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Why this trainer left the corporate world for CrossFit


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We’re on a mission to recognize the fitness instructors who don’t just look great on Instagram—but actually inspire us to be better. So together with Reebok, we asked you to nominate trainers for the first-ever America’s Most Inspiring Trainer title. After nearly 5,000 entries, we’ve narrowed down the pool to 12 amazing finalists—and now it’s time for you to choose a winner! Learn more about Maillard Howell below, and cast your vote by December 23. 

Maillard Howell, Brooklyn, NY

Owner of CrossFit Prospect Heights

His Mantra

“Let your grit eclipse talent.”

His Power Jam

“Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J

His Story

By day, Maillard Howell worked as a corporate executive in the pharmaceutical industry. By night, he worked up a sweat every way he could—lifting, spinning, boxing, jogging, and even training friends for free. A decade in, he’d had enough.

“I started CrossFit-ing in 2010 and never looked back,” he says. “I made a life choice to leave the corporate world and open my own gym.”

He calls the move “a leap of faith for the sake of my mental and emotional well being”—and it’s paid off not just for Howell, but for his clients, too, who describe him as “the definition of following your dreams.”

His Most Inspiring Memory as a Trainer

When Chris Williams came to Howell a year ago, he had a specific goal: to train for the Paralympics. The problem? Howell had never trained someone in a wheelchair before.

“If he was willing to give it a shot, I sure was,” Howell remembers. “When he started, he couldn’t do 10 push ups in a row…today, he can do 10 sets of 10. His 2016 has truly been a blessing and an inspiration to me, and 2017 will be 10 times greater as we seek to enter Chris into his first Powerlifting meet.”

His Inspiring Mission

Howell has big plans, and they start with a bigger space: one with room for strength training, a running program, flexibility and gymnastics training, and CrossFit.

“I train the 67-year-old around the corner. I train the sergeant and police officer who serve and protect the neighborhood. I train the 14-year-old kid for free. I train the pregnant mom from up the block. I support my community by being the force that inspires them to invest in their health and well being.”

His diverse client roster is a reminder that anyone can hit their fitness goals. “Natural ability or inability is worthless when working with me,” he says. “Let your work ethic eclipse talent. Let your grit eclipse talent. Let your heart eclipse talent.”

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

Photo: Austin Canales