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SF's Hottest Trainer 2015: Mandy Gragg of Equinox, Contestant #3

Mandy Gragg, Equinox Union Street
Mandy Gragg, Equinox Union Street
Photos: Mark Kuroda

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During her six years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Mandy Gragg helped design and launch the Combat Fitness Test, one of the primary standards of physical endurance for every Marine. Today, she helps her clients at Equinox Union Street annihilate the obstacles that stand in the way of reaching their fitness goals.

Mandy’s arsenal of fashion weaponry is just as impressive as her military background, and she blogs all about it. A client who started working out with her after a bad breakup calls Mandy a "walking fitness blog." Another considers her a "fitness role model." We don’t have a nickname for her yet, but she did score major style points for bringing a parachute to the shoot.

In one sentence, tell us about yourself.

I am the girliest tomboy you’ll ever meet.

What inspired you to become a trainer/instructor?

I have been skiing, backpacking and running since I learned to walk. I’ve always loved a challenge, so I accepted a nomination to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. I became an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, where my time was focused around physical fitness as well as leadership and mental fortitude. When I decided to leave active duty, my goal was to pursue a career in fitness, but I was hesitant because of the potential risks—and went into finance. It took me all but a year to realize my calling was for something more meaningful. Today, I consider myself blessed to do what I love: motivate and kick others out of their comfort zones in order to realize their true potential.

What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?

I’m tough. My classes and sessions are tough. You might be frustrated at times, and that’s precisely the point. You can’t succeed until you’ve challenged yourself enough to fail. Accepting failure and growing from it is a quality every successful person possesses. I’m the first to understand the desire to be perfect on the first try, but it’s not always reality, even for us as fitness professionals. Your workout is 90 percent mental. Stay in the game, especially after you fall. The result is worth it, and I’ll be right there with you, every step of the way.

Fun fact...go!

I was professionally trained as a classical singer and soloist, and performed in musical theater and classical oratorios in high school and college.

If you weren’t in fitness, what would you be doing?

Writing and trail running are my greatest passions. If I wasn’t training or teaching, I would be training to run ultra-marathons professionally, contributing to fitness journalism and blogging my story (and outfits!) along the way.

What are your top three workout jams?

"How I Could Just Kill a Man" by Rage Against The Machine; "Jump Around" by House of Pain; and "Only" by Nine Inch Nails

Follow Mandy on The Haute Sweat Blog and on Instagram and Twitter: @thehautesweat