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Fitness and Weight Loss 'How I went from struggling to stick with workouts to becoming a personal trainer'

Fitness should never be about what's "cool"—if you don't like what you are doing, you'll form a negative relationship with exercise.

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(GymClass)

Denise Harris says a mindset shift changed everything for her.

In Women's Health's fifth-annual search for American's top personal trainer, we looked for tenacity, passion, and skills.

We found all of those in each of our five standout finalists. But we found something much deeper and rarer too: a clear sense of purpose.

Meet our crew and help us decide who should be hailed this year's winner.

DENISE HARRIS

AGE: 49
HOMETOWN: BROOKLYN

MY WHY

I dabbled with working out for years, but I always fell off the wagon. Hard work can lead to great results, but it isn't always sustainable. So when I was 42, I resolved to just move. When I'm active every day—whether that's a 10-minute abs series before bed or a 30-minute circuit while I'm waiting on laundry—I'm more disciplined and happy.

People say, "Your body can hear you." I like to say, "Your body can feel you." If you spend all day at your desk, you can't expect your body to want to work. Fitness has taught me that there is no cap on what you are capable of—unless you put it there.

MY TRAINING M.O.

I'm a big believer in forging personal relationships to stay motivated, so I mostly train people one-on-one. I stick to HIIT or Tabata workouts, but I'll pepper in yoga or Pilates circuits too.

MY TAKEAWAY TIPS

Speed up smartly. I go all out for 20 seconds, then rest for 10, for four minutes total. Do it with squats, lunges, and glute bridges.

Create a workout space. Even if it's just a tiny square of your room with a mat and basic equipment. When it's in eyeshot, it's easier to do something instead of nothing.

Don't follow the trends. Fitness should never be about what's "cool"—if you don't like what you are doing, you'll form a negative relationship with exercise.

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