Fitness in the Valley of the Moon

Name: Elias Casolla

Age: 35Elias

Height and Weight: 6’3”, 200 pounds

Profile: Personal fitness instructor, owner of Total Body Sculpting, ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified on kettlebell, kinesiology, spin, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), TRX Ripper. Has devoted clientele and often a waiting list.

Why fit: I first started working out by myself when I was 28, but couldn’t find a lot of instructional help or knowledgeable individuals in local gyms. Decided to take all the necessary courses and learn how to train myself. Decided I wanted to help others reach and maintain optimum fitness, with focus on functional training, not single joint movements.

How got fit: Took classes, certification courses, worked out with increasing knowledge and understanding of how to achieve optimum fitness.

Current fitness routine: I work out for an hour and a half four times a week, jog three to five miles. I like to do HIIT workouts, with various repeat ratios, and work with free weights.

Fitness philosophy: I want to be cutting edge, with modern equipment and functional training. Single joint movements do not develop the whole body, do not mirror movements we would do every day. Compound movements engage as many joints and muscle groups as possible in one time. Single joint motions just aren’t as beneficial.

I monitor every client’s heart rate—that’s the biofeedback from the body, telling you when to increase the reps or the weight, and when to back off. I assess every client and tailor the training to the client’s needs. I am focused one-on-one on the individual. That’s why I monitor everyone’s heart rate. We work on strength, flexibility and cardio, I model every movement.

Clients would say: I have a full book and you can’t get into my program unless someone dies. That’s a bit of a joke, but they would say I have a passion for fitness—I will even work with clients on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve. I am knowledgeable and respectful.

Proudest achievement: Becoming a personal trainer, keeping up on all the knowledge and bringing that knowledge back to my clients. I love what I do.

Guilty pleasure: I have a little bit of a sweet tooth. On Saturday evening I take my children and we go out to get ice cream.

For fun: I hang with my children, go to Disneyland. I enjoy attending sports events. But the most important thing is my children.

Contact:, 707.321.0595

Personal Statement

As an ACE training specialist, I assess each client to see whether they are a competitive athlete or a rehabilitation case. I then develop a training regimen for that individual’s specific needs and goals. Holding multiple certifications and constantly updating my professional education, I offer versatility that can be applied to athletes, post-rehab clients and everyday people who need to improve balance, and achieve overall—even optimum—fitness. My goal as a training specialist is to help my clients move more efficiently, prevent injury, improve flexibility, build strength and improve their overall quality of life.


Name: Sue Albano

Age: 50SueAlbano

Height and Weight: 5’6”, 138

Profile: A Valley icon with eclectic teaching, centered on a one-hour program called Body Rock. Involves active and conscious stretching; Pilates; kickboxing (to plant the seed of self-defense); power yoga; body sculpting (sit-ups, weights), and a spiritual component with five minutes of savasana. Sue is also a singer and a rock ’n’ roll bass player.

Why fit: I love to exercise and I’ve always been fit. I started dancing at six. Exercise sets the tone for my day. I love feeling good, I love the freedom of it. It makes you self-sufficient to be fit. And I like the social interaction with other people. After I teach a class I walk out changed, like a different person. It’s like an anti-depressant. I don’t think people would need anti-depressants if they just exercised.

Current fitness routine: I teach four classes a week, one hour per class. I go walking, I ride my bike. I don’t have a special diet; I eat well, but I eat whatever I want. That’s about it.

Fitness philosophy: A lot of people are mindless exercisers. The torso is the power station and all the energy is generated there, and it moves out into the extremities. If you focus on the power station, the core, you help the energy flow. I went from being a step fanatic and a cardio queen to adding yoga and becoming more attentive. You have to distribute the tension from head to toe.

There is also a spiritual aspect—something happens that I don’t plan. I feel almost like I’m a vehicle for a message from some divine source. I talk about soulful stuff, the law of attraction, nonjudgment, not having limitations, claiming your power. It’s really fulfilling to reach people that way.

Clients would say: Inspiring. I inspire them to be strong and to practice smooth transitions. What we do in the class we practice out in the world.

Proudest achievement: Teaching my class. I feel that’s where I’m supposed to be.

Guilty pleasure: Hostess cherry pies, John Travolta movies and whiskey.

For fun: Everything I do is fun. I also enjoy horseback riding and travel.

Contact:, Sue Albano on Facebook.

Personal Statement

While my exterior appears strong and confident, I have a very soft underbelly, a sensitive, unworthy and vulnerable side that I have a tendency to hide. I feel I am a champion of the underdog and appreciate those who conquer their fears in the name of personal freedom. It takes courage.

I love a wild rock ’n’ roll, whiskey-drinking weekend, but just as much, I love to prepare a home-cooked, family-oriented Sunday night meal with those I love the most. I believe in God and miracles, forgiveness and freedom. Mother Mary is my go-to in times of trouble. I believe mostly in love.


Name: EA Morgan

Age: 57EA Morgan

Height and Weight: 5’11”, 185 pounds

Profile: Owner and trainer EA’s Crossfit, personal trainer, big on nutrition, once voted one of top 10 personal trainers in San Francisco, formerly owned personal fitness studio in Pacific Heights. Has background in corrective, holistic exercise kinesiology as a 17-year student of Paul Chek and the C.H.E.K Institute.

Why fit: I love physical activity. Growing up, I was a Ritalin child. One of the saviors that kept me in school and out of prison was sports. I was constantly going 100 mph. You name it, I was on the team. In high school—football, wrestling, lacrosse all three years. Never stopped. I have been fit from conception.

How got fit: Always been fit. Always played a sport. Always open to new things. Racing mountain bikes—did a Pentathlon last summer.

Current fitness routine: Weight training, Feldenkrais movements, yoga, C.H.E.K. As you get older you can’t keep taking money out of the bank, you have to give back. I mix it up with a lot of mobility. Flexibility is important. I do Crossfit training, Crossfit games, which require both strength and endurance.

Fitness philosophy: Crossfit is a mixture of workouts. Involves constantly varied functional movements including gymnastics, weights, rowing and more. High intensity training, all functional movements involving full-body exercise. I don’t believe in machines, they just train isolated muscle groups. I’m a fitness detective, I look at the body inside-out. You can’t train a bad diet.

Clients would say: Great guy, great coach, lots of fun.

Proudest achievement: In 1979 I was the leading scorer for the U.S. Indoor Lacrosse Team. I was the player-coach for an Australian lacrosse team in Perth.

For fun: I like to spend time with my family and friends. Biking and hiking are fun too.

Guilty Pleasure: Ice cream and chocolate.

Contact:, 415.314.1399.

Personal Statement

People think motivation is the key to change; I disagree. If it were, we would all be looking and feeling our best and I would be out of a job. Motivation simply creates the spark that ignites the process of change. It’s hard work, commitment and sacrifice that create lasting change. As a coach, I provide the program and the education to go with it, but my clients bring about the change through their hard work and sacrifice. Add a supportive community environment, and that’s where the results come from. Smart programs, dedicated clients, a supportive community. That’s the recipe for the Kool-Aid that is known as Crossfit.


Name: Jenny Kovacs

Age: 43JennyKovacs

Height and weight: 5’2.5” I don’t weigh myself so I actually don’t know how much I weigh.

Profile: Co-owner Sonoma Fit, a new, 15,000-square-foot fitness facility with 50 pieces of cardio equipment, 50 classes per week, indoor cycling, TRX, strength conditioning, Zumba and yoga.

Why fit: I am a cancer survivor; I decided it was a priority to maintain my health. Had always been active but not a big exerciser.

How got fit: I started working out at a gym and eating healthier and realized I felt so much better about myself. I was on a mission to feel better and quickly became addicted to that feeling you get when you’re healthy. I just love it.

Current fitness routine: Because I’m a gym owner, I teach nine classes a week—TRX, indoor cycling, metabolic meltdown. I love to run—that’s my exercise of choice. I don’t run with music, I just go, five to six miles, at least two or three times a week. I do my best thinking when I’m running. I don’t run with anyone, I just like to be by myself. I also love to lift weights; as we get older, our bone density drops, and it’s important to maintain healthy posture and bone health.

Fitness philosophy: I give my students all my energy, all my focus, all my attention, 100 percent every single time. And I want something back from them. When you’re teaching it’s a relationship and you want that energy back. You want to know they’re getting something out of it. And when you feel healthy and you feel good about yourself, the way you treat everyone else in your life is a reflection of that. I have more patience for my kids, I have more love for other people, because if you don’t feel good about yourself, and you don’t feel confident (and I’ve been there), you can’t be your best self for the other people in your life .

Clients would say: That I’m tough. I’m a tough instructor. I teach a challenging class. I want to see everybody working hard. No quitting.

Guilty pleasure: Wine and chocolate. I eat healthy but I’m all about balance. Wine and chocolate pretty much every day.

Proudest achievement: Building this gym. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

For fun: Spending time with my family, hiking, cooking, going to the beach.

Contact:, 707.721.1394

Personal Statement

I began my fitness career somewhat later in life, in my 30s, and after the birth of my two children. In the course of three years, I had been pregnant twice and was treated for Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma. I felt unhealthy and worn out. I started working out at a local gym and that’s when I realized that exercise was going to change my life. I soon began teaching indoor cycling, outdoor boot camp and sculpt classes. I absolutely love what I do and when I see someone transform into a stronger, better version of themselves—it makes my job even better!


Name: Cameron Stuckey

Age: 48Cameron

Height and Weight: 5’9”, 205 pounds

Profile: Personal fitness instructor and coach. Have trained more than 100 people; only one quit.

Why fit: When I was 28 I figured I wasn’t immortal anymore.

How got fit: Classes, working out consistently, better diet, mentally preparing myself. I made a lifetime commitment to focus—using visualization—on where I wanted to go.

Current fitness routine: A cornucopia of everything. I put in two-and-a-half hours at the gym (I won’t talk there, don’t come up to me to talk!). I do limited cardio, but I’ve never been a great runner.

Fitness philosophy: Fitness is 98 percent mental, 2 percent just showing up. My teaching doesn’t fit a mold. I never train two people the same way. Fitness is a lifestyle change, with two determinants: genetics and working out. I find out who you really want to be and we discover how hard you’re willing to work to get there. It’s sports-specific. You like to run? We do squats, hips, abs, lower back, plyometric (jumping up and down with weights).

Clients would say: I’m intense, knowledgeable, safe (I’ve never had a client hurt), inspiring.

Proudest achievement: Other than my kids, I haven’t done it yet. I didn’t expect to make it past 24.

Guilty pleasure: Video games.

For fun: Play with my kids, with my wife, ride my GSX R1000 Suzuki motorcycle.

Contact: 707.302.0677

Personal Statement

Two things will bring you to the gym—health or vanity. Fitness allows you to address both goals. Fitness is a mindset and a lifestyle change. It’s not a six-month commitment. Everything starts with visualization. Picture your ideal physical self. Your mind is going to have to convince your body. Diet, workout frequency, stress management, injury prevention, lifestyle are all part of it. I use boxing, martial arts, weights, plyometrics, sports-specific exercises, along with 32 years of gym and sports experience plus the 18 years of my professional personal knowledge. It’s called “Personal Training” for a reason.


Name: Lauren Drinkhall

Age: 43LaurenDrinkhall

Height and weight: 5’2” and 116

Profile: Lauren D is a Valley of the Moon phenomenon, a recovered alcoholic who has completely transformed herself physically, mentally and spiritually. She is a Zumba rock star, a certified personal trainer, a group fitness instructor, a LeBarre instructor, certified in Step, BodyPump, Kickboxing, Johnny G Spinning, Tone and Tease, Cize and a One-Star Diamond Beach Body coach with a following that packs the venues where she teaches. She also coaches a 30-day, online fitness class, meeting with clients online every day, teaching them, cheering them, inspiring them, and offering one-on-one guidance for those who need it.

Why fit: I knew I didn’t want to be sick anymore. It was all about survival. But it wasn’t just getting fit. You can’t do just one thing to recover. It’s the mind and the body, it’s eating well. I didn’t set out to be the fittest or the greenest. I just do my best in a realistic way, it’s a program anybody can do.

Current fitness routine: I get up every morning at 5. I go to the window and look out, and I pray. My prayer is gratitude, thank you, I say, for my being sober. Then I do my 30-minute workout with some weights, then I go to my personal audio book and listen to something positive to keep me on track. I do this every day.

Fitness philosophy: I’ve made my job my passion. I love what I do, it’s not ever work. When you learn that life is about choice and attitude, and you take responsibility for your actions, everything works. I bring huge energy in my classes; I like to say I bring people superpowers to empower themselves.

Clients would say: Mostly they say thank you for your inspiration and positive energy and making me remember that I’m worth it.

Proudest achievement: Changing my life for the better so I can be really present for my friends and family.

Guilty pleasure: I love to go to crazy action movies and escape. I bring my own homemade green popcorn and green veggies. Also, Breyers vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, whipped cream and Guittard milk chocolate chips.

For fun: Be with my kid and family. The boy and I took our first vacation. We stayed in a hotel overnight and played in the snow.

Contact:,, 707.888.0359

Personal Statement

I’m a fiercely dedicated Supermom, healthy living advocate, fitness coach, group fitness professional and, most of all, lover of life. I have been teaching in the health and fitness industry over 17 years, and I still put all my heart and soul into every class I teach. I want to give people an hour to get away and focus on themselves, feel empowered, alive, strong and successful. My classes are always full of high energy, great music and a sense of community. I’ve always dreamed of helping as many people as I can live the life they deserve, regardless of life’s struggles, and now I am living that dream.


Name: Alex Ventura

Age: 35Alex Ventura

Height and Weight: 5’6”, 150

Profile: Owns and runs First2Fight boxing gym. The name was suggested by a county employee who was processing his business license. Alex suggested “Ventura Boxing.” The county woman said, “You can do better than that.” The gym started as a punching bag in his garage where he trained alone. Someone saw him and wanted to learn. Others came. He had a talent, something special. He had been a fighter for four or five years. Learning to box comes with learning to be fit. Classes offered in boxing and jiu-jitsu, cardio, strength and conditioning, and personal training for men and women. Alex now has a substantial following and a stable of male and female fighters.

Why fit: Boxing is what got me into being fit. If you’re not fit and mentally prepared you will be in a situation where you turn yourself into a punching bag. I have to be fit in order to keep up with people who come to work with me.

How got fit: I was 12 or 13 when I first stepped into a boxing ring. After one or two years of training I started falling in love. Boxing is a full body movement. Every punch has to come in through your body, not from your shoulders. After a while I started having fun with it.

Current fitness routine: I’m lazy. I’m not competing now; I’m just coasting. I eat my healthy foods (no kale or oatmeal!), but I also eat pizza and tacos. I work out with my guys, doing classes, TRX, fast-paced boxing workout. We do cardio, I hate running but I’m still doing it. I do love swimming, but not Zumba— I’m a terrible dancer. Don’t like spin cycle—I get bored sitting on a bike. I do an hour-and-a-half of boxing every day, plus sit-ups and pull-ups.

Fitness philosophy: I teach boxing the old-school way. My trainer, Felix Reyes, taught the core workout. Cardio is the key in boxing, along with the fundamentals and self-respect. Everybody has a different mindset. I don’t just focus on boxing. I went through high school, I didn’t go to college. It’s important for someone to teach them school is the key. Boxing has to be your Plan B. You have to have a Plan A.

We try to see everyone as equal. It’s about respect. I had a sign at the gym— “Leave your ego at the door.” The first rule is, protect yourself and protect your training partner. It’s a contact sport. We train together, we compete together. And you need to get involved in your community. I’m grateful to have my community behind me.

Clients would say: I’m strict, goofy, I eat too much.

Proudest moment: Showing people that they can do it. Seeing my kids competing and winning.

Guilty pleasure: I love the La Bamba taco truck. If they were open all day I would be there all day. Also Happy Dog. My diet’s not what it should be.

For fun: I’m working all the time, and we’re expecting a baby.

Contact:, 707.721.6205


Personal Statement

Since I was a child I was taught to work hard, never quit and keep your head up no matter how tough things get. I started training when I was 14. As a teenager, I trained, worked part-time and went to school. As a young adult, I trained, worked full-time and raised a family. At one time I worked 10-hour days and went straight to training and building my business late into the night. Hard work and long days and nights got me where I am. I get to do what I love, I love what I do, and I can provide for my family and my community doing it. That is the dream.


Name: Jana Fiorito

Age: 45Jana Fiorito

Height and weight: 5’4”, 130

Profile: Former competitive swimmer at UCSB; worked and learned under two-time Olympic gold medalist Ann Curtis; owns Sonoma Swim School and is master swim instructor at Park Point Club; teaches kids and adults during summer; is member of U.S. Swim School Assn.; set up swim program for kids starting at age 4, based on layering steps, with focus on breathing.

Why fit: Being fit makes me feel energetic, confident, happy. It shapes my mood. I look good in my jeans. You have a glow on you when you swim. I like to swim because I get sun and fresh air. It’s incredibly important to me because I’ve been an athlete all my life and swam for UCSB all four years.

How got fit: Started swimming at 9. I started getting in trouble in middle school and swimming opened a lot of doors and shaped my adulthood. I never stopped swimming.

Current fitness routine: I swim two-to-three days a week, I teach a water exercise class which is a combination of synchronized swimming, actual swimming and water polo, I do a little Zumba, bike.

Fitness philosophy: Swimming is incredibly good for the heart and lungs. It works every muscle in the body, whether you’re pregnant or at the end of life. For me, it has to be fun or I’m not going to do it. Going into a weight room and pumping iron by myself is not fun. Spinning is boring. I teach people to love swimming. I can always find something they’re doing well and improve on it. I teach people to know it’s a lifelong sport. We do the four strokes, we work on the clock, interval training, flip turns, breath control, pace work, pulling, kicking. It’s all about the lungs.

Clients would say: That I make swimming fun and they want to come back and learn more.

Proudest achievement: I care about my friends and my family. I put out a lot of effort to make sure they know I’m thinking about them and care about them.

Guilty pleasure: Wet lunches with girlfriends.

For fun: I love to ride horses and do trail rides with friends.

Contact:, 707.337.4171

Personal Statement

Learning to swim is not an option; it’s a matter of life and death. Teaching young kids to swim has been part of my life since I was 14. I’ve helped many grown-ups learn too. It’s never too late to start swimming, and you can continue your whole life. It works every muscle, along with your heart and lungs and there’s always more to learn. I get great pleasure helping people improve their breathing, technique and speed. After a hard speed set, learning correct timing in breaststroke or just learning to float, you will always feel refreshed and exhilarated.


Name: Kurt Morella

Age: 44KurtMorella

Height and weight: 6’, 190

Profile: Owner of Musha Martial Arts. I teach blended martial arts with a focus on realistic self-defense. That’s what drives it. We allow ourselves to take techniques and training methods from any style of martial arts to accomplish our goal. Street-style self-defense is different than fight sports—it’s more real. In addition to drilling basics and conditioning, we create situational training drills using multiple opponents, weapons, whatever brings a sense of chaos—always looking for different solutions, but safely. We have very, very low injury rates. I make it safe. It involves a lot of spontaneous training, you have to deal with everything that can happen on the street. For kids, it’s about discipline, proper attitude, self-defense awareness and learning the basics. It’s fun and serious at the same time.

Why fit: I was always into physical stuff when I was a kid, different sports, but just to play, not to compete. When I was 12 I was bullied by a kid in a Kmart store. It was a total embarrassment. My mom asked if I wanted to learn martial arts. That was the beginning. I trained five days a week, had a second-degree black belt when I was 16. I was a certified instructor at 17 and was running the gym. Being fit just feels good. I feel stronger in my body in the world, there is confidence in strength.

Current fitness routine: In high school and college I got seriously into body building and developed a level of fitness that was so intense I could go long periods without training, it just stuck. I still like lifting. I don’t get bored with lifting or running. I enjoy pushing the limits of my body. Right now I do a few days weight lifting and running, the martial arts training with rehab, prehab and stretching.

Fitness philosophy: When I’m doing martial arts it’s complete immersion in the experience. It’s totally absorbing. There’s this flow coming out of my mouth as I teach, it’s joyful, I feel high. There is a very strong mental part and a physical part. Also spiritual. With what we do you have to be totally present, in the moment, or someone will punch you in the mouth.

Clients would say: I’m approachable, I’m concerned about every student, interested in each person’s development. I have an ability to meet them in a way they need to be met. They tend to think that I know what I’m doing and that I’m great with kids.

Proudest achievement: Inner peace. I have definitely worked to have a peaceful relationship with myself. Through training and fighting you learn a lott about yourself.

Guilty pleasure: Chocolate chip cookies and ginger ale.

For fun: I love to listen to music, to play music, hang with my fam and I like to dance.

Contact:, Call 707-931-0911

Personal Statement

I am a guide more than a teacher of some particular way. I assist students to find their own unique path through the training, guiding each person to develop according to their innate capabilities. Everyone can learn to fight. By doing so, we learn the most important lesson of all—not to fight. We fight everyday, with ourselves. Sometimes with those around us. It’s not always obvious but it’s happening. Finding peace and non-violence sometimes means exploring the aggression in our own being, and freeing ourselves from its confines. In a safe and fun way, we approach a serious matter, get our bodies and minds in shape for self-protection and life. It’s a great joy to share this practice with others.


Name: Sue Aslin

Age: 45SueAslin

Height and Weight: 5’ 9.5”, 120 pounds

Profile: Co-owner Studio M. Certified Pilates Master Trainer and Gyrotonics instructor. Has studied orthopedic massage, osteopathy, kinesiology.

Why fit: I was a dancer for 25 years and taught jazz dance. I’m someone who has to move. If I didn’t I’d probably fall apart.

How got fit: First dancing, but later Pilates and Gyrotonics to heal dance injuries. Met Madelyn Black (founder of Studio M), decided I wanted access to those machines. I studied with her for six years then bought half the business. I’m the most fit I’ve been in my life.

Current fitness routine: When I’m not teaching, I do Pilates and Gyrotonic at least five times a week. I like to walk and ride my bike. I don’t think anybody should do just one thing. If I go three days without moving, I can feel it. I don’t have to move more than 30 minutes a day, and I’m strong and fit.

Fitness philosophy: I teach people about body mechanics, how their body functions and how to correct it, and how to have longevity. My training allows me to identify dysfunction, help students release places of holding and create movement where there isn’t, balancing out their bodies.

Clients would say: That I am knowledgeable, attentive, meticulous, nurturing, empathetic and effective.

Proudest achievement: I have an amazing life. I’m really blessed by my job, my husband, my child.

Guilty pleasure: Chardonnay.

For fun: Putting on my four-inch heels and going out dancing.

Contact: email, 707.938.5593

Personal Statement

The work I do goes beyond the scope of Pilates and Gyrotonic. I am also knowledgeable in anatomy and kinesiology and apply techniques of orthopedic massage and osteopathy to help people move and function better. My intention is to help clients understand their bodies and feel the best they can by working with them to correct dysfunction, restore mobility and improve strength and flexibility. I don’t like anything that puts excessive loads on my body. I believe in working hard, but not in wearing out my joints or causing damage. We need to keep our bodies healthy for a lifetime.

One Comment

  1. Nice article featuring some very fit and very “well known” people in Sonoma. Well done, including EA Morgan. He’s a beast and really knows his stuff. There are less popular people both at EA’s CrossFit and Valley of the Moon CrossFit that truly belong in this article.

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