We are smart, friendly, and fun! And, we love sharing our knowledge with you! Did you know each of us has undergone over 80 hours of intensive training in order to be able to best serve you? And, since you’re here, we assume you’re interested in learning a little more about each of us. So, read on. We’re pleased to meet you!
Wendy Miller, Lakeland General Manager–> I began running about 8 years ago after having my second child, with the encouragement of my runner husband. Like most new runners I did not like it and struggled with horrible shin splints. I came to FITniche to be fitted for a correct pair of shoes, and this changed my entire running life! I was able to run pain free and this helped me to really start enjoying the miles. Since starting my running journey, I have completed many 5k’s and half marathons (my favorite distance). In 2013, I decided to train for my first full marathon. I had no intention of doing more than one but I found I enjoyed the distance training and went on to complete my 2nd full marathon (Jan 2015). I hope to continue to love running and be able to complete many more races! FITniche changed my life, and I love having the opportunity to encourage and help others!
Milton Lyons, Lakeland Senior Crew–> I started running in the summer before my freshman year of high school to get ready for cross country. After that first cross country season, my passion for running quickly developed. I then attended Florida Southern College and ran cross country and track for the Mocs. Go Mocs!!
After college, I was actually the first employee to be hired at FITniche and started running marathons and competing in triathlons during that time. My first marathon was the Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa, FL where I successfully hit the Boston Marathon qualifying time. I’m a huge sports guru and still have dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, but time does appear to be running out.
Courtney Wheary, Lakeland Senior Crew–> I started my running journey at just five years old. I ran the Mayfair 5k in 1996, along side my mom. To this day, my mom and I still share the pavement and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a 2nd grade teacher at Scott Lake Elementary and I have a passion for helping others. I love getting to know new people and helping them any way I can.
Sean Packard, Lakeland Senior Crew–> I started running sophomore year in high school. I really didn’t love it at first, I tried to quit multiple times, my cross country coach in high school didn’t let me quit though and told me I had a future in running if I chose to put my whole heart in it. I ended up having mediocre seasons until my senior year when I finally had a personal best at 17:04. Since high school I have dabbled in every distance from a 5k to ultra distance and even a sprint triathlon. I also married my beautiful wife Lindsey and we have a wonderful daughter named Blaire. We also have our fun loving and playful beagle named Cooper.
Levi Ferrell, Lakeland Crew–> Growing up in a family of runners, I was exposed to the sport at a young age, and I took to it as a way to to stay active and healthy. In high school, I played soccer and ran cross country and track. Recently, I have taken to training for and competing in triathlons, and I love the challenges this sport has to offer. In my free time I can be found riding around town on my motorcycle, traveling the world on mission trips, and volunteering at my church as a leader and mentor for the middle school students. I enjoy sharing my passion for adventure and sport with others and I hope to continue to impact the lives of athletes and people in my community.
Amanda Slattery, Lakeland Crew–> I started running my sophomore year of high school to get in shape. I’ve ran 14 half marathons and 3 marathons and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Currently, I am a sophomore at Florida Southern College majoring in exercise science and I run cross country and track there. I love running in all types of shoes, but my favorite has to be New Balance. I run in the Zante, 1400, and also my XC spikes are NB as well! College and running take up most of my time, but in my free time you’ll most likely find me sipping on a pumpkin spice latte while reading a good book or watching and cheering on the Tampa Bay Rays and Lightning
Jacob Geisler, Wesley Chapel Assistant Manager–> I’ve been running consistently running since 2009. I run because it keeps me sane, it’s my vice. I’ve always been competitive and started running after college to get in shape. The rest is history. My favorite shoes to run in are the Saucony Kinvara, Type A, New balance 1400, Mizuno Hitogami. I love racing and I’d have to say that Age Group Worlds in Cozumel was my all time favorite. Second favorite race I’ve done was the ITU Grand Final Triathlon in Chicago. When I am not running or working at FITniche I make the most of my down time and enjoy doing NOTHING. I work and train a ton and I love it. I like surrounding myself with good people, but my outings and hobbies revolve around running and this industry.
Jennifer Walton, Wesley Chapel, Senior Crew–> I started running because my life had gotten pretty stagnant, and I wanted to create some new goals for myself. Running has changed my life in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I’ve been running for about three years now. In December 2016, it’ll be three years from my first marathon. I’ve enjoyed almost every race I’ve done, but if I have to pick a favorite I’ll go with the Boston Marathon. It just takes the marathon experience to a new level. My favorite shoes to train in right now are the Newton Gravity V and the Saucony Kinvara 7. I typically race in the Newton Distance. When I’m not running or working at FITniche, I’ll be honest with ya, I don’t do a whole heck of a lot. Running consumes a lot of my life. Occasionally, I’ll hit up the dog beach with my adorable three-year-old black lab, Porter. Other than that, I just enjoy hanging out with good people.
Trish Trout, Wesley Chapel, Senior Crew–> I was told distance running was crazy and I couldn’t do it…so I had to prove people wrong and then I fell in love with distance running, at least what I consider distance running! I ran CC in high school. I left running until 2009 when I ran my first 15k at Gasparilla, still took time off (years) and finally returned to the sport when I ran my first half marathon at Disney in 2012! Without a doubt the Boston Marathon is my favorite race! I ran it in 2014 as a charity runner and hope to run as a charity runner again in 2017! I definitely want to complete the 3 state side WMM, I ran Chicago in 2015 so I just need to run NYC, maybe in 2017…who knows maybe I will jump the pond and try for the rest!! When it comes to running shoes, I still haven’t fallen in love with one particular shoe.. The Brooks Ravenna seems to be leading right now but its always subject to change! I love to travel! Also, I love to watch my beloved Red Sox! I feel it’s also important to give back to the community so I do various projects to help local ministries throughout the year.
Jamie Vela, Wesley Chapel Crew–>I grew up in Utah watching my parents run and consistently being active. Being active was just a part of my life. You could always find me in the gym lifting weights or on the softball field. In 1998 I decided I would train, with my dad, to run the Saint George Marathon in Utah – I finished. I didn’t get serious about running again until after my daughter was born in 2004. Running became a part of life with early morning runs watching the sun come up, mountain trail running with my sisters and dad, pushing a double jogging trailer for six years, improving my time, increasing my distance, and keeping sane. I have run 5K’s, 10K’s, Half’s, Ragnar Arizona, and 2016 Gasparilla Ultra Challenge. My favorite distance is either a 15K or half. If I am not at FITniche I am with my husband and three kids playing card games, watching movies, brewing beer, and enjoying the journey called life.
Allan Lewis, Wesley Chapel, Senior Crew–> I have been running for almost 12 years now. I run to say in shape for soccer and it is a good stress reliever for me. My current favorite is the N2 by Pearl Izumi. When I am not at FITniche, I am either fishing, hunting or hanging out with my dog baby. I love being outdoors!
Ian July, Wesley Chapel, Senior Crew–>
I started running in high school after my middle school track coach told me to give it a try. Since then, it has evolved into an activity to clear my head, to stay in shape, and possible career choice. I have been running for about 10 years, on and off competitively and coaching here and there.
When it comes to racing, every race is different and has special things that make each race interesting. My favorite race so far would be the Disney Tower of Terror 10 miler that I used as a training run for several proceeding half marathons. My favorite training shoe would alternate between Saucony ride, Nike Free, and New Balance 1400 depending on the type of run. When I am not at Fitniche or running, you can find me either at one of my other jobs or at the gym.
Kristen Kaim, Brandon Manager–> I started running two years ago, as a challenge, when my cousin dared me to train for a half marathon with him. I have always loved the gym and working out, but my running background was sports based, so running was always used as a form of punishment. Fast forward a few 5k’s, 8k’s, four half marathons, and two years later I can say I LOVE running! As a mom of 2 amazing little boys, running is my “ME time”, my therapy, and that special time of day when I can put my music on, zone out and not have to hear “MOM!” My boys are at every race to cheer me on, always asking me if I won, and knowing all too well that I lie when I say yes. But in so many ways I feel like I did: I feel great, it makes me happy, and they are so proud of me! My goal is to continue to run half’s and one day commit to a full! Til then my kids will be taking part in a few kids races and I will be cheering them on the same as they do for me.
Drew Carff, Brandon Crew–> I like running. No, I LOVE running. I started running as a way to get in shape for soccer. I was lucky to have grown up in an active family where both of my parents were Ironman Triathletes and avid runners. Running quickly evolved from a chore to a fun necessity that kept me (somewhat) sane and logical. I competed collegiality in cross-country and track at the University of Tampa. I am currently finishing up my degree at the University of South Florida. I have made the transition to triathlons; but running is, and will always be, my foundation. I am an Ironman finisher and Boston Marathon Qualifier with a 3:01. In addition to a compact list of talents, I teach the Good Form Running Clinics at Fitniche-Brandon.
Lauren McPhearson, Brandon Crew–> I began running about 7 years ago, when I no longer had high school sports to keep me active. I started off running a few road races in my home town and eventually ended up running for the college I was attending, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I ran cross country and track there for three years, and finished with a Bachelor’s in Athletic Training, and a Master’s in Sports studies. After college I began training for my first full marathon (Pittsburgh) and qualified for the Boston Marathon two times. I will be running Boston in April 2017 and hope to finish with a new PR! I have recently moved to the area with my husband, Jeremiah, and we are loving everything about Florida!
Hannah Whitmore, Brandon Crew–> I started running Cross Country my sophomore year of high school and then took a weightlifting class my senior year, thus quickly began my PASSION for running, lifting and a healthy lifestyle (the best of both worlds!). Immediately after high school I began coaching Cross Country and Track, and shortly after I became a Certified PT to change peoples lives through working out and healthy eating habits. Currently, I am working towards a BA in Athletic Training because through coaching I have found a love of working with kids to help better their lives and help them find their ultimate potential as individuals and athletes. I love every aspect of being a Trainer and Coach because I get to interact with so many different people and help change lives and reach goals!
SUPPORT and BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Tyrone Bell, Lead Buyer and Training Development–>
Brandi Holmes, Senior Comptroller and Online Manager–> I started running for the first time in March of 2008 to get ready for a local 5K, and FITniche was the place to go to get me going in the right direction. I started working for FITniche in 2009 and in 2010 stopped smoking. (Almost no one at work knew I smoked for the longest time!) Since then I’ve worn several hats at the store and now work as the comptroller and bookkeeper. I’ve also completed numerous half marathons in under 2 hours and a marathon. I just competed in my first Cross Fit competition, and love to pace at many of our local races, helping motivate others to their finish lines. My husband is also an accomplished ultra runner. We both basically just love to work out and be active!
Rebecca Kimble, Customer Communications Director–> I began running 5 years ago, as a way to lose weight, after the back to back births of my two amazing children. In 2010 I raced in my first 5K and fell in love with the sport. Since then I have gone on to run multiple 5K’s, half marathons and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2012, eventually running it in April 2014. In November of 2014, I decided to take on the challenge of long distance triathlons and in 2015 I completed three half ironman distance races. Running and triathlons have turned into a passion for me and I enjoy sharing my weight loss journey and healthy lifestyle with others.
Lucas Smelser, Operations Manager–> I spent much of my early childhood running for sports conditioning, but not until the end of spring semester of my freshman year in college did I begin to classify myself as a “runner”. Now 20 years later, running has become an integral part of my everyday life. I truly believe that running has transformative effects on peoples’ lives and I believe in sharing my passion for the sport with others.
At the University of Toledo, I studied Exercise Science with a concentration in Kinesiology and I am now working toward a Bachelor’s in Business at Polk State College. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to be able to compete in road, trail, and ultra distance races across the country, as well as many distance levels of triathlon. As always, train smart. The key to accomplishing your goals is to make it to the starting line! (Crossing it with a smile is a bonus!)
Rich Wills, Owner and Founder–>I’ve been a runner and triathlete almost all my life and now own several businesses related to running. Even though I don’t compete much in events anymore, I am the luckiest guy in the world to still be involved with athletes of every type, day-in and day-out, and have loved every minute of my work with FITniche over the last 10 years! Outside of work, you’ll likely find me reading poetry and business books, running, swimming or praying for guidance and thinking about how and when I can next get back to the mountains with my amazing wife, Julie, and 5 awesome kids!