A good trainer has enviable abs and legs that are #goals. But a great trainer—the best kind, really—has something the naked eye can't see: a "why." These trainers all have underlying, long-term reasons or goals for exercise, which research shows could be the most important factor in making Fitness a forever, not fleeting, part of your life. "When you tap into your ultimate purpose for exercising, skipping a workout today actually means putting off something you value at your truest core," says Chicago psychologist Stephanie Hooker, Ph.D.
Accessing that "why" can be a total game changer, as it's been for this year's fifth-annual Next Fitness Star competition. See what their triumphs and struggles have taught them and why they want your vote.
(Torch fat, get fit, and look and feel great with Women's Health's All in 18 DVD!)
Angela Gargano, 27, Cranston, RI
"I'll never forget being made fun of in elementary school for my 'big man arms'...Now? Those arms are one of my favorite body parts because of how strong they are."
Related: 4 Women Share Exactly What They Did To Get Insanely Toned Arms
Lana Titus, 35, Los Angeles
"I want to be the best role model I can be for my daughters. And that starts with being the healthiest you—mentally and physically."
Denise Harris, 49, Brooklyn
"Fitness has taught me that there's no cap on what you are capable of—unless you put it there."
Darcey Wion, 30, Columbus, OH
"I fought hard to get healthy, but I had to learn to be patient with my body...I fully believe that if you can survive the struggle in the gym, you'll be stronger outside of it too."
Related: This Woman Drastically Changed Her Body After 7 Years of CrossFit
Betina Gozo, 30, Portland, OR
"I never feel more alive than I do after a tough workout."
Related: Even People Who Hate The Gym Will Love This Dance-Inspired Workout
AND NOW...THE JUDGES!
Along with your vote, we've enlisted a panel of experts to help us decide who should be the Next Fitness Star. In the spirit of getting to know them, what better question to ask than "What's your exercise why?"
Yoga instructor, author of The Living Clearly Method
"We are made to move. I never feel so alive and present as I do when I have thoroughly exercised my body. And the purpose of life is to live it to the fullest, no? Otherwise what are we doing here? I don't want to waste a moment."
Related: You Can Do This Flat-Abs Workout From Hilaria Baldwin In 15 Minutes
F.I.T. program founder, WH cover star
"Exercising makes me feel strong, capable, and motivated—like I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I feel more positive, have a clearer mind, and have more energy for embracing all life has to offer."
Cohost of The Insider
"I exercise so I can live a long and healthy life. Not only does exercise strengthen our bodies and keep us in shape, but it's also been documented how much it can improve our mental and emotional well-being."
Jen Ator, C.S.C.S.
WH fitness director, Kona Ironman finisher
"For me, workouts are about building resiliency—physically, but more so mentally. Training helps teach my body, and mind, that no matter what I'm going through, I can always find a way to keep moving forward."
CAST YOUR VOTE
Only one can win. Go to WomensHealthMag.com/NextFitnessStar to watch videos of the contestants and support your favorite between June 20 and August 4.