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Leaders who are changing the world with fitness

Elaina is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of the Kidlee baby book app. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes and fun activities for moms and kids.

Fit and fearless leaders

Fitness has the potential to change people's lives. These five individuals have created a movement and transformed the health of countless individuals, young and old. The world is a better place thanks to their fab fitness leadership.

Michelle Obama

Fit and fearless leaders

Photo credit: Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/

Since taking on the role of First Lady, Michelle Obama has worked tirelessly to promote health and fitness in the U.S. More specifically, Obama has set her sights on improving the health of our country's children through nutrition and exercise. In 2010, she launched the Let's Move initiative to "raise a healthier generation of kids." When asked by Parade magazine what statistic she's looking for, Obama replied, "Our goal is to see the numbers reduced in a generation. I keep looking at where these kids will be in their 20s. We may not see [results] right away, but we’re going to see it in their habits. I look at how my kids view exercise. They have a complete understanding that nutrition and exercise go hand in hand... they have a real consciousness about it that I’d like to think comes from the years of attention we’ve put into this."

Thanks to the work of the First Lady and the commitment of business leaders, educators, elected officials, military leaders, chefs, physicians, athletes, child care providers and others, young people now have greater access to physical activity in their communities, meals in schools have been considerably improved and more Americans have access to healthy, affordable food. Learn more about the accomplishments of the Let's Move initiative right here.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Fit and fearless leaders

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Former bodybuilding champion, movie star, governor and fitness advocate... it's clear why Arnold Schwarzenegger dubbed his recent autobiography True Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story. One constant in Schwarzenegger's multifaceted career has been his commitment to fitness. From 1990-1993, he served as the chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, touring all 50 states promoting kids' physical fitness and urging governors to support school fitness programs. In 2002, the fitness leader wrote and sponsored Proposition 49, the "After School Education and Safety Program Act of 2002," an initiative to permanently earmark a portion of the state's general fund for before- and after-school programs. "You can’t tell a kid that it’s time to exercise," says Schwarzenegger. "That’s a turn-off… you have to say 'Let's go to the park and have some fun.' Then you get them to do some running, play on the swings, practice on the balance beam, basically get a full workout disguised as play."

Jillian Michaels

Fit and fearless leaders

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Season after season, fitness trainer Jillian Michaels has shown us that her tough love approach yields amazing results on The Biggest Loser. Michaels has also proven that she means business when it comes to the business of getting in shape. With a multimedia empire that includes exercise DVDs, books, equipment and apparel, Michaels is one of the most recognizable faces in the weight loss and fitness industry. When she's not taping episodes of The Biggest Loser or sharing her message through various other media, Michaels gives back as an ambassador for both the American Cancer Society and Stand Up 2 Cancer. She also works with military families through the USO and helps the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in their mission to eradicate the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S.

Shaun Thompson (Shaun T)

Fit and fearless leaders

Photo credit: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Chances are you (or someone you know) have either watched an infomercial for one of Shaun T's workout programs, or tackled the fitness guru's Insanity or Hip Hop Abs DVDs. Shaun T's motivating, high-energy workouts have inspired legions of followers who can't get enough of his "insane" workouts. Most recently, the hard-bodied trainer released an exercise DVD tailor-made for time-crunched people who want to get in shape. The new Focus T25 is a 25-minute workout designed to help people get fit faster. When recently named to a "Top 100 most influential people in health and fitness list," Shaun T told his Facebook fans "It's not the number that means anything to me... it's the fact that I am out there changing the world. Changing lives one day at a time."

Tony Horton

Fit and fearless leaders

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Tony Horton of P90X fame has made a body-sculpting impact on countless thankful fans who have gone from flabby to fit thanks to his focused exercise program. He's also taken his show on the road, traveling overseas to Japan, Italy, Bosnia, Kosovo and Germany to inspire soldiers, airmen, sailors and their families with his Ripped and Ready Tour. "I want to thank the military for all they've done," says Horton. "I want to be with the troops, and just say thank you for what they do." Through frequent trips to Washington, D.C., Horton also helps members of Congress get in shape on Capitol Hill at the Results Gym, and has been involved with First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let’s Move Campaign.”

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