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Meet the team

Denzel Allen

Owner of Strength Den

Denzel began his journey as a Physical Educator while attending the University of Connecticut. In the summer time before his Junior and Senior year of college, Denzel had an internship at a private fitness facility located in Mystic, CT. There he was able to learn a lot about coaching while also preparing for the season at UCONN where he played Division I football.


His focus on quality over quantity has helped many of the people he has coached to feel, move, and perform better than they had ever before. He has worked with a plethora of individuals ranging from grandparents to athletes. He has also coached hundreds of coaches at StrongFirst certifications and workshops. Denzel has the privilege of being frequently featured in publications such as MensHealth, GQ, and others. Also, Denzel has had his writing published on StrongFirst’ website many times covering strength and endurance. If you want to read some of his work click here.


Denzel graduated from UCONN with a Bachelors in Psychology and Sociology in 2012. Since graduating, he has kept an insatiable hunger for learning. Denzel has earned many certifications which include his FMS, Precision Nutrition, ACE personal trainer, StrongFirst level 1 and level 2 Kettlebell, StrongFirst Bodyweight, StrongFirst Lifter (barbell), DV8 Coaching and of course CPR/First Aid. Denzel has also learned from and worked alongside many physical therapists. He believes we are all lifelong students, we have the ability to change and grow at any age.

Recap of notable accomplishments

  • StrongFirst Team Leader (2018-2020)

  • DV8 Fitness Coaching certified Instructor

  • StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor

  • Certified FRC Mobility Specialist

  • Precision Nutrition certified Coach

  • Former Collegiate athlete at UCONN (University of Connecticut) and University of Rhode Island

Michael Salas

BS, CSCS, ACE CPT, DV8 Kettlebell Coach  


Michael has implemented both academic knowledge and

real-world experience to form the belief that each person can benefit from a well-structured and safely implemented physical fitness program.


Michael began his career in 2018 working as a personal trainer in Mill Valley while attending courses at the College of Marin. In 2019 Michael transferred to San José State University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology specializing in Exercise Science. 


In 2019 he began working at a gym in San José that specialized in 1:1 and group training sessions. While in San José, he developed an interest in athletic development through various strength and conditioning techniques. He was inspired to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. 


Michael’s areas of specialization include sport-specific athletic development, injury prevention, and kettlebell training. He has worked with a diverse group of individuals ranging from high school and collegiate athletes to adolescents and adults of all ages. Regardless of age or ability, Michael uses his academic and professional background to help his clients achieve their wellness goals.





















Surbhi Mahendru

NASM CPT,  GGS Pre/Post Natal Coach, Strong First Kettlebell Coach, CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach 1

Surbhi first became certified as a personal trainer in 2012 while simultaneously building her career with companies such as Zappos, Amazon, and Nike. In 2022, Surbhi transitioned into a full-time career in helping individuals achieve their personal wellness goals through physical movement and healthy lifestyle habits.


She has experience training individuals one-on-one at Equinox Fitness SF, teaching small group training, organizing sports and health-tech communities, and building her market’s first workplace wellness program. Surbhi works with clients who have a variety of goals including but not limited to: prenatal fitness, weight loss, strength building, injury prevention, and pain free performance for team and endurance sports.


As a fitness and lifestyle coach, Surbhi believes in integrating an active and healthy lifestyle while pursuing one's ambitions. Her current mission is to help others build inner resilience through outer strength, so that they feel empowered and equipped to take on any challenges life may bring.













Courtney Gaiman



Courtney's athletic background began with a love for jump rope in 1st grade and evolved to earning four years of varsity letters in field hockey, basketball and soccer in high school. She then played four years of Division I soccer at Marquette University as a defender.  At the end of her collegiate athletic stint, Courtney found herself feeling burned out on physical training and decided to hang up her cleats and other athletic pursuits "for good."


Fifteen years and two kids later, Courtney realized it was time to feel strong in her body and physically fit once again. She discovered the Strength Den in 2021 and was immediately drawn to Denzel's zen coaching style and the intimate environment. As a "regular" at the Strength Den, she is so grateful to have discovered a place that cultivates personal growth and wellness, Coaches that are both motivational and restrained, and a community that is fun and supportive.


Courtney is professionally certified as a Child Life Specialist and has worked in pediatric hospitals in the Bay Area to help children and their families cope while facing medical hardships. Courtney also founded and operates a small business called Bow and Bestow that offers professional Gift Concierge services in Marin county. 


As the Community Liaison, Courtney provides administrative and event-planning support with a focus on building community and connection for Strength Den members. She feels very lucky to live in Mill Valley with her husband and two sons.

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