10 top fitness influencers in Charlotte share their lifestyle philosophies, favorite places for healthy eats and best moves

Via Instagram @queencitysweat
Via Instagram @queencitysweat

Summer’s around the corner, and the Tasty videos highlighting 12 ways to make ooey-gooey cookies don’t exactly contribute to a healthy lifestyle. While I follow Tasty (because I love easy-to-follow recipes with photos of the finished product for comparisons and #pinterestfails), I balance my Instagram feed with a bit of inspiration – via local fitness influencers, that is.

Seeing someone else’s perfect abs somehow always motivates me to opt for one less cookie and set my alarm for a pre-work gym session. Abs aside, the inspiring quotes, stories, and healthy eating tips provided by these local Charlotte influencers play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the season of backyard BBQs and coconut-rum-filled cocktails.

Whether you’re a yogi, dancer, or class fanatic, these fitness influencers will kick-start your motivation and remind you to love yourself in the process.

Brittany Caldwell

@brittanymsc – 5K Instagram followers

NBA dancer Brittany dons her Honeybee uniform to cheer on the Charlotte Hornets and also acts as a dance teacher and personal trainer. Her Instagram blends fitness videos and words of wisdom, sure to inspire a pre- or post-work training session.  

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Via @brittanymsc on Instgram

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“My philosophy for a healthy lifestyle is to find the activities and foods you enjoy and incorporate them into your daily routine. Try new things, explore new activities, and enjoy the process of becoming a healthier YOU!”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“My go-to health meal in Charlotte is Chopt Creative Salad Co. Their menu options and salad choices are great for anyone who is looking for something healthy in the city.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“My favorite at-home circuit is a series of 20 reps each of reverse lunges, power jacks, push-ups, and a plank. After 4-5 rounds with limited rest, you will for sure be feeling the burn.”

Billy Heatherly

@billheath05 – 6K Instagram followers

Spartan SGX coach and OCR (obstacle course racing) athlete Billy offers Insta-inspiration for those who seek to conquer an obstacle course with friends. Follow along on his YouTube channel, featuring training videos leading up to the Iceland Spartan World Championships. If you’re like me and can only run for 24 minutes – let alone 24 hours – start small and look to Billy for training tips and inspiration.

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Via Instagram @billheath05

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“The foundation of my healthy lifestyle philosophy can be supported by three unwavering pillars. 1.Nutrition 2. Recovery and 3. Attitude.

  1. Nutrition: a healthy diet means energy, weight loss/ tone, recovery, and most importantly a longer and healthier way of life.
  1. Recovery: Yes, making sure your body recovers and is healthy for the next workout is very important, but mental recovery is just as important. Make sure you are taking the right steps to recover mentally so you don’t burn out and are able to continue being consistent.

3. Attitude: This comes down to one question to ask yourself. Who do you want to be? Or What do you want to become? Figure out your goal and plan for it. Then have the attitude that nothing is going to come in between you and your goal. 

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“My go-to healthy meal in Charlotte would be Get Fit Foods pre-made meals. The main course: BBQ Beef Brisket, and for the dessert one of their protein brownies.” 

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“My favorite move/routine would be a low intensity, long run. It provides blood flow throughout the body, awakening the mind. These long runs are one of the few times during the day where I can gather my thoughts and plan my days, weeks, months, and years. But most of all, I love the endorphin rush that you get when you finish a run.”

Erin Thomas

@queencitysweat – 50K Instagram followers

When she’s not making you sweat at a MADabolic class, Erin shares fitness inspiration and healthy eating tips on her Instagram. A co-founder of SweatNET Charlotte (a local health-centric group dedicated to building a fitness community through classes and networking events), and NASM-certified personal trainer, Erin seeks to educate and grow the Charlotte fitness community.

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Via Instagram @queencitysweat

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“My main philosophy to living a healthy lifestyle is balance. I like to follow an 80/20 rule when it comes to my nutrition. I eat well 80 percent of the time and leave 20 percent for treats. It’s important to remember that being healthy is more than simply working out and eating well all the time – it’s also about being happy and living your life. If you’re not happy and are feeling stressed about how you are eating or the fact that you missed a workout, that isn’t healthy.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“I have a few healthy go-to meals when it comes to eating out in Charlotte! One of my favorite spots is ROOTS Cafe in South End. I’ll either order the Veggie Noodle Bowl (add chicken) or the Root Veggie Salad (I like to add chicken and take out the cheese and grains). The best part is that they have lots of options whether you’re vegan, GF, dairy-free, paleo, etc.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“Call me crazy, but I love burpees. If you do them right, with a full strict push-up and hop at the top, they’re a great full body movement that taps into major muscle groups. Not to mention, you can do them anywhere!”

Bre Leach

@justbnfit_ – 2K Instagram followers

Fitness blogger and Fabletics ambassador Bre founded Just B’N Fit to inspire women to take control of their health, understand the importance of exercise, and love themselves. Follow her fitness journey on Instagram or book a session with her to achieve your exercise goals.

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Via @justbnfit_ on Instagram

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“No matter how tough your journey may get, just know that your time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears is not a waste. With challenge comes growth. So we gotta lace up and finish the journey. The work you put into something you desire to have so much will be rewarded to you in the end. And always remember that we all move at a different pace, so never compare your journey to someone else. Embrace your unique self.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“My go-to meal in Charlotte is B.Good. I love their Cousin Oliver Turkey Burger.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“My favorite routines are High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. I love quick and effective workouts. I think HIIT workouts give you the best sweat and burn.” 

Emily Breeze Ross Watson

@emilybreeze – 55K Instagram followers

Fit mom Emily is a two-time Crossfit Games Athlete and personal trainer at Breeze Through Fitness. Get a taste for one of her workouts alongside NFL Hall-of-Fame wide receiver, Randy Moss, at the STAX Fitness Bootcamp (as someone who regularly attends the gym, I can vouch for the legitimacy of this bootcamp – I couldn’t walk for a few days, but it was one of the most exhilarating workouts I’ve ever performed). Whether you’re an expectant mother who seeks her advice to #MoveYourBump, or just want to engage in an intense workout, Emily holds a heavy influence in the Charlotte fitness scene.

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Via Instagram @emilybreeze

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“I’m all about finding what works for you personally. Working out should be something you look forward to — if it’s not, change up your routine and find an activity you genuinely enjoy. I’m also huge on finding a supportive community and remembering to stay balanced in life.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“I love to stop by Clean Juice for a post-workout smoothie if I need something fresh and quick. For meals with our family, we love The Mayobird and Yafo Kitchen.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“Burpees are my go-to movement, especially when I’m thinking up travel workouts or quick workouts to do in my kitchen with Bly. You can truly do burpees anywhere. I love that this is a simple movement that can challenge anyone from beginners to competitive athletes. Burpees work so many muscle groups in one movement and can even be great cardio.”

Corey Brown

@cyobrown – 3K Instagram followers

Urban Cardio Dance founder and certified personal trainer C’Yo inspires individuals to achieve their fitness goals through upbeat dance classes infused with elements of hip-hop, jazz, African and Latin music. Listen to a testimonial here or try one of his classes for yourself.

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Via Instagram @cyobrown

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“Be sure to incorporate realistic and smart fitness goals while doing workouts that are fun, eating healthy meals that are tasty, and invest in your wellness.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“Shredded Meals. It’s very tasty, convenient, affordable, and the owner is legit one of the best people I’ve met.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“If ever restricted from accessing a gym and/or any workout equipment, anyone could stay pretty fit by doing the push-up, and that’s by far one of my favorite moves. It engages the entire core.”

Jen Eddins

@jen_pbrunner – 16.8K Instagram followers

Self-proclaimed peanut-butter-runner, Jen shares fitness tips, recipes, and workouts on her blog. A yogi and personal trainer, she teaches classes and engages in marketing efforts at Y2 Yoga.

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Via Instagram @jen_pbrunner

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“I believe in a holistic picture of health that involves not just diet and exercise, but also spiritual and emotional wellness, meaningful relationships, a fulfilling career, and seeking passion. It’s easy to get stuck focusing on the working out and eating healthy piece of ‘healthy living’ but without paying attention to those other important aspects of health, you can find yourself feeling pretty empty, run-down and unmotivated. I am always telling my yoga students that your life has been given to you to live, not to endure. The joy and happiness in your life is going to come from being happy and content in your own being, feeling connected to others, enjoying your work, and discovering and nurturing passions and interests that light you up.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“I love a good salad, and my go-to spots are Namastay Kitchen in Cotswold or Reid’s at SouthPark. I love topping the salads at Namastay Kitchen with their homemade beet burger and I love the build-your-own salad options at Reid’s.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“Favorite bodyweight exercises? Definitely push-ups and squats. Favorite easy workout that you can do anywhere that packs a punch? A tabata workout. Tabata is a workout interval where you alternate 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds rest for 4 minutes. So, you do a total of 8 rounds of work in that 4 minutes. If you’re looking for a quick but effective 20-minute workout try doing tabata intervals of these five exercises: squats, push-ups, sit ups, lunges, tricep dips.”

Jaimis Huff

@jaimisyoga – 6K Instagram followers

Jaimis lives and breathes yoga, wellness, and self-love, which is evident in her uplifting Instagram posts. When she’s not striking ‘Gram-worthy yoga poses around Charlotte, she leads yoga classes and teacher trainings and retreats. Join one of her classes, or learn more on her website.

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Via Instagram @jaimisyoga

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“It’s taken me years to get to where I am now, but I’ve found that balance is the key to a healthy lifestyle. I used to go along with the newest diet/nutrition/supplement/workout fad, but over the last few years, I’ve shifted towards listening to what my body needs. Our bodies are so intelligent. They send us messages all the time, we just become adept at tuning them out.

“Some days, I practice Rocket Yoga, sometimes I need something more restorative. Over the last year, I’ve fallen in love with boxing and weight training at RockBox (a fitness studio here in Charlotte). I find it incredibly empowering. I also take days off from working out or practicing yoga whenever I need to and I refuse to feel guilty about it. Sometimes relaxing and enjoying a glass of wine or a Negroni with my husband is the best way to bring me back into balance.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“I’ve been spending entirely too much time and money lately at the new Green Brothers Juice in Dilworth. I lead yoga teacher trainings at Yoga Shala across the street and teach Rocket Yoga at bloc. (a new studio that just opened up right behind them), so it’s my go-to. I’m obsessed with the Bulletproof Smoothie and the Zen Zinger Shot. Oh, and don’t get me started on the Vegan Cookie Dough…if it’s vegan, that means it’s healthy, right? (kidding).”

[Related: Get the details on bloc., the new fitness hub opening in Dilworth this month with classes, beer, wine and coffee]

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“Hands down: legs-up-the-wall pose. Basically, you lie down on your back and try to get your butt as close to the wall as possible, then extend your legs up toward the ceiling so they’re perpendicular to the floor. I always laugh and tell students there isn’t really a graceful way to get in or out of this, but it feels so good! I love to prop a pillow or blanket under my hips for extra support.

“If you’ve been standing all day or traveling or just had a long day – this is the jam. It drains the fluids from your legs, relieves tension in your low back, stretches your hamstrings and calms the mind. Chill here for 1-5 minutes and it’s a total game changer.”

Maurice Mouzon, Jr.

@mauricemouzon_ – 1.3K Instagram followers

Charlotte Ballet dancer Maurice will have you wishing you didn’t quit dance class in fourth grade. His Instagram features a collection of strong poses, dance videos, and his bright smile. If you don’t like traditional fitness classes or prefer to avoid the gym, Maurice makes quite the case for ballet as an exercise regimen.

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Via Instagram @mauricemouzon

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“My philosophy on living a healthy life is not only to eat healthy, but act on it too. Even if you just go out for a walk, find some way to be active in your life. You’ll feel great and after a while it will become part of your life and an everyday thing. It doesn’t have to be walking. It could be riding a bike and/or finding a sport you really like to play.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“My go-to healthy meal in Charlotte is a spinach, chicken, and caesar wrap. I get it from Crunch Bistro. It’s down the block from Charlotte Ballet.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“My favorite routine to do are abs. What I usually do is put a foam roller (or anything you can grab from your legs) up to 90 degrees and curl up to grab the item, then curl back down to as flat as you can get without letting your lower back off the ground. Then you curl up and repeat. It’s a great lower abdomen workout.”

Rachel Dahlstrand Behn

@dahlstrongfitness – 6K Instagram followers

Former college athlete and current elementary school physical education teacher Rachel spends her free time offering youth fitness and online training classes. Her Instagram offers a healthy mix of fitness pics, travel shots, and inspirational quotes.

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Via Instagram @dahlstrongfitness

What is your philosophy for a healthy lifestyle?

“My philosophy for a healthy lifestyle is to always have balance. Find healthy foods that you enjoy and nourish your body with those — but do indulge from time to time. Find a type of exercise that brings you some form of enjoyment, as well as the results, and get it done Find balance in working hard and pushing yourself, but know when to rest and (give) yourself credit.”

What is your go-to healthy meal out in Charlotte?

“My go-to healthy meal if you need something meal — prepped that’s healthy is Get Fit Foods. If you want something quick, but healthy, Crisp has a great salad bar with all kinds of topping choices.”

What is your favorite move/routine, no studio necessary?

“My favorite move without equipment would be the burpee… I know, I know they are rough. This exercise turns your body into the best piece of workout equipment ever, training virtually every muscle in your body-including your core, chest, and legs. Burpees also send your heart rate through the roof for calorie-torching and muscle-building benefits.”