Chris Ryan: Fitness Expert & Personal Trainer on NBC's STRONG

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Bio: Chris Ryan is one of New York City's top fitness experts and personal trainers who recently starred in NBC's STRONG. He is also a world famous fitness model, having graced the cover of Men's Fitness twice and regularly appears in the pages of Men's Health, Men's Fitness, GQ, Women's Health and SHAPE as both a model and writer. He works with top brands in fashion and fitness ranging from Ralph Lauren, Cybex, Under Armour and Nike. Ryan's father coached him from a young age and helped him achieve his goal of becoming a Division I track and field athlete at the University of Florida. After his sophomore year and in the wake of an injury, Ryan transferred to Michigan State University and rebuilt himself with his own strength and conditioning program. After graduation, Ryan tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit and joined his brother and a friend as owners of several ServPro franchises while continuing to train and compete in triathlons. After he and his partners successfully sold their ServPro franchises at the end of 2008, Ryan followed his true passion for health and fitness and began competing at high levels within the CrossFit world - even qualifying as an individual regional level competitor in 2012. Ryan and his wife, Denise, have a son, Achilles and daughter, Athena.

What do you do best?

Everyday I wake up wanting to help others achieve the best version of themselves. Their successes are my fuel. I absolutely thrive on that!

I excel at making people better, both physically and mentally, every day. There is nothing more rewarding than pouring my heart and soul into people to not only teach them about fitness and nutrition, but also to show them how these things positively affect their every day lives.

What makes you the best?

I take a full 360 degree approach to health and fitness. I am not just a fitness expert, trainer, tv personality, former Division 1 athlete, world famous fitness model, writer and consultant to the top magazines and companies in the world; I am all those things wrapped up into a fiery individual driven with a passion and purpose to live everyday to my fullest. Anything less than putting my best self out there to positively affect the world is a failure in my book.

What are your aspirations?

My family comes first. I can't think of anything more rewarding than coming home and seeing my wife's, Denise, beautiful smiling eyes and the crazy commotion of laughter and pitter patter of steps from our son, Achilles, and the sweet baby coos from our 10 week old daughter, Athena. They make me want to be the best husband and father I can be. Every day I get up, they give me more inner strength to be the best man I can; it's really remarkable how grounding my family is for me.  

On the professional front, I want to be a NY Times Bestseller and create and/or host my own health/fitness tv show at some point. Not out of ego, but simply because I know I have the power to bring out the best in someone; through the proper channels I can positively impact many, many more people.

Biggest Success?

Beyond my marrying my wife and having the two most amazing kids on the planet? Definitely, being chosen by NBC as one of the top ten trainers in the country to be on STRONG this year.

It doesn't get any bigger than the biggest network in the world, the biggest producers (Dave Broome of The Biggest Loser, Holly Wofford of American Ninja Warrior and of course Rocky himself Sylvester Stallone) putting their faith in you. I am truly grateful for being blessed to do what I love on such a large stage.

Most Challenging Moment?

As Mike Tyson said, "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face," well this one knocked my teeth out. I had to do a short sale on my first house I bought while I lived in Florida. I bought a modest house in 2006 within my means at the time in a good school district. Everything I was supposed to do, right? I put down a substantial down payment, which was not needed with the loose mortgage regulations back then. When the housing crisis hit in 2008, the house lost 80% of its value almost overnight, which coincided with my partners and I successfully selling our Servpro franchises and moving out of FL to start my fitness career in NYC.

I tried to rent it out for several years, but a soft job market in FL left a glut of housing inventory, resulting in me losing money every month for several years because I felt "moral guilt." I had paid every bill my whole life and now I am supposed to walk away from the first property I bought? I couldn't comprehend such a feat.

Eventually though I realized that I had to run my personal finances the same way I ran my business. I would never indefinitely pay for a losing asset in my business, especially one that I didn't even use, so why would I do this personally? It was a great learning experience and ego check for me. One that made me even stronger than before as well as many others in similar situations by sharing my story with them. A costly learning experience, yes, but one that would make me smarter down the line.


Live each day like it will be your last. I am not suggesting doing something extreme like skydiving or BASE jumping, but rather to thoroughly be present in life's simple moments: for me, it's giving my wife and kids as many hugs and kisses as I can. Reading books, playing blocks and giving my kids some extra splash time during their baths. Putting the phones and computers down and taking the time to really connect with my wife, if even for only a few minutes of our hectic days. Touching base with a quick phone call to my parents or my brother. Empowering my training clients to be the best version of themselves in every session I am honored to have with them. Ask yourself, if you were not alive tomorrow, what regrets would you have that you can solve today? That is how you L-I-V-E.

Favorite People/Role Models?

Personally, I think Roger Bannister is a great role model on both an athletic and educational front. On an athletic level, history will reward him with being the first man to run a sub 4 minute mile in 1954 when many doctors at the time said it was humanly impossible for mankind to do so. There have been many great athletes in the world, but few can break down such physically insurmountable barriers as the 4 minute mile while attending medical school at Oxford. He would go on to become a world renowned neurosurgeon, which would eventually earn him knighthood by the queen of England. I have tremendous respect for all student athletes, and as a former Division 1 runner myself I could not think of a better middle name for our son then Achilles Bannister Ryan for those reasons.

On a business front, I have always admired Richard Branson. He is the definition of an entrepreneur in my book. Sure he is wealthy, but there are lots of wealthy people. What separates Branson from the others is that he truly has enjoyed making those around him better by challenging the current norms that irritated him. He launched Virgin Airlines due to a flight cancellation in the Caribbean because he was fed up with the way the airlines treated him. He knew there was a better way. He has had many great successes with a few epic failures, but at all times he has maintained a certain laughter, class and dignity about him that truly speaks to me.

Favorite Places/Destinations?

I love traveling! One of my majors in college was international relations; I believe that I am a citizen of the world so it was only natural to find the same values in my wife. She has been to over 40 countries and I have been to over 30 already. She is Greek-American so we are fortunate to visit her relatives in Greece every couple of years. It's such a beautiful country with a rich history so it's definitely on my list of favorites. Our honeymoon was in Patagonia and we met at a charity event for Trekking For Kids during fundraising for her trip to the mountains of northern Thailand to build schools for children there.

I love to experience new scenery and cultures and can't wait to share the world with our kids. Our son, who is turning 2 soon, has already been to 6 countries. We are definitely those parents whose friends think are crazy traveling with 2 kids under 2, but like everything else in my life I look at it as an amazing experience and challenge to overcome. And wearing my "Clark Griswold Traveling Dad Badge" with honor.

Favorite Products/Objects?

I love heavy barbells, kettle balls, weighted sleds, my TRX for traveling and a good pair of universal training shoes like the Nike Frees or Reebok Nanos.

I am still coming to grips with utilizing technology in my training. I was, however,  thoroughly impressed with the the Polo Tech Smart Shirt for which I consulted and programmed with Ralph Lauren for their Polo Sport brand. The ability to see your heart rate, breathing rate and muscular utilization via their "push" score is second to none.

I am not a supplement guy by any means, as I am a big believer in using nutrition as fuel. However, two supplements that occur naturally and definitely help you reach your best on many levels are creatine and Keto OS. Creatine is the most researched supplement in the world; any strength and power athlete is selling themselves short if they do it use this in their training. Keto OS is a new cutting-edge supplement that allows you to be in a state of ketosis, or utilizing fat for fuel instead of glucose, thereby giving you an endless supply of energy stores for endurance training as well as fat loss, better recovery, sleep and brain functioning.

Current Passions?

Early childhood education and development fascinates me! I love being a dad and parenting alongside my wife. I never could have imagined how much happiness it would bring me to raise our son and daughter together.

It truly amazes me how wonderful life is. It's exhilarating to teach and learn so much from my children. Everything is a learning experience: reading, motor skills, potty training, patience, drinking water from a cup or kicking a soccer ball. It brings me so much joy to see the development of our son and now we get to start it all over again with our baby daughter.