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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.
You might not be able to guess just by looking at him, but Matt Nolan is a Broadway baby. The Long Island native (and Mets fan!) has toured the world with productions including Hairspray, Grease, and Rock of Ages, and has done some TV gigs as well. But for his next career move with Barry's Bootcamp, he channeled his athletic childhood filled with soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field. And as it turns out, that combination makes for a perfect instructor here. "When I was introduced to Barry's Bootcamp in 2012, I instantly discovered my passion for fitness," Nolan told Racked. "Becoming a trainer has been the culmination of all my accomplishments, unifying my love for athletics, performing, and inspiring others."
You can find him teaching every type of class—whether it's focusing on arms, core, legs, a combo of two, or full-body—at all three local studios ("Picking a favorite would be like deciding between children, so let's just say I love them all") nearly every day, fitting in training for races like the NYC Half Marathon in between. Nolan's only been teaching at the studio for just under a year, and review titles like "Barry's Finds Another Superstar" and "No BS, Straight Up Amazing" indicate that students hope he sticks around for as long as possible.
Read on to learn more about Nolan, from the mode of transportation he relies on to get him to classes on time from his Astoria home to his motivating trick to getting you through a grueling workout—and coming back for more.
Describe your training style: Are you a drill sergeant? More laid-back?
I am laid back to a degree, but I am all about energy. My hope in every class is that even those who might not initially feel super pumped about working out that day will feed off of what I bring to their class, as well as the others around them. Usually by the end of every class, people are screaming and having a great time.
If we spilled out your gym bag right now, what would we find?
My laptop, extra workout gear, gum, running shoes, a toothbrush, all of my chargers, and my scooter laying on the ground nearby—I never trust the MTA and can never risk missing a class!
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That all fitness people are "crazy" and live these ridiculous perfect lives of eating clean and never missing workouts. We all go through it, we all struggle, and all I ever try to do is share what works for me with my clients and hope things click. We are all in a constant state of discovery and growth as people in this community.
What's your go-to song right now for getting pumped up before or during a workout?
Our Demons (ft. Aja Volkman) by The Glitch Mob. I discovered it while watching one of my favorite shows on HBO, "Hard Knocks." I swear I could run for days—even through brick walls—while that song is pumping!
What would you say is the hardest thing about what you do?
Teaching a Barry's Bootcamp class is teaching two classes at the exact same time! That alone is tough to do, balancing a room of almost 60 people at time. At Barry's, we are part trainer, DJ, motivational speaker, time keeper, and Entertainer—or, as our CEO Joey Gonzalez likes to say, "entertrainer!"
If I weren't a fitness instructor, I'd be...
On stage, singing, acting, and dancing. Yes, I can dance!
What's your favorite cheat meal?
Wings, wings, and when I can't have wings...nope, that never happens.
Where can we find you when you're not working out?
Home in Astoria, where I live with my gorgeous and talented fiancée who is on tour with the Broadway show Matilda (go see it in a city near you!) and our two cats. If I'm not there, I'm at Barry's, Starbucks, or the movies, usually in that order.
What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?
As hard as class may seem or be sometimes, try to find those moments where you surprise yourself. Whether it's doing more reps in a move or adding a few points to your speed during a run, challenge your body and your mind. Ignore the little voice that tells to stop, and amplify the voice that told you to take class in the first place!