Suzanne Palazzo - Founder and CEO
In motion more often than not, Suzanne Vita Palazzo is an Empowerment Coach whose philosophy is heavily rooted in the concept of mind over matter. She’s guided by her belief that both the body and mind were designed to progress, even if moving forward requires taking a step back to reflect.
A native of Stamford, CT, Suzanne holds a BFA from Fordham University/The Ailey School, and a certificate in Holistic Health Coaching from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. She has served as the Health and Fitness Director for the Darien Y, as well as the Training and Program Director for Chelsea Piers Connecticut. In addition to being a proud recipient of the Fairfield County Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Award, Suzanne has been featured on Today and has had her work published in Fit Yoga and Dance Magazine.
Suzanne is also the founder of Badass and Beautiful, a blog and podcast with a wide-reaching following of people determined to be better than they were yesterday.
Carl Battinelli - Training Director
With extensive, multi-sport experience, Carl’s background includes physical assessments and programming for UConn’s Division I teams and Fairfield County athletics. His talents, which have been applied to athletes of a variety of sports ranging from baseball to basketball to football, include incorporating elements of biomechanics, movement analysis and prehabilitation.
Carl’s approach to training is rooted heavily in teaching and applying the finer points of technique to achieve tangible gains in performance. He believes in safely and efficiently progressing competitors through sport-specific protocols to excel under their individual sport’s demands.
Fueled by his own drive and ambition to succeed, Carl has personal experience as a Babe Ruth All Star catcher and outfielder, and has held coaching positions with several Fairfield County Little League and Babe Ruth teams. He holds a bachelor’s in Exercise Science with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning from UConn, as well as being a nationally recognized Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach and a Strongman Coach.
NASM and USAW-certified, Ahmad has most recently honed his skills in the physical therapy sector, specializing in functional movement and analysis. His approach is sound, strategic and designed to progress clients by first meeting them where they are.
Furthermore, Ahmad’s philanthropic spirit has led him to volunteer as a member of Belltown Fire Department, the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, and Relay for Life, among countless others. His energy and passion are an ideal fit for the UDF Community, particularly those looking to establish a strong base before progressing efficiently to the next level.
As a part-time strength coach and a full-time student doctor at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, Brent has a strong understanding as to how to most effectively train his athletes in order to optimize performance and reduce the risk for injury. He has trained athletes at all levels of sport ranging from the collegiate level to the professional and Olympic level. He has experience working asa sport performance tester at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy helping to identify talented young football stars and assist them in reducing their risk for injury while simultaneously providing scouting reports to professional and collegiate scouts. Brent is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science from the University of Delaware with a concentration in Biomechanics, as well as a minor in Strength and Conditioning. He is also a Microgate Certified Sports Performance Tester through Microgate, USA. His specialties include proper movement education and core strength development at the youth level as well as biomechanical analysis and injury prevention at the elite level. Brent’s goals in working with his athletes include helping to enhance longevity and performance while reducing the risk for sports-related injuries.
As a Licensed Massage Therapist and Accredited Personal Trainer, Nick has a unique approach to physical fitness. He believes in the strong rooted foundation of proper form when exercising. Once good form is achieved, confidence, stamina, and strength gains can follow. He likes to cultivate proper body mechanics for outside the gym as well, because having good posture is crucial for a healthy lifestyle.
A competitive gymnast in her youth, Robin has been sharing her enthusiasm for health and fitness over the past 15 years. Her career has included the management of several high-end health clubs, a role which eventually made her realize her ultimate passion was working with individuals on their personal journeys and transformations. After transitioning into a coaching role, teaching classes and motivating clients to run 5ks to half marathons, she now thrives on taking her clients “I CAN’T” approach and turning that into “I CAN.” Robin prides herself in meeting each client where they are by tailoring her approach to each individual. Her tactics include a combination of weight training, high intensity cardio intervals, spinning and her personal favorite – running.
As a NASM certified trainer with over 10 years of experience in the industry, Ted enjoys working with a variety of clients who are interested in making lasting, impactful changes to their bodies. His specialty includes guiding clients through tangible weight loss in a progressive and effective manner.
Ted’s focus on mobility and flexibility also make him a perfect fit for clients who deal with regular aches and pains, or who suffer the consequences of sitting throughout the day. His additional expertise of kettlebell and TRX training allow him to teach proper form and technique through functional movements that translate seamlessly into his clients’ everyday lives.
A recent graduate of Manhattanville College with a degree in Sports Science, Sami has a strong passion for fitness and wellness. She believes there is true beauty behind the two, which can ultimately change other people’s lives for the better. Based on her own experiences at Upper Deck Fitness, Sami aims to coach others to understand the connection between the mind and body. She uses her knowledge as a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer to combine weight training and high intensity conditioning to teach others how to create healthier habits in dealing with everyday stress. Above all, however, Sami strives to ensure people feel good about themselves - both physically and mentally.
A movement coach who has been involved in the fitness scene since he was 5 years old, Jamie Nischan received a bachelors of science degree in Applied Exercise Sciences from Springfield College, and has since worked as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, martial arts instructor and an obstacle course coach for kids. Jamie's training style contains bouts of practical strength combined with drills that emphasize mobility and control. Some of his favorite tools of the trade include kettlebells, sandbags, clubs, balance beams, yoga and martial arts.
An endurance athlete-turned-powerlifter, Dylan Raila believes that the body works synergistically and is only as strong as its weakest point. His focus on proper mechanics and addressing muscular imbalances has helped everyone from youth athletes to the elderly maximize their true potential while remaining injury free.
Dylan spent his high school career running track and rowing crew at Fairfield Prep, but he ultimately changed his focus in college towards studying powerlifting and Olympic lifting movements in great detail. In addition to being a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, Dylan also hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science from Elon University.
A passionate and competitive dancer from a young age, Angelica spent 10 years as a Championship Irish Dancer and is a graduate of Pace University where she participated in the Commercial Dance Program. Her focus with all clients is always on stabilization and injury prevention, working in a manner that allows both children and adults to feel strong, healthy and confident. Angelica's certifications include Beacon Pilates as well as a Barre certification from Balanced Body, and she is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, giving her a well-rounded background that makes her a great fit for anyone looking to safely take their fitness and performance to the next level. Additionally, Angelica serves as UDF's Client Concierge, kindly guiding clients through all aspects of the Upper Deck experience.
Emma Rose Connolly
An aspiring Communications Specialist, Emma Rose is a rising senior studying Digital Media, Advertising and Writing at Loyola University Maryland. Emma's passion for photography, writing and all things digital drives her vision for artistic creation. She believes the ability to communicate with others via various digital forums is critical in today's technological era. In addition to serving as Upper Deck's Brand Manager, Emma serves as the photographer and social media coordinator for Suzanne's empowerment blog, Badass and Beautiful.