From barre classes to boxing, a good fitness instructor can make or break your experience at the gym. Expertise, enthusiasm and a supportive environment will encourage you to keep up your hard work while a poorly designed class with a so-so instructor could turn you off for good.
We wanted to find and recognize some of those outstanding fitness instructors and called for nominations from the metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Close to 200 fitness instructors were nominated, showing incredible depth and expertise in the industry.
With so many fabulous instructors out there, it wasn’t easy to narrow down the nominations. To make the process fair and impartial, we ranked each entry on a series of criteria with a range of points given in categories such as years of experience, education and community involvement. Each entry was ranked anonymously to keep the process as unbiased as possible.
One of the things we noticed was how involved these individuals are in their local community.
These instructors don’t just stay in the gym, they volunteer to lead classes at schools, sit on fitness-related boards, adopt families at Christmas, volunteer to coach sports teams, contribute time to local fitness events and touch lives in countless other ways.
Most of our entrants work full-time in the fitness industry. Some switched careers after an epiphany moment while others pursued fitness from the start by obtaining formal education such as a kinesiology degree or a fitness diploma. Most teach at least seven classes per week and have worked in the industry for 15 or more years.
Each nominee also shared a success story and some of these were truly inspiring. One instructor helped a client recover from a severe ski accident, others helped people achieve their weight loss goals. In some cases, instructors were able to help clients dealing with serious health issues such as Parkinson’s disease and depression. These encounters brought our instructors huge satisfaction and, in many cases, was the reason they got into the business in the first place.
We also asked each entrant for their fitness mantra and instructors responded with motivating choices including “Fitness is a journey not a destination” from Deanna Bensler, Calgary, “Strive for progress not perfection” from Jeannette Kim, Surrey, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it” from Chantelle Erickson, Lethbridge and ‘One step at a time; Rome wasn’t built in a day,” from Wayne Bourque, Toronto.
So, after hours of tallying scores and sifting through nominations, here are the 2019 winners in British Columbia!
Ella Jotie, 39
Co-founder & Instructor, Barre Fitness – Vancouver, B.C.
Combining her love of dance with fitness was a natural fit for Ella Jotie. She has over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background as a professional dancer and choreographer. At Barre Fitness she leads classes through an engaging series of barre-based exercises that focus on posture, alignment, breathing and muscle action.”My job never feels like work,” Ella says. “I find so much joy in building our barre fitness community and I absolutely love empowering women to become better versions of themselves inside and out.” “She is an exceptional leader,” wrote one of her clients, “and has significantly altered Vancouver’s fitness community.”
Tommy Europe, 48
Bootcamp Instructor & Trainer, Tommy Europe Fitness – Vancouver, B.C.
His career as a CFL football player provided Tommy Europe with the basics of fitness and training which he has successfully used to develop a thriving career. His fitness facility follows a program called TE60 SHRED, which he developed to help clients lose weight and get healthy. Europe teaches boot camps around Vancouver and is a popular motivational speaker. He has also hosted a successful tough love television show called “The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp.” “He’s motivated, funny, educated and cares about you,” said one client.
Suzy Kaitman, 35
Owner & Instructor, Ballet Lounge – Vancouver, B.C.
Suzy Kaitman is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with a penchant for movement, music and helping others live healthy, active lifestyles. She specializes in dance-specific fitness training. Dance in all its forms is Kaitman’s passion. After years of professional ballet training, she realized a professional career was not for her and took up fitness instead. Her fitness classes were popular and it didn’t take long for her to realize she could put these two interests together to create something fabulous. “It’s the most beautiful feeling to empower others though my passion,” she says.
Morgan Hodge, 28
Head Coach & Co-Owner, Function Health Club – Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Morgan Hodge is passionate about teaching weightlifting and CrossFit to clients from Port Coquitlam. His philosophy is to strive for excellence, not perfection. According to Hodge, perfection means there is nothing left to improve on and everyone can always improve! Clients told us Hodge gives 110 per cent to each person and always looks at ways to grow and improve. “He is an awesome, genuine person,” said one client. Another told us “He not only coaches the physical component to fitness, he also coaches athletes on all levels on the importance of developing character and building a mindset for success.”
Daniela Tempesta, 38
Fitness Instructor, Various Locations – Vancouver, B.C.
A background in dance led Daniela Tempesta to a career in fitness that’s been going strong. “I got into it by accident!” Tempesta says. “I was applying for a receptionist position at a local gym and instead ended up in a practicum program which led to my now 18-year career!” She focuses on instructor education and development through courses and workshops. She also offers an online group fitness coaching program to help both new and veteran instructors improve.
Zachary Fiorido, 27
Fitness Instructor, Beauty & the Fit, Equinox & Hollyburn Country Club – Vancouver, B.C.
Fun, positive, happy and energetic are the key words on Zachary Fiorido’s YouTube channel focussing on health and fitness. As an online fitness personality, Zachary provides daily workouts, nutritional information and more. “I love what I do because it allows me to connect with energetic fitness-minded individuals who want to work hard and have fun,” Fiorido says. In addition to teaching classes at two Vancouver locations and his YouTube channel, Fiorido created Beauty & The Fit, an online fitness community and lifestyle brand, offering fitness videos, daily workouts, nutrition programs and inspirational content.
Congratulations to the other 2019 British Columbia Finalists:
Olga Abzaeva, Ewa Bailey, Patricia Blanchard, Josh Cameron, Laurie Cardinal, Emily Crebbin, Kimberly Dioszeghy, Ayda Ersoy Page, Alison Fudger, Danielle Getzie, Michelle Grierson, Janella Griffiths, Silvia Hernandez, Marisa Jaramillo, Crystal Karamessinis, Jeannette Kim, Tamara Knight, Bianca Liberatore, Marisa Moody, Jeanette Moratillo, Eliza Morena, Liz Naccarato, Steve Nagle, Michael Nunziata, Nicole Palacios, Christina Raskin, Kala Raymond, Sarah Seads, Luke Sykes, Tami Taylor, Celina Villarroel Whiting, Carolyn Woods, Christine Woodington, Phaedra Wright
Special thanks to our sponsors:
Nutracleanse, SierraSil, Human Kinetics Publishing