Meet YWCA’s Certified Fitness Instructors

Every Fitness Instructor at Charlotte’s YWCA is certified in CPR, First Aid and AED (using an external defibrillator) as well as the specific certifications required for their specialty. (A list of organizations referred to in the credentials of each instructor are at the bottom of the page for your easy reference.) 

Headshot of Instructor Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown
Certifications: WaterART Shallow & Deep

Debbie was a lifeguard at the YWCA for several years and now teaches Deep Water Fitness Classes. She holds a BS degree in Recreation Leadership from Western Carolina University.

Headshot of Emma Brown

Emma Brown
Certifications: Red Cross: Lifeguard and WSI

Emma’s fitness specialty is aquatic instruction.  She has been teaching at Charlotte’s YWCA since 2013 and enjoys sharing the techniques that helped her learn to swim with the children in her classes.

Headshot of instructor Mary Lou Buk

Mary Lou Buck
Certifications: RYT 500 and Kripalu Yoga

Mary Lou earned her BS in Physical Education and Recreation from UNC-G and has taught yoga since the late 1970’s. Founder and former owner of Yoga for Life, she returned to teaching yoga at the YWCA in 2009.

elisabeth headshot

Elisabeth Blum
Certifications: RYT 200

Elisabeth is a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and has been teaching a powerful yoga flow since 2018. She appreciates the yoga practice for the physical challenge, mental clarity and how it compliments her other fitness goals

Headshot of Instructor Shawn Caldwell

Shawn Caldwell
Certifications/Training: YMCA Group Exercise; IFTA Pilates; Spin; Senior Adult Fitness

Shawn has been teaching group exercise for over 20 years and loves seeing the motivation each person has for doing their workouts.

Headshot of Fitness Director Julianna

Julianna Canfield
YWCA Director of Fitness
Certifications/Training: IFTA: Group Exercise, Water Aerobics, Pilates, Spin, Senior Fitness

Julianna has been a fitness instructor since 2002. As the Director of Fitness she enjoys the relationships built among the staff and members.

Headshot of Instructor Lisa

Lisa Farnick
Certifications: Red Cross WSI

Lisa teaches swim lessons and swim clinics. She loves instructing, especially watching the achievement, confidence and joy it brings to others.

Grace Fleury
Certifications: YMCA Group Exercise; IFTA Cycle; Urban Bliss Yoga

Grace began teaching at the YWCA in 2016 and enjoys sharing her love for cycling and yoga with others.

Headshot of Instructor Jody Frazier

Jody Frazier
Certifications: USAT; Spin: Red Cross Lifeguard; Pre/Post Natal Fitness

Jody has been teaching fitness classes and doing Personal Training for over a decade. She also serves as Head Coach for the YDub Tri Club (Triathlon training club).

Headshot of Instructor Kay Fuller

Kay Fuller
Certifications: PhysicalMind Institute of New York in Pilates; Kripalu Yoga

Kay began teaching Pilates in 1999 before moving around the country. Returning to Charlotte, she now enjoys sharing here broad knowledge of exercise and movement through her ongoing teaching.

photo fo eliza hardaway, certified as a lifeguard and water safety instructor

Eliza Hardaway
Certifications: Red Cross Lifeguard and WSI

Eliza enjoys instructing because she likes making kids and adults feel confident about themselves in their ability to be in and around water without feeling overwhelmed. 

Headshot of Instructor Debi Hawkins

Debi Hawkins
Certifications/Training: E-RYT 200; Vinyasa Yoga; Anusara Yoga; Restorative Yoga; Bodymind Ballwork; Pre/Post Natal Yoga; Itsy Bitsy Yoga for babies and tots; Grounded Yoga for kids and families

Debi began teaching aerobics, calisthenics, and stretch classes in the 1980s. She earned her first yoga teacher certification in 2003 and began teaching at the YWCA in 2004. She believes yoga is accessible to all ages, sizes and levels of ability.

Headshot of Instructor Jane Hoagland

Jane Hoagland
Certifications/Training: YMCA Group Exercise; YMCA Senior Fitness; Golden Heart Stretch and Balance

Jane’s fitness specialties are Core Ball and Deep Stretch instruction. Jane sought exercise to help her with her back issues, and now enjoys instructing those with physical limitations. 

Anne Krause-Huckleberry
Certifications: Pilates Mat; Pilates Anatomy; Biomechanics; Posture Analysis

While certified in Pilates Mat, Anne is continuing her education on the Pilates Apparatus. She has a Masters in Music Theatre, Dance, Anthropology and Education; and a Dance Diploma in Modern Dance and Contemporary Dance.
Anne grew up in Germany and moved to Charlotte 6 years ago where she lives with her husband, her 3 children and her 2 dogs.
Lindsey Lesh
Certifications: Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, Red Cross WSI Instructor 
Lindsay has been teaching swim lessons and coaching since 2006. She swam competitively through high school and college. She has had the pleasure to learn from some of the country’s elite coaches and swimmers, thus gaining a more in depth understanding of the sport and its mechanics. Lindsay loves the water and enjoys helping swimmers of all ages and abilities reach their goals in the pool. She has been with the YWCA since January 2019. 

Drew McClain
Certifications: ACSM; IFTA: Group Exercise, Tai Chi, Senior Fitness, Spin, CPO; Red Cross Liefguard

Drew graduated from UNC Charlotte with a BS in Exercise Science. Drew has won awards for sparring and skill demonstrations at the regional CACMA Queens Cup martial arts tournament held annually at UNC Charlotte. He was the 2017 USKSF National sword sparring champion.

Headshot of Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnell
Certifications: Red Cross WSI

Tim has been teaching Swim Lessons and coaching Orange Crush Swim Team for 11 years. He enjoys helping every swimmer because Tim loves to see the joy on a kids face when they get a new skill for the first time. Being around water should be a fun and enjoyable experience and he truly believes every child should know how to swim.

Headshot of Tiquila McNeil

Tiquila McNeill
Certifications: IFTA Aqua Fit and Group Exercise; Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor and WSI; CPO

She has been a lifeguard and water safety instructor since 2012. She has been a lifeguard and swim instructor at the YWCA since 2017.

Headshot of Instructor Leah

Leah McPherson
Certifications: E-RYT; RYT 200; Vinyasa Yoga; YYT

Leah has been teaching at the YWCA since 2016 and teaches yoga because she believes in helping others reach their full potential. 

Headshot of Instructor Leslie

Leslie Misenheimer
Certifications: NASM; Aqua Therapy; RYT 200; AEA

Aquatics Fitness Professional


Headshot of Aquqatic Manager Jeff

Jeff Nerret
YWCA Aquatics Manager
Certifications: Red Cross Lifeguard, Lifeguard Instructor and Lifeguard Trainer; Red Cross WSI Instructor and Instructor Trainer; CPO

Jeff oversees the management of the YWCA pool as well as lifeguards and teaches swimming lessons to all ages.

Headshot of Aquatics Instructor Cynthia Osborne

Cynthia Osborne
Certifications/Training: AFAA; AEA Aqua Exercise; Red Cross Lifeguard and WSI; AFWWE; AF Exercise and Aquatic Program Leader; Hydro Pilates

Cynthia is the Fitness Director and owner of CJOSMILES Aquatics.

Headshot of Instructor Yael Powell

Yael Powell
Certifications/Training: ACE Personal Trainer; RYT 200; Full Contact Karate Black Belt; Older Adult Training Exercise

Physical fitness has always been a part of Yael’s life, and she loves working and helping people reach their goals.

Alex Sampson
Certifications/Training: ACE Group Fitness; ACE Health Coach; Prenatal &  Postpartum Fitness; Tabata Bootcamp; The FIRM Group Fitness

Alex has over 12 years of experience as a group fitness instructor, with a focus on cardio, strength, and interval training group fitness, and has appeared in two nationally distributed fitness videos for a former Gaiam fitness brand.

Headshot of Spin Instructor Tony Sissions

Tony Sissons
Certifications: IFTA: Group Exercise, Spin

After a heart attack followed by extensive heart re-hab, Tony learned how to exercise and strengthen the most important muscle in the body – the heart.

Headshot of Yoga Instructor Hampton

Hampton Thrower
Certifications: RYT 500; Kripalu Yoga

Hampton, a 500-hour Professional Kripalu Yoga Teacher, guides students with a detailed and fluid approach that has emerged from his own search for healing. He began teaching classes in 1997. Dedicated to supporting students with special needs, he became Yoga of the Heart certified.

The table below lists the organization represented by the initials found in the certification citations:
ACE American Council on Exercise Certification
ACSM American College of Sports Medicine Certification
AEA Aquatic Exercise Association
AF Arthritis Foundation
AFAA Aerobic and Fitness Association of America
AFWWE Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease
CPO Certified Pool/Spa Operator by National Swimming Pool Foundation
E-RYT Yoga Alliance Certification: Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher
IFTA Interactive Fitness Trainers of America Certification
NASM National Academy of Sports Medicine Certification
RYT 200 Yoga Alliance Certification: Registered Yoga Teacher with 200 hrs of training
RYT 500 Yoga Alliance Certification: Registered Yoga Teacher with 500 hrs of training
USAT USA Triathlon Certification
WSI Red Cross Water Safety Instruction Certification
YMCA Partnered with American Council on Exercise to create YMCA Foundation Certification Courses
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