Personal Trainer of the Year

The Personal Trainer of the Year Award recognizes an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) or Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS) for exemplary service to the advancement of the personal training industry.

Congratulations to our 2024 Winner!

Tara De Leon, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

Tara De Leon is a personal trainer, Professor of Health, Fitness, and Exercise Studies, podcaster, speaker, author, and former Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach. Tara has helped hundreds of people feel badass and confident by teaching them how to lift weights and get strong, healthy, and empowered. Tara has a Master’s degree in Human Movement from A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and maintains 14 other advanced certifications pertaining to fitness, wellness, and lifestyle. Tara is a co-host for the podcast, Wellness Rebranded, and the author of the bestselling book Hot Mess to Hot Mom: Transformational Tools for Thriving After Childbirth and Beyond. When Tara is not working, you can find her going for walks, lifting weights, eating sushi or tacos, baking, and spending time on the Chesapeake Bay with her husband, Marcus, their 4-year-old son, Maverick, and their Aussie pup, Chula.

Download the Press Release

Personal Trainer Award Eligibility


Current Member for 2 consecutive years*
Cover letter, resume or CV, and criteria worksheet received
20 hrs/wk minimum as PT with documentation of client load (Client names are to remain anonymous. If employed, signed letter of support from employer (on letterhead, if available). If self-employed, notarized schedule omitting clients names.)

Award not previously received.

Consecutive membership is counted back from the date the award is to be conferred.

Additional requirements listed in the General Awards Criteria, include but not limited to, nominee must be nominated by a member in good standing and nominees will be sent a criteria sheet to fill out that must be returned before the required deadline. 


Past Personal Trainer of the Year Recipients

2023 - Rocky Snyder III, CSCS, NSCA-CPT 2023 PT.jpg
2022 - Vernon Griffith II, CSCS,*D LZ8A8943-Vernon-Griffith-II-Personal-Trainer-Award-web (002).jpg
2019 - Melody Schoenfeld, MA, CSCS,*D, RCPT*E  Triplett and Schoenfeld
2018 - Chad Landers, CSCS, RCPT*E  Haff and Landers
2017 - Michael Rickett, MS, CSCS,*D, CSPS, NSCA-CPT, RCPT*D  Haff and Rickett
2016 - Nick Tumminello, NSCA-CPT  Haff and Tumminello
2015 - Brandi Binkley, MS, NSCA-CPT  Binkley
2014 - Heath R. Pierce, MEd, RSCC, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, HFS  
2013 - Chat Williams, MS, CSCS,*D, CSPS, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA  
2012 - Robert C. Linkul, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT  
2011 - Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, NSCA-CPT  
2009 - Mark Nutting, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2008 - Benjamin Greenfield, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT  
2007 - Jeffrey Segal, CSCS, NSCA-CPT  
2006 - Michael Yu Seril, MS, NSCA-CPT  
2005 - Michael Ranieri, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2004 - Maria Teresa Mendizabal, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2003 - Gina Lombardi, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2002 - Patrick Hagerman, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2001 - Anthony A. Abbott, EdD, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  
2000 - J. Henry Drought, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D  

How Awardees are Selected for Personal Trainer of the Year Award

Gathering Nominations
Nominations are gathered August–November each year. Any nomination received before the established deadline will be accepted for review of eligibility. Nominees will be notified of their nomination along with a request to complete the award criteria sheet.
Eligibility Verification and Points Tally
NSCA Headquarters will verify eligibility and minimum category requirements have been met. The overall points for each nominees will be tallied, and qualified nominees will be notified.
Voting by Industry Leadership
The top three nominees based on overall points will be sent to the Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation Special Interest Group Chair. The voting group will be determined based on the following: 
1. If none of the nominees are part of the group’s current Executive Council, the Chair will submit the nominees to the Council for vote. The Chair may participate in this vote.
2. If members of the Council have been nominated and rank in the top three, the Chair will create an impartial Task Force of five to vote on the winner. The Task Force will be comprised of >50% Chair-selected NSCA members and <50% past award winners. The Chair may not participate in this vote.
3. If the Chair is a nominee, the top three nominees will be submitted to the Membership Committee Chair for committee vote.
Awardee Notification
1. The Chair will notify NSCA Headquarters and the Awards and Honors Committee Chair of the selected recipient. 
2. The Awards and Honors Committee Chair will notify the NSCA Board of Directors of the recipient.
3. The NSCA Headquarters will notify the recipient of the award, send regret notifications, create a Press Release announcement of the winner, and verify attendance at the National Conference awards banquet.
If there are no qualifying nominees, the award will not be given.
#NSCAStrong #NSCAStrong

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