Book These 20 Fitness Instructors Now

The most popular/buzziest/hard to get into boutique class instructors in the city, from Akin to Anna Kaiser

Akin Akman, SoulCycle

Followers of Akin (better known as #AkinsArmy) are notoriously devoted to him, whether they frequent his SoulCycle classes or his boot camp. When sign-ups begin for SoulCycle, they set their alarms, ready to workout with the most intense spin teacher. "I think what makes me unique is that I understand my students. I understand their needs, moods, doubts and fears. I have the ability to use that understanding to bring out a different level of fight in them. I've been able to help channel those feelings into action. Then, together we build," Akin told the Observer. While some worry his classes are dangerous because of how hard they push riders, his fans believe they're best because he makes sure people only work as hard as they physically can, encouraging class-goers to sit down and spin instead of tapping it back if they're in danger.

Akin Akman Instagram

Bree Branker, Director of Creative Integration, IMAXShift

Bree Branker, Director of Creative Integration, IMAXShiftBranker’s high energy spin classes are made even better by the IMAX movie playing on the screen up ahead. The former dancer plays everything from Diplo to Rihanna, and her outgoing personality makes the intense, hardcore classes go by incredibly quickly. “The right playlist can literally transport you away from your day and life and land you precisely where you want to be. I certainly am not trying to go to the club at 3 a.m. at this point in my life, but finding those endorphins in a healthy and beneficial way is exactly up my alley. After gassing me on a heavy hill, the right song can get me right back into the workout and out of my head about what I’m feeling physically,” Branker told the Observer about her perfect playlists. Bree's also an instructor in Akin's Army.

Bree Branker Instagram

Bethany Meyers, SLT

With more than 22,000 followers on her inspirational Instagram, it’s safe to say Bethany is a bit of a fitness celebrity, especially in New York. It helps that she regularly posts her Reformer routines with detailed voiceovers, so people can follow along in their own studio. And Younger fans can find photos of Nico Tortorella, making her a must-follow. Bethany’s Instagram will either inspire you to book a class with her or attempt her super flexible moves on your own, where no one can see you.

Bethany Meyers Instagram

Tiana Hester, Banana Skirt

Tiana’s background as a dancer and choreographer is clear in her Banana Skirt classes, which are high energy and easy to follow along with. Expect bright lights worthy of your favorite nightclub when she hosts “Ratchet Zooba” and the opportunity to channel your inner Beyoncé during her “Formation” choreography classes. Victoria’s Secret Angel Dev Windsor is a fan, and Hannah Bronfman has also been spotted learning how to twerk from the expert.

Tiana Hester Instagram

Josey Greenwell, Trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp

Josey’s boot camp classes are particularly popular at the Park Avenue South location and his posts are certainly praised on Instagram (it could have something to do with the shirtless photoshoots). When Josey isn’t teaching, he’s busy being a singer/songwriter. The former Kentucky resident posts country covers on YouTube.

Josey Greenwell Instagram

Kimmy Kellum, East River Pilates

The Australian founder of Williamsburg’s East River Pilates teaches classes that are low-impact, but you’ll certainly feel them your abs the next morning. The chic, minimalist studio is more than just a place to hop in and out of. With Tumblr pink poufs to sit on, magazines spread out and beauty products in the bathroom, it’s worth stopping by for a reformer class, cardio and conditioning workout or simple Pilates.

East River Pilates Instagram

Holly Rilinger, Flywheel Master Instructor and Creator of LIFTED

Holly’s Flywheel classes have devoted regulars who follow her to the Hamptons in the summer, where she continues to teach on the weekend. It could be because of her playlist, which features everything from The Police to EDM. Or, it might be because she also appeared on Bravo’s Work Out New York. She even created her own exercise method, LIFTED. “I think that people who find the right type of class and instruction continue to gravitate to them because it keeps them motivated and excited. The idea of having to workout by yourself on a treadmill at a gym is becoming more archaic. People like being able to connect with other people and feel like they have found a community in a class,” Holly said about the community she’s built at Flywheel.

Holly Rilinger Instagram

Nicole Winhoffer, The NW Method

Madonna’s former trainer has a legion of fans who follow her around the city in pursuit of Madge’s arms. Her classes offer more choreography than most jumping jacks, grapevine based dance cardio classes. Expect to dance to Rihanna and possibly feel like her by the end of class, especially with Nicole’s constant motivation. After class, everyone crouches down for congratulations on a job well done and a yoga-inspired chat about what to bring from your workout into the real world. With more than 70,000 followers on Instagram anxiously waiting to see her new routines, she’s not just popular in New York. People flock to her classes when they’re in town, ready for the chance to sweat with a self-proclaimed fitness artist who has created her own unique classes.

Nicole Winhoffer Instagram

Mahri Relin, Body Conceptions

This former Broadway dancer made her mark in West Side Story, and now teaches her devoted class-goers how to get a Broadway body. “Being a performer makes me capable of giving everything I have to my teaching every time, even when I might not be feeling 100 percent that day,” she explained. Her enthusiastic approach is obvious in her well-attended classes, where she pushes her students to do their best, whether it’s following along with choreography or doing just another leg lift on the mat. She’s getting harder to book classes with, as she focuses on teaching privates and is busy opening up a Colorado studio, so get in while you can.

Body Conceptions Instagram

Max Markham, Row House

If you’ve been afraid to try rowing, start with one of Row House coach’s Max Markham’s classes. His musical inspiration comes from the ladies of soul and he offers themed classes in their honor, so expect to hear Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Tina Turner while you row. And for those who are politically inclined, you can meet Max at the Mayor’s Office, where he manages legislative priorities related to city infrastructure. Now, that will inspire you to get fit in 2017. After all, if he can find time to teach after a day at work, you can certainly find the time to fit in one of his classes.

Courtesy Row House

Anna Kaiser, AKT

In person, the pint-sized celebrity trainer with a Target collaboration on the way is impossibly sweet and energetic. In class, she's intense, and even while pregnant she's in better shape than you. Her intense, super high energy cardio classes will force you to jump, grapevine and wish you could learn choreography just a little bit more quickly. If you want to channel your inner Shakira, Emmy Rossum or Kelly Ripa, try AKT. "Over 85 percent of our clients have never danced before and don’t incorporate much cardio into their programs before coming in. Come in, get your groove on, and see how you feel. The beauty of these classes are that even a newbie, someone with no experience dancing or doing yoga, can catch on quickly," Anna promised the Observer.

Anna Kaiser Instagram

Sloan Chouest, Bar Method Brooklyn

Sloan has been a dancer since she was three, which shows in her barre classes, which she’s been teaching since 2013. Her high energy, supportive classes focus on form. When it’s so easy to get injured in classes (and especially at the barre, where tiny movements are felt the next day), it’s reassuring to have a teacher who’s focused on physiology.

Courtesy Bar Method

Dana Trixie Flynn, Laughing Lotus

Dana is the eccentric, innovative founder of Laughing Lotus. She’s currently working on her newest project, opening the Church of Yoga in New Orleans this February. After teaching for 25 years, she brings chanting, energy, music and the studio’s famous glitter bar to life. “I have found that the practice awakens gratitude and in giving back I experience great love and connection or oneness,” she said.

Laughing Lotus

Olivia Young, Box + Flow

Olivia Young's mostto is her name. She believes everyone should "liv young," and for her that means early morning runs across the Brooklyn bridge and teaching intense, high-energy classes at Box + Flow, the innovative studio she recently founded. Follow Liv on Instagram for shots of everything she's eaten. She was formerly in the food world, so she's a firm believer in balance, which means beer and backbends are both equally important. Her classes will make you believe you might actually become a boxer someday, especially since she focuses on teaching her students perfect form. She'll cheer you on and make sure you're shimmying through the motions until your right hook is something everyone should be afraid of.

Liv Young Instagram

Sam Garcia, modelFIT

If you like working out while lowkey indie music plays, instead of high-impact classes to the latest Bieber track, Sam's classes are for you. The trainer has a dance background, which is obvious in her teaching style. The sharp, easy to follow along with movements make toning seem lowkey and easy. Follow Sam on Instagramto see exactly what torture devices (I'm sorry, props) she's using for class that day. She makes sure every class is technical, and will correct you in a kind, easy to improve upon way.

Sam Garcia Instagram


Karla is the founder of SYNCSTUDIO BKLYN, a solid yoga studio in Williamsburg. While other studios might be gimmicky (especially in Brooklyn, where there’s one on every corner), SYNC offers normalcy in the best way. And if yoga isn’t your thing, the studio also has TRX and cardio conditioning classes. Karla’s cardio classes focus on mindful movements, and are calming enough to distract you from the burpees and mountain climbers she’ll have you doing for an hour in the small studio.

Karla Misjan Instagram

Latoya Julce, ((305)) Fitness

Latoya Julce, ((305)) Fitness While Sadie Kurzban has an intense following at her own studio, Latoya is close behind with devoted followers who appreciate her intense dance cardio workouts, full of burpees and jumping jacks. On Instagramthe Harlem resident posts photos of her leading workouts in the dark, DJ-led ((305)) classes, along with her workouts at Flywheel, where she’s also an instructor.

Latoya Julce Instagram

Zachary "Ziggy Pop" McFadden, Banana Skirt

This Ratchet Zooba instructor who often teaches in a crop top with a hoodie tied around his waist focuses on instructing his class on how to twerk like they’re at the club, with no judgements (especially since the room is dark, save for the blinking nightclub lights). The Brooklyn-based teacher wants his students to burn calories and channel their inner pop star, but he also wants them to feel confident enough to twerk with him in front of the rest of the class while Lady Gaga plays.

Banana Skirt

Victor Colletti, Laughing Lotus

With his long hair and love for Madonna, Victor is certainly a memorable instructor and somewhat of a spiritual fitness guru, even at the glitter infused Laughing Lotus, named the most eclectic studio in Brooklyn by ClassPass users. His sweaty, hour long classes involve chanting and allow class-goers to spend time in whatever pose they prefer. Expect Madonna sing-alongs and lectures at the beginning that are actually moving and inspirational. He talks about his personal experiences during class in a way that’s truly motivational. “The more that I am in the moment, the less I need to think about what to say or do. It’s more like channeling, so I do not even take credit for the things that I say, they just come. The more authentic we are with ourselves and our students, the more we can make connections, he said about his unique practice and connection with his students.

Laughing Lotus

Javier Perez, modelFIT

Javi is famous for his dance cardio classes, where you’ll hear everything from exclusively Beyoncé to old school Panic! At the Disco. The Miami-native is high energy and hands on. He’ll adjust you to make sure you squat just right and his classes get very technical, in the best possible way. If you’re not great at grapevines, he also teaches mean (sometimes they literally feel that way) sculpting classes. Follow him on Instagram for Cuban-influenced art, dance moves and ab shots that will force you to workout.

Yvonne Albinowski for Observer

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Everyone in New York has a favorite fitness instructor who they swear is their guru and an absolute life changer. But who are the best leaders of boutique classes? These 20 teacher’s classes fill up in minutes, due to their thousands of Instagram followers. There’s obviously something that sets them apart, whether it’s a day job in the Mayor’s office, a career as a country artist or legions of celebrities who swear by the workout.

Whether you’re obsessed with boxing in an effort to become Gigi Hadid or can’t get enough of child’s pose, these instructors are the hottest ones to book this year, especially before their classes become truly impossible to get into.

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