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2018 Muscle Insider Trainer of the Year Winners

the Editors

Now in its seventh year, the MUSCLE INSIDER Trainer of the Year challenge sponsored by EFX Sports searched for Canada’s premier certified trainers among a number of fitness disciplines, narrowing it down from hundreds of recommendations to 10 highly qualified finalists. Recently, a winner emerged from the group, Vancouver, BC’s Zion Afele. He wins the gold-medal award, which includes a one-year sponsorship from EFX Sports as well as EFX Sports swag, a trip to a major bodybuilding show to join the EFX team at their booth, and editorial exposure inside the pages of MUSCLE INSIDER.

Our team assessed each candidate’s credentials, including academic background and certifications, awards, client feedback and reputation, and professional success. Once again, the finalists were an elite group whose collective background covered such disciplines as bodybuilding, powerlifting, CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, mixed martial arts, and functional strength training.

Besides being kick-ass trainers, the finalists were tasked with including EFX Sports supplements into their clients’ nutrition plans to maximize performance and results. The challenge ultimately ranked which trainers achieved the greatest overall results and highest level of motivation with their clients and within the fitness community as a whole.

Oakville, Ontario trainer Chris LeBlanc earned our silver medal award while Langley, BC’s Grace Bukowsky claimed the bronze medal. Both of these finalists will receive a prize package from EFX Sports and exposure with MUSCLE INSIDER. 

EFX Sports is led by Dr. Jeff Golini, who is a scientist first rather than a marketer or athlete. At the helm of EFX Sports now for 14 years, Golini and partners began with a patented creatine product called Kre-Alkayn, which changed how creatine was used. Today, in addition to creatine, the company manufactures products in several categories, including aminos, pre- and post-workouts, test boosters, protein, weight loss, hydration, and multivitamins/minerals.


The top prize goes to Vancouver’s Zion Afele, 37, who trains out of Elevation Fitness, Surrey, BC. Afele specializes in strength & conditioning and athletic development.  “I was inspired to become a personal trainer simply because of the infinite benefits of a healthy lifestyle, which made me want to empower others to pursue their dreams and goals, whether it’s to become an athlete, overcome challenges, improve self-confi dence, boost confidence, or relieve stress.” One reason Afele feels his clients connect so well with him is because of his attitude. “They’re attracted to my positive energy and playful sense of humour. They see my passion for fitness and enjoy learning from my vast array of techniques and training methods.”

Follow Zion on social media:

Instagram @samoanstrengthcoach  

Facbook @zion.afele

Web: holymackathletics.com


Body transformation, powerlifting, and sports-nutrition specialist Chris LeBlanc from Oakville, Ontario, is the 2018 contest runner-up. He trains out of Primal Athletics in Oakville. LeBlanc is driven by seeing clients make progress. “I became a trainer to help and inspire others, and to educate. I enjoy seeing physical and emotional changes—the progressive changes in their strength, physical shape, overall lifestyle, self-esteem, and confidence.” As a trainer, LeBlanc sees his role not just as an educator but also to motivate. “I have a genuine concern for each and every client … I believe in continuing education and leading by example. I educate [clients] to feel empowered. I also promote that small, daily success will lead to larger success in our long-term goals.”

Follow Chris on social media:

Instagram @chris_primalathletics

Twitter @primalltd

Facebook @chris.v.leblanc

Web: primalathletics.ca


With a background in sports and fitness nutrition, Langley, BC’s Grace Bukowsky earned the bronze medal prize. Her home base is Gold's Gym in the suburbs of Vancouver. Active early in her life, Bukowsky found her career commitment crowded out the active lifestyle she had led earlier. At 35, she says it was time to make some changes. "After losing over 30 pounds and beginning to compete in Bikini, I wanted to be able to help others achieve their health-and-fitness goals. Becoming educated wasn't about just helping me further my physique goals, it was also about sharing that information with others who were in situations similar to mine. I also want to be able to dispel many of the myths and half-truths when it comes to fitness and nutrition that are so common today."

Follow Grace on social media:

Instagram @gracebukowsky

Twitter @gracebukowsky

Facebook @grace.bukowsky

Web: thefitlife247.com