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Staff Bios

Staff Bios

Mike Harrer, MA, CPT

Personal Trainer

Michael is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has a Master of Science in Kinesiology from Georgia Southern University. Michael has worked at both Verizon Wireless and Kimberly Clark Corporation in their health and wellness facilities. His corporate fitness experience includes creating personalized exercise routines for a varied clientele, along with performing exercise testing and facility promotions. He enjoys working with and creating individualized programs for clients of all ages. His sporting interests include basketball and tennis, among others. Michael uses his education and background to create unique workout routines that promote stretching, functional strength, and muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

Contact via email
Michael.Harrer@unchealth.unc.edu

David Belknap, CSCS

Personal Trainer

David is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He has a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from SUNY Cortland. David started his career in personal training as a sports performance coach while in school. During that time, he worked with athletes of all levels from middle school through college. Once he graduated, David continued on as a personal trainer in Rochester, New York, working with a wide variety of clientele focusing on weight loss and conditioning, strength building, weight lifting and functional movement. In 2018 David moved to North Carolina, where he has continued to work with a variety of clients in sports performance and conditioning, balance, weight loss, strength training and powerlifting. When not working, David spends his time involved in competitive bodybuilding or at home with his dogs.

Contact via email
David.Belknap@unchealth.unc.edu

Gregory Garus, CPT, CES

Personal Trainer

Gregory Garus received his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from California State University Fullerton. While in college, Gregory was an NCAA Division I track and field sprinter. He is certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Certified Personal Trainer. He has two NASM advanced certifications as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and a Performance Enhancement Specialist. Gregory enjoys working with a wide variety of populations, including people of different age groups, goals and needs. As a trainer, Gregory feels that it is important to be detailed in the explanation and execution of exercise programs. This furthers the experience and education of the client. Through individualized specific programs, Gregory works with clients to help them reach their personal health and fitness goals while staying within safe and optimal ranges.

Contact via email
Gregory.Garus@unchealth.unc.edu

Mary Hale-McDonald, MPH, CPT, ACSM

Personal Trainer

Originally from New York State, Mary came to UNC Wellness Center in 2005 after five years as an Exercise Physiologist with Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from East Carolina University (magna cum laude) and a Master of Science in Public Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Leadership and Epidemiology. She has also completed extensive continuing education in various types of rehabilitative exercise as well as diabetes and weight management. Mary is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Council on Strength and Fitness. She also holds a certification as an All-Inclusive Fitness Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine, which allows her to work with special populations, including those with neuromuscular disorders, spinal cord injuries, head injuries and intellectual disabilities.

Contact via email
Mary.Hale@unchealth.unc.edu

Daniel Fleisher, CSCS, LMBT

Personal Trainer

Daniel is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He received his bachelor’s degree from Radford University. Daniel is also a Licensed Massage Therapist, specializing in Active Release Technique (ART). In addition, Daniel is a trained STOTT Pilates Mat Instructor. While working as the strength and conditioning coach for Radford High School Varsity basketball, the team went on to win three out of five State Championships. Daniel enjoys using his experience to educate his clients on the importance of functional movements, soft tissue work, stretching, muscular strength and endurance. He specializes in injury prevention and sports strength and conditioning for athletes of all abilities. Daniel’s other interests include coaching his son’s youth teams and playing basketball, golf and tennis.

Contact via email
Daniel.Fleisher@unchealth.unc.edu

Alex Strano

Massage Therapist/Personal Trainer

Alex Strano graduated with a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from UNC-Chapel Hill. His experience includes clinical exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, lifestyle change techniques, fitness testing, and exercise prescriptions for health. Alex was certified as a personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise, and as a Pilates instructor by the Physical Mind Institute. Alex graduated from the massage therapy program at Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, NC. Alex is interested in the integration of mind and body awareness. He combines the relaxation and stretching techniques practiced in yoga with his Pilates core strengthening expertise. Alex feels that massage is an integral and essential part of overall body wellness. Alex’s offerings include Swedish, myofascial and sports massage as well as reflexology and hot stone therapy.

Contact via email
Alessandro.Strano@unchealth.unc.edu

Michelle Treffer, LMBT #14200

Massage Therapist/Personal Trainer

Michelle completed her massage licensure program on the island of Maui in 2003, where she practiced at a top-rated resort spa. In 2007 she became a certified personal trainer and worked with professional and recreational athletes ranging from triathletes to surfers. Michelle founded Maui’s first outdoor fitness boot camp, where she designed programs focused on healthy weight loss, wellness education and total fitness. She left the island in 2012 to begin a doctoral program in physical therapy. Michelle specializes in injury treatment and prevention. She approaches her practice holistically, considering and exploring the source of an issue, rather than treating symptoms alone. She is certified in a wide range of massage techniques and adapts treatments to specific needs, including educational tools to support individual fitness, functional mobility and pain management goals. Michelle enjoys riding bikes and taking trips with her son. She dabbles in triathlon, enjoys participating in charity bike rides and local 10K runs, and travels to Maui as often as possible to hit the surf.

Contact via email
michelle.treffer@unchealth.unc.edu

Jake Orndorff, CSCS, CSPS, PN1

Personal Trainer

Jake takes a personalized approach to personal training. Because no two people are exactly alike, he bases each person’s individualized program on their detailed assessment and intake. He designs programs to meet people where they currently are and to help them get where they want to be. Jake earned his degree in exercise science from Shepherd University. He also holds several leading industry certifications, including NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), NSCA certified special population specialist, ACSM certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition. As the pursuit of knowledge is endless and as research continues and new information emerges on how to better serve his clients, Jake is committed to hunting down the best way to help people live healthier and more optimal lives.

Contact via email
Jacob.Orndorff@unchealth.unc.edu

Nia Jackson, ACSM CEP

Personal Trainer

Nia is a fitness professional who has earned her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from North Carolina Central University. She is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist certified through the American College of Sports Medicine. Prior to the UNC Wellness Centers, her experience includes six years as a physical therapy aide at Duke Regional Hospital working with people who have had strokes, joint replacement orthopedic injuries and neuromuscular disorders. Nia has also gained experience in cardiac rehab conducting stress tests, developing exercise prescriptions and promoting physical activity for people who have chronic diseases or conditions. Nia joined the UNC Wellness Centers as a fitness instructor in 2013. She develops individualized exercise programs for a wide variety of populations. Her philosophy is to create a training environment that not only motivates but also empowers individuals to achieve their health and fitness goals. As a former basketball player, she loves the challenge of outdoor activities. She also enjoys traveling, live music and spending time with her family.

Contact via email
Saphonia.jackson@unch.unc.edu.

Ben Schikowitz, LMBT #12257

Massage Therapist

Ben Schikowitz studied massage at the Florida School of Massage Therapy in Gainesville, Florida in 1997. There he learned Swedish, reflexology, sports massage, shiatsu, polarity therapy, deep tissue and neuromuscular therapy. He worked and lived at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York for 10 years where he completed a four-year apprenticeship in Bodytuning with master bodyworker and yoga teacher, Glenn Black. Ben has studied art with various visionary artists while at Omega, including Alex Grey and Robert Venosa. His other interests include playing the drum set and the vibraphone, gardening and capoeira.

Contact via email
Benjamin.Schikowitz@unchealth.unc.edu