AyoDamola ‘Damola’ Akinyemi
Nigerian-born and a naturalized American citizen, Damola uses his travel and professional bodybuilding experience alongside his natural energy and enthusiasm to take fitness in a new direction. Damola has taught dance fitness as the owner of his own gym, Ayo Fitness, Inc., for over ten years. Through his travels to over 47 countries, Damola has witnessed a vast array of dance and fitness trends. His lifelong devotion to African culture along with his natural tendency to “ramp up the volume” fuels his passion to take fitness to an entirely new level with AyoJam. As an award-winning professional natural bodybuilder, Damola has designed AyoJam movements and choreography to burn the maximized amount of body fat and save as much muscle mass as possible--resulting in body sculpting that is enjoyable and exciting. Damola’s lifelong passion for fitness has taken him on a global trajectory as a professional basketball player, professional bodybuilder and super motivator. He is an award-winning certified trainer with the National Council on Sports and Fitness, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Athletics and Fitness Association of America, American Council on Exercise, and Crossfit. He regularly hosts community service projects including launching his own Gym and a mentoring program for boys involved in the juvenile justice system. He started Warrior Kids fitness program for the Boys and Girls Club of America, and has received various citations and awards: Hudson Valley’s Best Zumba Class multiple years in a row, the Mental Health Association in Orange County Silver Bell Award given to one individual per year who has done the most to foster mental health programs. He is a Lululemon Honor Maven 2017, and has received the Orange County Chamber of Commerce-Rising Star Award for Business 2010. He has been featured in various magazines and newspapers including The Times-Herald Record and Sullivan County Journal. Damola works closely with Orange Regional Medical Center for a fitness program for their 2500 employees and most recently partnered with their 5 Star Bariatric program to enhance the health of their patients before and after surgery.
Manuela Arciniegas is the project manager, associate producer, drummer and dancer with AyoJam. A performing and teaching artist specializing in Afro-caribbean roots folk music, a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology, and cultural arts event producer, Manuela brings over 15 years experience exposing diverse New York City communities to the educational, uplifting and healing aspects of Afro-Caribbean and African Diaspora drum and dance. A seasoned educator and award-winning community-oriented Artist and funder with roots in social justice community organizing and philanthropy for women and youth, Manuela is an indigenous Afro-Caribbean religious healer, reiki practitioner and director of The All-Women’s roots folk drum troupe Legacy Women and the manager of Alma Moyo Puerto Rican Drum Troupe featured in AyoJam. Manuela is also a die-hard Bootcamper, Ayo Warrior and AyoJammer who through Damola’s training has lost 40 pounds, brought her 4 children to fitness and transformed her life!
Avionne Philyaw has an extreme love for music and dance! She is the lady that will dance just about anywhere because the rhythm and spirit moves her. Dancing has always been her way of self-expression. Formally trained in tap and ballet as a young child as well as being a brown belt in Shotokan and trained in UFC gym, Avionne has always been active! Being of Jamaican descent, Avionne grew up infused in the culture which is heavily based on dancing to the various genres of Caribbean music. Avionne has been apart of the #JamFam for 3 years, training with Damola, transforming her mind, body and soul. Through AyoJam University, Avionne has not only lost 50 pounds but has grown in a life lesson capacity. “AyoJam is more than a workout. It is a lifestyle that challenges you in every way; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You grow in ways you never thought possible. The AyoJam curriculum has taught me how to navigate the next chapter and improve the quality of my life.”Avionne is the marketing manager for AyoJam. With a Masters in Graphic Communication Management & Technology and is former web design professor, she has over 15 years of experience marketing pharma and pop culture brands. She is currently studying hypnotherapy, learning about reiki mastery, and already prepping her 3 year old in the AyoJam lifestyle.
Rosalyn Akinyemi is the Set & AyoGear Designer for AyoJam, also Damola’s wife. Together the dynamic duo set out to create an active wear brand that could take traditional African prints, like the dashiki, and transform them into contemporary, fun and vibrant workout clothes. Growing up in the fashion forward city of Manhattan, NY, Rosalyn has an eye for style. After earning her degree in Broadcast & Media Communications, she moved back to the Big Apple in 2010 where she worked as a freelance reporter and event coordinator for an online fashion magazine. She finished off that year by competing in Miss New York late November and the next month meeting Damola at one of his fitness classes while visiting family upstate. The first time she walked through the gym doors, she knew her life had changed, looking around seeing the energy the crowd had, it was no ordinary fitness class, and it was no ordinary instructor, this was pure joy in motion!
Adrienne Cirigliano is the assistant project manager for AyoJam and a lead dancer and instructor. She is a lover of music, dance and culture since birth. Adrienne’s credentials include being a United States Marine Corps Veteran, a black belt in Soo Bahk Do, Moo Duk Kwan (Korean martial art), a certified Zumba instructor and certified health coach. In her mid-20’s, Adrienne performed all over NYC as a member of a Brazilian dance troupe Tropicalia and has a deep admiration for cultures where music and dance is an essential part of life. She has been a public speaker, educator and mentor on health, wellness and weight loss as she herself gone through a journey of transformation. Adrienne is a member of the Ayo family since 2012 when she joined a Boot Camp and rediscovered her passion for fitness/dance and the joy it brings to the body, mind and spirit.
Ty Hayes is a NY based IMDb actress and published model. She has a love for various facets of entertainment and the performing arts. Ty Hayes was a vocal major when attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia HS and throughout her HS career she also performed as a dancer for various musical artists and in talent shows throughout NYC. Also being introduced to weight training during her HS years enabled her to develop a love for the fitness world as well. Once discovering the amazing marriage of fitness and dance known as Zumba she was hooked. Ty has been a member of the Ayo family for many years and it has become a 2nd home for her and the members are her extended family. Being apart of the growth of the Zumba workouts to what has moved into Afro-Caribbean dance with her Ayo family has been more than fulfilling. It allows her to be able to be expressive, creative, & strong. Ty feels like this is a movement, one of which she has been ready for since birth....literally: her mother's water broke while on the dance floor. Ty heard music and was ready to come out and boogie!! Ty would love to add professional Ayo Jam Afro-Caribbean brand ambassador to her repertoire!
Jessica “J-Boogie” Ramirez
Jessica “J-Boogie” Ramirez is a passionate dedicated AyoJam dancer and has been working alongside AyoDamola Akinyemi as a dance instructor for the past 7 years. Jessica's career as a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach has allowed her to continue to incorporate all aspects of health and wellness at Ayo Fitness, Inc. including being an AyoJammer. She is also a Zumba Dance Instructor, Figure Body Building Competitor and several group training certifications including P90X, TRX, and a ballroom dance teacher. But her biggest credential lays is her passion for dance since the age of 2 when she started her dance journey and in 2010 found "Ayo Fitness" where she found a new home and vehicle for her dreams!
Fran Scolza is a lifelong equestrian. She stopped riding almost 20 years ago when she began a new career with the state gaming commission as New York’s first female harness race judge. She needed exercise and didn’t see results from the treadmill gym routine. She found Damola’s classes at Ayo Fitness, Inc nearly ten years ago and was hooked. The energy and motivation found in AyoJam makes her forget she is 62 years old! Fran thinks this is the best workout in the world, totally fun while being challenging.
Yvonne Sitko is one of the dancers in AyoJam. An Insurance Professional who 10 years ago was bored of her exercise routine and a friend suggested trying something different. She googled dance classes in the area and found Ayo Fitness. She first met Damola through email when she asked if his class was “just” a hyped-up aerobics class and he said not a chance. He was spot on… She’s done things she never would have tried before. “It’s a challenge and reward. I’m honored to be a part of this experience and show all who try, that anything is possible. It’s all about mind, body and soul.”
Felicia Douglas is a Family Nurse Practitioner and mother of two with a passion for women’s health, fitness and dance. Being from Jamaican decent, Felicia has always had love for Afro-Caribbean music and dance. She’s found herself right at home as one of AyoJam’s dancers and is honored to play a part in this revolutionary movement. This form of exercise has allowed her to maintain fitness while having fun doing what she loves.
Jessica Lewis has been a nail tech for over 17 years and has always had a passion to dance. When she lost her mother, she was broken. Her friend introduced her to Damola and AyoJam. She found something to bring her spark back. “AyoJam has given me a feeling of being alive again and also brought fun into fitness for me. I am so blessed and thankful to be one of the AyoJam dancers.”
Luisa Wall is an AyoJam dancer who’s been with Ayo for 8 years. She started dancing at age 5 and it has been a part of her soul ever since. Attending Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, she studied dance and media and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. After graduation, she started her own photography business, Luisa Matalucci Photography. AyoJam has helped her to find a release from the stress of work, it has given her an extended family, and has brought great joy to her life.
Sasha Ricardo is a high energetic Latina AyoJammer. Nicknamed Sunshine, she is full of enthusiasm and positivity. She has been with Ayo Fitness for 8 years and dancing her whole life. Studying dance from a young age, she has had years of experience in many types of dance forms/genres. Performance art is what she has always had a passion for. During the day, she works with autistic students. She also is an aspiring hoop dance artist. She loves to inspire others through the art of dance and spread good vibes to everyone around her.
Karina Acevedo originally from Mexico has a Masters in Administration, a Bachelors in Mathematics and is currently working on her Doctoral Degree in Education. Karina is a High School Assistant Principal, a Mom and a Dynamic Dancer. Dancing has been part of her life for many years. Karina has experience dancing Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Afrobeats, Urban Kiz and has performed in the One Africa Music Festival. Karina is passionate about inspiring others. Her positive energy is infectious and her enthusiasm is driven by her motivation to empower others. As an Ayojam dancer Karina uses exercise to persevere and overcome obstacles in her life. One of Karina’s greatest joys is to see her daughters’ eyes light up as they watch her dance. She hopes to instill determination in her daughters, so they are not afraid to take on any challenge in their lives. Karina looks forward to helping others and to dance alongside, each and everyone of you.
Yvonne Dawn St. Hilaire
Yvonne Dawn St. Hilaire is from the Caribbean Commonwealth called Dominica. Yvonne grew up in Dominica with a passion for sports like netball, volleyball, and track & field. She immigrated to the US over 20 years ago and ran track in college. Two years ago she was introduced to Ayo Fitness where she developed a deep love and passion for AyoJammin’ because of its musical journey through song and dance. Yvonne loves dancing and AyoJam because it allows her to express and share a part of herself with others.
Michelle LaRusso is a phenomenal AyoJammer who began her dance and fitness journey when she met Damola Akinyemi in 2009 while participating in her 1st bootcamp. Today, she is one of the AyoJam front row dancers because of her commitment to exuberance sisterhood, joy and the love to be active in dance and exercise. In addition, she’s a thrill seeker, enjoying adventures from snowboarding to sky diving. Michelle has high energy that is contagious.
Tarah Pirela is the manager at Ayo Fitness and has been with the Ayo family since 2011. Tarah began her fitness journey with an 8 week bootcamp, went on to obtain her Personal Training certification through NASM and strives to inspire women to believe they are strong and beautiful from the inside out. Tarah not only runs Ayo Fitness but manages their social media presence and organizes events to bring the community together. Prior to working at Ayo Fitness, Tarah received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and pursued her career as a caseworker for Therapeutic Foster Children. Tarah has a genuine passion for helping people and her heart is as big as her beautiful blue eyes.
Meagan McConnell is a phenomenal performer and fitness instructor. She has been involved in dancing and cheerleading since she was a child. Her background in both have made her an amazing Zumba instructor, Fitness instructor and All-star cheer coach. All of Meagan's experience makes her the perfect fit for Ayo Jam. Meagan also coaches performance gymnastics and her young women cheerleading squad took First Place last year at their national competition called “The Maxx.”
“Ally” first attended Damola’s class in 2008 and was instantly addicted. It was completely foreign in every aspect and the curiosity only grew with each new choreography. It challenged her mentally, physically, and spiritually and has helped her flourish in every possible aspect of her life. She met and is now married to Jordan (male dancer, heyyy) at Ayo Fitness and is motivated more than ever to get her pre-baby body back! The community she has formed at Ayo Fitness is irreplaceable and holds a special place in her heart right next to her love of dance. Ally has several years experience in musical theatre dance and tap. She is honored to be a part of this dynamic group and excited to change people’s lives in such a pertinent way.
Jill Wilkins was born in London, England and made her Broadway debut in the Broadway production, “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope.” Jill is a talented and dynamic cabaret singer who has turned her artistic work towards praising God, and now serves as the TBN host for local and international stations and the Marriage Ministry to local churches, as well as serving on various field missions internationally alongside her husband.
Hailing from Cali, Colombia, a published freelance photographer with an Associates degree in Applied Science in photography. Margarita is a civil service, Orange County employee for both the Pine Bush Central School District and the Orange County Jail’s Mental Health Department.
Margarita “Margie” is a proud AyoJammer, a lifelong lover of dance including salsa, merengue, hip-hop, and R&B and any genre that motivates, moves and soothes the soul. Margie trains with Damola Akinyemi in various Ayo bootcamps including Warrior bootcamp which she has participated in since its inception in 2016. An energetic lover of life with a strong sense of community and sisterhood who is always quick to welcome and support new members. She is an avid lover of sports thanks to her six brothers and two sons who have taught her so much about teamwork, hard work and dedication. Her sons are well into their 20’s and will always be the reason she stays fit and healthy so that they can be proud of the strength and love that she represents and the faith that she believes in above all else.
Margie coordinates the Ayo Fitness Basketball League for both men and women, and with a sweet three point shot is not afraid to challenge any of the guys in a game of OUT. A few little know facts about this Ayo Jammer is that she’s a former breakdancer and also trained in Krav Maga.