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Hottest Trainer Contestant #2: Hannah Holdren

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Welcome to Racked SF's search for San Francisco's hottest trainer. Over the coming weeks, we'll profile a dozen-plus smoking candidates who work at local gyms and studios. (Not only do they look hot in spandex, but if you take their classes, you might someday look nearly as good.) Then, once you've gotten to know everyone, we'll host a March Madness-style showdown in which you get to vote for your favorite. Let the games begin!

Photos by Aubrie Pick

Please welcome competitor #2 in Racked SF's first Hottest Trainer Competition, Hannah Holdren. Holdren is technically a rookie trainer, having been on the job for less than a year. But she has built up a following any veteran would be proud of for her classes, which include titles like Ultimate Conditioning, Absolution and Diesel, at Crunch on Polk Street. It's not hard to see why—check her out at in our photo gallery, taken at the gorgeous gym, which is a former movie theater. Plus, this woman will brave South African public transit to get her workout in—now that's dedication.

Photos by Aubrie Pick

How long have you been a trainer?
"Officially I have been training since January of this year although it was a path I had considered and a field I had dabbled in for many years. I trained friends here and there while in college and used to teach some classes, but officially I am less than a year in."

What prompted you to become one—did you have a different career path in mind prior?
"After switching majors many times in college (University of Miami) and deciding that perhaps it wasn't my calling to be a food critic or a sports anchor I ended up majoring in sports administration and minoring in exercise physiology and psychology. At the time I thought I wanted to work with for a professional sports team or a company like Nike or Under Armour. I knew I wanted to be surrounded by sports and athletics, but I wasn't sure exactly in what manner.

I ended up doing my internship my senior year of college at a boxing gym in downtown Miami called Fight Club. It was a gutted warehouse with a huge ring, a vast room with probably 70 some hanging bags, a shadow boxing room, and your bare bones basic machines and free weights, although my boss's upstairs office was plush and ornate—something right out of Scarface. It was here that I knew being in the gym 24/7 might be just the right fit for me. When I went back to waitressing or bartending gigs, I missed the gym and found myself wishing to be working in fitness again. I traveled overseas for a while and there too found that I was getting odd looks from the other volunteers when I braved the insane public transport in Capetown, South Africa to get to the closest fitness center.

When I returned to the US I started working at David Barton Gym (in Miami) first at the front desk then as a scheduling coordinator for the personal training staff. I often talked with the trainers about how maybe one day I wanted to train and put my ex phys minor to use... but for some reason I waited. I ended up moving across the country to San Francisco from Miami last January and stumbled into a job at Crunch fitness after finding the job listing on Craigslist. Within a month of moving, I not only had a job at the front desk, but I was adopted into an amazing fitness family. My coworkers in all departments became my friends, the gym my home away from home. As much as I loved the structure and responsibility I was given as MOD, I eventually found myself at a fork in the road once again when it came to whether or not to pursue training?.and finally I dove in. After encouragement from managers and coworkers I took the leap of faith and put aside my nerves and I have never looked back. I am so lucky and eternally grateful that I get to come to work everyday and workout with people. It has been the best job I have ever had and I honestly can't imagine myself in another career where I would feel as gratified. Sure, it's a grind, but it's fun and it's dynamic—it is ever changing, ever growing, and I love that about it."

What classes do you teach, and which is your favorite/why?
"I teach Ultimate Conditioning, TRX/Chisel, and I sub for Diesel, Cardio Sculpt, Absolution, Bosu Body and a few others. I also hope to be teaching a Power Wave Battle Ropes Boot Camp in the next few months. I would have to say my favorite is Ultimate Conditioning just because it is a class I have truly been able to make my own. The class happens to be at an awkward time in the morning where many people are already working, so when I came on to take over the class from the previous instructor, attendance was faltering and some days only 5 or 6 people would show. Over the past few months, I have been able to get attendance up to 20-30 something people almost every class and I have a group of loyal attendees that range from 18 to 68. This has been so rewarding for me, because not only do I feel good that they like me and my class, but I have watched all of them progress so much. Having a steady consistent group has also given me the chance to advance them a bit, focusing on form and doing a few more complex lifts or movements instead of just killing them with cardio the whole time. Don't get me wrong, I like to leave them panting and sweating, but sometimes when you train one on one and then enter a group setting, it is hard to abandon your urge to correct everyone's movement deviations. I do my best to cue the entire group and talk them through the exercises, letting them know where they should feel it, where they shouldn't feel it, and giving them casual little tricks or sayings I use to help both my clients and myself understand movements that they may not be familiar with (such as the bend and snap for a deadlift). I get to do athletic things with my students, I get to teach them regressions and progressions of different lifts, and I get to kick their butts with awesome intervals. Even when I go into class feeling sleepy or sore, I always end on a high. It's an amazing thing to be able to bring up the energy of an entire group and it's extremely empowering."

Describe your training style: Are you drill sergeant? More laid back?
I wouldn't call myself a drill sergeant, at least not one hundred percent of the time. I think when I first started training I was definitely a bit more of a hard ass, just doing my damnedest to make sure everyone got a great sweat session in, but over time I have found that I am somewhat of a chameleon, making sure my training style fits the client and the type of workout. Some people are just gluttons for punishment let's face it, and if you want me to push you, I'll push you. Other people need a little more TLC and a bit of nurturing. I had a coworker tell me I am very much like a mother to some of my clients, and I will take that as a compliment. Your mom is someone that is going to care about you and love you unconditionally, not judge you for your mistakes or make you feel insecure about any shortcomings, but she is also someone who will be honest with you and make you do your homework—someone who at the end of the day will keep you in line and hold you accountable, because she is doing it out of love. So I will take that comparison any day."

What's one piece of advice everyone should hear before beginning a new workout?
How do I choose just one?? One easy route to go with this would be FOAM ROLL AND STRETCH. Myofacial release and complete stretching programs are completely underrated. I can't tell you how many people I see hopping on the treadmill or under the squat rack without so much as a thought of rolling out their calves, IT bands, or lats?.or opening up their hips. I don't think they know how much more they could get out of their workout if they took the time to work on their tightnesses and imbalances before going hard in the paint. You have got to master your own body weight before throwing around heavy weights on the gym floor. Now another piece of advice I often give members and clients alike is to be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day, and there are going to be some movements that are completely hard to understand—that your brain doesn't want to communicate to your muscles because your body's normal movement patterns are so engrained as the default way from A to B. I urge them not to get frustrated if maybe their deadlift isn't beautiful the first couple sessions, or if every rep feels different. When you break down most movements there are a lot of components that have to be accounted for, a lot of muscle groups that have to be activated and remain engaged, specific ways to breathe?.it can be overwhelming, but I find that my clients who prioritize form over getting their asses kicked, are the happiest and healthiest. When they have that AH HAH moment on a perfect rep it's always like a little celebration for both of us—a victory on their path to being more fit. That being said, it is so important to come into a workout with a clear head, having rested enough, and leave the drama and outside stressors at the door. My goal for every client is for them to leave feeling awesome, like they are one step closer to their goal whether it be living pain free, having perfect posture, or feeling one step closer to being Superman or Wonder Woman."

Tell us a fun fact about you—the weirder and wackier, the better.
"I used to want to be a food critic, and I still kind of dream of that. My shellfish allergy holds me back a little bit, but I love watching all food shows from Top Chef to Barefoot Contessa?I could read menus and restaurants reviews like they were books and love learning about and trying out different food and wine/cocktail pairings. I hope to start a blog one day soon with healthy versions of favorite dishes so all us fitness foodies out there can find pleasure and enjoy our food when fueling our bodies even on non-cheat days."
· All Hottest Trainer Posts [Racked SF]


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