This is an escape from the ush (pronounced youuzshh). Typically we try not to make comments about what instructors are like out of the classroom - we don't care what they do in their down time (magnify ants on the sidewalk? Give out puke flavored jellybeans to kids? Write nasty comments under a pseudonym on RYB?) As long as their class rocks, we will stick to talking about how their class rocks. But this is a special article celebrating some of the people in the industry whose reputations precede them - reputations of just being sweet, beautiful people on the inside. Can we get an "awwww?"
Oh, and friends/lovers/family, if you're not on this list, that doesn't mean I don't think you're cool. It just means you're probably not that friendly.
1. Stephanie Tang (Founder of Sacred Sounds Yoga)
BeFit will not shut up about how wonderful this lady is. You can usually find her sitting at the desk of her new studio Sacred Sounds, smiling and being outrageously helpful. And, she's adorbs.
2. Grant Belton (Flywheel Sports)
Every time I take class from Grant at FlyWheel or see him in the lobby, I think, "if I were a manager, that's the kind of person I would want to represent my business." Utterly professional, kind, and doesn't appear to have a bad bone in his body. Love.
3. Harley Rodriguez (Barry's bootcamp)
Harley seems like a tough guy in class, but he is sweet as honey. The people who work with him utterly adore him. That kind of niceness doesn't go unnoticed in this industry...
4. Melanie Griffith (SoulCycle)
Melanie is a good example of our "show love to other instructors" tenet from the social media article. Every time I open twitter, Melanie is sharing the love. She's also an inspiration herself - battling cancer, being a supermom, and generally just being plain nice to everyone.
5. Lauren Engleman (Physique 57)
If you ever feel like a good case of heebie jeebies, read my review of Lauren. I don't know if I was drunk when I wrote it (possible!) but I do know that my love for this gal is deep and borderline irrational. She just oozes with mommy love (annnnnd I'm back to the creep-session. Lauren, I'm sorry, but every time I think about you I just think about what an awesome mom you'll be?)
6. Danielle Tafeen (Jivamukti, Sacred Sounds, Yoga Vida)
As BeFit wrote, she has "the hugest smile I have ever seen on a human that wasn’t The Joker from the Batman flicks." If you want to get your mush on, Danielle has a black belt in the opposite of Karate.
7. Adrienne Morrison (Exhale Spa)
Adrienne cares about you. She may not know you yet, but she does - trust us. She shows genuine interest in her students - and remembers them. She wants to know about your day, your weekend, your plans - and not in a nosy way. She puts the "person" in "personable".
8. Ben Turshen (SoulCycle)
This kid's smile will shove a giant lump in your throat. He is nothing but adorable. And when you get him in the same room as Danny Kopel (his best bud) there are so many good vibes your head might explode.
9. Natalia Petrzela (Equinox IntenSati instructor)
Always smiling, always convincing you to be better to yourself, always making everyone around her happy. Yup, that's Nat.
10. Mahri Relin (Flybarre)
BeFit came home gushing about this one. She looks harsh and fierce from her photos, but don't be fooled - she's sweet as tea. Tea that has been sweetened.
With real sugar, not splenda.
11. Sarah Lucy Coleman (Finding Sukha Yoga School)
Don't have your Groupon receipt? "Don't be silly, I trust you." Her tiny East Village studio may not be the fancy shmanciest of them all, but there's a whole lot of love goin' on up in there. Sarah is extremely sensitive to everyone's needs - and she's just a gentle, receptive person. Perfect for a yoga teacher.
12. Caroline Kohles (JCC Nia Instructor)
Okay, so Nia is not my favorite workout - but this lady is pure goodness. Really a loving, caring person who shows genuine concern for everyone in the class. She's especially kind with the elderly.
13. Vienna Wilson (Equinox)
I've been to Vienna many times over the years, and she is a solid, drama-free instructor. She'll zen you out with her good vibes and her cute smile, but she takes her work very seriously, and lucky for you her job consists of "taking you to your happy place".
14. Anthony Bagnetto (Manhattan Plaza Sports Club)
The regulars up at Manhattan Plaza Sports Club love this kid. He's simply adorkable, as those annoying Glee commercials would say.
15. Shannon Algeo (Nalini Method)
I love him. He's sweet, goofy, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. It's clear that his number one priority in class is to make sure that everyone is as happy as possible at all times. Not to mention that he pulled one of the most impressive follow-ups I've ever encountered (he went home and researched my injury after class and then came to tell me about it when I returned to the studio another time. Whoa.)
OK, so this may not inform your fitness journey as much as my other top lists.
...But, if you ever need a hug - or if someone lets you down and you need a well-trained professional to give you some love for an hour (the kind of love that leaves you with endorphins, not gonorrhea) - I can guarantee that these guys will not disappoint.