Staff

Dedicated to helping you

Our team of coaches & staff have the knowledge, expertise, experience, passion, and willingness to help others achieve their goals.

JOE CIARDELLI, MS, CSCS, RSCC

MANAGER/DIRECTOR OF STRENGTH & CONDITIONING

Joe Knows Strength…

Joe Ciardelli’s life goal is to help others achieve their dreams – and that’s not just lip service. A NSCA Certified and Registered Strength and Training Coach with more than 25 years experience, Joe has worked with some of the most elite athletes in the biz—NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA players, and Olympic athletes, just to name a few. But, don’t think he’ll go easy on you if you don’t plan to go pro. Joe’s philosophy on training: Hard work pays off.

As Takedown’s Director of Strength and Conditioning, Joe leads beginning, intermediate, and advanced group exercise sessions. You better believe he will help you take down your goals – whether your sights are set on an NHL contract, a higher vertical, or a smaller waist size.

Joe holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology-Exercise Management from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and a Masters in Sports Management from St. Cloud State University.

After hitting it hard at the gym, Joe likes to play hockey as well as coach youth hockey, fish, and spend time with family and friends. He lives in Nisswa with his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Logan and Samantha.

bronson shepherd

director of Fitness PRograms

Bronson grew up in the Brainerd Lakes Area and graduated from Brainerd High School in 2008. He was a three sport athlete for the Warriors where he played hockey, football and baseball.

He attended Concordia College in Moorhead, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science. Bronson was also a two sport athlete at Concordia playing hockey and football.

After graduating from college he moved down to the Twin Cities and worked as a personal trainer at Discover Strength for 7 years. During his time at Discover Strength he was the Director of Operations where he managed two facilities in Plymouth and Chanhassen. Along with managing, Bronson’s main priority was to help his clients reach their goals through continuous, tough, efficient, workouts.

Bronson has his American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist certification.

During Bronson’s free time he likes to spend time with his wife, Melissa and his three daughters. He enjoys all sports, especially a good round of golf, boating, fishing and refereeing hockey in the winter!

Sydnee johnson

Director of Member Services/Daycare

Favorite activity outside of Takedown: Coaching & playing softball

DEPARTMENT OF SPIN

CASSANDRA BRODIN

certified cycle INSTRUCTOR/certified TRX instructor

Cassie has been a fitness instructor for many years teaching a variety of classes such as Cycle, Bootcamp, and TRX. She is a very inspiring instructor that will always encourage you to grow mentally and physically. She makes her classes fun but purposeful and makes all levels feel welcome. You will always leave Cassie’s class feeling accomplished, refreshed, and a part of a community like no other.

KELLY KRAMER

GROUP FITNESS/certified cycle INSTRUCTOR

Kelly’s passion for giving her clients the best cycle workout possible is contagious. She tailors Takedown’s cycle classes to all levels of fitness ability from beginner to advanced, while pumping fun, enthusiasm, and motivation into every session. As a NETA certified spin instructor, one of Kelly’s favorite things about her job is to watch her clients’ fitness and weight loss transformations as they continue to takedown their goals. Music is also key in a fun and challenging class. She is Beat Boss certified and ready to rock any workout!

Outside of Takedown, Kelly stays busy with husband Sean and two children, Colton and Josie. She enjoys all fitness activities (including the wide variety of classes at Takedown), spending time at the lake, boating, paddle boarding, cooking, spending time outdoors, and most of all, quality time with her family and dogs.

LAUREEN BORAN

GROUP FITNESS/certified cycle INSTRUCTOR

Ready to sweat? Meet Laureen!

Laureen is a NETA Certified Spin Instructor, a BeatBoss cycle instructor as well as a NETA Certified Group Class Instructor. She offers a variety of challenging and rewarding classes at the Gym, from Bulgarian Bags to Kettle Bells and more.

When not teaching classes, she is usually attending our classes at Takedown or busy with her family. Her husband Mike, and all four of her children, Laura, Luke, Max and Mark are all heavily involved with athletics in the Brainerd area and beyond.

Kelsi MacLaughlin

certified cycle instructor/personal trainer (ACSM)

Kelsi is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Integrative Health Coach certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as well as BeatBoss Certified Cycle Instructor. She has 3 beautiful children. Alongside her passions of helping people become their best selves, she loves spending time with her kids and her family and friends. Kelsi enjoys getting to be apart of each persons day whether it be in a class she’s teaching, a session she’s training them in, a health coaching session or a friendly smile.

Mandy Melby

certified cycle instructor

Mandy graduated from NDSU with her degree in Human Development and Family Science. She worked for 11 years as a Child Life Specialist before moving to the BLA. If you don’t find me at the gym, I’m with my fur kiddos, who are my life, neither of those then I’m trying to find some adventure to challenge myself. One life to live.

Michelle Rodahl

certified cycle instructor

My name is Michelle Rodahl. I am a mom of three, a local real estate agent with a passion for health and fitness. My favorite place to be is lifting people up in the cycle studio teaching three indoor cycle classes a week. I love spending time with friends and family, boating on the lakes in the summertime, And working out with the great community that we have a Takedown

DEPARTMENT OF CLASSES

CASSANDRA BRODIN

certified cycle INSTRUCTOR/certified TRX instructor

Cassie has been a fitness instructor for many years teaching a variety of classes such as Cycle, Bootcamp, and TRX. She is a very inspiring instructor that will always encourage you to grow mentally and physically. She makes her classes fun but purposeful and makes all levels feel welcome. You will always leave Cassie’s class feeling accomplished, refreshed, and a part of a community like no other.

LAUREEN BORAN

GROUP FITNESS/certified cycle INSTRUCTOR

Ready to sweat? Meet Laureen!

Laureen is a NETA Certified Spin Instructor, a BeatBoss cycle instructor as well as a NETA Certified Group Class Instructor. She offers a variety of challenging and rewarding classes at the Gym, from Bulgarian Bags to Kettle Bells and more.

When not teaching classes, she is usually attending our classes at Takedown or busy with her family. Her husband Mike, and all four of her children, Laura, Luke, Max and Mark are all heavily involved with athletics in the Brainerd area and beyond.

CHRIS BUNNIS

FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/Certified Boxing Coach

Chris Bunnis has loved boxing since he was young boy. He grew up boxing Golden Gloves in Detroit Lakes, and is now a certified boxing coach and avid fitness and sports fan.

Chris began teaching Cardio Combat at Takedown in October 2018. His love of boxing, fitness and motivating others is something he is very passionate about and is excited to teach at Takedown.

When Chris isn’t teaching classes or working out, you’ll find him running his business Vision Underground, wakeboarding, camping, hiking or spending time with his family.

Helene Danielson

Certified Yoga Instructor

ELLEN FUSSY

FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/certified yoga instructor/pilates instructor

Movement is Ellen Fussy’s super power!

Ellen Fussy has been a coach and teacher in the arts of fitness in the Brainerd Lakes area for 30 years! Her enjoyment comes from teaching and helping others to teach their full potential on the journey of health and wellness. Whether it be teaching Yoga, Pilates or Strength training she is passionate about helping people reach their goals!

Jen Lind

certified yoga instructor

The first time Jen stepped foot onto a yoga mat was in 2008 for a Hot Power Yoga class, and at that very moment, she knew yoga would be a part of her life forever!

In 2010, she made the decision to put her dreams of being a yoga instructor on hold to grow her family. Jump to 2016, she was reunited with her yoga mat where her love and passion for yoga were stronger than ever. In the spring of 2018, she became certified as a Yoga Sculpt Instructor through CorePower Yoga in Minnetonka. She joined Takedown in the fall of 2019 and she is honored to be part of such an extraordinary team. She looks forward to growing as a yoga instructor here and expanding her certifications with the intentions of bringing more options for hot yoga classes to Takedown Gym.

Jen has a yoga mat with her almost all the time. She loves to crank up the heat and sweat it out on her mat, cleansing her body and mind. When she’s not at the gym, she enjoys hanging with her husband Jason, bonus daughter Nessa, and her two busy boys, Brayden and Carson. In the summer, her family enjoys spending time at their camper and on the lake. In the cooler months, she spends most of her time in the Takedown Gym yoga room where it’s nice and warm all year long!

“The feeling I get every time I step onto my mat are somewhat indescribable. I know that I can show up without any expectations or judgments and the energy that fills the room is amazing. I am bless to be able to share my passion for Yoga Sculpt and overall love of fitness with our community and I am excited to make Takedown my home!”

MICHELLE TOFT

FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/certified yoga instructor/pilates instructor

Meet Michelle! She has a special knack of making everyone feel like her best friend. Focusing on proper form and technique to maximize every repetition and give optimal results. She will help you get in the best shape of your life, discover a new and positive relationship with your body while enjoying yourself while doing it!

MIKE HOLTAN, CSCS

FITNESS & RECREATION ADVISOR/building champions instructor

Mike grew up in Moorhead and attended college at both Concordia and Minnesota State University Moorhead. At MSUM, he received his Exercise Science degree with a minor in strength and conditioning. Later, he returned to school to earn his Life Science teaching degree, and taught a year of middle school science before he and his wife moved to Brainerd during the summer of 2017.

“Growing up, I played every sport available because I loved the competition and making myself a better athlete. To this day, I still play hockey year-round and love to push myself to be stronger and faster in the gym, as well; because, when it comes to sports, speed kills and strength dominates.”

Mike looks forward to using his experience to benefit members of all ages and abilities.

“Sharing my experience and knowledge with others to make them more successful is what it’s all about. I’m excited to work at Takedown because I will be able to do and teach what I love with other people who love fitness too.”

Courtney Boelter

certified yoga instructor

Abby Meinke

certified yoga instructor

DEPARTMENT OF PILATES

Alison broadley

pilates instructor

Lifelong athleticism has been an enjoyment for Alison. Early accomplishments of All-State volleyball and basketball, four state team golf appearances and a volleyball scholarship to SCSU, kept her goals high. On the coaching side, back in 1995, she took the Brainerd U16 girls volleyball team to a second place finish in a 64 team, Star of the North Games and a First place finish in a 16-team tournament. Fast forward, Pilates enters her exercise regimen, with the same drive and passion!

In 2021, Alison completed the 500-hour POLESTAR Pilates Training curriculum and began teaching at Pilates MN (recently awarded ‘Best Boutique Fitness Studio’ in Plymouth, MN) In 2022, she extended her training by successfully completing the POLESTAR Pilates Graduate Course in Miami, FL.

After 15 years of working in the Healing Arts as a Certified Classical Homeopath (CCH), Alison was thrilled to extend her practice to the movement level, while dynamically sharing both the healing and fitness gift of Pilates to others.

Alison is excited to be part of the Takedown Family, which brings her back to an area closer to family and lifelong friends.

ELLEN FUSSY

FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/certified yoga instructor/pilates instructor

Movement is Ellen Fussy’s super power!

Ellen Fussy has been a coach and teacher in the arts of fitness in the Brainerd Lakes area for 30 years! Her enjoyment comes from teaching and helping others to teach their full potential on the journey of health and wellness. Whether it be teaching Yoga, Pilates or Strength training she is passionate about helping people reach their goals!

MICHELLE TOFT

FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/certified yoga instructor/pilates instructor

Meet Michelle! She has a special knack of making everyone feel like her best friend. Focusing on proper form and technique to maximize every repetition and give optimal results. She will help you get in the best shape of your life, discover a new and positive relationship with your body while enjoying yourself while doing it!

DEPARTMENT OF PERSONAL TRAINING

Corbin Bentz

Certified personal trainer/strength and condition coach, CSCS from nsca

Meet Corbin, he is new to the BLA and is excited to work with you! His previous experience is from Altius Sports Performance as a Strength and Condition coach in Stillwater, Mn.

He was a hockey and baseball player in high school and a rugby player in college.

In his free time, he enjoys pickleball, lifting weights, golfing, road cycling and any other activities that keep him active.

Kelsi MacLaughlin

certified cycle instructor/personal trainer (ACSM)

Kelsi is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Integrative Health Coach certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as well as BeatBoss Certified Cycle Instructor. She has 3 beautiful children. Alongside her passions of helping people become their best selves, she loves spending time with her kids and her family and friends. Kelsi enjoys getting to be apart of each persons day whether it be in a class she’s teaching, a session she’s training them in, a health coaching session or a friendly smile.

Kelsey Watson

Certified personal trainer/ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist

To Contact Kelsey:
Text or Call: 763-401-3808
Email: kelsey@takedowngym.com

DEPARTMENT OF MARTIAL ARTS

Jay Gould

brazilian jiu jitsu instructor

Jake Immel

brazilian Jiu Jitsu

master rob nelson

Director of martial arts

Master Rob Nelson started his Martial Arts Training in West St. Paul in 1981 under John Longstreet and Terry Wise.

He graduated from St. Thomas Military Academy, Mendota Heights, Mn in 1986 and The University of St. Thomas, St. Paul with a BA Degree in Computer Science and Business Administration.

He started teaching classes in 1986 under Grandmaster Klaas and has operated his own schools since 1991.

1st Degree Black Belt 1986 through GM Worley, GM Franks, and Terry Wise

2nd Degree Black Belt 1993 through GM Worley and GM Franks

3rd Degree Black Belt 1997 through GM Worley and GM Franks

4th Degree Black Belt 2001 through GM Worley and GM Franks

5th Degree Black Belt 2006 through GM Worley and GM Franks

6th Degree Black Belt 2010 through GM Worley and GM Klaas

7th Degree Black Belt 2017 through GM Burleson, GM Worley and GM Franks

He also received his blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu in 2008 from Dave Camarillo and striped by Royce Gracie. He received his purple belt from Brock Larson in 2019.

He is registered at Fort Benning, GA as a US Modern Army Combative Level 1 instructor.

In the past, Master Nelson has personally trained the local Police Department, the Federal US Army Corp of Engineers, the State of MN Watercraft Inspectors, State Social Workers in police training, de-escalation and personal safety. He is continually providing self-defense training in the community through City Wide National Night Out Events, local professional groups, women’s groups and college students.

He has been recommended by the MN State Senators and MN State Representatives.

1987 Nationally ranked #7 in Karate Illustrated Magazine

1986-2007 NCKA Consistently ranked #1 in form

Has won over 100 first places in the upper midwest in form, sparring and weapons

Has won over 35 Grand Championships

2004 Inducted in USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame Competitor of the year

2005 Competed on World Tour-Diamond Nationals, China Open, US Open Orlando, Kentucky Blue Grass, Battle of Atlanta

2005 Karate world ranked #3 Fighting Light Weight (159lbs)

2005 Karate world ranked #3 Men Form Open/Creative-NASKA

2005 Karate world ranked #8 Men Form Traditional-NASKA

2006 World Martial Arts Ranking Association Certified #614

2007 MN State Karate Championships/Quadruple Grand Champion in sparring, form, mega and tag team

2008 Karate world ranked #3 Fighting Light Weight-NASKA

2010 MN State Karate Grand Champion

2008-Current Licensed Trainer/Corner Minnesota Office of Combative Sports Commission for Professional and Amateur Fighters.

Matt Taylor

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Matt has been training in Martial Arts for more than 25 years. He received his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blackbelt from Professor Rafael Lima, under Professor Brock Larson in January, 2019. We are excited to add Matt’s expertise and talents to Takedown Gym!

Brea O’Brien

Kickboxing Instructor

Martial Arts as been a part of her life since age 15. Through High School and College, she participated in Tae Kwon Do earning her purple stripe belt. After college, her focus turned to her job and family but her love for Martial Arts went away. In 2005, she was reunited in the Martial Arts world with Women’s Kickboxing and she has been on the mat almost everyday ever since then! When she steps on the mat, all that was off in the world for the day is forgotten. This is her time to focus, ground herself, set her intentions and get to work. Coaching kickboxing has become a strong passion of Brea’s and has given her the opportunity to share her passion and love for this sport with others.

When Brea isn’t coaching kickboxing, you will find her at home spending time with her husband and 3 kids. You can find her most weekend in the summer enjoying time on Gull Lake. In the winter, they are avid downhill skiers and spend many weekends at Ski Gull as well as taking family ski trips to new destinations. Brea is also a kindergarten teacher by day spending her time teaching her amazing students at Baxter Elementary School. She feels fortunate to be able to teach students by day and coach kickboxing in her free time. Two of her favorite things besides her family! We are so excited for Brea to join us at Takedown Gym!

Member Service Team

DEB FRANKLIN

MEMBER SERVICES

Deb has a variety of experience in customer service and the medical industry, she is a wonderful asset to the Gym.

She enjoys walking, biking and spending time with family and friends.

“We have great clients and team members here at Takedown Gym. It’s fun to see the health benefits of working out and learning more about the motivation behind why they work so hard.”

Rachel Mann

member services

Rachel says she’s “just a worn out mom trying to social distance from her family a few nights a week!” But in all seriousness, we love that Rachel has joined our team. Her family has worked out here for a long time so maybe she will enjoy passing them in the gym! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with these same people! 😉

Faith Kassulker 

member services

Favorite Takedown Class: Beat Boss 45 with Cassie

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