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Meet the Team

Meet the Team

At ISTA, we work with only the best fitness trainers! Our team has the experience and passion needed to support you as you earn your nationally recognized fitness certification. Read on to learn more about the best online trainers at ISTA!


ISTA Board of Advisors


best fitness trainers

Matthew McDonald, MA
Founder & CEO

Matt’s fascination for fitness and health began at an early age. As early as age 10 you could find Matt checking nutrition labels, and researching topics on the ever-evolving fitness industry. A lifelong fitness enthusiast and entrepreneur at heart, Matt knew that he wanted to pursue a career in the fitness industry. After college Matt began a successful career as a personal trainer, and it was during this time that Matt learned something very important. Although personal training is a very rewarding career, it requires a great deal of time, money, and devotion to become successful. Once Matt realized this, he felt that it just did not make sense for a quality personal trainer certification to cost so much (upwards of $1,000). Matt knew that most individuals who are starting out in the field do not have large bank accounts filled with disposable income. Therefore, being the entrepreneur that he is, Matt decided to establish the International Strength Training Association with the motto “Quality certifications at an affordable price”, and since its inception in 2013, ISTA has experienced tremendous growth and has ISTA certified trainers all around the world! Matt is dedicated to his company and is constantly looking for ways to improve it. His vision was to make a career as a personal trainer accessible to everyone, and ISTA is making that vision a reality!

University of Alabama
Master of Arts, Health Studies

Troy University
Bachelor Science, Social Science/Business Administration


best online trainersDr. Brian Sansalone, Advisory Board Member/Public Member

Dr. Brian Sansalone attended Texas Chiropractic College where he graduated, in 2007, Magna Cum Laude and was inducted into the Omega Psi Honor Society.  During his internship at Texas Chiropractic College Moody Clinic, Dr. Sansalone’s experience included completed clinical rotations in neurosurgery and was also selected for pilot program at VA Hospital in Temple, TX. To maintain the high quality of care he provides his patients, he attends continuing education classes each year. His extensive postgraduate training consists of functional rehabilitation, vertebral disc treatment and anatomy, functional soft tissue therapy and biomechanics. He is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner, a certified provider of Cox-Flexion Distraction, Activator Methods Technique and KinesioTaping.  He is also a Certified Ergonomist Assessment Specialist, CEAS. He has worked with a wide variety of patients, including athletes at the high school and college levels, post-operative patients, pregnant women, geriatrics and children.  He has lectured on topics including sports medicine, ergonomics, biomechanics, injury prevention and nutrition. Dr. Sansalone has worked on the medical team for the Texas Independence Relay and is currently the treating chiropractor for the Houston Dynamo soccer team.


health and fitness instructor

Magan Broekstra, MS BPHED CPT
Advisory Board Member/Education Committee Member

Magan is a knowledgeable and experienced professional in the health and fitness industries.  Magan has worked in the corporate health setting as well as the private sector where she ran her own business.  Magan teaches the online workshops for ISTA and will assisting in the maintenance and creation of ISTA educational materials.


  • Master of Science in Kinesiology, University of Hawaii
  • Honors Bachelor of Physical Education, Brock University
  • 4 years Varsity Lacrosse


  • Fitness Business Owner, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, etc.

Certifications and Skill:

  • Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist – ISTA
  • Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist- ISSA
  • First aid, CPR and AED certified
  • TRX Group Suspension Training Certificate
  • Self Myofascial Release Certification (Foam Rolling)
  • USA Weightlifting Club Coach


executive education board member Ben

Ben Ludwig, BS CPT
Advisory Board Member/ Education Committee Member

With 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, Ben Ludwig has excelled in the field of health and fitness helping thousands reach their fitness goals along the way. He currently holds the district executive position with Dynamic Fitness, who is revolutionizing Houston marketplace. Ben currently has been developing systems and processes that have allowed Dynamic Fitness to become the fastest growing company in Texas. He has held multiple upper management positions with corporate and private gym chains growing programs and teaching trainers and clients how to become successful. After being a personal trainer for many years and working in physical therapy setting for many more, Ben is an expert in leadership development, human anatomy and progressive exercise, holding bachelors degrees in exercise science as well as psychology. His certifications include Certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist through the American college of sports medicine. Community involvement is of utmost importance as he has been involved in many non-profit organizations and has developed partnerships with many more to promote health and wellness in his community.

Lamar University
Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science/Psychology


advisory board member

Chelsy Ethridge, BA CPT
Advisory Board Member/Certification Committee Member

Chelsy has a BA degree in Kinesiology from St. Edward’s University and is currently completing coursework to become a Registered Dietician. She started a food blog in 2010 and after college, she became an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist. Chelsy lives, eats, and breathe a healthy lifestyle and feels that proper nutrition and fitness go hand in hand. She is from a huge Italian family and extremely social, so be prepared to become friends! 🙂

St. Edward’s University
Bachelor of Arts, Kinesiology

University of Houston
Post-Baccalaureate Registered Dietician


advisory board member Tommy

            Tommy DiFruscio BS CPT, Advisory Board Member/Certification Committee Member

Tommy holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Virginia Commonwealth University and is an ACSM-certified Health Fitness Specialist with EIM Level 2 recognition. He also maintains his certification as an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, specialty Group Exercise Instructor, and American Red Cross and American Heart Association CPR/AED/First Aid instructor.

A native of New Jersey, Tommy recently relocated from Richmond, Virginia where he owned/managed Simply Fit Enterprises, a local health and fitness company dedicated to improving functional fitness and overall wellness for individuals of all ages, abilities, and levels. In Richmond, he also taught college-level weight training and health courses, and served as a site internship coordinator for numerous college students moving into the field of Exercise Science. He has several years’ experience working with clients at all fitness levels, and specializes in a variety of areas such as functional training, strength and conditioning, weight loss, and sports performance.

Tommy has always been active in and out of the gym, spending years as a soccer player and coach, and holding the NPC Novice Lightweight Bodybuilding title in 2004. Currently, he works as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor for a number of local facilities. Seeing his clients achieve their goals and reach heights they never thought were attainable inspires him in his own life. In his spare time, he enjoys weight training, sports, travel, and spending time with his wife and growing family.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science