Girl Power: My “Go To” Sources for Female Training

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Today I wanted to highlight some of the women in the fitness industry who I feel are the movers and shakers, and those I feel set a great example for other women to follow.  The one’s who “get it,” and don’t pander to the mainstream media.

And, speaking truthfully, the ones who place a premium on strength and could probably kick all our butts….;o)

Admittedly, all of the women listed are ones I know either personally or have interacted with over the years… if you want to call me biased, then so be it.

It’s by no means an exhaustive list and I could have easily added more – Sirena Bernal, Joy Victoria, Jen Comas Keck, Lauren Perreault, Christa Vancini Doran, Alli McKee, She-Ra, Xena Warrior Princess – but I wanted to keep this list as succinct as possible and give people (namely, other women) some resources other than Tracy Anderson and some lame Instagram account of a chick showing off her badonkadonk.

NOTE: If you click on each person’s name, you’ll be taken to their respective website.

NOTE II: If you happen to have your own suggestions, PLEASE share them in the comments section below.

NOTE III: I like turtles.

Lets go!

Nia Shanks

Nia and I go way back, and I’ve often referred to her as the ambassador of women’s fitness. It’s hard to argue that point given all she’s done for the industry in helping to empower women and encourage them to strength train.

On top of running her own successful blog/business (link above), producing high-quality products like The Lift Like a Girl Guide, and deadlifitng over 2.5x her own bodyweight, she’s easily one of the most down-to-Earth people I know and someone I have a ton of respect for.

Molly Galbraith

Molly is one of the co-founders of Girls Gone Strong, and not for nothing she’s probably stronger than you.  And by “you” I mean many of the guys reading.

She’s written several guest post here on this site, and most recently released one of THE best resources for women, The Modern Women’s Guide to Strength Training.

Yes, she’s beautiful and has that Southern charm…..but don’t for one second think she’d back down from a squat-off or an arm wrestling match.

Cassandra Forsythe

Out of everyone on this list, I’ve known “Cass” the longest. We first met back in 2004 when a group of random strangers from around North America who were members of a now long defunct fitness website – – decided to meet up in NYC for a weekend of protein shakes, fitness gossip, debauchery, and tickle fights.

Kidding on the tickle fights….;o)

As a quick aside, it was that very weekend that Eric Cressey and I met for the first time.  So, yes, as weird as it sounds, Eric and I met on the internet.

Anyways, Cass is one of the smartest and hardest working people I know. She runs her own gym, as authored numerous books – The New Rules of Lifting for Women and The Perfect Body Diet – and is also a renowned international speaker.

And, she has the mouth of sailor….;o) But only when talking face-t0-face.

Artemis Scantalides

All I have to say about Artemis is that my girlfriend, Lisa, loooooooooooooves her.  Actually, I have a lot more to say.

Artemis can kick your ass.  Fact.

Not only does she have a black belt in Kung-freakin-Fu, is both an RKC and Strong First instructor, but she can perform a Turkish get-up with the 28 kg (~62 lbs) kettlebell, which is half her bodyweight.  And she makes it look easy.

She’s also the co-owner, along with her SO (sorry fellas), Eric Gahan, of Iron Body Studios located just outside of Boston.  Lisa and I took several classes there this past winter and loved every second of it (you can read about it HERE), and plan on heading back in the near future.

Artemis isn’t a household name (yet), but she’s going to be.  I LOVE what she has to say concerning women and strength training.  Her recent post, Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – Revisited, is EXACTLY what more women need to hear.

Jen Sinkler

Who doesn’t love Jen Sinkler? She’s probably the happiest person in the history of ever.

A former member of the USA Women’s National Rugby team and fitness editor of Experience Life Magazine, Jen has quickly climbed the ranks as one of the “go to” sources for women’s fitness.

As much as she’s a fitness nerd, what I appreciate most about Jen is that she’s a LIFE nerd.

Name it, and she’s probably tried it. Elite athlete?  Check. CrossFit? Check. Olympic lifting? Check.  Kettlebells? Check. BOSU ball squats?  Lets not get carried away.

Nevertheless, her product, Lift Weights Faster, is an appropriate moniker for her lifestyle, and something I highly recommend checking out.

Kellie Davis

Kellie has a similar background to Jen (Sinkler) in that she too has an extensive history as a fitness writer/editor.  I LOVE her writing, because I feel it speaks to so many people on so many levels.

And, not for nothing, her book, Strong Curves, which she co-wrote with my buddy Bret Contreras, is one of the best mainstream female-specific training manuals written in the past five years.

Neghar Fonooni

What I respect about Neghar – other than her impeccable taste in men (she’s married to John Romaniello) – is that she takes a more holistic approach to health and fitness.  Yes, she advocates women to get strong, and yes, she hates Paleo Nazis like the next person, but she also speaks a lot about life, body image, and acceptance.  It’s a balance of everything that makes someone truly happy, and I dig that.

Julia Ladewski

Strength coach, competitive powerlifter, mom, and most recently, competitive figure competitor, Julia is jack of all trades.

Not only can she talk shop with regards to cleaning up and improving one’s squat technique, but she can also hit a killer lat spread.

Emily Giza Socolinksy

Many who are long-time readers of this blog will be very familiar with Emily because I’ve linked to several of her articles and she’s also written a few for the site.

She’s a former Barre instructor who turned to the dark side and ended up opening her own every successful gym in the Baltimore area (click her name above).

Emily just “gets it,” and she’s a no BS’er if there ever was one.

And there you have it, my list of “go to” female training sources.  Like I mentioned above, this isn’t an exhaustive list – so hopefully I didn’t offend anyone by omitting them – but if you have your own suggestions I’d love to hear them!

Leave them below in the comments section.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  • janjamm

    I dare say that one of Emily Socolinksy’s unhearlded strengths is working with people who have suffered injuries. Her focus on a plan, the attack and appropriate limits is extremely perceptive and informed. Too, she is an all-around badass, angel of challenge and execution. Baltimore is a lucky to have her. No BS.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Right on Jan. I’m a HUGE fan of Emily and can’t wait to one day meet her in person.

  • Nancy

    I follow several of these awesome women and I thank you for just introducing me to a few other awesome women to follow.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Great, glad I could point you in the direction of a few others Nancy.

  • julialadewski

    thanks Tony!! 🙂

    • TonyGentilcore


  • Karen Smith

    Great list of really great ladies 🙂

  • I love seeing such strong women!! It was because of the book New Rules of Lifting for women that I was first introduced into strength training, and even inspired me to start blogging about it on

    I have respect and admiration for a few of these ladies already (@julialadewski:disqus, Nia, and Casandra), but excited to check out the others now!

    Gotta love when a guy can see the beauty in strength. 🙂

    • TonyGentilcore

      The New Rules of Lifting for Women changed the game in my eyes. Speaking personally I owe Lou, Alwyn, and Cass a HUGE hug for all the time they’ve saved me. Whenever someone asks me for a good resource on training for women I just tell them to go buy that book.

  • Scott Horne

    Ursula Papendrea is the go to for Olympic Lifts. Great list Tony…thank you.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks for that Scott. I’ll check her stuff out.

  • Emily

    Thank you for this post Tony. 😉 Very honored to be part of such an elite group of strong and like minded women. 😉 You truly made my day.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Emily, anytime.

  • Kristin

    Artemis always blows my mind! I went to one of her classes this spring when I was visiting in Boston. I hadn’t heard of any of the other women you have on this list so I’ll be sure to check them out!!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Artemis is crazy good. That’s all I can say.

  • Amber

    Yay, new blogs to read! I’d add Jill Coleman to that list. Her main thing is mind set and it has been *the* most helpful tool for me.

  • Yve

    This was was great info Tony, thank you for sharing! Another one of my favs is Rebecca Kordecki (, which I am excited to hear that she will be doing a 3 week tour (from NY to LA) in order where she will be promoting Healthy Back to School ideas and September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Kuddos to all these women who continue to make a difference in the lives of others…and who “walk their talk”!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks Yve for the tip on Rebecca!