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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 Willie Holmes below, and cast your vote by December 23. 

Willie Holmes, Miami, FL

Trainer and instructor at SoulCycle

His Mantra

“Today’s pain becomes tomorrow’s power.”

His Power Jam

“Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” – Jazmine Sullivan

His Story

An army vet and Wilhelmina NYC model, Willie Holmes certainly looks like someone who’s been into fitness all of his life. But that wasn’t always the case.

“I became inspired to get into fitness because of my mother’s untimely death [from a weight-related stroke],” he says. “The people in my family at some point began to feel hopeless and that they were not in control. Now I know there are a lot more families like mine out there.”

Moved to not only change his own path but to serve as an inspiration to others, Holmes dedicated himself “to be living, walking, breathing proof that you don’t have to look like what you’ve been through or where you came from.”

His Most Inspiring Memory as a Trainer

On the anniversary of his mother’s passing, Holmes taught a sold-out SoulCycle class—and opened up to his students.

“I expressed how anger had gone unresolved, and now must remain that way,” he says .”It’s my biggest regret in life and is a story that I don’t share with anyone, but in that moment I felt liberated and empowered. After class many people came to me to tell me their struggles, and that I motivated them to resolve issues in their lives.”

His Inspiring Mission

“I aspire to be a voice not only for, but also to the people who feel like life will do what it will do, and they just have to go for the ride,” Holmes says. “I want to use fitness to help people love themselves from the inside out, to show them their strength.”

He speaks from experience: “I am a student of life and I have been taught some very tough lessons. At no point did I ever find myself giving up.  I ask a lot of the people who train with me or take my classes, because I know that there’s always more to be done—and every person has the ability to push through their limits and their struggles.”

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: Willie Holmes