Our Crew


Mike Claytor

"You get back what you put into something, and there is no substitute for hard work."

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Mike Claytor moved to Santa Barbara in1998 to advance his education, where he received a degree in business and finance with a minor in kinesiology. Additionally, he earned certificates as a personal trainer through ISSA, a USAT triathlon coach, and an EMT. Upon graduation, Mike worked in a variety of training and rehabilitation centers, learning from some of the most respected experts in the industry. In 2006, his passion for fitness translated into creating a state-of-the-art facility - SB Training.

Mike built SB Training intent on sharing with the community of Santa Barbara his unique training concepts, principles, and core values. Personally, he began
competing in triathlons, mountain bike racing, power lifting, and Jiu Jitsu
tournaments. Through the combination of academic knowledge and practical
experience in training and competition, he is highly qualified to coach and motivate his own clients, and athletes.

Mike strongly believes that a varied, well-rounded fitness program is the best way to get and stay healthy. During the decade Mike has owned SB Training, he has used this philosophy as a guiding principle for the development of Strength Happens, the unique method for helping people become more fit and healthier. Strength Happens has helped hundreds of people attain their goals: from being better able to deal with the physical needs of daily life, to achieving more satisfying results as they challenge themselves in recreational and competitive sports.

Now known as one of Santa Barbara’s premier personal trainers, Mike will continue to share his love for fitness with his clients and staff, whom he personally trains in the Strength Happens philosophy and method. Mike is a motivator. He works to inspire the people around him by practicing the disciplines he teaches. 

Lydia Kitahara Poehlmann

“Fitness, food and fun….Strength!”

I love nearly all forms of movement! I’ve competed in marathons, triathlons, trail races, beach volleyball, bikini bodybuilding, and mountain biking. I’m pretty much game to try everything, and if it’s out in nature, even better!

Beyond the gym is my other passion…food! I love everything about it -- growing it, preparing it with friends, and traveling the world to better understand people through their cuisine. Sharing a meal is a very special way to connect with others.

My personal training career took off in 2008 when I learned the Strength Happens method (formerly SB Training). I fell in love with the fitness and training lifestyle, and became fascinated by the human body and its response to exercise. I even got my degree in Exercise Science.

My passion for exercise and great food come together at Strength Happens. You can only be strong and healthy by eating clean, high quality food, and doing the exercises that are right for you to perform at your peak. Oh yeah… leave a little room for indulgences, too!


Angie Ruccio


“True strength happens when strength of mind and spirit are as robust as physical strength.”

My passion for health and wellness began with my first yoga class, leading me to become a hatha yoga teacher. I also recognized the benefits of massage therapy, and graduated from the Body Wellness Academy. Since then, I have taken advanced classes in sports and Thai massage techniques. In teaching yoga and doing massage, I noted there was an important element missing in helping my clients improve on all levels of their being: physical strength. So, you guessed it, I learned how to be a strength trainer and now use the Strength Happens method.

I believe chronic aches, pains and imbalances in the body can be avoided or healed through proper strength and endurance training, a well-balanced stretch routine, and a therapeutic massage.

My life is made richer by having inspiring friends, a loving family, enjoying the natural beauty of this amazing town’s hiking trails and beaches, and eating delicious food. I am a certified Rock Steady Boxer kickboxer, sharing the sport with people with Parkinson’s.  

I know strength is happening when I finish a day of massages, training, and teaching boxing, realizing that my body, mind and spirit can maintain a rigorous, fulfilling lifestyle. 

Richie Ferzoco


“It’s incredibly fulfilling for me to watch clients progress and reach their goals through Strength Happens.”

I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA enjoying the outdoors: from surfing local breaks to hiking its many trails. Having spent a large amount of time surfing, competing in water polo and on the swim team, being in the water has always been second nature. While a surf instructor in San Diego, I came across an opportunity to be a surf guide for the Mentawai Surf Retreat on the tropical jungle Island of Nyang Nyang in Indonesia. My adventure was spent guiding guests to world class surf breaks, free diving, exploring the Islands, and hiking through the jungle in search of amazing waterfalls and spectacular views. I knew more than ever that being healthy, active and adventurous was the lifestyle for me.

When I returned to Santa Barbara, I began my journey with Strength Happens. While in the intern program under Master Trainer Mike Claytor, I pursued my personal training certification through the International Sports Sciences Association.

Beyond training, I enjoy barbecues with friends and soaking up the sun. I’m always up for shooting pool, and will accept any challenge to a game of ping-pong.

Alexis Butler


“Family, fun and fitness…a strong life”

I am a mother of a 4 and 6 year old and I love spending time with them. We are a very active family and love riding dirtbikes in the desert.  If it's hot and sunny you'll most likely find us at the beach the entire day. Nothing makes me happier than a day spent at the beach!

Recently, I started mountain biking and love how it challenges me to push myself harder and further to make it to the top.  That’s when I feel strength happening. The rush of flying down the mountain is the reward for the pain of the climb. I love to go for runs while listening to techno music, and have competed in a couple half marathons.

Training others using the Strength Happens method will help them lead as fulfilling a life as mine.

John Ramirez


“You must maintain strength of body in order to preserve strength of mind.” -Luc De Clapiers

I was blessed to be born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. My love of physicality started early, I grew up playing basketball, baseball, and football. I have always enjoyed pushing and testing my limits, and competitive sports gave me a great outlet to do so. I love the comradey of being on a team, having that support to see what I am capable of is really important to me. 

As many of us do, I fell off in my personal fitness for a bit, working to live, in a job that did not afford me much time to make health a main focus in my life. A couple of years ago, I got back into working out in a big way. I remembered my love of working out and felt something I had been missing, the incredible support of like-minded individuals.

I’ve recently received my personal training certification from the ISSA, and began interning under Mike Claytor in the Strength Happens method. Since then, I have gained many skills both professionally and in my personal life. I love that this industry allows me to connect with people as a positive role in their lives. I have already seen how the Strength Happens method is different, taking people from their foundation and letting them progress to their best, in a safe and effective way. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to see people better themselves day in and day out. 

When I am not working out in the gym, I like to unwind by hanging out with my family, taking my dogs to the beach, and exploring our gorgeous trails with a run or a hike.

Strength Happens Grand Opening Party 

March 3, 2018