Once again, after months of anticipation, we are proud to present to you Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors 2023.
This is our sixth year recognizing some of the best in our industry from across Canada. Each summer nominations go live for you to nominate your favourite personal trainer, or group exercise instructor (alternating years) who has excelled in their profession, and contributed to the health and well-being of others. This year did not disappoint—every single nominee deserves recognition and we have highlighted them all below.
Nominees were scored by merit and equally across the board. This included areas such as education, certiﬁcations and accreditations, years in the industry, philanthropy and community service. Additional questions included ‘their why’ and personal ﬁtness philosophies which were ‘blind-scored’ by our professional, expert panelists who spent many hours reading these inspirational stories. What has never been part of the scoring criteria is how many social media followers one has, or how many nominations one received.
Fitness instructors have a wealth of education and expertise to share, but above all they are genuinely passionate about helping others live their healthiest lives. Every instructor has an inspiring story to tell, and has given back to their community in a unique and positive way.
Congratulations, our deepest respect and recognition goes out to all nominees this year—we celebrate you! Thank you for your passion and dedication.
Sheryl Fieldstone | 57
Sheryl Fieldstone’s ‘why’ has changed over time. With more than 40 years spent working in the fitness industry, her teaching style has evolved. “Beginners need a supportive environment so they can feel comfortable starting their fitness journey. Intermediates need to stay inspired, to embrace new fitness knowledge, and to be challenged,” she says. “Those who are aging need to understand functional fitness so they can continue to engage in their daily activities and live quality lives.” From a background competing internationally in aerobics in the 80s and 90s, Fieldstone now leads a team of more than 40 instructors at Calgary’s Westside Recreation Centre.
“Mentoring a large team of fitness professionals helps me to continue learning,” she says, “and to recommit continually to creating a supportive space where my team can thrive and evolve.”
Jodi Jubinville | 48
Five years ago, Jodi Jubinville collapsed while she was teaching her usual Saturday doubleheader: Body Pump and Zumba Fitness. “I was going into the first Zumba Fitness song after the warm-up when things started looking a little funny. I remember going down on one knee, of course everyone followed me thinking it was part of the choreography,” she says. “When I collapsed I had no idea what was wrong with me. I could not see out of my right eye, I could not move the right side of my body and I could not speak.” Jubinville, a healthy 42-year-old at the time, had experienced a stroke. She had to relearn how to walk, talk, even how to write her name. She fought to improve through rehab for her students and was back teaching Zumba four months later.
“Leading group fitness is my happy hour,” she says. “Fitness needs to be enjoyable and fun, something you want to do, not something you have to do.”
Carla Lalonde | 41
Carla Lalonde’s passion for helping people as well as her love of health and fitness are what led her to becoming a fitness instructor. “I have always felt like my purpose in life was to assist in bettering people’s health & wellbeing,” she says. “I also have an innate interest in connecting with others and developing deeper relationships. I am simply one of those people who love people!”
“Ultimately, being a fitness instructor is more of a calling and passion for me than a job, or work. It allows me to be who I really am. I just absolutely love inspiring a group of individuals to transform into a team through strong, safe, technical, challenging, fun and easy-to-follow workouts!”
Jari Love | 57
A veteran of the fitness industry, Jari Love has designed her own fitness certification program while continuing to teach classes herself. Through the certification, Rockstar Instructor, she instructs other teachers on how to be “rockstar instructors.” It has allowed her to build a bigger community than just Get RIPPED and forced her outside of her comfort zone.
“I became a fitness instructor so that I get to be that positive influence in a participant’s life. It is my chance to make that difference. I want others to feel better after leaving my class than before they came, and help people do things that they never thought they could do before. At the end of the day, we fitness instructors are helping people improve themselves. We can inspire people, but best of all be that positive person in someone’s life!”
Mallory Love | 38
Mallory Love was stopped after a class she’d taught one day and given a ginormous, sweaty hug. The man explained that he’d experienced a loss recently and thought his life was over. “He told me that I saved his life,” she says. “That all of the energy I offered him every class, the love, the coaching to help him find joy in movement and to move properly and efficiently, had changed his outlook on life, had given him a way to cope with everything, and had ultimately made him feel that he still had fight left in him to live his life.”
“I have a background in musical theatre and a love of activity, especially in the realm of group fitness. There is nothing like it. There is real power in numbers. Other people in the space inspire me, and so many others, without even knowing sometimes, and I wanted to be a part of that. I want to help people find joy and community through movement!”
Kelsey Norman | 35
Kelsey Norman didn’t set out to become a fitness instructor. After reconstructive surgeries on her knees, she was afraid of movement. But in 2011, trying to be healthy as a new mom, she began her fitness journey. The group fitness instructor is busy these days. She teaches more than seven classes every week, using her personal experience to connect with participants.
“Find what works for you and do it consistently. Take your time for lasting results. There is no magic pill, just constant focus and enough self love to make the daily effort.”
Kalyn Swihart | 39
As a child, Kalyn Swihart was an entrepreneurial dance teacher. She offered her services as a ballet teacher to athletes in sports like gymnastics, figure skating, synchronized swimming and martial arts, who might benefit from ballet. This inspired her to combine fitness with dance and her Ballet Beats program was born. “I love teaching movement more than words can express,” she says.
“I am passionate about creating a teaching environment that is for all bodies. One that starts with acceptance and self love and focuses on the movement, being our strongest selves and rebelling against the idea of an ‘ideal body,’” she says. “I think the world needs more of that to get all people moving and benefiting from exercise.”
Naz Tabibi | 49
On her way to becoming a fitness instructor, Naz Tabibi overcame a system designed to oppress. Growing up in Iran when the Islamist government came into power, she and other women and girls had their rights and opportunities severely limited. In her late teens, Naz discovered the power of fitness and movement and the role they could play in empowering women. Since then, she hasn’t looked back. “I soon learned how powerful fitness training empowered women and girls especially to achieve their potential and their right to be healthy and fit,” she says. “I have never looked back since then.”
“It was so rewarding to help others to invest in their health and feel confident,” she says. “I believe everyone, regardless of underlying health status, economic abilities or gender, deserves support in their journey to mental and physical health.”
Justin Tavernini | 37
Growing up, Justin Tavernini had a hard time fitting into the traditional school system and was bullied. But when he turned 11, he was introduced to martial arts. “It changed my life forever,” he said. He started kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA and at age 15, he went pro. Justin also started teaching others martial arts. He now owns his own training centre where he works with both young and old athletes.
“After my professional career in martial arts competition, my focus shifted into helping others seek the confidence that I gained by starting to train in martial arts and fitness. It truly changed my life for the better and I knew I could have the ability to help impact others for the better.”
Catherine Woodward | 51
Catherine Woodward has always been passionate about exercise. But it wasn’t until she began attending group fitness classes regularly while on leave from a previous job that she realized just how powerful it could be. “Exercise bought me back from a dark place,” she says, “and I needed to share that and help others who were struggling.” She became a group fitness instructor in the late 90s, and started teaching the Les Mills Body Combat program in the early 2000s, which she still teaches today.
“I thrive seeing members work towards their personal goals, watching them challenge and grow, push and achieve. …Exercise is and should be a part of life forever, and you have to love what you do or it really is very hard to keep going. Being that cheerleader makes me smile.”
Read This Story in Our 2023 Inspiration Issue
Read about our 2023 Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors – our top 30 from across Canada! How to Train Smarter in 2023, Yoga Nidra for What Ails You, Racing the World’s Highest Ultramarathon, our favourite plant-based recipes and more!