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Life Fitness seeks ‘Personal Trainers to Watch’

Life Fitness opens nominations for its Personal Trainers to Watch awards program.

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Life Fitness didn’t always enjoy the following among personal trainers that it does now. The introduction of the Synergy 360 functional training product at IHRSA 2012 has made all the difference.

And although the company’s Personal Trainers to Watch awards program is in its third year, the 2013 competition is a bit different. First of all, judges now come from around the world, not just the United States, and, secondly, this year’s finalists will design a small or group personal training session on the Synergy 360.

Winners from the past two years will sit on the panel to choose their successor. Personal trainers can be nominated from June 1 by anyone from clients to co-workers to the specialty fitness retailers, Life Fitness officials said.

“Specialty fitness retailers that we work with are also commercial dealers,” explained Life Fitness President Chris Clawson, “and they have a fairly extensive relationship with personal trainers. They should really go out and nominate the people they feel are most deserving.”

The workouts the finalists design will become part of the Life Fitness Training Academy Program, which the company launched in 1995 to provide education on training, health and wellness for customers.

Winners not only receive recognition in the media, but also earn a $5,000 award. Last year’s winner, Joanne Blackerby, received an elliptical trainer for her Austin, Texas personal training studio, something both her clients and co-workers were excited about, she said.

Blackerby said she started personal training more than 20 years ago because she had a passion for fitness and working with people alike.

“I like to challenge and educate myself to make real changes,” Blackerby said. “I was a group exercise instructor, and then went through the process of being trained as a personal trainer.”

She said winning the Personal Trainer to Watch award gave her visibility and credibility. “That is undeniable,” she said. “It really helped to strengthen the platform for my message on personal training: that it’s about education, community and bettering the lives of people.”

Blackerby likened the Personal Trainer to Watch Award to a Screen Actor’s Guild Award.

“[Life Fitness] has gone beyond a popular fan vote to really having industry peers look at you and give you that sense of credibility,” she said. “It’s huge to get that from your peers.”

Blackerby’s studio is called Spirit Fitness Training, and she and the other trainers there work with about 100 clients. When she found out she’d won the award she was “so floored and moved to tears,” she said. “I’ve worked a long time in this industry and I just couldn’t believe that I would have the support from my peers and industry leaders.”

She said she looks forward to seeing this year’s finalists and the workouts they come up with.

“It’s a competitive industry,” Blackerby said of personal training, which is projected to grow over the next 20 years by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “What Life Fitness has done is raised the bar a notch.”

Life Fitness, Clawson said, wanted to recognize professionals who work hard to help others achieve their goals.

“It’s rare to do something that you really love, that other people love you for doing,” Clawson said. “It’s one of those rare careers where somebody appreciates what you do — and it’s life changing for the people you work with.”

To nominate a personal trainer, visit