Fitness Staff - Rancho La Puerta

Fitness Staff

  • Barry Shingle

    Barry is the Director of Guest Relations and Programming at Rancho La Puerta and greatly enjoys his experiences with the guests and staff. Most guests would say his specialty is Bingo. Barry has taught fitness classes for over 20 years and has been at the Ranch since 1999.  He enjoys being a father to his daughter, staying active and interacting with people.

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  • Marcos Landavazo

    Marcos has been teaching tennis as well as Cardio Boxing, Cardio Challenge, Sculpt & Strengthen, Circuit Training and Aqua Plus since 1986.  What he loves most about The Ranch is meeting a wide variety of people and the opportunity to inspire someone to start or jumpstart their exercise career.  His hobbies include going to the beach with his family.

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  • Coco Bennett

    Coco has been teaching Aerobics with Soul, Cardio Bootcamp, Circuit Training, Core Training, Cycling, Fit Check, Fitball, Healthy Backs, LAB, Sculpt, Stretch and Relax since 1997.  She loves working at the Ranch because in addition to the beautiful environment and the amazing staff, the wonderful guests teach her something new every week.

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  • Alejandro Valencia

    Alejandro has been in the fitness industry since 2003 teaching classes such as step aerobics, cycling, Tae Bo, and Zumba. He is also a Less Mills certified instructor in body combat, body step and international certified in CXWORX (core training). Alejandro has been at The Ranch since 2012, teaching most of the cardio and strength classes.

    He studied law in Tijuana Mexico and practiced law for about 7 years. Yes, he’s a lawyer! “I used to work all day every day, I was too stressed. I decided to give myself a break when I found The Ranch. I love Rancho La Puerta, it makes me happy!”

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  • Hazel Stricker

    Hazel has been teaching classes such as Yoga, Meditation, Hula Hoop, Stretch, Fitball, Body Bar and Foam Roller since 2006.  She has been a fitness instructor since 2000.  “I love nature and anything that takes me there – from walking or playing Frisbee at the beach to hooping on the grass.”

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  • Manuel Velazquez

    Manuel is an international health and wellness continuing education provider and presenter on fitness educational conferences around the world. His versatility and multifaceted approach leading land-strength and land-dance, aquatic and mind/body training programs have won him recognition as a Presenter of the Year and All-Around International Presenter of the Year presenting at fitness conferences worldwide for almost three decades. He is a proud Faculty Member for SCW Fitness Education and Creator Designer & National Trainer for their WATERinMOTION®Platinum Instructor program for the “Active Agers”.   Manuel is a continuing education faculty member for SCW, ACE, AFAA, ACSM, AEA, and stars in over 70 Fitness Instructor Training Videos, including AFAA’s online yoga certification program “Sunrise Yoga”.  Former Lead Instructor at Puerto Rico’s exclusive Golden Door Spa now is a head instructor at Rancho La Puerta Wellness Resort & Spa.

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  • Connie Bennett

    Connie has been teaching classes such as African Dance Workout, Cardio Hip Hop, Aerobics with Soul, Cycling, Trekking, Super X, Cardio Bootcamp, Cardio Box, Par Cour, Body Bar, Sculpt, Circuit, Abs, Legs, Foam Roller, Core Training, Balance and Coordination, Stretch and Relax, Restorative Yoga and Meditation since 1995.  Her hobbies include baking chocolate (and eating it!), the cinema, mac gadgets, reading, practicing gratefulness and laughing out loud.

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  • David de la Paz

    David de la Paz is an international presenter and instructor trainer for Yoga and Pilates. His approach towards a slow, mindful practice focuses on quality versus quantity. David often refers to his work as “finding the balance between minimum effort and maximum outcome.”

    After exploring the fields of dance, fitness, yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 30 years, his commitment to contribute to the betterment of life and humanity is now stronger than ever, and Rancho La Puerta is the perfect platform for that.

  • Jennifer De Marco

    Jennifer DeMarco, Fitness Instructor at Rancho La Puerta, inspires guests to reach their running and fitness goals. Jennifer’s teaching philosophy combines safe fitness practices, proper nutrition, and behavioral changes. She holds a MS in Health Education, BS in Physical Education, and a BS in Exercise Physiology. Jennifer has an extensive teaching career: she is a college professor in Exercise Science and Wellness, group exercise instructor, and has 15 years of experience coaching cross country and track. Jennifer has been nationally ranked for the Half IRONMAN Triathlon distance, is a two time All-American in Cross Country (trail running), has completed 26 full length marathons, and is consistently ranked top in her age group at 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathons in San Diego, California.
    Jennifer is the proud mother of two, and as a cancer survivor she celebrates each-and-every step!

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  • Manuel Hernandez

    Manuel has been teaching Hiking, Circuit Training, Super Cross Training, Strength Training and Healthy Backs since 1987.  In 1997 he spent eight days living and hiking in Mexico’s Copper Canyon north of Chihuahua with the Tarahumaras Indians.  In 1999 he paddled for six days from mainland Mexico and the Sea of Cortez to the Baja Peninsula in a kayak.  In 2004 he competed in a Rodeo winning 1st place in the Baja State Championship Team Roping event and going on to win 2nd place at The Mexican National Championship Team Roping Event.

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  • Mike Bee

    Mike has been teaching at The Ranch and Golden Door since 1980.  He returned to Rancho La Puerta has a full time instructor in 2007.  His classes include Hiking, Fit Check, Body Bar, Sculpt, Circuit, Stretch, Country Western Line Dancing, Cardio Drum Dance, Water Works, Cardio Boxing, Super Cross Training, Trekking, Release & Mobilize, L.A.B. Circuit, Par Course, Balance and Coordination, Volleyball, Fitball and Foam Roller.  His speciality? “Anything I teach must have valuable information, be a lot of fun, and loaded with sarcasm!”  His hobbies include rescuing, fostering & finding homes for dogs and cats as well as taking care of The Ranch cats.

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  • Aileen Sheron

    Aileen Sheron is President of Good Natured Products Inc. and the inventor of the patented OmniBall®.  She has been an innovator and fitness entrepreneur since 1979 and has trained thousands of instructors. A top IDEA presenter for 28 years, Aileen specializes in equipment-based resistance programming, choreography, myofascial release, and much more!  She writes for fitness publications and has starred in several high profile exercise videos, including the Positive Pre- and Postanal series for the makers of Similac baby formula.  Her Weight Watchers Low Impact Aerobics Workout was rated #1 by Consumer Reports. She consults on product and program development for some of the biggest names in fitness and posts weekly on social media. You can find her at

  • Cathleen Murakami

    Cathleen Murakami currently is the department head of Pilates and GYROTONIC® at Rancho La Puerta.  She brings with her over 20 years experience in Pilates and over 30 years working within the fitness industry.  Initially an aerobic instructor and personal trainer in the 80’s, Cathleen certified in Pilates through Alan Herdman Studio in London, Marie Jose Blom (Long Beach Dance Conditioning)  and Physicalmind.  She worked at The Ranch from 1992-1996 to assist in creating the initial Pilates program. Upon leaving, she went on to own Synergy Systems® Fitness Studio in Encinitas, CA where she taught clients privately as well as conducted numerous instructor certification courses.

    Certified in GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS®, Cathleen has produced numberous instructional DVD’s, is a featured instructor on Pilates Anytime, a web-based instructional site, has authored Morning Pilates Workouts, teaches at fitness and Pilates conventions annually, and leads outings to Italy combining Pilates and culinary experiences.

    In her spare time, Cathleen loves to read, travel, bond with her two cats, and work on expanding her consciousness of energy and the world around her.

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  • Denise Dobrzenski

    Denise started working at the Ranch in 1994 and teaches All Pilates Mat and Reformer classes, Pilates Private Sessions, Water Works, Aqua Plus, Stretch, Circuit, Fitball and  Hiking. “I enjoy teaching any class to a person or group that is excited about exercise!”  Denise’s education includes STOTT Pilates Full Certification and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) – Health Fitness Instructor among many others.  Her hobbies include nature (the more trees, the better!), hiking in the woods, animals, Lake Superior, reading and recycling!

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  • Jill Thiry

    Jill started her first career in recreation – teaching swimming, skiing, aerobic dance and starting a travel group for the YWCA in Madison WI. Her journey then included international travel, an MBA, and a fun-filled 20 year stint in high tech magazine publishing. Visiting the Ranch after a tough year in 2002 instantly re-ignited her love of fitness and community and love of the great outdoors. In 2013 she tired of down-sizing traditional print magazines, and was ready for a midlife journey change, so she “loaded up her truck and moved to Mexico”.  She discovered that coordinating valuable content for like-minded audiences transfers well from publishing to the magic of the Ranch experience. She now utilizes those skills in the fitness office crafting the schedule and helping to coordinate content and publishing it for guests and staff.  She is passionate about creating sustainable change in one’s life and finds the Ranch Mantra of “Siempre Mejor” a wonderful life philosophy.  She loves to lead or assist with hiking, swimming, chanting, meditating and leading tours, orientations and Take The Ranch Home classes. She is falling into deep like with her new San Diego and Baja territory.

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  • CeCe Simms

    CeCe began teaching Zumba fitness in 2010. Music and dance were her passions, and, using the inspiration of movement through world rhythms, she fit right in and danced her way through the Zumba community for ten years. Originally from Seattle, CeCe made her way to San Diego in 2017, working through fitness clubs and adding Water X Instructor, Cycle, and Strong by Zumba to her resume. Through hard work, she caught the attention of San Diego Magazine and became San Diego’s best Zumba instructor of 2019. CeCe is currently at The Ranch to gain more fitness expertise and study yoga.