MEET THE INSTRUCTORS

Carissa Pajo

CARISSA PAJO

Carissa grew up with an active lifestyle. Her childhood and teen years included competitive gymnastics, hula, Muay Thai, air riflery, soccer, judo, and track & field. However, Carissa's group fitness journey began in 2010 when she attended her first Zumba class. She was shy and always claimed a spot in the back row. In 2012, she was encouraged by many to flip the script and became a certified Zumba instructor. Over the years, this first step has cascaded into a series of additional certifications for other group fitness formats, including Turbo Kick, Insanity, Core De Force, PiYo, SH1FT, L1FT, M1ND, R1ZE, and STRONG Nation (formerly known as STRONG By Zumba). Her newest certification is for GROOV3.

Connecting with people through group fitness has developed from Carissa's hobby into her passion. In early 2020, she left her position as a Loan Analyst at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pursue her dream of opening her own fitness studio. A few months later, she made it happen. Carissa's Fitness Studio opened in July 2020.

Whenever you attend a class with Carissa, you'll definitely be sweating with a smile.

Ash_edited.png

ASH TSUJI

"Aloha! I'm Ash and when I was 7 years old I told my parents I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer. Remember that show? Well that never happened, but my love of dance led me to musical theatre and the opportunity to perform all over the world.   

 

After taking a few Zumba classes on O`ahu, I was inspired to create and choreograph my own routines to music I heard at the clubs. That led to my first Dance Fitness Class in 2014. 

 

Since then, I moved back to my hometown of Hilo and continue to teach Dance Fitness around town and online. I’m extremely excited to join Carissa and the talented instructors at her studio to keep people active while having fun at the same time!"

~Ash

Leilani Simons

LEILANI SIMONS

"Aloha, I’m Lei!  

 

I'm a dancer at heart...dancing is definitely in my blood!  A hula dancer since a very young age, with a little Tahitian here and there, and other than that whenever I hear music I just need to dance! So once I started doing Zumba as a student I was swept away!  It did so much for me physically, mentally, & emotionally. I became an instructor in 2015 which allows me to share the awesomeness of Zumba with everyone! It not only keeps us physically active, but helps us let go of all that may be going on around us! Even if it’s just for that hour, it helps us reset!

 

I lead 1 hour of Basic Zumba. All are welcome, no experience needed. In Zumba, there are no mistakes, I call that "freestyle," we just keep moving! You choose your own pace, but you can definitely get that intense Zumba sweat from my class! So come join me, let's dance it off!

 

Remember:  We can do everything through Christ, who gives us strength.

 

Philippians 4:13"

~Lei

Maryline.JPG

MARYLINE KETTAVONG

"Aloha I am Maryline!

 

Growing up in France, I started at the age of 9 with Ballet. I continued my journey with Jazz and Contemporary in my teens years. I discovered Zumba when I moved to the United States and it reminded me that Dance was always in me! So I decided to become an instructor and started teaching in 2017.

Dance is my passion, my light, my happy place! I teach Zumba Toning, Zumba Gold, Strong Nation."

~Maryline

Mie Fowler

MIE FOWLER

"I grew up in a very active family, learned how to snow ski at age 3, played basketball in middle school, started running at age 35 (yes, I still run short distance races), and became a STRONG Nation instructor in 2019. Wellness is my passion as I work as a healthcare provider, and focusing on building a STRONG body and STRONG mind. Come join me and let's sweat together!"

~Mie

Rachel3_edited.jpg

RACHEL FLANAGAN

Rachel completed her Yoga Teacher Certification in 2007 at the Shambhava School of Yoga in Kailua-Kona.  She believes yoga is a tool for healing and nourishment for the mind, body, and soul. "Yoga has helped me so much in my life and I love to share that with others."  Rachel lives in Kurtistown with her husband and pets.  She also loves the outdoors and learning to weave lauhala.

Vanessa_edited.jpg

VANESSA RIVIERA

"Hi! I'm Vanessa. I have always enjoyed exercising and dancing, so when a friend asked me to join her at a new dance fitness class called Zumba, I was in 100%. After my 1st class, I was hooked!! Laughing and dancing for exercise is FUN!! Before I knew it, I was attending 5 - 7 Zumba classes per week. So, in 2015, I decided to get licensed to teach Zumba and I obtained my Zumba Toning license in 2017. I have been teaching ever since.

So if you want to have fun, come join my class! And remember, there are no wrong moves in Zumba, only unexpected solos!!!"

~Vanessa

Yuko Jackson

YUKO JACKSON

"Aloha! I’m Yuko Jackson. I have been a certified STRONG Nation instructor since April 2019. I have been co-teaching with a fellow instructor since then. For almost 5 years prior to obtaining my certification, I had been attending various fitness classes, including Zumba, Zumba Toning and STRONG Nation.

 

I have never exercised in my life until I found Zumba. I fell in love. I would have never dreamed of becoming an instructor.

 

Zumba Fitness has opened a door to a journey of a fitness life, and now as a STRONG Nation instructor, I would love to spread and share how incredible it is and get stronger with music (and lots of sweats) especially with amazing fitness friends. 

 

Together we can be stronger! 

 

I am looking forward to see you all on the floor at Carissa’s Fitness Studio!"

~Yuko