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The inspiring way this dancer-turned-boxer found peace through fitness


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We want to recognize the fitness instructors who don’t just look great on Instagram—but actually inspire us to be better. So together with ReebokONE, we asked you to nominate trainers for the second annual America’s Most Inspiring Trainer search. After over a thousand amazing stories, we’ve narrowed it down to 12 finalists—which means it’s time for you to choose a winner! Learn more about Deja Riley below, and cast your vote by November 26.

Deja Riley, Los Angeles, California

Founding coach at BoxUnion

Her favorite post-workout smoothie

Berry Banana Burst from Nektar (followed by a traditional cheese pizza).

What inspired you to become a trainer?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been a professional dancer in Los Angeles following my childhood dreams. But because dance isn’t a sustainable lifestyle, I had to transition into a new career. I didn’t always love to work out, but now I can’t imagine life without it. Fitness is now my catharsis, my therapy. It is a mind, body, and soul collaboration.

“Every single day I strive to ignite positive feelings in others to help them discover a better version of themselves.”

I live by the quote that “people will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Every single day, I strive to ignite positive feelings in others to help them discover a better version of themselves.

What’s your fitness philosophy?

Find peace within a workout. No matter what I’m going through, no matter what life brings my way, I work it out on the bag. The bag doesn’t care about my physical appearance, my weaknesses, my struggles, or my insecurities.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about being a fitness pro?

As a society, we focus so much on our differences, but we are really so much alike. Fitness is a universal language in which people can all support one another in challenges and celebrate one another’s victories.

The winner of America’s Most Inspiring Trainer will score a one-year contract with Reebok and major coverage on Well+Good. Cast your vote now!

In partnership with ReebokONE

Photo: Joe Flip Wilson