Meet the Hest Team
Albert & Paula Kessler, Owners & Founders
In 1981, Albert and Paula founded HEST Fitness Products (Health Equipment of South Texas) in Corpus Christi. What began as a hobby, developed into a full service business as Albert discovered a void in the fitness industry that needed to be filled. Albert’s previous welding experience enabled him to design and build prototypes; he then discovered that there were manufacturers in the U.S. already making the quality equipment he was seeking. This enabled the young company to change their focus and direct it towards educating its customers and providing unmatched service. Albert and Paula understand that the best way to serve the customer is to employ the best people in the industry, maintain high standards of product quality, and to strive to always anticipate and exceed the customer’s expectations. The team members at HEST Fitness Products strive to maintain the company's dynamic growth and make their standards of quality and excellence available to everyone!
HEST has since expanded into other cities and still remains a leader in the specialty fitness industry for almost 35 years!
Joseph Gonzalez, General Manager
Exercise and Sports have been a constant in my life since I was a child. From competitive baseball to track and football year round, I would have never had time to even think about a computer or cell phone! At 19 years of age I was a Collegiate All-American at Blinn College, which led to me being drafted by the Montreal Expos, which in turn started my 10 year 1000 plus game career in Minor League Baseball. After traveling many miles and meeting many people, I learned and grew to appreciate everything that life has to offer. After studying
Exercise Science at McNeese State University I have accrued 24 years of fitness sales experience and 27 years of retail management experience. Working at Hest and in the fitness industry is my passion and serving our customers and employees has been an honor and privilege.
Steve Payne, Commercial Sales Rep, Corpus Christi
Steve joined the HEST Fitness Team in January 2015 as the Corpus Christi area Commercial Rep. He began his career in the fitness industry in 1975 as a personal trainer for the American Health Studio in Corpus Christi. His fitness path continued on to Houston, where he took a Sales Manager position with Bally Total Fitness, then to Austin where he took the position as the Racquetball Pro and Sports-Fitness Manager with Club Corp of America in 1983. A few years later, he began a shift in his career when he took a position with fitness dealer, Haden Industries, as the Commercial Sales Manager. Over the next 27 years, he worked for five leading fitness equipment manufactures as a Sales Manager, covering half the Western U.S. and Mexico, while based in Austin, Texas.
He began his first manufacturer rep position with a yearly goal of $1.5M in sales; over the next two years, he grew it to $4.5M in sales. This trend continued in every position, as he increased sales significantly over the years. Sales numbers aren’t the only thing Steve cares about. As he says, “I’m all about relationship sales. I get to know my customers very well and many have been good friends for decades. I also strongly believe in the follow up after the install, which is very important!”
Steve Byerley, Fitness Consultant, Corpus Christi
I was blessed in 7th grade to have a coach (Coach Warner) who started me out on a consistent daily workout regimen; I have never stopped working out since. As I am approaching 58 years of age, I’m carrying a resting pulse in the low 70’s, a blood pressure close to perfect and I am still a competitive arm-wrestler, which I also started doing in the 7th grade. I have 30 years of experience in the fitness industry, that which includes opening my own health club in 1985, merging it with a larger health club one year later and then managing it for the next three years. I left that club to come work for Hest Fitness Products in September of 1989. I met Albert Kessler (Hest Fitness Products owner) when we worked at American Health Studios in the 70’s. To work there you simply had to be one of the best built guys in town, have extreme knowledge of physical fitness, and enjoy sharing that knowledge with every club member. In my 30+ years in the industry, I have assisted thousands of folks in achieving their personal fitness goals, aided in rehabbing minor to severe injuries, and consulted on setting up fitness rooms for homes and many other commercial settings. Some of these settings include: health clubs, personal training studios, physical therapy clinics, martial arts studios, company employee wellness centers, junior high & high school weight rooms, major college rec centers, apartment & hotel fitness rooms, etc. I have been called on to train power lifters, body builders, boxers, & arm wrestlers. I love the fitness industry and I love sharing what I have learned in over 40 years of living the fitness & athletic lifestyle. I look forward to sharing with you soon.
Michael Cisneros, Fitness Consultant, Corpus Christi
Michael was born and raised in Corpus Christi, TX. His passion for health and wellness has driven him towards a career to motivate and inspire people to reach their fitness goals. He graduated with his Master's in Kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in May of 2015. While pursuing his Master's, he worked full time gaining experience in weight loss management, injury rehabilitation, 1-on-1 coaching, injury prevention, strength & conditioning, Olympic weight lifting, and fitness consulting/exercise prescription. Michael enjoys Olympic weight lifting and trains 6 days/wk. Doing so provides him with the insight and clarity necessary to intuitively help you reach your fitness goals.
Edgar Santana, Store Manager, McAllen
Edgar Santana is a happily married, father of two, who has consistently demonstrated a high level of work ethic and determination throughout his career at Hest Fitness Products. Ever since he started with the company, he has worked his way up the Hest ranks. He began as a delivery and installation technician in 2006, earned himself a spot on the showroom floor as a fitness consultant in 2010, then became the new store manager of the Rio Grande Valley in 2014. Edgar’s dedication to his customers in the U.S and Mexico has proven that he is the go-to-guy for fitness products and advice, so people have grown to trust his knowledge and expertise. Not only does he enjoy working for Hest Fitness Products, but he also enjoys his time off with a variety of hobbies, whether it's traveling, taking his mountain bike out for a spin or hunting.
"Stop saying I wish and start saying I will." -Anonymous
David De Leon, Fitness Consultant, McAllen
David is part of McAllen's fitness consultant team and has been with Hest for almost one year (in April). As a young athlete, he decided to take strength training seriously after training with the most elite athletes in Texas and all over the U.S., under the direction of Jeff Madden (“Mad Dog”) at the University of Texas-Austin. This eventually led him to sign a football scholarship with McMurray University in Abilene, Texas. Not only does he have a passion for fitness, but also for the outdoors. He has been on the board of Directors for the Coastal Conservation Association of the Rio Grande Valley for more than 5 years; whether it's fishing, hunting or taking wildlife photos, he has his free days always planned out. He's very excited to help new and old customers with their fitness goals and ready to take on another year with excitement! "The good old days are today".
Dianne “Dee” Reyna, Fitness Consultant, McAllen
I have been working for Hest Fitness Products for 13 years; however, I’ve been in the fitness industry for a total of 26 years. I started out as a fitness consultant and manager at the Ultra Fit Preventative Medicine Center, working with the founder of the company, Dr. Joe Davis. My second job was working at a gym by the name of Cornerstone for Women, where I was the fitness director; I then moved to Hest. It has been quite a journey and I have loved every minute of it. I enjoy going to the gym, jogging in the park with my three furry, four-legged children and going to the shooting range, which is a huge stress reliever.
Alfonso “Al” Guzman, Service Technician, McAllen
I have been in the fitness industry for 23 years. I came to work for Hest in 1993 in the delivery/assembly department and after nine months, I advanced into the store manager position. I served as the McAllen store manager from 1994 to 2009, left for one year and then rejoined the team as the Service manager. I have been back with Hest Fitness since 2011 and have since been certified through the Precor Service Team in cardiovascular equipment and entertainment systems. I guess you could say I know the ins and outs of this business.
German Salas, Delivery, McAllen
I have been employed with Hest Fitness for the past year and I really enjoy my job. I have learned many things about exercising, eating well, and living healthier from working here. When I’m not at work, I spend most of my time with my family going to the movies, going to the park, having a bbq, or just enjoying time together at home. I like to stay busy, so some of my hobbies are working on cars and working with tools to fix and replace parts.
Luis Santana, Delivery, McAllen
I was born in McAllen and have lived here my entire life. I started playing sports while attending Mission High School and discovered that football was my favorite. This created some unforgettable high school memories and gave me my nickname, “Big Lou”, before I graduated in 2003. Being a Texas native, my favorite football team is the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve always wanted to go see them play; so, hopefully this year I can make it out there to see Dez Bryant. I’ve been working for Hest Fitness for over three years and have learned a lot about living better, feeling better and doing more.
Wendi Simson, Store Manager, San Antonio
Wendi became a part of the Hest Fitness team in 2012, when her husband’s job brought them all the way from Wisconsin, down to South Texas. She started out at our Corpus Christi store as a Fitness Sales Consultant, then transitioned into the Store Manager position at our San Antonio location.
Fitness has always been a part of her life, as she started out with dance classes at the age of three and continued with that for almost 15 years. Wendi studied for a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology, with a focus on Nutrition, Exercise & Fitness at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and gained experience via a number of other methods. Her field experience includes working at various health clubs as a group exercise instructor, youth fitness instructor, wellness consultant, personal fitness coach and trainer, fitness sales consultant, and now store manager with a personal training certification from The American College of Sports Medicine. This collective experience allows Wendi to bring compassion and encouragement into every one-on-one consultation.
“I love getting to know people and feel humbled every time someone shares their story with me. I understand how hard it can be to stay consistent with your exercise regimen and how disheartening it can be to know that you let yourself go. I also know how incredibly amazing it feels to treat yourself well and bounce back, through proper nutrition, exercise and healthy wellness habits! I am here to help you learn how to change your habits from negative to positive; it’s never too late to learn and progress. I feel as though I was put on this Earth to help others become better versions of themselves. That being said, I am thrilled and humbled to be a person who you can turn to for guidance, support and encouragement. Every day is another chance to change your mind, your habits, and your life for the better!”
Jim Carlson, Commercial Sales Rep, San Antonio
Jim is a retired Air Force Medical Technician with a degree in Applied Health Science through the Air Force. He started in the fitness industry in 1978 as a professional trainer and has specialized in strength, conditioning and body shaping for more than 30 years. He has also created Fit Life Ministry, which is designed to motivate individuals through faith, who are struggling to live a healthier life.
Luis Acuna, Fitness Consultant, San Antonio
As a Certified Personal Trainer here at Hest Fitness Products, I believe in not just providing a safe exercise environment, but bringing out the best of all my clients with an integrated approach. A well designed exercise program can achieve a happy, healthy and more balanced lifestyle. My experience in training and competitive power-lifting for 11 years have developed great achievements to provide motivation and results for all my clients, bringing out their maximum potential and creating immense results. Being in the fitness industry for more than 16 years has brought me to Hest Fitness Products. I'm here to help you with all aspects of fitness, from my expertise in personal training, to all your fitness equipment needs.
Roland Untalan, Service Technician, San Antonio
Roland has been working at Hest for the last three years. Prior to joining our team, he was in IRAQ and Afghanistan for six years doing a variety of jobs and most recently, he was repairing gym equipment for our U.S. troops. Roland served in the United States Marine Corps where he was able to travel around the country and as far west as Japan and Korea. He also has an extensive background in sales.
Roland currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren.
Eric Robinson, Delivery, San Antonio
A recent transplant to San Antonio from Colorado, I have worked in fitness for several years. I enjoy getting outside, going camping, rock climbing, and running.