitness Instructor, + Personal Trainer:
E-RYT 200, RYT 500
Beverly’s fitness journey began many years ago with a VHS Yoga tape. “It was the first type of exercise I tried that didn’t hurt - in fact, I felt strong, relaxed, and so tall!” Her practice and interest was on again - off again until she started practicing with Joan Ryan in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Through Joan’s guidance and encouragement, Beverly expanded her interests into Reiki and was also lucky enough to train with Deva Parnell and Christopher Baxter at Discovery Yoga. Beverly is forever a student and a certified teacher of Kripalu Yoga, Phoenix Rising Yoga, Pilates, and is a personal trainer, too. She is a wife, a mother, and has a serious soft spot for large breed dogs. Her approachable demeanor creates an environment that’s non-judgmental, light-hearted, and fun. Beverly’s classes emphasize mindful movements, core strength, and she truly believes that your body is your wisest teacher. When she’s not teaching/taking classes, Beverly enjoys photographing four-legged family members at a local vet’s office, knitting/crafting, and a good cup of coffee!
Shantel Weems, Yoga Teacher:
Shantel is a graduate of the 200 Hour Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training at Discovery Yoga, in St. Augustine. Born and raised in south FL she moved to St. Augustine where she completed her BA in Public Administration at Flagler College. Shantel began practicing yoga regularly after having both mediation and the physical asana practice introduced to her by a former high school teacher.
After experiencing the physical healing from having a regular asana practice she became inspired to share the many benefits of yoga with others.
"Personally I find the physical practice of yoga to create a place of safety. Each time I step onto the mat I never know what my practice will bring however by the end of the practice I have found the clarity I needed. "
Shantel teaches a carefree yoga class in a judgement free environment where students can expect fun, creative sequences set to an energizing playlist. Her well-rounded classes are centered around a theme and include a variety of sun salutations, core exercises, and balancing, twisting, and back-bending poses that warm up, strengthen, and open different areas of the body. Her cuing focuses on alignment and safety to make asana accessible to all levels. Sequences often lead to a peak posture that gives students a chance to explore intermediate and advanced poses.
Aleah Smith, Yoga Teacher: RYT 500
Aleah received both her 200TT and 300TT certifications through Yoga Den. She is forever a student, grateful to all her teachers for their knowledge and inspiration. Coming from a medical research background, Aleah is fascinated by the overlap of yoga’s ancient wisdom with modern medicine. She strongly believes that wellness is a physical and mental state of mind achieved through asana (postures), pranayama (breath), and balanced subtle energies. She hopes her classes provide students the opportunity to breathe deeply, let go, and adapt yoga for their bodies to align with their inner energetic hum. Aleah believes the mat is a personal healing space and hopes to foster a welcoming, supportive environment for all interested in yoga. She practices yoga with much gratitude for the balance, awareness, friendships, and opportunities it has brought to her life.
In her free time, Aleah tries to keep up with her two little monkeys. She enjoys days at the beach, hiking, baking and experimenting with healthy kitchen creations, curling up with a good book, and writing.
Brooke Anderson: Yoga Teacher, RYT 200
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” ~Oscar Wilde
This quote rings true to Brooke's yogic journey as multiple knee operations from playing soccer in college left her in need of healing, the kind only yoga seemed to provide. With an athletic background, Brooke's classes are filled with a mix of playful balance postures, core challenge & spinal movement, with plenty of time to cool down and prepare for relaxation. To Brooke, music is one of the most important aspects of a yoga practice and her playlists are thoughtfully crafted. She loves getting to know her students & feels very blessed to be able to share with the world this gift we've come to call yoga, through one individual at a time.