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Wellness Studio Bios

Elizabeth J. Ando
COASTherapy Studio Founder
Certified Pilates Mat Instructor

Desiring a career change after nearly 20 years of corporate executive experience, Elizabeth opened the COASTherapy Studio in 1999. Combining her business experience with a lifelong love of dance, Elizabeth set out to design an exercise studio where women and men could work out using somatic (mind/body) approaches to fitness such as Pilates and yoga. Developing a studio where rehabilitation patients could work out in a safe and protected environment, in 2001 she sold the Studio to COASTherapy, joining the organization as Chief Finance and Operating Officer. Elizabeth received her Pilates Mat Certification from the PhysicalMind Institute, in 1999, and completed the mat and equipment certification training with Stott Conditioning in 2001.

Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in Retail Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, a Master of Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine. She holds a certification from the Business Professional Advertising Association as a Certified Business Communicator (CBC).

Currently she manages the COASTherapy Studio, guest lectures at Chapman University and owns a small consulting firm, AndoVirtual Partners.

Sue S. Okuda
Lead Instructor
Certified Pilates Instructor
Certified Pre-Trainer of GYROKINESIS®
Certified Franklin Method® Instructor
GYROKINESIS®, Yoga, and Tai Chi Instructor

Sue holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from UC Berkeley, a Master of Arts in Music History from California State University, Fullerton, and a law degree from Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley.

Sue is the lead exercise specialist at Ando & Aston. Drawing on her knowledge of Pilates, movement imagery, ballet and yoga, Sue combines her gifts for words and images to help her students find new movement and freedom in their bodies, whether the students’ goals are artistic performance, recovery from injury, or just a desire to feel and look their best.

Sue is also a certified pre-trainer of GYROKINESIS®, a movement method which emphasizes organic movement from not only the spine but the body’s deep muscle tissue, building energy through the body and refreshing the mind. As a pre-trainer, Sue offers the first course required for those seeking certification as a GYROKINESIS® instructor.

At COASTherapy Studio, a division of COASTherapy, Sue specializes in Pilates rehabilitation exercise and holds weekly classes in GYROKINESIS® and Tai Chi. She also teaches Pilates and yoga for dancers at Orange Coast College, as well as Pilates mat conditioning at the DeFore Dance Center in Costa Mesa, California.

Barbara Nelson
Certified Pilates Instructor
Certified Yamuna Body Rolling Instructor
Reiki Level II

BBarbara came to COASTherapy Studio as a private client in February 2000, searching for a solution to twenty-five years of chronic back/hip pain. In Pilates, she found this and more, joining the scores of women who rediscover body awareness in mid-life, after years of working and raising families. In addition to achieving sacroiliac joint stability Barbara realized improvements in balance, flexibility, mobility and over-all health.

She became an enthusiastic certified trainer in both Pilates and Body Rolling, in order to share the joy of mind-body exercise with others. Barbara specializes in Pilates “for the rest of us” pain-free exercise that relieves pain, restores function, and brings new vitality to life.

Arlene Dragon
Certified Pilates/Dance Conditioning Instructor

Arlene received her BFA in dance from the University of California Irvine. At the age of 19 she began an extensive career as a professional dancer which included movies, television, videos, industrial shows and modeling. She has performed with some of the best: Gene Kelly, Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Doug Henning and Harry Blackstone Jr., Marilu Henner, Julia Child and ABT’s Gelsey Kirkland to name a few. Arlene had a long association with the Walt Disney Co. performing at the Golden Horseshoe Revue and the Diamond Horseshoe in Tokyo, Japan and also performed in front of millions of people both as a Rams Cheerleader and Disney’s Super Bowl XXI Halftime show. Her recent appearance in a Denise Austin Pilates video inspired her to further her education and receive her certification as a Pilates/Dance Conditioning Instructor from Orange Coast College.

“With my past experiences and Pilates knowledge I want to help athletes and non athletes to be the best they can be and enjoy all the fun activities life has to offer by having a strong and healthy body.”

Ken Smith
Nationally and California Certified Massage Therapist
Website: www.evolveme.net

Ken’s passion for health began after his graduation from high school and is rooted in his service to his country as a paramedic in the Unites States Air Force. After his military years, Ken went to Oregon Health and Sciences University to pursue a degree in Health Science and to play basketball on a collegiate level. It is his combination of health knowledge and athletic background that led him to his career as an “Integrative Bodyworker”.

Ken has over 9 years of bodywork experience including everything from Swedish Relaxation to Advanced Postural Correction Techniques. He has traveled the world and personally experienced various techniques and therapies from many different cultures, which have had a profound influence on his ideas about the bodies healing capabilities. After studying with Ed Maupin PhD. (the grandfather of Structural Integration) and learning the “Rolf” method, he found his home in wellness.

Through his study of Structural Integration/Postural Analysis, Swedish, Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Techniques, Thai, Shiatsu, Somatic Movement, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage, Stretching and Reflexology; Ken has created his own unique blend of massage therapy.

Shannon Hennigar
Shannon Hennigar

Shannon Hennigar
Licensed Acupuncturist

Shannon is a California State Board Licensed Acupuncturist. She has been practicing Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy) in multi-disciplinary clinics since 2005.

Shannon was introduced to Chinese medicine in her teenage years. Profoundly moved by the positive results that acupuncture had on her health and her family she was inspired to study Chinese medicine. She earned her Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine at South Baylo University Anaheim, California in 2005. The desire to further her education and professional field led her to pursue her Clinical Doctoral Degree at American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. She looks forward to her completing her degree by next year.

Shannon’s areas of specialty include pain management, women’s health and herbal therapy. She has studied many different acupuncture styles and uses gentle and effective techniques. Shannon also utilizes herbal formulas and supplements in her treatments, using suppliers that have strict standards for purity and efficacy.