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San Diego’s top trainers

They’re notorious for yelling drills, making your muscles so sore that they shake and having you two seconds away from cursing … loudly. But they also encourage generously, aid in achieving lifelong goals and ultimately, save lives with their all-in workouts. These trainers, the most popular in San Diego, keep the city sweating in style. […]

They’re notorious for yelling drills, making your muscles so sore that they shake and having you two seconds away from cursing … loudly. But they also encourage generously, aid in achieving lifelong goals and ultimately, save lives with their all-in workouts. These trainers, the most popular in San Diego, keep the city sweating in style.

Meet 11 of the best trainers in San Diego and get to know their fitness philosophies and workout secrets.

Name: Taylor Merritt

Taylor Merritt, TITLE Boxing Club Courtesy photo

Taylor Merritt, TITLE Boxing Club
Courtesy photo

Gym affiliation: TITLE Boxing Club North Park

Years training: 3 years

How did you get started in personal training? During an internship in college, a mentor of mine told me I should get certified as a personal trainer because it complements well with my degree and working in the wellness field.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? I teach boxing and kickboxing at TITLE, do personal training and offer nutrition services.

Best part of the job? The best part of my job is getting to know so many amazing people and watch them reach goals they thought were too difficult to obtain. There is no better feeling than seeing someone transform their life.

Finish this sentence: I get the best workout when … I work out with other people.

Your workout philosophy in three words: You got this!

How can new clients find you? You can follow me on Instagram @Taylored_Fitness4 to get a glimpse into my fitness journey and email me at TaylorLMerritt@gmail.com.

Name: Abe Al-Baba

Abe Al-Baba, FIT Athletic Downtown Courtesy photo

Abe Al-Baba, FIT Athletic Downtown
Courtesy photo

Gym affiliation: FIT Athletic Downtown

Years training: 7 years

How did you get started in personal training? Sports! I played football, wrestling and lacrosse all four years in high school. I had to strength and condition all the time. This led me in choosing my major in exercise physiology.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? I try to train every population possible. My specialty is professional athlete training. I am always learning more and lately have completed five certifications on neurology. It has given me the proper knowledge to work with anyone from high school students to elderly special cases (fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, etc.) and rehabilitation of professional athletes. All my services are complete with “brain drills” to decrease stress, overall guidance on how to make a healthy lifestyle change, Muay Thai/kickboxing, jump training, agility and an individualized exercise and nutritional program.

Best part of the job? Changing lives positively while seeing how amazing humans can perform. Being able to assist in that transformation wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt is a true gift.

Finish this sentence: I get the best workout when … I’m well rested, eat an apple and peanut butter as a pre-workout snack, and most importantly, listen to gangster rap.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? Write down your goals, you are nine times more likely to achieve them! Most importantly, make them short-term and reasonably achievable goals. If you do not, you may get discouraged. The key to making a change is completing baby steps in a positive direction, frequency and an overall lifestyle change should be the long-term goal.

Favorite place to sweat it out in San Diego? The absolute best gym to sweat it out in San Diego is none other than, Fit Athletic Downtown. I feed off the positive energy. I will say, for a change of pace, I love agility, explosive work and kettle bell training on the beach with an old school boom box.

How can new clients find you? abe@fitathletic.com or fitathletic.com

Name: Leah Francis

Leah Francis, Leah Francis Fitness — © Nancee E. Lewis / Nancee Lewis Photography

Leah Francis, Leah Francis Fitness
— © Nancee E. Lewis / Nancee Lewis Photography

Training name: Leah Francis Fitness

Years training: 12 years

How did you get started in personal training? Years of playing soccer and running marathons finally took its toll on my body in 2011. I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis and had a total hip replacement at age 33. Living with chronic pain for over two years forced me to make some major modifications in my career and active lifestyle. I started swimming, doing yoga and studying nutrition to stay fit, happy and balanced. By the summer of 2013, I got into the best shape of my life and was ready for the next challenge … pregnancy!

What sorts of training/services do you offer? I offer one-on-one and small group coaching for expecting, new and busy moms. Using the beautiful, natural landscape of San Diego, my holistic approach to personal wellness emphasizes balance, which includes pre/post-natal yoga, strength-training, Pilates, boxing, TRX and nutritional counseling.

Finish this sentence: I get the best workout when … I’m outside listening to my favorite old-school hip hop playlist.

Quickest exercise to get someone’s heart rate pumping? Anything using my battle ropes.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? Strength in numbers. Find a workout buddy for support and accountability.

Guilty pleasures? Extra dark chocolate and Netflix.

How can new clients find you? leahfrancisfitness@gmail.com or on Instagram at @zenmamasd.


Name: Ali Crosbie

Ali Crosbie, Crunch El Cajon Courtesy photo

Ali Crosbie, Crunch El Cajon
Courtesy photo

Gym affiliation: Crunch El Cajon

Years training: 12 years

How did you get started in personal training? I graduated with a degree in kinesiology from the University of Washington, moved to Hawaii and started training as a second job on the Big Island, then got a great opportunity at a gym in Auburn, Washington to train UFC fighters, professional boxers and former Biggest Loser contestants.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? I offer one-on-one training, CAMP CRUNCH small group training sessions, strength and conditioning, athletic performance enhancement, MMA and boxing training, boot-camps, lifestyle coaching, nutrition coaching, and most importantly, motivation.

Best part of the job? Changing and saving lives! I love to see people’s reaction once they feel the changes, see the changes and BECOME the changes. It’s that reaction that makes it ALL worth it.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? Remember that this is a lifestyle change and that it took a long time to put the weight on, give it some time to come off. Stay focused.

Guilty pleasure? Snicker-doodle cookies.

How can new clients find you? Ask for Ali Crosbie at the personal training desk at Crunch El Cajon or call the club at (619) 749-6939. CrunchElCajon.com

Name: Ashley Yandle

Ashley Yandle, Ashley Lane Fitness Courtesy photo

Ashley Yandle, Ashley Lane Fitness
Courtesy photo

Training name: Ashley Lane Fitness

Years training: 3 years

How did you get started in personal training? I worked in the corporate world as a sales manager for six years until I decided to quit my job and pursue my passion. I have always loved coaching people and helping them achieve goals they did not think they could achieve on their own. Personal training encompasses my love for coaching and my love for healthy and fitness.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? Ashley Lane Fitness offers one-on-one and small group personal training, indoor cycling classes, as well as group fitness classes (HITT This!, Yoga, Skinny Jeans, Hustle and Flow, Soar, Rock Hard, Start Me Up, etc.).

Best part of the job? The best part of my job is helping clients achieve a goal they set for themselves that they did not think was feasible. When people reach goals they deemed unattainable it expands their range of what is possible for them.

Quickest exercise to get someone’s heart rate pumping? Burpees.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? Write out your resolutions and the steps you are doing to take daily to make those changes in your life. Let the people around you know these are your goals so you have a support system and accountability.

Your workout philosophy in three words: Passion. Drive. Energy.

How can new clients find you? ashleylanefitness.com

Name: Chris Keith

Chris Keith, San Diego Personal Trainer — © Nancee E. Lewis / Nancee Lewis Photography

Chris Keith, San Diego Personal Trainer
— © Nancee E. Lewis / Nancee Lewis Photography

Training name: Chris Keith, San Diego Personal Trainer

Years training: 21+ years

How did you get started in personal training? I was stationed in Seattle, Washington with The U.S. Navy and had a close friend who was doing it professionally introduce me to this great career. After being honorably discharged in 1994, I started working for a very large company doing personal training here in San Diego. I worked with them for many years and learned a lot before my clients started encouraging me to go independent and start my own personal training business in 2001. I now own two health clubs here in San Diego and could not be happier with my career path.

Finish this sentence: I get the best workout when … I am properly hydrated and have consumed an abundance of carbohydrates.

Quickest exercise to get someone’s heart rate pumping? Burpees, box jumps and wall balls for sure.

Favorite place to sweat it out in San Diego? The Coronado Bridge Run in May or the End of Summer Fire Run in August.

Your workout philosophy in three words: Squat every day.

How can new clients find you? SDPersonalTrainer.com

Name: Viktoria Brautigam

Viktoria Brautigam, FIT Athletic Carmel Mountain Ranch Courtesy photo

Viktoria Brautigam, FIT Athletic Carmel Mountain Ranch
Courtesy photo

Gym affiliation: FIT Athletic Carmel Mountain Ranch

Years training: 11 years

How did you get started in personal training? While studying exercise science as an undergrad, personal training gave me the opportunity to apply what I learned in the classroom to the real world.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? Individual personal training, semiprivate (2-3) training and small group (4-8) training.

Best part of the job? Seeing the transformation of increased coordination and athleticism as my clients learn and master new exercises.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? Plan your week out in advance. After deciding how many days/week you’ll exercise, schedule your workouts at times and days that will be most convenient for you. This way, there will be less obstacles to overcome and you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.

Favorite place to sweat it out in San Diego? Hikes, bikes and runs in Mission Trails.

Your workout philosophy in three words: Function, form, fun.

How can new clients find you? viktoria@fitathletic.com or fitathletic.com

Names: David Sten and Christopher Daly

David Sten and Christopher Daly, S10 Fitness Courtesy photos

David Sten and Christopher Daly, S10 Fitness
Courtesy photos

Gym affiliation: S10 Fitness

Years training: Dave – 11; Chris – 9

What sorts of training/services do you offer? Our facility is a full-service personal training experience. We have a range of experience in injury rehabilitation, corrective exercise, weight management, all the way through competitive strength sports such as powerlifting, and competitive strongman/woman.

Best part of the job? We find the best part of the job is becoming part of each and every client’s personal life, sharing success and failures, listening, and coaching them through any issue, whether it burns calories or not.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? Dream big, aim small. Realize the habits you may be trying to break weren’t formed in 30 days. Seek like-minded individuals to support your new habits. Also, don’t adopt the “I will start over on Monday” mindset. If you have a relapse with unhealthy food or skip the gym, just get back on track right away.

Favorite place to sweat it out in San Diego? S10 Fitness, obviously.

Any guilty pleasures? Any trainer will admit to being highly hypocritical with their dietary suggestions, and if you can’t order a burrito in San Diego because it doesn’t fit into your macros … then the definition of fit and healthy is lost.

How can new clients find you? We are available for contact via our website S10fitness.com, and have an extensive trainer bio section for perspective new clients to research from.

Name: Brian Mahon

Brian Mahon, FIT Athletic Solana Beach Courtesy photo

Brian Mahon, FIT Athletic Solana Beach
Courtesy photo

Gym affiliation: FIT Athletic Solana Beach

Years training: 17 years

How did you get started in personal training? I started right out of high school. I then realized that this is a great career choice for me and pursued my bachelor’s of science kinesiology-pre therapy degree from San Diego State University. I became a full-time trainer then.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? My training/services are not limited. My training services are everything from elderly, youth, athlete, bodybuilder, post-rehab, boxing, stretch, etc.

Best part of the job? The best part of the job is I get to not be in an office. I get to meet new people every day. The No. 1 part of the job is when clients actually realize that they CAN do what they want, if their goals are set up correctly.

Any tips for keeping 2016 fitness resolutions? It’s important to avoid the hype associated with articles and workouts that tour things like “Get the best abs with these 13 sexiest exercises for this summer.” All exercises will get you there, and its best to mix up your routine. There is no best exercise, one best workout, or one best diet for anything; but variety and frequency that will get you in shape quick.

Favorite place to sweat it out in San Diego? Running the trails at Torrey Pines State Beach is my absolute favorite place to run and get a great sweat. Also, Fit Athletic Solana Beach with all the new state-of-the-art equipment.

How can new clients find you? bmahon.fit@gmail.com and fitathletic.com

Name: Bo Khamphanthong

Bo Khamphanthong, Crunch Vista Courtesy photo

Bo Khamphanthong, Crunch Vista
Courtesy photo

Gym affiliation: Crunch Vista

Years training: 1 year

How did you get started in personal training? I started to get serious about weight-training about five years ago. I hired a personal trainer and his knowledge and passion motivated me to pursue a career in fitness. During my senior year at San Diego State University, I studied and became a nationally certified personal trainer.

What sorts of training/services do you offer? I offer one-on-one personal training for anyone that has a drive to change their lives and their health. My programs include weight loss, corrective exercise, sports-specific training, and balance and functional training. I am an instructor for our CAMP CRUNCH small group personal training curriculum here at Crunch Fitness and also teach several Crunch Class-ic Classes.

Best part of the job? I love seeing the gratification on my clients’ faces when they see the results that they have been working hard for. Hearing things like, “I’ve never felt this good in years,” “The pain in my knees has gone away” or “I’m able to keep up with my grandchildren for the first time,“ makes me love my job.

Favorite place to sweat it out in San Diego? When I’m not at Crunch Vista, I love hiking at Lake Poway’s Mount Woodson.

Your workout philosophy in three words: Quality over quantity

How can new clients find you? Ask for Bo Khamphanthong at the personal training desk at Crunch Vista or call the club at (760) 477-4000. CrunchVista.com

Source: DiscoverSD

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