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.
Andrew Alcalde | 40
Andrew Alcalde is an enthusiastic fitness instructor known for his personable and vibrantly entertaining training style. “I am 100 per cent THAT crazy, energetic instructor who twerks for the participants, makes them scream, shout and let it all out while challenging their limits,” he says. “I want them to have fun and forget that they are doing burpees and push-ups. If I can get the laughter, smiles, cheering and dancing out of them, especially during a gruelling workout—I know that I have done my job.”
“I LOVE being a fitness instructor. I am always super satisfied when someone leaves my class, drenched in sweat, with a huge smile on their face—and then comes back for more! Becoming an instructor was one the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”
Justina Bailey | 50
Justina Bailey was not always a fitness instructor. Before finding her way to a fitness career, she was a pastry chef. She regularly attended aerobics classes, and one of her instructors asked if she would consider becoming an instructor because she was always smiling and enjoying herself in classes. “As a shy and overweight girl, I was dumbfounded that someone would think that I could,” she says. “It was a difficult transition, and I’m not sure where I summoned up the courage, but I cannot imagine any other career choice for myself.”
“The classes are more than exercise to the participants, and I give to them like they are my friends, too. I think we are a safe place for all types of people to attend.”
Sarah Bellwood | 30
For more than a decade, Sarah Bellwood has been teaching group exercise programs from step aerobics to high-performance strength and conditioning classes. “Over the past 10 years, I have grown as a coach and my practice has evolved, but my why has stayed consistent,” she says. “I will never stop wanting to encourage others to have a positive relationship with movement, body, food and fitness.”
“I became an instructor because I love the power of community and how it keeps people accountable. I’ll never get tired of watching friendships blossom in the studio and hearing the members say to each other ‘see you tomorrow’ or ‘can you save me my spot next week?'”
Emily Green | 32
Originally from Toronto, Emily Green moved to Vancouver seven years ago, bringing along her lifelong love of movement, personal wellness and sports. “I love helping others reach their goals. I love being a leader of classes and being able to motivate, inspire, and educate,” she says. “As a fitness instructor, my motto is, ‘you will never regret a workout.’ Even the shortest workouts can make someone feel more confident, energized, and accomplished.”
“I feel very fortunate. I am doing something that I love and I get to share that love and passion with others. I have met some of the most amazing people in my life through my fitness journey.”
Dawn Joseph | 47
For 30 years, Dawn Joseph has been in the fitness industry, bringing passion, energy and authenticity to her job. She began her career as a gymnastics coach in her early teens and fell in love with instructing. “Becoming a fitness instructor was such a natural progression that integrated choreography, music, movement and fun equipment,” she says.
“It was so fulfilling to put out energy and get 10 times more back from a room full of people. I love humans and I love that group fitness brings people together who would not normally attract. The next thing you know everyone is high-fiving everyone and there’s a room full of people rooting for each other!”
Suzy Kaitman | 39
Ballerina turned fitness instructor Suzy Kaitman combined her two loves to create a fun, safe, and encouraging dance studio for everyone. “Ballet was my first love, and I started dancing at a very young age,” she says. “During my training, I started going to the gym to meet the high demands of my art. I then fell in love with the fitness industry because I learned that anyone could be fit and healthy regardless of their shape or size.”
“The most amazing part about this journey is our amazing community full of like-minded individuals who just want to dance, get fit and have fun! I have met so many incredible people in which I would have never met otherwise, and that in itself is very special.”
Jill Nadon | 36
Jill Nadon went to university to study engineering, but it was becoming a fitness instructor that would prove to be her true passion. “After obtaining my first certification through Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA), I was hooked. I fell in love with group fitness and quickly took several more certifications,” she says. “When I became an instructor, I didn’t know I would fall head over heels in love and build a career around it.”
“The energy of a group class is unparalleled. Welcoming new exercisers and challenging the weekly regulars is incredibly rewarding. I’ve stayed in this industry for so long because I want my participants to feel welcome in the fitness community. I love seeing the social, emotional, and mental health benefits that come from group fitness.”
Mark Ramos | 40
Mark Ramos began his athletic career as a professional track athlete before moving to training professional athletes. But it was a favour to an old friend who needed some coverage for group fitness classes over the holidays that saw Mark find his way to Drive 365 Fitness and Health Inc., where he is now the manager. “Gone are the days of the high performance of heavy lifting, hard plyometrics and lots of recovery days,” he says. “Now it is all about passing on the knowledge and experience that I have learned to clients and colleagues to make themselves better.”
“Nothing gives me greater joy than watching and experiencing the fitness journey with my clients as the lessons they learn in the gym are applied to their everyday life.”
Susan Scarlett | 50
As a university student, Susan Scarlett danced and became an instructor to earn extra money. “I quickly realized how rewarding it was to teach and motivate others to reach their fitness goals,” she says. “After a few detours and after having children, I began on my own path of fitness and wellness. I found barre and began taking classes and committing to my own fitness regime, and it changed my life.” In 2006, Susan opened her own studio—Barre Fitness South Surrey.
“Every day I get to meet the most amazing people and motivate and inspire them to lead happier, healthier lives, one plié at a time.”
Wesley Wood | 41
An infantry section commander in the Army, Wesley Wood was deployed to Iraq to conduct security operations. He was involved in combat numerous times and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for courage and leadership in action. “After joining the Army and deploying to the Middle East, I needed a positive environment and new challenges with regards to career,” he says. “I absolutely love what I do.”
“I have always had a passion for sports and fitness. A healthy lifestyle has always been important to me and my family, so I wanted to share that with the world and more importantly with other Canadians that need the extra motivation to achieve their own fitness success.”
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!