Meet The Trainers

Dustin Quarles, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Dustin

Dustin is a graduate from The University of Akron with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. While primarily working with athletes in the past, he finds it more rewarding working with novices & teaching all age groups what it takes to achieve their goals. Outside the gym, Dustin is an avid hunter and is up for any outdoor related activities.

My diet: Consuming fruits and vegetables packed with micronutrients is numero uno! Vitamins and nutrients should be everyone’s priority as they are the best fuel for energy. After the fact, I will adjust my diet to fit my protein requirements with lean beef, chicken or protein shakes.
My workout: HIIT training paired with the 3 essential muscle building exercises- deadlifts, squats, power cleans. Afterwards I will focus on isolation exercises.
Client success: When I think about all of the success that my clients have had, two people stand out the most and those would be our winners of our first ever Total Transformation Giveaway. In less than 6 months, both clients were able to lose a combined 100lbs with my guidance. But like I’ve always said, they put in ALL the work. I was there only for direction & motivation.
My strength: Education and motivation are my top priority. I enjoy educating my clients on how to reach their goals in the most effective and time efficient manner to ultimately create a lifestyle that is maintainable on their own. In addition, my ability to think on my feet and create variety with each and every workout keeps my clients interested and looking forward to their next workout.

“Education and motivation are my top priority. I enjoy educating my clients on how to reach their goals in the most effective and time efficient manner to ultimately create a lifestyle that is maintainable on their own. In addition, my ability to think on my feet and create variety with each and every workout keeps my clients interested and looking forward to their next workout..”

Kelsie, Certified Personal Trainer

Meet Kelsie

Kelsie considers herself a “lifetime-athlete”, constantly challenging herself to try new sports and compete in various competitions. She’s tried everything from gymnastics to rugby, basketball to competitive water-skiing, and has racked up a list of 10 different sports thus far! She has most recently became immersed in competitive strength sports like powerlifting and strongman. Through her many years of competing in various sports, she’s found that deep-down what she truly enjoys most is setting a goal for herself that may seem “impossible” in the beginning, and pushing herself to exceed that goal in the end! Her top three accomplishments so far have been 1) becoming a D1 rowing athlete at Clemson University, 2) competing at Raw Nationals in 2016 with USA Powerlifting, and 3) pulling a 303lb deadlift! It’s this goal-setting/goal-crushing work ethic and mindset that Kelsie enjoys instilling into her clients to pursue their own goals.

My diet: I try to get creative with my meals, but always make sure to have lean proteins, fresh vegetables, complex carbs, and healthy fats at each meal. My snacks are typically protein bars or shakes with fruit. I use supplements such as multivitamins, creatine, and L-leucine in my diet as well. I enjoy learning the science behind nutrition and supplements, and how our bodies utilize them for various processes.

My workouts: My workouts vary depending on what my goal is at the time. If I’m training for a powerlifting competition, I’m lifting heavy in the squat, bench press, and deadlift to work towards a 1 Rep Max. If I’m not in competition mode, then I enjoy a variety of powerlifting, bodybuilding, and athletic movements. In 2018, I hope to start training for my first strongman competition which will include things like tire flips, truck-pulls, farmer’s carries, and log presses!

Client success: I find the most joy in helping my clients set goals for themselves that may seem impossible, and assisting them in working to exceed those goals. One of my top client successes was a woman in her 40’s who originally came to me to lose weight and get in shape for hiking, who later set out to Africa and hiked over 19,000 feet to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro! In our year of training together, she lost over 20lb of fat, increased her strength and endurance, and achieved a huge self-accomplishment that she once thought was merely a dream.

Another great client success was a 68 year old woman who decided she wanted to compete in powerlifting. Her and I trained together for approximately six months, and in that time she competed in a local and National level competition, and even broke multiple state records! Just a few years prior to that, she had beat cancer and decided nothing was going to stop her from doing what she wanted…powerlifting included!

My strength: My biggest strength is helping clients find their own strengths. Not everyone wants to compete in powerlifting competitions or hike Mount Kilimanjaro, and that’s OK! However, I think it is important for everyone to set goals for themselves and work week after week to achieve them. I always find that my clients gain strength and increase their endurance before they see “weight” loss. Their body fat will go down, but their measurements might go up (muscle gain!). Their weight may be a couple pounds heavier, but their number of push-ups during our testing has doubled. I like to remind them that they are more than a number on a scale, and that their health should not be gauged by just “losses” but rather by “gains”! More muscle, more reps, more weight on the bar…THAT is what I strive for in my clients. Be MORE, do MORE, achieve MORE!

“Exercise and dieting should not be a quick-fix, but rather a lifestyle change. We must continously be setting goals, working to exceed those goals, and then creating new ones – this keeps us fresh, motivated, and constantly evolving! Not sure where to get started? With my personal accomplishments and past client successes, I guarantee I can help you achieve any goal you’re willing to work for. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it!”

AJ Short, MS, CSCS

Meet AJ

AJ is a certified strength and conditioning coach and is currently working on becoming a certified nutrition coach. He has a varied background with experience coaching in the private sector as well as the high school and collegiate levels. AJ enjoys watching people progress and push themselves to limits they otherwise might not have gone to. He believes getting in shape can positively effect ones’ life in so many ways.

My diet: Lean meats, eggs, oatmeal, rice, protein bars, protein shakes, fruits & veggies

My workouts: Strength training, GPP Work, hiking

Client success: There’s a story behind every client success and I’m just happy to be a part of helping them reach whatever goal we set forth. Whether it’s gaining weight while improving sports performance or wanting to shed a few pounds to play with your kids/grandkids.

My strength: Every person has a different training age. When it comes to nutrition and exercise, one size doesn’t fit all. My strength is being able to adjust to the client and find what works for them.

“Through my own experience, I’ve learned that it’s a process. Having a support system and someone to hold you accountable goes a long way towards helping you accomplish your goals. I strive to be that person for all of my clients.”

Jenna, Certified Personal Trainer

Meet Jenna

Being a former collegiate athlete, Jenna knows what it takes to put in work. She is dedicated to instilling the same in you! Whether you are having trouble holding yourself accountable, or you just need someone to motivate you, she will be there with you 100% of the way. Jenna has even gone through a weight loss transformation of her own. She lost over 50 pounds after graduating college, and has kept it off since!

My diet: Lots of protein! Oats, eggs, chicken, ground turkey, fresh fruits, sweet potatoes, and greens are her go to.

My workouts: Resistance training, HIIT workouts, cardio

Client success: I love helping others. Believing in yourself is huge! It’s all about trusting in the process. Once clients start seeing progress, they become more confident. Watching them crush their goals, and knowing I played a part in that, is an amazing feeling.

My strength: I am definitely a people person. I like building relationships with clients while helping them achieve their goals. I’m a very good motivator. Being apart of a team my entire life has helped me develop this quality. I am all about technique and injury prevention as well. I’d rather see someone bust out 15 good reps at a lighter weight, than put up 8-10 heavy uncontrolled reps.

“Personal training is a very rewarding job. You are on a journey with your clients. Watching people crush goals and become more confident in themselves is so gratifying. It’s an amazing feeling to know you helped make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Mary, Certified Personal Trainer

Meet Mary

Mary has been a Certified Personal Trainer for over 20 years and is also a Certified Nutrition Coach. She knows that it’s hard to get motivated but with her experience discovers ways to help you find out what drives you to reach your goals.

Mary wants you to enjoy your workouts; they’re going to be difficult but she does her best to make them fun, too!

My diet: I make sure I get a lot of fresh vegetables, fruit and other whole foods; aside from that I don’t worry about it too much.

My workouts: High-intensity strength training and sprinting workouts. I also play soccer and softball a few times a week.

Client success: With so many different clients over the years, I have had many success stories. I am grateful for every little victory or accomplishment they have, whether it’s that they dropped 20 lbs. or that our training has helped someone get in and out of the car just a bit easier.

My strength: I am comfortable with clients of any age and fitness level, working to move you toward your goals.

“You always work a bit harder when you’re with your personal trainer,” says Mary, “But don’t forget; more isn’t better… better is better!”

Nicole Duke, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Nicole

Need that extra encouragement to work out after a long day? Or that push to finish your last few exercises? Nicole will be there to support you through the workout and strive to help you reach your goals.

My diet: fresh fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, oats, yogurt, and lean meats
My workouts: Resistance and weight training, HIIT workouts, and hiking
Client success: I am working with a client who was previously working toward losing weight for her wedding. Following nutrition guidelines and an exercise regimen, she lost 20 pounds in the six months before her wedding. She came back from her honeymoon with a new goal to increase her muscle strength. I’m incredibly happy that I can help her work towards and achieve her goals.
My strength: With a background in Exercise Physiology, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of different aspects of the health field. I use different resources to try and cater exercises to each client’s ultimate goal, whether it is more of a strength or weight loss fitness journey.

“Getting in shape takes time, effort and patience,” says Nicole. “As a personal trainer, I enjoy being able to be there for others and encouraging them as they not only change physically but as they grow in other aspects of their life as well.”

Erica McNew, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Erica


Batter Up! While playing softball at Cleveland State, Erica learned that the amount of hard work you put in will be reflected in the results and outcomes. After a season ending injury her first year she came back stronger than ever, becoming one of the top offensive players in the league. With that same work ethic and determination she finished her career as the batting champion of not just the league, but of all of Division I.

My diet: Egg white omelette with jalapeños, tomatoes, and spinach. Grilled chicken and quinoa, Rosemary red potatoes, baked asparagus, Greek yogurt, wheat grass shakes.

My workout: Strength training, resistance band work, swimming, high intensity interval training.
Client success: My biggest success in addition to bringing a client knowledge is being their number one fan. I find joy in watching my clients go from having initial feelings of intimidation, weariness, and uncertainty towards working out and their goals to seeing each and every client blossom into a fitness fanatic that loves the skin that they live in. One of my clients struggled with eating out, low motivation, and accountability. Two of her main goals were to tone up and lose weight. Within the first eight weeks, after nutritional recommendations, pushing her to her limits, and helping to hold her accountable she was able to lose 6 pounds, and nine and a half total inches in addition to gaining muscle tone.
My strength: Strength training, Olympic lifts, resistance band work, modifications to exercises.

“Having had multiple sports related injuries, I am able to help motivate others in similar situations” says Erica. “I let them know that nothing can stop them from reaching their goals.”

David Candelaria, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet David


David prides himself in being a great bodyweight athlete, focusing on functional fitness and expressing himself through the art of movement. He also has a martial arts background, which he integrates in his training with his clients. David is also a huge Bruce Lee fan.

My diet: Rice, beans, chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, fruits and other protein supplements.
My workout: HIIT, calisthenics, martial arts training and jump rope.
Client success: I have had great success with getting clients out of their comfort zone. It is always my goal to help make them feel confident in a gym atmosphere. I enjoy helping them overcome certain fears and showing them their true potential in performing feats of strength beyond what they thought possible.
My strength: I can work with people with varying levels of fitness, from athletes to overweight to elderly. I focus on perfect form and modifying exercises for constant progress and best results.

“Being a personal trainer is a true passion of mine and is my calling in life” says David. “I am excited to continue to learn and develop to become the best version of myself possible.”

Gunnar Swanchara, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Gunnar


When Gunnar Swanchara isn’t hustling his way through a powerlifting workout or bodybuilding exercises in the gym, he heads for Cleveland-area parks and trails to go for a run or take a hike. He’s a versatile athlete who knows what it takes to go from scrawny to brawny. He’s packed on 30 pounds of muscle while keeping body fat low. And knows how to help people achieve their health and fitness goals.

My diet: Eggs/egg whites, oatmeal, lean meats such as chicken, fish, and turkey, unlimited dark green veggies, and protein bars in a pinch when traveling.
My workout: Powerlifting workouts, bodybuilding, hiking, running.
Client success: Every client is memorable for different reasons. I really enjoy the first few weeks of training new clients. People learn a lot about themselves, along with healthy eating and exercises like the squat, hip hinge, push up, etc. It’s great to watch people progress, get stronger, and perform more challenging variations of these fundamental movements. When a client goes from hardly being able to perform an exercise, to telling me the same exercise is now too easy, always makes me smile.
My strength: I love helping people reach their goals, especially when it comes to fitness, nutrition, building muscle, losing weight, or achieving a better quality of life. I know how to guide clients through the process, teach them to move and exercise correctly, and develop good habits that will prevent injury and improve their overall health.

“I’ve learned that slow and steady wins the race,” says Gunnar. “It’s the best approach to building muscle, losing weight, and learning to develop healthy habits you can stick with.”

Dominic Gray, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Dominic


Holding yourself accountable is a common barrier to reaching fitness goals. Dominic is a trainer who specializes in accountability. Having trouble sticking to a set workout schedule? He can fix that. Motivating others, as well as driving them to meet their fitness goals is what he takes pride in most!

My diet: Apple cinnamon oatmeal, Greek yogurt, lean chicken breast, tuna, steak, salmon, ground turkey, asparagus, fruit and protein shakes.
My workout: Hypertrophy training, HIIT, and strength training.
Client success: I have a special relationship with each one of my clients. Being there for every step of their fitness journey is such an awesome experience. Watching clients set goals, the process it takes to achieve them, and the accomplishment they fell when reaching those goals is what I love about my job.
My strength: The ability to motivate as well as develop unique workout programs to cater to my clients no matter what their fitness level may be.

“As a personal trainer, I have the ability to impact the lives of others in a positive way on a daily basis,” says Dominic. “It is the most amazing feeling to be a part of other fitness journey.”

Tom Bakalarz, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Tom


Overweight, out of shape, and stuck in a fitness funk? Tom Bakalarz knows what it’s like. He’s been there, done that. And he knows the ropes when it comes to eating healthy, working out, and believing in yourself to reach your goals.

My diet: Turkey, chicken, eggs, spinach and cottage cheese are my staples. I have learned to love broccoli, at least I keep telling myself that, because I know the science behind the health benefits of this vegetable.
My workout: Strength training with a 5-3-1 rep scheme with some classic lifts. High-intensity interval training and time ladder workouts for cardio.
Client success: One of my client’s was a 60-year-old guy with high blood pressure. It was a problem that really put his health at risk. And he wanted to do something about it. He worked hard for a couple of months. Then one day during a treadmill workout he started to tear up. It was the first time he ever ran a mile without stopping. And a few weeks later he was off all blood pressure medications.
My strength: My biggest strength is adaptability. I can help people identify the right training plan to meet their needs and reach their goals.

“When I decided to make some changes in my life, it helped me develop healthier habits,” says Tom. “Health and fitness became a passion and a career for me. It’s exciting to share my experiences and training to help people reach their own personal goals.”

Nick Owens, Exercise Fitness Specialist

Meet Nick


You never really know what you’re capable of until you try. It’s an idea Nick believes in to help people get in better shape. And he’s not afraid of a challenge either. He’s beat two Tough Mudder courses that require strength, speed, endurance, and a little bit of crazy.

My diet: Eggs, oats, fruit, and plenty of lean meats and vegetables.
My workout: High-intensity weight training, bodyweight exercises, TRX and basketball.
Client success: One of my clients was on the verge of having a hip replacement done at the age of 60. He wanted to avoid it if possible, and was willing to try. For a couple months, he followed a training plan to strengthen his hip, increase range of motion, and flexibility. And it worked. He no longer needed surgery. All his hard work made the physical tasks required by his job easier, too.
My strength: I know people respond best to encouragement and support from someone they trust. Personal training allows me to make a difference in somebody’s life. I love being able to develop relationships with people and help them achieve their goals for muscle building, strength training, weight loss, or other health and fitness goals.

“When you do something hard, it changes you,” says Nick. “I like helping people find out they’re a lot stronger than they realize.”

Josh Edie, Exercise Fitness Specialist, CPT

Meet Josh


Meet the guy who’s a walking encyclopedia of exercise science, biomechanics, and nutrition. Josh is a highly-experienced, results-driven personal trainer who regularly helps other EFS trainers and their clients develop exercise and nutrition strategies for success.

My diet: One of my favorite meals I have on a weekly basis is steak, a sweet potato, and broccoli or asparagus.
My workout: Hypertrophy training and strength training
Client success: I worked with a client who was suffering with fibromyalgia and a few other health issues. In under a year, her health and fitness improved, she didn’t need as much medication, and she was able to jog steps again. Helping her was one of the most motivating things I’ve done as a trainer.
My strength: Weight gain. I graduated high school at 100 pounds and learned how to gain weight and build muscle.

“Personal training is a perfect fit for me because I love health and fitness and enjoy helping people,” says Josh. “I’m always inspired by interacting with people and watching the changes that take place in their lives.”

Joe Vilkoski, Exercise Fitness Specialist, CPT

Meet Joe


Want to know who hired your trainer so you can show off your results? Joe Vilkoski and Nithaniel Decker are experienced fitness professionals and the founders of EFS Personal Training and handpicked their team of highly-skilled trainers who are transforming the lives of people throughout northeastern Ohio.

My diet: Protein, protein, protein. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
My workout: Mid-day workouts, resistance training, cardio workouts like a good distance run.
Client success: Very early in my career, I worked with a 40-year-old woman with diabetes who needed to lose weight. Through exercise training and healthy diet tips, she lose 80 pounds and gained her life back. Her husband and family paid me many, many compliments, and I’ve been hooked on helping people ever since.
My strength: My specialty is weight loss. I have helped numerous clients lose 20, 30, and even 50 pounds. I love putting my clients through calorie-crushing workouts that really elevate the heart rate.

“I’ve always told my clients, ‘I probably get more from our sessions than they do,’” says Joe. “Meeting new people and learning new ways to help motivate and drive them to achieve new personal bests is rewarding. I know we’re making a difference with every set and every rep.”

Nithanial Decker, Exercise Fitness Specialist, CPT

Meet Nithanial


Some people have a way of turning the negative into a positive. That’s a good way to describe Nithanial, who grew up around family members with poor health caused by a lack of exercise and good eating habits. He recognized that many health issues are preventable with diet and exercise and decided to make it his mission to help as many people as possible live healthier. Launching EFS Personal Training with Joe Vilkoski is proof he’s making a difference. Helping an injured competitor complete the final obstacles of a Warrior Dash is pretty cool too.

My diet: My diet is pretty simple and fairly strict. I have oatmeal and fresh fruit every morning with a protein shake. Then I eat a variety of proteins such as chicken, steak, and turkey, plus lots of green veggies and sweet potatoes.
My workout: Four-day bodybuilding split to increase muscle mass. Cardio three times per week for 30 minutes for cardiovascular health.
Client success: I worked with a 60-year-old woman who was overweight and living and overall poor lifestyle. Through exercise and better nutrition, she lowered her percent body fat and didn’t need meds for diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure anymore. She was so happy she cried when she told me her doctor took her off all those meds.
My strength: Building lean muscle and strength training. I enjoy these types of workouts myself and have struggled my way through my own experiences. This self-education helps me relate to the issues clients come across in their journey and gives me a way to show them how to improve.

“Being a personal trainer is all about inspiring, educating, and empowering people to live healthier lives through diet and exercise,” says Nithanial. “It’s exciting to be building a team of like-minded trainers to help me change more lives than I could ever imagine doing alone.”