Ready to get in tiptop shape? We tapped eight of ATL’s finest fitness influencers to share their secrets to a strong mind and sculpted physique. How do they maintain their hot bods and competitive mindset? Keep flipping to find out.
PHOTO BY R.A.GARTISTRY
Owner, The Training Room ATL, BackYard Recovery and Ammersion
How did you become involved in Atlanta’s fitness industry? I’m a college athlete-turned-lifelong entrepreneur and dream chaser. I moved to Atlanta 15 years ago and started my career as a personal trainer. After being completely booked for three years, I decided to open my own gym, The Training Room ATL (@thetrainingroomatlanta).
What is your preferred method of training? For myself, I’m a sled pusher by day and amateur boxer by night. I have a well-rounded approach to training, which includes Pilates-based flows, functional strength training and conditioning, boxing and recovery.
How do you recover and recharge after an intense workout? My favorite place is BackYard Recovery (@backyardrecovery). They have everything I need for recovery including infrared saunas, air compression boots and HyperStretch sessions.
Workoutwise, what is one thing you’re doing that everyone else should be doing?
Prehab—the 30 minutes I spend preparing my body for the style of workout I’ll be doing that day. This includes dynamic warmups, mobility and activation movements.
What’s the most underrated workout move? Sleds. Sled drags, sled pushes, all day every day sleds.
What’s your approach to nutrition? I follow my Ammersion (@ammersion) nutrition program, which is a holistic approach to nutrition and wellness. I believe in functional medicine. I believe in nourishment, not deprivation. I also believe in balance, which includes taco Tuesdays or wine Wednesdays (in moderation).
PHOTO BY MICHAEL MILLAY, ROOTED CREATIVE
How did you become involved in Atlanta’s fitness industry? Prior to personal training, I coached and developed student-athletes at the collegiate level, both on the field and in the weight room. I was an athlete who suffered multiple injuries and persevered through months of rehab. Those experiences, along with my openness to meeting and helping people, gave me confidence to begin training. I can connect with and understand individuals’ fitness limitations and goals firsthand.
What is your preferred method of training? My preferred method of training is strength training. Having strength allows you to not be trapped in your body. Instead, you are strong enough to play with your kids, bring all the groceries in the house in one trip or help your kids move out of the house. The way you look as a result of strength training is just another pro.
How did your wellness routine change during the pandemic? During the pandemic, I challenged my cardio. Hill sprints and 2.7-mile jogs around Howell Mill kept me busy.
What is one piece of fitness advice you share with all of your clients? I stress that my clients should stretch and work range-of-motion movements outside of our sessions. It reduces the chance of injury in the gym and can resolve chronic injury or pain.
What’s the key to developing discipline? Developing discipline is easier said than done. It’s a mindset. Having goals will put you on the path of development. When we meet or exceed those goals, we figure out that we are strong enough to do hard things all the time. We also figure out how to moderate or limit anything that will prohibit us from reaching our goals. Doing these things on a consistent basis becomes routine, and discipline becomes a lifestyle.
What’s your approach to nutrition? Energy in vs. energy out. I encourage my clients to fuel their bodies with nutrient-dense foods that will keep them full throughout the day. On a full tank we can perform better in the gym and in life. This is why I do not preach dieting. Instead, I help those I coach understand portion size and what they are eating.
MATT PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT THOMAS
Founder, Brawl for a Cause; Coach, Fight and Flow
We heard you’re a chess boxing world champion. What does that even mean? Chess boxing is a hybrid sport that combines the board game chess with the combat sport boxing. We alternate rounds between the two until there is either checkmate or knockout, whichever comes first. I won the 90-kilogram world championship in 2018 and serve as Team USA’s captain. I hope to help the ultimate combination of brain and brawn grow in North America and make chess boxing a mainstream sport!
Can you tell us about your new fitness concept, Fight and Flow? Yeah, I guess I have a thing for combining two opposites into one awesome expression. Fight and Flow (@fightandflow) is a fitness concept that combines bodyweight calisthenics with basic martial arts movements and yoga poses. It was created during the pandemic as a fun, equipment-free practice that can be done anywhere.
Seems like a great way to take care of physical fitness. What about your mental health? I’m a Lululemon ambassador, which afforded me the opportunity to participate in a 200-hour yoga teacher training called MindFulOn. The training included a certification in breathwork and meditation. In addition to regular physical movement, I incorporate a daily mindfulness practice into my routine every morning and night to keep me energized, aligned and mentally strong. I’m also a partner in a corporate wellness company called WellFests (@wellfests), which facilitates virtual mindfulness syncups throughout the workday for participating clients.
What is next for your nonprofit, Brawl for a Cause? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brawl for a Cause (@brawlforacause) is in a bit of a holding pattern right now. However, we are gearing up for a pay-per-view experience featuring social media influencers fighting and fundraising for charities close to their hearts. Stay tuned!
SHELBY PHOTO BY JIMMY LOVE
Founder and Health Coach, FXS Body Factory
Tell us about your fitness journey. I’m a former ballerina and track and field athlete, which has deeply rooted me in the world of health and fitness for decades. As a young adult launching a professional career as a financial analyst, I knew early on that it wasn’t my calling. In this position, I gained quite a bit of weight from living a sedentary lifestyle, which inspired me to create a weight-loss plan for myself to improve my health. I decided to put my athleticism to use and create my own workouts and diets. I created a simple workout routine that consisted of cardio and abs, along with an extremely simple diet, and the rest was history.
Can you tell us a little more about FXS Body Factory? FXS Body Factory (@fxs_bodyfactory) is northwest Atlanta’s leading women’s boutique fitness studio for creating the optimal feminine physique. Through our exclusive body-changing workouts, customized regimens and guided nutrition, all women are empowered and equipped to improve their health and create their ideal feminine shape.
How do you recover after an intense workout? I typically follow up with a serving of branched-chain amino acids (for muscle recovery) and a 10- to 20-minute sauna stretching session. Post-gym or sauna, I refuel my body and muscles with a balanced meal that consists of complex carbs and proteins according to my macronutrients.
What’s your approach to nutrition? My approach to nutrition starts with simply keeping health the priority. Incorporating foods that cater to your internal health is often reflected in your physical health, which leads to great fitness results. While living in L.A., I did intense research and hands-on teaching. That experience helped me develop my various meal plans and allowed me to both receive and provide some of the best feminine fitness results in Atlanta and across other areas in the U.S.
RACHAEL PHOTO BY PHAEDRA W PHOTOGRAPHY
Tell us about your fitness journey. Becoming healthy, in my experience, has to become an everyday mindset. It starts with the words we speak over our lives, the thoughts we carry around with us daily and the actions we take toward the intentional life we want to live.
What is your preferred method of training and why? Strength training, hands down! Give me a solid CrossFit class or an intense spin instructor and you’ve made my day. But I also treasure solitude and mental challenges—such as Stone Mountain on a hot summer day—three times over. I love a good challenge.
How do you rest and recharge? I typically love long walks or a yoga class on my rest days. These help to get my muscles warmed up and my blood flowing. About 4 to 8 miles of a steady pace on the BeltLine or through Chastain Park is perfect. The key ingredient, though, is sleep! Six to 10 hours of sleep every night makes me feel accomplished and set to stay focused.
What is your most valuable piece of wellness wisdom?
The sooner you embrace all that you are, the sooner you’ll be able to find gratitude in all that you are capable of and in the process it takes. It’s not the result but the journey along the way that is actually worth the risk of achieving the unattainable.
Most underrated exercise move? Burpees!
How do you keep your mind as strong as your body? Fitness has become a life-changing mindset and application that has allowed me to thrive in every other area of my life. I often get asked if I am a trainer or a fitness competitor, and my response is that I work out to maintain my sanity and balance! I believe in that wholeheartedly. For me, fitness has brought discipline into all aspects of my world. It has also inspired and motivated me to never stop at one level, but to continuously seek to become the better version of myself in every way possible.
LAUREN PHOTO BY HANNAH LOZANO PHOTO
Lifestyle Blogger and Certified Personal Trainer
Tell us about your fitness journey. My fitness journey started in 2018. I was a few years into my recovery from an eating disorder and going through a ‘break’ with my now fiance. At this particular time in my life, I was the unhealthiest I had ever been physically, mentally and emotionally. I decided to hire a trainer to help with the physical side of things and took myself on a few trips. This kick-started my journey and I soon developed a passion for empowering other women to put their health first and to prioritize self-love and self-acceptance.
What are your at-home workout must-haves? If I could recommend one piece of at-home workout equipment it would be—surprise—your body. You can get in a truly effective workout by simply putting that amazing body of yours to work.
What is your most valuable piece of wellness wisdom? Wellness is about so much more than just fitness and nutrition. It’s about everything from how you feel about yourself to how much water you’re drinking every day. The moment I realized that my well-being and my wellness journey went well beyond weight loss was the moment I became the healthiest version of myself.
What’s your approach to nutrition? In simple terms: Eat the doughnut, girl. Restricting your favorite foods only leads to developing an unhealthy relationship with food. We tend to overcomplicate nutrition. Unless your doctor prescribes a certain diet or directs you to avoid certain foods for health reasons, there’s no need to overly restrict yourself.
A healthy mind is the key to a healthy body. True or false? True. It took me a while to finally realize that no matter how my body looked, I wouldn’t be happy with it until I worked on my mental and emotional health. Now, because I put in the work to heal my mind, I don’t care what my physical appearance is. I love my body in all its forms, and I love the woman I am regardless of what the scale or the tag on my jeans say.
PHOTO BY COLLEEN WALTER
Instructor, Barry’s; Personal Trainer
Tell us about your fitness journey. Fitness has always been a passion of mine, being that I was a former collegiate athlete. Unlike most, my favorite part about being an athlete was the team workouts. I’ve always loved the process of challenging oneself to get faster, stronger and better.
Why are people so hooked on Barry’s? Clients love Barry’s (@barrys) because of the community challenge it brings. No matter what your fitness level is, you’re guaranteed to come in and sweat and work your ass off in a safe environment while also having fun. It’s a combination of cardio and floor work specifically designed by the instructor. The motivational music makes it the ultimate red room party.
How do you recover and recharge after an intense workout? The No. 1 way I recover and recharge from an intense workout is by replenishing myself with Defiance Fuel (@defiancefuel) water. I also take the necessary recovery precautions such as sweating it out in Perspire Sauna Studio (@perspiresaunastudio) and also going to my favorite chiropractors, the Taylor Docs (@thetaylordocs).
What is the best piece of fitness advice you’ve ever received? The best piece of fitness advice I’ve ever received was to fall in love with the process, not the destination. This speaks volumes to me. You have to focus on now and not get too ahead of yourself because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
How did you pivot during the pandemic? The pandemic challenged me to pivot from having a class of 53 people to motivating people in front of my laptop in the living room of my apartment. It was definitely a challenge, but one that I was willing to take on.
What is your approach to nutrition? My approach to nutrition is simple. I believe that abs are made in the kitchen. Diet is everything. We train our abs and do exercises to help sculpt them, but if you don’t have the right meal plan, then it is going to make it harder to reach your goals. I recommend Change WiTHIN Meals (@changewithinmeals).
PHOTO BY JUSTIN PATTERSON
Fitness Instructor, AKT
Tell us about your fitness journey. How did you become involved in Atlanta’s fitness industry? I became a part of Atlanta’s fitness industry by way of the dance world. I recently moved to Atlanta this summer from New York, where I have danced professionally for 10 years. As I was bike riding on the BeltLine, I saw there was a new AKT (@theaktinmanpark) studio opening. I sent in an audition tape and joined the team in September 2020! I had professional dancer friends who taught at the studios in NYC, and I knew the workouts were incredible. I have a BFA in dance, RYT yoga certification and I am a half-marathon runner.
Can you tell us a little more about AKT? AKT is a dance-based cardio concept offering a unique combination of four modalities: dance, bands, circuit and tone. With new original programming created every three weeks—and the belief that movement has a powerful, lasting impact—AKT is for all body types and fitness levels. With our carefully curated playlists, high-energy music, disco ball bumping and supportive community, you will instantly feel welcome at AKT.
What is the most underrated piece of exercise equipment? A piece of equipment that always delivers a great workout is the resistance band. It can give an incredible full-body workout while taking up very little space.
How do you recover or recharge after an intense workout? Hydration, rest and restorative yoga practice. I typically drink coconut water on my long days at the studio. On days at home, I always do a long yoga class and I give extra attention to my feet and calves. My Theragun and muscle rub combo has also become a necessity after two-class days.
Photography by: in captions