The business of personal fitness has blown up in the last few years, from a tiny niche to an enormous industry with thousands of fitness gurus touting their own specialized methods for attaining an ideal physique. The industry is largely unregulated and periodically inundated with new fads (juicing, anyone?). Furthermore, online social platforms have allowed experts and non-experts alike to flood the web with health information. If you have ever looked for fitness or nutrition information on the web, chances are you left a little confused.
But quality rises, and social media’s collective conscience has promoted, commented, retweeted and linked trusted content all the way to the top. It just takes a little digging (and social media analytics) to move past the “flavor of the moment” fitness fads and unearth emergent leaders in personal training and fitness instruction.
I decided to do just that, and compiled a list of over 100+ fitness instructors and personal trainers to rank by online influence.
- “Celebrity” trainers
- Trainers who work one-on-one with clients, but also maintain an online presence
- Trainers who train exclusively online via YouTube
I did not include:
- Fitness gurus whose entire online presence is a sales pitch (“buy my workout DVD”, etc.)
- Fitness influencers who no longer train or never trained but began training programs or opened training facilities (like Greg Glassman, the founder or CrossFit).
The result is a list of trainers who have worked hard to earn an online following, promote proven exercise and nutrition methodologies, and/or are just killing it on social media with their marketing prowess and engagement tactics.
To create this list I looked at dozens of metrics across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and each trainer’s website. Each channel was analyzed for 1) reach which takes into account the number of followers, subscribers, visitors, fans, etc., that a channel has, and 2) resonance which measures how engaged readers and viewers are using shares, likes, comments, retweets, etc. For clients, we go one step further and measure quality of content across certain topic areas. If I had done that with the following influencers, I might have examined topic areas like fat loss, resistance training , interval training, nutrition, etc.
Top Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors Online
1. Jillian Michaels “America’s Personal Trainer” best known for her role in The Biggest Loser TV show and Losing it with Jillian. She is a New York Times best-selling author, has released several DVDs, hosts a weekly podcast, and launched video games for Wii and Xbox360. She utilizes a blend of strength training and cardio techniques with her clients, including kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, plyometrics, and weight training. Jillian is the only person on this list with over one million likes on Facebook, and her strong Twitter and website presence put her firmly in the #1 position.
2. Lisa-Marie Zbozen A host on Bodyrock.TV and the newer DailyHiit.com. The sites promote daily short High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts and a clean diet through the free workout videos which have gotten over half a billion views.
3. Freddy Light The videographer behind BodyrockTV and DailyHIIT, as well as an occasional host. Freddy took Bodyrock.TV from its humble beginnings to an online home workout movement and social media phenomenon along with his then-wife, Zuzanna Light (#4). The BodyRockTV/DailyHIIT channel has 600,000+ subscribers and over half a billion views.
4. Zuzana Light The original face of Bodyrock.TV, Zuzanna began Bodyrock.TV in 2009 with her then-husband Freddy Light. After their separation she began her own workout website in 2012, ZuzkaLight.com, where she posts HIIT workouts similar to the ones she did on BodyrockTV. Since beginning her channel under two years ago, she has already amassed 164,051 subscribers (many of whom followed her from BodyrockTV) and almost 20 million views.
5. Bob Harper As a celebrity personal trainer who trained on The Biggest Loser alongside Gillian Michaels, Bob’s team has won most of the weigh-ins on that show. In addition to training and teaching yoga in Los Angeles, Bob has written several books, created a few fitness DVDs and sells his training program on his website. However, his #5 ranking can be attributed to his incredible Facebook (595,504 Likes) and Twitter (446,093 followers) presence.
6. Charles Poliquin A trainer to numerous Olympic athletes and a prolific writer for bodybuilding online magazine T-Nation. His position on this list due in large part to his YouTube channel, where his posts on bodybuilding and nutrition have earned him over 11,000 subscribers and more than two million views.
7. John Berardi a CSCS certified personal trainer who has made a name for himself as one of the top exercise nutrition experts in the world. John is on this list because of his strong Facebook presence and the success of his scientifically backed nutrition coaching company, Precision Nutrition. He has also written several books, has a PhD in sports nutrition (he teaches at the University of Western Ontario), still personal trains one-on-one, has written for magazines like Bodybuilding.com and T-nation, and gets his research cited in those same magazines a lot.
8. Karena Dawn Karena and Katrina Hodgson are fitness models and personal trainers who run ToneItUp.com, a website with nutrition and exercise advice, as well as free videos. While Katrina and Karena are similarly ranked across platforms due to their highly viewed YouTube channel (200,000+ subscribers and over 17 million views). Karena’s slightly better Twitter presence puts her slightly ahead of Katrina in the top 10.
9. Eric Cressey Eric is the president and co-founder of Cressey Performance in Boston, where he coaches and rehabilitates athletes. He has authored over 500 published articles, five books, and co-created four DVD sets. His master’s thesis on power reductions through unstable surface training was highly shared on the web and saved personal training clients everywhere from doing exercises on stability balls to “improve core strength”.
10. Katrina Hodgson Karena’s co-trainer on ToneItUp. She has filmed over 200 fitness DVDs and is the go-to online trainer for MS active source, a physician-mediated online resource for patients with multiple sclerosis. Along with Karena Dawn, Katrina is in the top 10 because of the viewership on the ToneItUp YouTube channel (200,000+ subscribers and over 17 million views).
11. David Kirsch The founder and a celebrity trainer at the award-winning Madison Square Club in New York City. David also runs davidkirschwellness.com where he sells everything from his books and training videos to detox kits, snack bars, and supplements. Surprisingly, it’s other social channels (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) which put David firmly in the top 15. He posts fitness tips on Twitter, uses YouTube to post promotional videos, workout videos, and motivational “coffee talk” videos. David also uses Pinterest and Tumblr to blog about food and recipes.
12. Jen Sinkler A former professional rugby player and former editor for Experience Life magazine, Jen is a refreshingly intellectual presence who is committed to writing and discussing training in a research-backed way and quickly gaining respect in the women’s weightlifting and sports science communities. Her Twitter presence (8569 followers) earned her the #12 spot on this list.
13. Tara Stiles The only fitness instructor on this list who teaches yoga exclusively. Tara founded and instructs at Strala Yoga in New York City. She is #13 because of her strong Twitter presence and numerous videos on her YouTube channel, which has over 100,000 subscribers and 16 million views.
14. Todd Durkin A trainer to NFL and MLB athletes and the founder and creator of Todd Durkin Enterprises in San Diego, CA which provides personal training, massage therapy, Pilates, yoga, sports performance training, nutrition, physical therapy and chiropractic services. He is on this list because of his website, where he generates content daily, and because of Facebook and Twitter where he has 8,000+ likes and over 20,000 followers, respectively.
15. Tracy Anderson Best known for the dance-inspired exercise method — the Tracy Anderson Method – that she created, Tracy became famous by training famous clients including, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Richie, Courteney Cox, Shakira, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ashley Greene, Jennifer Lopez, and Bethany Frankel. She is on this list because of her website, which gets more in links than any other site in the top 15 except for JillianMichaels.com.
So there it is! Whose workouts are you going to try?