By all accounts, it’s been a hell of a year. We’re not just talking about the many political movements that have swept the country—although we do believe activists representing Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Parkland High, and other initiatives have shifted the ways we think about what it means to be truly, deeply healthy. (In fact, these movements are so significant that we’re devoting a separate list to their impact.) Even without taking politics into account, there’ve been some major dust-ups in the health and fitness space since we last released this list...
Social media (and particularly Instagram) has enabled a new guard of fitness influencers to amass enormous followings, thereby bumping some of the old guard down or off the list.
Meanwhile, several trends moved from the edges of the wellness world to become fully mainstream. Those include the rise of digital and social fitness; the accessibility of mindfulness and meditation; the steadily growing popularity of diets such as Whole30, Paleo, and keto; and increasing interest in food as a tool for healing. You’ll also notice the list of prominent health and fitness influencers is becoming more diverse across the board—that’s an important shift, and we welcome it with open arms.
While we don’t necessarily agree with the ideology or practices of everyone who made the cut (i.e., these aren’t all people we personally endorse), we recognize that each person has had a major impact on the way people think and talk about health.
The order is determined by a long list of criteria. We started with a list of nearly 300 individuals nominated by the Greatist staff and Greatist ambassador network. We then created a scoring system based on the following categories: growth of followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube; number of Google News mentions; number of products created (including starring TV and film roles); brand partnerships; and an estimate of how much each person's career focuses on fitness and health.
We tallied each individual’s score, then arranged the list from highest to lowest and used our qualitative judgment (a.k.a. the Greatist editorial staff had a good old-fashioned debate) to fill in the gaps. We purposefully excluded most health care executives and spiritual leaders, unless we felt they strongly contributed to health, fitness, or mental health. If you think anyone is missing, please reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.