The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness 2012
This year in the world of fitness, health, and happiness, healthy food became a central focus, one man taught people to become chefs in four hours flat, and the Governator became even more famous (is that possible?). There are thousands of people working every day to revolutionize the way people think about health and wellness. When trying to determine the most powerful innovators in this space, we looked at a few factors: social reach, the trends they’ve set, the products they’ve created, research they've contributed to, media coverage, and professional certifications and degrees they've attained (among a few other things). After many discussions (and way too much math), here are the 100 people we determined to be the most influential figures in fitness, health, and happiness this year.
Wondering what last year's list looked like? Take a gander here.
The 2012 List
1. Michelle Obama First Lady and Children’s Health Advocate
When First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t doing pushups with Ellen or breaking jumping jack records, she’s out raising a healthier generation of kids through her Let’s Move initiative. Teaching children the importance of eating healthy and staying active seems to be sticking, too. A fun experiment conducted during Halloween this year found that kids were more likely to choose a piece of fruit over a candy bar after viewing a picture of the first lady. How’s that for influence? Photo: whitehouse.gov
2. Jamie Oliver Chef and Healthy Eating Advocate
This British chef and media personality is striving to improve diets and poor cooking habits in the U.S. and abroad by saying sayonara to unhealthy meals in cafeterias. Whether he’s transforming kids’ lunch trays, teaching cooking skills to students through his program, "Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills," or filming how-to videos on his site, Oliver is changing eating habits to help people live longer and happier lives. Photo: David Loftus
3. Dr. Mehmet Oz Physician, Author, and TV Host
It’s no yellow brick road, but Dr. Mehmet Oz surely has created a path to better health for people across the globe. Oz consulted as the health expert on Oprah for five years before landing his own self-titled show in 2009, on which he works with a medical team to produce segments focused on personal and medical health. And did we mention Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon and has a joint MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Wharton Business School? This man clearly knows his stuff. Photo: doctoroz.com
4. Deepak Chopra Physician and Holistic Health Expert
Want to know the meaning of life? You may get one step closer after hearing from Chopra, who uses a combination of techniques — from mainstream medicine to transcendental meditation — to help people live happy and balanced lives. With 26 books that have been translated into 35 different languages, he’s certainly spreading the word of wellness around the globe. His latest book, "Super Brain," explores the connection between the brain and physical and spiritual health. Photo: chopra.com
5. Dr. Andrew Weil Physician and Integrative Medicine Expert
No pills? No problems, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. Weil focuses on natural health (even though he has a medical degree!) and teaches Integrative Medicine, which incorporates alternative medicine (like herbal supplements and Omega 3’s) with what the Western docs prescribe. He’s spreading the word through his 10 books, lectures, and personal website that’s chock full of recipes, Q & A’s, and health plans — no prescription necessary. Photo: healthjourneys.com
6. Dr. Joseph Mercola Osteopathic Physician and Founder of Mercola.com
In the Internet age, it’s easy to find plenty of self-proclaimed experts selling the latest supplements online. Dr. Joseph Mercola separates himself from the pack with a wide reach that extends beyond the sales aspect of his website. If you have a question about natural health, Google will likely point you his way. The doctor has come under fire for over-exaggerating health risks (like fluorinated water and mercury in dental fillings) and making some controversial claims, but his influence across the online health space is undeniable. Photo: mercola.com
7. Jillian Michaels Trainer and TV Personality
As one of the most recognizable faces in fitness, Jillian Michaels has made her name on weight-loss reality shows, workout DVDs, books, and video games. This year, she took on a new role as a mom but has still maintained a strong presence in the health and fitness world. After a year-long break from the hit show "The Biggest Loser," Michaels will return next season to continue inspiring people to change their habits and adopt healthier, happier, and fitter lifestyles. Photo: jillianmichaels.com
8. Arnold Schwarzenegger Bodybuilder, Actor, and Politician
Let's be honest: Every year is a big year for the Governator. In 2012, after some less-than-positive personal issues, Arnold broke back into the fitness world with the re-launch of his website and autobiography, "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story." The site's fitness section appeals to any muscle-lover, featuring articles like "Breaking Through Muscle Building Plateaus" and "Squat 101," written by some of the most well known faces in the space (including fellow influencers). As a politician, Schwarzenegger was dedicated to physical education in schools and still works with after-school programs focused on fitness. Each year, nearly 200,000 supporters attend the Arnold Sports Festival, where Schwarzenegger’s fitness feats are his most revered achievements. Photo: schwarzenegger.com
9. Tim Ferriss Author
This man likes to try to do anything and everything in four hours flat. With the launch of his third book in November, "The 4-Hour Chef," Ferriss added to his legacy that started with the 2007 bestseller "The 4-Hour Workweek." The entrepreneur made a name for himself by finding ways to “hack” our lives and bodies, whether it’s escaping the 9-to-5, getting fit, or learning how to cook. Ferriss lives on the principle that he can teach himself to do anything, happily using himself as a guinea pig for his readers. Who knows what's next — "The 4-Hour Superman?" Photo: fourhourworkweek.com
10. Dr. Phil McGraw Psychologist and TV Host
For 10 years, Dr. Phil has been one of the most recognizable faces on TV. He's tackled issues from bullying to drug abuse and depression by telling real-life stories with the guests on his show. Dr. Phil has also authored six #1 New York Times Bestsellers and regularly appears on news shows. Photo: drphil.com
11. Bethenny Frankel Reality TV Star, Author, and Entrepreneur
Frankel originally made a name for herself on Bravo's hit TV show, "The Real Housewives of New York City," and used the platform to launch herself into a self-made business success. Starting with Skinnygirl Margarita, Frankel is now the owner of multiple related brands with dozens of products, including everything from her own line of low-calorie wines and liquors to books, yoga DVDs, and shape-wear for women. Before her stint as a housewife, she worked as a natural foods chef and released her first book, "Naturally Thin." If history is any indicator, this businesswoman isn't stopping anytime soon. Photo: bethenny.com
12. Bob Harper Trainer and TV Personality
While probably best known for his role on "The Biggest Loser" (alongside our #8 influencer), Harper has been building his name in the fitness world for over 20 years. He’s expanded his business with his own line of workout DVDs, supplements, books, and motivational speaking engagements and personal appearances. He's accessible, too: Each week, Harper releases free workout challenges for his fans on his website, MyTrainerBob.com, and regularly teaches spin classes in Los Angeles. Photo: bobharper.com
13. Mark Bittman Author
As a veteran writer for The New York Times, Bittman has built a name for himself as one of the most read and well-respected food and health journalists in the world. He’s tackled topics ranging from how to cook everything (also the title of one of his books and the inspiration for his 2012 release, "How to Cook Everything: The Basics"), to the factors contributing to obesity, global warming, and many other modern day challenges. Bittman’s writings can be found regularly in the Times, where he is now an opinion columnist and lead food writer for The Times Magazine. Photo: markbittman.com
14. Dr. Wayne Dyer Speaker and Author
Dr. Dyer is known around the world for his motivational techniques, which he spreads through speeches and an arsenal of more than 30 self-help books. Known to fans as the “father of motivation,” the renowned speaker uses his education and experience to help others’ dreams come true. Need a quick boost? Check out the daily affirmations Dyer posts on his website, making motivation available to anyone who needs it. Photo: drwaynedyer.com
15. Dr. Mark Hyman Physician and Author
Author of the 2012 #1 New York Times Bestseller "The Blood Sugar Solution" and founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine, Dr. Mark Hyman focuses on identifying the root causes of chronic illness by treating the whole body. He works with our #4 influencer on HealthCorps, which fights obesity by educating American students about nutrition and fitness. While his practices aren't always perfectly aligned with mainstream medicine, there's no doubt Dr. Hyman's efforts to help solve health epidemics in America aren't stopping anytime soon. Photo: drhyman.com
16. Joy Bauer Author, Registered Dietitian, and TV Personality
This dietitian is the nutrition and health expert for the TODAY Show and can be found on bookshelves across the country. She's the queen of practical and easy-to-follow advice to help Americans eat better and lead healthier and happier lives. But she's not just easy to find on TV: Bauer's advice can also be found on Everydayhealth.com, JoyBauer.com, Women's Day magazine, and her cooking show, "Good Food, Good Deeds." Photo: dietsuccessstories.org
17. Dr. Sanjay Gupta Physician and Journalist
Between his award-winning news reporting, medical background, and pearly white smile, Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings more to the news table than most journalists. As the chief medical correspondent for CNN, Gupta keeps viewers informed on health and medical news, from brain development to disaster reports. In 2009, he helped launch “Fit Nation,” CNN’s multi-platform anti-obesity campaign, and competes each year on the FN triathlon team. Oh, and he was voted one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive in 2003. Dr. McDreamy, indeed. Photo: cnn.com
18. Michael Pollan Author
Since his groundbreaking book "The Botany of Desire" entered the food scene in 2002, Michael Pollan has been challenging the way we think about eating. His basic argument can be summed up in the first three sentences of one of his books: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan endorses consuming local and seasonal food to maximize both human and environmental health. Since his initial foray into the “locavore” world, he’s published "The Omnivore’s Dilemma," "In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto," and "Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual." In addition to writing about people and their relationship to food, Pollan contributes to publications like The New York Times and teaches journalism at the UC Graduate School of Journalism. Photo by Alia Malley
19. Dr. David Katz Physician, Researcher, and Author
No one can say Dr. David Katz has been slacking off. Katz is the founder and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, where scientists and doctors develop innovative approaches to preventing diseases and promoting overall health. Outside the lab, Katz is passionate about health and has created fitness and nutrition education programs for elementary school students and their parents. Katz has also published hundreds of medical articles, but you can find his work at the corner newsstand, too — he’s the nutrition columnist for O Magazine and has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Glamour, Prevention, and many other publications. Photo: davidkatzmd.com
20. Tony Robbins Author and Motivational Speaker
For over 30 years, self-help author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins has doled out advice on how to boost health and energy, live without fear, and use communication to build and maintain happy relationships. In his multi-day seminars such as Unleash the Power Within, Mastery University, and Business Mastery, Robbins teaches people how to take control of their lives and go after success. Robbins has reached America’s youth through the Presidential Summit for America’s Promise, a program he founded to match mentors with kids across the country. Since 1991, the Anthony Robbins Foundation has worked to aid students, prisoners, and the elderly through food drives and educational programs. Photo: tonyrobbins.com
21. Tony Horton Trainer and Inventor of P90X
Getting fit at home has gone way beyond step aerobics, thanks to Tony Horton’s P90X workout program. The P90X technique uses resistance training, bodyweight exercises, cardio, yoga, martial arts, ab work, and plyometrics to transform any body in — you guessed it — 90 days. The wide variety of exercises is based on “muscle confusion,” which keeps the body from reaching a fitness plateau. In 2012, P90X made it big on Capitol Hill after fitness buff and vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan glowingly endorsed Horton’s exercise program. With a book, multiple exercise programs, and public appearances, something tells us Horton won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Photo: tonyhortonsworld.com
22. Dan Savage Author and Journalist
When a series of LGBT teenage suicides due to harassment and bullying swept the country in 2010, “Savage Love” columnist Dan Savage knew he had to take action. The author and his husband started It Gets Better, a project that supports LGBT teens by boosting their self-esteem and offering positive messages from successful adults of all sexual orientations. With help from celebrities and politicians from Lady Gaga to President Obama, the campaign quickly became a national phenomenon. And now, with a book by the same name and many fundraisers, Savage has raised significant funds for LGBT youth charities. Photo: LaRae Lobdell
23. Dr. Atul Gawande Physician, Researcher, and Author
You won’t find Dr. Atul Gawande on TV plugging fitness DVDs or promoting his new diet book. Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher dedicated to making surgery, childbirth, and care of terminally ill patients as safe and humane as possible. He's an advisor for the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative and the founder of Lifebox, a non-profit that seeks to improve surgical safety around the world. Gawande also teaches at Harvard Medical School, writes about public health for The New Yorker and Slate, and has penned three New York Times bestselling books about medicine and ethics. Photo: Fred Field
24. Dr. Dean Ornish Physician and Researcher
According to Dr. Dean Ornish, serious health problems like coronary artery disease and prostate cancer can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle that “turns off” illness-causing genes. For over 35 years, Ornish has been supporting his theory by conducting studies and doing research. He believes simple practices like eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet, exercising moderately, and managing stress with yoga and meditation can stop and even reverse life-threatening diseases. Ornish founded the nonprofit Preventative Medicine Research Institute in 1984, and he’s been studying the effects of diet and lifestyle on health ever since. Ornish has published countless studies and six books, all of which topped national bestseller lists. Photo: pmri.org
25. Jeanette Jenkins Trainer
Celeb fitness guru Jeanette Jenkins knows a thing or two about getting stars in shape. From power yoga to ab moves to boot camp, Jenkins has a fitness DVD for every style of exercise and every personality. Jenkins is the president of her own company, The Hollywood Trainer, and has created dozens of workouts and written a book about the art of staying fit. She’s the go-to trainer for celebrities like Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, and Pink, and has appeared on the Today Show, the Dr. Oz Show, and Celebrity Fit Club, among many others. Photo: thehollywoodtrainer.com
26. Gretchen Rubin Author
It was a big year for this bluebird-collecting writer. Rubin published "Happier at Home," the companion to her first bestselling book on happiness, "The Happiness Project." The story behind these two books is Rubin’s own life. As a writer, mother, and wife she was content, but not as happy as she wanted to be. Instead of seeing a psychiatrist or having a midlife crisis, Rubin decided to set small happiness goals for herself for one year. Her results (published as "The Happiness Project") were so fascinating and uplifting that she repeated the experiment, this time focusing on her family and home life. Rubin emerged in 2012 as a bona fide “happiness expert” with her online guide to starting your own Happiness Project. Photo: gretchenrubin.com
27. Beto Perez Trainer and Founder of Zumba
Alberto "Beto" Perez may be a successful entrepreneur now, but in the 1990s he was just another spandex-clad aerobics instructor. Set to lead a class one day in Cali, Colombia, Perez realized that he had left his aerobics music tapes at home. In a bind, he popped in his own favorite salsa and merengue tunes and started grooving. His class loved dancing themselves fit, and thus Zumba was born. After the first impromptu class, Perez choreographed set routines and brought his fitness craze to the United States. Zumba has grown by leaps and bounds (or shimmies and salsa-steps) since then, with thousands of certified trainers around the country and a line of merchandise including DVDs, video games, and even clothing. Photo: fitcommerce.com
28. Dr. Drew Pinsky Physician, Professor, and TV Personality
Dr. Drew Pinsky is famous for detoxing famous people on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" and "Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew", but this board-certified doc wears plenty of less scandalous hats. He teaches clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California, runs a private medical practice, and is a staff member at Huntington Memorial Hospital. When he’s not hanging out with celebs on VH1 or writing books about treating addiction, Drew chats four times a week on Loveline, a medical and relationship advice talk show he’s hosted since he was a med student in 1984. In 2011, he began hosting Dr. Drew on Call, a TV show on HLN about human behavior and current events. Photo: lctv.com
29. Marion Nestle Author and Professor
Marion Nestle was teaching Americans about healthy eating way before kale was trendy. Originally a biology professor, she switched to human biology and nutrition in the 1980s and has focused on food studies and public health ever since. She has taught at the University of California — San Francisco, New York University, Cornell University, and Brandeis University. During her long career, Nestle has worked with the American Cancer Society and the Federal Department of Agriculture, among many other organizations. Her bestselling books include "Food Politics," "Safe Food," "What to Eat," "Pet Food Politics," "Feed Your Pet Right," and "Why Calories Count." Currently, Nestle writes a monthly column for the San Francisco Chronicle, contributes to The Atlantic, and maintains her own blog, Food Politics. Photo: foodpolitics.com
30. Dr. Kevin Pho Physician and Author
The health industry is a complicated place, even for doctors and nurses. Enter Dr. Kevin Pho, a physician who uses his social media influence to disentangle medical information on the Internet. Pho tells it like it is on his blog KevinMD.com, where he shares his opinions on health and medical issues. His site has been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Boston Globe, and various other news publications and websites. In addition to maintaining his social media powerhouse status with blog posts and speaking engagements, Pho is a practicing internal medicine doctor. Photo: kevinmd.com
31. Eric Cressey Trainer and Author
Eric Cressey may be one strong guy, but he has way more than weightlifting titles under his belt. Cressey Perfomance is the go-to performance and rehabilitation facility for professional athletes in New England, and Cressey’s especially renowned for his work with baseball pitchers. In addition to working with clients, Cressey has written hundreds of articles and five books on performance training. His writing has appeared in publications like Men’s Health, ESPN, Men’s Fitness, The Boston Globe, and Oxygen. Photo: ericcressey.com
32. Todd Durkin Trainer
Internationally recognized performance coach Todd Durkin is all about motivating and educating. He’s trained NFL pros like Aaron Rodgers and Shawne Merriman, and Men’s Health named his gym, Fitness Quest 10, one of the Top 10 Gyms in the U.S.A. As the Head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council, Durkin employs his training knowledge to help develop apparel. Durkin and his team also provide motivational and educational programs to companies and conferences worldwide. Photo: todddurkin.com
33. Bob Greene Trainer and Author
He’s probably best known as Oprah Winfrey’s personal trainer (and for appearing on her show a whole lot), but now Bob Greene is helping millions more people lose weight and live happier, healthier lives. The exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, best-selling author, and head of the Best Life diet brand has nearly three decades in the health and fitness biz under his belt. He’s also the face behind the hugely successful Total Body Makeover. Photo: Reggie Casagrande
34. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff Physician, Professor, and Author
As the founder and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff is dedicated to helping people lose weight. Freedhoff, who is also an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, is working on his latest book, "Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work," which is set to publish in 2014. His personal website is also an award-winning health blog where readers can keep up with the latest on all things Yoni. Photo: weightymatters.ca
35. John Berardi Trainer, Researcher, and Author
In his doctoral studies, certified trainer John Berardi focused on what to eat before, during, and after exercise to optimize performance. With that knowledge, Berardi runs Precision Nutrition, a web-based nutrition coaching company that connects clients to researchers and coaches. And he’s good at it, too. In the last two winter Olympics, the athletes Berardi coached snagged 25 medals, 12 of them gold. He’s taught college courses and written books for everyone from elite athletes to gym newbies. In the past year, Berardi has garnered a ton of attention for his work on intermittent fasting. Photo: precisionnutrition.com
36. Tracy Anderson Trainer
Anderson seems to be doing everything all the time. She is best known as Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer (and at one point Madonna’s, too). She has an ever-expanding fitness brand with instructional DVDs and exclusive gyms in Los Angeles, New York City, and London. She wrote “Tracy Anderson's 30 Day Method” with the intention to transform women’s bodies into a streamlined dancer’s physique. All this while fighting for women to get fit the healthy way. Photo: tracyandersonmethod.com
37. Lisa Lillien Author
The author of the Hungry Girl cookbooks and website, Lisa Lillien is all about scaling down calorie-laden foods to tasty, guilt-free versions. It all started with her own weight-loss struggles. Lillien is the first to admit that she’s tried all sorts of diet fads, many of them to no success. Now her email newsletter reaches one million subscribers daily, and features regular grocery store guides, pro tips, and product reviews. Despite no formal background in nutrition, Lillien recently landed a slot on the Cooking Channel and the Food Network with her show “Hungry Girl,” on which she creates lean recipes. Photo: cookingchanneltv.com
38. Tara Stiles Yoga Entrepreneur
A former dancer and model, Stiles has morphed into one of the most influential yoga “guides” (as she calls them), known especially for her fun, carefree approach to the practice. After becoming a certified yoga instructor, Stiles opened Strala Yoga, a New York studio known for its welcoming, straightforward environment. The yoga rock star is also the author of the best-selling “Yoga Cures” and “Slim Calm Sexy Yoga.” Not to mention, she’s friends with Deepak Chopra (our #4 pick!) and has released joint DVDs with him. Photo: Thomas Hoeffgen
39. Dr. Frank Lipman Physician and Author
He’s a doctor, yes, but not your average one. During his early training in South Africa, Lipman focused on traditional Western medicine. He later studied Eastern practices like acupuncture, herbal remedies, and meditation. Lipman combines all of these methods in what he calls “good medicine.” He’s the founder and director of the Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center, which aims to heal thousands of people. He’s also written two books and lectures throughout the world about his take on blended healing. Photo: drfranklipman.com
40. John Romaniello Trainer and Author
This self-professed pretty boy is a personal trainer, coach, author, and model. Most people call him Roman. He's trained a whole gambit of people — actors, musicians, high school students, models, and his own mom — with both conventional and unconventional methods. He’s the author of hundreds of articles in major fitness publications such as Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, T-Nation.com, SHAPE, and Health — not to mention a killer blog of his own. He’s a proponent for using humor to help his clients push through workouts. Oh and, he also hates wearing shirts. Photo: romanfitnesssystems.com
41. Gunnar Peterson Trainer
This Beverly Hills-based celebrity trainer is known for his use of functional training and innovative fitness techniques that can be carried over from the gym to daily life activities. He’s been in the biz for over two decades, and now even movie stars turn to him when preparing for roles. But he wasn’t always a sub-10 percent body fat iron-pumper. Peterson struggled with his weight as a kid and was enrolled in Weight Watchers when he was 10 years old. Since his weight-watching days, Peterson developed the Core Secrets series of home fitness DVDs. Photo: gunnarpeterson.com
42. Shaun Thompson Trainer
Though most people know this chiseled trainer as simply “Shaun T,” he does in fact have a last name. After dabbling in the corporate world, Thompson branched out into commercial fitness and dance, working for companies such as Equinox. He gained fame and fans with the DVDs “Hip Hop Abs” and “Rockin Body.” But perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is the 60-day workout challenge, “Insanity,” considered to be one of the most challenging but effective at-home DVDs. The latest installment of Thompson’s killer workouts is aptly named “The Asylum.” Photo: shauntfitness.com
43. Mark Sisson Author As one of the biggest names in Paleo, Mark Sisson believes in consuming the so-called “caveman diet,” chock-full of fresh, organic, unprocessed foods. In an effort to help others achieve primal living in a modern world, Sisson wrote “The Primal Blueprint,” based on the Paleolithic diet, and also maintains his own blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. The former marathoner and ironman triathlete believes in taking responsibility for our own health, and does it himself (just check out how ripped he is as a near-60-year-old). His motto? “Real men eat lettuce.” Photo: marksdailyapple.com
44. Shiva Rea Yogi
Rea practices Ashtanga yoga and teaches Prana Flow yoga, which integrates alignment, intuition, strength, fluidity, and meditation. A big fan of expressive dance, Rea incorporates world music in her classes and uses chanting as a way to call on her students’ natural rhythms. With a master’s degree in dance movement therapy and a background in world dance, cultural anthropology, comparative religions, and somatics, Rea focuses on helping people open up their bodies and minds through yoga. Photo: shivarea.com
45. Brett Hoebel Trainer and Media Personality
You may have seen this butt-kicking trainer on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Hoebel, founder of Hoebel Fitness, uses a mind-body approach in his training. He brings a martial arts background in capoeira and Muay Thai kickboxing along with best practices in nutrition, yoga, holistic health, psychology, and biology to his clients (which include Victoria’s Secret models). He was a health expert on The Food Network’s “Fat Chef,” and created at-home DVD workout programs such as “RevAbs” and “revamp.” Hoebel centers his talents in Los Angeles but also travels to New York and Brazil to share his integrative approach to health. Photo: bretthoebel.com
46. Martha Beck Author and Life Coach
This happy lady is known for finding the positive — and helping others do so too. But Beck wasn’t always happy as a clam; she struggled with emotional issues from an early age. She looked for satisfaction everywhere, from academic achievements to new relationships and philosophy books. Since finding herself and a positive attitude, the Harvard grad has released a series of memoirs and motivational books, including “Finding Your Own North Star” and “Expecting Adam.” Now a mother of three (and one of Oprah’s friends), Beck motivates others to experience stress-free living. Psychology Today, USA Today, and NPR have all referred to her as one of the best-known life coaches in America. Photo: marthabeck.com
47. Joe Dowdell Trainer
As a veteran personal trainer and strength coach, Joe Dowdell brings extensive fitness knowledge to his positions on the advisory boards of Fitness Magazine, BodyBuilding.com, FitFluential.com, and as a contributing Fitness Editor for Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Men’s Fitness. He’s also become one of the most sought-after personal trainers among celebrities and CEOs. In 2010, Dowdell took his expertise from the gyms to the bookstores with his book “Ultimate You,” touted as a fat-blasting total body makeover. Dowdell continues to guide people “in the flesh” at Peak Performance, voted the #3 gym in America by Men's Health (and the #9 most innovative gym by us!), which he founded and co-owns. Photo: joedowdell.com
48. Dr. Travis Stork Physician and TV Host
First known as “The Bachelor” during the show’s eighth season, Stork probably didn’t anticipate where he’d end up. Now an Emmy-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show “The Doctors” (as well as a practicing board-certified emergency medicine physician), Stork seeks to use the wide reach of television to empower patients across the country to take charge of their health. In addition, he works as a motivational speaker, serves on the Medical Advisory Board of Men’s Health magazine, and is the bestselling author of “The Lean Belly Prescription” and “The Doctor Is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness.” Photo: thedoctorstv.com
49. Bryan Vartabedian Physician, Author, and Professor
In addition to working as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and a practicing physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, America’s largest children’s hospital, Vartabedian has served as a consultant to a number of health care start ups and variety of media outlets, including CNN and The New York Times. Vartabedian joined the health blogosphere in 2006 and continues to write on the intersection of medicine, social media, and technology on his blog, 33 Charts. He also co-founded the Medical Futures Lab, which seeks to re-imagine the future of medicine by offering insight into and solutions for the evolving relationship between medicine and technology. Photo: 33charts.com
50. Chris Kresser Writer and Alternative Medicine Expert
As an undergrad at UC Berkeley, Chris Kresser was introduced to Eastern spirituality and alternative health practices ranging from meditation to yoga and massage. Frustrated by a lack of effective treatments for an illness he contracted while traveling the world post-college, Kresser decided to turn his youthful interests in alternative medicine into a career and a lifestyle overhaul. He began to study Chinese medicine, and is now a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine. In 2008, Kresser launched The Healthy Skeptic (now merged with his personal website), a then-blog dedicated to exposing common myths purported by the media and medical industry. Kresser quickly earned a large following interested in dissecting health and wellness information and learning how to live healthier, more empowered lives. Photo: chriskresser.com
51. Jackie Warner Trainer
For Warner, tough love is the only love when it comes to personal training. Warner realized her love for the health and fitness field at age 22, after helping some friends lose weight. In less than a year she opened Lift, the first fitness facility in Southern California to accept health insurance for exercise. Not long after, Warner co-founded Sky Sport and Spa, a luxury gym and full-service health and medical practice. But Warner really made it big when the Bravo! network heard about her work and created a show, “Work Out,” starring Warner’s fitness pursuits. Quickly thereafter she started working on her second series, “Thintervention,” on which she trains overweight clients seeking to make dramatic lifestyle changes. Warner regularly contributes to The Huffington Post and Fitness Magazine and is the bestselling author of “This is Why You’re Fat (and How to Get Thin Forever).” Photo: jackiewarner.com
52. Rodney Yee Yogi
Yee became interested in the mind-body connection while performing as a gymnast and ballet dancer. After his first yoga class in 1980, he was hooked. Now based in NYC, Yee regularly teaches at his wife Colleen’s studio, Yoga Shanti, and leads teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats in the U.S. and abroad. He also writes for a variety of yoga and lifestyle publications, has created more than 30 videos, and wrote two books (“Yoga: The Poetry of the Body” and “Moving Toward Balance”). Plus, he's collaborated with Gaiam to create the Gaiam Yoga Studio, an online yoga resource with videos, audio classes, and pose guides. Photo: yeeyoga.com
53. Charles Poliquin Trainer
One of the world’s premier strength coaches, Poliquin has trained professional athletes and Olympians around the world. He established a domestic base in 2001 with the founding of his gym, Poliquin Performance. In 2006 the center developed two new certification programs — the Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP) and BioSignature Practitioner — to help spread his nutritional, supplementation, and strength training philosophies to a wider audience. Today, PICP coaches practice in more than 50 countries around the world — meaning this man will be a perennial influencer for years to come. Photo: charlespoliquin.com
54. Martin Rooney Trainer
A pioneer of strength and conditioning for the martial arts, Rooney began his career in the health and fitness space as a star collegiate track and field athlete (followed by a stint on the U.S. Bobsled team from 1995 to 1997 and 2000). To supplement his fitness, Rooney began training in Mixed Martial Arts and soon started training fighters. Today Rooney trains and conducts seminars to prepare professional athletes for competition (and competes himself). The developer of one of the top NFL training programs, Rooney consults for an impressive number of sports teams including the NY Giants, the NY Jets, the NY Pitbulls, the Cincinnati Bengals, and numerous Olympians. His training has been featured on multiple media outlets and he's authored five books and multiple DVD series. Photo: trainingforwarriors.com
55. Jason Ferruggia Trainer
It took an illness for Ferruggia to figure out he wanted to work in the fitness field: He was forced to stay in bed for three months after a bout with tuberculosis in college. Since he couldn’t work out, he read everything he could about strength training. When his bed rest ended, Ferruggia started training to become a personal trainer. Several years and numerous certifications later, he opened Renegade Fitness, which has grown into a major fitness conglomerate focused on “unconventional” training styles (think CrossFit, Olympic lifting, and MMA). Ferruggia has authored hundreds of articles for multiple publications (Men’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, MMA Sports Mag, and Maximum Fitness included) and currently serves as the “Chief Training Adviser” to Men’s Fitness. Photo: jasonferruggia.com
56. Dr. Lisa Masterson Physician
A board-certified specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, and family planning, Masterson is dedicated to advancing health and wellness knowledge. Not only an Emmy-nominated co-host of The Doctors, Masterson is founder and medical director of the Ocean Oasis Medical Spa, which offers spa treatments and exercise and nutrition programs tailored to different phases in women’s lives. Masterson also founded Maternal Fetal Care International, which strives to improve healthcare for pregnant women in impoverished regions. As if that wasn't enough, she founded the first OB/GYN residency program in sub-Saharan Africa and multiple birthing clinics in Kenya and India. Her dedication earned her the attention of the UN Foundation: She now serves as a “Champion” of the Girl Up program, which inspires American teenage girls to raise money in support of health and educational programming for teenage girls in poorer areas of the globe. Photo: thedoctorstv.com
57. Ellie Krieger Registered Dietitian and TV Host
Host of The Food Network’s hit show, “Healthy Appetite,” Krieger has become a powerful voice for the principles of healthy meals and proper nutrition. A registered dietician, Krieger served as an adjunct professor at New York University before finding her way to the screen. Now the author of multiple best-selling books about wellness and nutrition (including “Small Changes, Big Results” and “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life”), Krieger’s extensive work in various media outlets has earned her national recognition. She regularly appears on television news outlets, speaks at events around the country, and has been a pioneer of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, seeking to spread the message about healthy eating and nutrition. Photo: elliekrieger.com
58. Kris Carr Author
Many of us have had a wake-up call that tells us it’s time to stop worrying and start living. For Carr, that moment came on Valentine’s Day, 2003 when she was diagnosed with a rare, incurable form of cancer. In response, Carr jumped in her car and hit the road, hoping to heal along the way. She took what she learned from this journey — including dedication to a plant-based diet and stress-free living — and shared it in a book, “Crazy Sexy Diet.” Since then, she’s written five more books, created an awarding-winning documentary, “Crazy Sexy Cancer,” and recently completed her first cookbook, “Crazy Sexy Kitchen.” Carr is beloved by fans for her upbeat attitude and dedication to her followers, whom she encourages to escape everyday hassles and find true happiness in their lives. Photo: kriscarr.com
59. Adam Bornstein Author and Journalist
Fitness editor, writer, and best-selling author of four fitness books (including "The Men’s Health Diet" and "The Women’s Health Big Book of Abs"), Bornstein is the former editorial director of Livestrong.com and writer of “The Born Reality” blog series and his personal blog, Born Fitness. A fitness and nutrition journalist, he has contributed to a huge assortment of publications, from Men’s Health to The New York Times. Bornstein has also spread his fitness message on Good Morning America, The Early Show, and E! News. Photo: bornfitness.com
60. Dr. Joel Fuhrman Physician and Author
For more than 20 years, Fuhrman has been helping Americans develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. A board-certified physician, nutrition researcher, and New York Times best-selling author of “Eat to Live" and "Super Immunity” (as well as several other popular books on nutritional science), Fuhrman has also created successful TV shows on PBS, including “3 Steps to Incredible Health” and “Dr. Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution.” He regularly appears on radio and television shows, including “The Dr. OZ Show," the “Today Show,” and “Good Morning America.” Fuhrman also serves as Research Director of the Nutritional Research Foundation and an advisory board member for both Whole Foods’ Market and “The Dr. Oz Show.” Fuhrman works to live the life he advises: one packed full of nutritious foods that will help people ward off diseases and promote long-lasting health. Photo: drfuhrman.com
61. Tony Gaskins Author
No one makes Gaskins smile more than his wife. But years ago, marriage was the last thing on his mind. During his youth, Gaskins lived a dangerous lifestyle involving crime and drugs. It wasn’t until Gaskins himself was robbed at the age of 23 that he realized the importance of life — and making the most of it. He immediately committed to turning things around, beginning with writing about his past in “Reclaiming Our Youth.” Now a motivational speaker, consultant, screenwriter, producer, and author of several books (including the latest bestseller, “Mrs. Right”), Gaskins has appeared on “Oprah,” “The Tyra Banks Show,” and the “700 Club.” These appearances catapulted his career and, three years later, Gaskins is a sought-after speaker, celebrity life coach, and filmmaker. Through his work, Gaskins hopes to help people find love and happiness. Photo: tonygaskins.com
62. Garrett Weber-Gale Blogger and Olympic Athlete
Weber-Gale, 27, has already found his passions and spent time figuring out how to share them with the world. On one hand, Weber-Gale’s career has been characterized by fame and glory (he won two gold medals for swimming at the 2008 Beijing Olympics). Yet Weber-Gale also finds happiness in helping non-Olympians learn more about health and fitness. A few years ago, Weber-Gale was diagnosed with hypertension and had to focus his efforts on revamping his diet. After a stint in culinary school, he started the blog “The Athletic Foodie,” on which he and his family write about their passion for nutritious (and delicious) food. The site covers everything from tips on getting enough protein to video recipes for making healthy oatmeal cookies. When he isn’t in the pool or on the Internet, Weber-Gale teaches classes on cooking and nutrition in Texas, where he lives. Photo: athleticfoodie.com
63. Kathryn Budig Yogi and Author
Budig loves everything about healthy living. Currently the yoga expert for Women’s Health magazine, Budig also writes for publications including Yoga Journal and The Huffington Post. Her DVDs grace the shelves of stores all over the country, and you might recognize her face from the yoga lessons available at YogaGlo.com. But for Budig, yoga is less about global recognition than about having a heart. The 29-year-old also founded “Poses for Paws,” an organization that raises money for abandoned animals through yoga events. Check out her Twitter feed to see her answers to questions from fans and down-to-earth tweets about her fave smoothies. Photo: jasperphoto.com
64. Joshua Rosenthal Founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition
Rosenthal is the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. The Institute features teachers including Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra and teaches students hundreds of different dietary theories. But the school isn’t just about chow — it also talks about its “2020 mission,” Rosenthal’s vision for bringing awareness about nutrition, health, and happiness to the whole world. Photo: integrativenutrition.com
65. Leo Babauta Author Whether you need tips on how to concentrate at work, advice on practicing mindfulness in every day life, or thoughts from a guy who has six kids and somehow still manages to stay sane, Babauta’s got it all. Founder of the blog Zen Habits, he posts almost every day with practical tips on finding peace and happiness in the modern world. He's also published several e-books on how to end procrastination, learn how to focus, and start to eliminate physical and emotional clutter from everyday life. In case you’re not sure if he’s actually for real, know that Babauta can’t help but love a good Neapolitan pizza and boasts about wiggling his ears. Photo: zenhabits.net
66. Mike Boyle Trainer
A pioneer in the field of strength and conditioning, Boyle was recently selected to become the strength and conditioning consultant for the Boston Red Sox. He’s also the founder of Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning in Boston, an athletic facility (and one of Greatist’s most innovative gyms in the U.S.) that offers unique workouts with multi-use turf, slide boards, and plyo blocks. But don’t be fooled by the fancy equipment and the elite athletes that train there. Boyle’s philosophy is all about KISS — as in “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Photo: bodybyboyle.com
67. Elena Brower Yogi and Author
For years, Brower has dedicated her life to helping others find a sense of inner peace. The founder and co-owner of Virayoga, a New York City space for all different kinds of yoga and meditation, Brower interprets yoga as a way to express gratitude for all the blessings we have in life. But Brower isn’t interested in keeping her views to herself: She recently published “The Art of Attention,” a book designed to help readers find their own best yoga practice. Right now she’s working on creating a series of documentaries on the power of meditation. Photo: virayoga.com
68. Baron Baptiste Creator of Power Yoga
Talk about powerful: Baptiste is the face behind “power yoga,” a style designed for people who like the physical and mental benefits of yoga but are turned off by its spiritual trappings. The author of several books, Baptiste brings yoga and empowerment methods to communities as distinct as the Philadelphia Eagles (where he’s part of the coaching staff) and communities plagued by poverty and violence across the globe. Photo: baronbaptiste.com
69. Robb Wolf Author and Researcher
Basically the king of the paleo lifestyle, Robb Wolf is the author of “The Paleo Solution” and creator of the blog by the same name. Wolf makes the caveman lifestyle accessible with posts on weight loss, fitness, and practical ways to make paleo eating part of daily life. Follow him on Twitter for a constant stream of new and interesting findings in health and fitness research. Photo: robbwolf.com
70. Bret Contreras Trainer
As the shirtless photo on his blog suggests, Bret Contreras is a strength and conditioning specialist and personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience. Contreras is known for spicing up the world of strength and conditioning with special hip-strengthening exercises, a glute-strengthening machine, and the workout technique he personally developed called “load vector training.” Not jealous yet? The guy’s got brains beyond his brawn: He’s currently working to get his Ph.D. in sports science. Photo: bretcontreras.com
71. Gabrielle Bernstein Author
A modern-day self-help guru for women in their 20s and 30s, Bernstein teaches the principles of self-love, meditation, and finding your passion. Her books focus on spiritual self-transformation and offer advice for real women looking to find happiness among the chaos of everyday life. Featured everywhere from the New York Times to the Huffington Post, Bernstein also founded the website herfuture.com, where she connects young women with mentors based on their specific interests. Photo: gabbyb.tv
72. Brad Pilon Author
To eat, or not to eat? Both, according to Brad Pilon, one of the biggest names in the world of Intermittent Fasting. A total science nerd, Pilon compiled buckets of research on short-term fasting and how it relates to fat loss and building muscle while writing his two books: “Eat Stop Eat” and “How Much Protein.” His easy-to-read blog posts bust myths about health and fitness and offer practical ways to get the body you want through science-backed techniques. Photo: bradpilon.com
73. Craig Ballantyne Trainer and Author
Ballantyne is shaking up the world of health and fitness with “Turbulence Training,” his personal strength training technique designed to help people efficiently build muscle. He frequently writes workout plans for publications including Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness, though you can get a sneak peak of his favorite workouts on his blog, Turbluence Training. But Ballantyne knows it’s about more than just working out — he tweets multiple times a day with inspirational quotes from Dr. Seuss to Thoreau and everyone in between. Photo: turbulencetraining.blogspot.com
74. Rachel Cosgrove Trainer
“Breakthrough” is Cosgrove’s favorite word. After personally struggling with issues around her weight and body, Cosgrove dove into the world of personal training 17 years ago. Today she and her husband run Results Fitness in Southern California, where they work with clients to improve their fitness and nutrition. Women come to Cosgrove when they want to lose fat, gain muscle, and work on getting the healthiest body possible. Follow her on Twitter and see how girl-next-door she really is, with personal tweets about a burgeoning coffee addiction and spending time with her family. Photo: results-fitness.com
75. Tom Venuto Trainer and Author
If Venuto were a high school student, he’d be friends with both the science geeks and the hardcore jocks. The author of “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle,” Venuto is also a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and fitness model. And although he’s won multiple titles in bodybuilding competitions, Venuto is less concerned with bragging than about giving other people the motivation they need to start working out: He's the founder of the Burn the Fat Inner Circle fat loss support website. Photo: bodybuilding.com
76. William Broad Author and Journalist
Broad’s research made headlines this year with the release of his book, “The Science of Yoga,” which weighed the benefits and downsides of the centuries-old practice. A senior writer at The New York Times who’s worked as a science writer for a number of publications, Broad is interested in the way scientific innovations affect society as a whole. His writing has earned him a spot as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Lately he’s been tweeting all the controversial, yoga-related news he can find. Photo: williamjbroad.com
77. Dr. Mike Roussell Physician and Author
Roussell might be most recognizable for his weekly "Ask the Diet Doctor" column on Shape.com, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Roussell earned his chops touting tips on how to not only drop pounds but also live healthier. With a long list of books, guest spots, DVDs, and even his own nutrition company (Naked Nutrition), Roussell is campaigning for the good life. Photo: mikeroussell.com
78. Dr. John Sharp Psychiatrist
Sharp is kind of a big deal — the board-certified psychiatrist is on staff at both Harvard and UCLA med schools, and has a constant media presence. Sharp has appeared on a variety of shows and networks (including “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” and HLN), but we love him for his ability to explain medical advances to the public. His 2011 book release, "The Emotional Calendar," and almost 70,000 Twitter followers are nothing to sneeze at either. Not to mention, he’s one of our trusted Greatist Experts. Photo: johnsharpmd.com
79. Dave Zinczenko Writer and Editor
The former editor-in-chief of Men's Health probably knows a thing or 500 about the modern health landscape. Zinczenko has helped guide the popular discussion on health and wellness not just through his role at Men’s Health, but also as the author of the "Eat This, Not That" and Abs Diet series. Keep an eye out for this influencer in the coming year: He recently left Men’s Health to start his own project, which we’re sure will be even better than the last. Photo: menshealth.com
80. Bart Yasso Running Expert
The running world loves all of its own, but Yasso — the CRO (Chief Running Officer) of Runner's World — is helping people all over the world. Inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions, Yasso helped create the Runner's World Race Sponsorship Program, which helps fund and support local races and runners. And his expertise goes beyond running: Yasso is also an accomplished cyclist and Ironman triathlete. Photo: bartyasso.com
81. Joel Harper Trainer
Sure, Harper helps train Dr. Oz, Olympic athletes, and celebrities, but it says something when this NYC-based trainer is also open to training everyday folks. Harper has appeared in publications including Esquire and O magazine, and helped put together the "YOU: books" series and DVDs, as well as his DVD series “Fit Pack,” “Firming After 50,” and “Slim & Fit.” Photo: joelharperfitness.com
82. Gary Taubes Author
Taubes has made an impact through his writing, both on his personal blog and in his two books, "Why We Get Fat" and "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (in which he challenges long-held ideas about our eating habits). A sharp science writer, Taubes has made a difference by translating sometimes tough science into concepts that anyone can easily understand. (He also made it onto our list of the top crusaders in the food industry). No stranger to controversial topics, Taubes makes learning about health a little easier for everyone. While he has his fare share of critics, his writing has inspired many to think more about what they eat and how it affects their bodies. Photo: randomhouse.com
83. Dave Schmitz Founder of Resistance Band Training
Schmitz may not have the same social footprint as other people on this list, but as a national expert on resistance band training, Schmitz is making a deep impact on the fitness community. Schmitz regularly gives speeches and talks on how resistance bands can improve any kind of workout routine, from strength training to competitive sports to everything in between. Photo: resistancebandtraining.com
84. Gina Kolata Journalist
The medical reporter at the New York Times is intelligent, personable, and unafraid to tackle controversy. Kolata helps influence the national discussion through her articles and books. She's got the chops to back it up thanks to degrees in applied math and a stint at MIT, where she studyied molecular biology. Plus, she's been a Pulitzer finalist twice — enough said. Photo: nytimes.com
85. Steve Kamb Blogger
Gyms aren't just for quarterbacks and weekend warriors. Kamb, the creator of NerdFitness, has helped open up health and fitness to a demographic of people looking to maximize their workout with cutting-edge technology. Kamb wants his readers to make daily progress toward getting in shape, and offers advice that helps normal folks work out, eat right, and boost self confidence. Photo: nerdfitness.com
86. Dr. Jonny Bowden Nutrition Expert
Try to name a year that Bowden hasn't written a book. The prolific author and fitness enthusiast has nine books to his name, mostly focusing on nutrition, food, and weight loss. Nicknamed the "Rogue Nutritionist," Bowden regularly contributes to a number of publications and has been published in print and online by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Forbes, just to name a few. Here’s one media presence dedicated to making the world healthier. Photo: jonnybowden.com
87. Andrea Beaman Natural Foods Chef
Food is more than just fuel to this chef and former Top Chef contestant — it’s medicine. Beaman believes green living and alternative therapies can improve every person's quality of living in more ways than one. After successfully treating her own health problems with healthy food, exercise, and natural therapies, she transitioned the subject into her professional life, sharing her health secrets with the world through her writing (including two books) and TV show appearances. Photo: andreabeaman.com
88. Cheryl Forberg Chef, Registered Dietitian, and TV Personality
Forberg has a busy schedule. She's a James Beard-winning chef, original nutritionist for The Biggest Loser, blogger for The Huffington Post and Urban Farmer, and somehow also managed to write a dozen books. We love Forberg because on top of all that, she's a registered dietician committed to creating and sharing flavorful dishes spiked with healthy ingredients. Photo: cherylforberg.com
89. Dr. Mike Reinold Physical Therapist
As the head physical therapist for the Boston Red Sox, Dr. Mike Reinold works with some of the world's best athletes on a daily basis. But this Boston-based biomechanics, strength, and conditioning specialist doesn't stop at Fenway. Instead, he uses his blog and numerous other outlets (including his role as a Greatist Expert!) to bring lessons from the clubhouse to the public. He's also partnered with some of the best minds in health and fitness — including #31 on this list — to innovate the science and practice of sports training and rehabilitation. Photo: mikereinold.com
90. Ashley Borden Trainer
Let's admit it — we often look up to celebrities as models of physical appearance. The world has Ashley Borden to thank for many of those legendary bods, but the celebrity trainer is about more than just getting actors washboard abs. Her appearances in numerous magazines and online have earned her a reputation for putting fitness in a positive light and taking her fitness experience from Oscar winners to you and me. Photo: ashleyborden.com
91. Alwyn Cosgrove Trainer
When it comes to trusted names in the fitness space, Alwyn Cosgrove is undoubtedly at the top of the pack — and it's been that way for a while. The prolific trainer writes on everything from body composition to the business behind fitness and performance, influencing the next generation of trainers in the process. He's also well known for being incredibly engaged with his followers, answering training questions through Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis. Photo: results-fitness.com
92. David Kirchhoff CEO of Weight Watchers International
Weight Watchers was for decades a ladies-only zone. But since taking the company’s helm, David Kirchhoff has transformed the weight loss brand into one that spans genders and impacts millions of people every day. His own success with the program — to the tune of about 40 pounds dropped — serves as an example to his company's clients and those struggling with health goals worldwide. Want to read more? He documents his Weight Watchers journey on his blog, Man Meets Scale. Photo: weightwatchers.com
93. Dr. Michael Eades Physician and Author We're constantly bombarded with new opinions on food — what's fattening, what has super powers, and everything in between. Beyond the hype lies Dr. Eades, who sorts through the hubbub to bring his own thoughts to a dedicated readership. The author of 10 books on health (so far), Dr. Eades' influence is only likely to increase as Americans continue to change their outlook on food. Photo: proteinpower.com
94. Kelly Olexa Blogger and Founder of FitFluential
There's influential, and then there's FitFluential, the blog network founded by Kelly Olexa in April 2011. Olexa's company (still a new kid on the fitness block) connects bloggers and harnesses their collaborative influence to spread a message of wellness across the web. The network also connects fitness influencers with companies and products in the space, bridging the gap between thought leaders and the physical products we use to live fitter and healthier lives. Photo: kellyolexa.com
95. Tara Parker-Pope Author and Journalist
It's hard to google anything health-related and not encounter Tara Parker-Pope's work. The author, New York Times columnist, and head of the NYT Well Blog has been making her mark online and in print for years, doing more than perhaps anyone else to define what it means to be an online health journalist. Whether or not you agree with all her opinions on the day's health topics, her role in getting people to stay conscious of their health and the news surrounding it is undeniably huge. Photo: Evan Leslie
96. Paul Chek Founder of the C.H.E.K. Institute
Paul Chek is all about educating people about how to take care of, well, people. His namesake C.H.E.K. Institute is dedicated to teaching both the physical and mental aspects of athletic performance and physical fitness. His work has helped usher in a new, holistic perspective in the fitness industry. Want to train the body? According to Chek, you better be prepared to train the mind, too. Photo: paulcheksblog.com
97. Dr. Jay Parkinson Physician
In an age when we expect gratification with a simple click or text, Dr. Jay Parkinson truly is the "Doctor of the Future." After making his name running a successful practice in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — where patients could schedule their own appointments through his online calendar — Parkinson launched Sherpaa this year, a service that helps businesses optimize employee healthcare. One of Dr. Parkinson's big goals is to bring healthcare administration up to speed with the rest of our increasingly digital world. So far, so good. Photo: jayparkinsonmd.com
98. Mark Verstegen Trainer
We all want to perform our best, and Mark Verstegen is one of the best at getting athletes to do just that. Since founding Arizona's Athlete's Performance in 1999, Verstegen has become a leading face for high-performance, innovative training techniques. (We had the chance to go in the gym with Verstegen — check out our coverage to learn more.) From injury rehab to record-setting strength training, Verstegen's mark has spread with the expansion of the Athlete's Performance brand. Photo: coreperformance.com
99. Ted Spiker Journalist
University of Florida professor Ted Spiker is there to help aspiring and accomplished journalists alike tackle the biggest problems in health and fitness with greater accuracy than ever before. Even those who haven't read Spiker's work have likely felt his influence, and Spiker's pupils currently produce some of the best content out there. He’s no slouch when it comes to writing and editing, either — he’s a regular contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine and co-author of the YOU: The Owner’s Manual series. Photo: tedspiker.com
100. Nia Shanks Trainer and Author
One of the founding minds behind Girls Gone Strong, Nia Shanks is all about empowering women — to lift heavy things. A strength and conditioning specialist by trade, Shanks works to break down the stereotype that weight training is a man's game. She's never afraid to stand up (or deadlift, or squat) for what she believes in, spreading the message of strong women across a variety of outlets and on her own site (which we rated one of the must-read sites written by trainers out there). Will lifting heavy weights automatically make women big and bulky? No, but according to Nia Shanks, it will make them more awesome. Photo: Ann Razonski
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 2012 — not those we consider personal influencers. The order of this list was almost entirely based on numbers. We considered over 300 names gathered from from last year's nominees (and resulting comments), input from social media, and suggestions from our Expert Network. We then created a scoring system based on eight measureable categories: website page rank, social media presence, Klout score, number of studies or research published, number of products, professional degrees and certifications, and number of Google News mentions in 2012 — all with variable levels of impact on the final score. Finally, we arranged the list from highest to lowest score and used our qualitative judgement as an editorial team to fill in the gaps 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!
Wondering how this year's list stacks up against the last? Check out the comparison here.
Anyone you think is missing from this list? Share your nominations in the comments below or tweet us @greatist and we'll be sure to check out those names for next year's edition!
Comments Leave a comment
Great list. I would add Rod Corn, Tom Purvis, Neal Spruce, Gray Cook. These guys educate the people (trainers) who make it happen.
Rex Owens MSc., PES, CES, HFS
@RexOwens Thanks for the suggestions! Gray Cook was on our initial list, but the numbers just didn't work out for him. Will consider all three for next year's list, for sure!
You left out Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit? Are you kidding me? The man's training methodology has hundreds of thousands of hardcore adherents. The CrossFit Games are on ESPN2. I'm sure if you asked Bob Harper (your #12 pick) for a recommendation, that's the name he would've provided.
@SeanManseau Hey Sean,
Greg Glassman was on our initial list this year (and was featured on last year's list) but unfortunately the numbers didn't work out in his favor this time around! He's absolutely on our radar and will be considered again for next year's list.
@SeanManseau Hey Sean, great question, and as a CrossFitter, I 100 percent agree that Coach is an important figure in the space. Like Kate said, the numbers (especially taking into account his social media presence) just didn't stack up for 2012, but that's not to say millions of people don't benefit from his work every day!
@DavidThomasTao @SeanManseau coach g's social medoa presence is huge. He has 100's upon 100's of videos on youtube not to mention anything relating to Crossfit hq should be directly related to him. That's a flawed ranking system. Most of the trainers in there are simply bc of media hype with no substance. A good pr person and some media attention can land someone on this list wothiut any sort of credibility.
I absolutely love @Tony_Horton! I am doing @P90X right now and it's helped me to become stronger! Tony truly practices what he preaches and always walks his talk including coming out with his own food line called www.TonyHortonKitchen.com to help combat the huge food issue this country has.
I absolutely love @Tony_Horton! I am doing @P90X (www.P90X.com) right now and it's helped me to become stronger! Tony truly practices what he preaches and always walks his talk including coming out with his own food line called www.TonyHortonKitchen.com to help combat the huge food issue this country has.
@techgirllive @P90X P90X is complete overkill and just another marketing success at the expense of people's joint health.
@FredrickHahn @techgirllive @P90X have you ever tried #p90x and if so, which workout?
@techgirllive @FredrickHahn @P90X I don't have to do it to know that the system is flawed in many ways and does not allow for sufficient recovery. I don't have to smoke to say that smoking is harmful. You can achieve the same or better results in a fraction of the time that P90X asks of you. It's just another money-making scheme for Tony. And millions have fallen for it. @techgirllive
@FredrickHahn @techgirllive @P90X Oh - so the answer is NO you haven't done any of the P90X workouts. Interesting that you are commenting on something that you've never even tried. How do you know something is flawed if you haven't tried it? Oh and are you a doctor? My guess is probably also NO. We know smoking is bad because it leads to lung disease. Last time I checked, P90X was not the cause of any diseases. I really wish people would actually have DONE or USED a product before making comments on it like this. Millions have used it because, dear I say it... IT ACTUALLY WORKS!!!! Just look at thousands of people's before and after videos and photos posted on the P90X fan page and YouTube channel. Please don't comment on P90X anymore until you actually try it. Then and only then can you make an edu
@FredrickHahn @P90X Oh - so the answer is NO you haven't done any of the P90X workouts. Interesting that you are commenting on something that you've never even tried. How do you know something is flawed if you haven't tried it? Oh and are you a doctor? My guess is probably also NO. We know smoking is bad because it leads to lung disease. Last time I checked, P90X was not the cause of any diseases. I really wish people would actually have DONE or USED a product before making comments on it like this. Millions have used it because, dear I say it... IT ACTUALLY WORKS!!!! Just look at thousands of people's before and after videos and photos posted on the P90X fan page and YouTube channel. Please don't comment on P90X anymore until you actually try it. Then and only then can you make an educated comment about it.
@techgirllive @P90X I guess you didn't understand what I said. I didn't say it didn't work. I said it was OVERKILL. I said it doesn't allow for sufficient recovery. If you know anything about physiology you'd understand. I said you can get the same or better benefits in a fraction of the time spent.
And it doesn't matter what I am. I don't need to be a meteorologist to tell the temperature outside. That is an ad hominem argument.
Like I said, you don't have to smoke to know it's harmful. You don't have to learn boxing to know its dangerous.
@techgirllive tony horton and P90X no offense is a joke. Tony is a bigger joke. I could talk about why for hiurs but the bottom line is u are better off finding a reputable crossfit gym with great coaches and a good community and u will love what happens for making that choice. It can hell u with everything not just working out.
Big oversight not having Hal Hidon on this list given the thousands of runners of all shapes and sizes he has helped train and motivate. Too many trainers, who don't have the same impact, are on this list in my view
@MikePodracky Thanks for the addition, Mike! I'll be sure to add Mr. Hidon to the running for next year's list!
One great innovator of bioenergy healing that has helped over 1.5 million people and is the father of bioenergy healing in the west- Zdenko Domancic.is sadly missing - www.domanciczdenko.eu or www.healingbioenergy.com. His huge bioenergy healing clinic in europe is donation based and is helping people with every kind of health condition...He has been doing this for over 35yrs...
@whisperfilm Thanks for the suggestion! I'll add Mr. Domancic to the running for next year's list.
You missed one of the most insightful and cutting edge physicians in the world, board certified internist, Jacob Teitelbaum, MD. His landmark research and effective SHINE treatment protocol for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia have helped thousands worldwide to get their lives back. Having suffered personally from CFS/fibromyalgia while in medical school, Dr. Teitelbaum has dedicated his career over the past 30+ years developing medical therapies--both conventional and natural--that work. Dr. T has written bestsellers including From Fatigued to Fantastic!, Pain Free 1-2-3, the Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! series, and his latest, Real Cause Real Cure. Not only should he be in the top 100, he should be in the top 10 for transforming lives and also helping the medical establishment to finally acknowledge that CFS and fibromyalgia are real diseases. Until recently, most doctors told their patients with CFS/fibromyalgia symptoms that "it's all in your head." Fortunately, the tide has turned--with much credit to Dr. Teitelbaum's unflagging efforts as a patient advocate. He is quoted in the media virtually every week.
@DeanDraznin Hi Dean! Thanks for the suggestion. We will be sure to add Dr. Teitelbaum to the running for next year's list!
@ksmorin Thanks for your thanks! If you need more on Dr. T, pls let me know. A few websites w/background: www.endfatigue.com; also www.vitality101.com. I've never seen a physician more beloved by patients anywhere. As in Amazing Grace--"I once was lost but now I'm found." Most of these patients were disabled to the point of having no hope...and with Dr. T's protocol they literally got their lives back. Very inspiring to hear these success stories. I've spoken to many patients with incredible successes. Happy holidays! /Dean
Too bad half or more of the people on this list are complete charlatans (Oz, Ornish, Michaels) - people who put forth dangerous and misleading information.
Rather than just fling together a list of people who have good PR firms under their belt and thus are famous, why not compile a list of health and fitness people who's information is backed by solid scientific evidence (Taubes, Wolff). But that would require hard work and investigation.
@FredrickHahn Sorry you feel that way, Fredrick. I can assure you this list was far from flung together. In fact, many weeks of hard work and investigation went into this piece from multiple members of our team.
As you can tell from the explanation of our metrics at the end of the article, we considered a number of different categories (website page rank, social media presence, Klout score, number of studies or research published, number of products, professional degrees and certifications, and number of Google News mentions in 2012) and carefully scored each to come up with the final list. Also as noted there, this list is meant to highlight those people who had the most actual reach in the health and wellness space in 2012 — not those we consider personal (or the highest quality) influencers. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a fan of a lot of people on this list, but they're on it because they were TRULY the most influential in the space this year — not because we believe in what they're doing, necessarily.
Hope this clarifies things!
@ksmorin I see. But that is not a VG way of ranking influence. You rank Jillian Michaels, a know-nothing personal trainer who isn't even certified over 3 time award winning journalist Gary Taubes? That's just nuts.
@FredrickHahn We'd welcome any constructive criticism or suggestions on how to change our ranking process if you have specific ideas! Hey — I agree with you that Michaels isn't exactly the best influence in the world, but the numbers did the talking here. Her social reach is just enormous (whether that's for the right reasons or not, it's impossible to factor in when trying to put together a list based on numbers). Once the numbered list was complete and we considered our own editorial judgement, we actually bumped Michaels down from the top 3, and also moved Taubes up a bit, if that's any consolation!
@FredrickHahn @ksmorin i agree, Jillian Michaels is just a face... i wouldnt say she adds anything to the industry, expecially this year, and in the past, only putter her name and face on anyone / thing that pays her too. can think of MANY others...and for the people trying to get crossfitters on here... he should be top for physiacl therapy list.... creating more injuries then any other gym/fitness program ever.... yup.... sounds good
@metalraider @FredrickHahn @ksmorin learn about a thing or 2 before u make accusations. That's totally false about the comment u made about crossfit. I know mofe people that get hurt simply working out in the gym than I have ever met that crossfit. I've been doing it and competing for 5 years and haven't had 1 injury. Nobody at my box has ever had an injury. And I know nobody in the 5 years I have been doing it it is had a serious injury. So before you start making accusations do a little research.
@ksmorin But what's the purpose of a list like this when the people who make the top of the list are charlatans out to make a buck? So what that Michaels has a lot of "numbers?" Big deal. She's cute but clueless. Dr. Ornish lies about the benefits of his diet. Anyway, Nice long list but what is the point of it? What are we to do with it?