45 of the Smartest Trainers You Might Not Know
Health and fitness is a crowded industry. Want proof? Simply search the word “fitness” and watch as 1.4 billion results coming flying back at you in less than a second. Fortunately, there are experts out there who can cut through this chaos and provide you with smart advice that delivers results. But the bad news is that they aren’t always easy to find. In fact, many of the brightest minds in health aren’t household names. We wanted to shine a spotlight on some of these lesser-known experts, so you can learn more about who they are and tune in to what they’re doing. Here are 45 you should check out.
1. Jason Ferruggia
You'd be hard pressed to find a harder working trainer than Jason Ferruggia. As the founder and owner of Renegade Fitness, he helps his clients achieve their goals with a no-excuses, real-talk approach. He's been featured in Muscle & Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness and ESPN, recently published an e-book titled “7 Cardinal Sins of Muscle Growth” and hosts a podcast called “The Jay Feruggia Show” where he doles out fitness wisdom and answers listeners exercise and performance questions.
2. Zuzka Light
A Czech fitness instructor, model and actress, Zuzka gained popularity on YouTube and Instagram, but her workouts mean serious business. Her dedicated fan base (also called WarriorZ) follow along with her HIIT workouts from home or their gym, and she cites their success as an inspiration for continuing to provide high-quality workouts and nutrition tips. Recently, she launch ZGYM on her website, which was inspired by her workout of the week (WOW) YouTube series. While the series still features her signature WOW workouts, it also includes ZSHRED and a beginner series.
Related: Find Out More About Zuzka Light
3. Dan John
In a strength-training world crowded with information that can be overwhelming for the average fitness enthusiast, Dan John is a refreshing, no-nonsense breath of fresh air. With more than 40 years of experience, John’s approach to fitness is unique in the sense that he is constantly hacking away at inessentials, striving for the maximum effect with the least amount of fluff. This simplified approach is why he is an adviser to trainers and strength coaches alike.
Related: Find Out More About Dan John
4. Rachel Buschert Vaziralli
She started out as a dancer but soon channeled that passion into a career in fitness. With a master's in exercise science and cardiac rehabilitation, Vaziralli is also an Equinox master trainer and Schwinn master instructor. Her certifications are myriad and varied -- including NASM and ACE as well as Kettlebell Concepts and YogaFit. She was named "America's Next Best Fitness Trainer" and brings her passion for all things fitness to each and every one of her sessions with her clients.
5. Todd Durkin
Reading through Durkin's resume of clients, accomplishments and awards is going to take you a while, so here are the highlights: founder, president and CEO of Fitness Quest 10, lead training advisor for Under Armour, author of “The IMPACT! Body Plan” and two-time Personal Trainer of the Year (for IDEA and ACE). And he's trained professional athletes like LaDainian Tomlinson, Tony Gywnn, Jr. and Shaun White. If you have a question about anything fitness-related, Durkin has the answer.
Related: Find Out More About Todd Durkin
6. Lacey Stone
If you've ever taken TheBigGAME! or Booty Camp classes, you're already familiar with Stone's work. For those who haven't. Here's an intro: This bi-coastal celebrity trainer's 3x training method is a three-month program that focuses on mental and physical training and pushing yourself to your limits. Her workouts focus on plyometric cardio and athletic weight training, which she combines with a complementary nutritional strategy based on her clients goals. For those in the LA area, you can take a Flywheel class with Stone or sign up for her Booty Camp.
Related: Find Out More About Lacey Stone
7. James Cerbie
Founder of Rebel Performance, Cerbie's training philosophy can be summed up as “work hard and push yourself to your limits.” His online training program is geared toward teaching, coaching and training his male clients how to truly optimize their bodies and enhance their overall performance. A self-described “educated meathead,” Cerbie is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Precision Nutrition, USA Weightlifting and Crossfit but his advice and coaching are easy-to-understand and tailored to each of his clients.
Related: Find Out More About James Cerbie
8. Holly Perkins
Perkins' training methods center around one very important point: Women and men are fundamentally, physiologically different. So why would a woman train like a man when their bodies are built differently? Yet the training plans she develops for clients span a wide range of goals -- from gaining muscle mass (yes, women can want this, too) to getting lean and toned. As a certified strength and conditioning coach with more than 20 years of personal-training experience, Perkins is the founder of Women's Strength Nation and author of “Lift to Get Lean,” both of which center around empowering women to change their bodies and their lives.
Related: Find Out More About Holly Perkins
9. Eric Cressey
Cressey, who owns Cressey Performance with Tony Gentilcore, trains some of the top baseball players in the country. He's the go-to guy for any question about shoulder and throwing mechanics, and he knows those areas perhaps better than anybody. But Cressey is no one-trick pony. Go to his training floor and you’ll see these professional athletes training right alongside moms, high school students and weekend warriors.
Related: Find Out More About Eric Cressey
10. Ashley Borden
Ever wonder how Christina Aguilera, Reese Witherspoon, Mandy Moore and Ryan Gosling stay in shape? Meet Ashley Borden, celebrity trainer and fitness and lifestyle consultant. Her mantra is “It's never too late to create the best version of you.” Though she started off as a dancer, her current training methods include weightlifting, bodyweight exercise, rebounding and foam rolling (among others). And for those who can't train with her in LA, she has two training DVDs, 900 Calorie Burn and Six Weeks to Sculpted.
Related: Find Out More About Ashley Borden
11. Kelly Starrett
To say Starrett is passionate about optimizing human movement and athletic performance is an understatement. His entire career has centered around movement and mobility and developed a Crossfit class centered on those principles. Currently, he focuses on performance-based orthopedic sports medicine to help athletes regain performance as well as maintaining his site, Mobility WOD, with the idea that “All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”
12. Jessica Matthews
Based in San Diego, Matthews is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert, exercise science professor for Miramar College and senior advisor for heath and fitness education for ACE. She believes exercise is an essential part of an overall happy and healthy life and encourages others to find their own version of fit. Matthews is also a certified yoga teacher and group fitness instructor.
13. Dan Trink
As the director of personal training operations at the prestigious Peak Performance in New York City, Dan is responsible for overseeing a staff of over 50 trainers to ensure that the level of quality and results that they are known for providing is upheld. Dan's clients range from everyday trainees to professional athletes and mixed martial arts competitors.
14. Elise Joan Molinelli
Molinelli headlined as a yoga teacher for Wanderlust 2014, is an international ambassador for ZICO coconut water, a Team Zico athlete, a top trainer for Red Bull and a brand ambassador for lululemon. The LA Times and Lifetime Television named Elise a “Top Cardio Dance” instructor, and her techniques met rave reviews at FitCeleb.com, AOL Health and Young Hollywood.com.
15. Tony Gentilcore
Gentilcore, co-owner of Cressey Performance, a world renowned training facility in Hudson, Mass., has an incredible ability to take complicated concepts and boil them down into digestible bits. He delivers them all with an affable wit more fun than a Hollywood bromance movie. When he's not writing for T-Nation, Men's Health, Women's Health and Men's Fitness (just to name a few), he can be found writing weekly posts on his personal blog about all things related to strength, nutrition and movie references.
Related: Find Out More About Tony Gentilcore
16. Jill Coleman
Jill Coleman's career in fitness began when she was 15 years old and had a job at a local gym (in childcare) just for the free membership. Since then, she competed in (and won) a figure competition (and went on to continue competing for five years), earned her bachelor's in exercise science and her master's in human nutrition and started JillFit.com. Now, she helps clients though her online programs The Best Of You (BOY) Coaching Club mentorship, the Mindset Makeover, the Food Obsession Boot Camp and her 52-week exercise program and the Total Training Experience (TTE).
Related: Find Out More About Jill Coleman
17. Adam Bornstein
We're a little bit biased when it comes to Bornstein, as he used to be Livestrong.com's editorial director, but his accomplishments speak for themselves. He was the fitness editor for Men's Health and has advised for nearly every major health and fitness publication from Shape Magazine and Men's Fitness to Greatist and Schwarzenegger.com. Now, as CEO and founder of Born Fitness, he provides smart, timely, no-hype fitness and nutrition information. He isn't afraid to tell it like it is. He also offers online coaching through his website and hosts frequent Q&As on his Twitter account. Have a question? He has an answer.
Related: Find Out More About Adam Bornstein
18. Ashley Horner
Horner is a mom of two and serious athlete (she once ran the Grand Canyon in a day). She's also a spokesmodel for Bodybuilding. com and works with brands like Quest Nutrition. Her Becoming Extraordinary e-book trainers have helped countless people transform their bodies and health. And after having two kids, Horner knows a thing or two about transforming her body. In addition to her personal-training career, she owns PHIT magazine, started a clothing line (Valkyrie) and is an owner at the Virginia Beach training facility SledXDogs.
Related: Find Out More About Ashley Horner
19. Bret Contreras
A former high school math teacher turned strength coach and exercise researcher, Contreras is responsible for introducing innovative glute training tactics -- moves the generate more muscle stimulus in your rear while placing less pressure on your knees and lower back -- to the masses. His 675-page book "Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening" may be the most extensive book in the world on the subject. Contreras is committed to helping the world get in better shape one butt at a time.
Related: Find Out More About Bret Contreras
20. Astrid Swan McGuire
This Los Angeles-based trainer is certified by ACE (American Council on Exercise, Fitness Nutrition Specialist), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and AFFA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America). She started her career as a model and began training herself and other models. Over the years, she's also added actors and TV personalities to her client list, though her mission is to help everyone achieve their desired body through one-on-one training, nutritional counseling and group exercise classes at Barry's Bootcamp.
21. Ben Bruno
Bruno is a strength coach and writer who trains out of Michael Boyle's Strength & Conditioning facility, located in Boston, and gained notoriety for his giving nature. Need evidence? Check out the library of excellent (and free) video content he’s posted online of unique and challenging exercises. Bruno is also a curator of information, gathering the best blog posts, videos and articles from around the net and distributing it to his list of subscribers on a weekly basis.
Related: Find Out More About Ben Bruno
22. Molly Galbraith
As the co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, a female fitness super-group committed to the idea that women’s fitness should be more than just cardio equipment and pink dumbbells, Galbraith has reached more than 200,000 women. She helps women of all skill levels experience both the physical and psychological beauty that one can develop through strength training. In addition, she also co-founded J&M Strength and Conditioning, which also focuses on strength training for women, and she started and runs an online distance coaching program.
Related: Find Out More About Molly Galbraith
23. John Romaniello
Romaniello comes from a bodybuilding background and uses his knowledge of that field to help clients shred fat and build muscle. His approach is unique, using body-part specialization and hormonal-training techniques. A self-professed nerd and pretty boy, Romaniello has a big personality and believes that training discussions don't need to be dry and sterile. As a result, he’s been featured in several fitness publications and received face time on Good Morning America.
Related: Find Out More About John Romaniello
24. Kacy Duke
As the bestselling author of “The SHOW IT LOVE Workout,” Duke is known for her body-positive messages that encourages people to “celebrate the body you have, get the body you want.” Her charismatic personality makes working out fun, and her exercise philosophy centers around the combination of physical and mental stimulation. Additionally, she's trained celebrities like Kirsten Dunst, Denzel Washington and Julianne Moore.
25. Martin Rooney
Physical therapist? Check. Olympic Bobsledder? Check. Trainer to the world’s top athletes in every sport? You name it, and Martin Rooney has done it -- or is well on his way to making it happen. For more than 20 years, Rooney has lived and breathed fitness, spreading his passion across the globe as a dynamic and inspiring speaker. Rooney has traveled to more than 20 countries, studying the culture and training customs of each while formulating his own unique “Rooney Rules” to help push people, both mentally and physically, to new heights. He’s also the author of several books, including "Train To Win," "Ultimate Warrior Workouts" and "Warrior Cardio."
26. Nia Shanks
Leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution, Shanks has dedicated her career to helping women get the most out of their health and fitness. Billed as "The Sane & Simple Way to Build a Better Body," her program focuses on empowering women to strength train. She has her bachelor’s in exercise physiology from the University of Louisville and also hosts The Nia Shanks Show, where she dishes out answers to her listeners most frequently asked questions. You may have even seen her writing on Greatist, Breaking Muscle, TNation or Spoon University.
Related: Find Out More About Nia Shanks
27. Nick Tumminello
Called “The Trainer of Trainers,” if there’s one attribute Tumminello possesses that puts him at the head of the pack it is his willingness to experiment. Tumminello isn't afraid to step outside what has been done in the past and pursue new and interesting ways to build strength. Case in point: His 7/4/7 protocol, a plan that brings in varying weights and intensities to develop specific muscle strength. His Performance U channel on YouTube is an outstanding resource for strength training, with a library of more than 500 videos.
Related: Find Out More About Nick Tumminello
28. Sohee Lee
Eat. Lift. Thrive. That's Lee's life philosophy. And if you ever have a question about any of the science behind fitness or nutrition, she's your gal. She has her bachelor's in human biology from Stanford and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a certified sports nutritionist. She's been active and involved in sports nearly her whole life, but after hitting rock bottom struggling with an eating disorder, she found (and fell in love with) weightlifting. In addition to training clients, she also hosts Physique Science Podcast and is an IFPA bikini pro.
Related: Find Out More About Sohee Lee
29. Jon Goodman
You'll be hard pressed to find someone more dedicated to the advancement of personal trainers than Jon Goodman. Goodman parlayed his career as a successful personal trainer into Toronto into a thriving community -- the Personal Trainer Development Center -- with contributions from the world's foremost expert trainers and strength coaches. Jon's recent book, "Ignite the Fire," is gaining a reputation as the go-to guide for up and coming personal trainers, teaching them not only how to survive, but thrive in the fitness industry and make a living by changing people’s lives for the better.
Related: Find Out More About Jon Goodman
30. Leigh Peele
When you want to lose fat, see Leigh Peele. She’s simply one of the best at what she does, which is help people shed flab. Based out of Greensborough, N.C., Leigh takes a no-nonsense, get in, get out and get on with your life approach to training and is a highly sought-after speaker because of her wealth of knowledge and her unique approach. Peele focuses on more than just calories and exercises; she helps her clients with the less-talked-about-but-equally-important mental side of training and nutrition. “I simply remove all unnecessary chatter and provide you exactly what you need, when you need [it], to get your goals,” she writes on her website.
Related: Find Out More About Leigh Peele
31. Ross Enamait
When fighters want to go into battle firing on all cylinders, they call Enamait. A former boxer himself, Enamait turned his passion for sweat science into a thriving career. Ross is known for his machine-like levels of endurance and simplified approach to strength training. Ross has created several training manuals, ranging from conditioning and strength programs for fighters and fitness enthusiasts to a complete low-tech guide to total body training with minimal equipment.
Related: Find Out More About Ross Enamait
32. Cassandra Forsythe
With a PhD in exercise science and nutrition and certifications as both a registered dietitian and a strength and conditioning coach, Forsythe possesses an incredible blend of book credentials and real-world experience. At Fitness Revolution, the gym she owns in Vernon, Conn., Forsythe specializes in nutritional consultation, group training and fitness boot camps that balance fun with powerful exercise progressions. Forsythe is also the co-author of New Rules of Lifting for Women.
33. Michael Boyle
With several decades of strength and conditioning experience, Boyle has coached celebrities, professional athletes and entire sports teams during his storied career. He’s the creator and owner of Michael Boyle Strength & Conditioning, which was voted by Men's Health as one of the best gyms in America. His top-notch staff uses a systematized approach to group training, creating an environment where world-class athletes and everyday Joes and Janes can get fit under the same roof.
Related: Find Out More About Michael Boyle
34. Michele Olson
Consider her your exercise doctor. With her PhD in exercise science, Olson is now a professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama. She is also on the advisory board for SHAPE magazine and consults with Gaiam and Reebok. If you're reading a fitness article on the internet, chances are she's quoted. And though her background is in ballet, tap dancing and tennis, you're now more likely to find her teaching a kettlebell class.
35. Brad Pilon
Pilon is a fitness writer and author of "Eat Stop Eat," the authoritative guide to intermittent fasting -- a diet approach that is gaining notoriety in the strength and conditioning world. While his research into the science of the topic is painstakingly thorough, his approach to fasting may have a wider appeal because he spurns rigid boundaries, instead allowing the diet strategy to be more free-flowing and dependent on one’s individual lifestyle.
36. Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove
Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, owners of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, Calif., are a true power couple in fitness. Alwyn began his career as a trainer, was featured in many leading fitness publications and has co-authored four books in the “New Rules of Lifting” series. Rachel oversees the training process of her team at Results Fitness, ensuring the level of customer service and results that have lead their gym to being named as one of the best gyms in America by Men's Health for two years. Rachel has also authored her own book, “The Female Body Breakthrough,” based on her experiences at Results Fitness.
37. John Berardi
Berardi has an extensive and varied range of first-person experience in strength training, having been an amateur bodybuilder, power lifter and rugby player. But he’s also hit the books and holds a PhD in exercise biology and nutrient biochemistry. His company, Precision Nutrition, developed a Lean Eating program that has helped thousands of participants develop sustainable, healthy eating habits that also promote better fitness.
Related: Find Out More About John Berardi
38. Natalie Jill
Though she says her fitness brand was started by accident, Natalie Jill's current training method is extremely intentional. She offers her clients weight-loss plans, functional bodyweight workouts and gluten-free nutritional advice. But Jill doesn't just offer the advice -- she's actually walked the walked (or run in some cases). After being diagnosed with Celiac Sprue, she changed her eating habit to 100-percent gluten free, and after the birth of her daughter, she lost 60 pounds. Her motto is: “Be happy. Be Healthy. Be fit.”
Related: Find Out More About Natalie Jill
39. Alan Aragon
To say that Aragon is a superstar in the world of nutrition would be an extreme understatement. As the author of a critically acclaimed and widely read research review, Aragon is highly respected by colleagues and his clients alike for his role as an intermediary between the world of scientific research and its real world practice and application. Aragon has been featured in numerous fitness publications and is sought-after speaker because of his relaxed, realistic approach to fitness and his ability to intellectually refute inaccurate fitness dogma.
40. Martin Berkhan
Berkhan is a fitness blogger and trainer who is responsible for popularizing intermittent fasting and bringing it more into the mainstream conversation with his lean gains fasting protocol, created to satisfy the needs of the physique minded individual. Berkhan has made a career out of bucking conventional wisdom in established nutritional and training, and along the way, he’s built a loyal fan base that’s employed his style of fasting with great success.
Related: Find Out More About Martin Berkhan
41. Jen Sinkler
If your only goal is to "melt 10 pounds of fat from your frame in 10 days," Sinkler's not your gal. But if you want seriously smart training advice to help you achieve real strength and improve your life overall (and fall in love with fitness in the process), then you'll want to follow her. As a personal trainer, she trains clients at The Movement Minneapolis, a gym she own with her husband and is a certified kettlebell instructor and an Olympic lifting coach who is certified by Onnit, Primal Move, Progressive Calisthenics, TACFIT, CrossFit and DVRT (Ultimate Sandbag). She's also a former fitness editor (now writer) and a former American women’s national team rugby player.
42. Nicky Holender
As the trainer for LIVESTRONG.COM's STRONGER, Nicky has helped countless people lose weight, get stronger and live healthier lives. After his career as a professional soccer player for Peterborough United and IK Lyn, Holdender developed the E.P.I.C. Lifestyle System, which he now uses to train professional athletes. He's also trained celebrities like Gerard Butler, Kendra Wilkinson, Mel B and Chris Harrison, and his training philosophy centers around unleashing the inner athlete in everyone.
43. Jessica Smith
This trainer doesn't just talk the talk, she's walked the walk! Smith lost 40 pounds by making small, healthy lifestyle changes and encourages her clients to do the same. Her popular series of fitness DVD and YouTube channel have helped countless people get on the right track (or back on track) toward a more healthy life. And her French bulldog, Peanut, is always a welcome distraction during some of the harder moves she coaches. Smith is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Powerhouse Pilates (mat and reformer) and several others.
Related: Find Out More About Jessica Smith
44. PJ Stahl
As the creator of the TABATA Transformation System, TABATA BODY program director and a TABATA master trainer, Stahl is your go-to guy for all things TABATA. And since he worked directly with Dr. Izumi Tabata, you know he has the best, most accurate information possible. He utilizes his 14 plus years of experience in the fitness industry, education in kinesiology and national certifications to provide a wide range of services to his clients including elite coaching, motivational speaking, fitness consulting and educational seminars. As the owner of LockBox LA, you can take a wide range of classes with Stahl.
Related: Find Out More About PJ Stahl
45. Kellie Davis
Don't mess with this mama! A mom of two, David somehow also finds time to run her businesses, Fit Philosophies LLC, FitThrive.com, Get Glutes and MotherFitness.com. She's also the co-author of "Strong Curves: A Woman's Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body" with the Glute Guy himself, Bret Contreras (see #19 on this list). Although she's competed as an NPC Figure Athlete, she now takes a more sane and realistic approach to fitness and nutrition that she passes on to her clients.
What Do YOU Think?
Who are some of your favorite trainers? What fitness philosophies of theirs do you most identify with? What advice from them have you put into practice?