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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.
"The minute I walked into Crunch, I knew it was somewhere I wanted to be." That's a bold statement from Lena Marti—or, as some of her clients know her, "The Real Coach Lee." She only just turned 29 yesterday (go wish her a happy birthday!), but she's already got nearly ten years of fitness training under her belt, with time previously logged at Lucille Roberts and Equinox. But she's been on the move—literally—since way before personal training and group fitness classes came into the mix: The Queens native started dancing at the age of eight. "I was following the dancing dream for more than 15 years, then realized that wasn't my path in life." So instead, she followed her other passion—"Since I was a young girl, I always loved to help people, and I was good at it"—and turned to fitness instead.
Since finding Crunch (she also teaches classes at Orangetheory Fitness), "I've wanted to become the best trainer I could be," the Italian-Puerto Rican told Racked. That includes bulking up her resume—not just her physique—with an alphabet soup of certifications ("NASM CPT, CES, PES and WLS"), and setting her sights on one big goal. "I just applied for the NASM Master Trainer program. One of my dreams is to become a master trainer and be able to help thousands of people."
Read on to learn more about the self-described "fireball," from her favorite cheat meal to her surprise first gig that had nothing to do with fitness.
What's your favorite thing to teach?
I love to personal train because I can focus on one person's goals and be able to give him or her the best program and service. The best gift is to be able to have that person reach his or her goals with a smile.
Describe your training style: Are you a drill sergeant? More laid-back?
I am definitely a "fireball," as I call it, but I know when to be a little softer, too. I love to push people to their full potential.
What's your go-to song right now for getting pumped up before or during a workout?
Rihanna's "BBHMM" and Vic Mensa's " U Mad" featuring Kanye West.
Gym style (or athleisure) has totally exploded over the past couple of years. What's your favorite way to rock it?
I love wearing a sports bra, a racer-back baggy t-shirt, and some tight, colorful pants. You'll usually find me in purple, yellow, white, and orange.
If we spilled out your gym bag right now, what would we find?
That's a good question! You would find five containers full of prepped food, a shaker bottle, an iPad for my programs, gym clothes, and my shower bag.
Reveal something that even your most dedicated students don't know about you.
My first job, when I was 14 years old, was working for a magician. I dressed up like a clown sometimes for parties.
What would you say is the hardest thing about what you do?
Motivating people on the days you feel down or tired from over-training or working hard. Having to push yourself on the harder days is difficult, but I am tough and I love what I do, so I always get through it.
Can you share a moment with a student that was truly inspiring?
I had one client who had a bad accident more than 20 years ago that had her overweight and out of shape—she could hardly walk without pain. We started training, and I was able to get her into great shape. Now, she's running races.
If I weren't a fitness instructor, I'd be...
I don't know what I would be! Maybe a dancer?
What's your relationship status?
I am currently taken by the man of my dreams!
What's your favorite outdoor workout spot in the city?
My boyfriend and I love to workout on his rooftop when the weather is beautiful—the view is amazing.
Where can we find you when you're not working out?
Home studying, or occasionally going to dinner. I'm pretty boring!
What's your favorite cheat meal?
I love an amazing crepe with Nutella, bananas, strawberries, and some powdered sugar.
What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?
Don't worry about anyone else—do the best that you can.