There are thousands of people working every day to revolutionize the way people think about health, fitness, and happiness, and every year we recognize those making the biggest impact.
This year's list highlights the power of social media and bloggers, the desire to be strong, body positivity, and a back-to-basics approach to food. You'll also notice a few individuals whose messages or claims have been questioned—and we’ve called that out when necessary.
When trying to determine the most powerful innovators in this space, we looked at several quantifiable factors for each candidate: social reach, research they've contributed to, professional certifications and degrees they've attained, trends they’ve set, products they’ve created, and media coverage, among other things. (You can check out the details on our metrics below the list.) After many discussions (and way too much math), here are the 100 people we determined to be the most influential this year. While we may not always agree with everyone's approach, we can always respect any effort to help make healthy living a little bit easier.
Curious who's making their second (or third) appearance? Click here to check out last year's list.
The Fitness Queen of Instagram
Topping our list is Instagram sensation and all-around bikini body badass Kayla Itsines. Founder of the Bikini Body Guides, Istines recently debuted her new app, Sweat With Kayla, which provides weekly coaching tips, quick workouts, and daily menus. Itsines reigns as queen of the largest female fitness community in the world, and if nothing else, her Instagram delivers some seriously fitspirational abs.
The Tough-Love Talk Show Host
The straight-shooting doctor uses daytime TV as a far-reaching platform to tackle a range of mental health issues, from family and relationships to addiction and bullying. But his expert knowledge goes beyond the brain. Last year, "Dr. Phil," as he's widely known, published The 20/20 Diet, which takes a holistic approach to weight loss, covering mental roadblocks as well as eating and exercise plans. Clearly, people like his tough-love approach: It became the most Googled diet of 2015.
The Fierce Fighter
MMA's kick-ass queen fought her way to the top last year—at least in terms of public recognition. The super-fit fighter rang in as the most searched athlete (that's right, number one) and the fifth most popular search overall according to Google. Last year she landed both a knockout spread in Sport's Illustrated''s coveted Swimsuit Issue and blockbuster movie roles in Entourage and Furious 7. Girl fights aside, we especially admire her readiness to take on fat shaming and narrow interpretations of body image in Hollywood.
The Internet's Pilates Princess
This YouTube guru didn't stop at creating POP Pilates, her YouTube, blog, DVD, and app sensation. The healthy living blogger-turned-activewear designer continues to expand her reach with a growing library of workout plans and almost too-good-to-be-true recipes. Ho has a remarkable social media presence, sharing her workouts with almost 3 million YouTube subscribers and posting mouth-watering food photos and enviable outfits to an Instagram audience of more than 1 million. This year she took on the haters by taking a stand against online bullies and body-shamers in this post about the "perfect" body.
The Controversial Media Doc
Dr. Oz is no stranger to the spotlight. With an Emmy-winning TV show, wellness magazine, and millions of Facebook followers, the cardiothoracic surgeon-turned-TV personality reaches a wide audience with his health and wellness recommendations. But even being part of Oprah's #squad hasn't prevented him from coming under fire from the medical community for some questionable conflicts of interest and flawed judgment calls. Despite the flood of criticisms in 2015, Dr. Oz remains on the faculty of Columbia Medical School and still garners excellent patient and peer reviews. His veracity might be debatable at times, but his influence in the health world is not.
Alternative Medicine Advocate
Dubbed the meditation maven on last year’s list, Chopra is a guru of mindfulness, spirituality, and alternative medicine. With insights on everything from the all-embracing reality of the universe to the microbiome of your gut, Chopra covers an incredible breadth of holistic health-related topics for outlets like CNN and the New York Times. Last year he released his latest book on spirituality, The 13th Disciple, and celebrated the third year of his global 21-Day Meditation Experience.
The Food Politics Professor
The author of several books on food politics and healthy eating is also a professor of nutrition, food studies, sociology and public health at New York University. (Did we mention she also happens to hold a Ph.D. in molecular biology?). This was a banner year for the blogger and thought leader: She took center stage in the debate on "soda politics" and the ethics of corporate funding of food and nutrition research.
America's Top Trainer
The CrossFit athlete and favorite Biggest Loser trainer is rising in the ranks. Harper will host the hit reality show's 17th season, adding some competitive new twists (and a heavier emphasis on nutrition). He's got some huge momentum carrying him into his hosting debut: In 2015, the author released his latest book, Skinny Habits: The 6 Secrets of Thin People, and continued to amp up his Black Fire workouts with Daily Burn.
Our Active Lady
With almost 3 million Instagram followers, the First Lady continues to spread her health and fitness gospel to the world. While 2014 was the year of super-viral "Turnip for What?" video, Obama kicked things up a notch in 2015 with "#GimmeFive FLOTUS Style," inviting us into the White House during a personal training session. Seriously, did you see that jump squat?!
The Top Functional Doc
The number one New York Times best-selling author, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, founder of the UltraWellness Center and regular contributor to the Today show, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show, is a busy guy. Still, functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman manages to tackle topics like infertility and acne on his blog. Last year, Forbes called into question his "chemical hypocrisy," revealing that a few of the chemicals he condemns are in products he sells. As the personal health advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton, his influence continues to grow.
The Weight Watchers Media Mogul
With her 30 million Twitter followers and countless other devotees, Oprah has built a huge community for sharing her message of happy, healthy living. Despite providing a platform for several of our health and fitness influencers via O, The Oprah Magazine and the Oprah Winfrey Network, this is Winfrey's influencer debut. This December, the lifestyle guru teamed up with Weight Watchers to launch the Beyond the Scale campaign, which takes the focus off calorie counting in favor of an all-around healthy lifestyle. Now that's something we can get behind.
The "What's for Dinner?" Decider
Pollan is famous for writing about the "places where nature and culture intersect"—whether that's on a plate or in the political arena. The author of The Omnivore's Dilemma (which is now available in a kid-friendly version) is aiming to set the record straight on scary food headlines with his latest endeavor. Premiering at the end of 2015, Pollan's PBS documentary, In Defense of Food, takes him around the globe to investigate cultural culinary habits and articulate his simple food philosophy: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
The Girls Turning It Up Online
The besties otherwise known as the Tone It Up girls had a killer year. The super-fit duo make their list debut with a slew of high-profile fitness partnerships, a capsule collection with cool-girl activewear brand Bandier, and more than 30 million views on their YouTube channel under their (tiny-waisted) belts. Between dishing up Instagram-ready recipes, bikini-body DVDs, and even their own line of K+K beauty products, we're not sure they'll have time for anything else in 2016—but we're excited to see!
The Alternative Medicine Evangelist
Google any medical issue, and chances are you'll come up with a host of articles by Joseph Mercola. The alternative medicine evangelist and osteopathic physician has made some major entrepreneurial strides in the past year; however, his line of health supplements—everything from krill oil to vitamin B-12 spray—has been somewhat controversial. Still, the doc (he has a D.O.) continues to churn out thought leadership pieces covering everything from the childhood obesity epidemic to the way cells communicate.
The Celebrity Chef With a Cause
Ever since breaking onto the scene in 1999 as the host of The Naked Chef, Oliver has risen to fame, opened restaurants, and published cookbooks. In 2002, he founded The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to educate children about food and combat obesity, and last September appeared before the House of Commons to lobby for a tax on sugar in the U.K. His new book, Everyday Super Food, was published in August—and while his business practices have been under scrutiny as of late, we support the message he's trying to spread around the importance of healthy cooking.
The "Do You" Yogi
The internationally renowned yogi and founder of Strala Yoga in New York City is all about doing what's best for your body. Her Make Your Own Rules Cookbook was released in November and delivers easy plant-based recipes to complement her Make Your Own Rules Diet book, published in 2014. We can't wait to see what the health and fitness pro will come up with in 2016.
The "Real" Fitness Diva
Love her or hate her, the youngest Kardashian sister had quite the health and fitness year. The author of Strong Looks Better Naked debuted the fruits of her newfound fitness focus on the cover of Complex magazine in 2015 and effectively secured her spot as one of the year's hottest fitness influencers. What we love is that she's not just sharing her hot bod with her 38 million Instagram followers—she's started a serious conversation about using fitness to cope with emotional hardships. But P.S. Be highly skeptical of those waist trainers.
The vegan, ultra-endurance athlete gained fitness fame upon the release of his book Finding Ultra—a testament to the importance of willpower. After going from an overweight, sedentary 40-something to one of the world's fittest ultra-marathoners and endurance racers, he's got the first-hand experience to back up the advice he doles out on his blog and crazy-popular podcast (which now has more than 7 million downloads). Last year he shared more of his vegan-fueled secrets with the release of his second book, The Plantpower Way, which goes beyond offering plant-based recipes and taps into the belief that all of us can be better.
The Highly Caffeinated High-Fat Exec
The creator of Bulletproof Coffee, the staple of the Bulletproof Diet, is a favorite among celebs like Shailene Woodley. However, the high-fat, butter-boosted diet, which claims to supercharge your body and upgrade your brain, isn’t so impressive to nutrition experts. Asprey himself seems to be bulletproof when it comes to the critics: This year he released Bulletproof: The Cookbook and opened the first Bulletproof Coffee shop in California.
The Raw Environmentalist
A raw foodist, organic farmer, environmentalist, and outdoor adventurer, Wolfe basically embodies the word crunchy. With an intention to make every day "the best day ever," Wolfe's health and wellness teachings are inspirational yet relatable, and he leads frequent retreats to some of the most beautiful locales in the world. Consider him the go-to guy for delicious and healthy smoothie recipes. He's also the spokesperson for our most handy kitchen appliance, the NutriBullet. However, he's caught some heat from science advocates, who scrutinize his preachings and tactics to grow his more than 3 million-strong Facebook following.
The Brain Food Doctor
Making his debut on our list, the neurologist and author of Grain Brain is known for making connections between the things we put into our bodies and the ensuing effects on our brains. Last year, Perlmutter released his latest thoughts on the topic with New York Times best seller Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain—for Life. But despite his extensive accolades, the gluten-free pioneer has drawn serious criticism for his therapies and products—everything from $8,500 brain detoxification to hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments—and radical claims.
The Wellness Starlet
The goddess of Goop is no stranger to controversy. Her extreme take on wellness, colon cleanses, and flu remedies has some experts crying fraud. In 2015, she made a particular splash advocating vaginal steaming, which critics were quick to debunk. Still, Paltrow continues to inspire millions of followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and remains a voice in the health and wellness conversation. Adore or loathe her, she's definitely a notable player in the game.
The Reigning Queen of Controversy
The activist and founder of Food Babe and her healthy-eating empire came under serious fire last year from critics who dub her claims about chemical additives to be based on suspect science. But 2015 wasn't without its Food Babe victories: This fall Starbucks pulled the artificial coloring from the perennial favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte thanks to Hari's lobbying. She also released her first book, The Food Babe Way, last February and has kept up a stream of downloadable clean eating guides and meal plans.
The Plant-Based Convert
As the lead food columnist for the New York Times, Bittman was able to share his thoughts on the power of food with a massive audience. However, his decision to leave to co-found and serve as Chief Innovation Officer at vegan start-up The Purple Carrot late in the year meant less talking and more doing. Clearly, Bittman puts his money (and veggies) where his mouth is, and his flexible plant-based philosophy is gaining steam by offering an alternative to the typically more restrictive and exclusive vegan lifestyle.
The Raw Food Proselytizer
The raw, vegan food blogger was a triple major in kinesiology, specializing in health science, raw foods, and fasting. She's also been competely raw for more than nine years. Girl's got cred. The Fully Raw blogger is a major advocate within the local, organic food movement and also the powerhouse behind FullyRaw juices, which went from simple blog recipes to full-on sister company that delivers the creations right to your door. She's not losing steam heading into 2016—her first book, The Fully Raw Diet, will hit shelves this month. If brightly colored, jaw-dropping raw food dishes are your obsession, follow her on every social media platform.
The Fit, Super-Relatable Digital Darling
Watching a video of Natalie Jill crushing a HIIT workout can be intimidating. Of course she makes it look easy—she's ripped! But then you learn the story of how she struggled to find helpful resources to get her physical and mental health in check after giving birth and getting divorced, and you realize she totally gets how difficult everyone's health journey is. It's that I-get-you persona, mixed with her super-clickable 15-second videos on Instagram, that makes her a social media fitness queen—and definitely deserving of her massive following.
The Mental Health M.D.
As mental health finally moves from hush-hush conversations to mainstream America, Pinsky (often referred to as "Dr. Drew") is one of the field's few go-to experts. So it's no surprise that you see the addiction medicine specialist all over your TV. He appears weeknights on Dr. Drew on Call and in the past hosted the show Celebrity Rehab. The latter program won him praise for talking about addiction and recovery in a frank way, but he's also been criticized for encouraging and allowing the typical reality show tropes of petty fights and emotional outbursts to boost ratings. Pinsky made headlines this past year when he opened up about using marijuana and cocaine in college—a subject the doctor had otherwise shied away from.
The Fit-Everything Gurus
The co-founders of wildly popular site Fit Bottomed Girls launched it in 2008 as a way for real women interested in health and fitness to connect and access easy-to-follow fitness advice. From their humble beginnings as a blog, the Fit Bottomed Girls have had a meteoric rise, including sister sites for nutrition and moms, and an insane social presence. Their book The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet has been praised for its approachable, no-BS tone and convenient 10-minute exercises. Check out their recently created SnapChat for the latest from the duo.
The Physical Therapy Godsend
For Starrett, it's not the workout but the prep work that's most important. After founding a CrossFit box in San Francisco and watching numerous athletes injure themselves, the physical therapist and coach realized that virtually all orthopedic injuries are preventable with a basic understanding of body mechanics. Starrett went on to create MobilityWOD and write two best-selling books (with a third on its way). He also teaches movement and mobility courses to elite military troops and NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB players—helping both big-time athletes and people like us eliminate pain, prevent injury, and improve performance.
The A-List Body Sculptor
Tracy Anderson has been sculpting celeb bodies for years—and the tiny trainer remains just as popular with the latest crop of Hollywood darlings. Anderson is kicking the butts of everyone from Lena Dunham to Jennifer Lopez and still manages to find the time to yell at the rest of us mere mortals to "put on our adult diapers and show up for our health." Last year she launched her #TamilyTales newsletter to share the things that inspire her and promote her new livestream workouts. Her legacy doesn't stop there—she's inspired a new class of former Method trainers, like Simone De La Rue and Katia Pryce, who have taken her teachings to studios of their own.
The Ballerina to the Stars
The founder of Ballet Beautiful—a favorite of Victoria Secret Angels Lily Aldridge and Gigi Hadid—Bowers has an otherworldly talent for marrying art and fitness. The former New York City Ballet dancer's methods skyrocketed to popularity after she served as Natalie Portman's Black Swan trainer. And now she's sharing her techniques with the masses via custom workouts, live-streaming classes, and a growing library of books and DVDs. With a budding list of celeb devotees and an Instagram worthy of all your ballet-filled fantasies, Bowers is one to watch.
The Balanced Blogger
The food blogger, formerly known as The Blonde Vegan, sparked a virtual firestorm in June 2014 when she announced her departure from veganism. She described how she'd developed nutritional deficiencies as well as an eating disorder called orthorexia—catapulting the term into the national health conversation. While some followers were incensed (some even sent death threats for "blaming" veganism for her issues), she persevered and re-named her blog The Balanced Blonde. In November 2015, the 25-year-old published a memoir, Breaking Vegan, detailing her journey toward a balanced, happier lifestyle.
The official nutrition expert for the Today show and nutritionist for the New York City Ballet believes that life is hard enough—food should be easy. The registered dietitian added her own line of gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free, vegetarian snacks to her existing empire of books and media contributions. And since its launch in 2014, Nourish Snacks have found a solid niche in an overcrowded food space. Still, this busy mom finds time to whip up quick, nutritious meals from scratch.
No-Longer Hungry Health Guru
A decade ago, Lisa Lillien showed the world that healthy food doesn't have to leave you hungry. Her Hungry Girl brand has grown by leaps and bounds: What started out as a daily newsletter with easy recipes has turned into dozens of cookbooks and a show that airs on the Food Network and Cooking Channel. This year, Lillien released another book, The Hungry Girl Diet, her first-ever meal plan. She continues to evolve with the times—in a few months, she'll be publishing a cookbook focused on clean eating.
SUPer Instagram Yogi
Internationally beloved yoga teacher Rachel Brathen's wildly popular Instagram account has more than 1.7M followers, which she touts as the largest yoga account in the world. And now she's a New York Times best-selling author, thanks to the release of her first book, Yoga Girl, in late 2014. In 2015, she was busy co-founding new philanthropic company 109 World, when not teaching stand up paddleboard yoga in Aruba (where she lives).
The Life Changer
The personal trainer-turned-Extreme Weight Loss coach is a true transformation specialist, helping his clients with triple-digit weight-loss goals. Along with his co-host, fellow trainer, and wife Heidi Powell, he took his fit marriage secrets to the masses in the most recent season of their hit ABC show by training couples. The Powells also just released their first co-authored book, Extreme Transformation: Lifelong Weight Loss in 21 Days. Whether it's his thoughts on carb cycling or checking your ego, Powell is certainly out to transform the weight-loss game.
The clinical nutritionist and doctor of natural medicine and is out to prove that food should take center stage when it comes to treating health issues. On his extraordinarily popular website (which claims to draw 2 million readers each month), Dr. Axe talks about everything from the power of cricket flour to the cancer-fighting properties of figs. This year, he released a series of natural nutrition videos that covers topics like the benefits of activated charcoal and how to cleanse your colon.
A former elite marathoner and triathlete, Sisson always had a passion for fitness and wellness. After retiring from endurance racing, he transformed his health through a primal lifestyle, eating and moving like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. And whether you love it or hate it, the Paleo movement essentially owes its existence to Sisson's 2009 book, The Primal Blueprint. Today he runs Mark's Daily Apple, where hundreds of thousands of followers come daily for recipes, research-backed advice, and workouts, as well as his quirky sense of humor and down-to-earth attitude. His latest book on the downsides of too much cardio and too many carbs, Primal Endurance, hits shelves this month.
The Supercharged Trainer
This time of year, airwaves are full of infomercials for the latest fitness fad, and no one's more recognizable than Tony Horton and his P90X program. Even though he came onto the fitness scene 25 years ago, he's not resting on his laurels: Horton continued to level up the program, coming out with athletic variations (P90X2) and shorter workouts (P90X3) to fit anyone's schedule, no gym required. He's also ventured into mental health, publishing The Big Picture, a self-improvement tome, in 2014. His go-big-or-go-home style may not appeal to everyone, but Horton's genuine encouragement and enthusiasm have guaranteed him a spot on the fitness scene for years to come.
The Lb Annihilator
The personal trainer, TV star, author, businesswoman, and all-around badass took her tough training style from The Biggest Loser to the masses with online training, a podcast, DVDs, diet books, and her signature Bodyshred program. In 2015, she hit us with a new reality show, Sweat, Inc., which follows her search for the next great fitness craze. In 2016, she'll star in Just Jillian, another reality show on E! premiering January 19, which takes a more personal, behind-the-scenes look at her family life. No matter where she trains, Michaels gets results—at the end of 2015, she'd helped her clients lose close to a collective 5 million pounds. NBD.
The Good Eats Guru
Ellie Krieger was the queen of healthy cooking before healthy cooking was cool. The registered dietitian and best-selling author has made her mark on the nutrition world, heading up the nutrition initiative of fellow influencer Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign. She also hosts a Food Network TV show, Healthy Appetite, and has several cookbooks under her belt. Her latest, You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals, comes out this month—the perfect way to bust your "no-time-to-cook" excuse in the new year.
The Sleep Evangelist
The media mogul, author, and self-proclaimed "flat shoe advocate" certainly hasn't been resting on her laurels since changing the entire wellness conversation with the release of Thrive in 2014. After articulating the third metric for defining success, Huffington is continuing the conversation with the launch of Sleep + Wellness, a section of HuffPo dedicated specifically to addressing sleep as a public health issue. But it's not all positive vibes for Huffington heading into 2016. The promoter of work-life balance has run into some bad press as the editorial staff of The Huffington Post unionizes, calling into question how authentically she practices what she preaches.
The Path Paver
The first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre is doing so much more than just sharing the beauty of ballet with a wider audience—she's become one of the year's most recognized athletes and landed spots on Time's list of 100 Most Influential People of 2015 and Barbara Walter's carefully curated list of 10 Most Fascinating People of the year. The Under Armour spokeswoman absolutely demolished critics who claimed she doesn't have the right body type for ballet, and in the process of her journey from ballet soloist to Broadway star to icon, she ignited a greater conversation about body positivity and achievement in sports.
According to the football star-turned-inspirational business guru, the secret to success is simple: hustle. After a serious injury sidelined his dreams of becoming an Olympian, Howes readjusted his professional course: He's built a business on the business of helping others achieve their most passionate career potential through his School of Greatness Academy, podcast, and book, released last year.
The Happiness Guru
The author of The Happiness Project kept busy last year with the release of her latest book, Better Than Before, which is all about ruling your daily habits to become your happiest, healthiest self. We love that Rubin employs such an approachable philosophy for health on both her blog and podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, (which was named one of iTunes' Best of 2015) showing us that sometimes improving your mental health is as simple as getting a temporary tattoo or going to bed earlier.
Instagram's Most Famous Backside
Jen Selter has received her share of criticism for dishing out suspect fitness advice. But her 8 million Instagram followers don't seem to care about the veracity of the science behind that booty. Last year, she continued to amass a squad of #seltering fans, first of which is her mom, who made her Instagram debut with a body almost as belfie-ready as her 21-year-old daughter's.
Paleo Kitchen Blogger
The self-described "Foodaholic" and her band of paleo Nomsters love to eat. And with a library of easy-to-prepare paleo meals with a distinctly Asian flair, we can see why. Her paleo cooking app ranked number one on Apple's list of Food and Drink Apps, and her cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, is a New York Times best seller. With the launch of last year's podcast, packed with even more paleo goodies, we can thank Tam for helping to bring the diet out of the cave and into the kitchen.
The Body Positive Yogi
It's easy to look at "celebrity" yoga instructors and wonder where the rest of us normal-bodied folks fit in. Enter Stanley, a writer and certified yoga instructor who shares awe-inspiring poses and high-energy vinyasa flows on her blog, Instagram, and EveryBody Yoga series. She's been featured on a number of big-name outlets this year, from Cosmopolitan to the New York Times, and for good reason: Her take on doing yoga as a larger-bodied woman is refreshingly honest. And we're all for yogis who don't take themselves too seriously.
The Obesity Doctor
Yoni Freedhoff, the "certifiably cynical realist," founded the evidenced-based Bariatric Medical Institute for nutrition and weight management and writes about science-backed obesity research on his blog, Weighty Matters. (We especially loved this article about why he still counts calories even though the concept is flawed.) The author of 2014's The Diet Fix made even greater strides last year, helping to bring down a Coca-Cola-funded research group aiming to downplay the link between soda and obesity.
The Peace Finder
In the midst of a busy city like New York, it can be hard to find peace. But Brower's yoga and meditation classes allow her students to do just that, in locations as diverse as museums, yoga studios, and Central Park. She even leads classes set to house music at dance clubs in Brooklyn. If you can't attend the awesome sessions in person, don't worry—Brower's teachings and yoga philosophy can be found in her book, Art of Attention, accompanying healing cards, or meditation audio courses.
The Positive Spirit Junkie
The motivational speaker, life coach, and author was named a "next-generation thought leader" by none other than Oprah. And for good reason. Bernstein is a bit of a wellness guru, offering her talents as a certified Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher through guided meditations, Miracle workshops, and her Spirit Junkie daily affirmation app, as well as her thoughts on staying positive in the midst of dark moments.
The Productivity Hacker
Not afraid to test his own physical boundaries, Ferriss wrote the book (literally) on how to hack your way to a healthier life: The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef prove it's possible to achieve any health or fitness goal in an incredibly efficient manner. Last year, he launched a brand-new video series, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, in which he attempts to master skills as diverse as surfing, playing poker, and online dating, in just one week. He continues cranking out his number one-ranked podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, interviewing best-in-class experts in various fields, from medicine to sports to finance, about their daily habits and tips for success.
The CrossFit King
Probably the best-known CrossFit athlete, Froning led his team to victory at last summer's CrossFit Games. And luckily for all aspiring CrossFit champs, the Fittest Man on Earth doesn't shy away from sharing training tips and pics of his shredded bod (as well as some adorable snaps of his baby girl) with his half a million Instagram followers. Last year, Froning started sharing more of his training secrets with his web series, What is Rich Doing?, which gives video access to the strongman's daily workouts.
The Fat-Burning Man
The super-shredded creator of The Wild Diet is slated to have a big year in 2016. In addition to his popular podcast and blog, The Fat-Burning Man, James will lend his expertise to NBC's Extreme Weight Loss this month. Not too long ago, James was a weight-loss candidate himself: Flabby and frustrated, he fired his doctor and buried himself in nutrition and fitness research, trying out all the latest schools of thought and bringing us the results.
The YouTube Yogi
Texas-based yoga instructor Mishler is the creator of Yoga With Adriene, where she serves up sequences with a sense of humor and her signature Southern drawl. Her easy-to-follow flows and videos cover everything from energizing morning yoga to yoga that helps ease pain issues. Mishler has clearly caught on with a huge audience: Her YouTube channel boasts more than one million followers and "Yoga with Adriene" was the top searched workout on Google in 2015.
The Social Vaulter
After being diagnosed with chronic fatigue while training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Bisk decided to try one last thing to manage her symptoms: quit pole vaulting and give up her childhood dream of being in the Games. Since then, the active Australian has become a yoga instructor and coach, and built a robust fitness community online via social media (including almost half a million followers on Instagram) and her 12-week training guide.
The Newsroom Doctor
As CNN's chief medical correspondent, Gupta plays an integral role in shaping the news giant's health care coverage. The practicing neurosurgeon is well-known for his support of medical marijuana, his super-relatable column, Health Matters, and his Emmys. But the doc-turned-journalist came under fire for some faulty claims about a patient he treated in the aftermath of the Nepal quake last year that threatened his credibility—and left some critics calling him the next Brian Williams. Ouch.
If you're into fitness, chances are you've spotted Rosante's long locks on websites, in ads, or gracing the pages of a magazine. In the past few years, the laid-back trainer made a name for himself as founder of The People's Bootcamp and WaveShape, a surfing-inspired fitness program, and more recently as a Target C9 ambassador and CosmoBody trainer. But don't let his easygoing nature fool you—he's tough. In March 2015, he published The 30-Second Body, a book full of quick yet intense workouts that prove anyone, no matter how busy, has the time to get in shape and see real results.
The Fitness-Is-Fun Cultivator
One thing we love about the fitness world today is that it's truly possible for anyone to find a community they love. At Nerd Fitness, Kamb creates content that, in his own words, enables "desk jockeys, nerds, and average Joes to level up their lives" using comic books and sci-fi superheroes as fit inspiration. With an in-person camp, individualized programs, and a new book, Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story, coming in 2016, it's clear that Kamb's relaxed, positive, and actually fun approach to fitness continues to catch on.
The Beauty and Beast
Lee may look like a fitness model (and she is!), but with a degree from Stanford and a strength and conditioning specialist certification, it's clear the health and fitness coach has the brains to back it up. On her website, she covers everything from her flexible dieting philosophy to training plans she follows before a competition. We also love how open she is about her past eating disorder and journey to recovery. In addition to her blog, you can find her fitness and nutrition wisdom on Bodybuilding.com, the Physique Science podcast, and her honest, motivational Instagram posts.
The Sugar-Free Success
Sarah Wilson worked in journalism for 20 years. Now she's the founder of the I Quit Sugar empire. It all started when she gave up the sweet stuff for two weeks as an experiment for a story. (She had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and doctors and nutritionists alike had encouraged her to do so.) She saw results almost immediately, and what happened after led her to write her New York Times best-selling book, I Quit Sugar. To date, more than 600,000 people have completed her 8-week program.
The Insane Trainer
If you've ever accidentally fallen asleep with the TV on, chances are you woke up to fitness trainer Shaun "T" on the screen. His wildly popular Insanity workout is the top-selling infomercial seven years running. But being such a well-known trainer means he also has to deal with Internet trolls commenting about his physique. When commenters started shaming him for being too skinny earlier this year, he responded with a powerful message: "I have the same eating, weight, and motivation issues that all of you do. I've been through the journey, and I know the struggle is real."
Once again, Annie Thorisdottir proved that she's a CrossFit beast. Thorisdottir cruised to a first-place finish in the CrossFit Open this year, making burpees, muscle-ups, and deadlifts look like a walk in the park. She also showed us how important it is to listen to your body and know when you've reached your limits. After suffering from heatstroke at the CrossFit Games in July, she pulled out of the competition when her body struggled to recover. Even with this major disappointment after months of training, she still had a positive attitude, using the hashtags #allsmiles and #enjoythejourney when she posted about withdrawing on Instagram.
Svelte Business Savant
The natural food chef-turned Real Housewife-turned Skinnygirl mogul is on an empire-building roll. In 2015, the veteran author of a host of Skinnygirl diet books released her latest self-help book, candidly titled I Suck At Relationships So You Don't Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After (her say-anything style is clearly a big part of her appeal). Frankel isn't losing steam heading into 2016. Before ringing in the New Year, she added executive producer to her already extensive resume with her production company's first show, Food Porn.
Dwayne Johnson has come a long way from his pro-wrestler days. The movie star and all-around nice guy muscled into the spotlight of both the fitness and entertainment worlds—no small feat. 2015 was an especially meteoric year: The Rock debuted the HBO hit Ballers, was named Man of the Century (that's right, century) by Muscle and Fitness, and welcomed a baby girl. Whatever The Rock is cookin' in 2016, we're sure his almost 100 million Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers will be eating it up.
The Motivation Dealer
If you spent any time in the self-help aisle of your local bookstore in the 90s, you couldn't avoid Tony Robbins. The motivational speaker and self-help guru released a trio of game-changing books: Unlimited Power, Unleash the Power Within, and Awaken the Giant Within. And then he went silent. (OK, not really—he did host seminars and give TED Talks.) However, after a two-decade absence from the publishing world, he's back. Money: Master the Game dominated best-seller lists this year; it gives readers a seven-step blueprint for financial freedom—exactly what you need to set up 2016 for success.
The Hollywood Trainer
Sitting on top of a DVD empire, a stacked rolodex of A-list clients, and 18 fitness and nutrition certifications (plus a seriously fitspirational Instagram), Jenkins is the real deal. She is responsible for the bodies of Alicia Keys and Kelly Rowland, and the post-baby return of Pink's famous six-pack. When she's not lending her hot body tips to shows and publications like the Today show, Shape, and Self, Jenkins blogs about the importance of positivity and a healthy mental outlook.
The world-renowned yogi and author plays a big part in shaping the conversation around yoga. As the official yoga contributor for Women's Health, a regular contributor to Yoga Journal, and a mainstay on Yahoo Health's advisory board, Budig is known for her ability to help others set intentions and goals. It was this type of thinking that led her to create her mantra "Aim True," which helps her followers set intentions for a fit, fueled, fulfilled lifestyle. The Under Armour athlete is publishing her second book, Aim True, this spring.
Maker of the Rules
Here's one doctor who really preaches the adage "you are what you eat." After practicing medicine for three decades, Lipman says it's clear that the key to a longer, healthier life starts with what we eat, not which pills we pop. He's taken that message to the masses, first by opening the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, one of the preeminent functional medicine practices in the country. And this past year, he published The New Health Rules, a book that cuts through all of the confusing—and often contradictory—research about nutrition, so readers walk away with easy-to-follow steps to lead better lives.
You know that one friend who can talk to anybody with ease? In the nutrition world, his name is John Berardi. As the founder of Precision Nutrition, he's rubbed elbows (at least virtually) with everyone from Canadian Olympians to UFC fighters to average Joes. His coaching and education programs have helped more than 200,000 people reach their fitness goals. The best part? It's all delivered without the bullsh*t. He tells us why carbs aren't the enemy, and why you shouldn't feel bad for eating those Christmas cookies.
Nutrition Newsletter Advisor
One week scientific research tells us drinking coffee could add years to our lifespan; the next we hear a cup of joe could do more harm than good. This ping-pong research is confusing, even for people who try to stay up-to-date. Luckily we have Alan Aragon, the nutrition advisor for Men's Health magazine, to be our Lewis and Clark. He's known for the Alan Aragon Research Review, a monthly newsletter that's the go-to resource for a breakdown and analysis of the latest research in nutrition and exercise. And don't worry: it's all backed up with the context you need to get the whole picture.
Besides being able to totally rock a bikini and marrying John Legend in 2013, Chrissy Teigen is also notorious for her hilarious and candid tweets and Instas. 2015 was big for the social-media savvy Sports Illustrated model—and not just because she found out she's pregnant with her first child. Teigen added the title of author to her résumé publishing a cookbook, Cravings: Recipes For All The Food You Want To Eat. While the recipes aren't always the most healthy, we love how candid the supermodel is about what she eats and how refreshing she is about her body.
Twenty-seven year-old California native Anna Victoria has built an online fitness community through her Fit Body Guides that have reached more than 100,000 women worldwide and her Instagram account with 830,000 followers. How did she get here in just three years? After growing up on junk food, she started experiencing health problems in college. Frustrated, she threw herself into studying nutrition and fitness. She started exercising regularly, wrote out a meal plan for herself, posted her transformation on Instagram, and became a certified personal trainer. Recently she's caught the attention of media outlets like Shape and AOL. Who knows where 2016 will take her!
The Cardio Dancer
Anna Kaiser began her career back in 2003 teaching ballet, body conditioning, and dance cardio at the Reebok Sports Club N.Y. and The Sports Club L.A. Since then she's trained the likes of Shakira, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kelly Ripa. After her role as Chief Content Officer for Tracy Anderson's studio, she branched off and started her own dance cardio company AKT In Motion in 2012 in New York City. January 2016 marks her television debut in a weight-loss show on ABC called My Diet Is Better Than Yours. Her AKT dance style is so addictive, we wouldn't be surprised to see her influence grow.
The Conversation Starter
Gary Taubes is a science writer who is known for his controversial stance on what's really making us fat. His argument: carbs, not fat, are to blame. Well-known for his books Good Calories, Bad Calories and What's Really Making Us Fat and controversial article "What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" from 2002 in the New York Times Magazine, Taubes also co-founded the nonprofit Nutrition Science Initiative to help fund independent research for the most pressing nutritional questions. His latest article for the New York Times from this year discusses how diet advice rarely addresses hunger.
Integrative Medicine Guru
The holistic health healer shares his thoughts on everything from natural healing and talk therapy to spiritual practices and herbal supplements. Last year, he released his latest book Fast Food, Good Food to remind us all that there really is no excuse for not cooking healthy meals at home. For when we can't cook at home, the natural-living doc turned restaurateur is set to open new locations for his healthy eats spot True Food Kitchen in Chicago, Austin, Palo Alto and New York this year.
The Renaissance Man
The bodybuilder turned movie star turned politician turned movie star (again) is no stranger to the spotlight. At 67 years old, he still stays close to his first passion with a fitness blog and #AskArnold Twitter chats to answer burning muscle-building questions. Last year, he shaped up for the latest installment of the Terminator chronicles with a body good enough to give his 30 years younger self a run for his money and resumed his rightful place on the June cover of Muscle and Fitness. Not that we're surprised—he told us he'd be back.
Neuroscientist Food Blogger
Darya Rose was a chronic dieter who wanted answers. A Ph.D. in neuroscience later, Rose discovered the answers to her weighty problems were not drugs or surgery; it was food. She started blogging at summertomato.com, where she shares recipes and practical advice to live an awesome life without dieting. In 2013, her first book, Foodist: Using Real Science and Real Food to Lose Weight Without Dieting, was published. If you haven't already, you should pick up a copy, and of course—don't miss her blog.
No one is wearing suits, but most gyms still feel like stodgy, serious places, where perfect form and ever-increasing reps are prized. Would you be more likely to work out if it was full of silliness? That's Mark Fisher's bet. The former actor started his eponymous gym—full of disco balls, unicorns, and dildos—as an island of misfit toys for the fitness community. He encourages the ninjas (yes, that's what gymgoers are called here) to wear flashy, sparkly, bright costumes to work out. This trainer will have you grinning from ear to ear, even as you swing a heavy kettlebell.
Jennifer Cohen started her career as a personal trainer who preached that workouts should be easy to do—anytime and anywhere—and incorporated into everyday life. Her first book No Gym Required: Unleash Your Inner Rockstar, published in 2009, became a national bestseller. You might recognize her from her 2011 appearance as a trainer on The CW reality show Shedding for the Wedding. She's also been on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Today, The Doctors, Dr. Drew, and Extra! and currently contributes to Forbes.com and Health.com. Her latest book Strong Is the New Skinny was published at the end of 2014. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times about it she said, "The starving to get skinny? That's over." Hell to the yeah.
The Guy Who Still Gets It
Former editorial director at LIVESTRONG.COM, fitness editor at Men’s Health, and author of six books, Adam Bornstein’s main goal is to help other people transform their bodies—and of course their health. He's known for combing through all of the information on the web and providing a no-bullshit, reliable rundown on the latest information, whether it's a fad or a topic on his mind. He also coaches and consults as a part of his business Born Fitness. And don’t worry—he'll tell you to eat your dessert.
The Juice Man
If it weren't for Cross's award-winning documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, which detailed his weight-loss journey (and subsequent life transformation), we can't help but wonder whether the juicing scene would be as big as it is today. After the success of the film, his community-focused company, Reboot With Joe, helped extend the allure of green juice to thousands of people across the country. While we're all for eating tons of fruit and vegetables, juicing has stirred up some controversy in recent years, as there's little scientific evidence that "juicing" will detox your body or promote weight loss any more than a well-balanced diet.
Do-Everything Food Doctor
Ever look at someone's résumé and wonder how they ever find time to sleep? We got halfway through David Katz's and started to feel tired. He's the director and co-founder of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, founder of the True Health Initiative, senior nutrition expert for KIND, and somehow he finds time to write for U.S. News and World Report and The Huffington Post. Whew! Katz led research this year that found eating something healthy—it was walnuts in this case—enticed people to make more healthy eating choices. Replacing Ruffles with kale chips could be the start of a whole new you!
Super Strong Socialista
After winning the title of CrossFit's Fittest Woman on Earth in 2014, Camille Leblanc-Basinet became a bit of an overnight celebrity—well, at least among the crowd that loves WODs. In the past year, she's shared her progress from hang squats to V-ups with her more than one million social followers. Oh yeah, and she managed to finish her degree in chemical engineering, proving she's got brains and brawn.
The Unapolegetic Powerhouse
If there's someone you should be following on Instagram (but probably aren't already) it's Jen Sinkler. The personal trainer and former U.S.A. team rugby player totally crushes it. Scrolling through her quick vids, like the simple way to fail-proof your squat and unload a barbell, is a quick dose of motivation to hit the weight room. Sinkler just launched the workout program Unapologetically Powerful. Instead of talking about how women can lose weight fast, she's showing them the best way to get stronger.
The High-Profile Trainer
L.A. is swarming with trainers to the stars, but Gunnar Peterson is the real deal. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, his dynamic approach has helped Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman, and the whole Kardashian clan achieve long-term results. (Khloé, who also made this year's list, is a fan of Instagramming from his gym.) His philosophy in a nutshell: Training fads come and go, but there are no shortcuts to getting fit. Right on.
The founder of Wellness Mama is on a mission to provide "simple answers for healthier families." And she's well on her way, blogging about everything from natural skin remedies to family-friendly recipes and her thoughts on motherhood. The e-book author also doesn't shy away from sharing her personal health issues and gets real via her podcast The Health Moms.
Nice Guy Celeb Trainer
What do Lady Gaga, Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. have in common? This guy. Pasternak trains some of the biggest names in Hollywood, but despite his celeb-trainer status, he's super approachable. Pasternak breaks down the latest exercise science into words normal people can understand on his blog on People.com. In 2015, he released 5 Pounds, his super simple diet plan built on a variety of simple mandates such as walking five miles and unplugging for at least one hour every day to improve overall health.
The Original Paleo
Way back in 2010, before most people had ever heard of the caveman diet, Robb Wolff published The Paleo Solution. (He tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to health and fitness trends; he and his wife opened the fourth CrossFit affiliate in 2004.) Now he's basically the forefather of Paleo, producing a weekly podcast called "The Paleo Solution" and writing the foreword to The Paleovedic Diet, the just-released (and much buzzed about) book that blends the ideas of the Paleo diet with Ayurvedic medicine.
The 'Be Your Best You' Coach
Neghar Fonooni was a personal trainer 15 years ago when she decided to join the Air Force as a linguist. She's since returned to fitness and has a cumulative 16 years of experience in the industry. Her main passion? She wants you to live your bliss, and she’s helping people do that through her uplifting, empowering topics she covers as a coach and blogger on Eat, Lift, and Be Happy. She also developed a weight-loss program for women called the Lean and Lovely Program, which has caught the attention of publications like Shape, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, and The Washington Post. Unlike many weight-loss plans, her program puts just as much emphasis on changing your attitude as it does on changing your body.
King of Mindfulness
Jon Kabat-Zinn has been called "the godfather of the mindfulness movement in the West" by The Wall Street Journal. And we think that hits the nail on the head. As the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at UMass Medical School, he's played a huge role in helping bring mindfulness into mainstream medicine. Between interviews with Anderson Cooper and contributing to major media outlets like The Guardian, Kabat Zinn teaches mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in various venues around the world.
The Plant-Passionate Survivor
Now-wellness activist Kris Carr was diagnosed with a rare, incurable stage-4 cancer back in 2003. In that moment, she committed to living her best, healthiest life possible. Carr has since directed and starred in the documentary Crazy, Sexy Cancer and authored a Crazy, Sexy book series, which have revolutionized the way we think about cancer and living well—including a lot of joy and fun. The New York Times bestselling author preaches a lot of self-care and a plant-dense diet. You can learn a lot more about the latter in her newest book Crazy, Sexy Juice.
Two Extremely Fit Bodies
Former University of Washington track teammates and friends Jennifer Forrester and Kaisa Keranen started an Instagram account they named Two Bad Bodies in May 2014. It didn't take long for their synchronized workouts and motivating posts to gain a huge following. (We're talking hundreds of thousands of followers!) They even caught First Lady Michelle Obama's attention: She reposted them on her own Instagram and made this video challenging the pair to create five new workouts for their followers in honor of the fifth anniversary of Let's Move! Forrester and Keranen went their separate ways later in 2015, but fans are encouraged to follow their individual accounts for the same healthy dose of motivation.
Feel-Good Social Media Maven
As an aspiring model in high school, this holistic nutritionist and certified personal trainer quickly realized she cared more about feeling good and loving her body than just looking good. Her nutrition and fitness company Way of Gray infuses that same message in its popular three-month guides. If you're not ready to commit to a three-month plan, check out Gray's Instagram account for plenty of feel-good, refreshingly honest posts.
Food Is Makeup Artist
New York Times bestselling author Kimberly Snyder, C.N. believes that "outer beauty is a reflection of inner health." That's a conclusion she came to after overcoming her own struggle with weight and acne before publishing her first book, The Beauty Detox Solution. The so-called "nutritionist for the mind, body, and soul" shares her wisdom with a slew of celebrity clients (i.e. Drew Barrymore, Kerry Washington, and Reese Witherspoon) and everyone else via her blog and podcast Beauty Inside Out. Last year was especially big for Snyder because she published her third book, The Beauty Detox Power: Nourish Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss and Discover True Joy.
Layne Norton isn't just a professional natural bodybuilder and powerlifter, he also has a Ph.D. in nutritional science with an expertise in muscle protein and amino acid metabolism. In other words, this guy's legit. His podcast Physique Science Radio, which he hosts with fellow influencer Sohee Lee (No. 60), focuses on evidence-based nutrition and exercise recommendations—all discussed in a way that anyone can understand. Zeroing in on the past 12 months, a major standout is PH3, the 13-week fitness program Norton launched with bodybuilding.com. If you're an advanced lifter, it's worth checking out!
The Abs Whisperer
Mike Chang has come a long way since he uploaded his first workout video to YouTube in 2010. He's now the CEO of Six Pack Shortcuts, a YouTube-based fitness company with more than 3.7 million subscribers—all eager to burn fat, build muscle, and uncover those abs. The popular program was updated this year with the release of an app that offers streaming workouts, direct access to coaches, and exclusive discounts.
The Fitness DVD Ruler
Entrepreneur, motivational speaker, New York Times bestselling author, and fitness celebrity Chalene Johnson has sold more than 10 million of her extremely popular Turbo Fire™, ChaLEAN Extreme™, and Turbo Jam™ DVDs. (She was even named the Guinness World Record holder for the most fitness videos!) In 2014, she launched her podcast The Chalene Show to cover everything from recent health news (like Oprah’s partnership with Weight Watchers) to stepping outside your comfort zone. Now Johnson streams live workouts on Periscope to more than 67,000 followers and always keeps her blog current. Follow her on any platform, and you'll quickly see how her dynamic personality and over-the-top energy has made her so successful.
Award-winning journalist Shankar Vedantam is a science correspondent for NPR and author of the much-buzzed-about book The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives (2010). Fast forward five years, and his podcast by the same name is quickly gaining popularity. Each 30-minute episode brings together brain, psychology, and behavior buffs, as well as comedians, musicians, actors, and more. The result is surprisingly entertaining, profound, and pretty much exactly what you'd want in a thought-provoking podcast. We highly recommend tuning in!
The Beautiful Badass
You may recognize her face from Under Armour's #IWILLWHATIWANT campaign, but Natalie Uhling is not just a fitness model. She's an athlete, trainer, and the creator of a NUFit, a high-intensity workout method that merges music and movement so that each session is a unique and memorable experience. Uhling also contributes to many publications, and this year was featured on sites like Yahoo, Forbes, and The Coveteur.
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A note on our metrics: We take this list seriously and took every measure we could to ensure its accuracy. This list is meant to highlight those people who had the most actual reach in the health and wellness space in 2015—not those we personally consider to be influencers. The order of this list was almost entirely based on numbers. We considered more than 200 names gathered from last year's nominees (and resulting comments), input from social media, and suggestions from our staff. We then created a scoring system based on nine categories: website pagerank, social media presence, Klout score, number of studies or research published, number of products, professional degrees and certifications, number of Google News mentions, prevalence in 2015, and career focus on health and fitness—all with variable levels of impact on the final score. Finally, we arranged the list from highest to lowest score and used our qualitative judgment as an editorial team to fill in the gaps that the metrics couldn't. We are damn proud of this list, but we of course always welcome your comments and concerns. Apologies we can't give credit to every person playing a significant role in the health, fitness, and happiness world. But don't let our list stop your mama, bro, BFF, or pets from serving as your biggest influences!
Anyone you think is missing from this list? Tweet your nominations @Greatist and we'll be sure to check out those names for next year's edition!
Written by Jeff Cattel, Locke Hughes, and Macaela Mackenzie. Research and reporting by Heidi Pashman.