Stay Active, New York: 27 Awesome Personal Trainers in the City
A good personal trainer can help you achieve your health and fitness goals more quickly, more easily and more effectively than going it alone.
For the millions of people nationwide who struggle to get into a fitness routine, a personal trainer can also be there to hold you accountable when you might want to excuse yourself from a workout, and a personal trainer can create a custom workout that is right for you from day one—no wasting time with unhelpful exercises.
So, with sweater weather just around the corner, we thought it would be a good idea to give New Yorkers a nudge in the right direction. Don’t add hibernation weight this fall and try to hide it under a layer of merino wool. Instead, get in touch with one of the 27 personal trainers below, and make a commitment to staying in shape and feeling good.
Gary Alston and Adam Shuty @ Atomic Total Fitness, Midtown
Gary and Adam are both lifetime athletes; Gary began lifting 5-pound weights at the age of 11, and Adam has been working as a professional trainer (among other things — he has an engineering degree and does improv) for a decade.
Jeff Halevy, Midtown
Owner of the gym Havley Life, Jeff Havley almost died at age 14 from a tumor, then thereafter struggled with weight issues. He says he found a renewed sense of purpose after he got into fitness, and now he tries to work “miracles,” as he calls them, on clients every day.
You might already recognize Jeff from his participation in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity.
Jennifer Searles, Chelsea
Jennifer Searles is an IFBB Figure competitor who has consecutive Top 10 finishes at the IFBB Figure Olympia competition, she has six different fitness certifications, and 20 years experience as a personal trainer. Her personal training studio, The Works, specializes in Body Transformation, focusing on everything from eating better to losing weight to sculpting muscle.
Jennifer Nyp, SoHo
Jennifer Nyp has been a personal trainer for 13 years, a yoga instructor for 12 years and a pilates instructor for 10 years. A lifetime athlete, she brings enthusiasm and expertise to her studio, ZenGirl Fitness.
Joel Thomas, Financial district
Joel Thomas’ boutique gym, Just Train, focuses on personal training and semi-private workouts. He personally draws upon his own experiences as an educator in the medical field — plus eight different certifications—to help clients in a wide variety of programs.
Krisina Crequé, Harlem
“I like to confuse the muscles,” Krisina Crequé says. “The body must be shocked for participants to get the results they want.” Krisina just moved back to New York recently after a stint as a group fitness director at a corporate facility in Silicon Valley. She leads group fitness classes in Brooklyn and takes on private clients at her studio in Harlem.
Rich Barretta, Flatiron
Rich Barretta, Mr. American 1987, is the lead trainer at the gym that bears his name beside the Flatiron Building. Among Rich’s clients are Liev Schreiber, who had to get fit for his role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash.
Whitney Williams @ Naturally Intense, Flatiron
Whitney Williams has more than 20 years’ experience in fitness and bodybuilding. Her specialties include boxing, agility training and high-intensity interval training. It’s not hype when her bio says, “Whitney helps her clients expand and push through their physical limits during every session.”
Alexandra Torres-Ventura @ The Club of Riverside, Riverdale
Alexandra Torres-Ventura is a relative newcomer to The Club of Riverside, joining the team in 2013, but she brings with her a lifelong love of dance that translated into a passion for pilates. She has a 600-hour pilates apparatus certification and trains clients both at the club and at a few other locations in the city.
Angel Perez, Throggs Neck
Clients at Angel Perez’s High Definition Training all seem to come back to the same idea: His focus. This focus is the backbone of his training system, which is designed to first learn everything about each client’s goals and needs, and then devise a workout program tailored just to them.
Butch Nieves, East Bronx
Butch Nieves is the second Mr. America on this list, and he brings to his gym nearly three decades of experience as a personal trainer. For the super-motivated, his gym holds boot camps on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6 a.m.
John Gonzalez @ Temple Fitness, Throggs Neck
John Gonzalez is the founder of Temple Fitness, with more than 15 years’ experience in personal training, and playing and coaching baseball and basketball. John has six different certifications and also currently studies mixed martial arts.
Dan Salazar @ Krank Systems, Downtown Brooklyn
The foundation of Dan Salazar’s training at his Krank Systems gym is his ability to simply connect with other people. This empathy and this care he demonstrates translates into more informed training and more motivated students.
Dani Tsukerman @ Very Personal Training, South Slope
Dani Tsukerman’s studio, Very Personal Training, is the literal phrasing of what her team of four does. The studio has on staff a second personal trainer (Tali), a nutritionist (Rachel) and a yoga instructor (Leslie), who all work together to deliver a holistic approach to both fitness and wellness.
Elizabeth Pongo @ Pongo Power, Park Slope
Elizabeth Pongo’s gym emphasizes education and attention to detail because she believes that exercise is its own medicine, i.e. fitness is a means to an end — feeling good. Elizabeth, or Erzsi, is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and past clients tend to rave about their experiences at her gym.
Larry Betz, Williamsburg
Larry Betz is a lifelong athlete, former gymnast and third-degree black belt in Japanese ju-jitsu; he also holds more than 20 different certifications in fitness, health and personal training. Larry founded his gym in Williamsburg as a home for his training, and he also has on staff two other very experienced trainers in Paul Kostas and Mike Camarra.
Ari Harris, Forest Hills
“Ari Harris may not be the nicest group fitness instructor you’ve come across,” reads the website for Ari’s gym, Pharaoh’s Army Fitness. Ari is also one of the country’s top kettlebell instructors and has more than 13 years of experience in personal training. He’s a sure bet if you need an intense workout.
Jeff Meran @ Title Boxing Club, Forest Hills
Jeff Meran is a Queens native who took up boxing six years ago after maxing out at 240 pounds (not muscle weight). Boxing helped Jeff attain the fitness levels he never previously could, and now he is a certified boxing and kickboxing instructor. For anyone starting at square one, it could be useful to have a trainer who has been in your position and climbed that mountain himself.
Richard Berle, Fresh Meadows and Forest Hills
Richard Berle opened the first personal training center on Long Island back in 1986, and now he is closing in on three decades of personal training experience. Berle says he maintains his physique today with a couple of short, intense weekly workouts (only about 15 minutes each) and a paleo diet.
Sonia Rodriguez @ Urban Jungle, Woodside
Sonia Rodriguez has been practicing martial arts since she was 12 years old, and she holds high ranks in tae kwon do and a black belt in judo ju-jitsu. She’s also been training in CrossFit and has taken and passed her L-1 Trainer. She trains clients in Bootcamps, Kickboxing, and CrossFit at Urban Jungle.
Samantha LaPella @ Believe Fitness, Grant City
Samantha LaPella is the founder of Believe Fitness, a gym designed for women’s fitness. She herself has a degree in health, wellness and nutrition, and she is a certified instructor in spinning, kickboxing, tabata, Cross Core, among many more fitness disciplines.
Tony Capraro @ Without Limits, Bullshead
Tony Capraro is a sensei and fourth-degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate. He is also a certified personal trainer and works with clients based on a training regiment he has developed over the past decade, and he also teaches boxing.
Available For In-Home Training
Mike Giliotti is actually the owner of Dolphin Fitness Staten Island, but he makes himself available for in-home training occasionally. In his 10-year career as a personal trainer, Mike has earned six different certifications and opened four gym locations in the city.
Doug Joachim has a degree in exercise science, seven different certifications and more than 17 years of experience as a personal trainer. As a bonus, he also offers golf coaching in which he analyzes the kinetics of your game to take it to another level.
Jason Keigher is not a lifelong athlete, unlike many personal trainers. Instead, he found himself overweight and out of shape at the age of 20, so he decided to do something about it: “ hired a personal trainer to come to my house and help me get in shape (I was too embarrassed to go to the gym),” he writes. Nineteen years and 10 certifications later, Jason teaches everything from kettlebell workouts to postpartum fitness.
Mark Darco, a Brooklyn native, has been a personal trainer for 16 years, and beyond just personal training services, he also teaches boxing and TRX suspension, which was developed for soldiers to stay fit in situations where having exercise equipment around was impractical.
Photo by Cesar Galeão from Pexels