Meet the Staff

headshotCharles DeFrancesco, NFPT, USAW, NASM
President & CEO of THE ARENA, Owner of Fit and Functional

Charles DeFrancesco is the owner and founder of the education company, Fit and Functional. He is also a consulting partner for THE ARENA. He provides all the in house education to the ARENA staff. Charles was co-founder of Greenwich Sports Medicine, where he was in charge of all personal training and therapy operations for over five years. Currently Charles is a consultant for Westchester Sports and Wellness, Tomorrow Medicine and Phoenix Fitness.

Charles is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT). He is also USAW Olympic lifting certified and Equinox Fitness Group Prenatal certified. Charles has completed specialty courses for Functional Exercise Specialist, Cardiac Conditions (AFPA), attended EFTI, and has over 7 years of clinical experience. Charles was a guest speaker at the 2009 IHRSA conference in San Diego. He also holds year round seminars and educational courses in the tri-state area.

Charles is one of the authors of the accredited NFPT standard CPT study manuals. He created NFPT’s advanced trainer workshop and writes continuing education courses for ACE, NASM, NSCA and NFPT. He is the NFPT continuing education coordinator, chairman of the NFPT Board of Education and is the North East director of workshops. Charles is the main author of the Principles of Functional Exercise manual, The Truth Behind the Fitness Fads and A Squash Players Handbook.

In addition, Charles has written numerous articles and has given presentations on various topics, including: basic movement screenings, essentials of core training, flexibility and strength & conditioning. Many websites and magazines publish Charles’s articles, including www.ptonthenet.com. Charles works with a variety of doctors and has consulted with them on developing programs and training staff for their rehabilitation facilities. In addition, he consults with commercial gyms, corporate parks and fitness studios. Charles extensive experience and proven track record allow him to testify as an expert witness on a variety of topics.

Charles recently received his license in NY and CT for Health, Life and Accident Insurance. This license allows him to work with carriers to help members get discounts and gym reimbursements. The license allows Charles to offer full service corporate wellness programs.

DeniseDenise Groothuis (RD), NFPT
COO THE ARENA

Denise has a BS from Cornell University and an MS in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently both a certified personal trainer and a licensed Registered Dietitian (RD). Denise has been practicing in the nutrition field since 2000. She has worked in a variety of settings ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to private practice. She has experience with weight loss, cachexia, diabetes, renal disease, heart disease, cancer, dysphagia, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s.

After an injury and long recovery, Denise became interested in personal training, and she decided to become certified in order to help better educate others about being fit and functional. Denise is certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) and has worked as a personal trainer for the last five years.

Currently, she manages THE ARENA and is in charge of all daily operations. She also oversees the blog, educational articles, social media and marketing.


SteveSteven Sarno CPT, LMT

Massage Director

Steve has been active in the fitness industry since 2011 when he graduated from Adelphi University with a Bachelor’s of Science concentration in exercise. In 2012 he graduated from the Finger Lakes School of Massage in Mt Kisco, and currently works as a licensed massage therapist. After graduating from the Finger Lakes School of Massage, Steve became an instructor at the Mt. Kisco campus, teaching kinesiology to up and coming massage students. Steve holds a number of critical certifications including a personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Federation for Professional Trainers (NFPT) and a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Steve also has published continuing education material for trainers to buy and count towards their annual certification renewal. Steve plays an active role in the surrounding school districts coaching and training the student athletes, prepping them for both varsity and collegiate play.