Top 40 Fitness Professionals That Will Impact 2012 in a BIG Way

7 Jan 2012 by jmaxfitness, 52 Comments »

There’s no doubt that 2012 is going to be a great year.  Thus far, we’ve survived the Mayan Calendar prediction, but what’s next to be excited about?  This elite top 40 list, duh.  Seriously, the people on this list are changing the way that fitness is done.  They care about helping people get better results in less time, and make themselves accessible to the public to share their kind message.  Without further adieu, let’s start with number 1:

1. Tim Ferriss

Body hacking?  Ya, that’s a synonym for “Tim Ferriss”.  His blog is read by millions, he’s a best selling author, and he’s not afraid to experiment on his body.  Ever heard of The 4-Hour Body?  That’s Tim.  In 2012, his new book, appropriately titled, The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life promises to change the way we cook, eat, and learn.  Get ready 2012.


2. Dr. John Berardi, Nate Green, Krista Scott-Dixon, and the whole Precision Nutrition team

The premise of PN is: life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone.  Judging by talking to former coaching clients, and current PN coaches, I would have to agree.  These guys know their stuff.  PN promises to breakout and expand this year, offering $75,000 in prizes to clients…and we all thought that having a hot body was good enough?  BONUS!


3. Randy Hetrick

AKA “The Man Behind the TRX Suspension Trainer”.  Over the past few years, Randy has grown awareness for the TRX Suspension Trainer to a magnitude he probably couldn’t have ever imagined.  Here’s the scary thing:  he’s only getting started.  Lookout this year as the TRX takes over a gym near you.


4. TC Luoma, Chris Shugart, and T-Nation

When it comes to quality content, the guys at T-Nation always deliver.  They deserve this number 4 spot because they are always an impact.  Whether it’s the average person, or the elite trainer, their site helps people build a stronger, healthier, massive body.  Respect.



5. Alwyn Cosgrove

What do you get when you mix an elite fitness trainer and a wicked Scottish accent?  A wicked Scottish fitness trainer named, Alwyn.  Owner and operator of one of the highest grossing fitness businesses in America (and one that actual gets their clients’ results), AC is your go-to fitness guy.  Add in the titles:  Best Selling Author, Business Mentor, and Taekwondo master, and you have a sure spot at number 5.


6. Michael Boyle

One of the top trainers in America?  Check.  One of the top training facilities in America?  Check.  New strength coach for the Boston Red Sox?  Check.  Coach Boyle has a huge history of changing his mind.  This is a good thing.  He’s always striving to be the best coach he can be.  Keep your eye on the Red Sox in 2012.  Things to look for:  less injuries, faster players, and more home runs in the later innings.


7. Craig Ballantyne

You may know him from Men’s Health, Turbulence Training, or Kettlebell Workouts.  Whatever Craig puts on the market, it’s gold, and it sells like gold.  Starting in 2002, Craig revolutionized the fitness market showing people that they can get a kick-ass workout in under 45 minutes.  Judging by his picture, or by the thousands of client testimonials:  they work.


8. John Romaniello

Finally, someone who is funny as hell, but gets their clients results.  Roman trains everybody from lawyers to “strippers who danced for the lawyers.”  All kidding aside, 2012 marks the year of the Roman Empire Expansion.  Are you ready, bru?



9. Joe Dowdell

Founder and CEO of the largest one-on-one fitness facility in New York, Joe is one of the coolest fitness experts in the biz.  He’s trained elite athletes including the Vitor Shaolin Mixed Martial Arts Team and Olympian Tim Morehouse, and has written in pretty much every important fitness magazine.  My prediction is that if you flip through a fitness magazine in 2012, you will find Joe somewhere.


10. Rachel Cosgrove

Breaking in at number 10, Rachel is the first girl on the list.  Where’s Jillian Michaels?  She didn’t make the list.  Sorry.  When it comes to female fitness, Mrs. Cosgrove is your girl.  She gets her female clients results without injuring them.  Enough said.  Watch out for her new book in 2012.  It could change your life.


11. Dan John

Dan John is the man.  There’s no other way to put it.  Dan is the only fitness professional in the world who will write an article that both the average person and other fitness professionals can read, understand, and relate to.  His simplification of the weight room is from his wisdom in the trenches.  With the release of his new book, Easy Strength, Coach Dan John will change the way we get our clients stronger in 2012.


12. Eric Cressey

Eric is the “baseball guy” and the “shoulder guy”.  No one can compete with him.  Eric has changed the way that we look at mobility, and is making us stronger because of it.  Last year, he released an awesome article series on rising MLB star, Tim Collins.  When you put on some serious mass onto a future All-Star pitcher, you get noticed.  Whatever Eric does in 2012 will be gold.


13. Jason Ferruggia

Want to build tons of muscle, get stronger, in 2-3 workouts per week?  JF is your guy.  Operating one of the top training facilities in New Jersey – all from the comfort of California – Jay is already planning on dominating 2012.  Add in the fact that he upgraded his website, and is looking to start up another training facility, Jay will be a superstar.


14. Gray Cook

Over the past decade, Gray has truly changed the way that we look at movement, assess movement, and improve movement quality (that’s a lot of movement).  Gray’s next move will be to completely dominate movement assessments of professional athletes and everyday clients.  Will 2012 be his year?


15. Vince Del Monte

When Vince released No Nonsense Muscle Building, his plan was to dominate in the muscle building category.  It took him 6 months.  Since then, Vince has become a superstar.  He models, has released tons of quality fitness products, and is just an overall good guy.  Everybody could benefit from listening to what Vince has to say.


16. Martin Berkhan

If you haven’t heard of him, it’s because you’re probably still eating every 3 hours.  Martin has helped thousands of people get ripped and lean by skipping breakfast, training fasted, and only eating 2-3 times per day.  His website is beautifully crafted with quality research and field tested methods.



17. Mike Roussell

In his recent study, Mike crushed the theory that red meat is not a viable option when trying to lose fat.  Every year, he betters himself, and provides social proof that he is emerging as one of the leading nutritionists in the industry.  Need proof?  Check out his new book, The 6 Pillars of Nutrition – A Simple Diet Solution for Permanent Weight Loss, Better Health, and a Longer Life.


18. Mike Robertson

Want to get strong as hell, decrease joint pain, all in the fastest way possible?  Enter Mike Robertson.  Through his expertise, Mike is helping people alleviate knee pain and back pain all over the globe.  His facility – located in Indianapolis – is the perfect place for sports performance.  Hopefully the GM of the Colts is reading this (hint, hint).


19. Bret Contreras

HE’S THE FOUNDER OF THE HIP THRUST!  Ya, that’s right.  He is the reason that your girlfriend will have a nice ass in 2012.  Bret is continually trying to do things better, and improve himself.  This past year, Bret has been studying with fitness professionals in New Zealand, and has released an awesome published study.  I imagine that this year will top last year with ease.


20. Ben Bruno

Ben has the strongest lower body out of anyone I’ve ever seen.  If you’ve seen any of his Youtube videos, you know what I’m talking about.  This past year, Ben’s blog has exploded, and he’s been pumping out awesome articles left, right, and center.  If 2011 has any indications of what’s to come, then I seriously think that we are going to be blown away.


21. Pavel Tsatsouline

Pavel is the “Modern King of Kettlebells”.  Everything this man says is gold.  Some people brush off what he has to say, later to realize that he was right all along.  Pavel has experience, dedication, and knowledge that we all wish we could have.  His new book, Easy Strength (written with Dan John), is an instant classic and will be one of the best fitness books read in 2012.


22. Neghar Fonooni and Girls Gone Strong

This group of girls is showing females everywhere that it’s important to lift weights in order to get the body that they want.  No boring cardio, no Tracy Anderson, just good old fashioned iron.  Girls Gone Strong is such a motivational and results driven group that they will do something fantastic this year – making men all over the globe happier.


23. James “Smitty” Smith

Smitty is one of the most innovative guys I’ve ever seen.  He thinks of the coolest fitness ideas on the planet.  Who else does pullups with softballs, integrates mobility drills into a complex, and gets people bigger, stronger, and healthier?  No one but Smitty.  Add in the release of his new DVD with Joe Defranco (Extreme), and you have a winning man in 2012.


24. Tony Gentilcore

Tony is Eric Cressey’s wingman at Cressey Performance.  I strongly believe that without Tony G, CP would be missing their top Strength Coach.  He’s the master of the deadlift, and probably one of the funniest fitness guys around.  “Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work” should be everyone’s reading staple this year.


25. Dave Tate

Dave is living proof that there is hope left for good nutrition in the sport of powerlifting.  Since working with John Berardi, Tate has leaned out and become an icon to bodybuilders and powerlifters alike.  He operates one of the most badass sites on the web – one which gets better and better each year.  This year is no exception.


26. Robert Dos Remedios

Coach Dos is the Strength Coach for College of the Canyons, a TRX guru, and a guy who will teach you how to get super lean, super fast with Cardio Strength Training.  He’s also been featured in Men’s Health.  Watch out for him this year – he’s going to popularize the new TRX Rip Trainer within his cardio strength circuits.


27. Joe Defranco

Joe revolutionized the strength and conditioning world when he perfected the Westside methods for getting athletes bigger, stronger, and faster.  With the release of his DVD, Power last year, and Extreme (both with Smitty) this year, Joe will be showing the world how to get more powerful and athletic than ever before.


28. Nick Tumminello

Nick has been featured in pretty much every important fitness magazine in North America.  He specializes in training athletes in combat sports, and fatloss clients.  2012 will be the year of the 7-4-7 Fatloss Rep Scheme.  You wait and see…



29. Jonathan Goodman

When Jon started the Personal Trainer Development Center, “No more than 20 people were viewing the page each day and 10 of the views were by [himself]” (Goodman).  Since then, the site has grown to the 560 thousandth most viewed site in the whole world.  This year, it will continue to grow and change the way that Personal Trainers learn…forever.


30. Patrick Ward

Three words:  One…smart…dude.  Patrick has numerous certifications (good ones too), and can make any client move better, reduce pain, feel better, get stronger, gain endurance, [insert goal ANY goal here], etc.  If Patrick releases a product this year, it will be huge.



31. Geoff Girvitz

Owner and operator of Bang Fitness in Toronto, Canada, Geoff is a fitness genius.  One conversation with him will blow your mind, make you laugh, and make you want to be as smart as him (one day).  Geoff recently upsurged his internet writing, which makes this man’s knowledge bombs more accessible than ever before.


32. Jim Wendler

As the author of 5/3/1, Jim is helping coaches and clients all over the globe get stronger…way stronger.  With the release of the second edition of 5/3/1, Jim’s strength strategy will solidify itself as a classic this year.



33. Jamie Lewis

Jamie is the most vulgar, scientific, entertaining fitness writer you could ever read.  His lifting philosophy is super interesting, and backed up by social proof and excellent science.  Jamie lifts huge amounts of weight, and has some of the biggest traps I’ve ever seen.  He recently released his first book (hopefully of many), Issuance of Insanity.  You have to read it.


34. Flavia Del Monte

Nurse turned fitness professional, Flavia promises to help girls everywhere get leaner, healthier, and sexier by strength training and eating more.  Flavia has gained huge popularity in 2011, and this momentum will continue to bring her to the top in 2012.  Girls, get ready to get sexy.



35. Mike Mahler

Mike Mahler is the king of hormone optimization, a kettlebell guru, and a master of positive thinking.  He has released numerous DVD’s and ebooks, and provides quality content to his readers and viewers via his website, his products, and awesome workshops.  This year, whatever Mike releases will be of high quality content and worth every cent.


36. Dr. Mark Cheng

Dr. Cheng is the “Get-Up God”.  Mark is a movement specialist, and teaches trainers, coaches, and other fitness professionals how to get their clients moving more efficiently – specifically with the use of kettlebells.  With the release of his new DVD, Applied Combat Kettlebells For Maximum Martial Power, Mark will help combat athletes everywhere to excel in their sport.


37. Craig Liebenson

The DNS king.  Craig is so smart that he will indirectly affect every single person on this list this year; whether they are aware of it or not.  Craig’s books and DVD’s have some of the most priceless content on the net.



38. Jen Grasso

Jen is Jason Ferruggia’s other half.  Without even trying, she is flawlessly helping girls get leaner and sexier while performing fun and intense workouts.  She is notorious for posting her workouts, and favourite recipes online, inspiring girls to lift weights and eat organic.



39. Shon Grosse

With his published case studies, Shon is helping fitness professionals, physiotherapists, and athletic therapists everywhere to get their clients better, sooner.  In 2011, Shon got his name out there.  In 2012, Shon will be a huge success.  Remember:  you heard it here first.



40. Jason Maxwell

(You didn’t think that I would leave myself out of this list, did you?)  Just making the cut, Jason Maxwell will greatly impact the fitness world in 2012.  Launching his site in August, has grown rapidly in popularity.  Whether it’s because Jason is so good looking, or because he makes you laugh, there’s a reason why you’re reading this page.  Get ready 2012…life is about to get a bit more interesting.


Who would you rank in the top 10?  Know someone that you think should have been added to this list?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to know.

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  1. I’m honored and humbled to be included among this group. Seriously. All of these folks are amazing. Thank you for considering me. I’ll do my best not to let you down and keep bringing quality free info to trainers.

    • jmaxfitness says:

      No problem, Jon. Looking forward to your book this year.

      • Livia says:

        I was actually scrolling down the list looking for Jon! I know for a fact that my year will be impacted by him because since I discovered his writings, my motivation level raised through the roof, I swear! Good Man, really! Jeeeez, I’m turning into a stalker… :D Also the Girls Gone Strong! They are brilliant!

  2. Esther says:

    Awesome list!

    Ori Hofmekler?

  3. Really nice list,although I am kinda confused since there is no Charles Poliquin within it :P

  4. Wow, no Alan Aragon? No Lyle McDonald? I’m kind of disappointed :(

  5. Great list of professionals. I have been involved with strength training, fitness, and nutrition for nearly 40 years and am constantly learning new things from many of the people in this list. I am not familiar with a few of them, but I guarantee that I will check them out and undoubtedly learn from them, also.

  6. Don says:

    Very nice list. I’d like to add Dave Schmitz and Zach Even-Esh to be in next 10.

  7. Ann Wendel says:

    Thanks for providing a great list. I’m following about half of these folks and I’m off to check out the other half! It’s always good to know who has the best info out there. A big part of my work is in the area of communication between physical therapists and other professionals who have a passion for post-rehab training. This is a market that is ready to explode in the next few years. Feel free to check out my website and blog


  8. Thanks Jason, your prediction will come true this year for females. I plan on releasing some killer info for females to get sexy and healthy! Good line up you have here!

  9. Brian Talbot says:

    Where is Phil Learney??
    Everyone need to learn about him asap

  10. Patrick says:

    I’m really surprised that John Barban and Brad Pilon didn’t factor in anywhere. Great list otherwise though.

  11. Mohammad Ali Khan Niazi says:

    u should add lee hayward.he is surely one of the best.

  12. Hey Jason,

    Nice list….Good luck with the site in 2012…

    Best – Mike

  13. Krista says:

    All the men listed are both superhot and married. I’m disappointed.

  14. old lardass says:

    I would have added John Kiefer of

  15. Joe says:

    you are missing an amazing female who has been impacting fitness for over 10 years via positive philosophy and barefoot training…Stacey Lei Krauss, of The willPower Method – if you aren’t using/training your feet, you really aren’t training your body “functionally”…fitness shouldn’t stop at your calves!

  16. Broc says:

    Upsetting you left Zuzana Spear (Light) off the list. That woman has been top of the women’s fitness elite since 2008 with

  17. jeff says:

    Nice list of people! I would have put Robb Wolf and Ori Hofmelker creator of the Warrior Diet on there, and Josh Henkin

  18. Shib says:

    Wheres Chad Waterbury and Charles Staley BOTh absent WOW

  19. Mike B. says:

    You have to consider strength and conditioning coach Corey Taylor. He is a master motivator and difference maker for many elite and professional athletes across the southeast region.he is also a guru in golf performance training and has spent the last couple years working on the PGA Tour!

  20. Darrell says:

    Ben Pakulski should have been on thr list.I am busy with his program MI40 and it is excellent.

  21. ECchiro says:

    I am slightly puzzled as to why Lee Boyce wasn’t mentioned on your Top 40 list; after beginning to read Lee’s articles on T-nation and various other websites, watching his nationally televised fitness segments and even being lucky enough to observe him in person, I have a great respect and appreciation for what it means to be a fitness professional and strength coach. His knowledge for both training and the human body is astounding, and his thirst for knowledge and improvement is what sets him apart from other trainers who I have seen/worked with. Lee is a class act both in and out of the gym and I know he will impact 2012 in a HUGE way!

  22. Stan says:

    No Charles Poliquin?…….Scandalous!

  23. Matt says:

    Jason Phillips and Joe Daniels

  24. Chad Ball says:

    Mark Rippetoe. How is he not here? That’s an actual question that should be answered.

  25. Nurdin says:

    To please everyone here, make a top 100!

  26. 5/3/1 addict says:

    You mentioned strength without Louis Simmons? Hell yeah for Tate, Wendler and the PN team!

  27. alf says:

    HI and where is Mr Greg Plitt???

    Say no more!

  28. Jeremy Brown says:

    everyone needs to realize this is his opinion of who will influence the fitness industry as a whole this year. Not a list of his favorite bloggers, authors, and program designers across world. The people on the list have some sort of pull, clout, or following. I hope his opinion isn’t exactly right too though.

  29. Jesse says:

    Several names are missing from this list: Dave (the band-man) Schmit & Mike Geary author of one of the most read and sold ebooks on the planet “Truth About Abs”. I agree with Chad above where is Mark Rippetoe on this list?

  30. Tom says:

    its a pretty good list but No Martin Rooney!!?? Thats insane!!!

    He should be in a Top 10 list let alone in the Top 40!

  31. Terry Joel says:

    Juan Carlos Santana pioneered most of what is being taught by most of these excellent fitness professionals. When he teaches, he makes the most compex principles understandable to all.

  32. Nikki Layton says:

    Wow, that must have been a really hard list to comprise! Everyone has a personal favorite but I think you did a great job pulling up some amazing people.

    Thanks for sharing.

  33. PatP says:

    Great list but where is Todd Durkin and Zach Even-Esh??? Zach is devoted trainer for young athletes and is constantly trying to make fitness and training affordable and accessible for everyone! Todd has trained many professional athletes and none other than Drew Brees. What record did he just break??? Come on!

  34. Stephen Holt says:

    Congrats on having the guts to put together a list like this at the risk of offending the fans of other popular fitness gurus. I’m happy to see my old co-authors Rachel and Alwyn Cosgrove, Craig Ballantyne, and Mike Boyle (oops – sorry, Zach and Juan Carlos), plus former co-worker Nick Tumminello all on the list.

    I think B.J. Gaddour and StreamFit are in a position to make a big impact this year, too.

    • jmaxfitness says:


      I can’t wait to see what BJ puts together this year. That’s a great suggestion. StreamFit is an awesome idea, and I hope that it can beat out p90x in the market.

  35. Great list!

    In the list there were a number of people who I am not too familiar with, so you’ve given me quite a few new websites to go check out. Bret Contreras, Michael Boyle and Eric Cressey are three of the main people from your list that I often follow and I would have added Lyle McDonald to that list, but I will definitely check out a few of the others now.

  36. David says:

    This was a great list. I’ve learned from many of these people, and I look forward to investigating the work of the others. One person who has become important to my own fitness journey as a 40+ athlete is Kelly Starrett. His MobilityWOD is a fantastic and free contribution to the industry. The back and hips are getting mobile, Kelly. Thanks!

  37. Katiet3 says:

    Jeff Denton for the win! He NEEDS to be on here, I absolutely love his stuff, I think this is a great list though! I also think Rachel Cosgrove is one of the best no doubt!

  38. Jimson Lee says:

    Nice list, but what is more important is the readers and customers who get off their butt and actually apply what they read. We (coaches) are based on results, not Alexa rank!

    • jmaxfitness says:

      Jimson, I agree. Alexa rank was only mentioned once in this article to show how fast one of the coaches’ website has grown. This list was compiled solely on who will provide the largest impact in 2012 on the fitness industry. Not only does this mean great coaching, it also means marketing, and selling as well. You can’t make an impact if you have no one to help. The people on this list will help many people, and/or the industry (as a whole) this year.

  39. Paul Chemist says:

    Great list and thanks for sharing. Lets hope you’re right for this year though.

  40. mach says:

    Christian Thibaudeau should have been in the place of TC, Chris Shugart and Tim Patterson. These guys are merely the face of Biotest. Everything quality that comes out of T-Nation is Thibaudeau basically. That being said, I really liked that you put Tony Gentilcore, this guy doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

    And to everyone saying why Waterbury, Simmons, Staley, Rippetoe, Poliquin etc. are not on the list: Read the title of the article. These guys may be walking legends but I doubt they’ll impact 2012 in a big way per se.

  41. Michele O'Neill says:

    Who in the hell compiled this list? It's 2012, yet still you've got the A listers mixed with randoms

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