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How this small-town fitness pro became the winner of America’s Most Inspiring Trainer


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Sure, fitness instructors encourage you to wake up for that 6 a.m. class, cycle through those last five minutes, and do just one more leg lift (when you’d rather be in straight-up Netflix mode). But the best ones don’t just push you to bring it inside the gym—they make you want to be your best self outside the barre studio or CrossFit box, too.

So we teamed up with ReebokONE to find them with our second annual America’s Most Inspiring Trainer search. Why? Because fitness pros that serve as sweat BFFs/therapists/role models deserve to be recognized for more than rock-hard abs (or enviable Instagram feeds). 

And you delivered: After over a thousand nominations (and stories to give you *all* the feels), 12 game-changing finalists, and more than 23,000 votes, we have a winner: Pat Gilles!

A Madison, Wisconsin native, Gilles is totally outside the circuit of buzzy big-city studios—which makes the fact that his community rallied behind him to the tune of 9,000 votes even more amazing (and deserving). “I found my passion, and to be recognized for it is humbling,” Gilles says.

A Madison, Wisconsin native, Gilles is totally outside the circuit of buzzy big-city studios—which makes the fact that his community rallied behind him to the tune of 9,000 votes even more amazing (and deserving).

And he took an interesting route to get to this very moment. After graduating college, Gilles had the opportunity to go pro in hockey…and golf…and sailing. But the sweat pro had another idea in mind: “I wanted return to my hometown of Madison to help people live better lives,” he says.

Now the proud owner of Pat’s Gym, Gilles has done just that. The secret to his success? The foundation of respect and trust he has with everyone he trains, from pro football players to stay-at-home moms. “Showing my athletes that I really care about their success is inspiring [to both of us],” Gilles says. “They don’t want to disappoint me, and it’s a bond that solidifies our relationship.” Relationship #goals.

Clearly, Gilles has a strong reach in his hometown—but now, he’ll be inspiring fitness fanatics across the country. On top of a shiny new contract with Reebok, Gilles has some big plans for the future. “I want to open more gyms and expand my reach with online coaching,” he says. “I love working with athletes all over the world and having a positive impact on them.” World, meet America’s Most Inspiring Trainer.

ReebokONE is all about supporting trainers (the ones that dream big, give back, and inspire you to give your all). Fitness pros get exclusive discounts and intel—sign up now!

In partnership with ReebokONE

Photo: Roza Gilles

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