Meet Our Team
Youth Fitness Specialist
Youth Fitness Specialist
I am a certified personal trainer specializing in programs for children and adolescents. I design training regimens that take the emphasis off competition and place it on “play” by incorporating games (designed or modified to the capabilities of the child/adolescent) into each session. Some examples of these games include: Laser Ball, Time Traveler, Crazy Animals, Pilot’s License, and, my all time favorite, Tractor Pulls. My philosophy is one of INclusion, not EXclusion. The best way to include a child or adolescent in an activity is to find out what he/she loves, such as a favorite television series or character, a video or computer game, or even a movie, and use that as motivation. I teach kids to actively pursue excellence in small, manageable increments through my method of EMPOWER. In essence, I teach kids how to move properly in order to reduce the risk of injury, and I focus on continuous improvement, not performance. My overall objective is to enable any child, regardless of ability or background, to have an active life through play and ultimately develop a long-term love for exercise.
My approach to fitness was developed by my own experiences. At the age of four, I was diagnosed with a learning disability that was both retrieval- and language-based. The diagnosis opened the floodgates to a series of judgments – from teachers, peers, and even relatives – as to what I could or could not accomplish in life. Despite my challenges with academics, there was one area that made all of that disappear: sports and fitness. All my insecurities and self-esteem issues were an afterthought when I was out on the fields and courts. This was possible as a result of a special set of programs that I was fortunate to be a part of while attending a school for students with learning disabilities. I participated in sports programs that emphasized play, inclusiveness, and a level playing field. It didn’t matter if you were a fast runner or fast math problem solver; it didn’t matter if you could score 20 points in a game or process 20 words at a time; it didn’t matter if you struck out or hit a homer by acing your exam. Everyone had their moment to shine.
I have since learned that this opportunity was quite unique. Sports and fitness can be intimidating to many children depending on their ability; I believe it should be used to promote inclusion. Sports and fitness can be a gateway to building self-esteem and confidence. With that in mind, I’ve created a unique approach to youth fitness by getting my clients to play and move prior to my injecting technique and development into the session. I consider myself to be both a teacher and a coach. As a teacher, my goal is to plant seeds; as a coach, my goal is to get results. Overall, my main objective is to provide kids, especially those who have been challenged just as I was, with opportunities similar to those I had growing up.
I live on the Upper West Side where I was born and raised. I grew up with a bigger backyard than most kids because my backyard was Central Park. I love to work out and am extremely active in many sports including basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, boxing, and scuba diving. In fact, scuba diving has allowed me to travel to many places such as the Bahamas, several Caribbean islands, Hawaii, Mexico, Australia, and Greece.
Michael holds the following certifications: ACE Certified Personal Trainer, IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist Levels 1-3, IYCA Youth Athletic Assessment Specialist, IYCA Youth Nutrition Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, NASM Group Training, CPR & AED, Concussion in Youth Fitness, and DIR 101 Certified (Developmental – Individual – Relationship-based), U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Emily is a licensed Occupational Therapist who received her Masters of Science degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she specialized in Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Emily has experience working in a variety of pediatric settings including schools and sensory gyms. She enjoys working with children of all ages and has specialized training in sensory processing, early intervention, reflex integration, and apraxia. Emily lives in Manhattan with her husband, Yoni, and their rescue cat, Lobster.
Brian is a certified corrective exercise specialist focusing on enriching the lives of athletes through personal training and sports. While growing up in New York City, Brian participated in numerous sports including basketball, boxing, baseball, swimming, and soccer. He developed a passion for boxing and dedicated his time to learning the sweet science and honing his skills. While training for the Golden Gloves in 2010, he tore the labrum in his shoulder and had to stop boxing. It was during this time that he began working as a mentor and tutor for his neighbor’s son who was on the autism spectrum. Realizing the various challenges the boy had to overcome every day, he was determined to help him succeed. Possessed by new enthusiasm, Brian continued to work in the autism spectrum field. At the Rebecca School, he helped students navigate the city using various modes of transportation, and he supervised students at job internships at Magnolia Bakery, Best Buddies, the Urban Farm at Battery Park, and Farm for City Kids in Vermont. He observed the physical, adaptive, and cognitive challenges his students faced with day to day tasks, however, he was most intrigued by the physical aspects of his students’ daily lives. He noticed that many of his students had decreased core strength and poor posture, which affected their ability to participate in certain aspects of work. As a result, Brian incorporated corrective exercises and physical training into his students’ daily routines. Combining his passions for physical fitness and helping individuals with learning differences, Brian joined Empowered Sports and Fitness. Motivated by the immense resolve his athletes possessed, Brian rehabilitated his shoulder and returned to the gym, sparring with active fighters. Brian also enjoys meditating, hiking, and exploring nature. He lives on the Upper East Side with his girlfriend and their pet parrot, Geronimo.
Justin grew up on the Upper East Side of New York City. As a boy, he competed in sports such as basketball, hockey, and lacrosse, and he eventually played Division II lacrosse at the Dominican College of Blauvelt in Orangeburg, NY. Upon leaving college, Justin became a physical education teacher and a youth lacrosse coach. Being a teacher and coach helped shape his training philosophy with student athletes. Coaching athletes of various ages with different physical, adaptive, and cognitive abilities taught Justin that a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable for all athletes. This philosophy is what encouraged Justin to further his education in the realm of physical education and become a certified personal trainer. When working with athletes, he believes in creating an environment that will foster confidence and a passion for movement. Combining his passions for physical education, personal training, and helping athletes with learning differences, Justin is a perfect fit for Empowered Sports and Fitness. Motivated by his love of working with student athletes, Justin has quickly become a favorite with the athletes he trains.
Justin lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and enjoys playing basketball, lacrosse, and participating in yoga whenever he has the chance. He is also searching for the best slice of pizza in NYC. Recommendations are always welcomed as his search is not over yet.
Our Philosophy is “Everyone Gets to Play”
The development of movement across a lifespan is a complex process that is influenced by cognitive and physical aspects. As Youth Fitness Specialists, developing relationships with individuals is first and foremost. We understand that when building rapport and designing a program, a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work. In fact, we create movement programs customized to each child with whom we work. We use simple elements of demonstration, explanation, and feedback to teach proper movement patterns. And the best way to keep our process simple, consistent, and fun is to EMPOWER our clients.