Life Fitness has assembled a judging panel of renowned industry experts who will review Personal Trainers to Watch nominations from around the world. These experts know first-hand what it takes to be an elite personal trainer. They will use specific criteria requested on the entry page to determine one grand prize winner and nine finalists. 

Get to know our judges by checking out their bios below. 

Meet the Judges

Christopher Clawson

President, Life Fitness

Chris Clawson is president of Life Fitness, a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC). A Life Fitness veteran, Clawson has served the company in a number of different positions; including senior director of product management for cardio products, vice president of consumer sales and marketing, and general manager of U.S. fitness retailer Omni Fitness. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Sports & Fitness Industry Association and is a National Vice President for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Clawson was a player on Newman University’s 1983 College World Series team and a two-time inductee into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Joanne Blackerby 

2012 Personal Trainer to Watch

Joanne Blackerby is one of the leading fitness experts in Austin, Texas specializing in Whole Body Integration training regimens. She is considered one of the toughest yet most down-to-earth trainers in Central Texas. Joanne is a nationally certified fitness trainer with over 22 years in the fitness industry. In addition to being a Master Pro Trainer for Fitour and a ViPR Pro Trainer, Joanne is a contributing author for PTontheNet and FitTour. She also presents certification programs on a variety of current methodologies and maintains an active clientele at her gym, Spirit Fitness Training. A wife and mother of three, her passion for fitness fuels her contagious energy for life.


Nicole Nichols

2011 Personal Trainer to Watch

Named America's Personal Trainer to Watch by Life Fitness in 2011, "Coach Nicole" is the fitness expert and editor-in-chief for, the #1 weight-loss and fitness website in America. A regular contributor to health and fitness magazines, she is also one of the most-watched trainers on YouTube.  Nicole has a bachelor's degree in health promotion and education, specializing in fitness. She maintains several fitness certifications, including ACE Personal Training and AFAA Group Fitness Instruction, and is comprehensively certified in mat and reformer Pilates through Balanced Body University.  Her latest DVD "SparkPeople: Total Body Sculpting," is available online and at select retailers nationwide. Connect with Nicole and learn more about her work at

Anthony J. Wall

American Council on Exercise

Anthony J. Wall is Director of Professional Education with the American Council on Exercise® (ACE®) and oversees the development, quality assurance and strategic focus of ACE’s continuing education programs. With more than 15 years of experience as a fitness educator and presenter, Wall has created internationally-recognized training programs and high-caliber educational materials. He has managed complex training workshop development, spearheaded the design and delivery of training curriculum, and served as a fitness education consultant to academic and government organizations. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Demontfort University in Bedfordshire, England, and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from San Diego State University in California.


Keith Smith

Life Fitness Academy

Emphasizing the importance of not only the informational content relayed through continuing fitness education materials, but on how to best relate that knowledge to various audiences, Keith Smith is a valuable asset to the development and implementation of LFA’s global curriculum and training resources. He brings over 20 years of experience (12 of those with Life Fitness) to his role as a LFA Global Master Trainer, along with extensive credentials, ranging from Central YMCA certifications in both personal training and working with specific medical conditions, to a British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation Qualification.


Richard Beddie

Fitness New Zealand

Richard Beddie is the CEO of Fitness New Zealand, a non-profit organization representing the health and fitness industry in New Zealand. He is also chair of the International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals, which registers exercise professionals across the world. Beddie has more than 25 years experience in the fitness industry, including 15 years as an award-winning club owner. He regularly presents at conferences across the globe, specializing in helping personal trainers grow their business. He earned a bachelor of science degree in statistics, as well as a master’s in business administration, from Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Thomas Rieger

European Health and Fitness Association

Dr. Thomas Rieger is the chairman for the Standards Council of the European Health & Fitness Association. He is also a professor of sport management for the Business and Information Technology School (BiTS) at Laureate International Universities in Germany. Before his career in academia, he worked for six years in the fitness industry, specializing in marketing and quality management. In 2003, he received the AOK Award from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bielefeld in Germany for his achievements in health sciences. Rieger holds a doctoral degree in social sciences with a specialization in sports science from the University of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.