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.
Curtis Christopherson is a leading Canadian fitness and health entrepreneur. From award-winning businesses to charitable work, from record setting adventuring to educating about health and fitness, Christopherson embodies what it means to be a Canadian ‘Healthpreneur.’
“I became a trainer to empower individuals to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life through physical fitness,” says Christopherson. “I want to help people perform better, live longer, and add purpose to their life. I believe that when people are healthy, they’re able to live life to the fullest. When people feel good physically, they feel good emotionally and mentally. Our job is to help them get there and stay there so that their purpose, whatever it may be, will come about.”
In 2006, Christopherson had a client who was a business executive who struggled to get through his sessions three times a week at 7 am.
“After realizing that his limitations were due to sleepless nights as he supported his 11 year old daughter suffering from Juvenile Diabetes — I knew something needed to be done. And after he made a promise to her that he would do anything in his power to find a cure before she graduates from high school — we had a purpose!”
Seven months later, they had 20+ volunteers, six riders, and a team of supporters behind them as they began a road bike tour across Canada to raise awareness and fulfill a promise.
“We cycled from Halifax to Vancouver in 6 days, set a Guinness Book of World Records, and raise over 1 Million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. That is a legacy I’m very proud of.”
Hannah Fletcher is a personal trainer who has devoted her life to helping others through fitness, by helping people better themselves and their lives while reaching their health, fitness and body composition goals. She believes in self-compassion and love, and thinks fitness is the most beautiful way to get there!
“Becoming a Fitness Trainer aligned perfectly to fulfill my purpose of spreading love and positivity through fitness to improve the lives of others,” explained Hannah. “Movement is Life! I wanted to give others the gift that fitness had given me: deep gratitude for my body, and profound appreciation for life). Achieving a small goal through fitness can give someone the confidence to achieve big goals in their life. Movement ignites the fire for self love and wholeness – believe it and achieve it!”
Fletcher says if you believe in yourself, anything is possible and she believes exercise builds confidence and appreciation.
“I love to power others on to control the way they look and feel. When you build your outers, you build your inners – a strong body will help support and facilitate a strong being”
“One success story that stands out right now is Laura, who I have been training for about 7 years. We started working together when she wanted to get fit for her wedding, and we quickly surpassed this goal. We continued to work together before and after babies numbers 1,2 and 3. Her perseverance, strength and growth in all these different stages was incredible. Through her commitment she has taught her kids that exercising is the coolest thing because it keeps the mind mind, body and soul happy and healthy! Now her kids pretend to train each other which is the sweetest thing!”
James Greenwood describes himself as a husband, a father, a coach, a mentor, a scientist, a teacher, a student, an athlete, a participant, a spectator – an individual with a lust for life! He specializes in clinical and exercise physiology and performance training for sport and life.
“I decided early on that I did not want to have to wear a suit to work like my dad,” Greenwood says. “I started lifting weights when I was 12 years old, started writing ‘training programs’ for friends when I 14 years old, and was coaching javelin when I was 16 years old. It was then that I realized there might a career in coaching and training. I guess I was right!
Greenwood’s fitness mantra is ‘If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got,’ and this is something he tries to instill in his students. One of his favourite success stories involved working with a breast cancer survivor. Her goal was to complete the New York marathon and through hard work and dedication, Greenwood was able to get her to the point where she could finish the race.
Giving back to the community is important to Greenwood. He provides co-op and practicum opportunities to UBC-O students in his studio and supports local charities and fundraising initiatives with gift certificates. Kidsport in the Kelowna community – is his primary charity.
“My passion is human performance – mentally and physically – while my purpose is to help empower and educate others to level up their life,” explains Morgan Hodge. “I am a Performance Coach with an education background in Kinesiology – Coaching Focus and Neuro-Biomechanics. It is through this background, and over a decade in the health and fitness industry, that I help individuals become inspired and spread a deeper understanding of self capability to every aspect of their life.”
Hodge says he became a trainer to inspire, empower and elevate people to achieve things they once thought impossible. With a fitness mantra of ‘Level up your life,’ Hodge has seen many success stories but what makes him proudest as a trainer are the moments that typically don’t involve any actual physical training.
“What they do involve is that moment of realization when a client recognizes the true underlying ‘why’ for themselves. I also love moments when they realize the doubt they had within themselves is either no longer there or foolish to hold on to. These moments have often involved tears as they have been a powerful moment of deeper understanding and empowerment.These are the times that make me the proudest as a coach as I am so incredibly proud of those individuals for the growth they’ve accomplished.
“Over the course of my career I have stayed connected with the local communities that I either grew up in or now work and live in. I have helped as a volunteer coach and strength and conditioning coach to my former high school basketball team. I created and implemented lunch time and after school health and fitness programs that have been implemented within numerous schools in the tri-cities. And I’ve enjoyed volunteering at local events like Rubens Ruckus as well as local initiatives like the S.T.A.R. Club where I supervised groups of children with physical/cognitive disabilities while they participated in various activities.
“My mission is to engage, guide and help clients develop a strong sense of self efficacy and the capacity to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says King. “Many people in my life encouraged me to make a career out of helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. It has been a very rewarding choice with each small difference I have made in my clients’ lives.”
King is a strong believer in training correct movement patterns to ensure the body’s ability to flex, extend and rotate with power and improved performance. She says, “Exercise may be beneficial, but it may also be harmful when incorrect movement patterns and compensations are allowed to perpetuate.”
“Any time a client tells me they are now pain free, have better mobility and function, or their doctor has said that their health has improved, I count it as a success. Sometimes it’s as simple as helping them get to the point where they can walk upstairs without being out of breath, or ready to compete in their first sporting event.”
Working in the community has always been part of King’s life and she is a long-time volunteer.
“I have worked with community policing and with a local rugby team as an athletic trainer. For the past eight years I have volunteered with my professional organization the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Initially as an advisory board member for BC. Currently, I am the Regional Coordinator for the Northwest, and I serve on the Women’s Committee.”
King is well-qualified as a personal trainer with a MSc in strength and conditioning, a BSc. in kinesiology, a diploma in Human Performance and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and a Registered Kinesiologist.
From an overweight, depressed person who felt trapped and hopeless, Rafal Matsuszwetski has developed into a fitness powerhouse, sharing fitness knowledge in person and through podcast interviews with other professionals.
“The moment I was able to overcome the weight hurdle, I made it my life’s mission to make sure no one felt the way I did when I was overweight,” says Matsuszwetski. “I realized I could do this for others and knew it was my life’s calling.”
One of Matuszewski’s favorite success stories involves a client who had been training with him for eight years and had gone through a traumatic experience.
“About 4 years ago she was participating in the Ride To Conquer Cancer and it was the year we had the bad wind storms. Unfortunately, a tree fell on her and severed her spine. She was determined to get better the moment she woke up from surgery. She texted me right away with her x-ray results showing she was fused from T-12 to T-9 and told me she was going to beat the odds.”
“After a mere four months of physical therapy, she was back in the gym with me working on her rehab, and regaining her strength. Today she still comes into the gym consistently with me every single week. She did not let her injury define her at all. She beat the odds, and I am honored to be part of her journey every day.”
Matuszewski, like other trainers, is involved in the greater community. He mentors new fitness coaches and believes in helping as many people as possible.
“I only have so many hours in the day to see people. So I started a mentorship program at my gym, Ora Fitness, and Yoga. I’ve taken three other coaches under my wing to help them become better coaches and help more people.”
“We all need a little help, even coaches need help, and it’s my life’s work to provide that to people regardless of who they are or what their socioeconomic status is,” says Mueller. “I became a trainer to make an impact with communities both local and afar, empowering them to know how to help themselves, assist and inspire them to achieve their personal goals, and rehabilitate them when in pain or dysfunction.
Mueller is passionate about golf and currently works with pro’s on the PGA Tour.
“I try to instil the belief in everyone I work with – coaches, athletes, and rehabilitation clients that nothing is impossible. Some people may learn faster than others, but persistence, passion and drive is what ultimately determines success.
My favourite success story is about a very talented golfer who was referred to me one year. He was physically and mentally discouraged as he had just lost his tour card and was thinking about quitting. I assessed him and explained what was going on in his body. Then I created a rehabilitation plan to work on together.
He was skeptical, and it took six months of physical and mental therapy but he got back to playing shape and went on to win his first ever tournament on tour! And, he also shot the lowest cumulative tournament score in Canadian Tour history!
Within ten minutes of the final putt sinking, my phone rang. It was an extremely emotional congratulatory few words before he went to sign and accept his win. He went on to play in international competition representing Canada. This is why I do what I do!
“After working as an intern strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer in university, I fell in love with helping people become better versions of themselves,” says Michelle Roots. “Being an athlete, fitness and health has always been a part of my life and has helped me in so many ways. I wanted to help others realize the benefits of living a healthy balanced lifestyle. Today, I am doing what I love and can’t say I’ve had a “bad day” at work ever!
“The motto of my business is ‘Train 4 life and be ready 4 anything.’ This means fitness and healthy eating isn’t just about dieting and weight loss. It’s a lifestyle to stick with long term. It’s about being able to go hiking with your family, carrying groceries without hurting your back, feeling confident in your clothes, and feeling strong both mentally and physically.
Roots has had many success stories but a favourite is a male client that came to her after unsuccessfully trying every fad diet/workout on the market. He told Roots she was his last chance at becoming healthier and more fit before he gave up.
“To hear someone say these words, I knew he was serious and seemed desperate for help,” Roots recalls. “He didn’t have a lot of support at home and wanted to be a positive role model for his kids. After long conversations of no quick fixes and finding a long term lifestyle change for him (different than the fad diets he was used to), we got to training.”
“After a few months of personal training sessions twice a week, he was getting so strong and doing things in the gym he never thought he could ever do. We shifted his mindset from worrying about the number on the scale and “starvation dieting” to focusing on gains in the gym and eating a healthy balanced diet. He dropped so many inches and about 35 pounds, convinced his wife to start training with him too, and started doing more of his workouts independently at the gym (which he was too intimidated to do before.) He said he finally felt confident in his own body and that he had found a way of living he could stick to long term. To me this is always one of the best success stories!”
“I live to help others develop their confidence and self worth,” says Scott Salling. “Some say that we are in the business of personal training, when really, I believe we are in the business of building connection, and self confidence. When I see someone in mental anguish, immediately I gravitate toward wanting to listen and become a positive addition to their life.
“I have a been a personal trainer/certified strength and conditioning coach since 2008. No matter ones professional or athletic status, we all experience adverse times. My purpose is to provide the light to each of my clients so they can thrive no matter what the circumstance.”
“I became a fitness trainer by complete accident,” Scott explained. “I was going to school to become a strength and conditioning specialist, when a close friend of mine approached me and asked if could train her. She opened up to me and said that she had been diagnosed with a version of multiple sclerosis and didn’t know who else she could trust to help her get stronger. She sent me the link to the BCRPA Personal training program at Douglas College and the rest is history. We’re still close today.
Scott has helped clients lose over 100 lbs, climb Kilimanjaro, hike into Machu Picchu, run marathons, complete Iron Man events, obtain athletic scholarships to the US and Canada, and trained Olympians. But, he says his greatest success has been building F.I.T. Academy in his home town of Port Coquitlam.
“I graduated from Terry Fox high school here in Poco, and as a student athlete, we were always taught to be upstanding citizens of the community first. Terry Fox was a hero of mine growing up and it has been an honour coming back home and creating something that has been such a positive influence on the fabric of our community. Our clients really do say it best. We believe in in giving back and raising people to heights that they could never imagine.
Hana Weinwurm’s journey is all about the pursuit of wellness and vitality, understanding that everything is connected no matter how large or small. Her greatest passion is to share practical and everyday wisdom that ignites something in others and inspires them to take the next step to a healthier attitude and approach in day-to day life.
“Living a healthy balanced and conscious lifestyle means everything to me,” says Weinwurm. “From a very young age, my obsession to movement and wellness became a passion and motivation to learn, explore, refine and then share with others.
As I explored the secrets to living well, nothing made me more happier than to share it with others. Every day I am grateful that my biggest passion and dedication is my work and service as a fitness and wellness guide in this world.
Weinwurm believes our physical body is our vehicle for life and we need to acknowledge and treat it as such. She says our mental body is our thoughts, feelings and dreams, shaped by our experiences, associations and discernment. Our spiritual body is the variety and sustainability in life – it is creativity, infinite and unconditional love. Fusing the body, mind and spirit and including the athlete and the artist within, is the ultimate balance and direction.
Congratulations To All Nominees
Geoff Bagshaw, Jackson Banman, Barb Barrington-Foote, Marcela Bayly, Donna Cheong, Genny Chippendale, Emily Crebbin, Cara Denney, Ryoko Donald, Clem Duranseaud, Yana Hempler, Quinn Hobbs, Monique Kabel, Crystal Karamessinis, Naomi Keane, Bianca Liberatore, Matteo Marra, Jenna Maxwell, Kevin Maynard, Jaclyn McClements, Catrina McCrae, Kris McKenna-Dabiri, Kieran McWilliam, Shannon Moens, Jennifer Moore, Jay Morven, Caroline Mundell, Liz Naccarato, Liana Osipova, Elissa Reilly Slater, Janina Schmidt, Ariel Swan, Giles Weeden, Shon Wong
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