Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome back to our Hottest Trainer competition: our search for NYC's most talented fitness instructor! Over the next two weeks we'll be profiling 16 of the city's top workout pros before you get to vote for your favorites.
Lots of people describe working out as a stress reliever, but for Seth Maynard of Swerve Fitness, it was an outlet to a whole new life. "I started my fitness journey back in 2013 after a string of terrible hate crimes, one involving a young gay man who was shot in the West Village," the 28-year-old from Eldred, PA ("It's a town of 600 people in the middle of nowhere") explained to Racked. "After hearing this news, I decided I really wanted to learn how to throw punch and defend myself, so I signed up for kickboxing classes."
Within a few weeks, he ditched his "thankless" job in jewelry and design and became an instructor and eventually an assistant manager at the studio, calling fitness "an incredible change of pace." It was a recent class with Jason Tran that brought Maynard to Swerve—"I immediately fell in love," he said of the class—and has since added Shadowbox and Barry's Bootcamp to his teaching repertoire, too.
"I've become a better version of myself, and I want to share that with people in class," said the Hell's Kitchen resident, who can be found at home with a bottle of wine watching Family Guy or working out on the West Side Highway when he's not under the cycling studio's spotlight. "I've seen a change in how I view life and relationships. I want to help people become more confident and to feel proud of who they are.I know I've found my calling, and I could not be more excited to be doing what I do." Read on to learn more about Maynard's gym personality, his most inspiring student, and the hilarious dish he doesn't want you to know he despises.
Describe your training style: Are you a drill sergeant? More laid-back?
I'm a bit of both: I'm upbeat and excited to lead each class, but if you came in thinking this was going to be easy, think again! You can take a break when you need it, but being lazy is for your sofa at home. If you want me to go easy, meet me at 3am with some tequila shots.
What's the biggest misconception about being a trainer?
That it's not a full time job—it absolutely is. I work hard every day, but I love waking up every morning, even if it is at 5:40am.
If I weren't a fitness instructor, I'd be...
A pop star! If only I could sing...
Can you share a moment with a student that was truly inspiring?
There was a guy who started coming to my classes who was in a rough patch in life: He had battled cancer, struggled with his weight, and was having a hard time being gay. I didn't know about his struggles until he wrote my boss a letter, telling him the story about his life and how he became motivated again because I told him I believed in him. I cried when I read the letter, and I still do every time I look at it. His transformation was incredible, and he is truly an inspiration and an amazing person that I now call a friend.
Besides your own studio, whose classes do you love?
I love classes with Dyan Tsiumis, Jason Tran and Emily Harris at The Fhitting Room.
What's the hardest thing about what you do?
It's hard to not be offended when people are blatantly rude or causing a distraction in class. I know everyone has busy lives, but your workout is for you—it's time to disconnect. I wouldn't answer my phone or text my BFF about some cute guy while I was in a meeting with you, so I can't understand why people do that in class. Not only is it rude to the instructor, but it's distracting to the other 30 or 40 other people in class.
What's your relationship status?
What's your favorite cheat meal?
Frozen margaritas with anything!
Reveal something that even your most dedicated students don't know about you.
I hate salads...shh, don't tell anyone!
What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?
To have fun and just listen, because I will let you know exactly what you need to do.