Staff Bios

Personal Training

Mike Harrer, MA, CPT

Personal Trainer

Michael is a certified personal trainer with a BA in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has an MS Degree 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 Mike by emailing: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’s degree 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, he 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, and strength training and powerlifting. When not working David spends his time involved in competitive bodybuilding or at home with his dogs. Contact David by emailing: David.Belknap@unchealth.unc.edu

Gregory Garus, CPT, CES

Personal Trainer

Gregory Garus received his Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from California State University Fullerton. While in college Gregory was an NCAA Division I track and field sprinter. Gregory 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: such as 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 Gregory by emailing: 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 BS in Exercise Physiology from East Carolina University (magna cum laude) and an MSPH 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 and 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; mainly neuromuscular disorders, spinal cord and head injuries, and intellectual disabilities.  Contact Mary by emailing: Mary.Hale@unchealth.unc.edu

Daniel Fleisher, CSCS, LMBT

Personal Trainer

Daniel is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) thru the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Radford University. Daniel is also a Licensed Massage Therapist, specializing in Active Release Technique (ART). In addition to that, 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 3 out of 5 State Championships. Daniel enjoys using his experience to educate his clients on the importance of functional movements, soft tissue work, stretching, and 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 Daniel by emailing: Daniel.Fleisher@unchealth.unc.edu

Alex Strano

Massage Therapist/Personal Trainer

Alex Strano graduated with a Master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill in Exercise Physiology. His experience includes clinical exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, lifestyle change techniques, and 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. From his experience with yoga, he brings an understanding and flexibility to his Pilates “core strengthing” 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 Alex by emailing: 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 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 Michelle by emailing: michelle.treffer@unchealth.unc.edu

Jake Orndorff, CSCS, CSPS, PN1

Personal Trainer

Training can be such a vital habit in someone’s life. I truly enjoy helping someone simplify the process of exercise and turn it into something they enjoy doing.  My approach to personal training is specific to the individual. No two people are exactly alike, so based on an assessment and intake, I design programs that meet them where they currently are and want to go.  In combination with an individualized approach, I use my education. I received my degree in exercise science from Shepherd University. I have several leading industry certifications, including; NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), NSCA certified special population specialist, ACSM certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition, and more.  As the pursuit of knowledge is endless and as research continues and new information emerges on how to better serve my clients, I will continue to hunt down the best way to help people live healthier and more optimal lives. Contact Jake by emailing: Jacob.Orndorff@unchealth.unc.edu

Nia Jackson, ACSM CEP

Personal Trainer

Nia is a fitness professional who has earned her Bachelor of Science degree 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 6 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 Nia by emailing: Saphonia.jackson@unch.unc.edu.

Massage Therapist

Alex Strano

Massage Therapist/Personal Trainer

Alex Strano graduated with a Master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill in Exercise Physiology. His experience includes clinical exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, lifestyle change techniques, and 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. From his experience with yoga, he brings an understanding and flexibility to his Pilates “core strengthing” 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 Alex by emailing: Alessandro.Strano@unchealth.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 4-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 drumset and the vibraphone, gardening, and capoeira. Contact Ben by emailing: Benjamin.Schikowitz@unchealth.unc.edu

Robin Zwilling, LMBT #14158

Massage Therapist/RYT 200hr

Robin, a graduate of the Swedish Institute in New York City in 2005, specializes in deep tissue, trigger point release, and myofascial release. Her clients have been people of different health, fitness, and occupational backgrounds, from elderly to athletes, actors to lawyers. She enjoys helping people become more aware of their bodies and teaching them to improve their daily life activities through massage and yoga. Robin ran a successful massage practice in New York, before moving to North Carolina. Her passion lies in the art of healing and making strong connections to contribute to people’s wellness. In her free time, Robin enjoys yoga, capoeira, tennis, and being a mom to her two girls, Harmony and Ivy, and wife to Jason.

Contact Robin by emailing: Robin.Zwilling@unchealth.unc.edu

keishabrownKiesha Brown, LMBT #13715

Massage Therapist

Kiesha graduated from The Medical Arts School of Raleigh in 2012. She prides herself on her ability to care and listen to the needs of others. She is well trained in Swedish, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Hot Stones, and Reflexology. Kiesha believes in tailoring a massage towards the needs of each client by using multiple modalities to get the best results possible.

Kiesha knows that massage therapy changed her life and gave her a purpose. It taught her that everything is connected and that the systems of our bodywork collectively to maintain a healthy balance. She believes that to be healthy we need to take care of ourselves mind, body, and spirit. As a massage therapist, her goal is to use a combination of techniques to relieve tension, stress and reduce pain. She wants to assist you on your journey to creating a healthier mind, body, and spirit. Contact Kiesha by emailing: Kiesha.Brown@unchealth.unc.edu

Paige Grillo, LMBT #16697

Massage Therapist

After graduating from Appalachian State in 2015, Paige went on to attend the Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, North Carolina. As a massage therapist, she enjoys using her collective knowledge to deliver a session that reflects the clients’ desires, as vocalized in a pre-treatment discussion, and her own observations as a professional. A majority of her work incorporates myofascial massage (for its specificity in addressing issues in the fascial network and affects therein on alignment), trigger point work (for release of tension), and Swedish massage (for elements of relaxation and rejuvenation). She may also draw on her training in Thai massage when indicated. In each session, Paige focuses on meeting her clients where they are, so as to prioritize client comfort and efficacy. Her favorite areas to work include the back, shoulders, and neck. In her free time, Paige likes to cook, write, and spend time outdoors. Contact Paige by emailing: Paige.Grillo@unchealth.unc.edu

Lillie Johnson, LMBT #18059

Massage Therapist

Lillie was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and received her massage education at the Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage in 2012. Her initial training focused on medical massage and she has since developed her skill set to include deep tissue, Swedish, lymphatic drainage, sports, geriatric, hot stone, prenatal, and some energy work. Following her education, Lillie built and maintained a private practice for six years until moving to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2019. While in private practice she enjoyed using her knowledge of massage and wellness techniques to benefit her community as a whole. She often worked in conjunction with chiropractors and other holistic providers to maximize the potential of each client’s treatment plan. Lillie’s work is inspired by a desire to make a difference in every client’s life and create a space where they may find a healthy balance between self-care and healing. Her sessions are designed on a custom basis to reflect individual needs and goals.

Lillie brings her continuous dedication to learning and passion for bodywork to her new community at UNC Wellness Centers. Contact Lillie by emailing Lillie.Johnson@unchealth.unc.edu

Lori Black, LMBT #07722

Massage Therapist

Lori Black hails from the Buffalo, NY area, where she raised 2 amazing sons; Daniel and Ryan who both served in the US Army.  While in Buffalo, she graduated from the New York Institute of Massage in 2004. Within that year, Lori became certified in Cranial/Sacral Therapy from the prestigious Upledger Institute.  She is also certified in Reiki, prenatal massage and reflexology.  Lori moved to Graham, NC in 2005 where she lives to this day. Lori’s strength is in deep tissue techniques and in isolating the areas of concern to accomplish relief of tension and pain. Her passion is in the personal connection she develops with her clients and in educating her clients in self-care and wellness.

 She is proud to have had her own private practice since 2007 where her faithful companion, Belle, joins her and acts as a greeter and unofficial therapy dog to clients!  In Lori’s spare time she likes to garden, crochet, and paint.

Contact Lori by emailing Lori.Black@unchealth.unc.edu

Nutrition Services

Elizabeth A. Watt, RD, CSOWM, LDN

Clinical Dietitian

Liz is the Registered Dietitian at the UNC Wellness Centers. She has been a dietitian since 2003.  When Liz began her career at The Wellness Center, she worked with clients individually assisting them with their nutrition concerns.  She also worked with the UNC Hospitals Cardiac Rehabilitation program, offering individual counseling in addition to group education classes and grocery store tours. Most recently, Liz has been working with individuals to help them create a healthy lifestyle in addition to offering education classes that encompass a variety of nutrition topics, cooking classes, and weight management classes.  When Liz is not educating people on good nutrition, she is found running, cooking, reading, and spending time with her husband, 2 children, and 2 cats.  Contact Liz by emailing: Elizabeth.Watt@unchealth.unc.edu