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Five Female Fitness Phenoms You Need to Know About (and a fitness tip from each of them)


Previously (on Roman Fitness Systems), I covered seven up-and-coming fitness dudes who I believe can help you in your quest for awesomeness.

Those guys cover fat loss, muscle building, hormonal optimization, boxing, and even back-flips. Yes back-flips.

Not a bad collection of bros, if I do say so myself, but that is nothing compared to the lineup of ladies I’ve got for you today.

As mentioned in the subtitle of this piece, I want to introduce you to five women in the health and fitness industry, all of whom have their feet firmly set on the path to awesomeness, and are on the rise in a very, VERY big way.

Now, before you even get all snarky and ask;

“But Roooman you have 7 men and only 5 wimmenz! Y u no love teh laydeez long time??”

Allow me to answer that up front.

There are two reasons we’ve got more men than women on these lists:

  1. There are more men in the fitness industry, so it’s easier to find and meet good ones
  2. To my everlasting disappointment, I know more men than women.

Besides, it’s about quality, not quantity, and all of the women on this list are of the highest caliber, as both people and professionals. As a bonus, they’re all very attractive. You know… for, like, girls or whatever.

Anyway, on this list, we’ll have experts on everything from nutrition to recipes to pull-ups and Pilates to kettlebells and Olympic lifting.

So, basically, they’re like the fitness version of Fox Force Five.

Now, while that would be cool enough on it’s own, I don’t like to just tell you “this chick is cool” and then leave you to it. No way, no sir, no how. Instead, I want to give you some awesome content to go with these introductions—to that end, I have asked each of these 5 ladies to give their best fitness tip.

So sit back, grab a chair, and prepare to meet some hot chicks high-level fitness professionals.




I think it’s best to start close to home, so let’s begin with my gal pal and fellow New York City native Liz DiAlto, who was first introduced to me by our mutual friend Lewis Howes (Lewis is not in the fitness industry, but is a CrossFitter and former professional athlete, so I trust his recommendations when it comes to fit-folk.) Liz, Lewis and I met up at SLICE, an awesome little gluten-free pizza shop in the West Village and went all nomnomnom on a BBQ chicken pie. It was epic.

During that meeting, I learned a lot about Liz. I learned that she’s a great coach (her ideas on training are in line with mine), a born saleswoman (she sold Cutco Knives for a while and killed it), and is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. She made me laugh more times at that lunch than most of my friends have in a 10-year period.

I also learned that Liz D has long history in the fitness business, and has trained some exceptionally high-level people, including Suzanne Johnson, the wife of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. As a Jets fan, that obviously caught my interest. Props to her.

More than anything else, I learned that Liz is not afraid to #hustle, and her willingness to work hard creates an infectious energy that is inspiring.

Focusing on quick, effective, at-home workouts, her program, Tighter in 10 Days, makes good use of this quality, as it’s video based and allows DiAlto the opportunity to connect with her readers face to face. Liz also does a lot training for weddings—brides, for the most part, but bridesmaids, mothers of brides, and even grooms can benefit. In recent months, Liz has retooled her business and is launching a membership based site to give busy women access to more full-length at home workouts, healthy recipes, a “tight-knit” community (pun-intended) and online workshops with other health, wellness, fitness, and beauty experts


LIZ’S FITNESS TIP: Exercise your womanly right to some pleasure, play, and fun.

This tip has everything to do with dedicating time every week if not every day to feeling really good and outrageously sexy in the body you work so hard to sculpt. I use the word “sculpt” intentionally because of the artistic connotation. Most women forget that’s what the female body is: a work of art.  A well-dressed guy crossing the street doesn’t stop traffic. A woman in a T-Shirt and the right pair of shorts can cause car accidents. Our physical and energetic presence on this planet yields more influence than we acknowledge, so my tip-slash-challenge for you: is to dial up your enjoyment of being a woman by inviting more pleasure, play, and fun into your lifestyle.

Here are some suggestions:

DANCE more. Try a workout like Zumba, Hip-Hop, Intensati, or my personal favorite… pole dancing (there’s something magical about strapping on clear heels and dialing up your inner “bad girl” for 90 minutes). You can also make it social with some salsa lessons or by hitting the club with your girls.

Take a YOGA class. Yoga is one of the BEST ways to connect with your body. We spend a lot of time in the external world. There’s a lot of delight in working in sometimes as opposed to working out. You can listen to your body and give her more of what she wants.

PLAY more. Clean the house in your undies (or even some sexy lingerie), put on lipstick to run errands, think back to some of the fun stuff you used to really enjoy when you were little (like coloring or riding a bike) with no thoughts of added resistance or calories, show up at your man’s door in nothing but a long coat, ride a roller-coaster, watch a stupid movie and laugh your ass off.

Remember, pleasure comes in many forms.  Soak in a bubble bath, go for a mani/pedi (and treat yourself to the 10 minute foot massage), at your next cheat meal eat really slow, savor every bite. Basically, make love to your food. And yup, I’m gonna go here girls, all women need to self-pleasure more often. A friend of mine recently told me she gets her most creative ideas during and after. Believe me, my next brainstorming session is going to be out of this world and I hope yours is too!

[[ROMAN’S NOTE: Not to belabor this point, but there are several studies that show masturbation (or orgasms in general, really) have been tied to everything from enhanced creativity to a stronger immune system. I touch on this (pun intended) in detail in my next book. If you’re interested in using ab exercises to achieve orgasm, check here.]]

**Check out her blog, and follow her on Twitter.



Let’s leave NYC and head its hated rival, Boston; here we find trainer, Master Pilates instructor, and nutrition expert, Sirena Bernal, with whom I have been corresponding with for quite a long time. She was one of my original readers when I started my blog in 2009, and has been an active participant in the RFS community ever since.

Despite the fact that we live just a few hours from one another, for some odd reason, it took three years and we traveled 3,000 miles to actually meet, when we ran into each other at an event I was speaking at in LA. Since then, her site has really taken off.

Sirena certainly touches on training, but I see her more as a nutrition and lifestyle blogger. She writes about everything from the importance of water to more yoga-themed stuff, like aligning your Chakras—and manages to do it in a fun way and without sounding loopy (like many others).

More impressively, Sirena is as open and honest as they come, recently blogging about her struggles with her sexuality and her realization that she’s gay. Her willingness to share this part of her life impresses the bejeebus out of me, as my personal life and relationships are something I don’t generally discuss.

(Her recipe for baked sweet potato fries is life changing, by the way, and has been in heavy rotation in the Roman kitchen.)

As a semi-related aside, Sirena signed up for my business coaching program, and we’ve been making huge headway on a number of projects; look for a cookbook from her in the near future, full of amazing recipes that I have had the opportunity to sample.


SIRENA’S FITNESS TIP: Become the Most Awesome Version of You

I interpret awesomeness to being completely aligned with yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Meaning, are you who you really say you are? Do you walk your walk, talk your talk, and practice what you preach?

To reduce awesomeness to a single factor would be like asking, who’s the most important Planeteer—Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, or Heart? Captain Planet isn’t possible without all five present, and subsequently, being awesome isn’t just one thing.

However, before I run off on a tangent solely using 80’s cartoons to explain the secrets of life, if I had to choose, like had to HAD to choose just one thing that could make you more awesome, right here and right now, I would tell you this: Always listen to your heart.

I strongly believe that true awesomeness in life is a result of being in complete alignment with every aspect of who you are and being able to express that to the world.  Being in alignment with yourself gives you the ultimate swagger, that unwavering sexy confidence that only comes from deep inside.  It’s when you know that you’re da’ shit regardless of what you’re wearing, who you’re with, or what you’re doing.

Like every journey, the trip to Awesomeville starts with the first step.  And, that’s what I want to share with you today.  What you can start to do, right here, right now, as you’re reading this blog, to take that first step to being more in alignment with yourself, and thus, giving you more swagger, and yes, more awesomeness.
Sirena’s 3-Step Process to Being More Awesome

  • Step 1. The first step to being more awesome, is following your heart, and that means figuring out what you love, what is your passion, what is your joie de vivre. The easiest way to figure that out is to simply and honestly ask yourself: What do I absolutely love doing?  Meaning, regardless of time, money, or outside opinion, what makes me happy, makes me excited… what inspires me? Chances are, these things come from your heart, and are tied to your life’s purpose.  Make a list of all of these things, and keep it.
  • Step 2. The second step would be to write down all of the things you don’t love to do. The things you loathe, the things that make your skin crawl, and the things that make you want to scratch your eyeballs with dirty nails instead of doing them.  Whether it’s washing the dishes or waking up early to train clients.  In either case, don’t limit yourself here, this is just an exercise for you to take an inventory of your life.  There is no right or wrong answer, this is just a drill for you to reflect upon. Make a list of all of these, things, too.
  • Step 3. Once you have your two lists, your goal is to do more of the things in your “love” list and less of the things in your “don’t love” list.

It really is that simple. However, actually following through is rather difficult because it takes courage and an unwavering belief in yourself. By focusing on the things that you actually like doing, you bring yourself closer and closer to living in true authenticity, meaning, you get closer and closer to be the most awesome-est version of yourself.

**In the meantime, head over to Sirena’s blog, and follow her on Twitter.



Speaking of life-changing recipes, it makes sense to move onto Ms. Fonooni, who is an absolute dynamo in the kitchen.

Neghar (pronounced Neg-are) and I first met when she was in town teaching a workshop at Mark Fisher Fitness, a (fantastic) gym just a few blocks from my apartment. As many people do, she reached out and asked if I would be available to grab coffee (see her post here for more).

As what happens with JC, a 30-minute coffee meeting turned into 3.5 hours of excited discussion about training, life, business and—most of all—food.

Up until that point, I had met very few people who love food as much as I do, and none who love it more—but when it comes to food, Neghar takes the cake.

No, literally.

She has actually taken cake from me. Defiance. In her defense, she was taking it because I was dieting and she was looking out for me, but still, she took it and I couldn’t stop her, because she is frighteningly strong. And she should be—she’s one of the co-founders of Girls Gone STRONG. Her strength has been developed over years of heavy deadlifting and—as an RKC—doing skilled kettlebell work.

An LA native currently residing in Baltimore, her business is called Eat, Lift & Be Happy, the goal of which is to teach people to “eat real delicious food, lift heavy stuff, and enjoy the heck out of life.” She writes about everything from training to struggling with her relationship with food, to the joys and hardships of life as a (single) mom.

Anyway, recipes. Neghar has a ton of them on her blog, but my favorite is her egg-bake, which I recently had the pleasure of trying. A few weeks back, Neghar, Sirena and Roger Lawson all came to NYC to visit and celebrate their birthdays (all within a week of each other). They all crashed at my place, and Ms. Fonooni was kind enough to cook for everyone—and it was delicious.

I have plans to cook it myself; if ever I stop traveling long enough to justify buying groceries, that is. You should make it, though, AND post pictures.


Neghar’s Fitness Tip: Try everything and anything until you find YOUR thing.

Being a food-loving fitness freak can be tough. You want to eat clean, but you also want enjoy food. You don’t want to be a fanatic about nutrition, but you want to do right by your body. It’s a difficult and delicate balance. Trust me. I know. I battle my love of wine and chocolate constantly, and how it contrasts with my love of lifting and staying lean.

As such, the best possible nutrition advice I can give is to encourage you to find what works for you.

There are tons of different eating styles out there, and all of them claim to be the “ultimate.” How do you know if you should eat 6 meals a day, practice intermittent fasting, go hardcore Paleo or just gluten-free? Well, you don’t really.

That is, not until you experiment. It’s important to spend some time assessing your lifestyle, and develop the type of nutritional regimen that works for you. It’s not that one of these styles of eating is necessarily “better” than the other; rather, one of them is better for YOU. One of them is the way that will work for your lifestyle and help you achieve the healthiest, fittest version of yourself.

Over the course of my fitness journey, I’ve done a lot of experiments. I’ve discovered that what works best for me, at this point in time, an intermittent fasting schedule, with food choices consisting of high protein and no grains of any kind. I know now how eating sushi, pizza or ice cream—or drinking copious amounts of wine—is going to affect my body. I know that I can’t have almond butter in my house because I’ll eat it all. And I know, most importantly, that what works for my body and lifestyle now, might not be what works for it a year from now.

Ultimately, refraining from subscribing to any single food dogma is what will allow you the best opportunity for nutritional success, both physiologically and emotionally. Be adaptable, open minded and in touch with how your body responds to both food choices and nutritional timing.

Nutrition does not have to be overly complex, and eating can be done responsibly while remaining an enjoyable cultural and social experience. You can love food and love what it does for your fitness goals, as well. All you need to do is follow your own path.

**Neghar is going to have a number of programs available in 2013, but is currently accepting coaching clients. Check out her blog, and follow her on Twitter.




J-Sink demonstrating the J-dead

As you can tell by the above women, I have a thing for brunettes; however, far be it from me not to show love to the light-haired ladies of the world—especially when they’re as awesome as Jen Sinkler. Jen and I first met at the Perform Better seminar in Long Beach, California, in 2011, where Adam Bornstein (who apparently knows everyone on Earth) introduced us.

Originally from Iowa, Jen now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she serves as the editorial director of fitness content for Experience Life, a fitness and lifestyle magazine published by Life Time Fitness.

Under her guiding hand, EL has grown tremendously in both its popularity and the strength of its pieces—because Jen dedicated to bringing in the best in the business to contribute (That includes me, by the way, and JSink reached out to me for an article on bench pressing, which was published in the May issue..

A former rugby player for the U.S. team (seriously), Jen lives and breathes fitness. And, while her skill with a (red) pen is exceptional, Jen isn’t “just” an editor slash phenomenal writer; she’s also a great coach.

I learned this firsthand very recently: at the grand opening at the new Cressey Performance facility in Hudson, Massachusetts; Jen was there for the celebration but took time to teach me the Jefferson Deadlift, which is fast becoming her signature move. She also spent time coaching a few people on Olympic lifts, and their progress was almost instantaneous (It’s amazing what you can do with some good coaching).

Is an expert at everything from writing to Oly lifting, who juuuuust happens to be famous for posting pictures of her questionable fashion choices not good enough? Okay, then, how’s this: Jen is also exceptionally skilled with community building, as evidenced by her Facebook community, Survival of the Fittest, which—as of this writing—boasts over 8,000 members. Most of whom are there to check out those pictures of said questionable fashion choices, OR get amazing fitness information.

As I mentioned above, Jen is passionate about bringing the best people together; as a result, she’s one of the most connected people in the fitness industry, so if she can’t answer your question, she knows someone who can.
JEN’S FITNESS TIP: Become a Self-Scientist

You are, when it comes down to it, a grand experiment; some combination of exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle habits has led to the way you look and feel right this minute.

You are also the head scientist. Sure, you can ask for guidance from experts along the way to inform and influence your decisions, but the sooner you understand that there is no handing over the beakers, the better.

For nearly a decade, it’s been my job to cover the best the fitness world has to offer in the pages of Experience Life magazine, and I’ve witnessed the most success in people who have learned to approach health and fitness with a sense of zealous exploration, and who are willing to adapt as needed to get best results. Those who ask: is what I’m doing making me stronger? Leaner? Do I feel better when I cut out X from my training or add in Y? Am I enjoying my routine, and is it sustainable? What else can I experiment with? Can I do even better?

Different approaches work for different people, depending on personal preference and physical capacity — often, what works best is simply what you will do. Rather than blindly following an exercise prescription, become willing to ask yourself what, truly, is serving you? And then get ready to tinker with that formula for the rest of your life.

**Check out JSink’s blog on Experience Life, join her Facebook Page, and follow her on Twitter.



We’re going to finish out our list of lovely ladies by heading up to the Cold White North of Canada, where resides my good friend Shawna Kaminski. If you’re not already aware, a quick Google search will produce enough material to confirm that Shawna is not to be taken lightly. As strong as they come, she is the embodiment of the word fierce.

We first met in Vegas when I was speaking at a conference; she was in attendance, and her attitude immediately caught my attention.

Very simply, Shawna is a serious shit-storm of womanly domination.

A former teach now making waves as a fit pro, Ms. Kaminski is by far one of the fittest people I ever had the pleasure of meeting—a fact made all the more obvious when you consider that this 49 year-old bad ass can bang out pull-ups like there is no tomorrow. Seriously, the Mayan calendar was loosely based on her ability to do pull-ups.

From competing nationally (in Canada, but still… it counts) swimming and skiing, to top 3 National Canadian Bodybuilding placements, Shawna is veritable Super Hero in her own right. Not to mention being a two time holder of the “Toughest Calgarian Alive” title—an annual event including benching, pull-ups, shot-put, 100m sprints, 100m swims, obstacle courses, 5km run and a rope climb. Forget the phone book, this Canadian can actually rip you in half.

When she is not sculpting her own body and/or crushing 20 year olds, Shawna is a long-time Personal Trainer and owns the Calgary NW Fit Body Boot Camp. She specializes in female fat loss over age 40, by educating women across the globe on how to feel and look awesome through her blog and products. Largely focusing on “challenge workouts” that help people get to the next level, Shawna is one of the reasons women everywhere are learning how to do their first pull-up, and then

For all things rapid fat loss, lifestyle, education and making men shy away from the pull up bar, check out – especially if you fall into the over 40 demographic.


Shawna’s Tip: Go Heavy

While most ladies my age are scrap-booking their lives away trying to hold on the precious moments of kids in a bath tub, I’m rockin’ the bar (pull up bar, squats, bench press…you know, that whole scene).

I’ve made a vow never to act my age. In fact, I have a hard time believing that on my next birthday come April, I’ll be 50 years old. I like to think of myself as a young half centurion that didn’t get the memo about aging, retirement communities, being old, and slowly slipping away in obscurity. I think it’s bunk anyway.

This is why Roman asked me for a specialized fitness tip, and why I thought to give you some insight that I believe really is essence to improved health, a venerable the fountain of youth (Ponce De Leon be damned, I found it).

If I were to open my book of secrets for you, Chapter one would be entitled: ‘Go Heavy.’

Take a look at any woman that has a sexy and shapely physique and you’ll most likely find out that she does some kind of lifting. It can even be simple bodyweight training, depending on the intensity of it. After all, if a woman is hoisting her own bodyweight, it’s definitely not those pink and blue dumbbells sold over the counter or found at the far end of your gyms racks. However, though sadly, most women can barely do a push up, let alone a pull up.

So, why is heavy weight lifting the fountain of youth?

Well, the result of resistance training or weight lifting is increased muscle tone. Muscle is metabolically active tissue meaning that it burns more calories, even at rest. If you have more muscle on your bones, you’ll keep your metabolism stoked and you won’t experience the inevitable weight gain that most women do when they get a little older.

The bonus to muscle is that it’s denser than fat so if you carry more muscle, you’ll actually appear smaller than if you carried the equivalent in body fat, or an undeveloped physique.

Aside from the empowering feeling a woman gets when she can do something cool like a pull up, or bench press or squat her body weight, weight training keeps her strong and supple. She can tackle anything because she has a strong mind to match her beautiful muscles. Confidence goes a long way in prolonging vitality.

Heavy weight training coupled with a positive outlook will aide in making a woman unstoppable. Of course there are a ton of other fitness tips that I’d love to delve into, like making your workouts short and intense, like giving yourself adequate nutrition and recovery time, but those are tips to expand upon for a different day.

If someone were to ask me, ‘What’s the single most important thing a woman can do to keep lean and healthy?’ I’d simply and eagerly reply: heavy weight training.

**Get to following her on twitter —>



Well there you have it. Five absolutely inspiring and amazing women who are cutting a swath through the fitness industry, all in their own unique way. These are women that I am proud to have in my daily routine of internets and fitness reading. Seriously, with their powers combined they could easily make me Captain Planet.

What, you thought I could refrain from acknowledging a sweet cartoon reference from my childhood and then relating it back to myself? Nope. Gonna take pollution down to zero.

Have a response to the ladies? Have you yourself adopted one or more of their suggested practices in your life, or would you simply consider doing so?

Let me know, and show them some love in the comments below.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

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