San Francisco's Best Trainer Spills His Cross-Training Secrets

"Exercise has always been my way to feel centered physically, mentally, and emotionally," Ryan Miller explains. As founder of Rise Up Fitness—and San Francisco magazine's newly-minted Best Personal Trainer—Miller has earned a dedicated following in the city for his Pilates-rooted program. But his clients aren't just pulsing through sessions with a springboard. Miller's core-and-more approach to training includes resistance and weights, TRX, treadmills, rowing machines, and flipping and (or hammering) tires.

When it comes to his own workouts, you'll often spot Miller dancing on a SoulCycle bike with his favorite instructor, Heather Anderson, or running with a hot playlist to carry him through the miles. "Music colors every moment of my day," he says.

Keep reading to find out how Miller ramps up, recovers, and keeps the training experience fresh for his clients.

Rockyt: Where do you teach?

Ryan: I train clients privately [or in pairs] at Jigalin Fitness (1860 Lombard Street) in the Marina. It's a small gym for trainers and clients only.  A small group of trainers work independently, but in harmony. Come check us out!

Rockyt: What does a client session look like? 

Ryan:  Each client is so unique and unlike any other! That's the point of personal training. A workout might be total body conditioning or split-focus (arms day, legs day, metabolic conditioning). We train with different modalities to keep clients challenged and interested. Who wants to do the same thing over and over? Not me, not my clients. 

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Rockyt: You recently hosted a group fitness pop-up series. How did that come to life?

Ryan:  Last fall and this spring, I did a series of Rise Up Pop Up small group classes at the beautiful Lifted Studio in the Mission/Upper Market area of town. [Lifted owner] Ryan Allen is an amazing trainer and his workouts are unique and special. His space is gorgeous, and we became friends and discussed Rise Up popping up at the Lifted space.  We have done it twice now, with more appearances hopefully in the future. It's a definitely a win-win.

Rockyt: How do you prepare for client sessions?

Ryan: Again, every client has an individual plan depending on their specific focus and level of fitness.  Mobility, stability, strength, and power are common progressions in every individualized plan, but specific to each client.  Additionally, each client has unique goals: weight loss, hypertrophy (building muscle/getting bigger), flexibility, mobility, etc. Learning each client's needs and capabilities is paramount to a personalized experience.

Rockyt: How do you cross train?

Ryan: We are so fortunate in the Bay Area to have so much fitness at our fingertips! I love and live for SoulCycle. For me, it is the best sweat and most comprehensive 45-minute workout.  I'm drenched at the end of class; it always pushes me. (And, again, music!) Fitness and well-being is so much in addition to the physical about how you feel, and SoulCycle gives my heart and mind life. I love running. It's a great best friend to lifting weights and is my therapy.  Me, music, and the open road. Pilates is at the core of my passion for fitness: it keeps me focused, connected to my movement, and my core—half of my body, really—strong!

Rockyt: What are your favorite studios or gyms for cross-training?

Ryan:  SoulCycle, Fitness SF, (there are locations all over the city; if I have even a half-hour, I can drop in) , The Pad, and Mercury Power Performance Pilates.

Rockyt: Are you training toward a particular fitness goal right now? 

Ryan:  I'm running the Oakland [Town's] Half Marathon in August.

Rockyt: What's your training regimen?

Ryan: I will up my running days: 3-5 miles during the week, longer runs on the weekend, 13 miles, 1-2 weeks before race day.

Rockyt: Do you take rest days? 

Ryan: Yes! I call it the Holy Trinity of Fitness: workout days, nutrition, and rest and recovery.  Rest is so important, and I usually just let myself do just that. No exercise. It's necessary for the body, the mind, and the spirit.