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Have you been wondering what Racked's Hottest Trainers have been up to this year? Same. We tapped the class of 2015 — which includes master instructors from the likes of Soulcycle, New York Sports Club, Tone House, and SLT — to give us a review of their year in health, including favorite new discoveries and highlights relating to both body and mind. Need a refresher on what makes each of these trainers so awesome? Click on their names to see their profiles from our summer contest.
What was your favorite healthy discovery in 2015?
Akin Akman, Soulcycle (left): "I started using glycolic exfoliating facial wipes after every class. They're super convenient, since I'm constantly on the go in between classes."
Amanda Butler, The Fhitting Room: "My favorite healthy discovery for 2015 would have to be my oatmeal energy balls. They are super simple to make and I take them with me everywhere! They save me on days that I am running around the city from client to client or in between classes."
Shayne Cureton, Tone House: "This year, I learned how important yoga is for not just flexibility, but also for controlling your breathing and blood circulation."
Amira Lamb, New York Sports Club: "I have three favorites. I'm a huge fan of self-myofascial release tools, and while presenting at the DC Mania for fitness professionals. I discovered the KnotOut roller — it's incredible. My second favorite healthy discovery is IDLife Nutrition, where I get vitamins customized to specifically fit my needs. Eating Evolved Primal dark chocolate is my third favorite healthy discovery, since it's paleo and vegan-friendly."
Rachel Nicks, BFX Studio (left): "One of my favorite discoveries of 2015 is the fact that a little bit of Kettlebells and advanced TRX training (which you can get at BFX Studio!) can go a long way in showing that strong is the real healthy, especially in photos. In addition to being a lead instructor at BFX and a Nike trainer, fitness modeling keeps me on the go, and to prepare for shoots, I throw more of that training into my plan."
Samantha Skolkin, Kore New York: "My favorite healthy discovery in 2015 was cooking and baking with cauliflower! I'm not kidding — you can use cauliflower in so many different, creative ways to really turn a boring dish into something amazing. I actually want to put an e-book together with all of my recipes that I created using cauliflower. I am a very clean eater and I have cravings for sweets from time to time, so what I have done is come up with tasty protein dessert recipes using cauliflower as a base to satisfy my sweet tooth and help me stay on track. Trust me, you can't taste it!"
Francesca Valarezo, SLT (above): "My favorite healthy discovery was going on a yoga/meditation retreat for my first time. In a retreat, not only do you meet new people that you would probably never meet otherwise, but you also learn the art of "not doing" and "un-doing," so you learn to be alone and to cherish nature. It's an amazing way to reset, heal and have fun! I also discovered using Maca and Lucuma powders on my smoothies! They are delish and both superfoods."
Danny Zapata, CityRow: "I've had a few discoveries this year. With the boom of boutique fitness and my move from uptown to downtown Manhattan, I've discovered so many new forms of exercise and different ways to approach them — indoor treadmill and boxing classes have been among these discoveries. Product-wise, I moved away from pre-workout stimulants with too many chemicals in them and try to stay with Eboost — it's a more natural approach."
What was your best fitness and/or non-fitness accomplishment in 2015?
Akin: "My favorite fitness accomplishment of 2015 was training and encouraging my younger brother to become a Soulcycle instructor and a stronger athlete. It's great because we regularly train together and build each other up to push our limits. In the non-fitness category of accomplishments, I'm proud of being featured in the DKNY and Tommy Hilfiger campaigns with Abbey Lee and Rafael Nadal."
Robin: "In fitness, I completed my first 100-mile bike race with Gran Fondo. Outside of fitness, I finished my book! It's slated for release next year."
Amanda (left): "My best fitness achievement of 2015 would definitely have to be doing ten pull ups on my own. My husband has been a great help in helping me achieve this by keeping me accountable and pushing me."
Shayne (above): "Being nominated for Racked's Hottest Trainer! Also, moving into the type of apartment I've wanted to have for the past two years."
Sadie: "In fitness, I began weight training more consistently. Pilates, SLT, weight lifting — it's all helped keep my core and glutes especially strong, which are really important to keep up with all the high-energy, high-impact movements at ((305)). In non-fitness, the business is expanding a ton! We had sold-out pop-up classes this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Boston, and even Berlin! We're opening another studio in midtown this January and I'm thrilled to show that to my New York peeps!"
Amira (right): "I loved finishing 2015 off with a bang by creating New York Sports Clubs' "Star Wars: Awaken Your Inner Force" workout in partnership in collaboration with Disney/Lucasfilm. It's pretty awesome to play some part in the excitement over one of the biggest movies of all time! It's free for anyone who wants to try it and runs through the end of January 2016, so I already have some good Yoda-like karma on my side heading into the New Year! (Find times and locations here.)
"One of my non-fitness accomplishments in 2015 has been helping my parents with their non-profit business, The Institute of Black Invention and Technology. Through educational exhibits and presentations, the goal is to inspire children to pursue career paths in the sciences, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. My other non-fitness accomplishment was paying off all of my credit cards!"
Rachel: "One of my top fitness accomplishments of the year was being named one of the top female trainers in the country by Women's Health magazine. It was a major blast to be on the cover as one of its Next Fitness Star competitors. Around that same time, I was named one of Racked's Hottest Trainers, and continued to hit some key professional benchmarks after lots of hard work. It's really been incredible, and I'm so proud of the fitness community I'm a part of. In the spirit of all of that, I love that BFX Studio is wrapping up the year by spreading the same kind of joy with #12DaysOfFitness celebrations leading up to Christmas. Anyone who shows up for regular class has the chance to win prizes, giveaways and more just by booking and attending a class!
"Outside of fitness, I always make travel a priority. This year, I made it everywhere from regular hometown visits in Oakland, CA for charitable work and to be with family to hanging out with the wildlife and kickboxing in Thailand! It also seems like I've been a commuter in and out of Mexico this year, between weddings and traveling there to help play a role in making health and wellness a global priority through my work with Nike."
Samantha (above): "My best fitness-related accomplishment in 2015 was placing third in NPC National Championships in Miami, making me the runner up to the IFBB Pro league. I am extremely proud of my placing because that show had the best physiques from all over the country, and being third is a major accomplishment. The amount of dedication and hard work it takes to prep for a show is incredible — I am using my placing as major motivation for the 2016 season and get ready to crush it."
Francesca: "In fitness, obviously being nominated as Racked's Hottest Trainers of 2015! It was an honor and a boost of confidence and motivation. Something non-fitness was getting over someone that wasted my time and energy and consistently brought me down. Be very aware of negativity surrounding you — it really affects every aspect of your being."
Danny (left): "For fitness-related accomplishments, efficiency has become the name of the game. Rather than taking two or three classes a day (for myself, not teaching them), I do just one and really focus on crushing it, giving one million percent every single second rather than holding back because "I still have yoga/Pilates after." That's just silly — this year, I've found a happy balance, and my body is happier as well.
"I also found a happy balance with my career and personal life. I see my friends and have social time, but if I need a rest, I'm not going to force myself to go out just because it's Friday! I've also learned how to say "no," as simple as that sounds. I think we often resist saying "no" in fear of missing out on experiences. We're not machines — I've learned that it's okay to be selfish and take some "me" time, if I think it's necessary."