Whether your goal is to lose weight, run a marathon or just to look and feel better, a personal trainer can help you get there. These folks have a wealth of education and expertise and a genuine desire to see you succeed.
This year, we had over 1,000 entries to our Canada’s Top Fitness Trainer competition and lots of heartwarming success stories and achievements to read through. In the end though, 30 trainers rose to the top – 10 from British Columbia, 10 from Alberta and 10 from Eastern Canada.
These individuals had a lot of things in common. They are a compassionate, caring and non-judging group of people who really love working with clients toward optimal health.
All 30 of the winners Canada-wide are committed to health, fitness and nutrition. Some have also gone as far as getting nutrition certifications on top of their other credentials in order to better serve their clients.
Another thing we noticed about the trainers is their commitment to the community. They raise money for charity, offer free fitness classes in the community, volunteer with charitable organizations and mentor other trainers.
In order to reach the top 30 in our competition, each trainer was scored on a variety of criteria including formal education, certifications, years of experience, fitness philosophy and community service. A panel of fitness professionals plus the IMPACT team scored each trainer, without knowing their names or any identifying characteristics. The trainers with the highest number of points are the ones being profiled here. Congratulations to each of them for their outstanding contributions.
“This is not a job, it’s my life!” Says Beatty, an exercise physiologist and medical exercise specialist. “I love working with people, learning more about creating balance from the inside out and focusing on muscular and nervous systems so people can truly recover with less stress and more energy to train and work hard, and be their best selves! Our mantra at the Fitness Fix is “I want to, I can, I will.”
Beatty has been training clients since 1998 and specializes in finding muscle or movement imbalances and weaknesses from past trauma, and nervous system or muscular system deficits.
“I created the Fitness Fix facility with highly trained professionals and Fitness Fix TV videos to help any person of any age or ability, attain optimal balance and function throughout life,” she says.
Since 2010, Fitness Fix has offered free programs for cancer patients and their caregivers and each year, the entire staff teams up with a local school and supports many families in need over the holiday season.
As a former elite athlete, New York Yankees draft pick, and national level coach, Tim is an expert at eliciting higher performance from individuals and teams. For over 30 years he has helped people ignite their potential.
“Physical activity was always something I enjoyed,” says Borys “and I saw the tremendous benefits it provided me. I became a personal trainer in high school since I wanted to do sports medicine in university. The goal was to find a career I loved, and to help more people improve their life. The awesome part is that 30 years later, I still live this reality.”
One of Borys’ all-time favourite success stories took place after he had moved from training elite athletes to a large health club.
“One of my first health club clients was a lady who was 85 years young. When discussing her goals, she said ‘I just want to be strong enough to put my groceries in the cupboard without my shoulders giving out.’
After working with high performing athletes, this goal stopped me in my tracks. It was a defining moment that made me review everything I knew about fitness and reframe it through the lens of putting groceries away.
It was a fantastic lesson in applying the principles of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, and explaining it to someone who didn’t care about those things. It made me grow as a person, trainer, and coach.
She ended up being one of my all-time favourite clients, and we had lots of fun on the journey to reaching her goals. After only a couple months, she said she felt 20 years younger, and was moving better than she had in 30 years.
This growth in a person’s potential is at the heart of what I do and why my team and I still love helping people every day!
“I’m passionate about fitness, martial arts and connecting with the community, says martial arts specialist, Cotterill. “I’m an advocate for mental wellness through sports, and believe athletes can be the role models for others on their wellness journey. Happiness for me is seeing how strong, capable and confident my clients/students are when they reach their goals.”
Cotterill says martial arts and fitness has been her world since she was 8 years old.
“It has helped me overcome trauma, assault, and abuse,” she says. “It gave me goals, confidence, self esteem, a safe place to go and a career showing others how strong, resilient, brave and capable they are. The fitness community has been such a positive support for me, and I enjoy giving back. Being a trainer allows me to inspire, motivate, and support others as I improve myself and advocate for charities that align with my values.”
Cotterill says anything is possible with a positive mindset, commitment, dedication and resilience. “Find the right community and support to reach your goals.”
One of her favourite success stories involves seeing an armed forces vet fight the damage and injuries from multiple tours. He worked through pain, severe lack of mobility and depression to train with his two sons. He trained hard, pushing through, never giving up and fighting for his goal of being as healthy and strong as he could be even after complications from back surgery and cancer. He lost over 25 lbs and showed his family what true bravery and resilience looked like.
Rebecca Garland describes herself as a passionate entrepreneur, fitness specialist, plant-based foodie, tortured author, dream-creator, acro-yogi, life-long learner, world-traveller, and margarita-loving-surfer-wannabe.
“I have been helping people become fitter, stronger, healthier, happier and more vibrant versions of themselves for nearly 19 years. I founded Elan Performance and wrote the whole foods recipe book ‘Nourish.’ I am insatiably curious about nearly everything regarding human behaviour, expanding potential, habit mastery, healing, and performance.”
Growing up, I enjoyed sports but lacked self-esteem and was very shy. Through fitness, I found my aliveness, my confidence, and my spark. After graduating with Kinesiology, I got a trainer position at Bankers Hall Club. Originally meant to be an interim position until I got a ‘real’ job, I stayed for 12 years. I loved my clients, running my own business, and empowering people in their bodies and lives. Knowing the impact fitness had for me, sharing it became one of my greatest passions.
My absolute favourite success has been empowering women to feel strong, powerful, and confident in their bodies. The fitness industry shares so many gifts, but the dark side adds to the layers of contempt, perfectionism and even hatred that people, and especially women, have towards their perfectly amazing bodies regardless of their size, shape and fitness level.
Having had lost a close friend to an eating disorder, and even being seduced myself into poor body image issues in my younger years, I know the insanity and pressures. With the neverending ways we’re constantly pressured to be and look different, body-appreciation is a rebel act in our society, and is something I take a strong stand for in our industry.
The physical health benefits of fitness are one thing, but when we can pair it with emotional and mental benefits, we don’t just transform bodies, but lives. Every body deserves love.
“I absolutely love movement and have dedicated my career as a fitness professional to supporting and motivating people of all shapes, sizes and fitness abilities to experience an improved quality of life through fitness and proper movement, form and technique,” says Hodge.
“I believe in promoting fitness from the inside out to incorporate not simply the physical but the mental and emotional as well and respect my role as a trainer in having a positive impact on somebody’s life. True fitness encompasses not only our physical selves but our mental, emotional, social and spiritual selves as well.”
Hodge’s favourite success story involves Sheri T. who holds a special place in her heart.
“When Sheri began private personal training sessions with me she had very minimal range of motion, found it challenging to go up and down stairs, was very emotional with the physical effort in our sessions and had had a negative experience in a gym setting. She had little to no confidence in being able to workout on her own and in addition, suffered from Lupus.”
“Through the course of our sessions together, taking things slowly and building up a foundation of basic core strength while focusing on improving joint mobility and range of motion, Sheri became more confident.”
Each day was different depending on how she was feeling physically and emotionally. I believed in her and continued to support her and motivate her and tell her that she would be able to do this or that, and held that belief for her even when she didn’t.”
“Through her incredible perseverance, determination, commitment and some days sheer courage, she got stronger, more confident, and to my delight her range of motion improved significantly! Going down stairs became a non-issue and the best part was that she got herself a gym membership and to this day continues to go on her own! She found her confidence, strength and inner athlete!
Curtis is a record holding Olympic lifter and a movement specialist who focuses on optimizing human performance through in-person and online personal training and coaching. He is committed to helping people improve their movements to positively impact their overall well-being.
“Several years ago, I worked with a personal trainer to help me resolve bulged discs that were caused from a car accident,” says Howden. “He gave me back my life. Since then I have strived to help people realize, attain and regain their physical freedom. I want to show people that fitness will positively impact and optimize the rest of their life.”
In addition to personal training and coaching with GYMVMT (pronounced Gym Movement), Howden is an instructor at the Elevated Learning Academy as part of their Personal Training Diploma program, actively participates in charity events, and has helped over 200 people start their personal training careers.
“There are many transformation stories that I’m proud I got to be a part in. One of the more recent and impactful stories comes from Billy,” Howden says. “Billy came to me struggling with depression and suffering from a torn rotator cuff and broken humerus due to a bike accident. When he started, he was feeling defeated and struggled with his weight loss. Over the course of our training, Billy realized he was capable of living a better life. He regained function in his arm and began to lose weight.”
“This is why I do what I do. In Billy’s words, ‘I have been rich and overweight, as well as poor and fit, and I would choose fit every time!’
“My Dad and Popeye were critical influences in my childhood.,” says Livino. “My Dad was a regular morning exerciser and I saw the direct results physical activity had on him, especially when he stopped. Popeye literally ate spinach and immediately got stronger… so no one had to convince me to eat my veggies!
When I took kinesiology, I discovered what a reactive health care system we have. Now, as a fitness trainer, I get to live and promote healthful lifestyle habits and inspire others to do the same.
Livino says she is committed to growth, evolution, truth, love, freedom and healing for herself and others.
“We all experience adversity at some point in our life, often when we are not prepared for it. For me, my commitment to fitness gave me the ability to endure unexpected challenges. Because I had that strong voice for myself, to stay committed to my own wellbeing, it makes me an advocate to encourage others to do the same for themselves. Having that voice of encouragement, that supportive teacher, that ongoing cheerleader in your life can make all the difference. I work together with my clients to help them move through current physical barriers so they can live the most fulfilled life in a body that will support that. Anything is possible as long as you believe it is and I will help you get there!”
“My favourite success stories are the small changes that my clients share with me that have lifelong impact. Whether it’s a commitment to eliminate negative self-talk, start walking every day, or do their very first unassisted chin up, there is no success that is too small.”
Born and raised in Uganda, Ndugga was a member of the Uganda National Kickboxing and Tae Kwon Do teams becoming the top ranked kickboxer in east and central Africa. He strongly believes in the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles.
“Fitness is my passion and there was no better way of earning a living to support my family in Uganda while doing something I really enjoyed,” says Ndugga. “And, it was an opportunity for me to help people reach their greatness using fitness as tool.”
He specializes in strength and conditioning, weight training and martial arts and says it’s important to set achievable goals – small steps that can easily be achieved.
“Keep a log book and always push a little harder than the previous workout, come to the gym mentally prepared so you can physically dominate.”
Giving back is big part of Ndugga’s story and he is the founding director of a charitable organization called the Ssubi Foundation that works in Uganda with the goal of alleviating poverty through educational initiatives and micro financing women’s businesses.
“My goal is to help as many people possible reach their fitness goals!” says Sander.
“I played university football and suffered an injury that ended my season. I was very interested in the physio recovery side of things, but found I enjoyed the prevention and fitness side of it more.”
“My favourite mantra is ‘Do something today that your future self will thank you for.’ Every day people have to choose between the couch and the gym. Unfortunately Netflix is helping us lean more toward one of those choices. My goal is help people be a little better and healthier than they were yesterday.”
One of Sander’s favourite success stories happened recently when he was able to help a young climber avoid getting knee surgery through the use of strength training.
“Probably the most nervous I have ever been,” Sander says, “but easily the most rewarding event of my year!”
Carson is passionate about giving back to his community. Currently he is working with another coach on a program to teach health habits and exercise to grade eight students. They have also partnered up with a meal prep company to provide good, healthy meals, as well as a clothing company to provide workout apparel.
“Our goal is to help support schools with health and fitness in the Bow Valley as our government has been drastically cutting costs to public schools and giving more to private schools. All funds raised will hopefully be enough to buy new equipment and support after school programs.”
“My message has never been that of the status quo,” Rowe explains. “I approach life as both a leader and learner. I’m here to help people make real changes in their lives!”
Rowe originally became a personal trainer because she was intrigued by the link between mental health and physical fitness.
“I understood how fitness helped me and wanted a career where I made connections with people, could learn their stories, and share things I had learned to help them on their journey to become better than they were yesterday.”
Rowe approaches clients with the philosophy that ‘becoming is better than being.’
“Be better than you were yesterday. Change can be tough but it’s worth it. The success and good feelings that accompany fitness are worth the challenge.”
Rowe has clients of all ages from several who are in their 80’s and 90’s to some who are still just kids. But no matter what their age, she says there’s a piece of everyone that feels vulnerable at the gym.
“One of my favourite success stories is about training two siblings along with their grandparents. During our sessions, no one was left out, no one felt bored or like they weren’t being challenged. I love creating these experiences for my clients. As a result, everyone left feeling good for the time spent together, the connections made and the strength gained.”
Community involvement is important to Rowe. She teaches fitness classes at high schools and in nursing homes to help both the young and old commit to fitness. In addition, she volunteers to lead fitness classes supporting the foodbank, leads fitness workshops on weekends for continuing education credits and mentors students in high school and post-secondary fitness programs so they can get their practicum hours.
Congratulations to all Nominees
Elsa Amaya, Kelsey Andries, Wyatt Beatty, Jody Bencharski, Sara Berdusco, Eric Berge, Tasneem Bhaiji, Kyra Bisson, Jesse Blond, Nathan Bodewitz, Martina Bor, Maggie Bowen, Nick Braham, Katrina Brandt, Dennis Brent, Marisa Brolo, Colby Brown, Chad Budyk, Selina Campbell, Christopher Campbell, Elaine Campbell, Steve Chambers, Densa Chan, Ryan Chow, Hayley Christenson, Ashley Ciprick, Kim Coady, Vanessa Copiak, Conrad Corbiere, Leah Corse, Pauline Cound, Rochelle Court, Emily Crebbin Crebbin, Doris Crichton, Justin Cross, Shalyn Danylak, Josh Dech, Whitney Dikoume, Lucy Dunne, Krissie Eberhart, Chantelle Erickson, Nathaniel Ernst, Amanda Fex, Laura Flood, Marcella Fortini, Jessica Friesen, Andrew Fulks, Louie Grover, Breahna (Bre) Gustafson, Lara Gustafson, Cotie Guzman, Rachel Hall, Max Hall, Toni Harris, Dawn Hart, Nicoline Hebert, Niki Hejtmanek, Anas Hijazi, Charmaine Ironside, Andreas Iwanegbe, Allen Jalali, Doug Jones, Kathy Karpati, Naomi Keane, Deanne Keller, Danika Kelly, Randi Kennedy, Jill Kirker, Luke Kosowan, Ken Kotyk, Shelley Kuhn, Bonnie Lang, Kristian Leach, Candice Lee, Carl Macdonald, Ana Maljkovic, Kendal Masson, Chris Mattock, Bonar McCallum, Stacey McCormick, Lian Melegrito, Michelle Mitschke, Jacqui Mmono-Rowat, Cathi Molson, Nikole Motley, Tony Nguyen, Rachel Niemand, Kent Nilson, Nathan Norville, Tammy Oak, Erika Olsvik, Dejuan Peart, Russell Peel, Brad Posehn, Lincoln Reeves, Amanda Regnier, Elissa Reilly Slater, Luke Remington, Bradford Richmond, Laura Rye, Melissa Schaffer, Alyssa Schmidt, Mara Seipp-Katz, Ronnie Shiu, Aaron Singleton, Kyle Smith, Danielle Smith, Brad Soanes, Dean Somerset, David Spence, Geoff Starling, Mike Stewart, Josh Stryde, Veer Sunda, Sean Sweeney, Naz Tabibi, Jane Tallick, Jordan Taylor, Roman Thauern, Kim Tilander, Andrew Topping, Darren Travers, Katelynn Van Engelen, Jon Villani, Devon Walker, Declan Walsh, Phoenix Warman, Ian Wheat, Micaela Whitworth (McIntosh), Matt Wild, Aaron Wilson, Devin Wolfe, Gill Wong, Cat Wrubell, Matteo Zanin-Valdes
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