University of Health & Performance

Our Team

The Best Minds in Health and Fitness

UHP offers a team of industry leaders dedicated to providing an uplifting personal and educational experience.

UHP is built by some of the most experienced, forward-thinking, and service-oriented individuals in health and fitness today. The goal of our faculty and staff is to ensure each UHP student not only finds purpose but also receives a rewarding education ready for day-1 real-world application.

Matt Hesse

Founder and CEO

Over the course of his career, Matt Hesse has utilized a strong commitment to education and mentorship to become a foremost leader and executive in health and wellness. As an Army National Guard veteran, former owner of several GNC franchises, and founder of a multinational sports performance and nutrition company, Matt has been able to transform his dedication to service and sharp business acumen into a successful educational model at UHP.

Matt initially began his mission to help veterans rebuild and re-launch their careers through FITOPS, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing veteran mental health needs through the power of physical fitness. Since 2017, Matt has utilized The Purpose Blueprint to help veterans and professionals transition between military service and professional careers. Through FITOPS, Matt and his team were able to apply their success and experience to the University of Health and Performance, creating a state-of-the-art training facility and holistic educational curriculum designed to help FHP and CPT students not only find purpose but also build a strong strategic business plan.

Matt is currently an advisor to the President of the United States in areas of physical fitness, sports, and wellness.

Ben Freakley

VP of Performance & Well-Being

Ben leads the integration of all performance aspects with staff and students to create life changing experiences at UHP. He brings 20 years of experience coaching sport, tactical, and corporate performers to UHP.

Prior to joining UHP, Ben was the Head of Mental Performance with the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) leading the development and delivery of mental skills programs across all levels of the Blue Jays organization. Before his role with the Toronto Blue Jays, he was the inaugural head coach and general manager of Tormenta FC of the United Soccer League.

Ben started his career in sport and performance psychology with the United States Army Special Operations Forces, as the performance psychology coach with the prestigious 75th Ranger Regiment. Before transitioning to the field of sport and performance psychology, Ben coached NCAA Men’s Soccer for nearly 15 years. Ben holds master’s degrees in Sport Psychology and Sport Management from Georgia Southern University where he was an NCAA Division I athlete.

He holds a doctoral degree in Sport and Performance Psychology from University of Western States with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and is a certified coach developer through the International Council for Coaching Excellence.

Hunter Schurrer

VP of Training, M.Ed., CSCS

Hunter oversees an interdisciplinary approach to empower our staff and students in how we move our bodies to build the best versions of themselves. He brings over 20 years of coaching experience to UHP from the tactical and collegiate realms.

Prior to joining UHP, Hunter was a human performance specialist with 1st Special Forces Group for over 10 years. Although he has never served in the military, it was working with this community that he found his purpose in coaching and serving others. Hunter played an integral role in laying the foundation for the US Army Special Forces human performance program, truly encompassing that “humans are more important than hardware.”

Before his time in special operations, he was a strength and conditioning coach in the collegiate setting at the University of Wyoming and the University of Virginia. Hunter earned his master’s degree at Virginia and his bachelor’s at Black Hills State University, both in exercise physiology.

As a collegiate athlete, Hunter was a National Champion and All-American in the weight throw. He was awarded the NSCA Athlete of the Year and was captain of the track and field team. Hunter is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) through the NSCA and holds a USA Weightlifting Level 2 Advanced Sports Performance Coach Certification as well as USAW’s Athlete Development Certification. He also holds certifications in Myokinematic Restoration from the Postural Restoration Institute, Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation, and CPR and First Aid through the American Heart Association.

Johnny Martin

Director of Graduate Support

John Martin received his bachelor’s degree in Health Studies and Education from Springfield College in 1999. He received his master’s degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling from American International College in 2005 and has gone on to receive his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Psychology. In addition, Johnny is a nationally certified Grief Recovery Specialist from the Grief Recovery Institute.™ Johnny guides men and women struggling with grief and loss through the Grief Recovery Method,™ Johnny has worked as a counselor in public schools and taught Group Counseling at the graduate school level.

Johnny was twice nominated for Massachusetts School Counselor of the Year and received the United States Marine Corps Educator of the Year Award.

Over the last 15 years, Johnny has served as a performance coach with professional athletes, educational leaders, and corporate executives. In addition, Johnny is a sought-after speaker who has served countless schools, university teams, and corporations across the country. Johnny’s role with UHP is to provide transitional support to students upon graduation from the Cornerstone Course. In addition to his primary role with UHP, Johnny teaches UHP courses on growth mindset, grief recovery, suicide prevention, and other mental health topics. A tireless advocate for Veterans, Johnny ensures that all UHP graduates have a lifetime of support in the form of Veteran peer groups, individual coaching, employment assistance, mental health advocacy, and referral services when needed.

Kelly Howard

VP of Education

Kelly oversees the education program for the University of Health and Performance and teaches classes in coaching skills, holistic and integrative health, and yoga/mindful movement.

She previously served as the Director of Whole Health Education for the VA, developing and managing Whole Health education programs and trainings for VA employees nationwide. During her tenure, over 500,000 leaders, clinicians, staff, and Veteran peer coaches completed face-to-face, virtual, and online courses in support of the transformation from a disease-based healthcare model to one that prioritizes what matters most to the Veteran and best practices in integrative health.

She is a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach and yoga instructor (RYT-500) with over 1,000 hours of yoga training. She also has certificates in Functional Breathing from Restore Your Prana/Essential Yoga Therapy, as a Death and Dying Coach from the Conscious Dying Institute, and Mindful Self-Compassion from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Kelly graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Resources Management.

Kelly has served in the US Army for 24 years: with troops at Ft. Hood and Schofield Barracks, as the Operations Officer for the Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, and then as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army. She is currently a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves with duty at Training and Doctrine Command, Ft. Eustis, VA, with a focus on supporting Army Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F).

Laura Lovell
Integrative health coach

Laura has diverse background in integrative health, athletics, and business. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, Laura spent over a decade of her early career in small businesses, gaining experience in marketing, operations, and business development.

Laura was a heptathlete and competed at the national level in the 400-meter hurdles at Linfield University, where she also spent eight seasons as an Assistant Track and Field Coach. Laura coached the school record holder in the 60-meter hurdles and many other athletes to achieve Academic All-American, Conference Champion, and All-Conference honors. She is a Certified Specialist in the Sprint, Hurdle, & Relay Events from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

 

In 2018, Laura collaborated with a career coach to clarify her passions, values, and purpose, leading her to pursue coaching and teaching full-time. In May 2022, she graduated from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) with a Master of Arts Degree in Integrative Health Studies. At CIIS, Laura served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and obtained certifications in guided imagery and patient navigation.

 

As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), Laura is dedicated to empowering people to achieve optimal well-being in all aspects of their lives.

Alex Hesse

Director of Communications

Alexandra Churcher-Hesse received her bachelor’s degree in Media & Communications at the University of New South Wales, Australia. In Sydney, she was Head of the Consumer Brands Practice at global PR agency Burson-Marsteller.

In 2015, she transferred to the New York City office and oversaw several high-profile accounts including Bank of America, SONY, and MetLife. From here she moved to another WPP agency that specializes in integrated communications, Cohn & Wolfe, as Vice President of Consumer leading the Alcon DAILIES TOTAL 1 account and working across the Smuckers portfolio of brands. After several years, Alex decided to pursue her passion of Health & Wellness and freelanced, managing communications for supplements brands, high end gyms, and non-profit organizations.

Catherine Wallace

Director OF TRAINING, M.S., CSCS

Catherine has been a Tactical Strength and Conditioning Specialist since 2014. She has served as a lead strength coach for the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Navy. Throughout her career, Catherine has had the opportunity to mold and influence multiple programs and courses within the military, including the USMC Force Fitness Instructors schoolhouse, has held a seat on the advisory board with Headquarters Marine Corps Training Command, and developed the strength training program for the Air Force’s Operational Support Team.

Catherine has also trained multiple athletes throughout her career. Since 2012, she has been a traveling strength and conditioning coach for place kickers, working with athletes across the nation.

Catherine earned her bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from The University of Lynchburg while competing as a Heptathlete on the Track and Field team. She gained her master’s degree in Kinesiology soon thereafter from Georgia Southern University. Her current certifications include Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and USA Weightlifting Level 1 Coach through USA Weightlifting.

Ben Durham

VP of Campus operations

Ben joined the UHP team in September 2021 and is responsible for all current operations at UHP to include planning, logistics, and providing the necessary means to create an optimal learning environment.

Prior to joining UHP, Ben served 21 years in the United States Army, assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment. He has led teams in some of the most dynamic environments in the world and has extensive experience in strategic planning and project management. Ben spent the last decade of his career developing and managing large scale programs in both educational and tactical roles, and has a true passion for health and performance.

 

Ben recently retired from the Army, and after spending more than 20 years in the Special Operations community, he was excited to find an organization that embodied the same culture, work ethic, and values he had grown accustomed to. He firmly believes that the programs offered at UHP can profoundly change the lives of our nation’s men and women and create a nationwide community of Veterans filled with purpose, confidence, and the tools to succeed, in service and out of service.

Brandi Harstedt

Director OF TRAINING, M.S., CSCS

Brandi served in the Navy for 9 years as a communications operator on the E6-B at Tinker AFB, OK. Since transitioning from service in 2015, she has competed in bodybuilding competitions and worked as a defense contractor, managing special programs and security teams in restricted clearance areas at the Pentagon and other contracting facilities.

She earned her personal training certificate during a FitOps camp in 2019, and has supported multiple UHP classes as a Graduate Assistant. Brandi supports the UHP Operations Team with planning and logistics for each course, and helps to ensure that every student’s experience at UHP is the best that it can be.

Guest Coaches

Zach Finer

Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

Dr. Allison Brager

Neuroscientist

Dr. John Berardi

Founder, Precision Nutrition

Lindsey Mitrosilis

LinkedIn Expert

Susan Lopez, RD

Tactical Dietitian 

Dr. Theresa Larson, DPT

Founder, Movement RX