Resolving to Get Fit This Year? Get Inspired by These Top Bay Area Fitness Influencers

Exercising, working out, practice, training — whatever your go-to term is for setting your body, mind and soul on a more health-conscious trajectory — getting active has taken on an even higher value since a certain pandemic altered how we pursue betterment. Here, eight Bay Area Instagram fitness influencers share advice and inspiration to help you kickstart an active, healthy year.

Natalie Carey

@barbellblondie 9,000+ followers

“I want all bodies to feel included in fitness,” says Natalie Carey, who owns Barbell Blondie Personal Training and is also trainer at Diakadi Personal Training in San Francisco. “I believe exercise is a get to, not a have to, and anyone who wants to join me is welcome!” And thanks to her background as a ballerina, weightlifter and competitive pole dancer, you can bet Carey is all about fitness diversity.

Carey categorizes herself as a “body-positive personal trainer.” While welcoming people of all experience levels, she works hard to make fitness training easily accessible for those who might be intimidated by the prospect of working out at a gym. “I specialize in working with folks who don’t usually feel welcome in a fitness environment or are recovering from negative relationships with food and exercise,” says Carey.

Barbell Blondie

Carey also celebrates variety and choice in her views on nutrition, championing an approach called intuitive eating. “It takes time to master, but it’s realistic, sustainable and authentically healthy,” she says.

Flexibility in exercise and diet is a major part of her philosophy, but so is fun. “I don’t play small when it comes to celebrating your fitness accomplishments,” says Carey. “If you’re proud of it, it deserves to be celebrated!”

Shauna Harrison

@shauna_harrison 81,000+ followers

With her love of fitness and movement beginning in high school teaching step aerobics, Shauna Harrison has packed a lifetime of knowledge, experience, teaching and learning into her 25-year career.

A native of Sunnyvale, Harrison has taught classes in hi/lo aerobics, indoor cycling, Pilates/yoga blend, Pilates mat, indoor and outdoor bootcamps, strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and yoga, to name a few. She currently offers online Zoom classes through her website. What’s more, Harrison holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, masters’ degrees in Latin American studies and public health from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in public health from John Hopkins University, where she teaches part time. She also writes a column for Self  magazine, aptly titled “The Sweaty Professor. 

“Movement is a gift that helps you explore who you are at your deepest core level,” says Harrison. “Find something you like, start there, and then remain curious.” 

Currently, Harrison is most into teaching her Muscle & Flow class, as it combines so many aspects of different exercises, as well as involving music — an aspect of movement she is passionate about. “It’s a blend of yoga with strength, plyos, Pilates and a bunch of other stuff all to hip-hop music,” says Harrison. “Music is my everything.”           

Tony Comella

@tony.comella 200,000+ followers 


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A post shared by Tony Comella (@tony.comella)

“It was my original intention to just help people and spread the knowledge I’ve gained through being a physical therapist,” says Tony Comella, a physical therapist and trainer in Lafayette, when speaking about his influencer status. “It just kind of snowballed, and before I knew it people were really paying attention to my posts.”

Before going to school to become a physical therapist, Comella knew he wanted to help people. “I really enjoy working with people who want to take their recovery and athleticism to the next level,” he says. “I love guiding patients through the rehab process.”

Tony Comella

Comella’s Instagram feed is a treasure trove of suggestions, guidance, and dos and don’ts. His knowledge and work as a therapist, bringing patients back from injuries and improving their strength and flexibility, shines through in every post.

His business, E3 Rehab, has an extensive menu of programs for healing and training. “I want people to understand that they aren’t weak or fragile,” says Comella. “But rather, they’re strong, resilient and much more capable than they think.”

Cass Walsh 

@cassclassfitness 12,000+ followers

Changing careers can be a daunting prospect. Cass Walsh became a professional fitness trainer after working for many years as a third grade teacher. But when the pandemic suddenly shut down her very face-to-face business, she was rightly worried.

I didn’t work a single day because everything in the fitness industry collapsed,” says Walsh. “I was jobless without any way to pay my rent.” But she wasn’t going to let her dream die that easily. Walsh immediately started running virtual fitness classes from the San Francisco apartment she shared with three roommates.

Cass Walsh

“I started with two clients, one being my sister,” says Walsh, “But here we are a year-and-a-half later, and I have more than 700 clients a day, a staff of five and an official San Francisco headquarters.”

Her well-branded Cass Class program blends weight training, CrossFit and metabolic conditioning. And it also has a social component.

“Cass Class is a mix of inspirational Ted Talk and happy hour gossip with your best friends, all while you work out,” says Walsh. “Over a year ago, I even told dating stories during class and ended up meeting my now husband!”

What’s more, Cass Class Fitness partners with New Day for Children in Alamo, California. New Day provides financial support and restorative care placement to children from ages 10 to 18 who have been saved from sex trafficking.

Erica Stenz

@ericastenz 56,000+ followers

Erica Stenz

Before she became a fitness pro, Erica Stenz got a degree from UC Santa Barbara and joined nine-to-fivers working in marketing when she graduated; fitness was just a hobby. But it was that hobby that brought her to Barry’s Bootcamp.

“I loved Barry’s, and I was approached to become an instructor,” says Stenz. She was excited but had worked hard for her degree and wanted to apply her education to whatever she ended up doing. So, Stenz agreed to teach Barry’s classes, but also pitched herself as Barry’s new vice president of fitness development. She got the job and began turning boutique Barry’s into the staple of bootcamp fitness it is today.

Then, the pandemic hit. Stenz left Barry’s and found herself living with her mom in Vacaville. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’” she says. “I got my media kit together, made a business model, and incorporated social media into my plan. Now, I’m one of the top nutrition coaches in the Bay Area, and I love it!”

JT Peterson 

@jtfit30 14,000+ followers


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A post shared by Jamestate (JT) Peterson (@jtfit30)

JT Peterson and his brother, Jake Peterson, opened Studio Thirty in Mill Valley in 2014 and soon after, opened a second location in Larkspur. The studios specialize in cardio strength training (CST) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), embraced by professional athletes who see increases in strength, agility and stamina over a brief time period.                     

You don’t have to be a professional, however, to benefit from the Studio Thirty philosophy. It applies to active lifestyles and can be adapted to many aspects of life. “The mind of an athlete is constantly seeking growth, resilience, focus and the attainment of a goal,” says JT. “Studio Thirty provides the team atmosphere and community camaraderie that is critical for the development of your inner athlete.” 

JT and Jake played college football, but also have had eight surgeries between the two of them because of their dedication to sports. It’s that commitment that shines through in their business and on JT’s Instagram feed. “We’ve been athletes since the age of 4,” says JT. “And we’ve dedicated our lives to helping others keep their bodies healthy.”

Erika Fischer 

@erikafischeryoga 22,000+ followers


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“The message I hope to continually share is that you’re not alone in whatever challenges you’re facing,” says yogi-extraordinaire, mom and firefighter wife Erika Fischer. Her practice consists of classes for every level of yoga practitioner, as well as private instruction and workshops. 

An athlete throughout high school, Fischer’s life changed dramatically due to her addiction — a part of her life she’s worked hard to overcome. “I can’t talk about my fitness journey without also touching on my recovery from substances, because the two for me are deeply related,” says Fischer. “When I got sober at 21, I quickly discovered how beneficial exercise was (and still is) for my mental health.”

Specializing in teaching vinyasa classes, as well as corporate events and private sessions for all levels and ages, Fischer stays busy with her two young boys, and tries to live by the advice she offers clients: “Some days your body is craving rest,” she says. “Just as much as movement is self-care, so is resting and recharging.”

Kamelle Mills

@kamellemills 65,000+ followers


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One look at San Francisco-based Kamelle Mills’ Instagram page and you can see why people are dying to get into his SoulCycle classes. Vibrant outfits and a palpable energy that almost jumps through your phone lets you know Mills is absolutely in love with the life he’s created, and rightly so. 

“[I believe] that everybody can move,” says Mills. “Embrace where you are and what you can accomplish. You cannot stay still if you take a chance and move!” 

From the football field, Mills moved into the cycle studio eight years ago and has become a brand ambassador for SoulCycle. (When we spoke for this article, SoulCycle was jetting him off to Palm Beach, Florida, for an event.)      

What’s more, he’s started his own philanthropic effort called PROFOUNDations, a nonprofit that provides assistance, workshops, scholarships, community events, and opportunities rooted in art and wellness for LGBTQIA+ people of color in the greater Bay Area. Experience one of Mills’ SoulCycle classes; if you can get a spot!

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richard wrightRichard Wright is a writer from Marin whose work has appeared in San Francisco Magazine, SOMA, 944, The Olympian and numerous online publications. He has an MFA from St. Mary’s College of California in creative writing and lives in Sausalito with his wife, Stephanie.