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Meet The Trainers

Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS, NASM-PES, USAW

Coordinator of Fitness Programs
Joe serves as Drexel University’s Coordinator of Fitness Programs, where he oversees the Proactive Health personal training program, administers fitness assessments, participates in research projects, and assists with the implementation of the university wide A HEALTHIER U wellness initiative.

Some facts about Joe:
Joe has competed in soccer, football, and powerlifting throughout high school and college and few years following college.
Joe has trained and consulted over 100 Division 1 athletes and dozens of professional athletes throughout his career.
He has written nearly 300 articles related to health and fitness, many of which appear on popular websites and blogs.
An avid sports fan, Joe roots for the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Specializations: Biomechanics, corrective exercise, sports performance training, powerlifting, weightlifting, energy system development, disease management.

Certifications: NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist, USAW Club Coach Level 1

Education: Masters of Business Administration, Rosemont College, Masters of Science, Exercise Science, California University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor of Arts, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Fitness Director, Germantown Academy
Adjunct Instructor at various colleges, including: Gloucester County College, Community College of Philadelphia, Delaware Technical Community College
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Saint Joseph’s University
Personal Trainer, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Recreation
Wellness Coach, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Health Coach, Provant Health Solutions
Fitness Coach, Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness
Personal Trainer and Manager, various health clubs, including: Broad Street Fitness, Bally Total Fitness, and LA Fitness

Gretchen Tucker, MA, AFAA-CPT

Personal Trainer
Our longest tenured staff member, Gretchen recently completed her graduate studies at Drexel and accepted a position at the Center for Autism.  Gretchen remains on board, helping her clients reach their health and fitness goals.

Some facts about Gretchen:
Her favorite pastime is traveling
She enjoys keeping physically active through varied activities, such as walking, biking, and hiking
She has completed six Tough Mudder runs
She was a dual sport athlete in college, starring in both field hockey and lacrosse at SUNY New Paltz

Specializations: Weight loss, race preparation, sport performance training, women's health, strength training, Olympic weightlifting.

Certifications: AFAA Certified Personal Trainer

Education: Masters of Arts, Creative Arts in Therapy, Drexel University, Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Studio Arts, State University of New York at New Paltz

Experience: Personal Training since 2009.

Melisa Gebizlioglu, BS, ACSM-HFS

Personal Trainer
A graduate student in the School of Public Health, Melisa devotes her spare time helping members achieve their fitness goals.

Some facts about Melisa:
Her first name is Ayse, pronounced I-shay, but goes by her middle name, Melisa
He favorite food is chicken kebabs
Her favorite movie is Remember the Titans
An avid runner, Melisa recently participated in the annual Broad Street Run
Melisa enjoys the beach, country music, pugs, baking, traveling

Specializations: Weight loss, race preparation, injury prevention, circuit training, TRX suspension training, women's fitness

Certifications: ACSM Certified Health and Fitness Specialist

Education: Masters of Public Health, Drexel University (in progress), Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science, Rutgers University

Personal Trainer, Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Center
Physical Therapy Aide and Exercise Specialist, Saint Peter's Sports Medicine Institute
Research Assistant, Rutgers University Physiology Lab

Akil Piggott, BS, ACSM-HFS

Personal Trainer
When this second year physical therapy student isn't hitting the books or occupying the squat rack, he's helping his clients get stronger, fitter, healthier.

Specializations: Bodybuilding, powerlifting, sports performance training, injury prevention, rehabilitation.

Certifications: ACSM Certified Health and Fitness Specialist

Education: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Drexel University (in progress), Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science, University of Georgia

5 Questions with Akil:

What motivates you to exercise?
There are only a few things in this world that make me happier than exercising.  Besides that, I am also constantly drive to make myself a little bit better than the way I woke up.  It's an impossible goal that I take pride in chasing.
What is the strangest food you've ever eaten?
Pig foot
What TV show is your guilty pleasure?
Vampire Diaries
What's the most adventurous thing you've done?
Sky Diving
What is your favorite quote?
"Pain is temporary! It may last for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or even a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.  If I quit however, it will last forever." - Eric Thomas

Nick Deacon, BA, ACSM-CPT

Personal Trainer
One of the industry's fastest rising names, Nick encompasses a no nonsense science based approach which delivers his clients results.

Some facts about Nick:
He competes as a natural lightweight bodybuilder, most recently placing in the 2013 INBF Doc Brown East Coast Classic and 2013 OCB Charm City Classic.
An accomplished musician, Nick enjoys practicing and performing when he's not working with clients.
He enjoys board sports, including snowboarding and skateboarding.

5 Questions with Nick:

Who are you and why are you training me?
My name is Nick and I decided one day that I loved muscles and teaching so much that I built a cave made of books and barbells.  I resided in that cave for a decade and plan to regularly spend time there until I know all the answers to help others and myself in our various quests for wellness, performance, and overall fitness.

Okay, so you much know a little about fitness, what else do you know a good bit about?
I studied music performance extensively in my undergrad, so I might know a thing or two about clapping and shouting and how to make it presentable.

If you were a superhero what would your special power be?
If I were just an enhanced version of myself it would definitely be a super sight as a reflection of my attention to detail.  But, if I could instead choose one, it would probably be to learn/read instantaneously. There is just too much knowledge to absorb.

Specializations: Bodybuilding, power-lifting, weight loss, nutrition, sport and exercise psychology.

Certifications: ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, ISSA Specialist in Performance Nutrition

Education: Bachelor of the Arts, Music Performance, University of the Arts


Personal Trainer
Our team's newest addition boasts over a decade of coaching experience, having worked with top professional, collegiate, and high school athletes.

Some facts about Eric:
He starrred at Towson University where he played cornerback, where he played against Delaware quarterback and eventual Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco.
While a defensive backs coach and strength coach at Imhotep Charter High School, Eric helped develop a cadre of Division 1 recruits, including David Williams, who now stars at South Carolina.
Now that he has joined Drexel, Eric has worked at four of the City 6 schools, he previously held stints at Saint Joseph's University, the University of Pennsylvania, and La Salle University

Specializations: Sport performance training, weightlifting, speed, agility, and quickness training, women's fitness general fitness, youth fitness.

Certifications: USAW Club Coach Level 1, USATF Certified Coach Level 1, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer

Education: Masters of Education, Grand Canyon University, Bachelor of Science, Sport Management, minor in Business Administration, Towson University

Physical Education Teacher and Football Coach, School District of Phildelphia
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Saint Joseph's University
Personal Trainer, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Recreation
Intern Strength and Conditioning Coach, La Salle University
Fitness Specialist, Salvation Army Kroc Center
Fitness Specialist, Maryland Athletic Club