recreation and wellness
:: Wellness :: :: Recreation :: :: Tennis :: :: Fishing :: :: Hiking :: :: Kids Activities ::

LEIGH ANN BYRD has been teaching some form of aerobic exercise for 25 years. Exercise is her passion and she loves helping others achieve fitness goals, but most importantly keeping people motivated to move. In addition to teaching fitness classes at Chetola, she is also a certified personal trainer. Leigh Ann has a degree in Medical Technology and is currently taking classes at ETSU to pursue a Masters Degree to become a Physician Assistant. She works as a nurse in a local physician’s office when she is not teaching fitness classes at Chetola or the hospital's Wellness Center. Her husband Mike and her two daughters keep her busy and bring much joy to her life.
ANNETTE GOUDEAU recently relocated from Alexandria, Louisiana, where she was the Aquatic Director for Louisiana College for more than 28 years. She developed and ran a community water fitness program for Louisiana College that reached beyond the college to impact hundreds of clients. She has been an aqua trainer, teacher and advocate for more than 30 years and is certified by the Aqua Exercise Association and the Arthritis Foundation. Annette’s passion is helping students and training clients to control pain/stiffness, increase energy, lower blood pressure, and stay healthy and mobile while having fun in the water. Her motto is, “Get wet, get fit, have fun – water works!"

BRIANA KIDD recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management. During her time in school, she fell in love with the sense of community she feels while practicing yoga with others. After teaching at the university for a year, she wanted to go deeper into the program and therefore became the mind/body programmer. Briana is a former gymnast and has been practicing yoga for about five years. She currently holds a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification, and has been teaching for over two years. Being from South Florida, Briana enjoys the beach and the sunshine, but as she resides in the mountains, she feels calm and giving in her heart. Yoga has allowed Briana to grow and build confidence in the way she presents herself, and she is always eager to share her love and passion for the practice through her experience thus far.

MELISSA POLLARD has been a student of yoga since 2005, and attended the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program at The White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2008. Since then, Melissa has been integrating the wisdom and foundations of yoga she was taught there. She cultivates her classes based on the experience of her own practice and that of many teachers who she has learned from along the way. She has a deep respect for the practice of yoga and a passion to share this life-changing experience with others. Her classes focus on keeping students safe in their own practice by inspiring a deeper awareness of the body, the mind-body connection and self-awareness. Her intention as a teacher is to create a safe and playful space so the exploration of awareness in one's practice can unfold with the ease that is our natural state of being. Melissa is also a licensed massage therapist and Montessori-trained childcare provider.
LISA REES believes yoga can benefit everyone of any age, and she loves learning and practicing different types of yoga.  She started doing yoga regularly seven years ago after a knee injury stopped her from running. She was searching for a replacement workout, and found that she really enjoyed the vinyasa style of yoga, which is a flowing class that can be quite strenuous. As an accountant, she spends a lot of time at a desk, and she found that the neck and backaches that came with tax season were not a problem when she did regular yoga classes. After a year or so of serious practice, she enrolled in the 200-hour Neighborhood Yoga Teacher Training Program and graduated in May of 2008. Currently she enjoys exploring a rhythmic yoga flow practice which incorporates asana, music and breath work.

ELLEN RUSSELL is a native of Blowing Rock, N.C. Ellen left the area to attend the Art Institute of Atlanta studying Fine Art and Fashion Illustration. After returning to the Blowing Rock area, Ellen pursued her love of the arts by making jewelry, painting and dabbling in dance. A fitness enthusiast, Ellen found her passion after attending her first Zumba Fitness class. Totally smitten, she decided to become a certified instructor and share the passion for this Latin-inspired dance fitness program. Ellen is certified in both Zumba as well as Zumba Toning (which incorporates light-weighted maracas for more intense power toning moves), and she is currently pursuing her AFAA (Aerobics & Fitness Association of America) certification. Ellen has been an instructor for two years and is looking forward to 20 more.

CATHERINE SCANTLIN completed her BS in Health Promotion at Appalachian State University and her MS in Community Counseling at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Catherine is the Health and Wellness Director at Chetola Resort. She is a wellness educator helping people find improvement and balance in all areas of wellness. Catherine is a certified yoga and spin instructor and has been teaching all sorts of fitness classes to adults and children for more than 15 years. She has been practicing yoga for 10 years and teaching for seven, focusing on a gentle flow that builds heat, strength, and awareness of body, mind and spirit. Catherine also teaches plant-based, whole foods cooking classes at Chetola.

AKAL DEV SHARONNE feels blessed to have been practicing yoga since the early '70s. Her earliest exposure was in Paris in 1971. She can still remember the feeling of deep relaxation that she experienced at the end of her first class. Upon returning to the United States, she became connected to a spiritual community that practiced kundalini yoga, which combines specific postures with meditative breathing techniques and an awareness of energy flow within the body. This was the focus of her practice for many years. She began teaching in the late '70s and has continued to do so ever since. More recently, she has widened her focus to include more traditional hatha yoga practices (focused on postures and breath), as well as flow sequences (combinations of postures), while maintaining the core practice of kundalini. Akal Dev welcomes beginners as well as those with more yoga experience, and she adjusts every class according to the level and background of the students.

JENNY THORNTON-BROOKS began her yoga practice in 2003, while earning a BS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from Appalachian State University. She found that yoga was the kindest thing to do for her body as she pursued more arduous activities, including trail running, downhill mountain biking, snowboarding and being an all-around outdoor enthusiast. While living in Charleston, SC, she was drawn to the mat to fill the void left by the mountains of Western North Carolina. It turned out to be a wonderful tool for finding center and her home at the beach. Jenny graduated from the Holy Cow Yoga Teacher Training Program in Charleston in April 2012, and then began teaching at Holy Cow Yoga Center. Jenny is thrilled to now bring her practice back home to the mountains, and excited to share yoga with others and also help them find their home on the mat.

CHARLES WOFFORD recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a BS in Health Promotion and minor in Exercise Science. A native of Wilmington, NC, Charles has a strong passion for exercise and outdoor activities. He enjoys running, hiking, surfing and snowboarding and was a four-year member of the ASU Cross Country and Track & Field Team. Charles aspires to encourage and instruct physical fitness as well as gain and share valuable knowledge from his mentors and peers.

RJ WUAGNEUX earned his undergraduate degree in Music and Guitar Performance from Mercer University. During that time, RJ worked in the university's fitness center as a fitness instructor and student wellness employee. He is an avid trail runner and travels regionally to participate in road races. In his Quick Fit class, you will experience RJ’s high-energy, station-oriented approach to cross training in which students maintain an elevated heart rate while progressing through targeted strength and endurance exercises. RJ also works in the Recreation Department at Chetola Resort helping with the kids programs. He also performs classical guitar at Timberlake’s Restaurant and offers private music instruction.


Highlands Sports and Recreation Center Office: 828-295-5535

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