- Nick MagniniOwner, Head Coach
- Deborah BurkeCoach
- Milton "Doza" HawesCoach
- Einar LeonCoach
- Jay De LeonCoach, Barbell Club Coach
- James PlossCoach
- Marni AshCoach
- Jen BroughtonCoach
- Heather CasseseYoga Instructor, Coach
- Meredith MagniniOwner, Coach, Yoga Instructor, Business Manager, Staff Dietitian
Coach Nick has loved sports and fitness his entire life. Nick has played multiple sports beginning as a child and continuing into adulthood, especially excelling in baseball. After graduating from college, Nick began running as a way to fill the competitive void he was experiencing, and has since completed numerous 5Ks, half marathons, and two marathons, including the Boston Marathon. Nick discovered CrossFit while looking for a way to challenge his fitness levels even further, and fell in love with the sport during his very first workout (despite being humbled by Filthy Fifty)! Nick has coached many youth sports teams, camps, and clinics, and has found his greatest levels of personal satisfaction come when helping others reach their fitness and sports goals. As a coach, Nick brings to CrossFit Surmount enthusiasm, energy, sport specific training, and a passion to improve others’ fitness in a fun, positive, and encouraging way.
Nick is also our CrossFit Kids Trainer, and leads fun packed classes for kids of all ages that lead them to a life long love of fitness.
Nick is a native of Buffalo, NY, and loves that in North Carolina, he has the ability to get outdoors and exercise year round. He is a graduate of Penn State University, with a degree in Business Management and Economics. When not CrossFitting, Nick enjoys spending time with his family which is made up of his two sons, Nolan and Leo, his daughter Luisa, and wife Meredith. All 5 of them are seen at the box almost daily, and CrossFit Surmount has become their second home.
Owning CrossFit Surmount is a dream come true for Nick and his family, and he looks forward to sharing his passion of CrossFit and fitness with everyone.
Deborah has maintained a steady path for health and fitness throughout her life. She has taken part in a variety of activities including resistance training, aerobic classes, running, hiking, walking, Weight Watchers, biking, and more. While primarily doing the standard weight training and cardio in a gym for many years, her husband suggested she give CrossFit a try. Since she was never a big fan of group exercise, she reluctantly attended a session. That reluctance turned into her new daily habit. With a little encouragement, Deborah attended the Crossfit Level 1 trainer course and began her journey as a coach.
Deborah has held a variety of jobs ranging from education to operations management. When outside of the box, you can find Deborah managing The Burke family corporation of 5 (if you include the dog). You will see her husband Steve, son Griffin, and daughter, Zoie, attending WODs throughout the week.
Milton “Doza” Hawes considered himself to be a pretty fit athlete. He ran regularly, did some moderate weightlifting, and stayed relatively active when playing and hiking with his son. All that changed when he decided to give CrossFit Surmount a try in January 2014. After his first workout reduced him to a sweaty pile on the floor, he realized that he was not nearly as fit as he thought he was and instantly knew that he had found his new gym!
Just over a year later, he began his pursuit of the Level 1 Trainer certification and he’s excited to be a part of the CrossFit Surmount coaching team. Doza enjoys the tight-knit group of athletes at CrossFit Surmount and appreciates how everyone works hard, continuosly improves, and maintains a sense of humor through it all. He’s excited to help people reach their goals, something he has been doing for years as a drumset teacher. When he’s not at CFS, he’s probably out gigging with one of his bands or spending time with family. If Doza is at the gym, you’ll probably see his son, Evan, off in the corner cuddling with our mascott, Luke, or doing his homework. Doza is also passionate about vegan sports nutrition and is constantly experimenting with and tweaking his diet. If you’re curious about non-meat options for athletes, don’t hesitate to ask him questions, it’s one of his favorite subjects. Doza is looking forward to
working out with and coaching all of you!
- CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
- USA Weightlifting Level 1 Sports Performance Coach
Einar holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from San Jose State University and currently works as a Principal Manufacturing Engineer for a local medical device company. A native of Los Angeles, CA, Einar’s relationship with sports such as swimming, tennis, and various martial arts, started at an early age and continues into adulthood.
After working in the high stress environment of Silicon Valley he decided to get married, change jobs and move to Durham in 2006, settling into a life of zero physical activity. After being involved in a serious car accident and learning that his cholesterol was at extraordinarily “high risk” levels, Einar decided to look for an alternative to get healthy, and discovered CrossFit in 2012. Six months later he was given a clean bill of health.
Early on during his CrossFit journey, Einar recognized the importance of stretching and proper movement patterns in preventing injuries. He also learned the influence of proper nutrition and rest in athletic performance, and applies these principles into his coaching style. His main goal as a coach is to safeguard the health and longevity of each athlete by enforcing proper technique, in a positive and reassuring way.
Jay De Leon
Coach, Barbell Club Coach
- CrossFit Level I Trainer
- Masters Physical Therapy Elon University
- Functional Movement System Level 1 Certified
- Selective Functional Movement Assessment Level 1 Certified
- Graston Technique Level 1 and 2 Certified
- Black Belt Sil Lum Kung Fu
As a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Jay has enjoyed an active lifestyle for most of his life. He participated in varsity basketball and soccer throughout his high school years and he became captivated with martial arts during his college years. After completing Physical Therapy school, Jay dabbled with P90x workouts and weightlifting in his garage gym, but found the monotony of the activities quite boring. In 2010, Jay discovered CrossFit and has witnessed the benefits of group exercising and CrossFit programming.
As a physical therapist at Duke University Medical Center, Jay has a developed a keen eye in identifying dysfunctional movement patterns. He understands the importance of developing good human movement competencies in order to stay strong and healthy.
Jay and his wife, Mary-Ann, are both founding members of CrossFit Surmount. You may even see a cameo from their three children, Josh, Jade, and Jacob, at the box from time to time.
Being active has always been important to Marni. She grew up playing competitive soccer and played through high school. She has enjoyed other activities, such as hiking and mountain biking. She has been a member at several other non-CrossFit gyms, participating in various aerobic classes, weight training, and spin classes. Marni would quickly become bored with these programs. She stepped foot into her first “box” January 2013 and has been hooked ever since. After CrossFitting for almost two years, Marni’s husband and several fellow CrossFitters suggested that she coach. Marni received her Level 1 Certification Fall of 2014. Marni says that CrossFit helped her gain a new level of confidence, and she wants to help others achieve this as well.
In addition to coaching CrossFit, Marni is the mother of two teenaged daughters. She can also be found at the local Farmer’s Markets selling German Baked goods for Annelore’s German Bakery. She is an advocate of supporting local farmers and can be found shopping at Farmers Market’s as well.
- CrossFit Level 1
From a very young age, Coach Jen always loved sports. As a collegiate basketball player at Peace University, Jen found her true passion for fitness. In 2008, Jen attended the National Personal Training Institute, which led her to helping a broad array of people from young athletes to senior citizens.
As many others with a background in traditional weightlifting, Jen was initially opposed to the concept of CrossFit. In September 2012, it only took one grueling (and very humbling) WOD before she was hooked. The atmosphere and challenge was so addicting that she obtained her Level I Certification only a few months later. Since then, Coach Jen has competed in numerous CrossFit competitions including the NC Fit with a Top 10 finish. During this same time, Coach Jen was also training and eventually completed her first half marathon. To say she loves a challenge, would be an understatement!
Above it all, the CrossFit community and ability to inspire others have always been huge motivators for Coach Jen. She views coaching and teaching as a true privilege. Her number one goal is to be a motivational force for people who want to be great; not just in CrossFit but in any facet of life. Whether it is putting in the extra work to get that first unassisted pull-up, achieving a PR on an Olympic lift, or losing a few pounds, she loves seeing people succeed. There is nothing more gratifying then someone showing up each day with a smile on their face and the confidence that they accomplished their goal.
When not at the CrossFit Surmount, Coach Jen can be found with her head buried in a book as she completes her degree in Health Education. She is also training for her first full marathon at the Outer Banks in November 2017 and plans to get her Level II CrossFit certification.
Yoga Instructor, Coach
- CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
- BYT 200
- "Live Your Yoga" 250 Hour Training
- Doctorate in Chiropractic
A former competitive gymnast, weight lifter, and runner, Dr. Heather began teaching group fitness in 1998 at East Carolina University while studying for her Bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology. During that time she attended hatha yoga classes as a means to stay connected to her gymnastics background and maintain flexibility. After graduation she moved to Portland, OR where she continued her studies at Western States Chiropractic College (now University of Western States) and received her Doctorate in Chiropractic in 2005. During her time in Portland her love for yoga expanded exponentially as she began to practice Bikram,
A former competitive gymnast, weight lifter, and runner, Dr. Heather began teaching group fitness in 1998 at East Carolina University while studying for her Bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology. During that time she attended hatha yoga classes as a means to stay connected to her gymnastics background and maintain flexibility. After graduation she moved to Portland, OR where she continued her studies at Western States Chiropractic College (now University of Western States) and received her Doctorate in Chiropractic in 2005. During her time in Portland her love for yoga expanded exponentially as she began to practice Bikram, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga forms. She attended her first yoga certification in 2002 and began teaching Hatha yoga at the local gym where she taught aqua and other group fitness classes. Throughout the years, she gravitated to Vinyasa and Yin as constants for her own home practice. In 2010 she completed the “Live Your Yoga” 250 hour teacher training at the Yoga Garden in Apex, NC. This training focused in Hatha Raja and encompassed all classical forms of yoga and Vinyasa. In 2015, soon after moving her chiropractic practice next door to CrossFit Surmount, she returned to her gymnastics and weight lifting roots by starting CrossFit. It was fitting that she saw the need for yoga for CrossFitters, not only to stretch but to strengthen the core, improve balance, increase awareness of the body, and contribute to the mental side of being an athlete through focused concentration and breath work. She has seen her own yoga practice and CrossFit workouts complimenting each other more than she ever knew possible. Dr. Heather loves to challenge her students with powerful Vinyasa flows, good humor, and the ability to break down difficult poses into the attainable for all levels. With a smile and a laugh, her positive energy can inspire and change those she teaches.
Owner, Coach, Yoga Instructor, Business Manager, Staff Dietitian
- CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
- RYT 200
- Masters in Nutrition
Meredith has been involved in the health and fitness industry in many different capacities since her college days at Penn State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science. She continued to pursue her studies in Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where she completed her dietetic internship and received her graduate degree in Nutrition. She has been practicing as a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist since 2005.
Aside from her academic interest in health and food, she was also drawn to the fitness side in which she taught cycling classes in gyms for 8 years, and took up running road races- 5Ks, half marathons and a marathon. Due to knee injuries sustained from running, she turned to yoga to fill the void, and has been practicing for 10 years. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and has taught in gyms, CrossFit boxes and yoga studios in New York and North Carolina.
Meredith teaches our yoga classes when Heather is out traveling the world.
It’s only natural that Meredith found CrossFit, much thanks to her husband, Nick. Not only does it provide the fitness challenge she craves, but a place for people to come together. It is a community that is there for you, no matter what! Because of this, you will find her entire family at the box participating in different programs almost daily.
Meredith is currently our Business Manager and Nutrition Specialist. She’s available for our athletes to improve their nutrition, and has a passion to see them improve their lives in that aspect. Her goal is to become a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer within the year, and teach our Express and Foundations sessions.