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Employees

Because you should expect more from a gym, the Center for Health & Fitness holds itself to a higher standard. CHF takes a medically based approach to health and well-being and its employees are a reflection of that. CHF has more than 60 full- and part-time staff and instructors whose goal is to help you meet your fitness goals.

All CHF trainers hold college degrees in health-related disciplines, with certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association. CHF also offers Medical Exercise Specialists—the only fitness center in the beach cities to do so—who are trained and educated to work with member’s doctors or physical therapists to ensure the highest quality, effective exercise program.

Start by clicking on the profiles below to learn more about the CHF team, then give a call if you’d like to learn more about personal training or taking a class.

Group Exercise Instructor

Joyce Karel
Class Instructor

A former teacher at California State University Dominguez Hills and a life-long student, Joyce has a passion for helping others fulfill their potential academically and physically. 

When asked why she chooses to instruct at Beach Cities Health District, Joyce says, “I’ve had the same transformative experiences here that many others have when they join: weight loss, increased strength and fitness, higher energy levels, better bone density, as well as the social benefits associated with joining the BCHD community.  So I had a strong desire to join this wonderful organization and help give back to the Beach Cities.”

When Joyce isn’t teaching Body Sculpting classes, she can generally be found jogging or hiking.

Graduate degrees in theatre (WSU), Reading Theory (CSUN) and English Education (NYU).
Charlotte Rowley
Group Exercise Instructor

A mother and one-time corporate executive, Charlotte’s current passion for exercise inspires people who thrive in a group exercise atmosphere.   Her clear and concise instruction helps clients achieve effective results while preventing injuries. 

Charlotte’s philosophy: “Together we move, groove and bring out the best in each other”.

AFAA Certification in Group Exercise; AA in Data Processing
Dana Staggs
Group Exercise Instructor

Dana likes his clients’ heart rates and the music to pump during his sessions.  Don’t take his class if you are not in the mood to be challenged.  With an emphasis on proper form, technique and training principles, Dana’s class is designed to be difficult, but is for people of all ability levels.  His objective: continuous improvement.

An elite-level triathlete, Dana knows that positive results don’t come without hard work, but this belief is tempered with the idea that exercise should remain fun and interesting.

When Dana is not at CHF you can find him swimming, bicycling and running with the LA Tri Club.

Umeko Walker
Group Exercise Instructor

Umeko’s background is in movement and structural therapy, so if you are looking for an emphasis on form, Umeko is the instructor for you.  She challenges her students to use muscles they generally ignore, which helps them achieve a strong, balanced body.

When Umeko is not at CHF, she is working with clients privately, assisting with small building projects or organizing spaces.

Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Yoga Instructor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Anatomical Studies, UCLA
Lilly Murphy
Group Exercise Instructor

Teaching a variety of workout classes, Lilly can help you improve your overall fitness in nearly all areas.  She strives to convey that fitness is just as important as brushing one's teeth. After taking a class with Lilly, students will feel the joy of achievement after conquering tough challenges. Lilly has 31 years of experience teaching adult fitness and is also an instructor at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Certified by Aerobic Pipeline, YMCA, The American Council of Exercise, Stott's Pilates International, Schwinn and Reebok Indoor Cycling
Debra Dodge
Spinning Instructor

It’s gotta be fun! How else can you sit on those bike seats for 60 minutes? Debbie started spinning 10 years ago and is enthusiastic about sharing her passion for it. To her, it’s one of the best single forms of exercise anyone can do.  Debbie loves seeing the transformation from the beginning of the class to the end. She also rides outdoors on weekends and takes circuit/weight classes at CHF during the week for strength and balance.

Classes taught: Cycling

Specialization:  Cycling

Double B.A. in Anthropology/Computer Applications from the University of Notre Dame
Lois Schunk
Group Exercise Instructor

Lois believes that exercise should be fun and a precursor to enjoyable activities in life, both in and away from the gym. Her 20-plus years as a physician’s assistant contributes to her knowledge of fitness and helps her serve clients of all levels.

On weekends, you may find her on her bike or hiking – using those quads and hamstrings she loves to target in class – but her real passion lies in the mountains and trails of faraway countries. She is an avid traveler and explorer, having visited all continents.

Classes: Core Board, Rep Reebok, Stretch, 50+ Aerobics, and Cyclin’

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Certification Physician Assistant, M.A. in Marriage, Family and Child Therapy, and B.A. in Biology
Samantha Pioch
Group Exercise Instructor

With certifications in indoor cycling, personal training and Yogafit, Samantha is an all-around fitness guru dedicated to helping others get on board the fitness track. She even started Sam’s Boot Camp, which runs for two weeks in the summer. Samantha has been teaching at BCHD for four years.

When she’s not whipping clients into shape, Samantha also runs a painting business called Sweet Pea Artworks, specializing in pet and animal portraits.

B.A. in Sociology from UCSB, Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from CSUDH
Samantha Tobey
Group Exercise

Using fun music and a caring attitude, Samia will make you forget you’re working out! With a background in ethnic dance, including, belly dance, samba, Afro Brazilian, salsa, and North African dance she is sure to get you moving and grooving. Her dancing is shaped by years of study with dance masters, international tours, and fieldwork. With a background in bodywork, Samia is very conscious of proper technique and posture. In her spare time she loves to spend time with her dog and works as a musician.

M.S., B.S. and CMT

Group Exercise Instructor
Personal Trainer

Lisa Cooney
Personal Trainer

A mother and former competitive gymnast, Lisa leads Body Sculpt, 20-20-20, Cycle and Circuit classes at CHF and recently began instructing the Toddler Movement Program at BCHD’s AdventurePlex, too.  Her students love the energy, humor and positive reinforcement she infuses into each of her classes, which are designed to challenge everyone, from a 20-year-old to a 70-year-old.  Lisa’s philosophy:  “It’s your workout, so make the most of it.  Get out there and move!”

When Lisa isn’t leading fitness classes, she enjoys spending time with her son, watching movies and hitting the slopes.

B.S. Recreational Therapy, East Carolina University