13 Best Personal Trainers in Southeast Michigan

Looking for a change to your workout routine in 2016, but have no idea how or where to begin to find personal trainers? Check out these pros in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

Top Southeast Michigan Personal Trainers

Whether you’re a workout maniac or just starting out, there’s no one-size-fits-all workout or secret pill to get the results you want. To get those, you need an exercise routine all your own – and, to get that, you need a personal trainer. There’s no need to hit the computer and research for hours to find the right one, because Metro Parent has already done that. On this list, you’ll find some of the best personal trainers working right here in southeast Michigan in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Review their certifications, focus and philosophy here, and find the right fit to help get you fit. Note: Trainers are listed alphabetically by last name. Order does not reflect ranking.


Roger Bowman

  • Where he works: Sees clients in Romulus and Belleville; also offers online consultations. See website for details.
  • Contact him: 313-718-9387
  • Years training: 13 years
  • Specialty: Tying in nutrition and supplement needs to wellness and training
  • Certification: Certified personal trainer through American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • Fave equipment/exercise: Suspension/TRX, free weights
  • Cost: $80-$90/hour; call for details
  • Approach: “I strongly believe that the client-trainer relationship needs to be more than just an hour spent together in the gym. It’s important to put together a road map to get from point A to point B correctly and consistently,” Bowman says. “I will help to do that, incorporating nutrition and training.”

James Cook

  • Where he works: Lifetime Fitness Commerce Township
  • Contact him: 313-909-8481
  • Years training: 8
  • Specialty: Sports performance training
  • Certification: Certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • Fave equipment/exercise: “I love squats. I think they are a total body exercise that builds a strong core and strong legs that will also boost metabolism,” Cook says.
  • Cost: Call for rates
  • Approach: Cook strives to be sure that each of his clients has a workout plan that spans the entire gamut of health and exercise. “I look at metabolism and diet first,” he says. “Then I develop a well-rounded program for each individual that includes weight training and high-intensity interval training.”

Nicholas DeSantis

  • Where he works: FitnessQuest and HealthQuest Physical Therapy in Macomb Township
  • Contact him: 586-817-0792
  • Years training: 6
  • Specialty: High-intensity interval training (HIT training), medical rehabilitation, one-on-one training
  • Certification: Certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and functional movement specialist
  • Fave equipment/exercise: If DeSantis could choose a machine for clients to have in their home, or to try out at the gym, it would be the Row Machine. “It integrates a lot of body mechanics that include upper and lower extremities,” he says.
  • Cost: Ranges $45-$60/one-on-one, $20/group
  • Approach: DeSantis prefers to find out a person’s goals and then begins a program for them based on their specific needs. “Individualizing it physically, emotionally and by overall health is how I attack it,” he says.

Robert Gardner

  • Where he works: Personal trainer and owner at PT in the D, 1420 Washington Blvd., Detroit
  • Contact him: 586-381-4387
  • Years training: 8
  • Specialty: Weight and fat loss – and the training of those with previous injuries trying to train pain-free while healing from those injuries
  • Certification: Degree in exercise science from Wayne State University, certified personal trainer through American Council on Exercise (ACE), TRX course certification and cancer exercise specialist through the Cancer Exercise Training Institute
  • Fave equipment/exercise: “My favorite equipment right now has been using the barbell to do glute bridges and hip lifts to activate and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings,” Gardner says.
  • Cost: $55-$65 for private one-hour training sessions, $20-$30 for one-hour semi-private sessions
  • What makes his approach unique: “My approach varies with every client,” he says. “I try to take into account what the goals of the client are along with their current fitness level, previous fitness experience, current motivation and with the time they can devote to being healthier. From there, we come up with a plan for success for that person. Everyone is so different that there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all routine. Overall, I try to encourage living a healthier lifestyle for success, not just taking a short term approach and focus only on a few workouts or a quick fix.”

Jennifer Gray

  • Where she works: Owner, founder and president of Body by Jenn, 6750 Orchard Lake Road, Bloomfield Township; Gray also comes to clients’ homes
  • Contact her: 248-761-2321 or BodybyJenn.com
  • Years training: 24
  • Specialty: Women of all ages and sizes. Also offers pre- and post-natal fitness and Bridal Boot Camp.
  • Certification: American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Aerobic & Fitness Association of America (AFAA), exercise specialists and kickboxing; Jennifer is currently certified in group fitness training through the AFAA; four-year degree in exercise physiology
  • Fave equipment/exercise: Your body. “I like using your own body weight as resistance because it works all the small functional muscles that give women the tone, but a soft, female look at the same time,” Gray explains. “The BOSU and barre are my favorite pieces of equipment because you’re using your own body weight. Also, the boxing bag with pink gloves, of course.”
    Gray says she is “all about having fun,” keeping workouts high-energy and including a cardio element to all routines, “because we only have so much time to devote to working out and cardiovascular is the most important component.”
  • Cost: Customized small group training ranges $8-$15 depending on the package. Check website for special rates for Metro Parent readers.
  • What makes her approach unique: With a combination of cardio-based circuit training and hot fitness trends like kickboxing, yoga and barre, Gray is able to transform a woman’s body. “My motto of training is don’t pump it up, change it up,” she says. “If you want to look like a woman, you need to train like a woman.”

Heather Hesington

  • Where she works: Rock City Fitness, 2889 Crooks Road, Rochester Hills
  • Contact her: heather.hesington@gmail.com
  • Years training: 1
  • Specialty: Behavior change. She also blogs at Life in Leggings, a healthy lifestyle blog that follows her love for food, fitness and travel.
  • Certification: Certified Personal Trainer through National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • Fave equipment/exercise: “I love using stability and BOSU balls to make exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and bridges more advanced and less stable.”
  • Approach: “Training with myself and Rock City Fitness means getting results,” Hesington says. “Our goal is to inspire and help clients dig deeper in order to reach new levels of fitness, and we use a three-fold approach consisting of Movement, Metabolic and Mind to make this happen!”

Adrianne Madias

  • Where she works: The Barre Code Ann Arbor
  • Contact her: 734-436-4948
  • Years Training: 5
  • Specialty: Women, barre fitness
  • Certification: Certified in the Barre Code Method
  • Fave equipment/exercise: Her favorite workout is a class offered at the studio called the Barre Brawl: “It gets the heart rate up with moves involving the ballet barre.”
  • Cost: $99/month; student and teacher discounts are available
  • Approach: In addition to living by The Barre Code, the mantra of the studio, Madias focuses on cardiovascular conditioning, training restoration and strength toning.

Reggie O’Bryant

  • Where he works: Franklin Athletic Club
  • Contact: 248-352-8000, ext. 273
  • Years training: 16
  • Specialty: All-around fitness
  • Certification: Personal trainer, nutrition consultant, strength and conditioning through the American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM) and the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), TRX and AFFA
  • Fave equipment/exercise: “I would say my favorite all-around exercise would be burpees because you are working your legs, core, lower back, chest, triceps – a variety of muscles at once,” O’Bryant says.
  • Cost: $70/one-hour session
  • Approach: O’Bryant likes to start his clients out with the basics and build them up from there. “People tend to want to start from the top,” he says, “but you really need a solid base to build from.”

Elissa Smith, Elissa’s Home Fitness

  • Where she works: At homes, golf and tennis clubs, offices and businesses; serving Oakland County including West Bloomfield, Commerce, Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake, Birmingham and Bloomfield
  • Contact her: 248-390-9131, afsmith25@aol.com
  • Years training: 30
  • Specialty: Strength training, weight loss, women’s fitness, senior, kettle bells, TRX, balance, cooking classes and nutrition. Special need populations.
  • Certification: ACE certified for 28 years. Exercise Physiology and Psychology 4-year degree. Nutrition, women fitness, Balance and Fall, Senior Fitness Specialist (ACE), CPR and AED 30 years
  • Fave Equipment and exercise: Body weight exercises, Circuit training, TRX and Kettlebells. Core using body weight and balance
  • Cost: $40-$85/hour; groups rates available
  • Approach: “Everyone is unique,” she says. “I may spend more time on nutrition with one client, depending on their needs. It is not cookie cutter. I evaluate the client and determine how I can best service them to reach their goals. Some may want to increase strength and a tough workout, while others have a severe restriction that limits the intensity, so we take it at a different level. Others really need nutritional help, so I will add that in. I cook and love to teach. It is my passion!”

Mark Thiesmeyer, MS, MPH, RD

  • Where he works: Better Living Fitness, 834B Phoenix Drive, Ann Arbor
  • Contact him: 734-747-0123
  • Years training: 16 years
  • Specialty: Weight loss (he’s also a registered dietitian), strength training, flexibility work and rehabilitation
  • Certification: American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • Fave equipment/exercise: “The exercise that will strengthen a particularly weak muscle and help someone feel better,” Thiesmeyer says.
  • Cost: Memberships start at $39.99/month. Small group and personal training range $20-$65/hour.
  • Approach: “I believe optimal fitness can be achieved with the following seven components: strength work, cardio training, flexibility, stress management, sleep, balance and posture awareness,” he says. “I help people maximize their energy and fitness with effective exercise, appropriate nutrition and the right blend of everything else. Your exercise should make you feel good!”

Jimi Varner

  • Where he works: Certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition Certified coach at Powerhouse Gym in Novi
  • Contact him: www.jimivarner.com
  • Years training: 16
  • Specialty: Strength and cardio training for weight loss
  • Certification: Certified personal trainer through American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Precision Nutrition Certified Coach through Dr. John Berardi
  • Fave equipment/exercise: Dumbbells – because they are the most versatile and can be used to achieve any goal, Varner says.
  • Cost: Ranges $10-$63
  • Approach: “It’s all in the title: ‘personal’ training,” says Varner. “I truly take a very specific, customized approach to working with each person. Each of us is so complex with a uniqueness that needs specialization to achieve superior results.”

Leah Veprauskas

  • Where she works: Owner and operator at Leah V. Fitness
  • Contact her: 248-760-9453
  • Years training: 16
  • Specialty: In-home training, small group training with all ages and fitness levels
  • Certification: Certified Strength Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through National Strength Conditioning Association (NSCA), certified personal trainer through National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), Corrective Exercise Specialist through National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • Fave equipment/exercise: non-traditional tools including ropes, heavy bags, sliders and sandbags. “They are the easiest form of resistance training,” she says.
  • Cost: Ranges $45-$80/session for private training and $15 for small group training (four-10 people)
  • Approach: “I approach my work with my clients in a progressive manner,” says Veprauskas. “I start with achievable weekly goals that change and become more challenging as the client consistently demonstrates ability to accomplish them. I do, though, make a point to discuss the importance of being consistent, long-term, with the recommendations I’m making, and the necessity of putting the time into changing habits and behaviors. Bottom line: I can provide all the information, knowledge and guidance in the world, but unless the client makes a conscious effort to change their thought patterns and resulting behaviors on a daily basis, it will be difficult for them to reach their goals.”

Pierre Vinson

  • Where he works: Owner at GIVE Fitness, 200 Mt. Elliott St., Detroit
  • Contact info: 313-451-1348
  • Years training: 7 years
  • Specialty: Weight loss
  • Certification: ACSM Exercise Physiologist, B.S. in Exercise Science from CMU
  • Fave equipment/exercise: Body weight (functional) training
  • Cost: $35/30 minutes, $55/60 minutes, $8/boxing classes
  • Approach: “We have tailored programs based on your fitness level and fitness goals,” Vinson says. “Our goal is to get you healthy, appreciate your body, and then fine tune it.”

Danell Wilkerson

  • Where he works: Boll Family YMCA
  • Contact him: 313-309-9622, ext. 3086
  • Years training: 7
  • Specialty: Weight loss, hypertrophy, corrective exercise and sport specific training
  • Certification: Certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • Fave equipment/exercise: “Dumbbells are my favorite exercise equipment,” Wilkerson says. “They are basic equipment but can be used for a vast array of beginner to advanced exercises.”
  • Cost: Ranges $25-$65/session
  • Approach: “Being fit is a lifestyle,” he says. “People usually become successful with something because they have found a way to incorporate it into their lifestyle daily. Given the right motivation and accountability people will willingly give up habits that have held them back and replace them with habits that will yield the results they desire.”
  • I’m very curious of how you guys come up with the rankings, for best trainers in the area. I know that I personally am one of the best trainers around, and know many other trainers who didn’t make this list either. You have one trainer on here with an year of experience, other with bad certifications a least in my eyes. I just would like the list to be more thorough if you’re going to make a list. Maybe it is, because you can’t see everyone, or hear about everyone. I just feel as a fitness practitioner like this list is missing the core of what we do as a career. There’s a lot that goes into what we do, I doubt some of the people this list can do all of that.

    • Stacey W.

      Hello. Thanks so much for your feedback! We do update this list every year and are always looking to add different trainers to the list. If you’re interested in being added to the list, send your information to swinconek@metroparent.com.


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