Our Team

Michael Uzuanis

Founder, Balance Academy
Head Instructor, Chang’s Hapkido
Head Counselor, Warriors of Wimberley Summer Camp

 

Michael was Raised in Darien, IL, a western suburb of Chicago, and at about 7 years old, Michael’s father got him involved in a small Karate school. As a child of low confidence, as soon as it got hard Michael quit. His next experience with Martial Arts wouldn’t be until college at the Cleveland Institute of Music where Michael was a vocal major. Although he now had confidence in his character, he feared he wouldn’t be able to defend himself when necessary, so he found a small Karate school where he practiced for a year.

Unfortunately, the culture of this school was to boast about weekend drunken bar fights versus a deeper meaning in the discipline of martial arts which is what Michael truly desired. After some misbehavior at college, he returned home to search for a traditional martial arts school with an authentic master. Michael found Chang’s Hapkido Academy in Chicago where he developed a great devotion to the practice and study of Hapkido. Michael’s drive and dedication accelerated him through the ranks from white belt to black stripe in a record time of 2.5 years.

At a black stripe, Michael was required to now attend classes with Master Chang himself, the disciple of Master Choi – the Father of Modern Hapkido. Michael soon learned that Master Chang would teach Hapkido as it was intended – with spirituality at its roots. Michael had finally found his martial arts home.

Before Michael could attain a black belt, he was required to attend Ki Meditation for 365 consecutive days. This commitment and new level of discipline coalesced his thoughts, feelings and outlooks on religion and spirituality into one concrete foundation, however, Master Chang still had Michael train for another 2.5 years before he allowed him to apply for his six-month Black Belt test. This rigorous mental and physical journey brought Michael to his destiny of becoming an instructor and giving back the gifts he had received from Grand Master Chang’s teachings.

Several life circumstances brought Michael to Texas where he was finally able to open his very own school. His journey continues as Michael uses Hapkido teachings for others to learn how to conquer their inner fears and achieve a state of confidence, peace and happiness. Chang’s Hapkido is for everyone of all ages, shapes, and sizes to master the art of fighting so we don’t have to fight – and in doing so we master ourselves. Hapkido makes our character beautiful and when there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. And, when there is order in the nation there is peace in the world. As Michaels says: “We can’t single handedly change the world but we sure can change ourselves.”

Brenda Bell

“Tiger Lady”  |  Tai Chi Instructor

 

8 years ago, Brenda Bell, a resident of San Marcos, Texas, retired as a world rated professional boxer. She sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) towards the end of her career and was forced into retirement. Feeling like she lost the most important thing in her life, Brenda fell into a deep clinical depression and started gaining weight quickly. She reached 355lbs before her internal warning alarms started sounding. She knew the path she was heading down was not where she wanted to be, so she resorted to an old and comforting friend……Tai Chi.

Brenda, having 26 years of previous martial arts experience, knew that serious training would change her path to one of internal healing, rehabilitation, self gratification, and physical health.

She pursued her Tai Chi training under Dr. Keith Jeffery, founder of Easy Tai Chi and advisor on the American Tai Chi Association.

Brenda Bell is now a certified Easy Tai Chi Instructor level 3, whose teaching format includes both Tai Chi and 4 Minute Fitness TM. Infinite nine, Chen style, Yang, Bagua and Tai Chi stick.

Her organization, Tigerlily Easy Tai Chi, is designed to inspire the cultivation of personal chi or energy utilizing Easy Tai Chi as a foundation to develop mind body and spirit. Perfect for BEGINNERS, seniors, working folks, busy people, parents and people dealing with STRESS. Easy Tai chi can be life changing! Tai Chi has been referred to as “yoga in motion” a moving meditation – a powerful key to relaxation, increased focus and concentration.

You will love Brenda’s classes and you will love her, as she is so incredibly positive and motivating. She shares her love for life with all she encounters. When you leave her class you cant help but to feel happy and peaceful.

Deborah Charnes

Yoga Director

 

As a teenager, Deborah recognized the value of deep breathing, deep stretching, along with herbal tea to bring about a more positive and peaceful state of mind. Fast forward 40 years: Deborah has reduced her blood sugar level and nearly eradicated decades of chronic GI and lower back pain. Now, her passion and fulfillment come from hatha, bhakti, breath work and meditation.

Deborah is a graduate of Yandara Institute’s 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher program. Beyond the standard teacher training, Deborah has the rank of E-RYT 200 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher) plus RYT 500 (Registered Yoga Teacher with 500 hours). She draws on her decades of training and practice to help people reduce stress through simple techniques that can be practiced anywhere, anytime.

Then, Deborah completed three years of training in accordance with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). Her yoga therapy background encompasses Yin Therapy, Restorative Yoga, Myofascial Remodeling, Yoga Nidra Therapy and Ayurvedic studies. All were from the IAYT approved school, The Wisdom Method. Most noteworthy, she’s one of the few Certified Yoga Therapists in the region.

Ayurveda and more.  Deborah studied Ayurvedic massage therapy, nutrition and cooking, and treatment plans at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in India. She earned certifications in Acupressure and Reiki in Mexico and San Antonio, Texas. Despite her formal training, she doesn’t stop learning. In fact, she routinely attends conferences and workshops with some of the best yogis, Ayurvedic experts and Yoga Therapists in the Americas.

Off the mat, Deborah supports the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council. Deborah taught free yoga in the San Antonio and Austin parks for several years. Additionally, she routinely donates her services to teach at SíClovía, San Antonio’s biggest free health and fitness event.

Crissy Cohen

Fitness Instructor – Personal Fitness Coach – Nutritionist

 

Crissy Cohen has lived in Central Texas since she walked through the double doors that started Pre-K. Through grade school, she stayed involved while playing sports and traveling on the weekends for dance recitals. Crissy realized her passion in fitness during track and cross country where body weight and resistance training were introduced. The progress she saw in herself from week to week inspired her to want to learn more. As she prepared for college, she struggled to find a degree to dive into. She explored all sides of health and fitness and eventually found her interest in learning about nutrition and food composition.

The first few years of college made her realize how important physical activity is for daily life. Fitness is much more than bench pressing and repeated squats. Her approach to fitness is finding body movement that is enjoyable and makes you feel good. Consistent exercise is proven to increase energy levels while improving restful sleep, how sweet is that! There are numerous benefits to exercise and the outcome are too good to keep to herself. Crissy’s philosophy in training is to meet you at your doorstep. Each person holds a unique goal and everyone experiences a different journey. Each training session will be progressive while working at your pace and level.

A recent graduate from Texas State University located in San Marcos, Texas she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Foods. Her vision is to revolutionize how we look at and understand the relationship between nutrition and exercise. She believes there is a need to create and sustain a healthy and educated community. Interning at the Hays County Food Bank as Foodwise Coordinator allowed her to get a personal look at nutrition concerns in the community. She created and taught nutrition education classes and neighbor cooking classes to advocate for simple and effective changes that can improve our health. Crissy is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and Group Fitness Instructor. She hopes to share tips and tricks to staying healthy as much as possible.

To unwind, she finds great comfort and health benefits from living an active life. She practices yoga daily and hikes on the weekends. Come experience a class for yourself and leave feeling revived